Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vacation Day 4

Life's a beach.
SPF 45 is not enough.
Coconut-crusted white sea bass with mango avocado salsa is very good.
Especially with Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vacation Day 3

Santa Barbara - 6:30 am - Husband's cell phone goes off. It's Monday morning, 8:00 am at home. Is this going to be one of those vacations where he spends half his time on the phone doing business?

2:30 pm - Yes. It is. This is what happens when you're self-employed and a one man operation. Half the time on the phone, some on the computer and a little time actually with us. I'm not bitter. Seriously, at least we're here.

Walked out on Stearns' Wharf this morning and saw a few dolphins playing in the harbor. We have to see dolphins every trip - my kids have such a special love for dolphins.

Everyone is sunburnt (that hazy cloud really fools you :-) ) Before we came, the kids were checking the forecast and they were annoyed because it was hotter at home than it is here in California (on the coast!! Inland temps are over 100 degrees F!!). It was hard to explain that the sun is stronger but the ocean breezes make it feel cooler. Of course when we were sweating yesterday at Universal Studios I was not listening to ANY complaints about how hot it was.

We watched fishermen unloading sea urchins - thousands of them! - down at the harbor this evening. Then we watched some small crabs playing on the rocks. And I'm driving my family crazy stopping to look at flowers and plants. I want to know what they all are. I recognize some of them that we grow as houseplants or annuals at home - hibiscus, azaleas, bougainvillea, bird of paradise, fig trees - but there are others I need to know what they are! What are those trees with the purple flowers? And the ones with the big white flowers? And those big yellow flowering vines? I'm hoping for a visit to the botanical gardens...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vacation Day 2

Santa Barbara, CA 9:30 pm
We're here! Packed a lot into today and we all have aching feet and legs. This morning we walked out onto the Santa Monica Pier. Then - because we're here and had to say we did it - we went to Hollywood Boulevard to see Michael Jackson's star. What a circus it was - media parked on the street, security lining people up to take photos of each other in front of the star. The sidewalks were packed with people. Well, now we can say we did it. Then we spent the rest of the day at Universal Studios. Hot! Temps in the 90's and we had to wait 1 1/2 hours to get in because their computer system went down. The afternoon was fun, Universal's very cool, but it was hot and crowded and after walking all day we were pretty burnt out.

Finally we rolled into Santa Barbara around 8:30. When I saw the sign for Cabrillo Boulevard a feeling of such joy swelled up in me - it's been about five years since we've ben back. I love it here so much. It's so familiar, yet still so exotic with the red tile roofs and palm trees and tropical flowers. There were a lot of low clouds as we drove up the coast, obscuring the ocean and shrouding the tops of the hills. Now I'm off to soak my weary bod in the hot tub.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My summer vacation Day 1

Calgary 9:15 am - sitting in the airport with 3 more hours until our connecting flight to LA. Blogger is giving me problems with the wireless internet here. I have edits to work on for How to Save a Life...may have to do that.

Los Angeles - 10:30 pm
When we went to claim our baggage and go through customs in Calgary, my suitcase was nowhere to be found. AAAH! Everyone else's was there. We checked with the airline and they said I'd just have to go on to LA without it. Not too happy. But...when we got to LA and claimed our baggage - there it was! I think someone else must have taken it by mistake and checked it through. It was tagged through to LA so it made it. Whew!

Got to the hotel around 6:00, checked in went for dinner at the Promenade in Santa Monica. Did a little shopping, watched some street performers, then we were going to go out on the Pier but we were all too tired - up at 4:30 am and it was 11:00 our time. We may go by there in the morning...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

What I’m Reading Wednesday

Of course I’m still reading Greyhound Summer by Nara Malone at her blog, as Arie starts her journey.

I also read Sweet Persuasion by Maya Banks. Maya Banks has become one of my new favourites. This was a sweet story of domination and submission. It sounds like an oxymoron (like I wrote a vanilla ménage story according to one reader reviewer of Love Me). But it works and definitely hot yet sweet.

I loaded up my Sony Reader for a trip we’re starting on Saturday, but darn, I couldn’t help starting Lorelei James’ story Strong Silent Type. I was supposed to be saving it for the trip! I’ve got a few others of hers loaded up, too, along with a few more Tara Janzen stories. I may add a few others...

And in between I’m reading A Sports-writer’s Life by Gerald Eskenazi.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Deleted scene!

Since my story Insatiable wrapped up last week, this week I thought I'd post a deleted scene from Love Me just for fun! This was originally my opening, but I usually rewrite my openings and I cut this one:

She didn’t have her car keys. Damn it.
Melina burrowed through her purse. Not there. She gritted her teeth. The one morning she had to get to work early, everything was going wrong. Every little thing seemed to take so much longer – her hair wouldn’t go straight under the flat iron, the blouse she’d chosen to wear had a stain on it that she hadn’t seen, the other blouse that went with her pink tweed suit needed to be ironed, there was a pile of Gavin’s shirts on the ironing board – it went on and on.
And now she didn’t have her car keys. She closed her eyes. Where the hell were they? Then she remembered, she’d rushed back into the bathroom to check her teeth just as she’d been on her way out the door the first time. She’d probably left them there.
She ran back into the apartment. She could hear the shower running. Gavin was in there, getting ready for work. Oh well. She had to find her keys.
Without knocking, she opened the bathroom door and walked in, eyes roving over the vanity. Ha, there they were!
She was reaching out a hand to snatch up the keys when her eyes were drawn to the silhouette of Gavin’s body behind the fogged-up glass door of the shower. Her mouth dropped open and she froze in place.
His head was back, both hands between his legs, one hand apparently cupping his balls, the other fisting his cock and pumping.
He was masturbating.
She stared at him, her body tight and still. Why was he doing that?
Just last night she’d wanted to have sex and he’d rolled over and mumbled something about being too tired. Then she was lying there, achy, needy and rejected, while he snored softly.
She swallowed hard, anger and hurt making her hot and tense even as Gavin let out a moan audible over the sound of the water. She backed out of the room, keys in hand, and quietly shut the door. She stood in the hall, drew in a shaky breath.
She just didn’t get it. What guy would turn down sex and then a few hours later, masturbate? She slowly walked down the hall to the door of their apartment, only realizing as she let herself out that getting to work early was not going to happen.
Not only did she arrive at her usual time but the first hour of the morning was spent staring blankly at her computer screen. When her friend Kevin came by her office to go for coffee she’d accomplished nothing. Zip. Zilch.
They went to the Starbuck’s across the street from their office building.
“Did you know you could save five hundred dollars a year by making your coffee at home?” Kevin asked her as they found a seat in the back of the restaurant.
“Yeah. We must spend a fortune coming here every day.”
Kevin gave her a look. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing.” Melina sighed and stirred her coffee.
“Bullshit. You look like someone died.”
She gave her friend a small smile. “I’m worried about Gavin and me.”
“Oh.” Kevin grimaced. “Trouble in paradise? I can’t believe it.”
“Hardly paradise,” Melina answered. Then she sighed again. “Well, actually, it was paradise. For the first six months. I don’t know what happened.” She lifted her eyes to Kevin’s face. “You’re a guy. Help me out here. I don’t understand how he could just suddenly lose interest in me.”
“Have you two been living together for six months already?”
“Yeah. Six months. I was so happy.” She sniffed.
Kevin sat back in his chair and frowned. “You’re not going to cry are you?”
“Why are guys so afraid of tears?” she demanded, with another sniffle. “And no, I’m not going to cry.”
“Good.” He sipped his coffee. “Guys don’t like all that mushy, emotional stuff. That’s all. When girls cry, it scares us.”
“Then why’d you ask me what’s wrong, if you didn’t want to hear it? God, men are bizarre.”
Kevin grinned. “Sorry. Go ahead. Tell me everything.”
Melina just pushed in one corner of her mouth in a crooked smile. “Never mind. How much money could we save by not coming here? I could buy shoes…”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Zen and the Art of Archery (thank you Nara!)
No, I haven’t taken up archery, although I may pass the book on to my husband and son, who do archery (I personally don’t approve of sports that involve weapons J ) (Hockey does not count J )

I am relating the advice in the book to my writing career. For example: “The right art is purposeless, aimless...the more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will success in the one and the further the other will recede.” And “You must learn to wait properly.” (Waiting is something I’ve never been very good at J ) You do that “By letting go of yourself, leaving yourself and everything yours behind you so decisively that nothing more is left of you but a purposeless tension.”

I really need to think about that.

Open Ice by Jack Falla – hockey research for hopefully my next hockey story.

I finished No Limits by Alison Kent last week. Another good SG5 story, although I thought Mickey's character development could have been a little stronger. I liked her though.

Crazy Hot by Tara Janzen – hot hot hot!! Love it. I finished it in the middle of last night in a bout of insomnia. I really enjoy meeting the characters that appear in other books. Like I said, I'm reading them all out of order - so this book I met Johnny Ramos, the hero of the very first Tara Janzen book I read. In this story he's still a kid; but he grows up! I also met Christian, whose story I read last week. It's cool to know the hero before the heroine! And Nikki and Kid met in this story, but in the next they reconnect...although I haven't read the completion of their story. Maybe I'll find that one and read it next...

Monday, June 15, 2009

E-publishing and the RWA

Please take a moment to stop by the ESPAN blog where agent and author Deidre Knight has posted an excellent piece on the RWA's position with respect to epublishing. In a changing industry the RWA does need to recognize epublishing as a legimitate avenue for many authors.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Free reads

Now that my story Insatiable is done (which by the way got an average of 4 stars by reader reviewers at Web Fiction Guide Listings Insatiable !!) if you're looking for something else to read, check out Nara Malone's blog - Arie Moon has just started a cross country Greyhound Adventure for the summer and it's already great!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Insatiable Part 23

Chloe arrived at her office the next morning aching with fatigue and weighed down with sadness. She’d half hoped Tyler would come to her last night, even if it was late, to tell her he loved her and didn’t want anyone else. The other half of her had dreaded the thought of another confrontation. It was too emotionally draining, too scary. If it was going to end, better that it end calmly. Even though she’d known this day was going to come, she felt like her heart had been ripped out of her chest and stomped on.
She made coffee and while she waited for it to brew she looked at the reservation book for that evening to see how busy it would be. Full, as usual. She sighed, took her coffee upstairs sat down at her desk. Five minutes later she realized she was sitting there staring at a dark computer screen. As she reached for the button on the computer, her eyes fell on the magazine article sitting on her desk. Tyler must have looked it over already.
She picked it up to fax it back to the magazine, then saw it had already been faxed. She frowned, flipped a page, and the red ink on page two jumped out at her. Tyler had drawn thick lines through an entire paragraph and scribbled notes.
“My girlfriend Chloe is the most important thing in my life,” she read. “She’s the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. I love her more than anything.”
She stared at the words, her breath stuck in her throat, heart thumping, insides trembling. She lowered the papers to the desk with shaky hands.
What did this mean? This was totally contrary to the explicit instructions Joe had given him to maintain his single playboy image.
She looked down at the papers again. Tyler had to have put them on her desk after they’d talked last night. What the...?
She lowered her forehead to her desk. Oh God. Now what was she going to do?
She didn’t even know if he’d come in yet, but she picked up the article, stood and marched downstairs to his office. He was sitting at his desk as if he was waiting for her. She tossed the papers on his desk in front of him. “Are you out of your mind?” she demanded.
His smile faded and his brows drew down. “Huh?” His mouth fell open.
“Those are the changes you want to make to the article?” She fisted her hands on her hips, planted her feet and glared at him.
His eyes met and held hers. “Yes. Is there a problem with that?”
“Of course there’s a problem! Joe told you specifically not to say anything like that. And why would you? Now? When we’re done?”
His fierce scowl startled her. “We’re not done.”
“Oh yes we are. After last night...”
He surged to his feet, slammed his palms down on the desk and leaned forward. She took a small step back. “Nothing happened last night.” Sparks shot from his dark eyes. “Other than in your imagination. Although now that you mention it, if you trust me so little, you clearly don’t love me like you said you do.” He bit out each word.
Chloe swallowed hard, her mouth dry. Her heart fluttered wildly in her chest. “Well, then we’re even,” she retorted, hating the way her voice quivered. “Because I never did believe you loved me, like you said.”
Tyler moved from behind his desk with scary speed. With one hand, he slammed the door of his office shut so hard the air in the room vibrated. She glanced nervously at the door, back at him.
“What the fuck is going on, Chloe?” He advanced toward her and she took another step back. The ferocious intensity on his face alarmed her. Her entire body shook so hard she though she might fall down.
“Wh-what do you mean? J-Joe is not going to be happy. That’s not the image he wants to sell.”
“I don’t give a shit what kind of image he wants to sell.” His voice was soft as whipped cream. He stopped in front of her, crowding her back against the wall with his big, hot body. “I’m me, and I want you. That’s it.”
Her lungs seized up.
“But that’s not what I’m talking about,” he continued. His breath warmed her forehead. “I’m talking about why you’re picking this fight.”
“I’m not picking a fight!”
“Yes, you are.” He laid his hands on the wall on either side of her, pressed against her. She swallowed a moan. “Nothing happened last night. I love you, Chloe.” His eyes focused intently on her. “I told you that. I don’t know how else to convince you that I love you. I don’t want anyone else. Ever.”
She squeezed her eyes closed against the tears that burned there as he pressed against her, and she felt his heart thumping as loud and hard as hers. The hands on either side of her head trembled slightly – was he as terrified as she was?
“It’s like you’re pushing me away,” he groaned. “For no good reason. Please, Chloe, what’s really going on?” He gave a mirthless laugh. “Last night, I was almost hoping you were jealous, because that would mean you really feel something for me.” She stared up at him. Oh God, of course she felt something for him. Didn’t he know that? Hadn’t she shown him that over and over again?
Well, no. Not last night. Last night she’d been careful to keep her emotions all wrapped up, nice and tidy. With a bow on top. Like she always did. Her heart felt a little stab. Was she driving Tyler away because she was afraid to show her feelings? Because she was afraid to have feelings?
“You have to trust me,” he said, his voice low and husky. “I’m sorry about my past, but I can’t change that. I don’t know what else to do to convince you.” “I do trust you,” she whispered, sagging between him and the wall. She rested her hands on his chest, warm and strong under his T-shirt. “I do.” She closed her eyes. “I’m just so afraid, Tyler.”
He slid one arm between her and the wall to support her, then tipped her chin up. She lifted her eyes and met his warm gaze. “Ah, Chloe. What are you afraid of?” She closed her eyes against the tenderness in his eyes. “I’m afraid of feeling. Of feeling too much.”
He let out a long breath. “Come.” He picked her up and carried her back to the chair behind his desk, sat down with her on his lap. “Chloe. Tell me about it.”
“I was jealous last night,” she confessed. “A little. But deep down, I knew you wouldn’t do anything.” She shook her head. “I’m just so afraid. You make me feel so much that I’ve never felt before. I’m so afraid of what will happen if it ends.”
“So you decided to end it first.”
She bit her bottom lip, pressed her face against the side of his neck.
“Everyone’s afraid of getting hurt, Chloe.”
“I know. But...”
“I know this is because of what you went through with your mother.” His hand smoothed down her hair.
She let out a long, shaky breath. “Sometimes when you’re in one of your moods it scares me a little.”
He went very still. Then he slowly tipped her head back so she was looking at him. “I’m not bi-polar, Chloe.”
“I know,” she whispered. “I know. But you’re so emotional, so intense...it brings back stuff...”
“Like that night in LA.”
She nodded.
“But you’ve never showed anything, Chloe.” His eyes searched her face. “You never seem afraid of me.”
“I’m not afraid of you!” she protested. “I’m afraid of all that emotion...all that passion. That’s what scares me.”
“Ah. But that’s the way I am.”
“I know. I know. And,” she choked a little on her tears. “And I love you for that. I do. That’s what scares me. I’ve never felt like this before – out of control, so high I’m afraid of coming down.”
He pressed his face against the top of her head. “That’s what life is Chloe. You can’t avoid the good stuff because you’re afraid of the bad stuff. Shit happens, but you’re strong. You can handle it.” He looked her in the eyes again, his face serious. “Look how you dealt after your mother died. You raised Carly.”
“And screwed it up,” she finished bitterly.
He shook his head. “No. You’re not responsible for her running away.”
“I might be.” She looked up at him through her eyelashes. “Maybe I drove her away. I was trying to be strong for her, but maybe she needed to see how scared I was, too.”
“Ah, sweetheart.” He pulled her close again. “You were just a kid yourself. You did the best you could. You had to survive, too. And we’re going to find her. I’ll help.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“But you’ve done so much for me.”
“Wh...what have I done for you?”
He smiled, tucked a strand of hair behind her shoulder. “You keep me from pissing people off.”
She choked out a laugh.
“You do,” he insisted. “Ups and downs are part of life, yeah, but sometimes I go a bit too far.”
She smiled at him through a haze of tears. “Yeah, you do.” He tapped her nose, but smiled. “You also love me for who I really am. Or should I say, despite who I really am...not because I’m some kind of celebrity. You have no idea how special that is.” He held her gaze, and warmth seeped through her. “You don’t need to be afraid, Chloe, because we’ll be together. I’ll always be there for you. I didn’t know how to convince you I love you, other than change the article. Or ask you to marry me.”
She drew back in astonishment and looked at him. “You ...you want to get married?” she choked out. She lifted one hand to swipe at her eyes.
“God, you’re not supposed to be crying when I ask you,” he growled. “You’re supposed to be happy.”
“I am happy. I think. I’m so confused I’m not sure what I’m feeling! I love you, too Tyler. I just can’t believe this.”
He groaned and held her tighter. “Believe it. Please, believe it.” He held her tightly for a long moment, their hearts thudding together, then he loosened his grip.
“Since we’ve been together, I feel so different,” he said. “You make me better. You balance me. Keep me steady. Make me realize what’s important. Family is important. You’re important. I want us to be together, forever. I want to have babies with you.”
Her heart stuttered at his words. Never in her wildest dreams and fantasies could she have imagined this. Tyler wanting to settle down and have a family. With her!
His open vulnerability touched her deep inside. “I want to slow down a little,” he continued, stroking his other hand down her hair. “That Chef Wars thing...I don’t want to do that right now. I’ll do the Oprah show, and the cookbook. That TV show...I don’t know.”
She looked at him and touched his beautiful face. “I want you to be happy. Whatever you want to do is fine with me. If you want to be a superstar that’s okay. If you don’t, I’m okay with that too.”
“I think I’d like to buy a little winery.” He leaned his head back and looked up at the ceiling. “In the valley. Maybe have a restaurant there...what do you think of that?”
She smiled at him. “That sounds wonderful. Whatever you want. If you want me, I’m there.”
“God, of course I want you!” he growled, and his hand fisted in her hair and he kissed her hard. “Get over it Chloe. You’re mine.”
A thrill of excitement shot through her, her stomach did a little flip and heat built between her legs. She laid her hand on his cheek and met his eyes.
“I love you Tyler,” she murmured. “So, so much.”
He kissed her again, deeply, hungrily, tasting her with his lips and his tongue, drinking in her essence, opening her mouth under his. Their kisses heated, devoured, spiraled out of control but Chloe let herself go, reveling in the sensations. Then she broke the kiss, pressed her hot face to his neck and panted.
“You’re insatiable,” she gasped.
He laughed. “Oh yeah. I told you before, Chloe, I will never get enough of you.”
Life had been easy before, but it had been colorless, tasteless, bland. Until Tyler had given her...the spice of desire...the spark of heat...the vivid, bright, exciting taste of love.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Okay, before I talk about what I've read this week I just have to say - GO PENGUINS! And GO MOOSE! Both my teams won last night. Must have been because it was my 25th wedding anniversary. Now there's a romantic way to spend your 25th anniversary - flipping back and forth between two hockey games!

One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake
I recently read The Bikini Diaries by Lacey Alexander, one of my favorite authors, and of course I kove Toni Blake too since they’re the same person. One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake should carry a Kleenex alert as I sobbed my way through the last chapters, staying up until midnight to finish it. I don’t even want to talk about what happens - just read it!

The conflict between right and wrong, black and white is so well done. Mick is doing something that technically yeah, is very wrong. Something for which there could be very serious consequences. And Jenny is doing something wrong, too, with potentially just as serious consequences. And yet – you’re rooting for both of them, wanting them to do what they’re doing because it’s NOT just black and white, there are all kinds of shades of grey and there are all kinds of reasons people do the things they do. And then to make things worse, Jenny betrays a confidence. When Mick finds out about the betrayal, he doesn’t know why she did it, he just knows she did it. But again, there are shades of grey and reasons why...

Can there be good reasons for betraying a confidence, keeping a secret, telling a lie, breaking a law…?

In the Flesh by Livia Dare (aka Sylvia Day)
This is a super-hot story with a sexy kick-ass heroine who fights along side the man she loves. The story is simple, but the stakes are high, and the fictional world is well created. I usually don’t read many fantasy/futuristic kinds of stories, but I could picture this world clearly and the technology was well-integrated into the story, believable and not “too convenient”. A great read!

And I’ve just started No Limits by Alison Kent.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Contest winner!

The winner of my blog contest for a free e-copy of Worth Waiting For is....Kytaira!

You can let me know what format you want your book in and I'll get it off to you!
Thanks again everyone for visiting my blog, I hope you'll come back.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Blogging at Amber Heat today

Today I'm blogging at the Amber Heat Authors blog

Don't forget my contest - leave a comment on yesterdays blog post for a chance to win a copy of Worth Waiting For!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

WORTH WAITING FOR - release contest

My first book from Amber Quill Press is out today! Here's the blurb and an excerpt - anyone who leaves a comment is entered to win a free e-copy of WORTH WAITING FOR. I'll draw the winner Tuesday evening.
Also check out the video trailer here
Ten years ago, Griff Campbell walked out of Ainslie Patterson’s life without a word, breaking her young heart. Now, just when she thinks she’s over him and has found love with someone else, he strolls back into her life, still as charming, playful and irresistible as ever.

Ainslie knows she’s changed a lot in the last ten years, and she discovers so has Griff. So shouldn’t the attraction between them have disappeared along with the people they used to be? But that pull between them is still there, unstoppable, unavoidable...unsettling. Why has Griff shown up after all these years? Just to lure her into his web of charm only to break her heart again? Or could they have something together now, something that was all worth waiting for?

Oh, God. He was getting to her, drawing her in to his enchanting web yet again. A familiar helplessness wrapped around her. This was crazy. She’d changed a lot in ten years, and he could not do this to her all over again. No way.
But again, when she looked into his eyes, she felt herself warming and yielding, against her will. She did believe him.
“Okay,” she conceded. “You never cheated on me. But you still hurt me.”
He lifted his beer to his mouth and took a long pull. She watched his throat work as he swallowed and it was sexy as hell. She studied him across the table.
His face was the same, if a little more mature. His dark hair that had been a haphazard mop was now cut short, longer on top, casually brushed back from his face. The eyes were the same, maybe a little more intense. His body had filled out. He’d only been twenty-two years old the last time she saw him…tall, lean and sinewy. Now his shoulders were broader, the muscles in his arms more defined, his chest solid. He was
still gorgeous, although Ainslie recalled that some of her friends had thought him a little geeky way back in college. No way was he a geek now.
“You were my first real girlfriend,” he said. “Before I met you, nobody else would even look at me. I was a major dork.”
She couldn’t help but smile. “You were never dorky.” Immediately she regretted saying that. He’d never had any lack of confidence, despite the self-deprecating comment.
He grinned then. “Whatever. Anyway, I…did care about you.”
“Funny way of showing it.”
Again, his grin faded.
“Sorry,” she muttered. “I’m trying to listen.”
He nodded, his gaze going to the condensation on the beer bottle. He rubbed his thumb through it and the slow, sensuous gesture reminded her of his thumb on her left ring finger a few moments ago. A flashing vision of his hand on her breast, his thumb on her nipple, made her head grow dizzy, her pussy warm and wet. She gulped her wine, which did nothing to alleviate the dizziness, but was pleasantly cooling.
“I did,” he insisted, not looking at her. “I know I had a strange way of showing it, but that was the problem. I didn’t want to admit to myself how I felt. It was way too much. Too much for a young kid with all kinds of ambitions and goals. Too much and way too soon.”
Her body softened, sank into the chair, warm and molten. Despite her wildest fantasies, she’d never expected to hear these words from Griff. She had to be strong, though. He had that strange power over her, and it certainly seemed it still existed, despite the years that had passed. He was dangerous.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Insatiable Part 22

“I need you,” Chloe said.
Tyler looked around her office and lifted a brow. “Here?”
She smacked his shoulder, smiling. “For work, goof. There’s some stuff I need to talk to you about.”
He shrugged. “How about now?”
They sat at Chloe’s desk. She pulled some papers toward her. “Okay, where to start,” she muttered. “Well. Your TV appearances have sparked a whole lot of interest with a few people. First of all, Oprah’s people have been calling Joe and they’ve got dates we’ll need to look at. They’re going to come here and film you here, and then you have to go to Chicago to be on the show.”
“Chicago. Cool.”
She took a breath. “We’ll have to call back Joe to discuss this more, but Food TV is apparently interested in having you do a weekly show. They have some ideas for the concept they want to run past you. Also, they want you to do a ‘Chef Wars’ show.”
“Whoa. That’s that show where the two chefs compete to prepare a meal with the ingredients they give you?” His eyes lit up with interest and speculation.
“Yes. It’s pretty intense. You each get to bring two team members, your sous-chef and one other. But Joe says the publicity is incredible, especially if you win.”
“I dunno.” His forehead furrowed.
She stared at him. “Really? You don’t want to do it?”
He shrugged, mind obviously working. “Not sure. What else?”
“Joe thinks you should enter the Bocuse d’or this year. He says it’s your time. The deadline is the end of December so you have time to consider it, plan what you’d do.”
Tyler sucked in a breath. “Wow. Okay, these are all huge.”
“Yeah.” She tipped her head to the side and squinted at him. “You don’t seem as excited as I thought you’d be.”
“I’m not as excited as I thought I’d be.” A faint smile touched his lips. “What do you think, Chloe?”
“Me? What do I think? It’s up to you, Tyler.”
He shook his head. “No. I want to know what you think.”
Her stomach did a little flip and her heart skipped a beat again. “I...I...” she stammered. “I want you to be happy, Tyler. You don’t need to do any of this stuff if you don’t want. But the publicity would be incredible. These are just more steps on the way up...right?”
“Way up to where, though?” He set his fingertips together and leaned back in his chair. “I’m not sure where I’m going anymore.”
She gazed back at him, not sure what to make of that, not sure what to say. He smiled at her.
“You know I’ve been feeling the pressure lately, Chloe.” She nodded slowly. “I need to think about these things.”
“Okay. Sure.” She gathered papers together. “How about tomorrow we talk to Joe? He knows more about all this, and then you can decide.” She paused. “The last thing is the magazine article for Epicure.” She handed him the faxed copy of the planned layout. He took the pages from her and quickly looked at them. “You can review it and if there’s anything you want them to change, we can fax it back to them by the end of the week.”
He nodded. “Okay.” He glanced at his watch. “Back to work.” He jumped up, bent down and kissed her quickly, touched her cheek with his fingertips, then bounded down stairs.
She sat back in her chair. She knew he’d been feeling the pressure of everything lately, but he was such a rising star...just look at the attention his recent television appearances had garnered.
She shook her head. They really needed to talk to Joe. She stayed late getting caught up, and around eight o’clock wandered down to the restaurant. People waited for tables in the full-to-capacity bar, humming with talk and laughter. Chloe smiled.
She made her way through the crowd to the far end of the bar where she could catch Emilio’s eye. As she leaned on the counter, smiling and waiting for Emilio to finish serving a couple, she spotted Tyler at the other end of the bar. She straightened, took a step, then saw he was talking to...Mandy.
Mandy shook her long golden curls down her back and smiled up at Tyler, her hand on his arm. He stood beside the bar stool on which she was seated, smiling down at her and listening to her. He laughed at something she said.
Something hot burned inside Chloe and her stomach cramped deeply, painfully.
Mandy was the only woman who had ever broken up with Tyler. He’d been so devastated, he’d sat at home getting drunk rather than come to work. Of course, Chloe reminded herself, she’d proven his heart hadn’t really been broken. But still...she watched them together and her eyes stung. She blinked rapidly.
Emilio saw her and concern tightened the corners of his eyes. She raised a hand to her mouth, motioned as if she was drinking and he nodded and pulled a wine glass down. He poured red wine into the glass, walked down the bar to where she stood and set it in front of her, his eyes worried even though he smiled.
“You’re still here,” he said. “Working late tonight, aren’t you.”
“Mmm. I had a lot to catch up on after the last few days.” She dragged her gaze away from Tyler and Mandy to smile at him. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” He went back to work, casting anxious glances both at her and Tyler.
She could just go up to Tyler and talk to them. She was his girlfriend. But the feeling of inferiority compared to glamorous Mandy and all the beautiful people in the restaurant flooded back. She sipped her wine, her throat so tight she almost choked on it.
She wasn’t sure what to do. Had Tyler really changed? Was this the moment of truth? How she handled things at this point could make the difference between a long and torturous ride down the roller coaster, as opposed to just stopping it and getting off right now.

* * *

Tyler looked up just as Chloe turned her back and left the bar, a glass of wine in her hand. Her small figure pushed politely through the crowd around the bar, long smooth hair gleaming in the dim light.
“Don’t you think so, too?” Mandy asked him. “Tyler?”
He forced his attention back to her, worried about Chloe and what she’d seen, what she was feeling.
“Sorry, Mandy, I have to go.” He flashed a quick smile and lifted her hand from his arm. “Nice to see you again. Stop in any time you’re in town.”
He barely noticed the frown on her face as he left her side and made his way out of the bar but goddammit, people kept stopping him to greet him, to tell them they’d seen him on Leno, talk about their dinners. He politely exchanged greetings and comments through gritted teeth and a phony smile, finally escaping the dining room. He took the stairs to Chloe’s office two at a time.
She sat there, her computer off, sipping a glass of wine.
“Why’d you leave?” he demanded. “I just saw you as you were leaving the bar.”
“You were busy,” she said coolly.
He shook his head. “No, I wasn’t. I was just saying hi to Mandy. She’s in town for a few days and stopped in for a drink.”
Chloe nodded, her face calm and expressionless. She was so good at that. But he’d seen her allowing herself to feel, to show her emotions, and wow, what emotions those were. This was that calm, cool and collected Chloe who kept it all inside her.
“Are you jealous?” How could she be when she knew he loved her?
Her eyes flickered but otherwise her expression didn’t change. “Should I be?”
“Of course not,” he said roughly. “I was talking to a friend.”
“She’s not just a friend.” She sipped her wine. “That was the only girl who’s ever broken up with you. You were pretty destroyed by that.”
He laughed. It was actually funny. “Yeah, but you got her out of my mind damn quick,” he reminded her. Then he saw the sober look on her face even though he was laughing. “Chloe, don’t you trust me?”
She looked away from him.
“Chloe!” He went over to her and took the wine glass out of her hand, set it on the desk. “You know I love you.”
She gazed back at him, her blue eyes cool. His hands tightened on hers in disbelief.
She finally spoke. “Tyler, I know you think you love me right now, but we both know that won’t last. Relationships are not your thing.” She shrugged. “It’s okay. I know that. I knew that going into this. I’ve always known it wouldn’t last forever.” She smiled faintly.
What the fuck was she talking about? Anger knifed through him, sharp, stabbing. He wanted no one but her. In fact, he wanted nothing but her. Awards, celebrity, money...it meant nothing without her. He’d told her he loved her. He did not tell that to every woman he dated. In fact, he had never said those words to any other woman in his life, besides his mother. How could she not believe him, trust him?
She gazed back at him, a flicker of something in her crystal blue eyes, then she looked away from him and removed her hands from his grasp.
“I’m going home now,” she said, voice even. “You need to get back to work, or whatever. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She stood and pushed past him, and his eyes almost crossed with fury. How could she do this after what they’d shared? He watched her leave, rage and despair rising up in him, choking him. Christ, she was right - the restaurant was crazy busy tonight and he couldn’t leave. He slammed a hand down on her desk.
Carlos was in major weeds when Tyler got back to the kitchen, sweating and yelling out orders. “Pick up one salmon!” he yelled, hands moving quickly as he did five things at once. Relief passed over his face when he saw Tyler, but then he did a double take.
“Oh-oh,” he said. “Don’t tell me - Chloe saw Mandy.”
Tyler nodded and stepped in, ripping tickets off the slide to see what was needed. He scowled.
“She’s mad,” Carlos guessed.
Tyler shook his head violently. “Hell, no,” he bit out. “The ice princess doesn’t get mad. She’s very calm. She thinks I’m just going to drop her and run back to Mandy.” He shook his head and made a noise of disgust. “Jesus. She doesn’t trust me at all.”
“Table ten...pick up!” Carlos yelled. He ladled sauce onto some veal and added vegetables, perfectly cooked, bending low as he arranged them meticulously. “You’re saying you’re not going to do that?”
Tyler stared at him, a ferocious scowl on his face. “You too?” he snarled. “What the hell?”
“You do have a reputation. We’ve all been wondering how long this thing with Chloe would last and what would happen after. She’s too sweet to mess around with.”
Tyler’s rage intensified like the flame that shot up under the veal chop on the grill. “Fire two pork tenderloin and two specials!” he yelled. “Shit, Carlos, I’m not playing around with Chloe. I love her.”
“I guess you have to convince her, then.”
Yeah. Tyler kept working on automatic, moving rapidly and fluidly in the kitchen, hands flying. He was pissed off but he wasn’t giving up. Chloe was too important for that.
The rest of the night blurred into fast movements in the kitchen, blasts of heat as he cooked, frantic yelling to the others. He had no clue if Mandy was still there or not, didn’t care. He didn’t emerge from the kitchen for the remainder of the evening, even stepped in to wash dishes when they sent Diego to the store for a bottle of Tanqueray when the bar ran out.
He wanted nothing more than to leave, go to Chloe’s house and show her how much he cared, but he was so furious he knew he should wait.
Later when things were quieter and they were done cleaning up, he went back to his office and threw himself down in the chair behind his desk. His eyes fell on the magazine article layout he hadn’t had a chance to look at yet. Glumly he picked it up and started reading.
It felt as if he were reading about someone else entirely, someone familiar to him but not him. The article was flattering; there wasn’t much he could fault about it. Then he got to the part where it said, ‘Tyler Gregg is a confirmed bachelor, a playboy chef with a reputation for dating a succession of beautiful women: models, actresses, socialites. When asked about his love life, Tyler smiles and says, “I love women. I love women almost as much a food. Maybe more than food.” He gives a sexy shrug. “I have no plans to settle down. I just like to enjoy variety...”’
Jesus, had he really said that? He did recall talking about variety, but he hadn’t meant it specifically about women. He’d been talking about food, about his career. He seemed to recall dodging the question about his love life, despite Joe’s specific instruction to him, and he’d dodged it because of Chloe. It had felt wrong to claim to be happily single and looking, when he and Chloe had just started something...but yet at that point, he couldn’t have claimed to be in a committed relationship.
He picked up a red marker and started scribbling on the article.

Insatiable Part 23

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I read Crazy Cool by Tara Janzen. I love Tara Janzen! I love her voice. I started reading her books a few months ago but just got back to this one in my TBR pile. This one was especially hot! Surprising as it’s one of the earlier stories in this series. I’m reading them all out of order, but that’s okay. Lots of action, lots of sex, lots of smarts…I gotta read every book she’s written now!

And I read Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy .
I love Erin McCarthy, she’s one of my favourites, and this book was very enjoyable. She has such a talent for snappy dialogue. But there wasn’t much to the story. Imogen’s thesis could have caused a lot more conflict for the couple had she pursued her original idea, but she quickly abandoned that because of Ty. And Ty’s dyslexia didn’t provide much conflict at all until the very end of the story. I kept thinking as I read, “Things are going way too smoothly for this couple, something bad has to happen.” And then all it was, was a fight and some ill-chosen words right at the end of the book. Ty’s greatest fear was losing his racing, because he had nothing else to fall back on because he couldn’t read – THAT could have made a huge conflict, if his racing career had somehow been threatened. But it was a nice story, with some amusing moments as usual in Ms McCarthy’s books, and great characters. That’s another thing Erin does really well, her characters are always different from the last one. A good lesson!