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.
“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.
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 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?”