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Sunday Snippet 9.23.18

From the upcoming CHRISTMAS AND CANNOLIS

After grace, my father turned his attention away from the conversation my brothers were having about the Jets, and toward me.

“What’s going on with you and that Irish guy?” he asked without any preamble.

Luckily, I hadn’t taken a sip from the water glass I’d lifted to my mouth, otherwise I knew I would have choked on the liquid.

“Nothing.”

Regina Maria.”

“Really, Pop. Nothing. I made a cake for him. That’s it.”
 I could hear the angels in Heaven tsk-tsking me.

I’d been in church less than two hours ago, and now I was committing a sin by lying to my father. I could see a visit to the confessional before the end of the day was in order.

“Guys you make cakes for don’t usually spend the night in your apartment, little girl.”

My brother knows a guy named Tony Cartieri. Everyone who knows him agrees that if Tony didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck.

Right at the moment Pop made that statement, I knew exactly how old Tony felt, because the conversation had slowed and ebbed, Pop’s words spreading around the table loud and clear. The kids were set up in the living room, so I don’t think they got wind of it. But everyone else did.

Ten pair of eyes glared at me from all corners of the table. Some were wide-eyed; some were narrowed. All of them were filled with varying levels of emotions ranging from shocked (Ma) to suspicious (my brothers) to pleased (my sisters-in-law).

“Regina.” Ma threw her napkin on her plate and slammed her cutlery next to her plate. “What is your father talking about? What man spent the night at your apartment?”

“It’s not like it sounds, Ma. It was late and we were talking, and then we both just fell asleep—”

Holy Madonna.” She made the sign of the cross and closed her eyes, hands clasped together as her lips moved silently in prayer.

“Where?” ’Carlo asked.

“Where what?”

“Where did the two of you fall asleep? In your bed?”

Another finger cross from Ma. This time she kissed her fingertips afterward and threw a prayer up to the Lord.

“I don’t think you get to ask me that question, ’Carlo. I’m thirty-two years old, and you’re my brother, not my father.”

“What I am is suspicious,” he spat back. “How come we didn’t know you were seeing a guy? Why you keeping him a secret?”

“First of all, what I do in the privacy of my own home”—now Ma was rocking back and forth as she prayed—“or don’t do, is none of your business. Second, I’m not seeing anyone, so the fact that it’s a secret is null and void. Stop with the third degree, GianCarlo. Use it on your own kids, ’cause like I said, you’re not my father.”

“But I am,” Pop said, his tone hard and filled with anger, “so answer it. Where did Irish sleep last night?”

“Irish?” Petey exclaimed. “What the Hell kinda name is that?”

“Language, Pietro,” Ma said, awaking from her spiritual coma to chastise her son.

There are so many things I simply adore about my family. The unshakeable connection and love we all have; the fact that we live close to one another; our shared faith and sense of tradition. But the one thing I do hate is the antiquated morality system they adhere to. Girls don’t have sex with men before marriage, plain and simple. Of course since the one and only time I’d done just that, I’d wound up pregnant and forced to get married, my parents’ concerns made sense.

To them.

I was almost fifteen years older, much wiser, and a full-fledged adult now, but I was still treated like an ignorant bambina who had to be protected from wolves and scoundrels. If my father had his way, I’d be married right now to one of his goombahs, eight months pregnant with probably our seventh child, and in the kitchen making gravy.

So many times over the years, I’d wanted to smack him on the back of the head much the way he smacks us, and say, “Wake up! It’s twenty-first-century America, not eighteenth-century Sicily.” Wanting to do something and actually doing it, though, are very different beasts.

So.

I don’t get mad often, especially with my family, but I was tired, overworked, emotionally drained, and royally pissed off right now, so the anger bled through my usual calm.

I rose from my chair and threw my napkin down on the table like my mother had.

“You know what? I’m done. I’m done with you all treating me like a child. I’m not one of your underlings, Pop, who needs to be kept on a short lease and told what to do every minute of the day because you don’t have enough trust to let them act on their own. And”—I glared at my brothers— “I’m not five years old and unable to defend myself against bullies and bad guys. You don’t have to hold my hand so I can cross the street and not get hit by a car.” I grabbed my plate and walked to the kitchen. “I’m done with you all thinking I can’t make a wise and appropriate decision with my life,” I added over my shoulder. I placed the dish in the sink and called out, “I’m done with the checking up on me, the second- guessing me, and the way you all think you have a right to manage my life.”

I yanked my coat off the hall tree and yelled, “I’m a thirty-two-year-old grown-ass woman who owns and manages her own business and her own life. I don’t need protectors, handlers, or any of you telling me what to do, who to see, or how to conduct myself. I’ve been on my own a long time, and I think I’ve done a great job with myself, even if you all don’t.” I shrugged into my coat and wound my scarf around my neck. “If I want a man to spend the night or not, it’s none of your damn business. Deal with it.”

I may have screeched that last part.

I slammed the door behind me and sprinted down the stairs of the brownstone, my ungloved hand waving in the air for a passing cab.

As an exit line, I think it was a pretty good one.

Available December 2018 from THE WILD ROSE PRESS

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Sunday Snippet 9.2.18

I had so much fun posting something from the soon-to-be-released DEARLY BELOVED last Sunday, I figured I do another this week.

Blurb first, so you know what you’re reading ( heehee)

Colleen O’Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in their hometown of Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with her demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she’s starting to feel she may never find her Mr. Right.

Playboy Slade Harrington doesn’t believe in marriage. His father’s six weddings have taught him that life is better if you’re single and unencumbered. But Slade loves his sister and he’ll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. One thing he doesn’t plan on when he signs the checks is losing his heart to his sister’s smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner.

When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen is forced to choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.

And now, a little sumthin’ sumthin:

“You’re early,” a familiar voice said from behind me.

How was it possible for anyone to look so damn good all the time? Slade was leaning against the doorjamb, arms crossed over his chest. He’d obviously just finished his run, evidenced by the steam gusting off his sweating body. His hair was plastered to his head, the ends spikey with perspiration. A saturated blue T-shirt molded and outlined every curve and bend of muscle in his torso and abdomen.

Every. Single. One.

The sweatpants dropping down his long, long legs rode low on his hips. Like the shirt, they clung to his thick, muscular thighs and did nothing to hide their power and bulging firmness.

Mother of God.

A ball of instant lust bounced through me, and I started to drool—drool! I swallowed, my neck muscles tight and rigid against the movement.

“Game day,” I managed to say. Okay, it was really more of a toad-like croak, but I couldn’t help it. The man turned every fiber of my being, every system in my body, every nerve ending, to the on position.

He smiled and my toes curled up inside my pumps.

“So this is your, what?” He moved toward me, stealthily, predatory, his hands dropping to his sides, flexing and extending his fingers as he walked. His lips lifted a bit. “Game day uniform?”

He stopped right in front of me. The surrounding air went up a good ten degrees around me from the heat sluicing off him, but my body responded as if it had been slapped with an icepack. My nipples pulled to two painful points inside my lace bra, and my skin prickled with goosebumps, precisely the way it had when he’d kissed me right before leaving my house several hours before. My nostrils flared, filled with the fragrance of the autumn woods he’d run through, mixed together with his natural, earthy, manly scent. Desire drenched me.

Slade reached out and pinched the lapel of my suit jacket. “This color is gorgeous on you.” His voice dropped to a sexy, just-out-of-bed timbre that made my knees wobble. “What’s it called?”

“Aub-aubergine. You know? Like eggplant?”

His left eyebrow lifted, and his eyes twinkled with mirth.

“It’s more like an autumn plum, and since Isabella wanted a fall color scheme, I thought this would be a good way to blend in when I’m running around and making sure things go as planned.” I swallowed again. “I don’t like standing out or drawing attention to myself when I’m working. I want people focused on the bride and the groom, so”—I shrugged—“this seemed like the ideal color for blending. So, yeah. Um…aubergine.”

I really needed to get some kind of therapy to correct this nervous babbling Tourette’s.

Slade’s grin turned wicked, his eyes filling with heat. His fingers clenched my lapel and pulled me in closer with a simple tug. My senses were quite completely filled with the very essence of him. “Am I making you nervous?”

“You’re making me insane,” I blurted. Lowering my voice, I added, “Do you know how incredibly hot you are right now, all sweaty and perfect and—” I waved my hand in front of his body, in lieu of finding the right way to describe what he looked like.

Is orgasmalicious a word?

That wicked mouth widened, and I knew exactly how Red Riding Hood felt when the Wolf grinned at her—like she was about to be devoured. Whole.

A breath later, I was.

Slade’s kiss sent an erotic shudder down my spine so powerful, my heart stopped then kicked back in at twice the normal rate. The only part of his body in contact with mine was his mouth, but he had me in a stronghold I couldn’t move out of. Not that I wanted to. Ever.

With innate mastery, his tongue parted my lips and feasted. He cupped my chin to hold me in place and tilted my head back a bit. The angle allowed him full power over the kiss, which I willingly gave up. I couldn’t have fought for control even if I wanted to, which—believe me—I didn’t.

Did I call him a master at the art of the kiss? What’s higher than a master? A prefect? A god? Whatever it was, Slade was so far up the scale, he made his own title.

He kept his body separated from mine, and I instinctively knew it was because I was dressed for the long day ahead of us while he was still in sweaty running clothes and needed a shower. I had an overpowering urge to step into him, wrap my arms around his trim waist, and forget everything. One of us needed to be the stronger person here, and I’m so glad it was Slade because if he’d even shifted a whisper closer to me, I would have put my yearning into action.

All too soon he pulled back. It took me a few moments to open my eyes and focus. When I did, he was grinning down at me again, his head titled to one side and his fists back on his hips.

“Insane, huh?” He shook his head. “Now you know what I feel like every time we’re in the same room and I can’t touch you. Insane describes it perfectly.”

A lump formed in the back of my throat. If I opened my mouth the frog brigade would croak again, so I took a few calming breaths instead.

“Colleen.”

My name had never sounded so sweet. A million tiny fluttering butterflies beat against my spandex-free tummy muscles. There was something hidden in the way he said my name. Something…promising.

Slade shook his head and stared down at the floor for a second, before pulling his gaze back to mine. A long, deep exhale filled with resignation blew passed his crooked grin. “Not the right time,” he murmured, almost more to himself, than to me. “I’ve gotta go grab a shower, get some breakfast. You’ll be around?”

“I’m taking Isabella and the girls to the beauty salon in a bit. As soon as we get back, it’ll be time for her to get dressed and ready.”

Was that regret in his eyes?

“Charity and Kolby will be here, though, if you need anything. Maureen’s available, too. Just ask.”

Slade took a step closer to me again. “I wish this day was over already.” His voice was soft and low, and a firestorm of need flamed low in my belly. “I wish I was back in your bed, this day behind us. I’d be able to take my time with you, knowing I had all the time in world. All the time to make you”—he leaned a little closer, dropped his voice to a caress—“scream my name over and over.”

What would it have cost me to admit to him I wanted that, too? Too much, at the moment. “Don’t say that.” I took his hand in mine. “Don’t wish your sister’s day away. She deserves an entire day filled with wonderful, lifelong memories. Don’t wish it away for her.”

He covered my hand with his free one, sandwiching mine between them. “I’m not. I want Izzy to have her moment, I do. I just want you, too.” A thin line spread between his brows. “I-it’s just…”

“What?” I squeezed his hand. “Tell me.

His breath was deep and if I had to hazard a guess, troubled. With another shake of his head, he said, “Nothing. Sorry. I’m in a mood. I’ve been thinking about potential parental drama. Today is the first time Janelle and my father have seen one another in a while. I’m not anticipating a happy reunion. For me, either.”

Why didn’t I believe seeing his father was the root of his unease?

Before I could probe further, he stepped back. “Listen. I’m gonna go get cleaned up. I know you’re going to be busy all day, but remember your promise.” That penetrating gaze of his seared right thought me. “I’m collecting at the reception, and you’re not gonna worm out of it.”

Like I would? Please. My parents didn’t raise an idiot, just a nervous twitterer. “I always keep my promises,” I told him.

“I’m betting on it.” He kissed my cheek and left me.

Something was up with him, weighing on his mind. While he might be a little anxious about how his father and ex-stepmom would behave was probably true, I’d wager the secret stash of chocolate covered peppermint candies hidden in my office drawer for emotional emergencies, that wasn’t all that was bothering him.

Tentative publication date is November 14, but I’ll be keeping you updated, peeps!

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