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.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Part 9 of Who Are You?

Chapter 9

Max walked through the crowd back to Lauren.  For the last three weeks he had been trying to figure out why he kissed her.  Granted, she looked damn good that day.  Tonight she was an absolute knock out.  But there was something more.  He hated to admit it, but Jack was probably right.  Maybe deep down he had always had the hots for her.  That’s why he’d asked her to dinner, to test the waters.     
Lauren was standing with her friend David now but as soon as he saw Max, he walked away.  Good.  “Did I scare him off?” Max asked as he handed her a glass of punch.
            “No,” Lauren lied poorly.  “He’s off schmoozing the crowd.”
            “Great, then I have you all to myself.”
            “Hmm, are you sure you really want to spend time with The Shrew?” she asked with a wicked smile.
            Oh.  Shit.  With a guilty grimace, Max said, “You know about that, huh?”
            “I think everybody knows about that,” she laughed.  “You don’t exactly keep your favorite nickname for me to yourself.”
            There wasn’t a whole lot Max could say to that.  With a resigned sigh, he raised his glass to her.  “I apologize.  I’m a jackass.  Always have been, probably always will be.”  Then he added, “If I promise not to ever call you that again will you still have dinner with me?”
            “I don’t know, you did just tell me that you would always be a jackass,” she teased.
            “Then how about another dance so I can try to convince you I’m still likable even if I am a jackass.”  He took her punch glass and added it and his champagne flute to the tray of a passing waiter.  He grasped her hand in his before she could refuse and led her to the dance floor.  He wrapped his arm around her again and held her close enjoying the feeling of his hand on her bare back.  Damn, he enjoyed the feel of her breasts against his chest even more.  Unfortunately, so did other parts of him, so he was careful not to hold her too closely.
            “Did I happen to mention how much I like that dress you’re wearing?”
            She laughed throatily.  “I believe you may have mentioned it.”
            “You know, if you wore something like that to court, you’d win against me every time.  I’d be too dazed to speak.”
            Lauren rolled her eyes.  “I prefer to win on merit, not sex appeal.”
            “Is that why you dress the way you do at work?” he couldn’t help asking.
            “What do you mean?”
            Damn it, I just screwed myself, he thought.  Trying to backpedal, he said, “You dress very well, don’t get me wrong.  You just don’t really dress in a flattering way.”  Crap, that didn’t come out right either.
            “Thanks a lot.”   
Great, now he’d really pissed her off.  “Remember about two minutes ago when I said I was a jackass?  Well, now I’m a jackass with his foot in his mouth, so I’m just going to come out and say it.  It seems like when you’re dressed for work, you’re trying to go out of your way not to be attractive.”
            “Thanks again.”
            “Can we just forget that I said anything?” Max begged desperate to get off the subject.
            “I think that would be a good idea,” Lauren said tersely.
            They danced in silence for a couple of minutes.  How the hell was he going to dig his way out of this?  Putting on his best humble face, he bent his head to whisper in her ear, “I guess I blew any shot of getting a kiss during this dance, didn’t I?”
            Lauren stared at him for a minute before her features softened and her lips began to curl upwards.  “Maybe not,” she said softly.
            Max hadn’t expected her to acquiesce so quickly but he didn’t need any more encouragement than that.  He dipped his mouth to hers and kissed her as they continued to move to the music.  He groaned softly when she opened her mouth to him and allowed him in.  Their tongues met and played and she teased his in a way that drove him crazy.  God, the woman knew how to kiss!  He didn’t even care if they were making a spectacle of themselves as they made out on the dance floor.  There was no way he was going to pull away from a kiss as sexy as this one.  Her kisses were almost sinful.  In a way that only one other woman’s had been.  Holy shit!  Max tore his lips from hers and stopped in the middle of the dance floor.  No, she couldn’t be.  She hadn’t given him any clue that she was her.  But she kissed exactly like her.  How could that be a coincidence?  Grabbing her arm, he pulled her off the dance floor.
            “Max, what’s wrong?” she asked as she almost stumbled to keep up with him as he pulled her out of the ballroom.  He saw a somewhat secluded area behind some large potted plants about twenty feet from the entrance.  He didn’t stop until he reached it and then he leaned her against the wall with both hands on either side of her so she couldn’t escape this time. 
“Max, what’s going on?” she asked.
            “I have only been kissed like that by one other woman,” he growled.  “Maybe you didn’t realize that your kisses were so distinctive, but they are.  Just like they were on Halloween.”
            “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she stammered but the guilt on her face was all the proof he needed.
            “What was the plan?  Drive me crazy, make me lust after you like a puppy dog and then make a fool of me when you told everyone?”  He had never been this angry.  He wanted to throttle her.  And kiss her at the same time.  Which made him even angrier.
            “It – it wasn’t like that,” she said with tears threatening to brim over in her eyes.
            “Then what was it like?” he demanded harshly.  “Because the only thing I can think of is that it was some sort of revenge for the whole shrew thing.”
            His anger started to dissolve as the first tear began to make a path down her cheek.  “Dammit!” he said looking away from her for a moment trying to calm himself down.  Turning back to her, he asked, “Why?”
            Straightening her shoulders, she met his gaze with hers.  “Because I wanted to spend the night with you and it was the only way I could think of to do it.”  Obviously embarrassed by what she had said if the rush of color to cheeks meant anything, she didn’t back down.  He had to give her credit for that.
            “Then why didn’t you just ask me out?”
            “And you would have said yes?  I don’t think so.  You nicknamed me The Shrew!  And just five minutes ago you admitted that you think I’m unattractive when I’m dressed for work.”  
She looked angry now.  Good.  He preferred angry to embarrassed and crying.  He could keep his anger fueled by hers.  Because he had no intention of letting her off the hook until she told him what her game plan had really been.  “Then why didn’t you tell me that night?  It was pretty obvious that I found you attractive then.”
            “And have you think of me as some desperate woman who could only get you into bed by tricking you?  So you could take pity on me and maybe take me out to dinner once or twice before dumping me?  No thank you.”
            “So instead you seduce me and then dump me,” he growled.  “That’s such a nicer plan.  Definitely makes you the better person in all of this.”
            “I didn’t think it would matter to you!” she spat.
            Max took a step back, dropping his hands back to his sides.  “And why is that?”
            “Because you sleep around all the time.  What was one more woman in your bed?  Especially one that didn’t put any demands on you to call her afterwards!”  Her tears were flowing now but Max was too stunned to pay attention.
            “If that’s what you think of me, then why did you agree to go to dinner with me?”
            “I don’t know.  I thought maybe…,” she whispered through her tears but she wasn’t able to finish her sentence.
            “Lauren, what’s going on?” an angry voice asked from behind Max.  David.  Great, just what this conversation needed – a jealous ex.  Max didn’t even bother to turn around.  He wasn’t done with this conversation yet.  David could go to hell for all he cared.
            Lauren wiped at her makeup with her fingers, trying to fix the what her tears had smeared.  “We’re just talking, David.  It’s alright.”
            “No, it’s not alright.  I saw him drag you out of the ballroom and now you’re crying.  What did this asshole do to you?” David demanded.
            Max turned towards the glowering man and was about to say something when Lauren cut him off.  “It’s not what he did to me; it’s what I did to him.”
            Both he and David turned back towards her with mouths agape.  David found his voice first.  “If you did something to him, then why are you crying?”
            “Because I’m embarrassed and ashamed and I would really like to get out of here.  I’m going to go wash my face and then take a cab home,” she said as she pushed away from the wall.
            Max put his hand out to stop her.  “You don’t need to take a cab.  I’ll give you a ride home.”
            He thought she was going to say no, considering how upset they both were, but after considering him for a moment, she nodded her head.  “Okay.”  Then, with her head down to hide her tears, she walked quickly to the ladies room.
            David’s face turned ugly when Lauren was out of sight.  “If you did something to hurt her, I’m going to kill you.”
            “I’ll let her explain if she cares to.  Right now, I’m going to send for my car.  Will you please ask her to meet me at the valet stand?”  Max left the man staring after him.  He needed a bit of fresh air to clear his head before he saw Lauren again.  Maybe offering her a ride home wasn’t the best idea considering his current mood. 
He just couldn’t buy her story of secret attraction.  If it was true, then she must be one hell of an actress to spend a night like that with him and then act as if nothing had happened.  It certainly couldn’t have been as great for her as it had been for him.  That cut him deeper than he wanted to admit.  He’d been going out of his mind since that night thinking he was never going to see his Bat Girl again.  And she’d been right under his nose the whole time.  God, he wanted to hit something.  And then throttle her.  Some of that must have shown on his face because the valets gave him a wide berth as he waited for his car.
            Five minutes later, she came through the glass doors of the hotel with a clean face but with puffy eyes from crying.  Which made him feel like an even bigger ass when the valets gave him dirty looks.  He wanted to tell them that it was all her fault that she was crying, but he couldn’t.  Had what she said been a lie?  He did have a reputation for sleeping around.  He had even been proud of it.  And what had Jack said?  Calling women the next day just to tell them he didn’t think they should see each other again didn’t make him any less of a jerk than if he hadn’t called at all.  Dealing with Lauren’s disappearing act tore him up enough.  If she had called him the day after Halloween and told him they shouldn’t see each other again, he would have been crushed.  As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Jack had been right.
            But why had she been so determined to spend the night with him?  And how the hell did she completely change her personality and become Bat Girl?  Or had he just completely misread her personality?  He had a hell of a lot more questions than he did answers.  But he was going to get them.  Tonight. 
            The valet pulled up in the car and Max opened the passenger door for Lauren, being careful of her long dress as he closed the door.  He gave the valet a larger tip than he would have normally and slid in behind the driver’s seat and put the car in drive.
            As he pulled away from the hotel, Lauren started to give him directions to her house but he cut her off.  “We’re going to my house.”  No way was he letting her out of his sight until they sorted all this out.
            “What?  Why?”
            “Because we still have a lot to talk about and it might as well be at the scene of the crime,” he said.  Lauren looked like she wanted to say something but she chewed on her bottom lip and nodded instead.  They drove the rest of the way to his house in an uncomfortable silence.

 Chapter 10

As much as Lauren didn’t want to have the conversation they were about to have, she was relieved not to be going home.  She didn’t want to explain to her grandmother why she came home so early.  Or why she’d been crying.  She definitely didn’t want to think about how to tell her she was pregnant.  Or how to tell Max.  There seemed to be a lot of looming conversations she didn’t want to have.  She needed to deal with them one at a time.  No sense in adding fuel to the fire quite yet.  Or she was just a coward.  Probably that.
            Max pulled into the driveway of the house she remembered all too well from the night she waited for him on his porch.  She had never been so nervous in her life and had almost left three times by the time he arrived.  And she had only been waiting for five minutes.  Looking over at his tense face, she was even more nervous this time.  At least before she had had the comfort of anonymity.  But even angry with her, he remained the most attractive man she had ever met.  Too bad she had screwed up any possibility of anything developing between them.
            “I’ll get the door,” Max said when she reached for the handle.  She felt silly sitting there while he walked around the car and opened it for her, but tonight would be about picking her battles carefully.  Stepping out of the car, she followed him up the wooden steps to the front door.  Her feet felt like lead as every step brought her closer to the inevitable.  Him telling her he never wanted to see her, or the baby, ever again. 
Max unlocked the door and gestured for her to go first.  “Would you like something to drink?” he asked as he threw his keys into a bowl on the small table in the hall.
            “No, thank you,” she said softly.
            “I’m going to grab a beer.”  He disappeared down the hall to the kitchen, leaving Lauren desperately wanting to walk back out the door and pretend this horrible evening had never happened.  Maybe she could convince herself it had all been a bad dream if she went home and crawled under her covers.  But she didn’t leave.  She had never run away from her troubles.  She had always faced them head on and this time would be no different.  Regardless of the result.
            Too nervous to sit down, Lauren studied Max’s CD collection against the far wall of the living room without reading a single title.  How was she going to explain her actions without sounding either sleazy or desperate?  Or both?
            “Would you like to put something in?” Max asked from behind her, startling her.  She turned around too quickly and tripped on her dress falling into him.  Why was she always so clumsy around him?  Max put his hands on her waist to steady her. 
            Lauren didn’t mean to do it.  But being so close to him without a roomful of people made her mind shut off and her hormones start doing her thinking.  She wrapped her arms around his neck and caught his mouth with hers.  He made a small noise of surprise but then his arms were pulling her closer and he was kissing her with the same passion he had on Halloween.
            As their hips met, Lauren could feel his arousal.  She rubbed against him suggestively and he groaned as he kissed her deeper.  His hand moved to her breast and it was her turn to moan.
            Frustrated with the material hindering him, Max found the knot at her neck that held the bodice of her dress up and untied it.  The top of her dress fell away as he kissed a trail from her lips to her breasts.  The feel of his tongue as it glided over her nipple made it pebble instantly.  She arched her back as his mouth wrapped around it and he tugged gently with his teeth.
            Feeling for the buttons of his tuxedo jacket, she unbuttoned it and pushed it to the floor.  His shirt followed soon after as he suckled her other breast.  God, the feel of his mouth on her body was heaven as she stroked the hard, smooth muscles of his chest and back.  Memories of the night they spent together flooded her mind and her body reacted even more fiercely, eliciting a satisfied growl from him.  He found the hidden zipper that held the bottom half of her dress in place and it fell to the floor.
            “My God, you’re beautiful,” Max murmured as he knelt before her.  He kissed and licked his way from her breasts to her thong panties.  Lauren’s fingers curled in his dark hair when his tongue touched her through her through the pink silk.  Hooking a finger around the panties, he slid them over her hips and to the floor.  When he brought his mouth back to her, her knees almost buckled.  Grasping her thighs to hold her up, he let his tongue taste her and tease her with long, sensuous strokes.  He brought her to the edge and kept her there stroke after stroke.  Oh god, she needed more.  She needed to find the release her body yearned for.  She let him know that with her hands and her body and he chuckled at her impatience.  But he didn’t keep her waiting any longer.  His strokes became faster and harder in just the right spot.  Within moments, the world shattered around her while his tongue milked every last spasm from her. 
            Then he stood up and backed her up against the wall as he kissed her.  She loved the taste of herself on his lips.  Her fingers worked furiously to get his pants undone and pushed out of the way.  She needed him inside her.  Finally free of his clothes, Max grasped her thighs and lifted her until he was able to slide smoothly inside of her, never taking his mouth from hers.  She wrapped her legs around his back and took as much of him as she could.  His thrusts were hard and deep and she matched his rhythm with her hips.  She couldn’t get enough of him, just as it had been on Halloween.  She savored every second of his body joined with hers, bringing her to highs she had never experienced before.  She felt the pressure building again.  She grasped his back tighter, kissed him harder.  She was lost in the feel of him moving in and out of her, stroking her.  He held her with one arm and his other hand found her breast again, stroking her nipple with his thumb.  It was enough to send her tumbling over the edge a second time.  She cried out against his mouth as she felt herself clench against him, again and again.  Riding the waves of pleasure, she felt him find his own release as he whispered ‘Oh God, Lauren’ against her lips.  They stayed united until every last spasm died down.  Only then did they break the kiss.
            Breathing heavily as he leaned his forehead against hers, he said between breaths, “I really had meant for us to talk.”
            “I know,” she said between her own shallow breaths.  Her heart still pounded in her chest as her body continued to feel tiny aftershocks of pleasure.
            Kissing her gently, Max lowered her so her feet could touch the floor.  “I have a nice warm bed upstairs where we could finish this conversation,” he murmured against her neck as he kissed his way to the spot he knew from their last time together that drove her crazy.
            Lauren smiled when he leaned back and looked at her with an inferno burning in his eyes.  Her body flushed with heat knowing he wanted her so badly.  “I’m not sure we’re going to get much talking done if we go upstairs.”
            “We’re not getting a lot of talking done down here, either.”
            He had a point and now that they weren’t frantically making love, she was starting to get cold.  At least that was the excuse she gave herself to follow him to his bed almost guilt-free.  “Okay.”
            Max adjusted his pants that had fallen around his ankles so he could walk.  He picked his tuxedo jacket up from the floor, wrapping it around her.  Then he entangled his fingers with hers and led her upstairs to his bedroom.  He pulled back the covers on the bed and she crawled in, dropping his jacket to the floor.  After ridding himself of his own clothes again, he joined her.


  1. Yay!! I liked it! I really like how Max found himself tongue tied around her (When they were dancing) because now her's really starting to like her! And now he knows Bat Girl is her but I guess he's okay with it seeing as how it ended....but there's nothing I would change! i think I would like it if she were pregnant because I feel like you could do so much more with that than if she weren't pregnant. That's just my opinion!

  2. Thanks, Jessica. I have some ideas about the pregnancy for the stalker/suspense chapters that are coming. Let me know as I go along how you think it's playing out!