I love to reread books. I have paperbacks that are held together with tape and rubber bands. It’s one reason I love ebooks – they’re less fragile – you won’t endanger your book by falling back into a story, getting comfortable with favorite characters.
That goes true for my own work too. I don’t often sit down and reread one of my books from beginning to end, but if I’m referring back to a story – I often write about the same group of friends, and I may have to check timelines and such – I have been known to smile in remembrance over a character’s antics.
I love all of my heroes and heroines. It’s why I was compelled to write their stories. The Hick and the Hippie was one of the first romance novels I ever published. I dunno why I went back to it recently, but I want to share these characters with you again.
Lee and Xander have a wonderful back story, and I share much of their young love in flashback. Please enjoy this snippet from The Hick and the Hippie, out now.
She froze. That voice. It couldn’t be. She spun around and stared at the man walking toward her.
“Xander,” she breathed.
My God, she thought. She hadn’t seen that grin in years. It still took her breath away.
“I can’t believe it’s you. You look great.” His gaze ran over her body, then jumped back up to hold hers. “Better.”
He brushed gentle fingers over her face, used one to tug the tight v of her cleavage. Could he feel her heart jumping with excitement?
He pulled her close. “You filled out,” he whispered.
It was so familiar. The tightening of her senses, the tingling in her body. He still made her feel lusciously dominated and protected. She hadn’t seen him in almost 15 years, but Lee had to force herself to let go, to lean back and step away.
“Do I look different?”
She shook her head no, then nodded yes. He was as handsome as ever, but harder. He looked like he could beat somebody’s ass. Then change his jacket, drive her to his house in a fast, low-slung car and fuck the shit out of her.
Lee would mourn later that his youthful beauty was gone, but the warm, damp flesh between her legs celebrated the exciting facsimile that stood before her in a taller, leaner body.
When they first met he’d still been boyish, a lanky, beautiful teenager with a sweetness over the sexiness he now wore beneath taut, hair-stubbled skin. The sweetness had been carved away. His cheekbones were sharper, lips still full, but now he appeared the tiniest bit cruel, like he might have a temper lurking.
“How do I look different?”
“More masculine, a little rougher.”
He seemed to like that.
“You here on business?”
He shook his head. “I just got back in town. I moved here not long after I graduated college. I got an internship at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. They offered me a job, and I’m still there.”
Lee stared. At first her brain couldn’t process what she’d heard. If someone had said her head was spinning on her neck like a poltergeist she’d have believed them she was that shocked. “You, you’ve been in Chicago for almost a decade?”
“A little over eight years, yeah.”
They were silent, each thinking about the years apart, what they’d done, and with whom.
She laughed softly. Some of the nervous tension tumbling in her belly faded at the too normal question. “No. You?”
He shook his head. “Involved?”
“Me either,” he said. He stared at her, and she looked away, one hand yanking her suitcase forward. “It’s amazing,” he said, echoing her thoughts. “It’s been so long, but I still feel the same. Look at me,” he whispered.
She wanted instantly to obey, but she shook her head, refused to meet his eyes. “We’re in the middle of the airport.” It was a random thing to say, but the truth was too much.
“Let’s go to my house. Luggage?”
She indicated her case. He grabbed it with one hand and her hand with the other, and just that quickly he took her over.
Lee let him pull her, automatically stretching her legs in the sexy, sloping walk of her youth. She could still remember the look on his face the first time Xander told her how much he loved watching her wiggle and walk. She called him a perve, but was secretly thrilled, hugging the fabulous compliment to her breast for weeks.
Even now she grinned. It felt so familiar being pulled along behind his broad back. But the shock of seeing him after all this time, knowing he’d worked less than three miles from her for years, was poignant.
She wanted to ask a million questions: Was he happy? What had he been doing with himself? What did his home look like? How many lovers had he enjoyed?
Then she wanted to tell him about her. How well her career was going. That she’d just bought a home, learned to paint the walls and hang things all on her own.
Their eyes met as he handed her into a cab. He smiled, squeezed her hand and turned impatiently to look out the window, silently hurrying the driver along…