Teaser Tuesday | Chapter One Sneak Peek

5

Excerpt from Chapter One of How We Fall, The Men of Evansdale County 2

©Alyne Hart

CHAPTER 1

Hailee

 

What in the hell is a dragon fruit?

The scribbled list taunted me from my hand. Bright blue ink scrawled across a white paper napkin that looked more like hieroglyphics than actual words. With my brow wrinkling in confusion, I stared harder, hoping that somehow I would magically know what these things were. Starfruit. Blood oranges. Medjool dates. Grappa?

Okay, maybe this job wasn’t for me. In fact, it seemed more like the job from hell at this point.

It was my first day at the restaurant. Some guy whose nametag read Toby, came stomping out of the kitchen like an angry bull. His pale, almost chalk-white face was flushed beet red across his cheeks and forehead, dripping with thick beads of sweat that ran beneath the collar of his white chef coat. He thrust the list in my hand, along with some cash that reeked of the same cheese and burned garlic that he did.

Toby told me I had to go to the Canary Whole Foods Market on Houghton Road to get the things on the list and that I needed to be back before one. He also said the chef was exceptionally particular so to only get the best.

Even when I tried to explain that it was my first day and that I was just a hostess, he didn’t care. He said the king needed them, and I had to do it. Fast. Then he rushed back towards the kitchen quicker than Cinderella leaving the ball.

I mean, if the king was so particular, why couldn’t he just get his own stupid dragon fruit instead of sending me on my first day?

I stood there, waiting for the bus and cursing Toby under my breath, shivering against the chill of October air rustling past my cheeks like an icy breath. With my arms hugged tight around myself, I wished I had a better coat. Or that maybe the only black skirt I owned, which was part of the hostess dress code—all black – dress, or blouse and skirt—wasn’t so short. Even with the thick black tights I wore beneath it, the thin cotton was no match for the weather.

Now it was nearing twelve-fifteen, the list of nearly foreign-sounding items I had to gather was still gripped tightly in my hand while I wandered around the market. I was most likely going to get fired. Or maybe I should just quit?

“This is dragon fruit,” a male voice called beside me, so deep and resonating that it sounded like what I imagined the echo inside of a bass guitar might when it was being played.

Had I said that out loud?

“What?” My forehead pinched together as I spun on my heels only to be faced with one of—no—the, most gorgeous man I’d ever seen in my life.

No description could do a man like him justice other than breaking down every bit of him into a list of bullet points. Tall. Check.  A lean Adonis-like physique with golden tan skin. Check. A face that looked like an Armani cologne model in a magazine? CHECK.

He was all muscle from what I could tell. Easily standing at six-four, maybe even taller, with massive, broad shoulders. His dark blond hair twisted into a bun at the base of his neck with sandy colored strands poking out from beneath the band holding it all together. Pieces of hair curled around the nape of his neck and for a second I wondered what they might feel like brushing against my lips.

He had a neatly trimmed, thick beard and mustache with crystal-clear, light blue eyes almost the same color as faded blue jeans. But it was the chiseled line of his lips that had me momentarily entranced, and the way his thin upper lip curved perfectly against the fullness of the lower one.

This man was the very essence of sex. He was the kind of man women threw themselves at. The sort of man who could all too easily have any woman he wanted at the snap of his fingers.

Correction. Any woman, except for me, that is. Men were currently off my radar. Especially ones like this even though I had to remind myself to keep my gaze from falling on the sensual curve of his lips for too long.

“Dragon fruit,” he smiled, holding up a strange looking thing in the palm of his hand. It was oval shaped, and a bright rose color with green, spiky tips. It almost looked like a miniature pink pineapple. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”

“No,” fiery red heat filled my cheeks. Stupid freaking blushing. It had nothing to do with being embarrassed or even the man standing in front of me. “It’s okay. I—I didn’t realize I’d said that out loud, actually. So, that’s a dragon fruit? And people eat it?”

“What were you planning on doing with it?” he asked. The amused smile that lifted his lips had me momentarily hypnotized.

Why was my heart pounding so loud?

My head shook, jolting me back to reality. I had little time to get the things on my list and get back, much less time to be contemplating the way my mouth suddenly went dry. Because I really didn’t want to have to look for another job all because I got too wrapped up in staring at a handsome man’s smile.

“It’s just this list,” I held out the napkin with chicken-scratches of blue ink across it with a loud exhale of air. “I just started this job today, and my boss gave me this list and told me to come get all this stuff. Blood oranges? Some weird dates—and you wouldn’t happen to know what grappa is would you?”

I shoved the list even closer in his direction to see if maybe he could decipher it. “I dunno, I should probably just quit. This guy kind of sounds like a demanding, control-freak asshole if you ask me.”

“Yes, he certainly does,” the man took the napkin from my hands and studied it with a cocked eyebrow. His pale blue eyes grazed across the list before he lifted his gaze back to me, a slightly bemused smirk quirking one cheek higher than the other. “Well, lucky for you, I know what all of these are. Grab yourself a basket.”

The man was dressed well in a snug shirt and dark jeans like maybe he was headed for a casual day at the office, or perhaps even a lunch date. It was a dark blue button up shirt with the top button undone and he had the sleeves rolled to his elbows, showing off  his hard, muscular forearms. The fabric itself screamed of wealth and class, as did the leather Burberry sneakers on his feet. The only thing that seemed out of place in his otherwise professional, yuppie appearance was the rows of tiny silver hoops lining his ears. The combination was oddly intriguing.

He seemed strangely at ease in the market, studying the fruits and vegetables. I followed him around like an obedient puppy, basket in hand as he tossed the items from my list inside, but not before telling me a little about each one.

“So where do you work?” he asked, casually running his fingers across shining, yellow fruit. I couldn’t help but notice that his fingernails were clean and filed across the tops at precisely the same length and he had no cuticles to speak of.

Did he get manicures? I tucked my free hand into the pocket of my jacket so he couldn’t see the chips in my turquoise nail polish.

“Acquiesce?” my lips twisted around the word. “It’s that fancy place over on Monte Ridge. I just started today.”

“Nice place,” he glanced in my direction, looking me up and down for a moment before giving his attention to another basket of fruit, drifting his fingertips across the pitted, brightly colored skin of a small orange. “Do you have an interest in fine cuisine or—”

“No,” I snorted and cut him off. “Give me a grilled cheese or some fried chicken, and I’m happy as a clam. Don’t get me wrong, I love food. Always have. My grandma taught me how to cook when I was little, and it was something we did together every Sunday after church. She watches all those celebrity cooking shows too, and she’s always trying to make the things she sees. But this stuff, it just seems kind of uppity and snooty. But, it’s a job, you know?”

His lips twitched at the corners, fighting a smirk. “So you’ve never worked at a restaurant, much less an upscale one I take it?”

“No, is it that obvious?”

The smirk won. Apparently, I was amusing to the handsome mystery man. He probably thought I was a country bumpkin, lost in a whole foods market like some kind of damsel in distress with a shopping list. I suppose he’d be mostly right.

“It was nice of them to hire you without having any experience. I hear they’re sticklers for that over there.”

“I lied,” I admitted with a sheepish grin. “I mean, everyone does it, right? How hard can it be to seat people at a table and hand them a menu?”

“Hmmph,” he chuckled under his breath. “And this,” he plucked a thin bottle with clear, golden liquid swirling inside it from a shelf, “is grappa. It’s Italian alcohol made from the pulp left over from crushed grapes used to make wine.”

“So, it’s like, wine scraps?” my nose wrinkled at the thought.

“No, not quite,” he laughed, his eyes crinkling a bit in the corners. “It’s delicious, though it is an acquired taste. And—” his corn-flower blue eyes skimmed the napkin list I’d handed him earlier, “I think this is everything on your shopping list.”

“Thank you,” I gushed with relief. I pulled my phone from my coat pocket to check the time. Twelve-forty-one. “Oh crap, I’m running late. Thank you—” my head tilted in question, hoping he would at least offer his name so I could thank my hero properly.

“Finn,” he answered.

“Thank you, Finn.”

“Can I give you a ride?” He offered.

I gulped and stared at him for a second and contemplated the proposition before shaking my head. Number one rule in life we all learn as kids? No taking rides from strangers. Even ones who look like him. “No, I’ll catch the next bus.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. You said you were running late,” he shot me a blinding smile in apology. “I just thought maybe I could help.”

“Yeah. It’s just that I have a policy against getting into strangers cars and getting chopped into a million tiny pieces. You understand, right? But thank you—for the offer.”

“Smart,” he smiled at me again. “Well, it was lovely meeting you—”

“Hailee,” I answered.

“Hailee.” The way his lips curled around my name had my mouth running dry again and every muscle in my body tensing up. “Good luck with the job.”

“Thanks,” I hiccuped before turning to rush to the cash register.

I ran as fast as I could to the bus stop, not even taking time to stop and admire the way the vibrant, flamboyant colors of summer had transitioned into the rich, jewel-toned hues of fall. I was mostly praying I wouldn’t break the bottle of grappa or bruise any of the food. I don’t know. Does dragon fruit bruise?

God. I was an idiot. That guy was gorgeous, and chances are, he probably wasn’t an ax-wielding murderer. I could have at least taken the ride and gotten out of the cold and lived to tell the tale. I was kicking myself until I remembered that as far as myself and men go, I seem to always have an eye for the wrong ones, and he was probably no different. Despite his expensive taste in shoes and his sex god good looks, he was more than likely just like the rest of them.

An asshole. A cheat. A liar.

When I finally made it back to Acquiesce, it was one-thirty, and my heart was pounding frantically in my chest. Even though I’d gotten everything on the list, I was late with the king’s items, so I was probably getting fired anyway.

Pushing my way through the massive wood and glass doors, I walked as quickly as I could through a maze of tables until I reached the kitchen. Using my shoulder, I butted the swinging stainless steel doors open, holding the bags in front of myself taking deep gulps of air.

“I got it,” my chest heaved with heavy breaths as I rounded the corner. “I got all the stuff you asked for.”

When I made it around the sharp, steel edge of the wall, I found myself face to chest with a dark blue, button-up shirt that screamed of designer origins and I’d bet if I looked down, I’d see Burberry trainers. When I finally let my eyes lift to meet the face smiling down at me, a bit smugly I might add, the heat of a thousand fires filled my cheeks.

Stupid blushing.

No way. No. Freaking. Way.

“Thank you, Hailee,” the gorgeous mystery man from earlier nodded with a blinding grin. A grin like that was no fair as there were several feelings inside of me fighting for control. Embarrassment, humiliation, and shock.

But mostly, and the most annoying of them all—lust.

Ugh. I am so getting fired.

….to be continued

How We Fall (Men of Evansdale County 2)
Pre-order → https://books2read.com/u/4EyDrg
Goodreads TBR → https://bit.ly/2HszH3Y

The Space Between Us: Meet Siobhan Excerpt and Audio Book Update

 

Depositphotos_73011741_orig

Chapter Three

Emma

Dean freaking King. If he hadn’t said something, I might not even have noticed. Not that he wasn’t worthy of noticing, in fact, he was quite the opposite. I could only imagine that he had plenty of drooling admirers and my name just got added to the list.

Dean was attractive in the most obvious sort of way. Thick, dark brown hair that waved just right across his forehead and an angular squared-off jaw with high cheekbones.  He’s tall. And not just tall, but the kind of tall that makes you take notice of his height. His naturally lean and muscular body only make him that much more noticeable. But the unfair advantages Dean had over the rest of the male species didn’t end there.

Dean’s smile is bright white—like it glows with a thousand watts of blinding electricity. And as masculine as his face is, he has deep dimples on each cheek that only show when he grins.

For me though, it was always about his eyes. They’re a nearly unnatural blue. Such a bright cobalt in fact, if you didn’t know him, you’d think they were colored contacts. I daydreamed about those eyes way too many times when I was younger. The second I actually looked him in the eye, I knew who he was.

But that isn’t Dean’s most noticeable feature. Not anymore, I should say.

Intricate ink designs ran seamlessly from his fingers to his arms and all the way up his chest where they curved in a graceful line along his collarbone. I assumed there were more, but that was all I could see around the black tank top he wore.

It had taken me a second of adjusting to that to notice all the piercings that perforated his skin.  His nose, eyebrow, ears and inner ear cartilage were all sporting shining silver decorations.

I had mostly made it a habit of not looking at the guys that came into Charlie’s. Not in any way that might signal to them I was interested, that is. I’d learned a long time ago, that most guys took me being friendly as an open invitation to flirt, and usually crudely.

Guys in groups were worse, which is why I hadn’t even so much as given Dean or his friend a second glance. It didn’t hurt my tips any, and it saved me from having to put a customer in their rightful place—which is not in my love life. Not that I had any semblance of a love life at the given moment—or even wanted one for that matter.

But Dean? The second I landed my eyes on his I felt a fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach and a tingling pull even further down than that. I had the hardest time tearing my eyes away from his intoxicating stare before I thoroughly embarrassed myself.

He caught me off guard, and left me more than a little breathless and dazed when he cornered me in the server station where I’d been binning used glasses to wash.

Maybe I imagined it, but I would swear he was asking me out in an off the cuff way. It was almost laughable to think he was even interested in me. But then again—no, it wasn’t even worthy of pondering. He was my brother’s enemy and therefore mine. But still…

“So,” Siobhan sidled up to me. “Who was that?”

Siobhan and I have been friends since the eighth grade. We both shared the same misfortune of having braces, bad perms, and ears much too large for our heads back then. The delightful phrase ‘a face only a mother could love’ was not unfamiliar to either of us.

I’ll never forget the day I met her. She was new to Evansdale Highschool, and despite the lack of social status on both our parts, she walked around like she ruled the school. Everyone was teasing her about her name, and just like she does still to this day, she planted both hands on her hips and cocked her head to the side, and her hazel eyes lit up with exasperation.

“Shuh-von,” she rolled her eyes, correcting everyone all day as if it was that obvious.

It didn’t matter how many times she corrected them, they still called her what they wanted. ‘See-ya-bon,’ seemed to be the favorite amongst our classmates. She took a liking to me when I told her I thought it was pretty and asked her if she wanted to sit with me at lunch. We were stuck on each other like glue after that.

Luckily for both of us, Siobhan and I both outgrew the ears, got our braces off and never got perms again. As for Siobhan, she did end up ruling the school, and she took me along for the ride.

It seemed the only good thing to come out of that dark time was Siobhan and me. And all the stuff we learned pouring over beauty magazines, desperately trying to look as pretty as the popular girls.

Unlike me, however, when Von came out of her ugly duckling phase, she immediately spread her wings like a glorious butterfly. Von just had a way with guys. She just automatically knew exactly what to say all the time to have them eating out of her hands. Her skill level at flirting? Expert.

Mine? I still turn pink and stumble on my words—I’m stuck at beginner level flirting. And that’s being kind.

“Old family friend,” I cleared my throat hastily and got back to my careful placement of glasses and coffee cups in the giant plastic tub. “One of Forrest’s old friends.”

“He was seriously hot, and seriously checking you out,” Siobhan nudged me, jostling the glasses that were precariously perched in my hands with a loud clink….

b7299e77aac99f56cdae5aa0c23ee31e

Audiobook production is well underway, and I have to say, Logan (my ACX producer) is killing it! I am enjoying this process immensely and loving hearing my words and my characters take on a life. For some reason, especially Mama Rose – who was the secret star of this novel!

Our target for this baby is to be done by March 6! So stay tuned for details ♥

sig

The Space Between Us Excerpt: The First Kiss

SBU-promo5

The ride home he was just as quiet as the ride there. His electric blue eyes focused straight ahead, almost unblinking. We rode like that all the way back to the orchards, where he pulled in to one of the alcoves just off the road and put the truck in park before turning off the headlights.

“I had fun, Emma,” Dean turned toward me, and his eyes nearly scorched me on contact.

I smiled a little and gulped back the rapid pounding of my heart that seemed to be lodged in my throat at the moment. “So did I,” I managed to choke out.

Time stopped.

There was a conscious second when we looked at each other through the rain filtered white glow of moonlight coming in through the windshield. I swear we knew what the other was thinking and feeling, even if it was just for a fleeting second. In the dark cab of the truck lit only by moonlight, I could see his pupils dilate, and I knew he heard the way my breath stopped and caught in my chest. My lips parted in anticipation, and I knew there was no turning back. Not now and maybe not ever.

This was dangerous.

“Tell me you feel this,” he murmured darkly. “Tell me you want this.”

I couldn’t speak, so I nodded.

Dean’s eyes went from hard to soft in a flash, and the blood in my veins boiled hot beneath my skin, warming every inch of my body with a delicious tingle. His muscles contracted to propel him forward even before he touched me and when he closed the space between us and dove his hands into my hair, it was like we were the only two things on earth living, moving and breathing.

His lips were perfect. Soft and warm. They moved delicately at first, almost tentatively like I might stop him at any minute. My hand slid up to the nape of his neck, and I clung to his hair in a tight grip, like he was gravity and I might float away if I let go.

Dean’s kisses grew more urgent. Possessive. His tongue slid between my lips and danced against mine, his tongue played with me, stoking the fire deep in my belly. When his lips moved down, exploring the length of my throat and I moaned, a low growl rumbled from his throat.

I’d never been kissed like this. Ever. It was obvious Dean knew what he was doing, and I just hoped I was half as good of a kisser as he was. Everything in my body was on fire for him. My nipples pushed against the thin cotton of my t-shirt and warm wetness pooled between my thighs. I ached to be touched by him.

Everywhere.

“I need to catch my breath,” I pulled back slightly, laughing as I pushed against his chest with my palm.

Dean threaded his fingers through his hair, flashing me that wicked grin of his. “I think I like you breathless, Princess.”

“So, kiss me again?” I whispered back. Dean grabbed me around the waist and pulled me to sit facing him on his lap, attacking me with hard kisses, stoking that same fire that raged deep in my belly for him.

I have no idea how long we sat there kissing like that. I was oblivious to anything other than him and how his hips lifted against me, the quiet patter of rain against the glass and how my back felt pressed against the steering wheel.

When his lips found my throat again, a shimmer of pure pleasure tingled down my spine. Then one of his hands inched down to my breast. If I didn’t stop now, I wasn’t sure if I could. This felt too good.

“Dean,” I whispered into his hair. “We have to stop.”

“Mmmm,” he groaned and nuzzled himself into my ear, nibbling at the tender lobe.

“Dean, I can’t do this.” I cupped his hand in mine and guided it away from the nipple he was rubbing between his fingers.

“Okay,” his eyes flashed in the dark. “What’s wrong?”

Pulling my torso away from his, I wrapped my arms around my waist in a self-protective move. “I’m uh—I’m a virgin, Dean. I’m not sure I’m ready for this. It feels good. I just—”

There was a strange look that crossed his face. One I didn’t recognize at all, and he sat silent. Staring at me. “A virgin,” he gruffed.

Immediately I felt ashamed. Like maybe I’d led him on or something. That’s how most the guys I’d been out with or kissed reacted anyway. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to, I dunno, be a tease. If you don’t want to see me again, I totally understand.”

“You think I wouldn’t want to see you again because I can’t have sex with you tonight?” his brows pulled together creating a thick, savage line where they met, and the muscle of his jaw ticked rapidly.

“Yeah,” I muttered, staring down at my arms that were crossed together tightly.

Dean unfolded my arms and then gripped my chin lightly, lifting it up. When I let my eyes land on his, that thing happened again. The one where I saw inside of him. The one where we saw each other.

It took my breath away.

“Emma,” he tucked my hair behind my ear and stroked my cheek tenderly. “It’s gonna take a hell of a lot more than that to keep me away from you.”

Grab Your Copy Today → books2read.com/SpaceBetween

The Space Between Us Excerpt

dean

Dean Alexander King.

It’s a name I hadn’t heard since the day my brother said we could never utter it again. In fact, I hadn’t thought of him much since, even though I had the biggest crush on him my entire childhood. It was a silly crush. He was my older brother Forrest’s best friend since kindergarten, which meant I had barely been born when they first met.

Our mom practically adopted him like he was a stray puppy. She showered him with attention, clothes that fit him right instead of the raggedy hand me downs he wore, and plates of hot food every night she could. He was her little pet project from the wrong side of town.

In fact, Dean was such a fixture in our home that I thought of him as my other brother until I was ten and figured out what having a crush meant. After that, I followed Dean around like a pest until he and Forrest would get irritated enough to lock themselves in Forrest’s room. Other than that, he never noticed me. I was just the annoying kid sister of his best friend.

When I was sure no one was listening, I named my Barbie, Emma and my Ken doll, Dean and I made them kiss. A lot. Sometimes with no clothes on. When I was twelve, I would write Emma plus Dean, or Emma Cassidy King on my school folders over and over. Usually with a lot of hearts and other embarrassing things I’m glad no one ever saw.

Sometime around thirteen is when I started to notice the differences between them. Differences that left me confused. I never understood how Forrest and Dean were friends in the first place—they were as different as night and day.

Dean was always in trouble. He got suspended more times than I could count. He got into fistfights at school that Forrest inevitably had to break up. He went through girlfriends like dirty socks, and he got put in juvie. Three times.

Forrest, on the other hand, was and still is, polite and gentlemanly. He rarely swears, he had one girlfriend through all of high school, and like me, he follows all the rules.

Not Dean. Filthy-mouthed, cocky and arrogant—he broke the rules like it was his favorite hobby. And unlike his last name might suggest, Dean King was nothing out of a fairy tale. Which is probably why the vision of him never failed to make the skin of my cheeks fill with a hot, red blush—and why my fourteen-year-old daydreams were always of him shirtless, offering to be my very first kiss.

Of course, I never got that kiss. For one, Dean was five years older than me, and I was nothing more to him than a little sister. Two, my brother came home one day and told us his engagement to his high school sweetheart and fiancée Renee had been called off, and that Dean was the reason.

Dean never came around after that. Last I’d heard he’d taken off and was never heard from again. Well—until now that is.

Only, he didn’t look at me like I was Forrest’s little sister anymore—and he asked me not to tell Forrest he was back in town.

Dean King is fire.

Like the most beautiful and destructive of all the elements.

Fire is a welcoming warmth that washes over your skin, like a glowing blanket. But in the blink of an eye, flames can leap, devouring everything in their path. Everyone and everything in its way is left to choke on the thick black smoke. If you turn your head for even a second, everything you once loved and held so dear is gone.

Fire smolders. Flickers playfully, sending embers flying like a sparkling, hot fountain of orange against the dark purple of night.

Dean King is fire.

And I am rain.

The Space Between Us releases January 31, 2018 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Apple, Tolino, Scribd, Angus&Robertson, iNdigo and More! 

 

sig

 

 

Teaser Tuesday: Rocking Autumn

“Jax,” Autumn says after I’d opened the door to the hotel room. Her voice comes out breathy and anxious. “Wait.”

“What baby?” I ask. “Is this too fast? Do you want me to take you home?”

“No.” She shakes her head. “It’s just that uh, there’s a chance I might be pretty bad at this. It’s been awhile. Like, a really long while.”

I can’t decide if it’s flat out adorable or the biggest turn on ever. I decide it’s a turn on.

“Well then,” I stalk over to her and pin her against the wall with the full weight of my body, “how about you just let me take care of everything. Let me make you feel good.”

RA-tease

Amazon → US https://goo.gl/nNxvzK
Amazon → UK https://goo.gl/iC8hGK
Amazon → CAN https://goo.gl/7pSZrE
Amazon → DE https://goo.gl/AxgSAR
Amazon → FR https://goo.gl/ct7FzN
Amazon → AU https://goo.gl/tDJA8T
Paperback → https://goo.gl/V6FcXA

sig