So the premise of this Tuesday blog feature was to give you a little insight and previews into books that are coming out, or that I’m writing right now. Today, we’ve got the second category. This is from the second book in my dot com girls series from Limitless. It’s not contracted yet, but hope springs eternal in my house and in my mind! This is the story of Eleanor “Nell” Newbery, a once-upon-a-time heiress, who, through her father’s greed ( think Bernie Madoff) has tumbled from rich girl to poor. Because of her strong will and business acumen, though, she’s made a success of her moving and handyman company, Helpful Hunks. Nell’s not a trusting kind of girl – she’s been burned too many times by men who want to date her so they can sell their stories to tabloids. But when she meets Econ professor Charles Churchill at a lecture, for once she decides to toss her distrustful issues aside.
Here’s a little taste – it’s raw so please don’t judge any mistakes yet! This is their first meet, told in Nell’s POV.
A lifetime of innate clumsiness has prevented me from ever wearing anything taller than a tiny kitten heel. A higher heel spelled complications in situations that involved doing anything with my feet and legs in tandem – such as walking. It’s been said by my friends that I can trip standing still. They’re not exaggerating, so today I’d donned a pair of well worn and much loved ballet flats just as a precaution against any movement mishaps. The last thing I wanted to do was fall while I was lecturing. Not in this age of camera phones where my ungainliness could be uploaded and Instagrammed to the world in a matter of seconds.
I should have added walking up stairs to that precaution because three steps away from the second floor landing I slid, stumbled, and slipped. Honesty, who but me could fall up the stairs?
Flailing, my brief case tumbled down behind me and the papers I’d been holding flew around me like confetti in the wind when I dropped them in order to put my arms out and brace myself against face-planting into the marble.
“Shit. Shit. Shit.” I landed with my palms splayed flat on the stair. The slap of my flesh meeting the hard step reverberated around me, and my forearms trembled with the force of the hit. My left shin slammed against the stair tread, the sharp edge of it connecting right under my rounded kneecap. One of my consignment store-bought Kate Spades slid off and plummeted downward, chasing after my briefcase.
For a moment I stood stone still, shocked at the loudness of my hit in the stairwell and the immediate pain filling my hands and knee.
I said a silent prayer of thanks that no one had been a witness to my fall and then took the prayer back when a voice drifted up from below me.
“Good Lord. Are you okay?”
Why do people ask such a stupid question? Obviously, I wasn’t. I’d just fallen flat on my face, my papers were strewn about me as if they’d exploded out of a canon and, because this was me of the lousy luck we were talking about, my laptop was probably damaged beyond repair.
Just as I was about to toss the questioner a snarky retort, I felt a hand wind around one of upper arms and haul me up as if I weighed nothing more than a wisp of air.
My dress had three quarter sleeves but even through the cotton the warmth that oozed from the hand heated my skin as if touching it bare.
“Can you stand?” the voice holding me asked.
While the hand oozed with warmth, the voice flowed in a sultry, sensual tone that shot straight to my insides and heated all the parts of me that had been experiencing an arctic frost of late.
Well, a lot more than of late. More like the past decade.
Deep toned and delicately accented like Prince Harry’s, I’d bet cash-money it was English to the core.
“I think so.” With my free hand on the rail, I righted and gingerly placed my unshod foot flat on the stair tread. My knee ached, but I could tell nothing was broken. I was going to be sore tomorrow, though, for sure. And bruised without a doubt. My fair skin always looks like I’ve been in a ten-round prize fight whenever I bang against something.
I lifted my gaze to tell he-of-the-soulful-voice I was okay and the words stuck in the back of my throat.
Concern wrinkled a high brow and the skin at the corners of his eyes. And, goodness, what eyes. As deep and blue as a ripe blueberry on the vine begging to be picked. I’d never seen that color on an actual human before and it was beyond striking. Thick, blond hair tinged with gray at the temples was cut short along the nape. My gaze slid from his gorgeous eyes down to cheeks carved from alabaster and dusted with a salt and pepper stubble that ran down the length of his jaw. When they flitted to his mouth the air stuck in my throat finally broke free in a gasp that echoed around us. Full and luscious, smooth skinned and deep blush in color, they were the most perfect lips imaginable. For a hot second the ache in my hands and knee disappeared to form a totally different kind of ache in my core.
I blinked, shuddered, and teetered a bit when I recognized the alien sensation swimming within me as awareness.
His beautiful lips tugged down at the corners as he stared at me, worry in those compelling eyes. His hand tightened on my arm.
“Steady,” he said in that silky voice.
“I-I’m okay. Really.” I tired to move out of his hold but he wasn’t having it.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Thanks. I’m fine. Well,” I rolled my eyes as he continued to peer at me, “I’m a little banged up and embarrassed, but fine. Really. I fall all the time. Everywhere.”
Geez, Eleanor, shut up, my internal snark instructed.
Mr. Sexy didn’t look all that convinced, but he did let go of my arm.
“It’s true. And now I’m embarrassed and late.” I bent to retrieve the notes that had gone helter-skelter when I stumbled. I didn’t relish going back down the steps to get my briefcase, but I was saved from having to when he did the honors.
I slung the strap over my shoulder after taking it from him. Then he gave me my shoe. I held onto the rail while I slipped it back on.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
I nodded. “Battered and bruised but I’ll live. Thanks again, but I’ve gotta get going.”
“Where are you heading?”
I blinked, wondering why he asked.
“Room 265. It’s supposed to be right up these stairs.”
He gave me a quick head bob. “It is. Come on, I’ll show you.”
“Oh, no, really. That’s okay. I can find my way. You’ve done enough. I don’t want to make you late for wherever”—I flapped my free hand in the air—“you need to be.”
Those amazing lips twitched at the corners turning his intriguing face into a whole new level of handsome.
“I happen to be going in the same direction, so no problem.”
He held a hand out to indicate we should move up the remaining stairs.
With my papers bundled in one hand, my shoe back in place and my briefcase, thankfully, not emitting sounds of my laptop jiggling in a thousand pieces, I held onto the rail with the other and walked – slowly and cautiously – up the remaining steps while he kept an eye on my progress.
My chaperone, because that’s what he was at this point, kept his stride coupled with mine. At the top of the landing he pulled the corridor door open, held it, and nodded for me to precede him.
It was easy to find my scheduled room because outside it on the wall was a scotch-taped notice indicating my name, the course I was teaching, and the time the class started, which, after a quick glance at my watch, was right now.
“This is me,” I said, placing what I hoped was a normal smile on my face and not a grimace. “Thank you again for your help.”
His gaze shot from the paper on the wall to my face. With his head tilted just a bit to the side, the look he gave me was indecipherable. I couldn’t tell if he was silently laughing at the title of my class, me, or if he was wondering if someone who was as clumsy as I was had personal knowledge and experience with shattering ceilings euphemistic or otherwise.
“You’re welcome, Ms. Newbery.” He pronounced my name as if the second e was missing, the b and the r rolling off his tongue together, and not berry the way people usually did. I have to admit, I liked this pronunciation way better. It sounded…classier, somehow. “Have a good class. And you might want to ice that knee later on just as a precaution.”
With that he nodded again, turned, and then walked down the long hallway away from me.
The back of him was as interesting as the front. Broad, straight shoulders encased in a sport’s coat that dropped effortlessly from shoulder to hip; endlessly long legs wrapped in fitted trousers. He held himself in a manner my mother would have approved of: erect, like a solider but graceful, like a dancer. I could actually picture him in both a uniform holding a rifle and a tuxedo holding…me.
I stayed in my spot until he opened a door at the end of the corridor and then disappeared inside it without ever glancing back at me.
With a shake of my head to clear it of the wacky thoughts, I opened my own classroom door and entered into what I hoped wouldn’t prove to be one of the nine circles of Hell.
So – that’s it for now. Like I said, this is raw – no editing yet, so don’t be judgey( Hee hee).
and please don’t forget I’m participating in the BOOKSWEEPS Sweet and Mild Contemporary Romance Contest until May 29. Enter Here for a chance to win great prizes.
Until next time ~ Peg.