When resort heiress Elizabeth Rivers is forced to work with her nemesis, Brett freaking Carmichael, sparks fly and she learns he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Read an excerpt of chapter 10 of my steamy contemporary romance, Beautiful Fall.
Title: Beautiful Fall
The second standalone in the Beautiful Rivers Series
Three days later, I’m in the kitchen of cottage five, leaning on the center island and making notes about a possible addition to our marketing campaign. I had a brainstorm during my quick meeting with Rod, which just ended, and wanted to capture my ideas before I lost them.
Cottage five is next in line to get stripped on the inside, and work is set to start sometime today, but for the moment I’m in here alone. It’s quiet and peaceful, and the sound of the nearby ocean is drifting in through the open front door. The only other sound is the scratching of my pen on the cream-colored paper in my Moleskine notebook, which is nearly full already.
I’m almost finished with my notes when I hear the sound of heavy boots coming through the front door—a worker finally arriving to begin demolition, no doubt—and hurry to finish my thought so I can get out of the way. Too late, I realize who else it might be and, sure enough, I raise my head to find Brett Carmichael coming around the corner and into the kitchen.
He stops when he sees me and I straighten, pen still in hand.
Crap. We’ll be working together on this project for months, and yet here it is only a few days since the last time I saw him and already I’m alone with him again. Even though he’s clear across the room, my senses heighten at the sight of him.
I try to maintain my cool. “Mr. Carmichael.”
“I think I owe you an apology,” he says, slowly starting to come around the island.
Matching his pace, I begin circling the island as well, in the opposite direction. Because he needs to stay over there. Because all he has on is slacks and a collared shirt, nothing fancy, but god, he looks delectable. His broad chest fills out his shirt nicely and the hard knots of his biceps look perfectly squeezable. Plus those eyes. I really love those eyes.
So, yeah, over there.
“You already apologized.”
He stops and I stop too. I realize I’ve left my notebook and bag on the countertop. They’re now closer to him. Over there.
“It wasn’t appropriate. I didn’t mean to… attack you like that.”
I furrow my brows. Attack me? God, it’s not like I didn’t want him to kiss me. You know, in that moment.
Okay, maybe a little in this moment too. But, no, no, no. I just have to keep him over there so the energy that’s already passing between us doesn’t become unbearable. If he gets too close, I’m afraid I won’t be able to resist him. And I do want to resist him. I’ve already decided that.
“You didn’t,” I say, as he takes a step, this time going in the other direction. I also take a step in the other direction, maintaining the distance between us.
He stops and I stop too.
He cocks his head and holds my eyes. “What are you doing?” he asks, his voice sounding both curious and amused, as if he’s suddenly realized what I’m doing. And why.
“Hmm?” I say, because my muddled brain can’t seem to come up with a better response then, I’m keeping you and your dangerous body the fuck over there.
His gaze gets more intense. Without him moving the slightest bit closer to me, the space between us heats up and shrinks. Oh, shit. I’m in trouble now.
He takes another step toward me, then another, holding my eyes. I only manage half a step back, toward the counter behind me.
“Are you afraid of me?”
The honest answer, in case you’re having trouble following along, is yes.
“Then why,” he asks, coming yet closer, rounding the corner of the island, “are you once again backing away from me?” There’s nothing between us now and the air is starting to crackle.
“I’m not.” My rear hits the counter behind me and I grab it with both hands, the pen clicking against the surface, my eyes locked on his.
He stops his advance, cocking his head again. “Lizzy?”
Oh shit. I did not mean to say that. But it’s hard to think with my blood pounding the way it is. “People close to me call me Lizzy,” I offer, as if that’s some sort of explanation.
Well, that didn’t help matters at all.
His eyes sharpen with heat and oh, here he comes again. “You want me to get close to you?”
“No, I…” God, he’s right here. “I don’t know why I said that.”
“I think you do,” he says quietly. He’s stopped moving, but he’s just in front of me now, mere inches separating us. My eyes dart from his eyes to his lips.
“I don’t…” my voice is barely audible.
His eyes hold mine and my whole body is pulsing. This electricity between us is so overpowering. It’s taking over everything. I had decided I didn’t want this and yet once again my gaze falls—dammit—from his eyes to his lips.
I realize mine are parted slightly. I lick them and press them closed determinedly. He watches me do it. “I don’t…” I try again. I don’t like feeling so out of control. I gather what little scraps of willpower I have left. “…like you.”
I said it to try to push him away, but the words out of my mouth feel terrible. In fact, they feel like a wicked little lie.
He doesn’t move one whit. In fact, his only reaction is to blink, twice.
I want to take it back. But I don’t. Because then he’ll kiss me, I know he will. And I had decided I don’t want him to kiss me. This is so not going according to plan.
He straightens slightly, looking me in the eye with such intensity I forget all about his lips. “Is that so?” he asks quietly.
I stand there frozen, hands still gripping the counter behind me, as he slowly lifts his hand toward my face. I don’t move at all. I don’t take my eyes off his. His fingertips touch my skin—like a crack of lightning in a stormy sky—and he runs them down my cheek, leaving fire in their wake. My entire body weakens, and my arms slowly go slack.
My eyes still held by his, his fingers move to my neck. My vein pulses hard against him and my breath catches in my chest. His fingers continue their downward path, his sharp eyes observing my every reaction. When he rests the tip of his fingers at the tender base of my neck, I exhale shakily.
“I think you like me fine.”
At last his eyes drop from mine and he follows the track his fingers are burning along my exposed collar bone. His fingers trace the curve of my shoulder, tucking underneath my long hair. My pulse is reverberating thickly through my entire body. I’m barely breathing.
I want him to kiss me. I want him to kiss me like the fucking devil I know he is.
“I think you don’t want to like me.” He lightly plays with my hair, still watching his hand, sending waves of shivers over me. “If you want to know the truth, I don’t want to like you either,” but his voice is full of heat, and when he looks back at my eyes I’m gripped in the thunderstorm. “At least… not like this.”
Fuck. I would lean in and kiss him myself, but I’m caught in the intensity of his gaze and can’t move. Can’t think. Can’t breathe.
His hand lifts to the base of my neck and his fingers curl into my hair. His other hand runs along my hip then curls around my lower back. Our chests touch lightly at first, then more firmly. My arms have circled around him too, but his mouth still hovers just over mine.
“Beautiful Fall is a wonderful story full of desire, angst, and so much passion! A definite one-click buy!” – Rachel at Behind Closed Doors
Finish reading Beautiful Fall, the second standalone in the Beautiful Rivers Series today: