FIRST KISS FRIDAY

Several of my writer friends post cute snippets from their stories featuring the first kiss between the hero and heroine. Although my blog lately has been dedicated to Regency Romance, I thought I'd share the first kiss between Lindsay and Jared, found between the pages of 'MAN OF HER DREAMS'.

 Lindsay's been hired by Jared to renovate his kitchen. He never expected her to renovate his heart and life as well.

Enjoy.

      A week later, Lindsay had a rough plan drawn up for Jared’s renovation. Held down on the counter with soup cans on each corner to stop the edges from rolling back up, they both studied the design outline.
“We agreed to take out this wall.” She waved in the direction of the wall separating the kitchen from the living room. “I’ll lay an ‘I’ beam to support the second floor, or if you like, I can put some type of decorative column for load bearing.”
“I like the idea of columns, but whatever you think is best for this space.” He speculated what kind of shampoo she used. Something with citrus, he was sure of it.
“What kind of cabinets do you want?”
“Hmmmm?” A little bit of floral, or was that her perfume?
“Cabinets. What type of wood do you want?”
The look on her face made him wonder how many times she’d asked the question while he’d day dreamed about her hair, her body.... Pierre was right. He was acting like a ravenous wolf, but in her denim shirt, figure-hugging blue jeans and steel toed boots, she looked almost good enough to eat.
Just a taste. He only wanted a taste of her sweet lips.
A hint of pink began to slide up her neck from beneath the collar of her shirt and he realized he’d been staring at her mouth.
Pull it together Kane. She isn’t Red Riding Hood, but her lips would probably taste like...
“Honey.”
“Did you just call me ‘honey’?” The pink darkened and her cheeks began to take on a rosy hue.
“Maple. I’d like honey maple for the cabinets.”
Inside his head he cringed. He hated honey maple, preferring a richer wood color. Now he’d have to live with the yellow toned wood forever. All because his hormones were taking a walk through the enchanted forest.
Her eyebrows raised a notch and she said, “Maple is great for kitchens, but a honey tone wouldn’t match the d├ęcor of the rest of your house.”
“You’re right. Let’s scrap that suggestion.”
That was close.
She scribbled in her notebook and then set it down. Immediately, he recognized the coil bound book and remembered the checklist. ‘As creative in the bedroom as he is in the kitchen’, came to mind and given where his mind had just been that was a dangerous path to tread.
“I thought we’d go with a dark cappuccino for lower cabinets, and a soft cream for the uppers. That would keep the room bright, yet elegant,” she said, making a small notation on the design.
He ran an experienced eye over the plans and mentally envisioned what she suggested. He liked the concept for his new kitchen, without honey maple cabinets. She had talent and DeVane would be a fool not to hire her for his development, although he didn’t like the idea of that randy Irishman anywhere near her.
“What about the island? Do you have any suggestions for that?” He brought his mind back to the task at hand, which was renovating his kitchen. Not worrying about DeVane. Not fantasizing about kissing his new contractor. And especially not about fulfilling a few items on her checklist.
“Keep the base dark, with a light counter to contrast and two squared columns, here and here.” She pointed out where she’d outlined where the columns would be placed. “If this were my kitchen, I’d have granite counter tops.”
“I like the idea of this whole space being opened up.” He shifted the plans so he could look at them closer. “I could place some under counter bar stools at the island for when friends come over.”
“That’s the whole idea. While you’re busy in the kitchen, you can still visit and not miss all the fun.” She turned to face him, her eyes bright with enthusiasm.
“By the time this renovation is completed, I might have someone in my life. Maybe a wife and the little woman would do that for me so I can stay out of the kitchen. Remember. I’m the barbeque guy.”
A look of fake horror broke out on her face at his sexist remark. He loved the fact she had a sense of humor.
“Ha! If you’re a good husband, you’d help your wife in the kitchen.” She poked him on the shoulder. “It takes two to make a marriage work—” Abruptly, she broke off in an awkward silence.
He had an instant vision of him and Lindsay, working side by side, making sure their guests were having fun. He waited for the kernel of panic to set in whenever he thought about his future being tied up with one person, but it never came.
She started to back away and without hesitation he reached for her. Her eyes had an endearing edge of vulnerability to them and his heart squeezed. Oh yeah, this one was definitely trouble.
~~~~~
He invaded her space, closing the distance between them, lifting his hand and taking her chin in his fingers. “Trouble”, was the only word she heard before his mouth claimed hers. The kiss rocketed through her body all the way down to her toes.
She curled her fingers into his shirt, intending to push him away, but somehow, they spread open and moved up to his broad shoulders. He pulled her close and changing the angle of his mouth, deepened the kiss. His fingers tangled in her hair and she heard moaning.
Her moans. When had she ever moaned while being kissed?
Never, but then she’d never been kissed like this before. Slowly he pulled back and touched his forehead to hers while they both caught their breath.
“I’ve wanted to do that for days,” he said, his voice as gravelly as a dirt road.
“Only days?” she murmured and looked up. She’d wanted him to kiss her for weeks.
“I lied.” His eyes glittered darkly. “It’s been months.”
He swooped in for another hot kiss. When his hands began to roam across her body, touching her in places that ached for more and turned her blood into molten lava, for one teensy moment she considered letting go.
“Wait,” she mumbled against his lips, pushing gently away from him.

TUESDAY'S TEASER


The past few weeks I've been posting from the first time Miss Catherine Bennet meets Lord George, and that's kind of unfair as it's not where the book begins - that's Chapter Two. Previously, I've posted the delightful romp of Lord George and Evangeline being assaulted at her place of 'employment' and before killing the two unknown ruffians, George was convinced the one man recognized him. And... on we go.
"I'm afraid your cover has been compromised." Lord Patrick Grayson, Marquis of Chadwick clasped his hands on his desk and peered at George over the rim of his reading glasses. "You're quite useless to us now."
"I'd like to know who sent those men."
George sat in the chair placed directly in front of Lord Grayson's desk. One elbow rested on the arm of the chair and he rhythmically rubbed his lower lip with his index finger. A childhood habit indicating deep thought.
He and Evangeline had searched both men thoroughly, finding no form of identification or written instructions on either of them. The larger man definitely had been a thug for hire, but the cultured tones and soft hands of 'Reggie' hinted at a decent education and no real hard labor. Had he been the leader or following someone else's orders? The same sense of familiarity washed over George.
"I'd like to know as well." Lord Grayson removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "At times, I think there are more people working for Boney in England than in France. Money and a skewered devotion to ancient family ties can turn even the most patriotic away from their King. Look at what happened in our very own country. The Prime Minister assassinated."
"Nasty business, that. I'm still not convinced there wasn't a conspiracy." George rose to his feet and paced to the large Palladian window, clasping his hands behind his back. "So what am I to do? Become another useless younger brother to a Peer of the realm?"
"You do yourself a disservice, Lord George. You family has a proud history. The ton does not know you work for the Crown. For all they care you are their golden boy who sowed more than his share of wild oats. Continue on with your life. Find a pretty girl and get married. It would make the Duke a happy man if you settled down."
"Maxwell would be ecstatic if I entered into marital bliss." George turned to face Lord Grayson. "Unfortunately, I have played the part of a Rake so convincingly I'm sure all the good mothers will hide their daughters as soon as I enter the ballroom."
"As the brother of a Duke, you and I both know your reputation will not stop them from wanting an association with your family."
"All they see are my connections and fortune. I'd like to meet someone fresh and new. Someone who isn't skilled with the arts and allurements used to ensnare a husband."
"Then, look at this as a blessing. Now that you no longer have to look over your shoulder and peer into every dark corner for the enemy, you can enjoy the full social whirl. With your charm and exceedingly handsome visage, you will have no difficulty meeting a nice young lady."
George doubted that very much, but didn't have the heart to contradict his friend and mentor. All this talk of meeting young girls was beginning to give him a headache. He'd take a rough and tumble spy any day over a cunning mother on the hunt for a son-in-law.
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Of Note: Today is my wedding anniversary.
Happy Anniversary, Rob. I love you more than cheesecake.



FIRST LINE FRIDAY

The object of this exercise is to take the nearest book, open to Chapter One and post the first sentence. As the closest book to me was the Bible, I can tell you the opening line is a good one.
'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.'
Kinda hard to beat an opener like that, but because most of us are romantic fiction readers, I grabbed the next book which happened to be my Jane Austen inspired Regency romance, entitled CAROLINE: Pride & Prejudice continued... Book One.

Without further ado, here is the first line.
'Caroline Bingley descended the grand staircase and proceeded toward the breakfast room, barely acknowledging the footman who'd efficiently pulled a chair away from the table for her.'
This is not a line that jumps out at you, unlike two of my works in progress which begin with:
'When Mama told her to always be prepared for unexpected guests to drop in, Allie never expected they'd come through the skylight of her kitchen.'
or
'When Leah Swanson made plans for her twenty-fifth birthday, dying was NOT on her to do list.'

However, if you are a fan of Jane Austen's novel Pride & Prejudice, you know that Caroline Bingley is portrayed as the self-centered, spoiled sister of Charles Bingley. She has a skewed sense of her own importance, holds those she's deemed as unworthy in disdain, and is determined to marry Mr. Darcy of Pemberley. Based on her character, this sentence captures her personality perfectly.

I decided to write my first Jane Austen Fan Fiction and focused on Caroline. So many fans love to hate her, and lose sleep if she gets a happy ever after, but I've always felt she could be redeemed. Anyone can be redeemed. If not, then none of us would be worthy of God's love and sacrifice, so who am I to judge the saucy Miss Caroline Bingley? Anyway, she does get an HEA, but the road to that happiness is not without some bumps. CAROLINE is available at all on-line retailers, listed below, and you can read about her journey yourself.
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TUESDAY'S TEASER


Lord Kerr picked up a knife and fork and sliced into the meat on his plate. Surreptitiously, she cut a sideways glance to see which cutlery he used. Dash it all, why did there have to be so many forks and spoons and knives lining the perimeter of her place setting? Mama always put up such lovely dinners, but none of them compared to the pomp and ceremony here at Pemberley.

Her stomach rumbled in protest. Lord Kerr turned slightly and smiled again.

"You are famished. Why aren't you eating?"

Embarrassed, she stared at her dinner plate and tears threatened to trickle down her cheeks. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed him tapping one of his knives and when her left hand touched the proper fork he gave a slight nod.

"Thank you," she murmured.

"You're welcome," he whispered back.

Less than two hours later, standing near the French doors which led out to a pretty terrace, Kitty surveyed the rolling grounds of Pemberley. Once Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy exited for their wedding trip, she and Mary could escape to their rooms and talk about the day.

"Miss Bennet, we didn't get to finish our conversation in the dining room."

For the second time that day she gave a small start. For such a large man he moved with much stealth and grace. She turned and gave him a polite curtsy.

"Lord Kerr."

"You may call me Lord George, if you like. Otherwise Nathan and sometimes even Maxwell will answer you."

"Oh... of course."

They stood slightly apart, the silence stretching long between them.

"Are you pleased--"

"How long are you--"

Both of them spoke at the same time.

"Pray, excuse me, Miss Bennet. Please continue." He gave her a quick nod.

"I was going to ask if you were pleased with your brother's announcement at church, after Lizzie and Darcy's banns were read the third and final time."

"You are speaking of his engagement to Miss Bingley?"

"Yes, it came as a quite the surprise to most of us."

"I must admit I don't know the lady, but then I only arrived the evening previous and hadn't time to converse with my younger brother."

"In some ways your brother will become part of our extended family." At Lord George's quizzical expression she explained further. "Miss Bingley's brother Charles is engaged to my eldest sister, Jane."

"Ah, the angel of Hertfordshire I've heard him sigh about."

Kitty stifled a giggle. "Mr. Bingley is quite besotted, as is she."

"How long are you and your family staying at Pemberley?"

"We leave this coming Thursday. With Lizzie and Mr. Darcy away on their wedding trip, Papa made the decision to return home, although I'm sure he'd like to stay longer if only to enjoy the library."

"Darcy has a massive library. Generations of Darcys have contributed to its contents." He gave another one of his beatific smiles. "And you? Will you miss anything from Pemberley?"

Kitty paused and thought for a few seconds. "I shall miss the grounds. I don't walk as often as my sister Lizzie, but I enjoy a ramble every now and then and the gardens are beautiful."

"That they are. I'm staying with my brother Nathan for a few days--"

"Kitty!" Mrs. Bennet called from the doorway, unmindful that the room was filled with guests. For the first time in her young life Kitty became aware of her mother's coarse behavior and felt exposed in front of Lord George.  "Come quickly. Lizzie and Darcy are leaving."

"I must go, sir." Cheeks flaming, Kitty gave Lord George a quick curtsy and turned to follow her mother, faltering only slightly in her progress when she thought she heard him say.

"I shall see you again, Miss Bennet."

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