This book was written on a dare.
A writer friend challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and try my hand at the genre. It was intended to be a fun writing exercise, but the story kept going. The words flowed out of me quicker and easier than anything I’d ever written before.
Once I had a finished draft, I was torn between pride and fear.
The reason I chose to be brave and share this spicy story is two-fold. First, I’m sick of society’s double standard when it comes to how women are taught to view sex, and how we’re shamed for enjoying it.
Second, I seek to inspire people to be who they are instead of hiding away the parts of themselves the world teaches us to be embarrassed about.
So, I decided to own my art in the hopes that this book makes people think—and sets them free.
Standing at the podium with shaky hands and sweat trickling down my chest, I read a passage from my novel. My first novel! Every pair of eyes in that bookstore were glued to my face. It was the moment I’d dreamed of ever since I first held a book in my hands. All the late nights I spent pouring my heart and soul onto those pages were finally worth it.
Just as I got into the flow of the story, the sound of a bell jingled at the front of the store. The breeze from the open door tossed my blonde locks into my eyes as I looked up. A soft giggle escaped my throat because walking in late was usually my thing.
Then I felt him. His presence entered the room before he did.
Across a sea of faces, his dark, familiar eyes drilled right into my soul.
The one that got away.
I drew a breath to steady the tremble in my voice. My fans were waiting, so I pulled my gaze back to my book. Thoughts rattled around my brain as I failed to focus on the words in front of me.
Did he really choose the most pivotal moment of my career to pop back into my life after years of not speaking?
I tried to hold on to my anger as his eyes fixed on me like a hunter stalking his prey, but raw, unbridled lust simmered beneath my rage.
No longer invested in the words coming out of my mouth, I wondered if he was picturing his lips on mine while he stared. I stole a glance, and a mischievous smile lit his handsome face as if he’d heard my thoughts.
The vengeful part of me wanted to stomp across the room and slap him, but my body, weak for him as always, yearned to shove him against the wall and rip his pants off. I had not seen Robert in over a decade, but the second our eyes locked, I became reckless and uninhibited. I would have stripped naked in front of the entire crowd just to see the hunger I evoked in him. Instead, I ran my tongue across my bottom lip and nibbled the corner before looking at him again. An irresistible fire still burned between us.
Minutes passed before I finished the opening scene; the sound of my heart skipping rope against my breastbone drowned out the syllables in my mind. Finally, it was over.
I addressed the audience and avoided his gaze. “Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to listen to my words. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I loved writing it.”
After the applause faded, I made my way to the book signing table. I had no idea how I would get through the small talk expected of me when the only thoughts in my mind were of his hands on my skin and the feeling of him inside me.
I made it through the hour, my cheeks sore from the incessant speech and smiling. Robert and I couldn’t keep our eyes off each other. I ignored the wetness between my thighs as the sound of my heart pounded in my ears. It was difficult to breathe with him watching me.
The last person headed out the door and Robert removed his hands from the pockets of his jeans. He took slow, measured steps toward me. I stood, refusing to engage in conversation with him from a submissive position.
The chemistry between us was undeniable, but I was still angry and confused by his vanishing act years earlier. His devilish smile almost made me forget, though, that while his eyes devoured every inch of me.
“Hey, Rissa.” The nickname rolled off his tongue as if we had spoken just yesterday. His smooth voice made my knees tremble.
“It’s been a while.” My tone was arctic. I pretended thoughts of him didn’t permeate my mind and invade my dreams with regularity. Although I wanted him to take me in his arms and throw me on the table, I projected a cool and calm appearance. His wicked grin told me he saw through my façade; he always did.
He looked damn good, and he knew it. He ran a hand through his thick, dark hair. “I almost forgot how sexy you are when you’re mad.” I didn’t trust myself to speak. “I bet you’re wondering why I’m here.” His words were quick and jittery. I straightened, happy that he sounded nervous.
“Of all the bookstores in all the towns, in all the world, you just happened to walk into mine?” I smirked, unable to resist. The look that flashed across his face indicated he got the reference and remembered the night we shared a blanket under the stars.
“It was a series of coincidental events,” he said, bemused. My heart raced; he knew I didn’t believe in coincidences. “I walked out of my local coffee shop this morning and someone bumped into me, knocking my cup from my hand. When I bent to pick it up, your big brown eyes stared at me from a flyer on the ground. If I was the type of guy who believed in signs, I guess you could say the universe pointed me in your direction.” He winked.
I moved closer; I couldn’t help it. I wanted to touch him—needed to feel his beard on my neck as he left a trail of kisses down my chest. The magnetism between us was primal, instinctive, and unavoidable. He looked at me like the first drop of rain after a severe drought. I wasn’t going to fight it. He could have me however he wanted me—even if only for the night.
“Well, you did it. I knew you would.” He gestured to my book on the table. Overwhelmed with emotion, my words caught in my throat. I nodded. He had no idea how empowering his encouragement had been.
“Do you want to get a drink and catch up?” he asked, his eyes holding a different question.
“Yes.” I didn’t hesitate. I knew I shouldn’t, but neither of us had time for games. We both knew what would happen the minute he walked through the door. Denying it wouldn’t change anything. It was the reason we kept our distance all those years. We were equally drawn to the flame, and just as equally aware we were bound to get burned.
Stepping outside, we walked to a wine bar down the street, making small talk along the way. We kept it light and casual, acting like two old friends who ran into each other—nothing more. But the knowing looks from passersby indicated the sexual tension was obvious.
He held the door for me like a gentleman, but I felt his eyes scoping out my ass through the tightness of my black skirt as I walked by. I slid into one side of the booth and he sat across from me. He’d aged gracefully, with just a hint of gray at his temples and a tinge throughout his beard. The tight blue T-shirt clung to the muscles on his chest and accentuated his biceps.
A young brunette stopped by the table to greet us. “Welcome to Mullins. Have you had a chance to look through the menu? Would you like to try a couple of flights?”
I started to open my mouth, but Robert interjected, “Two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, please.”
He remembered my favorite wine. My heart danced inside my chest as I excused myself, anxious to freshen up. Upon entering the restroom, I was surprised by how attractive I looked in the mirror. A bit wild, but alive in a way I hadn’t appeared in a long time.
My dark, almond-shaped eyes sparkled along with my pearly white smile. My eye makeup was still intact, but the liner was smudged on the bottom, adding to my feline-like sexual prowess. The heat from within gave a rose tinge to my defined cheekbones. I highlighted my full lips with pink-tinted gloss before spritzing apple-scented perfume on my wrists and between my breasts. I ran a brush through my hair to smooth out the tangles and popped open the top two buttons on my fitted, fuchsia shirt. I wanted to provide a generous amount of cleavage for his viewing pleasure.
Back at the table, we kept to safe topics until I brought the first sip of tart liquid to my lips. Setting my glass down, I uttered the words I promised myself I wouldn’t.
“I’ve missed you.” It burst from my mouth, and I couldn’t take it back. We were both stunned into silence.
He blinked several times and then whispered, “I missed you too. I think about you all the time.”
Tears threatened to leak from the corners of my eyes. I had longed to hear those words from his lips. Instead, I stuffed those feelings down and flashed a seductive grin.
“You’re always on my mind, too—especially in the shower…”
*The above is an excerpt from Natasha’s first novel, Unfinished Business. You can order the book here.