ALL OF MY HEART Excerpt:
Suzie sensed Brad’s presence before she heard his footsteps shuffling in the damp grass. She knew it was him. Who else would it be? She silenced her sniffles and sucked in a steadying breath in an attempt to calm herself, and willed herself not to look his way. If she didn’t give him the time of day, perhaps he would give up and go away.
Not likely. She was pretty much a captive audience here.
Just don’t look his way. Don’t give in. Stand your ground, Suzie.
He stood beside her chair as he spoke his nickname for her. His low voice rippled over her like the waves lapping at the dock. The sound was a little unsettling since it came to her with a edge of concern and what she perceived to be caring. Suzie stared straight ahead at the lake.
Don’t. Look. At. Him.
But that was impossible. Brad moved around the chair and crouched directly in front of her, blocking her view of the lake. He gazed into her face. She glared passed his right shoulder.
“Suzette. You have to talk to me.”
She opened her mouth. No. Don’t. Talk. Then snapped it shut again.
He fidgeted but remained steadfast.
“I know you are mad.”
“But let me explain,” he continued. “And it is okay if you are mad because, well, hey, let’s face it, a lot of things have happened in the last twenty-four hours and I’m sure you’re pretty confused and upset and….”
She glared. “You have a lot of nerve, Brad Matthews, coming back here and talking to me like this. You have a helluva lot of nerve. I do not want to talk to you about this. Now. Later. Ever. Go away.”
Suzie watched his face fall and his head lower. His dark hair shimmered against the moonlight. Was he staring at her bright red toenails? That felt way too sexy for her liking at the moment. She curled her toes up under her feet.
Might as well get this over with. She cleared her throat and punched his shoulder. Brad jerked his head up.
“Do you realize what you did tonight? You nailed the coffin on my business, Brad. My blood-sweat-and-tears, my hard fought and won existence, the rest of my life.” She straightened in the chair. “My only life. Do you understand that? This….” she slapped a hand on the wooden chair, “is my life. All I have. Did you not think about what your super-mega-freaking honker of a hotel is going to do to me? What in the hell were you thinking?” Her voice rose. “And to think, you said you came back here because you wanted me. Because you wanted us to get back together. What was I even thinking? I was even starting to consider the possibilities, but now… I hope you realize that you’ve killed any chance of that, Mister.”
He took in a deep breath while still looking at her toes—which caused heat to rise in her cheeks and was rather unnerving—then he reached for her ankles, clasped his long and strong fingers around them, and jerked. In a flash, he pulled her completely off the Adirondack chair and toppled backwards.
She fell on top of him.
She spewed a number of obscenities.
Finally, they landed in a heap against the hull of an old dry-docked boat. Suzie, unfortunately, was firmly pinned beneath Brad—a position she didn’t want to be in at the moment. “Ouch! Get off me.”
“Hold still,” he told her.
“Get off me, Brad.” She pushed.
“Give me a second your leg is wrapped around mine.”
“I’ve lost my flip-flop, dammit!” She twisted and batted at his chest.
“What the hell do you think you were doing? I think you broke my neck.”
“Hell. I did not break your neck. Would you quit squirming?” Brad groaned but didn’t move one iota.
“I want up now!”
Damn him. She could tell by the way the moonlight backlit the smirk on his face that he had no intention of moving.
She whacked at his bicep. “I’m not kidding, Brad. This isn’t one bit funny. Let me up!”
Brad grasped her wrists and pinned her hands back to the ground, at ear level. “Not until you listen to me.”
Shaking her head, she returned, “I don’t need to listen to you. I want up. I want to go into my house. I want you to leave.”
He shook his head. “Not a chance, sweetheart. You are going to hear me out.”
“Like hell I will.”
“Quit with the Suzette and Suzie-Q, Brad. I don’t like it.”
He chuckled. “Yes, you do, honey. You always did.” He swiped a strand of hair out of her eye. Suzie stifled the tremble that wanted to race up through her chest at his touch.
She sighed and softened her voice. “Quit changing the subject. I mean it. Let me up now.”
He didn’t. He looked at her. And the way he looked at her, all dreamy-eyed and everything—she wanted to melt. Gosh-darn full moon. Why in the hell was the man so god-awful delicious?
She turned her head to the side.
Brad grasped her chin in his fingers and gently moved her face back toward his. His warm touch was firm and downright magical. In the next instant, his mouth lowered to capture hers.
“Suzette…” he whispered.
Don’t kiss him.
Oh. Hell’s bells.
She’d forgotten how soft and firm his lips could be, all at the same time. How they tasted of spice and musk. Strong and smooth. Hot and moist.
Tantalizing and painful.
He nibbled softly at first, his fingers stroking her chin. He relaxed more fully against her and dammit, she felt herself letting go.
He moaned and pressed his lips over the corners of her mouth. His fingers tangled in her hair. Her body arched upward and her hands moved to that thick crown of wild hair on his head.
Damn him. Damn him to hell and back.
Sophie Jacobs writes to silence the people in her head, and she needs two pen names to get the stories down! (If only cloning were so easy.) Whether writing contemporary romance or women’s fiction, she strives to get their stories told.
Writing as Maddie James, she pens romance genre fiction from cowboys to suspense. RT Book Reviews says, James “deftly combines romance and suspense,” and Affaire de Couer claims she “has a special talent for traditional romance.” Published in print, ebook, audiobook, and in at least seven languages, Maddie has been listed as a Top 100 Romance Author on Amazon and as an iBooks Rising Star in Western Romance.