It’s been a hectic few months with the re-release of Book 1 and the pending release of Books 2 and 3 in my Hearts of Louisiana series. As crazy as it makes me, it has been a ton of fun finally introducing everyone to these characters that have been talking to me for many years.
When I first started writing Sex and Insensibility, I had no idea that it would become a series. The initial idea for the story blossomed from a news story I heard where a woman discovered her husband was cheating on her. She went to the motel where he met his mistress and when he came outside to the parking lot she ran him over. THREE TIMES! Oops.
Don’t get me wrong. I *do* *not* advocate violence but it planted the seed of an idea and before I knew it, Lara was standing in her driveway holding her camellia.
You’ve probably heard writers say their characters talk to them. Well, Riley told me she had the hots for Jackson and it wasn’t difficult to find a way to put these two together. You can also find the hints for books 3 and 4 in this story. Is this what they call an Easter Egg? Let me know if you find them! Maybe I’ll make it a scavenger hunt!
Anyway…Second Chance Romance is just that, a story about second chances. We all need them from time to time. Riley watched her ex find his happily-ever-after in Book 1 and now it’s her turn. Here’s a little excerpt from Second Chance Romance, available for pre-order on October 18. Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you a notice. There’ll also be a special bonus for those who receive my newsletter.
Second Chance Romance
Hearts of Louisiana (Book 2)
He’d replayed their brief encounter at the bank enough to burn into his brain. The smooth silk of her hair, a color so dark it reminded him of space and how it would wrap around you, weightless and free, if you let yourself fall into it. Eyes the color of the Kentucky bluegrass on a horse farm he’d worked years ago. He wanted to look again, see if the silver flecks were reality or fantasy. The angled face that still looked soft and touchable. Skin the color of sunset he’d once watch sizzle over the ocean in Fiji while on spring break: gold, honey, amber. Eyes that watched beneath a veil of intelligence and wariness. And those lips…
No, she definitely didn’t fit the type of woman he usually wanted. But man, did he want her.
The gravel crunched beneath his boots as he stepped off the sidewalk and into the construction yard, shaking loose a train of thought better derailed than traveled. Although with her short stay in their sleepy little town, only long enough to get the construction on the store completed, she would be perfect. No commitments expected and no hurt feelings when he didn’t offer ever-lasting love or some other such nonsense. Besides, he didn’t plan to stay in Belle Terre either. He wouldn’t leave until after the election, however. Not until the town had someone to replace him. And not until Riley’s future was secured.
His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and he weaved through the piles of lumber and equipment with ease, shaking his head at the burned-out remnants of the bulldozer. The meager light from the trailer’s door and windows beckoned and he took the stairs in two quick steps. He raised his hand to knock but stopped to read a sign someone had posted on the door.
All we want for Christmas is a fire-proof bulldozer.
LCB Construction Crew
He grinned and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” a female voice inside said, and his smile widened, instant recognition zipping through his body like lightning.
He quashed the smile before he opened the door, not wanting to look like a fool or an eager pervert. Just checking on things, he reminded himself. Just doing his job.
“Hey,” he said, ducking beneath the door frame before pulling it closed behind him.
She sat hunched over a desk piled high with neat stacks of paper and file folders, a paper cup of coffee, and the crumbs from what he guessed to be pecan pie from the local diner. Riley blinked her eyes a few times, as if to redirect her focus, before settling back in the chair and tucking a pencil behind her left ear. “Hey back.”
He stepped farther into the trailer, spying a novel laying open on the desk. Love’s Lasting Promise. He recognized it from a display in the window of the local bookstore. Riley swiped it into a desk drawer and slammed the drawer shut.
Jackson tried to contain the grin, knowing he failed.
“Saw the light and wanted to make sure everything was ok.” He glanced around the interior of the Spartan office space, noting it was furnished for work and not much else, although a nice leather sofa filled the back wall. “No more excitement or protesters or book burnings.”
He referenced the recent trouble before Thanksgiving, where a group of women protesting a display of erotic romance novels written by the author of the book now hidden in Riley’s desk drawer had accidentally set the bulldozer on fire rather than the intended novels.
Riley swiveled the chair, turning her entire body to face him and bringing her legs out from under the desk. She propped a foot on an open drawer. “No flaming bulldozers. I’ve posted signs at the entrance that burning torches are not allowed on site.”
“I’m sure the insurance company is relieved.”
Riley grinned, and it tugged at something low and primitive in him to make her smile like that. “Not even a single protestor worried about a spotted titmouse.”
It was his turn to grin. The environmental group had been the most persistent of the protestors, on site until last week when they were told the titmouse was not an actual mouse but a bird and shown that what they presumed to be the supposedly endangered titmouse was actually a family of escaped hamsters.
“It worked out for the town in the end. We’re getting this great new outdoor mall versus the megastore originally planned thanks to LCB’s owner.”
Also the construction owner and his girlfriend-type person were currently living happily ever after, Jackson added mentally. Not that he wanted that. He’d worked hard to avoid it since his wedding day ended with no wife.
She leaned back in the creaky leather chair, pulling the pencil from behind her ear and tossing it on the desk. “And no one has put me in handcuffs in…” Riley glanced at her wrist though she wore no wristwatch. “Almost five full days.”
“Good,” he said and nodded, stopping when he realized he was nodding like a dashboard bobble head. “Like I said, I saw the light,” and he pointed to the light in question. When did he become such a dork? he wondered and scrubbed a hand through his hair to hopefully corral the ping-ponging thoughts. “But if everything’s ok I’ll just …” And he pointed to the door. Then out popped, “I was headed over to the diner for some dinner. I see you’re familiar with their pie.” He pointed to the crumbs dotting the plate on her desk. “Today’s pecan. One of the best in town.”
Riley patted her stomach and groaned. “I’m only slightly more partial to the Mississippi Mud on —”
“Tuesday,” they finished in unison, the silence that followed neither awkward nor heavy as they each contemplated the other in the meager light trying to find purchase in the shadows of the trailer. Her blue-black hair sat high on the crown of her head corralled its usual ponytail, a few strands curling rebelliously over her ears. His gaze lasered in on her face, which was framed by impossibly long lashes that probably made women groan in envy if the commercials he’d seen on TV were any indication.
Only he doubted she was wearing a speck of makeup. The flawless skin, like honey filtered through amber, didn’t need any. It was her mouth he was having trouble ignoring. Again. He’d noticed her lips in the bank. Tried to ignore them then as well. Failed just as miserably.
“Would you like to join me?”
Where the hell did that come from? He shoved his fists into the pockets of his work jacket and stood very still. Not that he didn’t know where it came from. He’d been thinking of the woman for four-and-a-half days. Wondering. The smile on her face lessened, but other than that, she mimicked his statue-like stillness.
“I thought we could talk about the bank. I did some reading. I know a little about investment firms. And … I … could give you a few things to check on.” At her continued silence, he added regretfully, “It’s not like a date or anything. You can pay your own way.”
The smile returned with force—or maybe she was laughing at him—and he wanted to sneak away and hide in the blackened ruins of the bulldozer outside. Definitely not a shining moment in his life. But he wasn’t ready to say goodnight to this woman. They’d eventually say goodbye. He was always the one saying goodbye, leaving before there was time to form a connection. He preferred it that way. No commitments. No disappointments. But lately it left an ache he refused to name.
Riley pushed to her feet, gathering up the papers and adding them to the stacks around the desk. “Sounds good. I’m starved.”
They narrowly avoided each other while she finished putting her things together. As she switched on the outside lights, they did a quick two-step, dancing around each other again as she moved to turn off the lamp on her desk. He tried to hang back, tried not to stare at her ass as she moved around the suddenly claustrophobic space of the trailer. She came around the corner of the desk at the same time he went for the door, and they collided. Instant recognition colored her face and sizzled in his veins like water on the July pavement.
Instead of pulling back, Riley’s arms reached around his waist and held on while his own arms wrapped around her shoulders to balance them both. Enough outside light filtered in from between the window blinds that he could see the amused smile tilt one corner of her mouth. That mouth. Pink. Full. Lush. Kissable. The last word played over and over in his head. She didn’t look away or try and be coy. No lip-licking or false shyness. He bent toward her at the same time Riley raised up to meet him.
I hope you enjoy Riley and Jackson’s story as much as I enoyed writing it. If you get the chance, stop by and say hello on my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts or drop me an email to let me know how I’m doing.