Spring Blossoms Release Date: August 7, 2020

Excerpt: Spring Blossoms

A door at the end of the hall opened and Miles peeked his head out. “Spring? You okay?”

“Yes. Wait, don’t…” Miles came out of his office and the door slammed behind him. “…close the door.”

He frowned and then his expression turned to anguish as he tried to open it.  “Shit.”

“Did ‘Mr. Perfect’ just curse?”

“Not the time, Spring. We’re locked out of our offices.”

“Well, just use the code to get us out of here.”

He closed his eyes warily. “I don’t remember the code.”

“Wait, so not only do you not know the code, neither one of us has a cell to call out?”

“You’ve been here longer than me. Why don’t you remember the code?” Miles placed his hands in his pockets, clenching his jaw which under normal circumstances I would find sexy as hell. Now, I was livid as I quickly donned my earring.

“I’m not upper management. You’re always supposed to have the code. How could ‘Mr. Perfect’ not know the stupid alarm code? We can’t be stuck here all night. I have plans.”

He responded sarcastically, “Of course you do.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Miles stomped off in the opposite direction of me. 

Hurrying behind him, his long strides making it hard for me to catch up, I demanded, “What does that mean, Miles?”

He muttered, “Nothing.”

“Be a man and tell me what’s your issue with me. It’s like we’re back to day one. Why can’t we be professional and friendly?”

Miles tried several office doors as he continued to walk to the lobby. All doors were locked, and he sighed with frustration. He turned abruptly around and looked down in my upturned face. “Can you come up with a solution to getting out of here instead of questioning my manhood?”    

I yelled, “You were my solution.”

“Lower your voice.”

I said even louder, “You can’t make me.”

“How old are you? ‘You can’t make me’,” he mimicked me as he strode back down the hall.

 “Stop making fun of me.”

He tossed over his shoulder. “You can’t make me.”

“Miles, I’m so serious.”

“About what? My manhood or making you do something because I definitely can’t ask you to do anything without getting mouth from you. If I have any issue, it’s that even after we talked about it, you continue to question every request I make.”

“Request? More like demand. You don’t know how to talk to people.”

“I shoot straight forward. In business, everything is black or white.”

I stepped faster to keep up with him. “But we’re people Miles. How can you be head of HR and not be able to talk to people? I keep thinking as time goes on, you’ll relax and loosen up like you were starting to do before our ‘indiscretion’.” It had been almost a month since my birthday and that night at the concert.

He glared at me as he opened the staff lounge door for me. “Is there a phone in here?”

Unsure if I wanted to be this near him and risk rejection again, I reluctantly walked past him. “No or I would’ve used it to get out of here. What are you doing here so late anyway? I thought everyone had gone home hours ago.”

Miles headed to the refrigerator. “I’m hungry. You want something?”

“I don’t have any food in there. Do you?”

“There’s a bunch of food in the refrigerator and freezer.”

“We can’t steal other people’s food.”

“Spring, we’re stuck here overnight. I’m not about to starve so people won’t curse me out for eating their hot pocket. I’ll replace whatever we eat.” He rummaged through the refrigerator. “There’s lean cuisine, French bread pepperoni pizza, and my personal choice…an unopened gallon of Blue Bell ice cream.”

“Ice cream for dinner?” I rested my back against the counter next to him. “I don’t eat pork, but I can take off the pepperoni.”

He smirked. “Chicken alfredo lean cuisine it is.”

Shrugging, I watched Miles unwrap my dinner and place in the microwave, admiring his firm ass and biceps visible through his business attire, wondering why I didn’t have an effect on him like I did with other men? Yeah, we’d had that mad crazy make-out “indiscretion” but since then no matter how sexy or stylish I dressed lately he never gave me a second glance.  Some days I wondered if I’d imagined that night, he’d been so formal with me since then.  Quite simply, he seemed to view me as a colleague. No more. No less. 

I repeated, “What are you doing here so late?”

“I could ask you the same thing.”

“Finishing up that survey that you ordered me to complete before tomorrow, though you won’t even be here.”

Miles shook his head slightly. “Ordered? You don’t think you’re exaggerating.”

“Nope. Your tone is way harsh all the time.”

He grabbed two plastic spoons and held one out to me to take before he placed the butter pecan container in between us. “You just mean my tone is too harsh with you.”

“Nope, I mean everybody.”

Miles laughed. “It’s just you.”

I crossed my arms. “You need to work on talking to your staff better.”

“Have you taken a poll?”

I jabbed my spoon at him. “You know I haven’t. But I hear things.”

He challenged. “Like what?”

“I’m not telling you…sh…nothing.” I quickly amended.  He was still my boss.

“Go ahead and curse,” he said quietly before scooping some ice cream and surprising me by holding the spoon close to my mouth. “I stayed late because I knew you were here alone, and I wanted to talk.”

“Talk about what?”

His gaze drifted to my cleavage and back to my eyes. “Since we’re stuck together for the rest of the night. Let’s call a truce.  Between now and six tomorrow morning when the building opens, anything we say or do is off the record.”

“Anything we do?” I asked and slowly licked my lips before I opened my mouth to receive the ice cream. I could tell by the heat rising between us, I would not be rejected this time.

He quickly put the spoon back in the tub and grabbed my chin for a delicious pecan flavored kiss. After a moment of feverish kissing, tongues mating, he pulled back, warm hand now on the back of my neck, his steady gaze so damn sexy.  “I talk to you the way I do because I hate that I find you fucking adorable.”

I pouted. “Adorable? I’ve heard sexy, beautiful, captivating, hot. But you only find me adorable?”

Miles looked up at the ceiling, exasperated. “You’re all those descriptions too.”

“No woman wants a man who she desires to see her as cute or adorable.”

His finger traced the soft hairs on my nape, sending thrills through my body. “Oh, you desire me more than other men?”

“So much more.” I put my spoon in the sink and found the button at the top of his shirt before slipping it out the hole. “I hate that I can’t stop thinking about you, how I can’t wait for our morning meetings just so I can see your face as you piss me off with your lofty goals and unrealistic demands. I especially hate how much I want to finish what we started that night you kissed me because since then I’ve been going crazy trying to figure out how you can remain so calm, so steady in my presence like I don’t matter.” I continued to unbutton his shirt.

Miles stopped my hand right above his abs and moved it inside his shirt against his bare skin, his heart. “Is there anything steady about the way my heart is racing? I think it’s adorable that you try your best to get under my skin, that you bite on your pen when you’re concentrating, that your smile wakes me up better than a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. That I see how frustrated you get when I ignore you or you think that I don’t want you because I have to hide it from you.” He lowered his head until his lips were within an inch of mine. “I have to think of you as adorable, because if I think of you as the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen in my fucking thirty-seven years on this Earth, you would be bent over my desk every single time you walk in my office.”

“Well, damn Miles.” Surprised by his words, the passion in his voice, the trembling in his body, I stood on my tiptoes, wrapped my arms around his neck, pressing my softness against his hardness. “Now, you have to fuck me.”

The corners of his brown eyes crinkled as he lifted me onto the counter behind us and placed my legs around his waist. “We have until six in the morning.”

*****

While you’re waiting for the release of Spring Blossoms, check out the first two books in the A Love for All Seasons now available on Amazon!

https://www.amazon.com/Autumn-Falls-Love-Seasons-Book-ebook/dp/B07YVNV8GM

https://www.amazon.com/Winter-Date-Love-Seasons-Book-ebook/dp/B082NZ2V6B

Cover Reveal: Spring Blossoms

When the one you love to hate is the one…

Believing that lasting love is damn near impossible, the fiercely independent Spring Locke has always preferred sex without complications over commitment. Considered the wild, irresponsible, and selfish one in her family, in her career she is the complete opposite. As a human resources specialist, Spring is dedicated and destined for promotion until there is a merger and she is forced to adjust to a new supervisor. From their very first meeting, Miles Davenport is infuriating, arrogant, demanding, uptight and so not her type.  Yet Spring finds herself insanely attracted to her single, handsome, and aloof boss.  Confident in her ability to get any man she wants Miles becomes her challenge.  When he finally succumbs to Spring’s irresistibly tempting charms, she is unprepared for the deep, emotional connection that Miles evokes within her and the love he expects from her.  And for once Spring wants to give a man her all.  Except she has unshared truths from her past that threaten the very love that she now desires. 

Wednesday Writing Prompt #4

The Last Prompt

I can’t believe that May is almost over and that we are now on our last prompt. This was a good experience and at times challenging when the prompts stumped me. I hope you enjoyed reading our various takes on the prompts as much as we enjoyed writing them! All of my prompts will eventually be stories…

“Can you picture it? You and I together?”

I remained coldly silent in the twenty-minute drive to our hotel in Vegas. I didn’t acknowledge all the wonderful sights of the world-famous strip as we drove past. I’d been so excited about our first major trip together and even more proud that I’d managed to fly without freaking out. And then he had to be stupid and forget his so-called ex’s picture was in his messenger bag. How can he really be over her if he still carries her picture?

Breaking the silence, he uttered, “Look, we came here to have fun and not argue.”

I glared at him before returning to my blind stare out the window. “I have no intention of arguing or doing anything else with you. In fact, I’m trying to decide if it makes sense to even be here. The practical side of me is warring with the pissed side.”

He sighed heavily. “I’m sorry. I already explained at the airport that I didn’t even remember that the picture was there. She put the pic in my bag after we’d just gotten into our millionth fight. I hadn’t used that bag to travel in years.”

“The sofa in the picture looks like the same sofa you have now and she’s wearing one of your shirts.”

“A sofa and a shirt I’ve had for years. If you didn’t tear up the photo, I would tell you to look in the background and see that it’s not my current apartment.” He tugged on his goatee. “It was an old photo and it means nothing.”

I hit the armrest nearest to him. “Are you sure that picture means nothing? Are you hurt you don’t have a picture to remember her by?”

He glanced at me. “Fuck no. I wanted you to tear it up. I left her because I was tired of her shit. She may still want me, but I don’t give a fuck. I’m with you now and I love you, and only you.”

Crossing my arms, I hissed, “You only left because she wouldn’t change. Maybe you’re trying to make her suffer now that she’s ready to get her act together.”

Chris bellowed, “You think I’m trying to make her suffer by being here with you? She doesn’t know shit about my life anymore and she sure doesn’t know anything about you except that you’re my woman now.” He inhaled deeply before speaking in a gentler tone, “Simone, we both have pasts.”

I snapped, “I didn’t lie about mine.”

“You never told me about Akil and you only broke up with him because you thought he wasn’t ready for marriage. You still get calls from him and even Derek still calls you.”

“They both know about you now and neither has called since. Besides, I didn’t expect our relationship to get so serious so fast.”

He pulled up in front of the hotel. “I didn’t either.” Chris suddenly entwined our hands and placed it against his fast beating heart. “Give us a real chance. I love you.”

I tried to pull away, but he held stronger.  I shook my head. “Do you know the pain I still feel when I think about that awful day I stopped by your place and she was there? And then two months later, to find that…that picture you took of her only wearing your shirt looking at the camera like she just fucked you, bothers the hell out of me.”

Chris closed his eyes for a second. “I know, baby and if I could take that hurtful moment away or remembered I had that stupid photo I would, but I can’t. Please tell me you still believe that nothing happened when she stopped by my place unannounced and that nothing ever will.”

“I believe in signs and maybe everything is telling me to leave you alone. You still have unfinished business.”

At the moment the hotel staff walked up to the car and as Chris prepared to open the door, I tugged my hand again. “No. I don’t want to be here with you anymore. We shouldn’t even check in. I know you spent a lot on this trip, I can pay you back for my half.”

He gestured to the valet to give him a minute and then looked back at me. “Don’t do this. We’ve both wanted this trip. I believe in signs too.  You stopping by my place as hurtful as it was for the both of us, put me directly in the middle of my past and present. And it confirmed for me that she pales in comparison to you.  Yes, she hurt me, and I left. But when you left me, I was destroyed.”

“I don…” He cut off my protest with his tongue, kissing me deeply. Damn, his delicious kisses.  His hand drifted to my breast and I grabbed his head to me, the negative energy changing into a sexually charged one.

He pulled back enough to stare at my lips. “Let’s go upstairs. If you still want to leave after I prove to you that you’re the only woman in my heart and mind, we’ll leave.”

Still undecided, he took my silence as consent.

Chris held my hand tight while we checked in the hotel and in the elevator. I hadn’t said another word to him, though he’d attempted light conversation.  He expected that our chemistry and insatiable desire for one another would resolve whatever issue we had. Sex would only quench our bodies’ thirst but the need to trust him could never be satisfied by our amazing physical connection. And that hurt to the core because I did love him madly.

I pressed my head against his strong back and circled my arms around his waist as he tried to get the key to work, thinking that maybe I would stay this weekend and let this be our last one. That I would give him all my love while we were here and end things once we returned home. I reasoned we were here now and that kiss in the car had only enflamed my desire for him.  

Once he opened the door into our suite, I covered my mouth in surprise at the most romantic scene I’d ever seen in my life. The entire room had been lit by candles and red, white, and pink rose petals led to a large white bed covered with only red and pink petals. I walked ahead of him, amazed that he’d been so thoughtful to have arranged all of this for me. “Wow…”

Chris embraced me from the back, and I kissed the space between the side of his face and his neck. “Everything happens for a reason. I didn’t remember that picture was in my bag and you found it looking for something else I’d asked you to get. I wanted to use this weekend to show you how much you mean to me.” He chuckled. “I was going to ask ‘if you can picture it, you and I together forever’, when I first opened this door. I had no idea that we would be talking about another picture.”

I hugged him closer to me. “I can’t believe you did this.”

Chris turned me in his arms and looked down at me with his beautiful eyes. “I want to give you the world. This is just a taste. You’re it for me and I’ll keep doing whatever it takes for you to fully trust me. I’m not mad you found that picture, your hurt just tells me that I still have more work to do. And I’m willing to put in the work for us…for our future. I just need to know if you’re willing, too?”

I smiled brighter than the flickering candles surrounding  us.   

**Simone and Chris first appeared in Chemistry and will again appear in the sequel tentatively titled, Chem Love. **

https://www.amazon.com/Chemistry-Tiye-Love-ebook/dp/B07MZ788VR

  1. Would you give Chris a honest chance or continue to give him the side eye?
  2. What would you do if you found a photo of an ex in your partner’s bag?

Now continue your reading journey and see what each of my writer friends wrote with the same prompt.

Delaney Diamond delaneydiamond.com

J.L. Campbell joylcampbell.com

Nyora René nyorarene.com

S. Taylor staylorromance.com

Wednesday Writing Prompt #3

Writing Prompt 3# His best friend sets him up on a blind date, but he’s surprised when he shows up for a date and his best friend is sitting there.

THE REAL

Damn. I would be at least thirty minutes late for a blind date I didn’t even want but I promised Tish I would be there. She’s the only reason I even agreed. My console lit up signaling a call. Perfect. It’s Tish, probably wondering if I’m running late per usual. I debated whether to answer and hear her mouth about my selfishness and lack of respect for people’s time.

I increased my speed hoping to cut down my time of arrival as I clicked the button on my steering wheel. “Hey.”

“Why does it sound like you’re still driving?” Her soulful voice traveled throughout my car.

“Just tell your friend, I had a meeting that ran late. I would’ve told her myself, but you refused to give me her number.”

She snorted derisively.  “So, you can cancel behind my back? And how charming you are, you would do it in such a way, she would think it was her idea. Besides, I’m not lying for you when I know you were watching the Wizards game.”   

“You know how I feel about the Wizards. Why would you set a date up for tonight?”

“Umm…you agreed to meet her tonight.”

I slipped in between two cars trying to make up some of the time. “Stop busting my balls and let her know I’ll be about ten minutes late.”

“You mean thirty?”

I countered, “Twenty-five.”

“Aaron. I can’t believe you.”

“Tell her whatever you want to tell her but just let her know I’m running late. Fuck, Tish. I shouldn’t have agreed to even go on this date. I can get a woman.”

She remarked, “The world knows that Aaron Youngblood has no problem getting a woman.  But none of them are of substance.”

Old resentments and regrets resurfaced as I grumbled, “I had that, and I fucked it up.”

“It’s been two years since the divorce. Just because you fucked it up, doesn’t mean that you can’t get it right the next time. You’ve become a much better man. I couldn’t stand your ass and now you’re my best friend.”

I tapped my steering wheel. “If I’ve changed so much, why are you and I still just friends?”

She responded softly, “Aaron, you know why.”

I did but it didn’t stop my incessant dreams of being with her. “You still seeing that dude?”

“It’s complicated.”

“With me, it would be simple.”

Her laughter warmed my heart. “You and I would never be simple.”

I answered promptly, “Our love would be.”

Switching lanes, I let my words sink in.

Tish sighed deeply. “We are not a good idea.”

I gripped the steering wheel tighter. “Have you texted my date, yet? She’s probably thinking I stood her up.”

Silence again on her end.

“Tish?”

She finally replied, “Having second thoughts.”

I drawled, “About us?”

“About setting you up. Maybe I should tell her to leave.”

“Jealous?”

She squeaked, “Jealous?”

“Why is there an echo?”

“Your ego is way too big.”

I teased. “Then admit you don’t want me to meet this woman because of the way I make you feel.”

“You don’t make me feel anything. The blind date was my idea.”

I chuckled. “Why do you keep lying to yourself?”

“I’m not.”

I shook my head as if she could see me.

She repeated, “I’m not.”

“Admit you’d miss me if I stop calling you?”

“Of course, we talk every day.”

“Okay…admit that I was the best sex of your life.”

“Aaron that was one night.”

Confident of my sexual prowess, I replied, “Your point?”

“That night was a long time ago and you needed me.”

“You ran after me that night, remember?”

“I couldn’t stand to see you so hurt. I didn’t plan to sleep with you.” She paused. “I didn’t want to be a rebound…and then you are my oldest friend’s ex-husband.”

“As you said yourself, Kam is happy and isn’t concerned about who I’m with anymore and I wouldn’t care if she did.”

“It’s just crazy that I even allowed myself to be attracted to you.”

“Was it crazy how my dick made you feel? How my tongue enjoyed every bit of your body. How you were ready for me again within seconds of screaming my name. That I still dream about that night and how we made love for hours. You really want me to be with another woman when you know you want to be my woman?”

“That night was fucking amazing, but you didn’t call me for three months. I thought I did something wrong or that you used me.”

“I tried to explain, but you wouldn’t let me. You wanted us to forget about that night and move on as friends.”

“You didn’t try hard enough to explain.”

“Why would I do that when you made it clear when you woke up in my arms, crying, and apologizing that it was all a big mistake?”

“Because it was, Aaron.”

“Making love to you made one of the worst nights of my life, the best. You made me feel like I had a tomorrow, that there was hope for me to find love again. I didn’t contact you because I wanted to be sure of my emotions…sure that what I felt for you was real.”

“Aaron it was the worst night of your life because you still loved Kam.”

“When I signed those papers, I was done. It took me a long time to see that if she and I were meant, I wouldn’t have kept so much from her. She fell in love with Kari because he’s always been true to himself.  I was dealing with a lot of shit, feeling sorry for myself. Hating that I lost to my little brother, hating that a part of me wished he stayed gone. He was a reminder of how much I’d fucked up.  But you’ve always been hard on my ass. You saw through me. Made me be real. And that night we spent I’d never felt so close to another human being. I only settled for friendship because it’s what you wanted.” I pulled into the restaurant lot and parked. “Do you still want me to go out on this date?”

“She’s already there, Aaron…I don’t know…”

“Don’t know what? Listen, spend the weekend with me in Chicago and if you’re not in love with me by Sunday, we forever remain friends. I’ll fly you up.” I parked my car, waiting for her response. “Tish…”

She sighed. “Let me think about it. I better go.”

“Wait…can we talk more after this horrible date?”

“How do you know it’ll be horrible?”

“It’s not you.”

“Bye, Aaron.”

“Seriously, give me one weekend.”

“Maybe…”

I smiled as I disconnected the phone, already thinking of an escape plan to ditch my date, anxious to call Tish back. I jumped out of my car and practically ran into a woman.

“Tish?” I blinked quickly to make sure that she wasn’t a figment of my imagination. “What are you doing in Chicago?”

Tish placed her hands on her tight jeans-covered ample hips and tilted her head flirtatiously. “I told her to go home, that I wanted you for myself.”

Smiling so hard, my jaws already ached, I pressed her soft body into mine. “And she wasn’t upset?”

Circling her arms around my neck, she asked, “Why you worried about a woman you never met?”

“I did drive all this way. At least I can meet her.”

She grinned and kissed me with her luscious full lips. Before I could deepen the kiss with my tongue, she pulled back. “Name’s Latisha.”

“I heard good things about you.” I caressed her beautiful heart shaped face, shaking my head in wonder that she’d planned such an elaborate ruse to get my attention. “I’m thinking we’re not going to need the whole weekend.”

**Aaron and Tish first appeared in Forbidden.**

*For readers who wanted to know what happened after Tish went after Aaron in Forbidden Hearts*

Have you ever dated a man who started off as your friend only?

Would you date one of your guy friends?

Once a man is in the friend zone, does he typically stay in that zone?

Now…the fun of this writing experience is to read how each of us used the same prompt to create very different shorts…Enjoy!!!

Delaney Diamond delaneydiamond.com

J.L. Campbell joylcampbell.com

Nyora René nyorarene.com

S. Taylor staylorromance.com

Wednesday, Writing Prompt #2

Prompt 2# Hero and heroine are working late and end up getting locked in the building alone. 

The Truth

Stretching at my desk, I glanced at my watch. “Is it really after eight?”

I got up barefoot, my heels underneath my desk, and walked around my office wondering if I was the only one at work still finishing up that stupid survey that Miles wanted ready by tomorrow. I would have to call security to escort me out the building.  Stepping out into the quiet hall, I listened for any noise. My diamond earring suddenly slipped from my ear and rolled across the floor. I quickly ran after it to pick it up, hearing my door close behind me. “Fuck.”

A door at the end of the hall opened and Miles peeked his head out. “Spring? You okay?”

“Yes. Wait, don’t…” Miles came out of his office and the door slammed behind him. “…close the door.”

He frowned and then his expression turned to anguish as he tried to open it.  “Shit.”

“Did ‘Mr. Perfect’ just curse?”

“Not the time, Spring. We’re locked out of our offices.”

“Well, just use the code to get us out of here.”

He closed his eyes warily. “I don’t remember the code.”

“Wait, so not only do you not know the code, neither one of us has a cell to call out?”

Miles placed his hands in his pocket, clenching his jaw which under normal circumstances I would find sexy as hell. Now, I was livid.

“How could ‘Mr. Perfect’ not know the stupid alarm code? We can’t be stuck here all night. I have plans.”

He responded sarcastically, “Of course you do.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Miles stomped off in the opposite direction of me. 

Hurrying behind him, his long strides making it hard for me to catch up, I demanded, “What does that mean, Miles?”

He muttered, “Nothing.”

“Be a man and tell me what’s your issue with me.”

Miles tried several office doors as he continued to walk to the lobby. All doors were locked, and he sighed with frustration. He turned abruptly around and looked down in my upturned face. “Can you come up with a solution to getting out of here instead of questioning my manhood?”  

I yelled, “You were my solution.”

“Lower your voice.”

I said even louder, “You can’t make me.”

“How old are you? ‘You can’t make me’,” he mimicked me as he strode back down the hall.

“Stop making fun of me.”

He tossed over his shoulder. “You can’t make me.”

“Miles, I’m so serious.”

“About what? My manhood or making you do something because I definitely can’t ask you to do anything without getting mouth from you. If I have any issue, it’s the fact that you question every request I make.”

“Request? More like demand. You don’t know how to talk to people.”

“I shoot straight forward. In business, everything is black or white.”

“But we’re people Miles. How can you be head of HR and not be able to talk to people?”

He glared at me as he opened the staff lounge door for me. “Is there a phone in here?”

Unsure if I wanted to be this near him and risk rejection again, I reluctantly walked past him. “No.”

Miles headed to the refrigerator. “I’m hungry. You want something?”

“I don’t have any food in there.”

“There’s a bunch of food in the refrigerator and freezer.”

“We can’t steal other people’s food.”

“Spring, we’re stuck here overnight. I’m not about to starve so people won’t curse me out for eating their hot pocket. I’ll replace whatever we eat.” He rummaged through the refrigerator. “There’s lean cuisine, French bread pepperoni pizza, and my personal choice…an unopened gallon of Blue Bell ice cream.”

“Ice cream for dinner?” I rested my back against the counter next to him. “I don’t eat pork, but I can take off the pepperoni.”

He smirked. “Chicken alfredo lean cuisine it is.”

Shrugging, I watched Miles unwrap my dinner and place in the microwave, admiring his firm ass and strong arms, wondering why I didn’t have an effect on him like I did with other men?  He grabbed two plastic spoons and held one out to me when he placed the butter pecan container in between us.

“You just mean I don’t know how to talk to you.”

“No, I mean everybody.”

“Have you taken a poll?”

I jabbed my spoon at him. “You know I haven’t. But I hear things.”

He challenged. “Like what?”

“I’m not telling you sh…nothing.” I quickly amended.  He was still my boss.

“Go ahead and curse,” he said quietly before spooning some ice cream and holding it close to my mouth. “Looks like we’re stuck together for the rest of the night. So, between now and six tomorrow morning when the building opens, anything we say or do is off the record.”

“Anything?” I asked and slowly licked my lips before I opened my mouth to receive the ice cream. I could tell by the heat rising between us, I would not be rejected this time.

He quickly put the spoon back in the tub and grabbed my chin for a delicious pecan flavored kiss. After a moment of passionate kissing, our tongues mating wildly, he pulled back, warm hand now on the back of my neck, his steady gaze so damn sexy.  “I talk to you the way I do because I hate that I find you fucking adorable.”

I pouted. “Adorable? I’ve heard sexy, beautiful, captivating, hot. But you only find me adorable?”

Miles looked up at the ceiling, exasperated. “You’re all those descriptions too.”

“No woman wants a man who she desires to see her as cute or adorable.”

His finger traced the soft hairs on my nape, sending thrills through my body. “You desire me like you do other men?”

“More.” I put my spoon down and found the button at the top of his shirt before slipping it out the hole. “I hate that I can’t stop thinking about you, how I can’t wait for our morning meetings just so I can see your face as you piss me off with your lofty goals and unrealistic demands. I especially hate how much I want to finish what we started that night you kissed me because since then I’ve been going crazy trying to figure out how you can remain so calm, so steady in my presence like I don’t matter.” I continued to unbutton his shirt.

Miles stopped my hand and moved it inside his shirt against his naked skin, his muscled pec. “Is there anything steady about the way my heart is racing? I think it’s adorable that you try your best to get under my skin, that you bite on your pen when you’re concentrating, that your smile wakes me up better than a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. That I see how frustrated you get when I ignore you or you think that I don’t want you because I have to hide it from you.” He lowered his head until his lips were within an inch of mine. “I have to think of you as adorable, because if I think of you as the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen in my fucking thirty-seven years on this Earth, you would be bent over my desk every single time you walk in my office.”

“Well, damn Miles.” Surprised by his words, the passion in his voice, the trembling in his body, I stood on my tiptoes, wrapped my arms around his neck, pressing my softness against his hardness. “Now, you have to fuck me.”

The corners of his dark brown eyes crinkled as he lifted me onto the counter behind us and placed my legs around his waist. “We have until six in the morning.”  

******

Would you ever have a relationship with a co-worker or your boss, especially if given the current situation?

You will see Spring and Miles again in Spring Blossoms, the third book in A Love for All Seasons, coming summer 2020!

Spring Locke appears in both Autumn Falls and The Winter Date….

Now click and check out my writer friends’ blogs and see how creative each of them are with the same prompt! Enjoy and happy readings!

Delaney Diamond delaneydiamond.com

J.L. Campbell joylcampbell.com

Nyora René nyorarene.com

S. Taylor staylorromance.com

Wednesday Writing Prompt May 6

PROMPT 1 The heroine is at a bar playing a drinking game with her friends and loses, and as a result is told that she has to ask the next man who comes through the door out on a date.

The Introduction

Adjusting my cold shoulder red sweater, I surveyed the bar area where I’d just lost a bet with my girls. “I thought there would be more hotties tonight with that Black Lawyer’s Association convention in town.  Such a waste of my stilettos and outfit especially because I don’t have money for dry cleaning.”

Sheena, my roommate complained, “I told you we should’ve hung out at Adams Morgan. That’s where the money is.”

Paula finished her cocktail. “There are plenty of attractive men here tonight, you’re too picky.”

Zoe added, “Says the woman who’s practically engaged.”

I wagged my finger in Paula’s face. “Not trying to hear anything from you. Kwame can’t seem to think without you.”

Paula protested weakly, “I keep trying to get rid of him, but he doesn’t go anywhere.”

Zoe threw her arm around her best friend’s shoulders. “And you know you adore him.”

Sipping on the rest of my scotch on ice, I scanned the bar and restaurant again. “Back to me, attention back to me. I lost the game, but I don’t see anyone in here who seems to be unattached.”

Zoe quirked a brow. “I’m upping the ante, instead of asking anyone who you find hot. You have to ask the next man who walks through that door for a date.”

Scrunching my nose, I argued, “Anyone? What if he butt ass ugly?”

“It’s just a date and not a marriage proposal. The dude may turn you down anyway.”

I tossed down my drink. “No man has ever turned me down. Fuck it, the next guy who walks through that door.”

Paula laughed. “Hope he’s old enough to be your grandfather trying to relive his youth.”

“Well, at least I’ll have a date.”

At that moment, a group of laughing, young, handsome black men in various business casual attire walked into the restaurant.

“Are you freaking kidding me? You get to choose out of them? Every single last one of them is hot,” Zoe lamented.

“I’ll do you one better.” I stepped off my stool, smoothed back my sleek long ponytail, and sauntered, purposely to the group of four. When I got closer to them, another cutie walked through the door and my knees almost buckled. Damn, he was one sexy man.  Just my type with his ebony skin, low cut fade, groomed mustache and goatee, muscular physique visible in his blue sweater, and tall enough for my five-inch heels. He opened his mouth to say something to his friends before our eyes met. Bingo.  Unabashedly staring at him, I addressed his group. “Good evening, wondering if you gentlemen would like to join me and my gorgeous friends over there for drinks.”

Four heads turned toward the bar and my friends, who were varying shades of black and beautiful waved at the men. And without further conversation, the group happily headed to the bar. Except one.

The tall, dark, and handsome object of my attention grabbed my hand before I could follow. “Hey, hey… you’re mine for the night.”

I smiled. “Yours for the night?”

“Yes. Mine.”

“What if I have my eye on one of your friends?”

He shook his head. “Impossible. In fact, …” Still holding my hand, he pulled me to the hostess stand. “Table for two.”

I looked back at my girls who appeared to be enjoying the company of the men. Only Zoe screwed up her face and licked her tongue. I gave her the middle finger and then I turned back to the sexy stranger. “Can I at least find out your name if I’m supposed to be yours tonight?”

He grinned his teeth so pearly white, I wanted the number to his dentist. “Maybe.”

“Then, maybe, I don’t want to be alone with you.”

He countered in a deep voice. “Yet, you haven’t let go of my hand.”

“I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

Dropping my hand, he grimaced. “Ooh, that hurt.”

Surprisingly already missing the warmth of his palm, I responded, “I think you can take it.”

Flirtatiously he quipped, “Yes, I’m sure I can.”

The hostess then asked us to follow her to a booth.  Although I sat expecting him to sit across from me, he gestured with his hand for me to move over. With any other guy, I would’ve been annoyed at his rather assuming behavior, but I strangely wanted to be near him.

“Order whatever you like.” He pointed at the menus that the pretty hostess who lingered a little too long at our table gave him. The handsome stranger shifted his body toward me with his arm tossed casually behind me on the booth. He even smelled good.

I twisted my body slightly to face him, enjoying our easy natural chemistry. “We were meant to meet tonight.”

“Really? Tell me why?

“You walked in right when I’d lost a stupid drinking game. The loser had to ask the next person who walked through the door for a date.”

I could see my reflection in his brown eyes as he asked, “So not because it was love at first sight?”

“Well, aren’t you forward?”

“When it comes to something I want.” His gaze lingered on my mouth.  “Admit it was love at first sight.”

“Not a believer in love at first sight. Maybe like or lust. Besides, you don’t even know my name.”

“Doesn’t matter. When you smiled at me with those damn kissable lips of yours, that was enough.”

To stop from grinning like an idiot from his smooth talk, I bit my lip. “You are charming.”

“I am that.”

I clapped once. “Love a man who can brag on himself.”

“And I love a woman confident enough to walk up to me and ask me out.”

“Well, I didn’t quite ask you out. I asked if you and your friends wanted to join us. You took it upon yourself to separate me from the group. “

“Was it not your intention to ask me out?”

“I had to choose one of you. Again, you volunteered.”

“I let you out of your misery, you couldn’t stop staring.”

I scoffed. “Excuse me. That would be you who stopped breathing the minute you saw me.”

The vibrations of his deep throaty chuckle traveled my body. “You caught that?”

“I’m surprised you admitted it.”

Shrugging his broad shoulders, he smiled. “No shame in my game.”

“Yes.” Pumping my fist halfway in the air, I announced, “Admitting that you’re just playing games with me.”

“I already enjoy talking to you…you have a quick comeback for everything I say.”

“Let the record reflect, you didn’t deny that you’re toying with me.”

Leaning closer, he kissed my neck slowly and deliciously before backing up, watching me. “I might be. Want to play?”

Neck still tingling from the deft touch of his lips, I quietly assessed his handsome features uncaring that he probably had a woman. He was too fine, well-spoken, charismatic, and -judging from the Cartier watch on his wrist -of means, to not have a woman somewhere eager for his attention. Right now, he only had sexy bedroom eyes for me, and my panties had been slick since he grabbed my hand. “I might. Name’s Royalty.”

Pleased by my response, he raised one thick dark brow repeating my name, his pronunciation rolling seductively off his tongue. Finally, he gave me his. “Devin.”

Devin and Royalty will be seen again in Unforgettable Man

If you were Royalty, would you have joined Devin alone at a table or insisted he join you and your friends at the bar?

Have you ever felt instant chemistry with someone?

Would you ever be bold enough to ask a group of men to join you and your friends as Royalty did?

Have you ever asked a man out on a date? Or do you believe only men should do the asking?

***Devin and Royalty were first introduced in Unforgettable Kiss***

https://www.amazon.com/Unforgettable-Kiss-Tiye-Love-ebook/dp/B086694JD3

***Zoe and Paula were first introduced in the Endgame***

https://www.amazon.com/Endgame-Trilogy-Book-1-ebook/dp/B07NYB7BKD

Enjoy more free reads by checking out my author friends’ blogs! Just click on their names and see how each of us were creative with the same prompt!

Delaney Diamond delaneydiamond.com

J.L. Campbell joylcampbell.com

Nyora René nyorarene.com

S. Taylor staylorromance.com

Cougar Summer Sneak Peek

Cougar Summer will be a part of an anthology of contemporary romance novellas to be released soon. More details coming soon…In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek…enjoy!

This is my own cover for when I release it myself later this year. There will be another cover for the entire collection, which I’ll share along with the release date soon!

Chapter One

My fortieth birthday is in two weeks, five days, four hours, and twenty-nine, …wait twenty-eight seconds. I cannot believe that I’m about to be forty with no husband or even one child. I’m not even fortunate to say I have been divorced, or I called off an engagement. When I turned twenty-five with a sexy man in tow, I just knew that by the time I turned thirty I would’ve been married at least two years. That fineness did not translate into husband material and by thirty, my career as an editor for a small publishing company had just taken off so I didn’t care. I had a girls’ trip to Vegas at thirty-five and didn’t give a fuck. But forty. Forty is old.

My best friend, Gail, has been married twice and is now engaged to be married for the third time, swears that it’s more embarrassing when you fail at marriage. I don’t agree to disagree on this one. I will never understand her plight, because she’s had three different men who wanted to legally claim her to the world, and she has a son. Society looks at single, never been married much differently than a twice married divorcee. She might be called out for not keeping a man, but I can’t even get one. Okay, I can get one, but one that wants to be a husband is a long story worthy of a peach Bellini and three lime Margaritas.

I’m the middle child and the only girl, so though I don’t have the middle child syndrome, it does get downright depressing to attend another family gathering with my youngest and oldest brothers’ wives and children in tow. And my parents who are still blissfully together after forty-five years, have tried to set me up with every single male from church and from their respective jobs before they retired from teaching. I’m poor Auntie Nya to my family and to my friends I’m Anya, the bold and the beautiful, with no responsibilities to anyone but myself. Problem is I want to be tethered to someone. And if for some reason I am unable to be impregnated, adoption is a viable option. Besides, it has taken me more than two years to lose forty pounds, I don’t necessarily want to gain any weight any time soon. 

“What are you thinking about this early?” A deep voice interrupted my depressing racing thoughts.

I looked to my left at Neil, the handsome, internal medicine doctor, I’d been seeing off and on for years. Maybe I should say “fuck buddy” because we rarely went out anymore. “Nothing. I need to get up for work.” 

“Aren’t you already on leave?” He propped himself up on his elbow.

“Yes. But I still have a few meetings I have to attend since I’ll be gone for six weeks.”

He reminded drily, “a trip you neglected to tell me about. Like, I wouldn’t mind spending a few days in Costa Rica.”

“We’re not in a relationship, so I don’t have to tell you any of my plans.” I rolled my eyes. “This isn’t a leisure trip. I’m going there to work. I’m having writer’s block and I need to finish this novel and get it to my publisher.”

Neil reasoned, “So I can’t visit one weekend out of the six weeks you’ll be there?” He scrutinized my face. “Are you going with someone else?”

I placed my pillow over my head and groaned at this pointless conversation. He calmly removed my fluffy barrier, waiting for an explanation. I used to believe that when he questioned me about my whereabouts, seemed jealous or made me believe he wanted something more, he really did. I can be fooled once, okay, maybe twice, but not three times. “Nope, not doing this with you again, Neil.”

He frowned and once upon a time I would have smoothed the wrinkles in his forehead and kissed his full lips. “Doing what?”

I turned on my side to face him. “You and I are only good for fucking. I don’t need you to follow me to paradise and pretend we have more than what we have.”

Neil smooched me quickly and declared, “I love you.”

Unimpressed, I responded, “You love yourself more.”

His head jerked slightly back at my nonchalance. “What happened to ‘I love you back’?”  

“Noting you didn’t contradict me.” I threw the covers off me and moved to the edge of the bed searching with my feet for my slippers. Ready to begin my day without one Neil Sanders.

Neil’s strong arm snaked around my waist and he pulled me back down beneath him. He slowly raised my black satin negligee up my thighs. “You know you love me.”

I looked into his dark brown eyes slightly hooded by his lids as he hovered over me. “I do but what we have is not enough and I’m too old to pretend otherwise.”

His eyes were sad though he cracked a smile. “I forgot you’reabout to be a cougar.”

I popped his shoulder. “Shut up. You’re only two years younger.”

Neil grinded his hard dick against my sex. “Three years younger for three months and once you’re forty, you’re officially a cougar. Let me at least visit you for your birthday, and we can relax on the beach and make love.”

I couldn’t stop the welling of tears at the image of us enjoying my birthday together. “No. I want to spend it reflecting on my life and why I’m still alone.”

His eyes now soft, he said, “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize anymore. You’ve made it clear on more than one occasion that you don’t want marriage or family. And I finally accept that this needs to be our last time.”

His eyes widened. “Last time for what? For sex? Seeing each other? Anya, I love you.”

“Neil, we want different things and for too long I thought I could change your mind. We don’t want the same things and you have that right. I just don’t want to have meaningless sex anymore.”

“It’s not meaningless when two people love each other.”

“We love each other but we stop being in love a long time ago. Now we only get together when we need some.”

“You’re forty now, you can’t still want to have children? We can start over. Just you and me.” He kissed my neck. “I can’t imagine you not in my life.” We had been a couple for more than a year when he dropped the bombshell that he didn’t want marriage or children. At the time he was finishing his residency and I assumed he only felt that way because he was so busy starting his career. We broke up a few months later but over the last eight years either he or I would miss and call the other. He would hint that he wanted more, and I would get excited about us. I finally paid more attention to his actions than his words and protected my heart. Unfortunately, I had needs and hadn’t had anyone serious since I was thirty-seven. Neil called right after that break-up and we began causally dating and fucking, and over the past several months, we stopped all pretenses and just spent time sexing.

“You thought that because of my age I would stop wanting a family?” I shook my head, weary of this stale conversation. “As long as I have a period, I’ll want a child and if for some reason I can’t conceive I want to adopt. I want to be a mother and a wife. Honestly, at this point, if I had to choose, I would rather be a mother. And since we both know how you feel about being a father, we need to stop wasting anymore time.” I tried to move, but he held me captive within his arms. “Let me go, Neil.”

“I hate hurting you. If I ever want a family, it would be with you. You would be a wonderful mother. I’ve been thinking…”

“Get off me, now.” I hit his muscled arm, struggling against his strength to move him from above me.

“Wait, wait.”

I stopped fighting him and gazed directly in his eyes. “No, you always do this. Give me hope when you know that deep down, you don’t want children. I know you can be faithful and it’s one of the reasons I still deal with you at all. It really is okay. Neil, I stopped being angry and disappointed a long time ago. However, I’m not playing the fool for you anymore.”

He implored. “What if I don’t want us to be over?”

“There is no ‘us’,” I responded firmly. “And you have no choice.”

He looked down for a second before meeting my unwavering stare. “Can we at least share one more meal? I’m hungry.” Although a fanatic health nut, he was a glutton for my cooking, that wasn’t always healthy.

“Fine, what do you want to eat?”

Neil smiled as he opened my legs and made my pussy his breakfast.

******

“I’m still trying to understand why you want to leave the country by yourself. What if something happens to you over there?” Gail lamented as she enjoyed her pasta while I picked at my grilled chicken salad. We’ve both struggled with our weight over the years.  She’d given up the fight and had become comfortable with her curvy thickness. I liked my new size and planned to maintain it.

I signaled to the waitress to refill my unsweetened tea. “Did you forget I used Theresa to handle everything? She’s the best travel agent this side of the U.S. I’ll be staying at the de La Rosa Villa. I already gave you the details and the name of my host. The Villa is handling the hour travel from the airport. I’ll be fine.” I checked my phone to see if Neil texted again. He had been insistent that the other night wasn’t our last time and sent me sexy texts throughout the day. I found myself drifting back into him, which I hated because Neil was too damn stubborn and selfish to really change his mind. “Besides I’m way behind on my novel. This has been a busy season at the company, and I focused so much on editing, I’ve had little time or even the creativity to write. I need to be inspired and a change of scenery will do the trick.”

“There are several small cities in Cali and forty-nine other states. Why Costa Rica?”

“Blame Theresa. You should see the bad ass villa where I’ll be staying and it’s in my budget.”

“But it’s your fortieth birthday. We’ve celebrated every birthday together for the past fifteen years.” Gail and I met when I started in the intern program at Kemet Publishing. She was the administrative assistant to the Copy Editor. I’d never been away from Jackson, Mississippi, my hometown until I was hired as an intern. Gail had been wise beyond her years though we were the same age and she’d helped make San Diego my new home.

              “That’s why we’re having dinner now, the night before I leave. And we can always celebrate again once I get back in July.”

              Gail sipped on her pina colada. “Okay, then tell me why you won’t even let Neil visit?”

              “You know why. If I want something different, I can’t keep doing the same thing.”

              “Neil loves you. Maybe he’s finally coming around.”

              “It’s been years, and nothing has changed. He’s not coming around and I have to be stronger this time to ignore him. I want what you and Brian have. I really think he’s the one for you.”

Gail said softly, “I thought Calvin and Tyrin were the only ones for me too.”

              I shook my head. “I didn’t but you were too caught up in them to see what was clear to everyone else. Brian is different and good for and to you. Trust me, three times is a charm.”

              She beamed in agreement. “Neil is good to you, too.”

              I twisted my lips. “He can be selfish and doesn’t want a wife and children because he doesn’t want any other responsibilities outside of himself. I honestly believe that the only reason he has never disrespected me, is because he was taught how to treat a woman by his single mother. I’m not giving him credit just for being nice to me, that’s the least any man should be towards me.  And it doesn’t matter that he never fucked over me with another woman, he’s not the one because I would be settling for a lifetime of girlfriend status. My parents have been married forever and I’ve seen the beauty of long-time love and commitment and I don’t want anything less.”

              She raised a sharply defined brow while sipping on her fruity drink. “Then why do you keep checking to see if he texted?”

              I smiled sheepishly. “I admit, it’s flattering that he’s doing his best to keep me in his life. Maybe getting away for six weeks will help me stick to my guns when it comes to Neil. I can’t waste any more time on him, period.”

              Gail sighed. “Such a shame. He’s such a pretty man.”

              I raised my glass to hers and we clicked them together. “I know.”

Chapter Two

Less than twenty-fours later as I navigated through the small airport toward the exit, a friendly Latina woman held a sign with my name. I walked toward her. “Are you with the de La Rosa Villa?”

She nodded with a bright smile. “Ms. St John?”

“Yes.” 

“I’m Marisa.” She spoke English with a strong accent. “Come this way, the car that will bring you there is right outside.”

              I followed her, trepidation in every step. “So, you’re not my driver?”

              “No, Raul will be your driver during your stay with us.”

              “How far away is the Villa again?”

              “Close to an hour and a half. We’re not in the city.”

              Suddenly fear crawled across my skin. I’m in a foreign country alone about to get in a car with a stranger. A male stranger. An hour trip, now an hour and a half seemed so long. Maybe I should have found a nice little Airbnb in Los Angeles instead of flying across waters to a Latin country. I searched the airport, to see if there were any other signs with my name. When I didn’t see any other posters, I started memorizing my scenery and pulled my cell out to secretly take pics of Marisa and the black, dusty jeep, where an older gentleman rushed to assist me with my bags.

              Marisa spoke to him in Spanish and he nodded. I wished those three years of Spanish I took in high school and college worked. He tilted his head toward me and I realized he probably spoke no English.

              As he placed my bags in the back of the jeep, I asked Marisa, “Does Raul speak English?”

              “Only a little. But it’s okay. He drives guests back and forth all the time. He will make a stop midway in case you want to go to store and buy snacks. The Villa provides meals, but snacks are up to you. If you need anything on the way, he can understand basics like if you need to use the restroom.”

              I settled in the backseat. “I already have snacks and I used the restroom as soon as I landed. Please tell Raul to drive me directly to the Villa. In fact, I want to call ahead to the Villa.”

              She smiled kindly. “Don’t worry. If it’ll make you feel better, I can get Theresa on the phone, and she can reassure you that we will get you safely to the Villa.” Before I could respond, she pulled out her cell and hit one number. “Yes, Ms. St. John arrived safely. She wanted to speak with you.”

              Hearing Theresa’s loud voice immediately allayed any fears. “Anya, you will be fine. I think it’s a bold and courageous decision to travel by yourself and anytime you need to call me about anything, I’m here. You’re in good hands. Zacarias and his staff will take good care of you. I’ve already told them of your purpose and that you’ll want to do a few excursions. Everything is ready for you to relax, unwind and give the world a beautiful love story.”

              “Thank you. I’ve been wondering if I made a smart decision.”

              “Of course, you did. Trust me, the de La Rosa Villa is an oasis, a heaven on Earth. Me and my husband traveled there two years ago, which is why I can personally vouch for your stay there.”

              “Okay. I’m going to chill and trust the experience. I’ll send you a text once I make it to the Villa.” I passed the phone back to Marisa and smiled in gratitude. “I’m ready.”

*****

Toward the end of the ride, if Marisa had been correct in her estimation of arrival, the road became unpaved, bumpy, muddy, and winding. I found myself holding on to the back of the passenger seat, thankful I didn’t have motion sickness.

              Raul called over his shoulder, “Lo siento…sorry.”

              “No, no. I’m fine. Soy bien.”

              Watching the lush greenery, a mix between a jungle and a forest, I started to feel like the character, romance author, Joan Wilder from those Romancing the Stone movies, my mom loved so much when I was a young child. This was going to be an adventure, getting to know myself all over again. Excitement stirred within at the thought that I had nothing but time to self-reflect and create as I celebrate a beginning of a new decade. Turning forty may not be such a bad thing after all. Finally, we made it over a steep hill, and I clapped in pure delight at the scenery before me.

              The Villa was magnificent, and pictures didn’t truly capture the beauty of the way the sunlight beamed through all the floor length windows surrounded by gray, beige, and white stones. Or the bright green landscape with pops of color from the flowers surrounding the home and lining the now paved pathway.

              We pulled up on the circular driveway directly in front of the massive red door, and I stepped out into the heat, hugging myself that this would be my home for the next six weeks. I’d done well in my career and had good financial sense, but this place was way beyond my means, and I had gotten a serious bargain. I walked closer to the Villa, marveling in the architecture, so spellbound by the sight before me, the voices behind me were almost a whisper.                 

“Hola.” A deep voice broke through my trance-like state.

I turned around and found myself awe-struck again but at the male specimen before me. He was beautiful. If you can call a man beautiful. He tugged on the top of his tight curly hair that he wore sponge-style as he addressed Raul in Spanish. He looked at me for a moment and smiled before Raul asked him a question. The contrast between his chocolate brown skin and his lighter brown eyes were striking. His thick brows had a natural arch, his nose perfect over slightly pouty lips. He was clean-shaven though judging the fullness of his hair and his slightly hairy muscular legs revealed by the long cargo shorts, he probably had to shave daily. I could tell that facial hair would only enhance his keen features.

His biceps, half-covered by the sleeves of his light blue t-shirt, flexed as he grabbed my largest suitcase from the back of the jeep. I caught a movement in the corner of my eye and saw a smirking Raul. I blushed and looked way, hating that he caught me ogling the latest staff member who I hadn’t met yet.

“Bienvenidos, Anya St. John.”

Impressed the beautiful stranger pronounced my name correctly, I greeted him warmly, “Hola, como te llamas?” Most people called me An-ya instead of A-nya. Blame it on my parents who wanted my name to be a combination of their names, Amos, and Nya.

His smiled widened. “Hablas Espanol?”

I shook my head vehemently. “No, no. I can only say basic things in Spanish.” I searched my brain for how to communicate to him in Spanish. My travel agent swore that at the Villa, people were bilingual. “Um…un poco ingles…no hablo Espanol.”

“I speak English,” he said with a slight accent and lifted my Louis Vuitton satchel higher on his shoulder. “Call me Zac.”

“You’re Zacarias Garcia?” I asked surprised that this gorgeous man would be my host. I expected an elder Latino gentleman, not a youthful, American-looking cocoa brown-skinned virile one.

“Zac, please. My name is way too long.”

“It’s such a nice name.”

His brown eyes framed by long lashes twinkled. “Querida, mi mama would agree.”

“What does that…never mind.” I hesitated thinking, I may have misunderstood that he’d just called me a term of endearment. I would have to look at the translator app on my phone, later.

“Yes?” There goes that gorgeous smile again, this time flashing his perfect white teeth. Swoon.

I took a breath and started speaking again, “Thank God, you do speak English. Not that I mind learning your language, just I’m a little slow when it comes to languages. By the time I learn to say, ‘what’s a good restaurant in San Jose’, I’ll be boarding on the plane back to the states.”

“You’re funny.” He grinned wide. “I don’t mind teaching you while you’re here. We have six weeks together.” He gestured toward the large house. “Come, I’ll show you around your home away from home. I promise you will enjoy your stay. We’ll have a good time.”

Why is he acting like we’re here together? I am in another country, maybe that’s how men here behave. I followed behind him, enjoying the view. He had a tight ass that his beige cargo shorts emphasized with ever step he took. His biceps flexed while pulling my luggage past the front door and down the pathway toward the back of the house. He was also a young man, couldn’t be no more than late twenties, thirty may be pushing it. I couldn’t always tell age in men, but something told me he was way too young for me. Initially I didn’t feel comfortable with Neil being younger than me. My father was three years older than my mother and I think somewhere in the back of my mind, I believed men should be older than their women. And this man in front of me was off limits, even if he was of an appropriate age to date. No more men without long-term commitment.

Breaking the comfortable silence, I asked, “So, you live here?”

He slowed his pace so I could walk alongside him. “Yes, I have a place that’s nearby on the property, but my office is inside on the first floor in the back of the Villa. I’m never far. So, if you need anything or get scared, I’m here. You should already have my cell.”

I raised my hand to my chest, wondering again why I decided to venture so far away on my own. “Why would I get scared? Should I be?”

He smiled reassuringly. “No, I meant that this is a quiet place and at night you can hear the perfectly harmless howling monkeys that can be annoying at times. Usually people travel in a group when they stay here. You came alone and this is such a big house. I just want you to know that I’m here if you need me.”

“I asked for a smaller space, but the owner said he would charge me the small space rate for the large house since no one is reserving the Villa until later this summer.

He looked down for a moment before his brown eyes twinkled. “He usually doesn’t do that. He must like you.”

Blushing, I said, “He doesn’t even know me. My travel agent set it up.”

Zac gave a knowing glance. “He doesn’t just let anyone stay in his home.”

“Wait, this is his actual home? I thought this was one of his properties?”

“He’s always traveling, so he allows people to use his home. Three days after you leave there’ll be a wedding here.” He gestured toward a large veranda replete with a vibrant blue infinity pool with the mountain and beach in the near distance. “During your stay we’ll begin to get the place ready for them. We won’t disturb your area, but we are building a gazebo on the lawn past the pool for the bridal party. We’re actually going to have a specially made clear platform placed on top of the pool so that the bride and groom can appear to stand on water as they recite their vows.”

I walked past him, marveling at the heavenly vision before me. “I would love to get married at a place like this.”

“Are you getting married soon?”

I hugged myself and stared wistfully at the golden horizon. “No, I just think about it all the time.”

“He’s a lucky man. You’re a beautiful woman, Querida.”

I turned back to look at Zac not bothering to correct him of my singledom, too busy wondering why his inappropriate comment felt anything but.

“Let me show you around so you can get some rest. You must be tired after all the traveling. I’ve made that trip several times.” He led me into the huge glass double doors to the modern gourmet kitchen.

Surprised I asked, “You travel to San Diego often?”

“Well, California. I have family in Los Angeles, and I’ve been to San Diego a couple of times. It’s a beautiful city.” He placed my bags down. “Meals are served on the veranda so you can enjoy the mountains and beach in the distance. Breakfast is for nine every day. If you ever want the staff to prepare lunch or dinner besides tonight, let them know a day in advance. Feel free to use the kitchen whenever you want up to two hours before any mealtime to give staff enough time to prep. Dinner will be ready for seven. Does that time still work for you?”

I stifled a yawn. “Yes, I only need a couple of hours to settle.”

“You are tired.” Zac frowned in concern. “Look, why don’t I take you to your suite and either after dinner or tomorrow morning I can show you the entire villa. You’re here for the next few weeks, you don’t have to see everything right now.”

“Is it really that much more for me to see?” I glanced around the large room.

He raised one thick brow. “Yes.”

“Wow. Okay, then you’re right, show me to my suite.”

He picked up my bags again and led me to a shiny light brown wooden staircase. I admired that he carried my heavy bags as if they weighed nothing. I watched the movement of his muscles in his back, calves, and triceps as we climbed the stairs. Damn, he probably has women after him all the time.

Focus on the moment, Anya. “So, is there any particular way I should dress for dinner?”

“No, this is your vacation. We only suggest mealtimes so that our staff know when to report to work since you didn’t request around the clock help. I’ll be around for dinner to introduce you to the rest of the staff and then I’ll disappear until you need me. I’m handy and can fix most things. You’re here to write, right?”

I responded proudly, “Yes.”

“What’s your genre if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Romance,” I said raising my head a little higher, knowing that most of my friends and family thought I should be working on the next great literary novel. I had just completed a novella and it’d been received so well that my boss signed me on with the company to publish my own novel.

“Romance?” His grin widened. “I bet it’ll be a spicy story. I would love to read your work.”

“You read romance?”

“You sound surprised?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know too many men who read anything other than crime stories or non-fiction.”

Zac backed away smiling. “I’m not most men. See you at dinner, Anya St. John.”

Once he closed the door, I looked up at the ceiling. “You know what I’m trying to do, and you place that man in my path. I better get my pray on.”