Monday morning teaser fun! And now Steph and I are in countdown mode until 8/26!! Woot!!
Monday, August 19, 2013
Thursday, August 15, 2013
It's coming down the wire, my friends! TIES will soon be loosed upon the world, and you will have your fill of Ryan and Hattie along with many cameos from some of your favorite characters from the LENGTHS series! I hope you enjoy these teasers! I cannot wait for August 26!
I’m in over my head.
When Hattie joked that I only date ale-guzzling wenches, I had this weird fear that her whole ‘east coast’ backstory was some kind of cover and she somehow knew, firsthand, what I’d been doing with my romantic life the last few years.
Because she kind of hit the nail on the head.
Not that the girls I dated before her were actually swarthy women with mugs of ale in each fist. They were just the kind of girls you’d picture when you imagined inebriated ladies who frequent shady drinking establishments. When my ex and I broke things off, the girls in bars had been the first and easiest to hook up with.
They were all so damn sweet after Megan’s harsh rejection. They looked at me with sympathetic doe-eyes hooded with too much mascara. They clapped clumsy hands on my back and then rubbed my neck, their fake nails unintentionally scratching my skin, while they murmured comforting things about true love and relationships that really mean something.
The beer always flowed freely, we always danced and flirted for a couple hours, maybe less, and then we always wound up back at my place--or their place--or the back of a roomy suburban--or even a tight hybrid if that’s what it took. I loved them for their sympathy, for the wild abandon, for the way they could make me live so hard in the moment that I’d forget the heartbreak of my real life.
The problem was the morning. Always. Sober, in the sunlight, we were never who we’d pretended to be the night before. And that was the reason for a swift, consistent rotation.
Of ale-guzzling wenches.
But that’s my past. My present has been resigned celibacy. My future?
She might be sitting next to me, loose strands of her black hair draped over her shoulders, her eyes a warm coppery color I’ve never seen before. I have a feeling that if she heard my sob story about my break-up, she’d do pretty much anything other than coo with sympathy and rub my neck. She might even laugh in my face.
And I like the idea of that.
We pull up to Crab Catcher because, I’m not gonna lie, I want to impress her, and I’m willing to pull out all the stops to do it.
When I glance over, she’s pressed back against the seat, shaking her head back and forth, those metallic eyes narrowed.
“No. No, no, no, nope.” She gestures down to her dress-thing, which is black, clingy, and looks damn fine to me. “Ryan, we can’t go in there dressed like this.”
“But I know their crab guy personally. You want crab, you love the ocean, and I’m going to score you a bottle of wine that will make you agree to a second date if I’m lucky. But it’s gotta be here.”
I’m sure she assumes I want to eat here because I’m insisting on excellence. And I am, kind of. Crab Catcher is arguably the best seafood in La Jolla, but I’m not sure I could afford to find out if any other place could compare. Darryl sent me on emergency assignment when one of the owner’s yachts got stranded over Labor Day weekend last year. I made triple pay for the run out, and the guy was so happy with my work, I get to eat at Crab Catcher whenever I want as much as I want, on the house.
I have money, of course. I work. I just pour most of it into racing, and what I have left over isn’t enough to impress a girl like Hattie. And I want to impress her in the worst way.
“I’m wearing flip-flops,” she cries, holding one tiny foot up to show me what looks like a perfectly good shoe for eating crab in.
“They have these super fancy things called tablecloths here,” I joke. I like the way she catches her lip between her teeth so I won’t see her smile. “They are known to hide your feet. Because I get how embarrassing those shoes must be.”
“You’re making fun of me.” She doesn’t say it like she minds.
“I’m trying to convince you not to let your damn shoes stop you from the best crab--the best crab--in California.” I watch her lip drop from between her teeth. “In the United States.” She wrinkles her brow, like she’s giving this serious consideration. “In the universe.”
“Who could say no to the best crab in the universe?” She shrugs. “Okay. But if the host makes us leave because we look like slobs, I’m not talking to you on the ride to the corndog hut.”
“Fair enough.” I go around to get her door and take her arm, and she lets me. I never know, because sometimes it pisses girls off when I try stuff like that, and Hattie definitely has that whole independent woman vibe going on big time.
She lets me hold the door for her, too, but she makes sure to thank me when we walk in. It’s just details, just the little things, but she’s such a class act. I know how awkward she feels about her outfit--even though I think she’s crazy...she looks freaking amazing--but she radiates comfortable confidence anyway.
She’s layered. That’s really attractive. I love that she can put on a good show, squash her insecurities. I love that even though she blows me off on the surface, pretends that this is just a casual get-together, there’s so much potential for it to go deeper. And I promise myself I won’t get discouraged if it feels like she’s not as into me, because her game-face could afford her a solid career in professional poker.
I’m determined to call her bluff.
….TIES is coming August 26, 2013!
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Steph and I are in countdown mode, preparing to get TIES out there! We're getting all kinds of sentimental hanging with Deo, Whit, and the gang, so we wanted to share a little scene straight from the Rodriguez synagogue, where merriment is being had by all!
I’m slightly off balance when I head up the stairs to the rec center attached to the synagogue where the festival is already in full swing. Little girls with flowers wreathed in their hair dart past me, a band heavy on the accordion is playing a song that’s getting a very frisky group of seniors on the floor to break out some shocking, hip-thrusting moves. I don’t see Deo or Whit and Marigold, who were bringing several trays of blintzes that Whit cooked and dozens of floral wreaths that Marigold wove.
I fade into the back, sitting with my glass of wine, keeping an easy eye roving for my people, and enjoying all the cheerful, foreign-but-familiar elements of a big cultural gathering. When I turn and realize there’s someone sitting next to me, I jump slightly.
When I realize who it is, I feel way more flustered than surprised.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I demand, sloshing a little wine out of my glass as I gesture with it.
“Uh, maybe you could keep it down with the swearing? We are in a synagogue.” Ryan’s eyes flash with annoyance, and I drop my gaze to the rim of my wineglass, feeling a strong blush heat my neck and cheeks.
“I--um, I’m sorry. You caught me off guard,” I argue lamely, double-checking to see if anyone who would be pissed to see us together is around. I think we’re hidden well enough in this corner that no one will notice us. I’m desperate to flip the subject, but I’m afraid I’ll come off sounding like even more of an ass. “Are you even Jewish?”
Ryan crosses his arms, making his muscles bulge. The scarred, tanned skin looks so warm and soft over all those hard muscles. He raises his dark eyebrows at me. “No, I’m not. You?”
“My family is strict Roman Catholic,” I admit, wondering what happens to my fully functioning brain when he’s around. My theory is that it melts and warps the second I see him, leaving me with nothing but a pile of goo to work with. Which, obviously, renders me an incoherent half-wit. “One of my uncles who still lives in the Philippines does this whole real crucification thing every year.”
If I could somehow disconnect my vocal chords when I was around him, I might be able to curb my silent pleas for giant holes to open under my feet and swallow me.
Ryan’s tight lips relax into a smile that’s so warm, it cusps on hot. “Crucifixion, huh? Your family doesn’t mess around. My uncle Billy and my uncle Pat had a fist fight at the funeral mass for my uncle Philip, but that was the extent of the violence.”
I pat the chair next to me. He’s been standing since my insanely rude greeting, and I decide I’ve reached my quotient for knee-jerk social faux pas today.
“It sounds like our uncles may be the root of all our family violence.” I sit up straighter in my chair when he settles next to me. I want to know why he’s here, and I wonder if it has anything to do with me.
Though that seems like a leap. And I’m not sure if I like the thought of it or not. But after barking at him the way I did, I can’t just ask anyway, so I put it out of my head.
“Uncles. Can’t take them anywhere. Unless you’re actively looking for bloodshed.” Ryan shifts forward in his chair, resting his forearms on his knees, and I can see the firm lines of his back through the cotton of his light button-down. “Do you go to mass?”
Our conversations always end up like this: me revealing more than I truly feel comfortable exposing, then wishing I could take half of it back. It’s alway basic, everyday stuff, but it feels so private. Maybe because I can’t remember anyone else asking me about anything I didn’t pointedly offer up. Even Mei, my best friend since middle school, has complete respect for my sometimes irrational need for privacy.
“As far as my mother knows, I’ve never missed a Sunday mass in my life.” I lift the wine glass to my mouth, even though my stomach feels a little acidic. Ryan’s body is so close to mine, his warmth is warding off the air-conditioned chill. “When I’m away at college, I don’t go. I like going with my mother though. I love watching her practice, if that makes sense. She’s so into it, so devout. I sometimes wish I could be that way.”
I clamp my mouth shut. On my long list of things I don’t like talking about, my feelings about religion cut right to the top. But here I am, spilling my guts.
“I hear you.” Ryan’s voice is soft as he looks over the kids tumbling in a circle, squealing with laughter, and picking themselves back up off the linoleum. “I had a few pretty messed-up years. I can’t say I’m ashamed of them, because I honestly believe you go through what you go through for a reason. But I’m not proud. Not at all. So part of me feels like I have no business sitting in that pew, especially because I never even considered confession. There’s no chance I’m saying anything that might get back to my mother. Not a chance.”
I look at him and narrow my eyes. “How bad are we talking about here? Because if you’re some kind of mass murderer or something, I have extensive training in martial arts. I used to spar with the uncle who crucifies himself, so I’m pretty badass.”
“Thanks for the fair warning.” His mouth is serious, but his eyes light up and seem to beckon me closer. “I’m talking more sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll debauchery. I’m a lover, not a fighter, definitely.”
And I’m a virgin who’s never done a drug in her life and prefers classical music. If not for the fact that I could take most grown men down in hand-to-hand combat, I’d be a total goody-two shoes Asian girl cliche.
I clear my throat. “I know the church can be pretty big on judgment and guilt, but you have to keep in mind that at its core, it’s all about forgiveness. Or, you know, it’s supposed to be.”
He leans closer to me, and I catch the salty smell of his skin in my nostrils. “That’s my problem: I don’t want forgiveness. What I did? A ton of it was stupid. But it moved me to right where I am today. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
My mouth goes so dry, my tongue feels wooden. He moves his knees in my direction, and the rough hair on his leg brushes against my smooth calf. That one movement feels so erotic, so like legs tangled on a bed under twisted sheets, that I gulp down the rest of my wine and draw my leg back.
….TIES is coming August 26, 2013!
Monday, August 5, 2013
Good morning, lovelies! I'm about to dive deep into the writing cave to tweak/run through some TIES business as Steph and I prepare to release, but I'm not a stingy person. I would never leave you with nothing at all for all these weeks until you get to read Hattie and Ryan's complete story, so here is a little teaser...just a promise of what's to come ;). Okay, I'm off to work! Have a lovely Monday!
TIES is up for pre-order on Amazon. If you'd like, you can link here and click so you don't miss it!
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Have you been missing your friends in Silver Strand, CA? Well, miss them no more! Hattie Beckett arrives from Connecticut hell bent on finding the father she's never met but has received crazy gifts from since she was a tiny child. Dante Beckett is nowhere to be found when she arrives, but she does run into a cast of characters who surprise and embrace her...for a reason she never saw coming! Enjoy ;)!
The sun is everywhere out here. I press my sunglasses closer to my face with my finger--like that will help--but it’s relentless. Like it’s demanding I embrace its warmth and feel cheerful. Which makes me feel like a damn grouch.
And making me even grouchier is the fact that there are no solely residential places on this street.
Did my dad own a business here? No. One of the very few facts I have about him is that his job demands an excessive amount of travel, especially overseas.
The address turns up a plot of land that looks like it was recently leveled in preparation for...I have no idea. There’s already everything you’d ever need within ten miles of this strip. You could guess a dozen things--vitamin store, vegan restaurant, exotic furnishings store, bead store, tattoo parlor--and you’d be repeating yourself, because this street has every one of those freaking wacky places all lined up in a row along with the usual coffee shops and convenience stores. The tattoo place borders the empty lot, so I push the door in and do what Ashwin advised: I see if I can get any clues, even tiny ones.
A pretty girl with dark, shiny hair in old-fashioned pin-curls and deep red lipstick I could never pull off looks up and starts to smile. Then stops. She tilts her head to one side and blinks a few times, like the sight of me is shocking.
I glance at the tattoos of an anchor and a compass with twisting cursive around them on her wrist and imagine there are lots more hidden under her tight red dress. I guess I stick out because I’m so un-inked? But why would she assume I’m not an eager customer? I could have a full back piece for all she knows.
Feeling defensive makes me act like a jerk, and I sort of snap, “Can I speak with the owner of this shop?”
The girl narrows her eyes and lifts a perfectly arched brow. I back the hell down because I get a strong vibe that this girl could whip my ass any day of the week. But then this intensely stubborn part of me rears up and attempts to arch a brow right back. I’m not sure how well I pull it off, but it gets me a small smile from her.
“Rocko is with a client right now,” she says, her voice husky and smooth. “Could I help you until he finishes?”
“Maybe you can. Do you have any idea what they’re planning to build next door?” I ask, pointing to the empty lot.
Her tiny smile grows. “Actually I do. It’s a second branch of the owner’s wife’s herbal store. There’s one on the outskirts of town, out by the beach, but she wanted a location in town, near this place.”
“Oh.” I knit my brows.
I guess my father sold the land. I could have sworn it said the owner was D. Beckett, but maybe the papers didn’t update. A lot of these buildings seem to have apartments on top, so it could have been more residential when he lived there. I didn’t exactly expect that, and I’m nervous now that it will make things harder. I was expecting to be able to ask neighbors about him. These businesses all look new, and what are the chances he even talked to any of the owners regularly enough that they’d remember him?
Unless he’s covered in tattoos he got done here of course. I honestly have no idea.
“Do you happen to know if your boss purchased the land or if it was purchased by his wife?” I keep my voice all business.
Her brown eyes lock on me and she just looks, hard. “Are you a friend of the family?” She leans forward on her low stool, swinging one leg so her gorgeous black heel with its little bow-tie juts out.
“I...” Ashwin told me that I could disclose information that didn’t give anything important away if I thought it might make the person I was questioning feel more comfortable. “I’m trying to contact Dante Beckett. I was given the address next door as his last known residence.”
“Dante Beckett?” The girl slides off the stool and walks to me with slow, deliberate steps, her heels clicking on the floor tiles. I’m a little scared she’s about to take out her big gold earrings and start smacking the crap out of me, but I’m also distracted by how sexy she looks when she walks over. This girl is formidable, and I’m terrified as hell I bit off more than I can chew on my first cold call. “Why would you need to contact Dante Beckett?”
My plan is falling apart at the seams, and I start to gush a little more information than I should. “I’ve been getting things from him,” I explain, and her expression is patient as a cobra waiting to strike. “Presents on my birthday every year. Christmas gifts. Over the top things. I...I need to know. I need to meet him before--”
I know I’m giving away more than I should, so it’s a huge relief when the owner comes out of the back with a tall guy who has his shirt folded up and draped over his bare shoulder.
It’s like the dark haired girl is made of steel and the shirtless guy is a magnet. He rushes towards her, scoops her in his arms, and whirls her around. She lets out a little gasp, then a loud laugh bursts from her cherry lips.
“I know you think if I get your name tattooed on me it will curse our relationship and all that voodoo. So I compromised.” He slides her down to the floor and turns. On one shoulder blade is a brand new tattoo of a mermaid sitting on a rock, flipping her tail. She has the girl’s exact face and body.
Other than the tail, of course.
“Deo!” she cries, pressing her fingers to her lips. “You ass! Rocko, how could you have let him do this?”
“I think it looks just like you,” the smaller man with dark glasses and dancing eyes says. “I tried to capture you smiling, but it was hard. Every time I thought about you seeing it, I pictured that scary frown.”
He points at her and the frown drops off her face. I can’t be sure, because her makeup is so well done, but I think she’s blushing.
“I married you, doll. If you ran away from me, stole all my money, and shacked up with some other dude, you’d still have my heart. I’d be pissed as hell and probably break the other guy’s face, but I’d still love you like crazy, and nothing’s gonna change that. Definitely not some tat.” He grabs her by the waist. “Especially some tat of your fine, smoking-hot ass.”
The girl gives a long sigh, then smacks a kiss on his lips and brushes his hair off his forehead with gentle fingers. “Technically it’s a fish’s ass.”
“You could make a fish’s ass look fine,” the guy--Deo--says, then turns and looks at me. He does the same double-take the girl did. “Uh, hi. Sorry. You look really familiar. Like, weirdly familiar. Have we met?”
I shake my head. “Um, I don’t think so. I just had a question for the owner--”
The girl is looking at Deo, her fingers linked with his. “Deo. I think...I think she might be your sister,” she says quietly.
Deo rears back, both his hands up, his face suddenly clouded with fury. “What?”
The girl nods at me. “She came in looking for Dante. He’s been sending her crazy gifts for years. Also...well, look at her.”
….TIES is coming August 26, 2013!