I’m a little late with this – today was more hectic than I’d imagined it would be!
Anyway, I thought today I’d toss out an excerpt of Sweet Charity – the follow up to To Do List featuring Rafe’s brother Gabriel…
SWEET CHARITY by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2008, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Samhain Publishing
“Wow, that’s some sweater.” Belle Bettencourt, one of Charity’s oldest friends who also happened to be Gabriel’s sister-in-law, looked her up and down as she approached the table and sat down.
“Thanks. It came through the shop a few days ago and I had to have it.”
“Well it shows off your, um, assets quite well.”
Charity laughed. “Good. That’s what I was aiming for.” The waiter came by and Charity looked at Belle for a moment before leaning forward and happily taking in the way the waiter’s eyes widened at the sight of the soft, tight, blood red sweater with the keyhole opening at the neck. She took in his nametag, this was a college student job so they tended to be interchangeable over the years. “Hey there, Scott. I’d like two shots of Cuervo, don’t forget the lime, salt and two Coronas.”
Belle laughed and sat back. “It’s like that?”
Charity turned to her friend and caught sight of Gabriel in one of the back booths with Rafe and Belle’s oldest brother, Brian. She waved and noticed the way Gabriel homed in on that sweater for a moment before waving back.
“Ah, it all becomes clear now,” Belle said archly. “This is about Gabriel.”
Charity shrugged. “There are moments when he looks at me like he wants to lick me up one side and down the other and others when he runs the other way. Always some damned woman on his arm. Christ, Belle, not to be vain or anything, but I’m hot! What is his deal?”
Scott the waiter brought the shots and the Coronas.
“Wait there a sec, Scott.” Charity held her eyes on Gabriel, licked the side of her hand, shook out the salt, licked her skin again, took the shot and sucked the lime. “I’m going to need another one of those.”
Scott ran off to obey and she smiled at Belle, who carefully wiped the outside of the lime and shook the salt into the shot instead of on her hand. After she took the shot, she sighed happily. “Hits the spot. I’ve been in court twice this week, had to file more motions than normal and I’m tired. However, I need to eat if I’m going to keep up with you.”
More shots appeared and she fluttered her lashes up at Scott. “Scott, Belle and I need food to go with our drinks.” She ordered a burger and fries, not caring about the calories for the moment, and Belle did the same.
“So back to the Gabriel thing. Yes, of course you’re hot.” Belle waved a hand. “I don’t know what the deal is with him. Why have you waited all this time? Why not just go for it?”
Charity sighed and sipped her beer. Scott showed up with two more shots and some fries to “tide them over” until their orders came.
“First I waited to see if it would go away. Believe me when I tell you this, Belle, but the one time we had sex it was not memorable for any other reason but sheer awfulness. So you know, I went off to school and came back on breaks and stuff and he was still here and eventually we were able to be friends again. He was with other women, I was with other men. I thought maybe it was better to just let it go. But this thing between us never went away. I used to wonder if I imagined it but I see the way he watched me take a shot just now. He’s interested but he holds back and I don’t know why. I know he’s not gay, or at least not all the way.”
Belle laughed and they attacked their burgers with gusto once they arrived. Or rather, Charity ate hers like a Hoover vacuum and Belle used a knife and fork. But Belle was like that and Charity loved her anyway.
“He might be bi, I’m not with him every moment of the day or anything. But he likes girls. I know that, anyone with eyes knows that.” Belle dabbed her lips with the napkin.
They both laughed. “So why not me?” With an annoyed groan, Charity stood. “Jukebox. Any requests?” “Something good to sway to when you walk back here.”
“Belle, you’re awesome.”
She walked past the booths, waving at Gabriel, Rafe and Brian. The jukebox was filled with everything from Conway Twitty to Massive Attack. She fed it quarters and chose, smiling and bouncing past Gabriel again as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell started to sing “Ain’t No Mountain”.
“Oh, good choice.” Belle laughed as Charity sat back down. “Gabe’s eyes were glued to your boobs and then when you passed them, your ass.”
“I don’t want his eyes on me, I want his hands on me.” More shots arrived and she laughed as she took it. Belle waved it away. “Rafe is already looking at me with that gleam in his eyes.”
“Rafe is eleventy kinds of sexy. You two are so good with each other.” She smiled, happy for her friends but damn it, wanting it for herself, too.
Belle blushed. “Rafe is all kinds of sexy, isn’t he? Just confront him! Gabriel that is. Go over there and ask him what his deal is. What do you have to lose? I mooned over Rafe for years and wham, suddenly he was kissing me! I’ve never been happier. You’ve had this thing for Gabriel since we were in high school. What if now is the time? What if, you know, you and Gabe could have what Rafe and I do?”
“Why don’t you put us all out of misery and fuck the woman?” Rafe asked Gabriel.
“What? Who?” He’d been staring so hard at Charity he’d only halfway heard the question. He turned to Rafe and Brian and exhaled sharply.
Brian laughed. “Charity Harris. You know, the woman you told me two years ago that if I ever touched or tried to get naked you’d kill me and bury my body where no one would find it? The woman you’ve been staring at all night? All that licking business is making me wonder about my chances at being murdered by you. I do so love all that long, curvy stuff she’s got under her clothes. Why you two sniff around each other but never do anything about is beyond me. It’s also a waste of a very hot woman.”
Who wasn’t staring at her in that sweater? Her sable-dark hair loose around her shoulders, lips as red as the sweater. Her tongue, each time she took a shot, and it had been four now, darting out to lick her hand, God, the sight had been enough to make him whimper.
He focused his eyes again to glare at Brian. “She’s a friend. You’re a hound. Of course I warned you off.” Even Gabe didn’t believe himself. He supposed if he hadn’t lost his voice twice in one sentence it might be more convincing.
He looked up, and up some more past the breasts heaving from the front of the sweater, past the hair and up into those green eyes of hers. Zing. Their connection shot straight to his toes. And um, other parts.
“Hey, Charity, you and Jose Cuervo having a good time?” Keep it light.
She plopped herself in his lap and his arms went around her to keep them both from falling. So much for that. “Gabriel, why don’t you find me fuckable? What? Am I ugly? Fat? Do I smell? Did I make a weird noise before? Why do you run from me?”
“I’m going to check on Belle. You know, to see if she wants a ride home,” Rafe said, shoving at Brian who stared at the mouthwatering tits currently pressed against Gabe’s chest.
Gabriel wanted to throttle his friend for looking at her that way and didn’t truly relax until the other two guys had gone and he and Charity were left alone. Although relaxed wasn’t exactly what he felt just then.
Her lips just touched his ear, her breath against the sensitive skin. “Now that we’re alone, you can tell me. It drives me crazy, you know. Why don’t you want me?” She nuzzled into his neck and he stifled a groan.
“Honey, you’re drunk.” He knew it from the way she spoke. He’d heard her say the “f” word maybe a handful of times in the years he’d known her. She was also clearly out of it not to feel the rock hard cock she’d planted her sweet ass on.
“I am drunk, yes. If I wasn’t, I’d be pretending that night eight years ago never happened. I’d be pretending it doesn’t bother me that you didn’t make me come. That I ran off and then we didn’t talk to each other for nearly a year and now we circle each other and I think you’re interested but other times you couldn’t be less interested. It makes me very frustrated and there’s only so much masturbating I can do and now apparently you’ve been warning men away. Tsk tsk, Gabriel. Brian might be the guy to give me what I need. Why so interested in telling him to back off?”
He tried not to smile. She was drunk and slurring her words slightly but she was on a mission and this was the woman he’d known for nearly thirty years demanding an answer. She was damned cute although squirming a lot, which wasn’t helping his cock or his resolve to keep away from her.
Rafe approached, one of his eyebrows rising as he caught sight of how low Gabriel’s hand rested on Charity’s back, just above the sweet curve of her ass. “I’m going to take Belle home. She’s very fun when she’s been taking tequila shots. Thanks for that, Charity.” He winked and Charity laughed.
“Merry Christmas from me to you.”
Gabriel stood, bringing Charity to her feet but keeping an arm around her waist. “I’m going to take you home. You can’t drive like this.”
“I can take her,” Brian said, wearing a smirk. “I’ve got it.” Gabriel glared and walked her out.
“I’m fine. I can get a ride with someone else since you hate being with me so much.”
Gabe leaned her against his truck until he got it unlocked and opened. “Get in and stop that now. You know that’s bullshit.” She snorted but got in, swinging those long legs inside. He walked around, taking a deep breath of the cold air and praying for strength. He hated that she’d think he felt she was unattractive. Especially when the opposite was true. Eight years ago was not her fault.
“You’re not going to puke in my truck are you?” he asked, starting the truck and putting his seatbelt on.
She rolled her eyes. “I’m not some college dumbass who can’t hold her liquor. I only had four shots and we both know I’m capable of keeping up with you on that score. I wouldn’t drive just now, but I’m not gonna puke.”
“Just checking. Don’t get pissy with me. You’re at that new townhouse complex now right?”
“Yes. I’ll get pissy if I want to. And you haven’t answered my questions.”
“Because they’re stupid questions. We were kids eight years ago and you know damned good and well you’re a beautiful, sexy woman.”
She crossed her arms over her chest and fumed the rest of the way to her house, which was fine with him.
“Take this lane here on the left. I’m the last driveway on the end.”
He pulled up, turning the truck off. He turned to speak but she practically leapt at him, throwing her arms around his neck, pressing her breasts against his chest and her mouth to his.
It was over for his self control as those lips of hers touched his. Within moments he was out of his seatbelt and his hands were in her hair. That soft, beautiful hair he wanted to wrap around his fist.
He let himself kiss her, let himself marvel at her taste when his tongue slipped into her mouth. She moaned, pressing against him more confidently, tossing her leg over his body and straddling his lap.
White bursts of light pinpricked against his closed eyelids as she ground herself over his cock and it was his turn to groan.
Firmly but not as hard as he really wanted, he pulled her hair enough to break the kiss. He’d intended to get out and drag her inside and run the other way but her neck was too tempting.
Instead, he angled her the way he wanted. He feasted on her frantic pulsebeat just beneath her ear before cruising down the column of her throat where she was warm and smelled damned good.
The edge of his teeth tested the skin at the hollow of her throat and she moaned, arching into him. Her fingers pulled his hair, keeping him close.
The sound of a car door closing somewhere else on the small lane broke into his brain, and he grabbed her by the waist and set her on the seat again as he tried to catch his breath.
Today’s Prize, which I’ll announce tomorrow 12/3 at 3 pm pacific is a copy of Coming Undone! I’ll choose a winner at random from the comments.