Contest Day Two – ONCE AND AGAIN

How about a snippet from the first time Lily and Nathan meet in years…

Copyright 2011, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Samhain Publishing
Releasing August 30!

Nathan Murphy had been grading a test when the knock on his door startled him. A warning that he wasn’t seeing any students just then died on his lips when he looked up and saw…her standing there.

Long, shiny black hair, perfect bangs framed large brown eyes outlined with black liner. The deep-red lipstick on her lips should have looked overdone against her pale skin, but it was the entire package that worked. She was as sexy as she appeared wholesome. Speechless, he took her in from the tips of the ballet flats she wore, up legs as long as a summer day, up the nip at her waist where the red and white gingham blouse had been belted. Bangle bracelets at her wrists. She was an ad for the updated, way sexier 1950s. It was all American but in that pinup sort of way. Vintage sexy and he really wanted some more.

And he’d seen her naked more times than he could remember. Which was a lie. He remembered every single time he’d been with Lily Travis naked.

“Um.” He cleared his throat and loosened his tie. “Lily?” She’d not been this va-va-voom when they’d been in school. This was a woman who had a point of view. She’d grown up. This woman appeared to fully own the depth of her sexuality in a way she’d only begun to realize when they’d been together before. This personal style suited her very well.

She straightened and took a deep breath. The buttons at her cleavage did their work—barely—as her breasts thrust forward, stretching the material. His cock must have felt sympathy and that was why it stretched the material at his lap.

He searched for his words as he took her in. “Lily?”

She stepped into his classroom, and he couldn’t seem to think of anything else to say as he watched the woman he’d once loved walk toward his desk. She still moved as if music played in her head.

His sister Beth was close to Lily so he knew she had been around more to deal with her little brother. But it hadn’t prepared him for the punch to the gut at the sight of her.

“Mr. Murphy.” She nodded once, all business. “I’m here about Chris. Do you have a few moments?”

“Chris?” He wondered if she wore stockings with garter belts and corsets. And then of course he had to imagine her dressed like that, because…well why not?

She sighed. “Chris Travis? Tenth grader? Hair too long? Surly? Problems with authority in all forms? He’s failing your English class.” She put the academic warning letter on his desk.

Oh, yes, that. “I can’t really talk with you about this. I’m sorry. Your mother needs to do it. Or your father.”

She pulled out yet another piece of paper to hand his way. “This is the paper that establishes my guardianship of my brother. My parents have signed the appropriate paperwork. It’s all in order.”

Reading through the paperwork to be sure everything was correct, he looked back to Lily. “All right then. I have about twenty minutes before my next class. Sit down and we can talk.”

She did and he tried to pretend she was just another parent. And failed.

Her scent teased the air between them. Sultry and sexy. Like her voice. Full-on velvet, a throaty sort of purr that had always sent his brain, and other parts of his body, into overdrive. Still did.

Focus. “He’s got a twenty percent in my class. He’s here, at best, two days a week. Hasn’t turned in an assignment in about six weeks. Even before that his work was sloppy and erratic.”

Her shoulders slumped just a little, but he had to hand it to her, she straightened quickly enough. She took some notes, her little black glasses perched on her nose. Her nails were glossy red. The same red he’d be willing to bet she had on her toes.

She broke into his musings with a sigh. “So give me your honest opinion. Is this salvageable? Can he make this up or not?”

“He has to come to class, Lily. His absenteeism is the biggest problem. If he’s not here when I cover the material, how can he learn it? He’s just not here. The assignments he does finish tell me he gets what he’s here for, though it’s nearly impossible to give him full credit because I can’t read the work. His writing is atrocious. He can do better.”

“He’ll be here. Every. Day.”

Nathan didn’t express his doubt in the statement. She seemed pretty driven to make it true, but trying to get a fifteen-year-old boy to do what he didn’t want to do was a lot harder than she probably thought.

“Gonna take more than a phone call from another city to get that done.” Why he poked at her he didn’t know. But the flash in her gaze thrilled him.

She narrowed her eyes at him and sniffed as if he wasn’t worth slapping. “Really? Oh gee, my plan has been foiled already.” She sent him a raised brow and he barely held back a laugh. “I moved back to Petal. I’m living with my mother and Chris. I’m bringing him to school in the morning and picking him up in the afternoons. I’m here for the long haul. I want Chris to succeed, and I’m here to see how I can do that with the help of his teachers.”

Oh. Well then. This was something he’d have to do very carefully, but if she was back, he’d have the chance to make things up to her. Maybe they could see what dating would be like as adults instead of kids in college. Not if she had someone though. Her ring finger was bare, which was a good sign.

“Must have sucked to move away from your life in Macon.” The moment he finished speaking he wished he could have sounded a little more natural and a little less forced casual.

Lily tapped her pen and neatly avoided his statement. Did he think she would just pretend nothing had ever happened between them? She was prepared to do that, but only if she never actually had contact with him. Which given her current circumstance would prove difficult.

This was the first time she’d spoken to him since that night. Nausea roiled through her belly as she remembered walking into the living room at a party he’d been at and found him kissing another woman.
Remembering that and the way she’d felt afterward was enough to get rid of that damned tingle he gave her and a reminder that he was a tool.

While she gave him her best look of total disdain, she noted he’d grown even more handsome than he’d been before. Not just handsome, but that sort of gorgeous a southern girl like herself was absolutely helpless against. Hell, any woman anywhere.

Nathan Murphy was all southern honey. He had that slow, sexy delivery. His voice had the right amount of smoke, always the hint of a smile. That sound that’d been, and most likely still was, a magnet to underpants all across Georgia. He moved that way too, took his time to look around. Always late but he was so charming he got away with it.

A cruel twist of fate that he’d turned out so well. It was small of her, but she’d wished him a potbelly and male pattern baldness a few times. And here he was looking mighty fine. She hadn’t had sex or even a boyfriend in about a year. He caught her at an already weak moment, and no matter how many lectures she’d given herself in the hallway outside, it did matter that she’d loved him once. It mattered that he’d walked away from it and never appeared to even care.

Still, mmm, that thick head of hair looked soft. She knew what it felt like against the skin of her inner thighs, in her hands as she sat behind him in his big old bathtub and washed it. Caramel. It was the color of burnt sugar, and it matched the well-defined beard and mustache he had now. His shoulders were still powerful as the muscles showed against his shirt when he turned to grab something out of his top drawer.

He kept talking like she wasn’t imagining him naked. “He’s pretty far gone. But here are some extra-credit assignments. I want all four of them done and I want quality work. I won’t be doing him any favors if I let him slide.”

Did she ask for that? Good gracious. But, he was in charge and her brother had messed up so it was time to suck it up and deal. She nodded, taking the papers and reading them over. “All right. He’ll do them.”

I’ve got two different prizes to give away: 1) A digital ARC of ONCE AND AGAIN to one lucky winner chosen from the responses to this post. The winner will be announced tomorrow 8/24. The winner is responsible for checking back to see who has won and to claim their prize within 2 weeks or I’ll redraw. Good luck!

2) And then from all the comments to all the guest blogs and posts I’m doing for Once and Again, I’ll choose THREE winners of a complete set of the CHASE BROTHERS books in digital or paper – winner’s choice. International entries are absolutely welcomed. These winners will be announced 8/29.

87 comments to “Contest Day Two – ONCE AND AGAIN”

  1. Angie M
    August 23rd, 2011 at 12:02 pm · Link

    Every snippet you post makes me want to read this book now! Glad you get to take us back to Petal. Can’t wait for next week! :mrgreen:

  2. Lorraine Rodriguez
    August 23rd, 2011 at 12:35 pm · Link

    I have to say the more I read about this book the more I am tempted to move south. What the hell is it that makes this book and other like it wish I wasn’t a so called “Yankee” 🙄 . My word, the temperture is not the only thing in the south that is hot. I have a lot of catching up to do. I pritnted your series list of the net so I can start the hunt for your books. I love finding new authors to collect. I am a paperback girl, half my house is a library. If I could convince my teens that they want to share a room, I would accually make one. 😀

  3. Renee
    August 23rd, 2011 at 1:22 pm · Link

    I am so glad we are going back to Petal 🙂 and glad to see all our old friends 🙂

  4. Sherry S.
    August 23rd, 2011 at 1:27 pm · Link

    I look forward to reading this book and see what happened between them in the past and how they solve all of their problems.

  5. heather
    August 23rd, 2011 at 1:27 pm · Link

    I just love a southern gentleman!

  6. Chelsea B.
    August 23rd, 2011 at 1:34 pm · Link

    Thanks for sharing that great excerpt!

  7. Mariann M
    August 23rd, 2011 at 1:56 pm · Link

    The Chase brothers and Brown siblings are my absolute favorite series. I bought the Chase brothers series back when they had the original covers. It took me a long time to part with them so my sister could read them — I only let her have one at a time and she had to give me that one back before I gave her the next one LOL!!! Now I am jealous of her because she ordered her own with the new covers!! I can’t wait to read about Nathan and catch up on what is happening in Petal. And I am dying for Adrians book!!

  8. Jane
    August 23rd, 2011 at 2:09 pm · Link

    Looking forward to its release.

  9. Mina Gerhart
    August 23rd, 2011 at 2:14 pm · Link

    Hi Lauren 🙂
    LOVE the excerpt! The thought process that Lily and Nathan are in is GREAT. I love Lily’s thinking that it’s a cruel twist of fate that Nathan isn’t bald and pot-bellied .
    I can’t wait for tomorrows excerpt/snippet.

    Mindy 🙂

  10. LeslieW
    August 23rd, 2011 at 3:00 pm · Link

    Lordy, get a fan out! Those two are possessed of impressive sense memories!
    The semester just started and knowing I had a copy at home waiting for me would make the second week of lecturing sooooo much easier!

  11. jamierae
    August 23rd, 2011 at 3:27 pm · Link

    oh my goodness! I love laurn dane sooo much! I’m pretty loyal to my favorite authors, but laurn dane is the only author I have ever written to. Or signed up for her newsletter, I check almost everyday for news of something new from this author. I totally did the same thing as Mariann M with my Chase series books. And when my sister asked to borrow my Brown siblings series (all time favorite books ever, can’t wait for Adrian) I told her I would give them to her in my will! Luv,Luv,Luv Laurn Dane!!!

  12. Diane Sadler
    August 23rd, 2011 at 4:31 pm · Link

    I loved the excerpt but having the book would be so much better!

  13. Jimena D.
    August 23rd, 2011 at 4:41 pm · Link

    Love it…I can just picture her 40s vintage style…and Nathan sounds delicious 🙂

  14. Cecile
    August 23rd, 2011 at 4:43 pm · Link

    Oh my… I am with Leslie… Get those fans out! Woohooo! This is going to be hot! Can’t wait for the release!!!!!!!!! Please count me in… pretty please!!!!!

  15. Maryam
    August 23rd, 2011 at 5:02 pm · Link

    I’m so happy that we’re back in Petal… and can’t wait for this and the future stories you have planned for us 🙂

  16. Booklover1335
    August 23rd, 2011 at 5:21 pm · Link

    You know…it’s shame on me. Once and Again hadn’t even made it to my book wish list radar (even though you are one of my fav authors), but the more I learn about it, the more I realize that it’s a MUST read for me. Thanks for the great excerpt. I can’t wait to read more.

  17. Joder
    August 23rd, 2011 at 5:53 pm · Link

    LOVE the snippet you posted and am getting more excited to read this all the time. The characters sound entertaining and getting them together sounds like things will get very hot.

  18. Hailey
    August 23rd, 2011 at 6:11 pm · Link

    I love Petal! Can’t wait to read the whole story!

  19. Heather S
    August 23rd, 2011 at 6:53 pm · Link

    Please count me in! I’ve recently discovered the Chase brothers and so far I love them. Pluse, its always great to read about books set in my home state even if they are fictional cities. Can’t wait to read the other Chase books and more stories from Petal.

  20. Jen B.
    August 23rd, 2011 at 6:55 pm · Link

    No snippets! I can’t, won’t read it. It drives me crazy because my brain tries to figure out how it will fit in the story. I am ALWAYS wrong! Thanks for the giveaway.

  21. Tracy
    August 23rd, 2011 at 7:00 pm · Link

    This is going to be so good Lauren thanks for the snippet. I sympathize with what Lily is going thru, teenagers are tough!

  22. Sarah
    August 23rd, 2011 at 7:17 pm · Link

    I can’t wait to read Once and Again, I have been rereading my Chase books 🙂

  23. lorenet
    August 23rd, 2011 at 7:42 pm · Link

    I’m counting down the days until 8/30!

  24. Louise
    August 23rd, 2011 at 9:58 pm · Link

    Oh wow! I’m so glad I re-read the Chase Brothers series again to refresh my memory on the town and people. 😀

  25. Erin the Innocent
    August 23rd, 2011 at 9:58 pm · Link

    I really really really really really need this book!

  26. Linda
    August 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 pm · Link

    Keep the excerpts coming! 😉

  27. Christine
    August 24th, 2011 at 5:15 am · Link

    Can’t wait to read Nathan & Lilly’ book

  28. C-M
    August 24th, 2011 at 6:02 am · Link

    I am really eager to read this story 😛 😉 😆

  29. anne r
    August 24th, 2011 at 6:30 am · Link

    I hope I am not too late to enter. Great giveaway, thanks!

  30. Leagh
    August 24th, 2011 at 8:04 am · Link

    This sounds really good!! Can’t wait to get my hands on this book 😀

  31. Melina
    August 24th, 2011 at 11:26 am · Link

    Ahhh!!! I wish I could time travel and fly to the 30th of August already.
    I get more impatient with every new snippet.

  32. Na
    August 24th, 2011 at 3:42 pm · Link

    I adore small town romances and Once and Again is going on my reading list 🙂

  33. Lindsay
    August 25th, 2011 at 6:56 am · Link

    Loved the excerpt and can’t wait to read the rest of the book.

  34. Brandy Swain
    August 26th, 2011 at 5:29 am · Link

    First off I think the cover is so gorgeous, never read this book but it sounds really good!

  35. kim h
    August 28th, 2011 at 2:10 am · Link

    another great one caont wiat

  36. lisagk
    August 28th, 2011 at 2:29 pm · Link

    I really like Lily’s style of course.

  37. Kendra
    August 28th, 2011 at 2:37 pm · Link

    I would love a chance to win 🙂