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Teaser Thursday- Shiny Objects

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They walked back to her car and got in. Niko slid the passenger seat backward and reclined the back of the seat, and Elena moved her seat back slightly.

Niko pushed his hood off his head and rested against the seat back, eyes closed. “Comfortable,” he murmured.

“So you’re going to take a nap?” Elena teased.

“Not with you sitting here. That would defeat the purpose.” He opened his eyes and stared into hers. “What is the purpose? Why did you agree to meet me tonight?”

“I wanted to see you,” she said softly. “Our kiss Friday. I didn’t feel wrong about it then, and I don’t now. The only ‘wrong’ thing about it was that it made me dishonest to Corin and what I have with him.”

“Until you told him about it.” He took her hand and turned it palm up, then slipped his own hand over it. “That made it honest.”

“Right.” She relaxed under his touch.

“So there wasn’t anything wrong about it.” With his other hand, he brushed her face. ”You told me he said he didn’t have a problem with it.”

“He did.” She took a shuddering breath. “You’re making it really hard to have a conversation.”

“I am?” He raised an eyebrow. “Funny, I know human touch is powerful. I didn’t realize it had the power to take away speech.”

“You know what I mean.” She turned to face him. “You asked why I came here tonight. Why did you?”

“I wanted to see you.” With one finger, he traced her lips. “You told me your man would have no problem if you and I got something going. Or maybe I should say resumed what we used to have. You wouldn’t have told me if the idea didn’t appeal to you. I’d like to see just how much appeal it has.”

“So this is an experiment?” she muttered. “See how far you can persuade me to go?”

“See how far you’re willing to go.” He leaned closer to her, his face now mere inches from hers. In less than a second, he would be able to kiss her if he wanted. If she allowed it. He had to give her the choice, but having her so near, knowing she would no longer hide behind her fear of cheating on her man, made holding back even more difficult than before. “You have permission to explore what you want. Will you take the chance, or are you going to keep trying to play it safe?”

“It isn’t possible to play it safe with you.” She ran her hand up his arm. “This should be peaceful, like at your apartment. It isn’t. Far from it.”

“Possibilities.” Niko kissed her forehead. “Whatever happens here tonight won’t change my opinion of you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“It might change mine,” she said softly.

“You’re here. I’m here.” He rested his hand on her thigh, and she shivered again. “Relax,” he whispered. “If you can’t make up your mind, let me make it up for you. For once, stop trying so hard to be in control, and see what happens if you let go.”

He watched her, seeing in her expression her struggle to decide what to do. What happened next might change everything between them. From their previous relationship, they’d formed a friendship, but Niko couldn’t leave it at that any longer. His feelings for her were too strong to accept mere friendship.

He didn’t know if even mere friendship would survive between them if either of them developed any doubts. Or if Elena’s man changed his mind.

But he couldn’t predict the future. All he knew was here and now, sitting in Elena’s car with her, hearing the rain as it hit the car, watching Elena’s uncertainty give way to determination.

“Okay,” she said softly.

Teaser Thursday- Shiny Objects

On the subject of communication in polyamorous relationships.

As she puttered, making Niko’s cup of coffee, she kept an ear on the conversation in the living room. For the first few minutes, it consisted of more strained chatter. Finally, just as she poured boiling water into her cup, Niko said, “Elena said you wanted to meet the man you’re sharing her with.”

Corin coughed. “I guess that’s one way to put it. I just want to make sure no one, Elena especially, ends up hurt in this.”

“Most people would care more about whether they themselves end up hurt,” Niko said.

“Elena’s very important to me,” Corin replied firmly. “If it came to a choice between me being hurt or her, I’d choose myself.”

“I admire that,” Niko said. “I question it, but then again, I don’t know you well enough to say if you’d stick to it.”

“I already have. I told her it would be okay if she saw you.”

Elena flinched. She hadn’t expected Corin to state so bluntly how he felt about her relationship with Niko. Especially not to Niko himself. More than ever, she wished she’d never kissed Niko, that she’d never put herself or the men into this situation.

But wishing did no good. She couldn’t change the past.

She stirred the coffee and carried the cup to Niko with a forced smile. “Caffeine.”

“Thanks.” Niko took a sip of it then set the cup in front of him on the coffee table. Looking at Corin, he said, “I told Elena I wouldn’t do anything to come between her and you. I guess like you, I’ll do whatever I can to make sure she isn’t hurt.”

Tears pricked Elena’s eyes, and she blinked rapidly to keep them back. “Just stop. No one wants to see anyone hurt. Right now, I like I’ve screwed up both your lives, and I hate it.” She swallowed the lump in her throat.

“You haven’t.” Corin reached for her hand. “Honey, that isn’t what I meant at all.”

“Me either,” Niko said firmly. “You should know me better than that. If something screwed up my life, it wouldn’t be part of my life anymore.”

“I know.” Elena sank onto the loveseat beside Corin. “So tell me what you meant. This is what I was afraid of. You both sound pissed, and I’m not sure this is going to work.”

“We’ll make it work,” Niko said roughly. “If it’s what you want, we’ll make it work.”

“What about what you guys want?”

Corin ran his hand through his hair. “I want to know you aren’t leaving me. I want to know that every night, you’ll be sleeping in our bed, even if you’ve been with Niko.”

“Which works for me, because I have nowhere for her to sleep,” Niko said. “Having a roommate isn’t always conducive to having sleepover guests.”

Corin nodded. “Okay. That takes care of one of my concerns.”

“I’m not leaving you.” Elena rested her hand on Corin’s knee. “I told you that. I don’t want Niko instead of you. I don’t know what the hell I’m thinking. I always thought I was a one-man woman. But I want both of you.”

“All I want is for you to be happy and comfortable with what’s going on,” Niko said quietly. “If you’re not, we end my part in it. It’s that simple.”

After what he’d told her the other night, she doubted it would be that simple for him. But if he had to let her go, he would never express any qualms. That wasn’t Niko.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome.”

Elena turned to Corin, who gave her a reassuring smile. “You and I discussed things before you started with Niko,” he said. “Maybe we should have involved Niko in the discussion.”

“What is there to discuss?” Niko asked. “We both want her, and she wants both of us. She lives with you. She’s home every night. She visits me when she can and when I have a place for us to be together. That won’t be often, unfortunately, since I think for most of the winter her car won’t be the best location, and she told me you’d rather she not bring me here.”

“Her car?” Corin snarled.

“Not the other night,” Elena said quickly. “His roommate went out. And the time in my car, it was warm out.” To her own ears, it sounded like a lame explanation.

Niko nodded. “As I said, having a roommate isn’t conducive to having company. And Elena’s worth far more than fumbling in a car like a couple of teenagers. We had no other option that night. If this is going to be an ongoing thing, I’ll find a solution.”

“Her car,” Corin muttered.

“Let it go.” Elena grinned, hoping to lighten the mood. “Being in a car can be exciting sometimes.”

“Not when it’s twenty degrees out,” Niko said. “I’ll think of something better.” He studied Corin. “So why did you want me over here today?”

“To straighten out a few things,” Corin replied, an edge to his voice. “Elena told me you and she f—slept together the other night, and I took it harder than I expected. I agreed to it, and I don’t want to blame Elena for doing what I said I wouldn’t have a problem with her doing.”

Anger sparked in Niko’s eyes. “Is that why you didn’t call me yesterday, Elena?”

She hesitated. The guys had almost been getting along. She didn’t want another conflict to start. “Corin and I needed to sort things out, and we did. That’s why I asked you to come over.”

“To make this work, we have to be on the same page,” Corin said. “And it isn’t fair to Elena to have to be our go-between. I can see you’re pissed at me. Not my problem. My problem was that I got pissed off when I shouldn’t have. Elena and I worked that out. It was between her and me.”

Niko glared and said nothing.

“It’s okay,” Elena assured him. “We did work it out.”

“Good.” Niko folded his arms. “All right, any other agreements we need to make? Maybe we should set a schedule of when Elena’s allowed to see me?” His voice dripped with sarcasm.

Corin bristled. “You know, when I asked Elena to move in with me, I expected to spend the rest of my life with her. I didn’t expect to share her with another guy. You can be as pissy as you want. I’m doing this for her, and it would help if we were all on the same page about it. Speaking of which, did you use a condom, at least?”

Niko opened his mouth. To fend off another snarky comment, Elena spoke quickly, cringing inside at the fear of what Corin might say. “No. We talked about it. We both know we test negative for everything, and I can’t get pregnant, so we decided we didn’t need one.”

Corin’s face clouded. “I don’t think I like you letting him come inside you.”

Elena’s chest tightened. She should have talked to Corin about sexual health before going condom-free with Niko. She hadn’t even thought of it.

“I didn’t,” Niko said. “I came on her belly. I don’t need to come inside her and mark my territory. I just didn’t want anything between us.”

“If anything happens because of this—” Corin said.

“Stop,” Elena stood. “You guys are not going to fight about me. Or if you are, I’m not going to listen to it. I’ll be in the other room. Let me know when the fists are done flying.”

“We aren’t fighting,” Niko said.

“You’d better not be. I still need to leave the room. Be right back.” She hurried to the bathroom and shut herself in.

Teaser Thursday- Vengeance Is Sweet

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The entire Ruiz house was dark. I doubted Alex had gone to bed so early, and my instincts told me he and Keeley hadn’t left the building. There should have been light. I opened my mouth to call their names.

Ghast put his hand over my face. “Silence,” he whispered.

Frantic to find Alejandro and Keeley, I struggled against his grasp and then realized he was right. Whoever had caused this might still be there.

When I relaxed enough to focus, I sensed at least two demons and an unfamiliar presence which might have been an angel, though without the usual angelic aura of good. If we detected them, they likely had detected us. Still, if we didn’t speak, they might have more difficulty finding us.

Down the hall, I heard a faint whimper. Keeley. Screw any bad guys who might have been nearby. I had to protect the child. Without waiting for Ghast, I hurried toward the sound. He followed.

The pitch blackness of Keeley’s room came from more than a mere lack of electric light. It was the total absence of light of any kind, other than a small spark in one corner of the room, which I realized came from Keeley.

My heart would have stopped if I’d had one. That spark was no match for the darkness. And in this room, I sensed more than three presences, none of which had Keeley’s best interests in mind.

Angels visited the child. So where the Heaven are they? Jochiel and his pals had sworn to protect her, and the fuckers, excuse me, the idiots had evidently fallen down on the job. Although at least one of the presences had an angelic nature, I doubted it was one of the ones Keeley had mentioned. She hadn’t been afraid of those angels. Her fear of this one permeated the entire room.

A piece of darkness turned toward me and snarled, “Leave.”

“Not a chance.” I sounded pretty darn brave for someone who didn’t even have the power to defend herself. “She hasn’t done anything to you. She’s only a child. You tried to take her once and failed. Leave her alone.”

“Omara?” Keeley whimpered.

“I’m here.” I waved even though I knew she couldn’t see me and took a step toward the bed, hoping I wouldn’t trip. All I could see was her tiny spark.

“Not for long,” the darkness said. A bolt of deeper blackness shot toward me. I ducked and it missed, hitting the wall. The force of it shook the entire house.

Good thing I’d ducked.

“Omara!” Keeley cried.

From another room came the sound of Alex’s voice. “Keeley!”

“I’m okay,” I said.

I refused to leave Keeley, but I desperately wanted to make sure Alex hadn’t been hurt. Thinking Ghast might find out for me, I opened my mouth to call out to him.

I stopped myself. While the others had sensed me, I wasn’t sure they realized Ghast had accompanied me. I didn’t want to clue them in.

I took another step toward the small light. Greater darkness obscured it.

“The child is ours,” another piece of darkness hissed. “You cannot help her.”

“Want to bet?” I needed to shift to my true form. Scaring Keeley didn’t worry me. She wouldn’t be able to see me anyway, and even if she did, saving her mattered too much. I doubted I would frighten her more than what had already occurred.

Concentrating as hard as possible, I tried to shift. Maybe I had some last residue of power.

It didn’t work.

Teaser Thursday- With Every Touch

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Sheila nibbled at the bits of lobster in her sandwich and willed back her tears as lightning flashed outside the window beside her. She had left her hometown as soon as she had graduated university, twelve years earlier, and she hadn’t looked back since. She didn’t need to think about it now, and she definitely didn’t need to think about Jack, no matter how difficult it was to put him out of her mind.

After moving to the city, she’d gotten help to deal with the emotional scars Jack had left. She hadn’t been able to do anything about the physical ones.

It was in the past now, and she wanted to focus on her present. She wasn’t even sure why she had brought it up to Erich. Part of her was surprised he hadn’t walked away. Most guys didn’t want to deal with a woman who’d been damaged the way she had.

Most guys didn’t even earn enough of her trust to hear about her life before Portland, but Erich’s calm demeanor encouraged her to trust him.

“These lobster rolls are excellent,” Erich said.

“Yeah.” Sheila glanced at him. No judgment, no discomfort. He took a bite of his sandwich and smiled as he chewed.

He might be a guy worth knowing better. Maybe having around more.

She dismissed the thought immediately. Neither of them wanted a relationship, and she hoped to move to Boston soon. If she repeated that to herself enough times, it might get through. She couldn’t have Erich around her more than a friend would be. There was no point in even thinking about it.

She wouldn’t have wanted him to be with her constantly anyway. She didn’t have time or patience for it.

“I want to say something to make you smile,” Erich said. “I’m not having much luck thinking of anything.”

“It isn’t your job to entertain me.” She ate another fry. It tasted like cardboard around the lump that had risen through her throat.

“Something hit a nerve.” He held out his hand. Although Sheila wanted the physical contact, she didn’t take it. It would only have given her comfort, which would have been a bad thing when she was so close to losing her cool and bursting into tears.

Erich hesitated a moment before resting his hand on the table. “I don’t know if it was something I said or something you said. Either way, it happened while we were talking, and I want to help.”

“I don’t want to spill my sordid past.” She twisted her mouth in something that felt close enough to a smile and took a sip of her soda. “No issue. Memories are crap sometimes, but the good thing is they’re in the past. I want to think about now.”

“Well, right now there’s a hell of a thunderstorm going on outside.” A crash of thunder punctuated his words. “You’re not looking at the lightning. It’s pretty spectacular.”

Sheila turned to the window just as a bolt of forked lightning shot from the clouds to the surface of the water. It was beautiful and exciting, and she couldn’t help smiling. “God, I love that! I wish I was out there.”

“You might get struck,” Erich pointed out.

“Stop being reasonable.” She stuck out her tongue at him, and he laughed. So did she. Something about thunderstorms—the power, the electricity in the air, and the beauty of the lightning had always lifted her mood. Now she was able to dismiss the tears and memories. They couldn’t stand up to the crashing thunder and waves.

She wanted to be outside. It was pouring hard enough that the water looked like sheets running down the window, and judging from how closely thunder followed on the heels of each lightning bolt, the storm was close to overhead. It didn’t matter. She needed to be outside.

Teaser Thursday- With Every Touch

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Erich couldn’t shake the feeling that Sheila shouldn’t have left. He should have kept her with him. She belonged with him.

It was a completely stupid idea that he tried to ignore completely. They were friends. She had opened up to him in the restaurant, and doing so had hurt her. He wished he’d tried to persuade her to tell him more, while at the same time knowing it would have been the worst thing he could do.

He didn’t watch out the window as she went to her car and backed out of his driveway. He wouldn’t do something like that. It would have been creepy and stalkerish.

It would have meant he had stronger feelings for her than he had any right to have.

After the sound of her car’s engine faded, he locked the door. With her towel, he mopped up the puddle where she’d stood. He should have invited her into the house instead of making her stand by the door.

I did invite her in. I said she could go into the bathroom to change out of her dress, I think. And I told her she could shower here.

A flash of lightning brightened the room for a second, and Erich turned off the light. He didn’t need to leave it on. He knew his house, and he would probably just go to bed. Sleep would be the easiest way to shut off his brain.

Someone had hurt Sheila in the past. Badly, judging from how she had acted when she’d hinted about it. She’d been close to tears. Her ex had controlled and stalked her, and had probably done worse.

If it hadn’t been so far in the past, Erich would have wanted to kill the guy. She had trusted Erich enough to share her past. He doubted she did so with just anyone. He wasn’t sure how he had earned her trust, but he was honored by it.

He wished he had asked her to stay longer. Their fucking on the beach in the rain had been hotter than anything he’d ever done, but that wasn’t the only thing Erich wanted from Sheila. He had promised her they would only be friends. He wasn’t ready for a relationship. Neither was she.

But after their quiet conversation in the restaurant and the rough, fast fuck outside, and taking care of her at home, he knew there was no way in hell he would be able to keep his feelings for her purely at a level of friendship. He was starting to fall for her. He might never let her know, but he couldn’t prevent himself from feeling it.

“Just what I need,” he muttered. “Another woman who’s going to move on the second she has the chance.”

Teaser Thursday- Reflected Love

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Listrial sat up when she entered the room. Ralie ignored him for the moment. She hadn’t worked at her job long enough to risk ticking off her employer. Her phone was still where she remembered leaving it, fortunately. She dialed and asked to speak to her boss when the receptionist answered, then gave her supervisor a halfway thought-out excuse about food poisoning, the only thing she could think of off the top of her head that would make her sick enough to need to stay home. He expressed his hope that she would feel better soon, and she hung up.

“You talk to people through that?” Listrial asked.

“Yeah.” Ralie handed the phone to him, and he turned it over in his hands, looking confused. “Please don’t ask me to explain how it works. I’m not completely sure, and I haven’t had enough coffee to try to explain anything.”

“Coffee?” He licked his lips. “That, at least, is something with which I’m familiar. At least if it has anything in common with the drink we have at home.”

Given how little their worlds seemed to have in common, Ralie doubted her coffee would be anything like what Listrial drank. Especially since all she had was instant. “I’ll make you some,” she offered. “Then we really need to talk.”

“I agree.” He stood. “May I help you with anything?”

“Thanks, but I know where everything is and you don’t.” She would eventually have to show him where she kept things. For the moment, she didn’t want to take the time.

She went over to her cupboards and took out the jar of instant coffee and the only two mugs she owned. She filled her kettle with water and set it on the burner, then went back to Listrial, who hadn’t moved from his spot. “The water will take a while to boil,” Ralie explained, sitting beside him.

“In that jar, those brown things?” he asked.

“That’s coffee. Instant.” She looked down at her hands. “That probably doesn’t mean anything to you. How much should I explain to you, Listrial? How much do you really want to know about this place?”

“I’m unsure,” he admitted. He rested his hand on her knee. “I thank you for the place to sleep and for your care last night. I may have seemed ungrateful. Truly your assistance meant a great deal.”

“You didn’t seem ungrateful.” She hesitated. “Are you going to stay or try to find your way back through the mirror?”

“If I return home, I will return to the Unseelie ruling my world,” he said slowly. “At least ruling the lands once held by my Queen. If they truly killed her as they said, the Unseelie Queen has right to my Queen’s holdings now. As a Seelie soldier, I would likely not be allowed to live.”

“This isn’t an easy world to get used to,” she said quietly. “Even for those of us who’ve always lived here.” She didn’t know whether she would be able to handle the responsibility of helping him acclimate to her world. When she’d seen him through the mirror, she had wanted desperately to be with him. Now that she had him in her home, she wondered if she really wanted him there.

At least, her mind wondered. Her heart had no question. She loved Listrial, and looking at him, she knew that what the mirror had said was true. They belonged together. He belonged there. And she did want him.

Teaser Thursday- Beta Block

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A warm chill ran through Brianna and her lower body tightened. She smiled, aware she was blushing. “I wouldn’t mind staying. But we’ll have all night, right? And they say anticipation makes it better.”

“They do say that.” He leaned forward and stopped. “May I kiss you?”

“You don’t have to ask.” She touched her lips to his but didn’t let the kiss linger. “We’ll have plenty of time later.”

“All the time we need.” He looked into her eyes with so much love she caught her breath. “Actually, I’m glad we’re going out. I want to show you off. Are you ready? It’s pretty warm, so that jacket should be enough for you.”

“I always thought Boston was cold in the winter.” She turned to lock her apartment door. “Is it usually like this?”

“It’s usually freezing in January. Must be global warming.” He took her hand again. “Ready? We’re taking the T across the harbor, and we’ll walk around from there unless you get tired.”

“I’m a werewolf. You think I’d be tired?” she teased. “I think you’re the one who’d better watch out about getting tired between walking and what we’re planning for later.”

“Going to wear me out, huh?” He winked. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

“Sure.” She looked away. Did I go too far? She couldn’t tell from his tone, and she didn’t dare to ask.

“I’m glad you’re comfortable enough with me to tease me,” he said. “And it’s definitely making me anticipate what’s coming later. I love you, Brianna. You don’t ever have to worry about what I think of you, okay? Not ever.”

“I love you too.” She turned to find him smiling at her even more broadly than before. “I’m kind of messed up. You already know that. It’s going to take me time to become used to a man who actually thinks it’s a good thing when I flirt with him and want him.”

“Any man who doesn’t think that is an idiot,” he said firmly. “You aren’t messed up. People treated you like shit and tried to break you, and from where I stand, you didn’t let them. If you have things you want to work on, we can work on them, or I can help you find someone to work with you. Suzannah, maybe, or there are a couple of my packmates who work as counselors who wouldn’t mind talking to you. But you aren’t messed up. Think good things about yourself, please.”

“I need help,” she said. She wasn’t going to give herself a free pass. Whether he called it being messed up or something else, she had problems, and she didn’t want him to have any illusions about her.

“We all need help sometimes,” he said. “I see a psychologist at work at least twice a month to deal with the things I see every day, and I talk to the counselors in my pack about what happened in Pennsylvania. There’s nothing wrong with needing help. Asking for it is a sign of strength, not weakness, no matter what you might have been told before.”

“You keep reading my mind.” She was somewhat relieved by it. She didn’t have to argue with him if he heard her thinking the argument.

“Mate bond.” He squeezed her hand gently. “If you’re done trying to convince me something’s horribly wrong with you, I’d like to take you out now.”

She laughed and shook her head. “I guess I failed. Okay, let’s go.”

Teaser Thursday- Their Home Port

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Saturday morning, she woke with nothing to do except laundry and grocery shopping. At least, she would do her shopping if she dared brave the grocery store on a Saturday morning, which she usually didn’t.

Other than those things, she would just sit and wait for Micah’s call. She hadn’t been this nervous about a date since high school, and her nerves then had come from the knowledge that her stepsister would do something to mess it up for her. Now she had no reason to be nervous other than knowing that she was about to have her first date with a man who made her entire body tingle.

Laundry sounded better than sitting around thinking about tingles. It was just a date. No reason to be all sappy about it.

Over the course of the morning and early afternoon, she made several trips down and up the stairs between her apartment and the building’s laundry room. Just for something to do, she’d decided to wash all her bedding and everything she’d worn even once since her last laundry foray. It didn’t amount to much, but the landlord had only sprung for an apartment-sized washer and dryer in the basement, shared among the tenants of the six units in the building, so it took a while for Reesa to finish all her laundry.

During her final trip up the stairs, her cell phone, which she’d shoved into the pocket of her cut-off shorts, rang. With her arms full of sheets, she couldn’t answer it, so she ran the last flight to her apartment and tossed the bedding onto the couch. By the time she managed to yank the phone from her pocket, she’d missed the call.

The display showed an unfamiliar number. She waited a few minutes to see whether the caller left a message. No voice mail showed up.

It had to have been Micah. Still, she didn’t usually return calls from unfamiliar numbers, and it took her a few minutes to work herself up to calling this one back.

“Hello?” Micah’s deep voice came from the other end of the phone.

Reesa’s heart gave a happy little skip. “Hi, it’s Reesa. Did you call me?”

“I did,” he replied warmly. “I wanted to see what time you’d be able to meet. And…” He cleared his throat. “My stupid car still won’t start. I’m having it towed to the mechanic down the street. He said it won’t be ready ‘til Monday at the earliest, though. So even though it’s highly irregular, I wondered if you’d pick me up instead of the other way around.”

Her cheeks ached from the grin which spread across her face, and she chuckled at “highly irregular.” “Sure, I’d like that,” she replied casually. “Your place?”

“I don’t have a place,” he reminded her. “But yeah, please pick me up at my parents’. I feel horrible about not being able to give you the full date experience, with me picking you up and handing you flowers and everything. I’ll crawl on my hands and knees if you want.”

She laughed. “I don’t mind a bit. You don’t even need to crawl. So I assume we’re going somewhere other than your parents’ house?”

“Bringing a date to my parents’ would make me feel about fifteen years old,” he muttered. “Like I said, I want you to have the full date experience. Maybe I won’t be able to do the picking you up part, but I can still take you somewhere nice. Would you rather spend an afternoon walking in the park, or go somewhere for dinner?”

“You decide.” Reesa hated making decisions like that. When she’d gone on dates before, she’d always let the men decide where to take her.

Of course, that hadn’t worked out too well with Charles.

Micah’s parents’ deck looked like a nice, quiet place to sit and talk. With the trees surrounding it, it gave the sense of being in the country somewhere, even though it sat only a couple miles from the city. She wouldn’t have minded just hanging out with him there. She understood his point, though.

So they’d go somewhere. He’d called it a date, which gave her a warm, fuzzy feeling. No wonder he didn’t want to just sit on the deck. Dates didn’t do that.

Teaser Thursday- You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This

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Eventually, the lack of music registered on her consciousness and she stopped in the middle of the floor. Her heart sped up and she turned toward the door, not knowing what to expect.

Stefan stood there with a tentative smile. “You’re beautiful when you dance.”

She didn’t return his smile. Until she figured out whether they were about to make up or whether he just wanted to tell her off, she didn’t want to let him know how happy the sight of him made her. “Thank you.”

“May I come in?”

She shrugged. “The studio doesn’t belong to me. I can’t tell you to stay out even if I wanted to.”

“You’re angry with me.” He entered and stopped only a few steps inside. “I’m sorry I haven’t answered your calls. I’m here now. Can we talk, please?”

“I think that would be a good idea, if you’re sure you want to talk.” She certainly wouldn’t force him to have a discussion if he wanted to avoid her. And given the unreturned calls, he didn’t want to say anything to her.

He held out his hand. She ignored it, and he let it drop back to his side. “When you walked out on me, it pissed me off, I admit. You didn’t even give us a chance to talk about where things are or where we see them going. I haven’t had many relationships, so I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure when two people are together they’re supposed to discuss things. That’s why I didn’t want to talk to you on the phone.”

“Because I pissed you off.”

“Partly,” he agreed. “Mostly because if one or both of us is going to be upset, we should be together to hold each other.” He took her hand. “We’d just gotten things started between us.”

“Yeah.” Her heart sank. “I might have messed up. You had a share in that argument, though.”

“Yes, I did.” He pressed a key on the laptop, and the opening notes of his favorite song filled the room. “Dance with me, Erin. Then we’ll talk.”

Reluctantly, she allowed him to lead her into the center of the room. Reluctant only because she wanted to sort things out with him without procrastinating. Her body took over from her mind as the music played, and they moved smoothly together through the steps and variations they’d done before.

The touch of his hands electrified her. The music flowed through them, connecting them in the dance. All the joy she’d felt dancing with him returned to her. Their argument didn’t matter. Her anger evaporated, and she allowed herself to simply feel the dance, to follow without anticipating. To do what she loved most.

He pulled her to him, and rather than releasing her in the next beat, touched his lips to hers. She cupped his face in her hands, deepening the kiss as desire coursed through her.

He tightened his arms around her. His tongue sought entry to her mouth and she parted her lips to allow it. Her nipples stiffened as their tongues touched. She wanted him, and her body didn’t care that they stood in a dance studio where students would shortly arrive. She needed the closeness of his body.

He broke the kiss, breathing heavily. “I love you.”

Teaser Thursday- With Every Touch

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Sheila didn’t call Erich that night. Although she could have used an ear and maybe a shoulder, she didn’t want to rely on him too much. Not when she might not have him around much longer. Instead she watched TV until her brain was numb and then went to bed.

Sunday, she went through the motions of cleaning and making sure her wardrobe for the week was ready. She wished she could see Erich again. Their day together had been the most fun and relaxation she’d had in longer than she could remember, and she wanted a repeat. But she refused to lean on him. It was just her luck that right when she found someone she was comfortable enough to care about, she would probably have to leave him. There wasn’t any point in getting too close.

The problem was she had already let herself get close to him, and she didn’t want to lose what had developed.

She called him Sunday afternoon as she had promised. “I think I’m going to stay home and relax. I have to be in Boston at nine tomorrow, and the drive’s going to be crazy because of traffic. I’m probably going to have to leave at six or earlier to make it.”

“That’s okay,” Erich said. “How are you feeling about the interview?”

“Good. It’s going to be good.” She had no clue how she felt other than nervous as hell. She was good at her job, and she had plenty of practice talking to people. That didn’t mean she would make a good impression.

Getting the job in Boston was important to her, but so was Erich. She’d only known him for a week and a half, but she wanted to see where things went between them. She wouldn’t be able to do that in Boston. Relationships were difficult enough. Long-distance relationships were almost impossible.

“You’re going to be fine,” Erich said. “They’d be idiots not to hire you.”

“Yeah.” It sounded like he wanted her to leave, which pissed her off. It wasn’t as though she expected him to break down and beg her to stay, but it would have been nice to hear he wasn’t eager to lose her.

“Are you going to work after the interview?” he asked.

“I don’t know.” She hadn’t even contacted the director to let him know she wouldn’t be at work the next morning.

“You aren’t too talkative today.” Irritation filled Erich’s tone. “I’m glad you called. I was a little worried about you. But I don’t think you actually want to talk.”

She clenched her jaw. He had no right to get pissy with her because she wasn’t being all bubbly and shit. She had stuff on her mind, things far more important than making small talk. “I kind of don’t,” she snapped. “I have this fucking interview to get ready for. I promised you I’d call today, so I called.”

“Yeah, you did.” Now he sounded even more annoyed. “You could have just said up-front that you weren’t in a conversation sort of mood.”

“Whatever.” Her voice rose. “I’m sorry I’m not following your preferred phone call format. I have to drive to Boston in the morning. My entire life might change depending on what they say. I might have to sit back and wait for an answer from them. I have to figure out what to tell my boss about not being at work tomorrow. I don’t have time to soothe your feelings.”

“Wow. Okay.” He paused. “I still want to see you tomorrow night, but I’m going to leave you alone for now. I don’t want to argue with you or have one of us hurt the other’s feelings. There isn’t any reason for it when you’re nervous. Take care, and please call me tomorrow when you’re ready to get together. I’ll give you space until then.”

Tears filled her eyes. She was being a bitch. He intended to be supportive, and she was lashing out the way she always did when someone tried to take care of her. She should have known better. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” He didn’t sound angry or upset, but that didn’t do much to ease Sheila’s concerns. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay? And you can call me again before then if you want to. I don’t deserve having you snarl at me. But I think this is how you get when you’re upset or worried, so I don’t hold it against you. Just please don’t call me until you’re sure you want to talk to me, okay? I’ll be here, I promise.”