So let’s kick off the contest with Laid Bare, shall we?
BROWN SIBLINGS: LAID BARE by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2009, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Todd would have wondered if the apartment number was wrong but there were only three on this floor and the funky folk-art knocker clued him in.
She opened, looking surprised and slightly harried. “I’m sorry! I was on the balcony writing. I was so in my head I lost track of time. Come in.”
He followed her inside and when he closed the door, he noted the locks. Four of them. In a ridiculously secure high rise building.
His question about the locks died as he entered the loft and got a look at the place. Floor to ceiling windows fronted the living room, giving a grand view of downtown and a slice of the water. Light, natural woods marked the cabinets and built-ins as well as warmed the floors.
He kicked his shoes off and left them near the door.
“You don’t have to take your shoes off. Come in, make yourself at home. I made margaritas, you want?”
He looked at her, her hair loose to where sway of her back began in earnest, big hazel eyes looking back through arty little glasses. She was even more beautiful in her otherness than she was ten years ago.
“Damn, you’re something else to look at. You know that?”
She smiled and he noted the lines next to her mouth. Not from age, but the kind of lines only life can put there. He wanted to thumb across them, smoothing them out, sliding away whatever pain had put them there to start with.
“Is that a good something else or a bad something else? Because it’s pretty ridiculous that a man only looks better as he ages but women not so much.”
With two strides he was there, just inches away from her in that sexy top and short, flowy skirt of hers. Her legs were still sexy as were her bare feet.
“Good.” He traced a fingertip over the curve of each breast where it heaved out the top of her shirt. From his angle he caught the shadow of her nipples and the memory of the rings shot straight to his cock. “You look amazingly sexy, Erin. Beautiful.”
“Mmmm. Good answer.”
The silence between them wasn’t awkward, it was fraught with sexual tension and he let himself revel in it. He’d be inside her that night so why rush? Why not just enjoy it?
“Margarita sounds good.”
She licked her lips and turned, the skirt flaring enough that he got a good view of her pert ass in some pink boyshort style panties. God he loved those.
“Are you hungry?” she asked as she salted the rim of the glass and poured the margarita over ice.
“What?” She smiled at him, putting the glass on the bar before him.
“That I like margaritas on the rocks.”
“Of course.” She shrugged.
“Yes, I’m hungry. You’re quite the cook, by the way.”
She put a covered pan in the oven. “I wish I could say I’m usually more on the ball, but when I’m writing, I lose track of time. I put together some enchiladas earlier. They just need to heat. Why don’t you sit down there and keep me company while I pull together everything else?”
He hopped up on a stool and saw her guitar in a case near the open doors to the balcony.
“You mentioned writing. Writing music? I heard you made it big out in LA. Are you still doing that?”
“Yes. Big is a matter of perspective I suppose.” She shrugged. “I write for Adrian, he’s still in the biz. He has a house on Alki with a studio. We record together there.”
“Do you still tour and stuff?”
Her face froze. He was a cop for many years, enough to know when someone had been shaken by a question. She licked her lips and then breathed out. “No. But Adrian does. He gets groupies camped out at the end of his driveway and stuff. I just write music and do studio work. I like it better that way. No groupies camped out, I can walk down the street without being recognized. I like my privacy.”
There was a bigger story there but he’d wait to hear it later. He’d only been back in her life for hours. “So the cafÃ© is like a sideline?”
“It’s a nice way to keep myself working, leaving the house every day.” She shrugged as she began to shake a bottle of dressing for the salad she’d just prepared. “We can eat on the balcony, there’s a table out there but it’s getting a bit windy. Or in here where it’s not.”
He laughed and she cocked her head.
“I’d forgotten how much I liked your laugh.”
“As compliments go, that’s a good one. How about in here? You have some view.” He helped her carry plates and silverware to the table she’d indicated.
“I like it up here.”
She sashayed off and returned with a plate of fresh fruit and cheese. He’d liked to watch her ten years ago but had always told himself to stop. Now, he sat and openly ate her up with his gaze.
That afternoon when he’d left her cafÃ©, he’d run around town finishing up his errands, stopping by to check in on his parents, going to the hardware store and the whole time, he’d come to grips with his situation. He wasn’t going to run from what he felt anymore. From what he was.
Today’s Prize is a copy of Laid Bare – signed if in trade paper, or sent directly via Amazon for your Kindle (BN doesn’t have gifting options, sorry!). International entries are most welcome. All you need to do is reply to this question: Do you like books with family relationships in them?
I’ll choose a winner tomorrow, August 23rd and post it here. Winners are responsible for checking back to see if they’ve won and to claim their prize within two weeks. Good luck!