Monday, December 14, 2009

Excerpt Monday

Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just an writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site or click on the banner above.

This is my second month with Excerpt Monday. It's an excerpt from the First Kiss contest that I am a finalist in. (Rankings to be determined sometime in January I believe.) Sarah snuck out of the house to escape Ethan, and she is coming home to find him waiting for her. So, this is the lead up to Ethan and Sarah's first kiss.

“Do you have any idea what has been going through my mind today?”

Sarah tried to swallow, but something obstructed her throat.

“You lead me to believe that you’re in your room, making phone calls, taking a bath.” His voice hit her ears like broken glass. “You actually leave a recording of your voice on your computer. You sneak out your freaking window, and climb a tree. A fucking tree. All for what? I’d like to know what was so important that you couldn’t wait for me, couldn’t take me. Your bodyguard, the guy who is supposed to keep you safe.”

She tilted her chin up a bit more, in defiance, but realized how close it put her lips to Ethan’s. She wouldn’t back off now. “You can quit, you know. Tell your boss at the security firm I’m too difficult. Tell him I’m a bitch. Better yet, tell my father, he’ll believe you. I don’t care, tell him anything.” Just get the snitch out of her life.

“I don’t quit. This is my job. You know, the thing normal people do to make a living?”

Sarah huffed a bit. He acted like she was taking a weekly allowance from her father instead of working her ass off in the studio every day. “Well, I guess you have to deal with me then.” She waved her hand as if to dismiss him, but he caught her upper arm before she could walk off.

“I’m serious, Sarah. Where were you?”

She looked down at his hand around her arm, the strong fingers wrapped all the way around her bicep. The heat of his hand sent tingles of awareness up and down her arm, and she suddenly realized just how male Ethan was, and how female his size made her feel.

“I was somewhere, and that somewhere wasn’t here. Isn’t that enough?” She struggled to keep hold of her indignation, when the guilt was rising to the surface.

Ethan breathed in deep, and then a confused look washed away the obvious anger and frustration that had been planted there. “What is that smell?”

Sarah bemoaned the fact that she hadn’t slipped back into her room via the fire escape so she could shower. “I don’t know.” It wasn’t convincing, even to her own ears.

Ethan bent his head and inhaled again. “Turpentine? Is that turpentine?”

“No.” It came out too quickly, too defensively.

He smiled, a bit like a shark spotting a school of slow minnows, and uncurled his fingers from her arm. “It is turpentine. Now what in the world would Sarah Blakely be doing all day that would involve her smelling like turpentine?”

Think quickly. “Obviously rolling around in it.” God, why was she having to fight the urge to trust this man? The last time she trusted her bodyguard, it bit her in the ass. Only idiots make the same mistake twice.

“You know, part of a bodyguard’s job is discretion. You don’t have to keep sneaking around just to keep something under wraps.” His face was somber, his eyes almost pleading with her to believe him.

She ached to tell him, just let him see. Show him why she had to escape, what she had to do to keep herself sane. Show him a side of her nobody else go to see, a side her father didn’t want to know about. But she wouldn’t.

“Forget it.” She tugged her arm, and he let go without a fight. A red haze covered her eyesight, and a low buzz was starting in her ears. She poked a finger into his chest, but found it was simply a wall that wouldn’t budge. “This arrangement is not by choice. You had your warning that I wasn’t going to cooperate. So don’t expect me to.”

Emboldened by the fact that Ethan wasn’t putting up a fight, she moved toward him to prove her point. “My secrets have nothing to do with your job.” She accentuated her words with a jab of her finger to his chest again. “My life has nothing to do with your job.” Another poke. The buzzing was louder. “Your job is pointless to me. Just quit!” Rage overruling her judgment, she pushing him with the palm of her hand and spinning on her heel to walk to her room. Unsurprisingly, he snagged her wrist to stop her.

“Whoa, whoa. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” The unanticipated words put a halt to her exit faster than any physical hold.

“You’re…what?” Sarah pivoted back around, blinking, not sure she heard correctly.

Ethan rubbed the back of his neck, and let her wrist drop from his other hand. “I didn’t mean to wind you up. I’m trying to do my job. I’m hoping you can appreciate that. And I’m doing my best to understand that this isn’t what you want.”

Sarah wanted to see him as a reasonable man. The desire to explain to him sat heavy in her stomach, a weight she was desperate to relieve. Instead, she tamped down the urge.

“Just stay out of my way. I don’t know what my father’s deal was when he hired you. But he didn’t consult me, as usual. That, in effect, means I don’t care for your presence in my life. If that offends you, so be it.”

Ethan took a step toward her. Though Sarah knew she could easily move away and escape his body heat, she chose not to. She didn’t know why, except that there was almost a sort of comfort from his closeness.

“Can’t you accept that my being here, in your life right now, is for your own good?” He said the words almost pleadingly, as if he wanted her to understand.

She shook her head. “No. I won’t accept this. This isn’t what I want. This added control, it’s not for me. I’m not a child, and my father lost his authority over me long ago.” Except they were still here, having this conversation, which was a testament to how much authority her father really did wield over her still. It drove her crazy.

For a moment, Sarah thought she saw something light Ethan’s face. Was it pity? Understanding? Confusion? It drew her, that flicker of humanity. And for a moment she forgot that he was up-tight, that he was a product of her father’s high-handedness, that he was here taking away her freedom. She forgot to guard her heart, and she simply wanted. Wanted to ignore caution and just move with emotion, move with the fact that her body was craving his heat. Wanted

She looked up into his eyes, and saw that he was reading her mind. He looked…hungry. Something they had in common, finally. Both hungry for something, and both knowing they should leave it buried. So why, if she knew better, was she pressing forward, drawing her right up under his chin?

Neither spoke, but Sarah could hear their breathing, both deep and a little unsteady, as if they had both run a race. Who won the race was anyone’s guess.

“Nobody wants to take away your freedom, you know,” Ethan said. His voice sounded husky, and it sent a chill down her spine. She resisted the urge to shiver.

“Feels like it, especially when I have you as a reminder that I’m always looking over my shoulder.” She was a little embarrassed to realize she was breathless. Sarah wanted to look away, break eye contact, but for some reason she couldn’t. Those eyes, so surprising in their blue clarity, kept her gaze locked.

“I don’t want to be that kind of reminder.” Ethan shook his head, and Sarah’s lips tingled as if he had brushed his mouth across hers. She wanted…she felt herself lifting on her toes, like some invisible puppeteer was guiding her with strings. Part of her wanted Ethan to step away, and a shameful part of her was relieved when she noted his head dipping slightly to meet her.

Right before Ethan’s lips touched hers, a sound penetrated the spell…a small voice in her mind that told her this was the worst idea possible. Ethan was a man who liked control; Sarah was a woman who liked to live in the moment, act on impulse, let her creative muse move her. A man like Ethan would stifle her, make her forget who she was.

Not to mention the fact that he was probably reporting her every move to her father.

She jumped back, ran a hand through her hair and did her best to control her rapidly beating heart. She glanced up at Ethan, and realized that was a mistake, when her goal was to settle herself down.

Ethan’s face was set. His jaw was clenched and his eyes were intense. She shivered, and at that moment she knew exactly what he was thinking. And God help her, she was thinking the same thing. She reached her arms behind her and placed her palms on the closed front door. Ethan’s eyes read the challenge, that she wasn’t willing to give in to his whim without being convinced, and she saw that he was willing to pick up the gauntlet.

He paced forward, and she knew he was giving her the chance to leave, to back out, escape. Her mind whispered that she should leave, but her body screamed for her to stay. She didn’t move, couldn’t move, all while he prowled up to stand in front of her. She tipped her head back to meet his gaze, cursing that she wore flip flops instead of heels.

Ethan placed his hands on the door beside her shoulders, caging her between his arms. Despite the dominant position, she knew instinctively that if she said the word, he would let her go. And it was only with that knowledge that she had the courage and fortitude to lift on her tip toes and brush a light kiss on his mouth, breaking contact as her heels came back down to the floor.

She had been careful not to touch him in any way except for her lips. His body hummed with restraint. But even though she knew it was a thin line, she chose to cross it by placing her hands gently on either side of his face, feeling the scrape of the bristle he hadn’t shaved off that morning.

She waited for a sign that he wanted her to stop or that he wanted her to continue, but his eyes gave away nothing. She couldn’t stand not knowing. Before she could think, before she could second guess, she whispered, “What do you want?”

Links to other Excerpt Monday writers

Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.


  1. Good luck in the final round of the contest, Jeanette! Love he final paragraphs.

  2. Great read. You made me smile and laugh. Good luck with your submission in the final round.

  3. I really enjoyed that! Good voice and humor and I could really see the banter back and forth. Good luck in the contest!

  4. Love the build up and great chemistry between Sarah and Ethan. Good luck in the contest!