FIRST KISS: TUESDAY – from Never Say Never, Book II West Coast Happily-Ever-After

And so starts February…I have to say after the crazy weather we’ve been having on the West Coast, I’m looking forward to XOXOs from Mother Nature this month. At least the inclement weather afforded a good excuse to snuggle up with a good book.

I’m a sucker for second chance/secret baby books. But as a writer I’ve always struggled with the secret keeper needing a rock solid reason for keeping a child a secret. I think Lisa’s got one. I hope you agree if you read the book. In the meantime, please enjoy Lisa and Joe’s first–in a very long time–kiss!

West Coast Happily-Ever-After, Book 2

 

NEVER SAY NEVER © Loner Llama Press

He stopped her.  “One confession at a time. I owe you an apology.”

She looked up. “For what?”

“For being an ass the day of Patrick’s funeral. I was mad at the world, and I needed somebody to blame for what happened. I didn’t care who I hurt in the process. You. My dad. Hell, I probably said something nasty to my mother, too, but I don’t remember.” He glanced toward the door. “Don’t ask her, okay? I’m a Kelly. Humbling myself once a day is all I can take.”

Her lips curved upward but only for a moment. “Why are you bringing this up tonight, Joe?”

“Because ever since you picked me up at the airport I’ve felt like there was some ponderous weight between us. Patrick. The past. Our past. And, of course, my asinine behavior at the funeral. I was hoping if I apologized we might find a way to get past it.”

“Why? Because we’re going to be working together—well, in close proximity—for the next few weeks?”

Her tone sounded contentious. “Yes, partly.”

“Because you’re already bored and need a little romance to spice up your stay?”

Momentarily stunned speechless, he watched her tap the corner of the envelope to her lips. “Well, I hate to disappoint you, but it isn’t going to happen. I may be a small town girl who is too afraid of life to risk leaving Worthington, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have plans. I do. And you aren’t part of them.”

Too afraid of life to risk leaving Worthington? His words came back to haunt him. The night by the lake, after they’d made love, Joe had asked Lisa to go with him. She’d refused, and he’d accused her of being too afraid to take a chance on a bigger life outside of Worthington.

“I was eighteen and full of myself. I thought I had all the answers when, in fact, I didn’t even know what the questions were.”

He shook his head and made a gesture toward the bar where the sound of laughter filtered under the door. “You proved me wrong, didn’t you? You’ve met your goal of graduating from college. You have a lot of friends who think you’re fabulous, and your son has turned out great—despite a few little age-related glitches. You have a lot more to show for your life than I do.”

She set down the card and took a step closer. “How can you say that? You’re a successful filmmaker. You’re living your dream.”

“I left here convinced I was going to be the next Steven Spielberg. That didn’t happen.”

She smiled the way she would have if Brandon had said something self-effacing. “So neither of us has set the world on fire,” she said with a shrug. “I’ve decided there comes a time when you either embrace your life—flaws and all—or give up.”

She shook her head and a lock of golden-red hair escaped from her fancy updo and danced across her shoulders. He took her by the wrist and pulled her a step closer. Their bodies weren’t quite touching, but he could reach her by leaning forward.

He moved slowly, giving her a chance to back away, but she didn’t. He put his mouth on hers. She didn’t respond right away, but after a heartbeat her mouth opened. At first, all he could taste was the tangy flavor of the wine she’d been drinking, then her tongue touched his and memories poured into his mind. Even after all these years, she still tasted like Lisa.

This, he realized, was what he’d wanted all night. All week. Ever since he’d walked out the doors of the airport and seen her standing beside her perky little car. He needed this. He needed her.

But Lisa apparently didn’t need him.

Stepping back, she held on to the table with one hand and used the other to touch her lips, as if making sure they were still there.

“I stole a kiss, not your lips,” Joe said, trying to lighten the moment.

She didn’t smile. “I can’t do this, Joe. Not now. Not until… There’s something you…” She didn’t finish the thought. “I’m sorry. I have to get back to my guests.”

With that, she walked out of the room.

As a special February treat, you can download NEVER SAY NEVER at my DebSalonen Bookstore: CLICK TO BUY for 50% off if you use this (limited time only) coupon: QMZ9I9XDM7  

Or download from the vendor of your choice:

AMAZON  Kobo       iBooks     BN

And in case you missed West Coast Happily-Ever-After #1 (click image for Universal links): 

Happy reading!

Deb

FIRST KISS TUESDAY- MERRY CHRISTMAS! 50% off Caleb’s Christmas Wish

Today is December 25th. Since it’s also a Tuesday, here’s a blog from a sweet, heartbreaking love story about going the extra mile for someone you love–and finding your destiny in the process. If you haven’t downloaded this book, I’d like to offer it to you through my online bookstore for 50% off the retail price using this code: SK2U5DPZPY

CALEB’S CHRISTMAS WISH

West Coast Happily-Ever-After,  Book III

How far would you go for the sake of a child?

Black Friday. Black ice. Lives changed in a blink.

The lines in Miami financier Jake Westin’s world are crisp and easy to delineate: black and red, profit and loss. On paper. Until the day after Thanksgiving when Allison Jeffries—a woman he’s heard about for four and a half years but never met—calls to tell him the world they’ve shared from opposite sides of the country will never be the same. Pam and Kenny Rydell—Jake’s best friend and only link to the “bad ol’ days” of his youth—died in a car accident on the way to a Sierra ski resort, leaving their son, Caleb, with his grandmother, who upon hearing the news of her only daughter’s death went into cardiac arrest. In an instant, Caleb’s godparents—two grieving strangers who never imagined the worst-case scenario becoming a reality—must decide how to best care for the little boy they both love.

Jake is determined to do the right thing for Caleb—even if that means facing demons from his own loss-filled childhood and dealing with the woman Kenny called “a sweetheart but wound too tight for her own good.” Allison suffers no illusion that she’d make a good mother. After all, hasn’t she let her computer business fill the gap left by a failed marriage and aborted pregnancy? But she’ll do anything in her power to give her godson the life Pam intended for her son—even if that means sharing a house with the charismatic stranger Pam teasingly called “Jake the Rake–a broken heart waiting to happen.”


 

FIRST KISS Excerpt © Debra Salonen:

 

“I’m home. And I have pizza.”

Allison’s cheerful greeting made Jake want to crawl under the table. She’d been working in Fresno all day while he and Caleb had delivered canned goods, done a little Christmas shopping and taken a nap. Now, instead of giving his partner some much-needed down time, he was leaving her alone to care for a rowdy little rascal who refused to bathe.

“Ummm, pizza,” Caleb cheered, racing past Jake to meet her at the back door. “I want pizza. I want pizza.”

Jake hurried after him. Even though he felt guilty about leaving, Jake rationalized that this outing wasn’t entirely his fault. He’d been coerced by Richard, who wanted to introduce Jake to the volunteer firemen. The group planned to honor Kenny at a memorial next month and needed Jake’s input.

“Let me help,” Jake said, hurrying to relieve Allison of a plastic bag obviously filled with a six-pack of cans.

“Thanks,” she said. “The handle was cutting off circulation to my fingers.” She shook her hand then walked to the kitchen counter where she placed a large cardboard box and a paper sack.

“So how did we do today?” she asked, stealing a piece of pepperoni off the pie. “Cans galore?”

“We topped last year’s total by how much, Caleb?”

“Six million,” the little boy said, taking the paper plates and napkins out of the sack.

“Six hundred,” Jake corrected, trying not to laugh.

“Wow,” Allison exclaimed. She hung up her coat and washed her hands. “That’s impressive. How ’bout money-wise?”

“Eight trillion dollars,” Caleb said his eyes aglitter.

Jake loved to see his godson joke. This was the child he remembered from summer. Jake extended his arms in an impression of Frankenstein and ambled toward the little boy. “How much?” he roared.

“Eight thousand,” Caleb squealed, dodging left when Jake lurched right. Napkins flew into the air. Allison tried to catch them and wound up tripping over Jake’s foot. His only recourse to prevent her from falling was to snatch her into his outstretched arms, which curled backwards without conscious thought.

“Oh,” Allison said, with a small exhale. Her face was close to Jake’s. Her breath carried the tangy scent of pepperoni.

“Eiou,” Caleb cried, ducking behind the paper plates he still held. “Kissing. Just like Mommy and Daddy.”

Allison righted herself almost immediately and stepped back. “Sorry.”

“No apology needed. It was my fault.”

Caleb yanked on Jake’s pocket. “You didn’t kiss her.”

“Well, no…I…um.” Jake felt his face heat up. He was rarely speechless, but this was definitely one of those times.

“Shall we eat?” Allison asked, her voice wobbly. “I’m starved.”

Caleb tugged again and motioned Jake to bend down for a private chat. In a loud whisper, the child said, “You have to kiss her. Girls like kisses. We can’t lose another mom, Jake.”

Jake’s breath left him. He put his hand to his face and squeezed the bridge of his nose to keep his tears at bay.

Suddenly, he sensed Allison’s presence. She picked up Caleb and put her free arm around Jake’s back to pull him into a hug. “Everybody likes kisses,” she said softly. She pressed her lips to his cheek, and then did the same to Caleb.

The child hugged her fiercely then wiggled free. “Can I have chocolate milk with my pizza?”

Allison smiled. “Sure. There’s a carton in the door of the fridge.”

Her arm was still touching him. Her warmth enveloped him. Her scent made his mouth water. Girls weren’t the only ones who liked kisses. He lowered his head and touched his lips to hers. She gave a startled peep but didn’t move away. He kissed her again, his tongue teasing her lips that parted hesitantly.

The whooshing sound of the refrigerator door closing made her jump back. Her expression was unreadable, but her blush told him she was embarrassed and regretted the kiss. Jake wished he did, but in all honesty, he wanted more.

~~~

I’m happy to offer this sweet story to you for the bargain price of 50% off at my online bookstore: Deb’s Bookstore. Click on the link and be sure to use the 50% off coupon code: SK2U5DPZPY

Caleb’s Christmas Wish is also available from these fine vendors!

Amazon / Nook / Kobo / iBooks / Google Play

 

Merry, merry Christmas! Thanks for reading! Your positive reviews are greatly appreciated!!

Deb