You don’t have to be an established book reviewer; you just need to have an opinion! I would like YOU to help me create the perfect suspense romance novel.

The working title is Who Are You? The novel will be a stand alone sequel to Hearts On the Run and will focus around Max, an assistant district attorney who is seduced by his dream woman – who then disappears on him without a trace. When he finally discovers who she is, he’s in for another surprise. It seems someone else is after her as well, and will use any means necessary to get her. Even if that means killing Max to get him out of the way.

Intrigued? There's more: I’ll even publish your name at the end of the book under a section titled, “My Opinion Mattered.” (You may stay anonymous if you would like.) If this sounds like fun, then this is how you can critique the novel every step of the way:

Every couple of days, I will post a small section of the book. After reading it, comment on what you liked, what you didn't like, how the dialogue flowed, character traits, how well edited the section was, and whatever else you can think of while reading. I will then revise the section based on your suggestions. Names published under the "My Opinion Mattered" section will be listed in order of number of comments contributed, so comment often! For those just joining us, please check out the blog archives to start the book from the beginning.

There is also an area to vote on how well you think the novel is progressing. You will be able to change your vote as the novel progresses to best reflect how you feel at any given time along the journey to a completed novel.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Part 10 of Who Are You?

Chapter 11

Okay, he hadn’t expected the night to go this way but Max certainly wasn’t complaining.  Yeah, they still needed to talk but damn, what an ice breaker!  He crawled in next to her luscious body and kissed her as he pulled her close.  Her body was even sexier than he remembered and he had a great memory.  Her breasts seemed fuller, more round, and her skin had a brighter glow to it than before.
            “You are gorgeous,” he said as he nuzzled her neck.
            “I thought we were going to talk,” she purred as she wrapped her leg around his.
            “Talking is overrated.”
            “I agree.”  Lauren rolled him onto his back, putting herself on top of him.  Kissing her way down his body, she reminded him that she had many, many talents.  For the next glorious few hours, they relived Halloween in intimate detail.
            When they were both too exhausted to move, Max whispered in her ear as he pulled her close, “I would really appreciate it if you were still here in the morning.”
            She snuggled up closer to him laying her head on his chest.  “I’m not going anywhere this time,” she promised.
            True to her word, Max awoke to a beautiful head of strawberry blond hair on the other pillow.  He couldn’t help grinning when he remembered the night they had.  The woman looked like an angel but she definitely had the body for sin.  And she knew how to use it.  He had never been with a woman who made him feel that good.  Ever.  And all this time he had thought all she did in bed was read.  He wondered what else he had been wrong about.  One thing he knew for sure - he wanted to find out.
            She must have sensed him watching her because she opened one sleepy eye.  “Good morning.”
            “Yes, it is,” Max grinned.
            “Well, don’t you look like the cat that ate the canary,” she smiled as she stretched.
            “Oh, I did much more than that.  And I’m pretty sure the canary enjoyed it.”
            She laughed.  “You know, modesty is not one of your better qualities.”
            He shrugged.  “No, not really.”  He leaned over and kissed her.  “Thank you for staying this time.”  And then he kissed her deeper and the rest of his body was ready to show her how happy he was that she stayed.
            After a moment, Lauren pushed against his chest.  “Mmm,” she mumbled against his mouth breaking the kiss and pushing him away.  “I’m going to be sick,” she said as she threw the covers back and rushed to the bathroom with her hand over her mouth.
            What the hell?  Max got out of bed and knocked on the bathroom door.  “Lauren, are you okay?”
            “I will be,” she rasped followed by the sounds of gagging.
            Max grimaced and tried to keep his own bile from rising to his throat.  “Can I get you anything?”
            It took her a moment to respond.  “A toothbrush?”
            “There should be a new one on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet.  I just bought it and haven’t opened it yet,” he added not wanting her to think he kept a spare on hand in case a woman spent the night. 
            There was nothing for him to do but wait.  He pulled on a pair of boxers and sat on the edge of the bed with his arms on his knees.  After a few minutes, Lauren came out of the bathroom looking a little pale but other than that she seemed much better.
            “Are you sick?” he asked.
            She bit her lip and shook her head.  Even though he had kissed every part of her body the night before, she looked uncomfortable standing there naked. “Can I borrow one of your t-shirts?”
            “Sure.”  Max got up and opened his drawer of t-shirts and handed her a dark blue one.  Since she was almost as tall as he was, it didn’t hang down quite as far as she had probably hoped it would.  He didn’t mind at all.  Thinking that probably made him a pig, he offered her his robe, which she accepted.
            Lauren sat on the edge of the bed and stared at her hands that were fiddling with the edge of the robe.  Finally, she looked up at him with an expression he couldn’t read.  “I’m pregnant.”
            Max was sure he didn’t hear her correctly.  “What?”
            “I’m pregnant.”
            He needed to sit down.  He sat at the foot of the bed not facing her.  “How pregnant?”
            “About a month.”
            “And you’re telling me this because…”  He couldn’t finish the sentence.
            “Because I’ve only had sex with one person in the last year,” she said quietly.
            Max’s mind went completely blank.  Almost as if it was refusing to process the information she was giving him.  After what seemed like a decade of silence, Lauren stood up.  “I should go.”
            That was enough to wake Max up out of his stupor.  He turned to look at her.  “What?  No.  You can’t drop a bombshell like that on me and then just leave.”
            “You’re right,” she said softly and she sat back down on the bed.  She looked as lost as Max felt.
            “How?” he asked.  “We used condoms.  Every time.”  Well, except last night, but that didn’t matter now.
            “Apparently, they’re not a hundred percent effective and we fell into the percentage who they didn’t work for,” she said nervously.
            Max’s mind still didn’t want to grasp the whole idea.  “You’re absolutely sure?”
            Lauren nodded.  “I took two tests.”
            “They could be wrong, couldn’t they?” he asked in vain.  She shook her head, refusing to meet his gaze.
            God, she looked so sad and lost sitting there.  This wasn’t any more her fault than it was his; but she was the one dealing with the physical reality of pregnancy as her trip to the bathroom just proved.  The last thing she needed was him being an ass about it all.  Getting off the bed, he knelt before her and took her hands in his.  “We’ll figure this out, okay?  We’ll make it work.”  Then a thought crossed his mind.  “You are going to have the baby, right?”
            Defensively, she said, “Yes, of course.”
            “Good,” he hurried to reassure her.  “That’s what I wanted you to say.”
            She studied his face for a moment.  “Really?”
            “Yes.”  He squeezed her hands for emphasis.  “I’m thrown as hell right now and I’ll probably end up saying or doing all the wrong things, but I want this baby to be born.  And I’m going to be there for you.”
            Tears were flooding her eyes.  “You don’t need to be there for me, just the baby.”
            “I want to be there for both of you.  I think we should get married.”  The words tumbled out of his mouth before he even had a chance to think about them.  But that’s what he was supposed to say, right?  Even if getting married had been the farthest thing from his mind ten minutes ago.  Hell, five minutes ago.
            Lauren’s eyes widened.  “No!” she said.
            Max was taken aback.  Okay, that wasn’t the answer he expected.  Granted, he hadn’t really thought the idea through, but her adamant refusal still felt like a slap to the face.  “Why not?  Wouldn’t it be best for the baby if its parents were married?”  Why couldn’t he shut up about it and be glad she didn’t accept his knee jerk proposal?  Apparently, his male pride had a mouth of its own.
            “Because we don’t even really know each other!  Up until recently, you hated me, despite what happened last night.  And after dropping this on you, you probably still do.  Anyway, you certainly don’t love me.  I’m not going to go into a marriage with a man who’s only doing it because of a baby!”  Tears started to flow down her cheek as she spoke.
            Max put his hands on either side of her face and used his thumbs to wipe her tears.  “You’re right,” he acknowledged finally getting control over his ego.  “We need to get to know each other better.  At least we know we’re compatible in bed,” he teased softly eliciting a small smile from her.
            “True,” she whispered between her tears.  “I’m sorry I keep crying.  I think it’s the hormones because I never cry this easily.”
            “It’s okay.”  Max pulled her into a tight hug but pulled back not wanting to put pressure on her stomach.  “Are you feeling okay?  Are you still sick?” he asked touching her stomach lightly.
            She shook her head.  “The morning sickness passed.  I feel fine.”
            “Breakfast, we haven’t eaten.  Are you hungry?” he asked as he stood up.  He felt like he had to do something to prove he meant what he said; even if the magnitude of the situation hadn’t really sunk into his brain yet.  “You should eat something.”
            “No, I want to let my stomach settle a bit more.”
            Max looked at her doubtfully.  “Are you sure you feel better?”
            “Physically, I’m fine,” she assured him.  “Emotionally I’m a mess, though.”
            Pulling her to her feet, he hugged her again.  “Me, too.  We’ll work on that together, okay?”  When she didn’t respond he pulled back so he could look at her face.  “You will let me be a part of this, right?”
            “I just don’t want to force you to be with me if you don’t want to,” she said sadly.  “You can be a part of the baby’s life as much as you want.  I don’t have to be part of the package.”  She shook her head and looked away.  “You were expecting Bat Girl and you wound up with me instead.  Pregnant me.  I’m sorry.”
            Max frowned as he cupped her chin and brought her eyes back to him.  “You do remember me asking you to dinner last night, right?  I thought it was pretty clear that I was already interested in getting to know you better and seeing where things led.  And from last night, I think I’ve let you know how attracted I am to you.  Whether you’re wearing a mask or not.  Why would you not believe that now?”  He kissed her lips gently and pushed a stray strand of hair off her cheek.  “You know, Jack Pierce claimed a while back that I had such a hard time working with you because I had the hots for you.  He was right.”
            Lauren looked like she wanted to believe him but she obviously wasn’t convinced.  “You certainly didn’t act like it.”
            Max chuckled.  “I guess I’m like the first grader who pulls the girl’s hair because he likes her.  Remember, I’m a jackass.”
            She gave him a real smile now.  “So you keep saying.”
            “Spend the day with me?” he asked.
            Lauren considered it for a moment and finally said, “Okay.  But I need to go home for a bit.  I don’t have anything to wear except that dress.”
            Max smiled wickedly.  “I’m okay with that.  Or you could skip clothes all together.”
            Lauren laughed as she wiped at her eyes.  “I think I’d like to have something to put on in case we decide to leave the bedroom.  Besides, I live with my grandmother and she’s probably worried sick.”
            “Can I meet her?” Max asked.  Damn, where had that come from?  He had never wanted to meet a woman’s family before.  But then again, he’d never gotten anyone pregnant before, either.  He wanted to meet the people who would be a part of this child’s life.  God, a baby.  He was going to be a father.  He felt like his life had leapt ahead a few chapters overnight.  Actually, it had.  There was nothing left to do now but make the best of it.
            Lauren shook her head adamantly.  “Not yet, please.  I’m going to need time to gather up the courage to tell her about all of this.  I just figured it out last night right before the gala.”
            “And then I come along and make you feel even worse.  Sorry about that,” he said sheepishly.  Then he added, “I can be there with you when you tell her.”  He didn’t want to be but he’d do it.  Lauren was going to have a lot to deal with both physically and emotionally, the least he could do was be a shoulder for her to lean on if she needed it.  He was amazed at how easy the idea of becoming a father and a family man was falling into place.  He could just be shell-shocked.  Or maybe it was the woman standing in front of him that made it easier to accept.  There was definitely something about her that elicited strong reactions from him.
            She shook her head again and made a face.  “No, I should do it alone.  She might try to kill you.”
            “One of the guys on the force would probably lend me their flak jacket,” he teased.
            “I appreciate the thought, but she’d probably try to kill you with her bare hands, so it wouldn’t do any good.  She’s a feisty old woman.”
            “Okay, I’ll let you handle this however you want, and I’ll give you a ride home so you can get some clothes.”  He pushed a strand of hair back from her face and kissed her lightly.  “Bring some clothes for tomorrow, too.  I’d like it if you spent the night again.”  Words kept tumbling out of his mouth like a dam that broke free.  He was usually eager for a woman to go home after he slept with her, but not this time.  Even without the pregnancy curve ball, he would have wanted Lauren to stay.  He hadn’t been able to get her out of his mind since he visited the Second Chance Ranch.  Finding out she was his Bat Girl had only compounded the feelings that had already taken root in the back of his mind.
Lauren nodded hesitantly.  He wasn’t sure if she had agreed or if she just didn’t want to argue about it right now.  Kissing her softly again, he finally let her go so they could both get dressed.
            Max dropped Lauren off at her grandmother’s house half an hour later.  He felt like an ass just dropping her off and skulking away so her grandmother didn’t see him.  But, he had agreed to let Lauren do this her way and he was going to stick to that.  After making sure she made it into the house, he backed out of the driveway.  Instead of turning left for home, he turned right.  Lauren was meeting him back at his house in an hour but there was a stop he needed to make first.
            As soon as Jack opened the door, Max blurted out, “She’s pregnant!”
            Looking genuinely confused, Jack asked, “Who?  Abby?”
            “No, Lauren.”  Max pushed past him and walked into the living room to flop down on the couch with his head back and his eyes closed.
            “Lauren Stevens?” Jack asked closing the door and following him into the living room.  He sat down in the recliner across from the couch and leaned forward with his arms on his knees.
            “And you’re here telling me this because…”  Jack let the question hang out there just like Max had earlier.
            Max opened one eye with a raised brow.  “Why do you think?”
            “You.  And Lauren Stevens.  The woman you so gentlemanly refer to as The Shrew.”
            “She’s not a shrew,” Max growled.
            Jack held his hands up in front of him.  “I never thought she was.  Those were your words, not mine.  When did all this happen?”
            Max sighed.  “Remember Bat Girl?”
            Jack laughed loudly.  “Lauren was your Bat Girl?  I’d only been kidding when I suggested that.  I never expected it to be true.”
            “Yeah, well, I should have listened to you anyways.”
            “How did she end up pregnant?” Jack asked.
            Max gave him a dirty look as he sat up.  “The usual way.”
            Jack shook his head in frustration.  “I mean, didn’t you use birth control that night?”
            “Yes, condoms.  Every time.  Apparently, one of them didn’t do its job,” Max grumbled.
            “How do things stand between the two of you?”
            “I asked her out before I figured out who she was so that’s a point in my favor, but she won’t marry me,” Max griped.
            “You asked her to marry you?” Jack asked in surprise.
            “Max, you’re getting married?!” Abby squealed in excitement as she entered the room before he had a chance to respond to Jack’s question.
            Max groaned.  He had been hoping to avoid Abby.  “No, she turned me down.”
            “Who? And why would she turn you down?” Abby asked as she sat down on the couch next to him and curled her legs underneath her as she faced him.
            “Lauren Stevens,” Jack told her.
            “The defense attorney?  I thought he hated her?”
            Jack shrugged.  “Apparently not.”
            “You actually asked her to marry you?” Abby asked Max in amazement.  “You mean you’ve been in love with her all this time and you didn’t tell us?  Were you just trying to throw us off the trail because Jane and I kept trying to butt into your dating life?”
            “I’m not in love with her,” Max had to admit.  “She’s pregnant.”
            Abby scowled at him and slapped his shoulder.  “Well, no wonder she said no, then.  Women don’t marry a guy any more just because they’re pregnant.  Pregnant women want their husbands to love them just as much as any other woman does.”
            Max sighed.  “So she said.” Standing up, he said, “I need to go.  She’s meeting me back at my house in about half an hour.  I just had to tell someone.  But can you both just keep this to yourselves right now?  She and I haven’t discussed who we’re going to tell yet.”
            Both Jack and Abby agreed and Jack walked Max to the door.  “Hey,” Jack said as Max stepped out onto the porch.  “I know you’re still in shock over this but congratulations anyway.”
            Max nodded in appreciation.  “Thanks, man.”  Then he walked to his car and drove home to wait for Lauren.


  1. I really like Max's reaction to all of this. He isn't a jerk about it because he really cares about her. I like seeing that side of him!