Oooh la la! Today’s Indie Carnival is all about the love, baby! So, here’s a little scene from my upcoming book, Thomas & January. It’s a spin off of Callum & Harper and quite…steamy. Enjoy, ladies…and gentlemen. Didn’t think I knew about ya’, did ya’?
We traveled in silence, all the way to our hotel, I still wrapped my arm around her shoulder and she didn’t shrug it off which made me think she just wanted to work through what was going on. I understood it. I was a confusing bastard. One minute, I’m a complete asshole, the next, I’m practically confessing an undying infatuation. Emotional whiplash.
The ride up the elevator stirred the heat I let go dormant at the memory of how her soft flesh felt pressed to mine. I glanced her direction and her eyes were as dark as mine with the same recollection.
“No,” I laughed. “Don’t look at me like that, January. This is hard enough without you looking like a bowl of ice cream.”
“I’ve a spoon, Tom.”
“Shut up. Seriously, I’m not joking. I need to get this off my chest. I need parameters.”
“Parameters? Attraction doesn’t have parameters.”
“No, attraction doesn’t but potential does.”
That shut her right up and I nearly laughed at her wide eyed expression. I let us into the room and we kind of roamed around, pretending to do things, avoiding the inevitable conversation. Finally, I sat on the edge of one of the beds and slid to the carpet below. She followed suit and sat opposite me on the floor, our legs touching. I fiddled with the zipper of my hoodie, afraid to look her way. Jeez, dude, grow a pair and talk to her. You’re acting like a little kid.
“January,” I began, looking directly in her eyes. “I’ve never regretted anything so much as the way I treated you the night we first kissed.” She was smiling at first but sucked in a breath at my proclamation. “I was, is, really, in a strange place. My chest ached perpetually and I unfairly and immaturely took that out on everyone I met, especially you.
“When we met, I was six months into a self-inflicted prison sentence.”
“What happened?” She asked.
I breathed deeply, leaning my head on the side of the bed. “There was a girl. Kelly. She’d been a part of our group for years and years. We were best friends but I never looked at her that way. I mean, sure, she was hot as hell but Kelly wasn’t someone I wanted to touch. She was Kelly. Get me?” I asked her.
She nodded quietly.
“I was in a band and that meant all that it implies. I dated hundreds of girls. Kissed thousands. Did…other things as well.” I ran my hands over my face at the confession. “I’m not proud of who I was. I was young and stupid.” I peered her direction, her face held only anticipation. “Not exactly the best excuse, I know, but I thought I was doing everything right, getting tested regularly, being careful, blah, blah, blah, but a year and a half ago, I couldn’t pretend anymore that it was at all fulfilling.” I ran my hand through my hair, tucking the strands behind my ears. “I was disgusted with myself, to be honest. I’d seen everything that world could offer and I was only twenty-two. Suddenly, it was like a switch flipped and I saw Kelly for the real woman she was and my God was I ever in love with her.”
January’s chest panted, her face flushed and her eyes glassed, making me feel terrible. I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable but she needed to know why I was the way I’d become…I wasn’t finished.
“Wait, January,” I told her, grabbing her hand.
“I’m listening,” she choked.
“But I was too late. She met and became engaged to someone else.”
“Oh dear,” January said, confusing me. I squeezed her hand to let me finish.
“And I hated every fiber of his being. He was wealthy, connected, educated, and, unfortunately, sincerely in love with her in return. It ate at me. At first, I’d indulged in women but that proved useless. My ache only got deeper. I was thoroughly ashamed of myself because I’d began to subtly infiltrate their relationship, demanding she see films and go to restaurants with me. I figured, hell, she wasn’t married yet, she was fair game, but even I knew how wrong that was. It was all under the pretense of friendship. I was being dishonest with her.
“When her fiance` called our little meetings off for us, that’s when I fled to Austin.”
“And that’s where you met me.”
“That’s when I met you.”
“I see now,” she said sadly.
“No, you don’t, January. You really don’t.”
“Tell me then.”
“I just wanted to forget Kelly, wanted her out of my mind and chest and I wanted no one to ever be able to get within five feet of me for reasons I think obvious. Dude, I thought I could never hurt so badly as I did when I realized that I could never have Kelly…but…”
“But?” She asked, unknowingly inching forward.
I spoke quietly, almost too quietly, afraid to admit it out loud. I closed my eyes tightly. “But that hurt was nothing in comparison to how badly I’d begun to feel when a stranger kissed me in a dusty lot just six months ago.”
“Jesus, I’m so sorry, Tom,” she exclaimed, her back falling against the side of her bed.
“What the hell for?”
“I shouldn’t have done what I did,” she said, her eyes glassing over.
“Yes, you should have, January.”
“No, I shouldn’t have.” She dropped her eyes to her lap and I could actually feel the sadness radiate from her.
I sat up on my knees and brought her up with me, bringing her face inches from mine. “Don’t ever say that, January. You revived me. You saved me. You did what I’m convinced no other person could have done and believe me they’d tried. As badly as I hurt for Kelly, it was nothing, nothing in comparison to how I felt when I didn’t do right by that total stranger. January, you eclipse Kelly! I’m ashamed to say it but this friend I was convinced I loved is nothing compared to you. I feel like a fool. I could have sworn when I lost Kelly that I lost my soul mate but I was so wrong. So, so wrong.”
She shook her head. She needed convincing? Fine.
“I didn’t know you from Adam, but God how I dreamt of you night after night after night. You were this ghost I carried along with me everywhere I went, overshadowing the hate I carried for what Kelly didn’t even really do to me. If Jason hadn’t called me to New York, I know I would have come searching you out. I was obsessed with you and I barely knew you.” I searched her face. “Doesn’t that scare you?”
“No,” she said calmly.
“Why the hell not?” I asked, bewildered. “This infatuation I have for you is borderline psychotic, even I recognize that.”
“Because,” she said, swallowing. “Because I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel it too. I feel desperate when it comes to you. Desperate and a little bit insane. All I can think about around you is what you taste like.”
“Don’t tell me things like that,” I begged her. I squeezed my eyes closed and rested my forehead with hers, fighting control with every grit of my teeth.
“Why? It’s only the truth.”
“But you don’t know me.”
“I know enough.”
With each word she’d spoken, the growing, bubbling tension spilled between us. Her eyes blew wide when she realized what was about to happen, how I was about to take out everything I’d ever kept inside for the past year on her small, beautiful face but she didn’t break away. No, she crept ever closer so I slammed my mouth to hers, breathing her in so deeply, I swear I could feel her heart beat on my tongue. My hands held her jaw and as softly as I could manage, I guided her to her feet, never breaking our kiss. I trailed my fingers down her neck, to her back side and lifted her. She wrapped her incredibly long legs around my waist and I fell to the bed behind me.
We sat there, trading sighs, trading wants, trading intentions. It seemed so incredibly inevitable to me then, how our lives were going to be forever entwined. I knew this was the last first kiss I was ever going to have, could feel it in my bones, and it was with January Mac Lochlainn, the most amazing girl I’d ever laid eyes on.
Was I in love with January Mac Lochlainn? No, I couldn’t say I was…but I was going to be. Make no mistake about that.
Thomas Eriksson was the last first kiss I was ever going to have. I don’t know how I knew it but I could feel it in my bones. A delicious symphony resounded through my head, swum down my body and back through, over and over. The soundtrack to what our life was to become played beautifully around us and I wasn’t afraid. And I could tell, neither was he.
We fit so incredibly well together, it was borderline painful.
Our makeout session wound down to a comfortably slow back and forth, our lips achingly raw but neither of us feeling the pain. His light stubble scratched at my chin and I reveled in that feeling. I was kissing a man. The idea made me stupidly giddy inside as if I had any real idea what that really meant. All I knew was I had moved on from a ‘never’ mentality to a very solid ‘please, please, please’ one. I held on to his hoodie tightly between both hands, too frightened to unclench them and draw down his zipper, all his zippers. Do it, January, I ordered myself.
But Tom drew away from me slowly, peppering my neck with soft kisses that made me melt from the inside out. My heart and guts were a soft, liquefied mess and I loved the sensation.
“It’s late,” he whispered hoarsely. The deeper octave sending shivers up my spine.
“So what,” I offered, drawing his lips back to mine.
“Not ‘so what’,” he said, chuckling against my mouth, making me laugh along with him. “Come on, love. Let’s sleep.”
“Sleep?” I asked in disbelief.
“Yes, I must save you from me. Another minute and you’d be in peril, Miss Mac Lochlainn.”
“I like a bit of danger, though,” I said sleepily, as he brought me to his chest.
I felt it shake beneath me. “I imagine you’d be quite the daredevil, actually.”
“I’ve a beautiful cape I could wear,” I teased.
“Shut up,” he snickered. “Sleep, January,” he said, a final kiss at my temple.
And I did, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I could have sworn he’d whispered, ‘You’re too beautiful to sully’.
The rest of my Indie cast are all awaiting your beautiful eyes. So go…
The Amazing Dani Snell
The Incredible Patti Larsen
The Talented Courtney Cole
The Witty Wren Emerson
The Accomplished Nicole Williams
The Clever Laura Elliott
The Skillful Amy Jones
The Staggering P.J. Hoover
The Brilliant Alicia McCalla
The Resplendent Heather Cashman
The Lustrous Abbi Glines
The Polished Cheri Schmidt
The Inventive Cidney Swanson
The Radiant Rachel Coles
The Gifted T.R. Graves
The Phenomenal Cyndi Tefft
The Lovely Lexus Luke
The Sassy Suzy Turner
The Exceptional Gwenn Wright
The Stupendous Kimberly Kinrade
The Quick J.L. Bryan
The Saucy Darby Karchut
The Magnificent M. Leighton
The Impressive Madeline Smoot