Things that happened today done in the style of SNL’s video short "Like a Boss" (If you haven't seen it, it’s utterly offensive and wonderful):
Went to an organic farm / Froze my fingers off / Held a chicken / Took some photos / Called a guy a douche-bag / Read some press releases / Tossed them in the recycle / Got free spatula (WTF?) / Wrote an article / Copyedited flats... And now I'm home.
In the middle of that, I got a phone call from my editor at Penguin.
Yes, today was a day for good news. But let me back up for a moment...
After Extreme Exposure was released, I was invited to be part of an anthology called Catch of the Day. My agent called and told me what the deadline was and suggested I consider the anthology as a way of getting my name out there. I would be the least-known author in the anthology, and tagging along with bigger names would bring new readers to my writing. Or that was the theory, anyway.
I didn’t think I could pull it off. Firstly, the anthology was supposed to be humorous. Me, humorous? Not really. My books veer toward the dark side and include things like torture. There's nothing humorous about that.
Plus I was overwhelmed with deadlines. Writing books in two genres means keeping two publishing houses happy. Doing that while raising a son by yourself and working full time as the editor-in-chief of a newspaper? You’d have to be out of your mind to try it. (Which tells you something about me.)
I had my cell phone in my hand and was dialing my agent’s number to tell her that I just couldn’t do it, when the idea for an I-Team novella fell more or less fully formed into my head. Clunk. Just like that. I took that as a sign that I could do it, and should do it, so when she answered, I told her I would sign on.
Writing ”Heaven Can’t Wait” took about five weekends, and it was both stressful and a lot of fun. I laughed out loud while writing it — yes, there is humor in it — and then I fell so in love with Lissy and Will that I wished they’d gotten a full novel.
Sadly, the anthology didn’t do well, and most readers probably don’t know there’s an I-Team novella out there. I always felt bad about that because I liked the story, personally, and some of my readers who did manage to find it said they thought it was both fun and ultra-sexy (not surprising, I suppose, given that it’s a story about two people who love each other trying not to have sex before their wedding).
But several months ago I got an idea. I called my editor at Penguin and asked her why in the age of electronic publishing they couldn’t release "Heaven Can’t Wait” as a stand-alone novella-length e-book and make it available in a bunch of different e-book formats — Sony, Kindle, etc.
Today when I spoke to her she said they were doing just that. Right now the story is being converted to e-book formats and they expect it to be available in a few months.
So those of you who are I-Team fans are going to get an extra bit of reading this year. ”Heaven Can’t Wait” is set chronologically between Extreme Exposure and Hard Evidence, and the I-Team characters that existed at that time, including Tessa, Sophie and Horny Holly, are part of the story.
Will, the hero, is a former college football star who is working as a sports reporter, while Lissy is the newspaper’s fashion editor. If the names sound familiar, it’s probably because you read a little about them in Hard Evidence.
This must have been a day for news, because there were also some developments with regard to my MacKinnon’s Rangers series and Connor’s book, but I can’t share that news yet. But trust me — it’s good news.
And now, just for fun, an excerpt from ”Heaven Can’t Wait”:
Lissy lay with her head against Will’s sweat-slick chest, running her fingers absentmindedly through his chest hair, her body limp and glowing from their most recent round of crazed sex. She loved these nights when she had him to herself.
An unpleasant flutter in her stomach drew her mind back to what she’d spent all evening trying to forget — her mother’s call. Her mother was still trying to get her to postpone the wedding until Will signed a prenup, dangling cash in her face as if she could be bought. Hadn’t she proved long ago that she didn’t give a damn about her parents’ money?
But it wasn’t the usual discussion about divorce and assets that had bothered her; it was her mother’s comment about sex and love. Her mother had quoted some study showing that couples who’d lived together before getting married had a higher divorce rate than those who waited to have sex until after marriage.
Lissy had argued that the study, like most, was skewed from the beginning, as people who waited until after marriage to have sex tended to be people who also opposed divorce. Statistics never told the whole story. Any good journalist knew that.
You wouldn’t be the first woman to confuse a man’s sexual attention with love, Melisande. Just wait till he gets his fill of you and the hormones wear off. Men like him marry for two things: sex and money.
Not her Will. No way.
“Do you realize that a hundred or even fifty years ago, we’d both be virgins?” She didn’t know she’d spoken until she heard her own voice.
His fingers stroked the hollow above her hip. “Good thing it’s not a hundred or even fifty years ago. My balls would have burst by now.”
“But don’t you think things were more romantic then? Sex would have been a great mystery for us.”
“I doubt it would have been that much of a mystery. We’d probably both have grown up in the country and seen our share of farm-animal lovin’.”
“The point I’m trying to make is that neither of us would have any personal experience with sex until our wedding night.”
“That’s assuming that I hadn’t already charmed my way into your bloomers or found some ‘loose woman’ willing to let me defile her.” His voice dropped to a dark, velvet purr. “I can be very persuasive.”
Lissy sat up, trying not to laugh, and glared at him. “You’re ruining my fantasy.”
He grinned, stretched, and folded his muscular arms behind his head. “Oh. Sorry. Go on. I’m listening.”
“After the reception, we’d go the bridal chamber, where everything would be roses and candles. There’d be a fire in the hearth—”
“—if it were winter.”
She ignored him. “You’d undress me first and then yourself. I’d probably never have seen a naked man before, so I’d be shy and afraid—”
“Oh, Will, it’s soooo big! Please, don’t hurt me!”
“—but you would soothe me and assure me that everything was going to be fine. Then you’d undress yourself, carry me to the bed and make passionate love to me.”
He reached out, ran his fingers down her hair. “Are you sure that’s how it would go? I think you’ve read too many novels. If it were a hundred years ago and we were both virgins, I think it would go more like this.”
“We’d have been raised to see nudity as shameful, so the room would be dark, and you would have changed from your wedding gown to a proper white nightgown and gotten into bed before I entered the room. I’d come in, wearing my nightshirt, and crawl into bed with you. You’d be worried that it was going to hurt, and I’d be worried that my dick might not work. I’d lift your gown up to your hips, spread your legs, and it would be over in a minute. You’d hate it, and you’d get pregnant — with the first of my twelve children.”
She fought back a giggle. “Thank you for that enchanting vision of romance.”
“You’re welcome.” His knuckles grazed a nipple, sent heat skittering into her belly.
She batted his hand away. “You’re just afraid you can’t do it.”
He frowned. “Do what?”
He raised a dark eyebrow, raked her with his gaze. “It’s a bit too late for that, isn’t it?”
And then it came to her. “Not if we start over.”
“You know — wait until our wedding night to have sex again.”
The look on his handsome face almost made her laugh out loud, but there was something about this that felt important to her.
Then he sat up and brushed a strand of hair from her cheek, the humor gone from his eyes. “This is about something your mother said, isn’t it?”
She hated that he was able to see through her so clearly. “I just think it would add to the romance if we held back a little bit, made ourselves wait. It’s only two weeks. Unless you don’t think you can hack it.”
Will was tempted to end this conversation by pulling her beneath him and showing her just what she’d be giving up, but something told him saying the wrong thing just now would be a bad idea. Besides, he wasn’t one to turn down a challenge.
“If you want to wait until after the wedding to have sex again, that’s fine.”
The surprise on her face mirrored the astonishment he felt.
What the hell did you just say, Fraser? Are you an idiot?
Her eyes narrowed. “You really think you can do it?”
Her long hair hung about her heart-shaped face, tangled from a night of repeated lovemaking. Her nipples peeked out from between the strands, just begging to be licked and sucked. Her lips were swollen from kissing, and her cheeks were still rosy from her last orgasm, when she’d ridden him to within an inch of his life. Her green eyes shone with a mix of intelligence and feminine allure. And he was agreeing not to fuck her?
“Of course I can do it. I’m not some eighteen-year-old college student.”
She sat up on her heels. “Then how about we make a bet?”
He leaned back on his elbows, suddenly feeling competitive. “You name it.”
“Okay. We agree not to have sex again until our wedding night, and whoever gives in and asks for it first loses.”
That sounded easy enough—two weeks, no sex. “Fine. It’s a deal.”
“But there has to be some penalty.” She hopped out of bed, walked the length of the room, forcing him to stare first at the bare curves of her scrumptious ass, and then at the auburn curls of her muff. “If you lose, you and your groomsmen have to wear the mauve cummerbunds I wanted.”
He gave a snort, lifted his gaze to her face. “In that case, there is no way I’m going to lose. I’m not wearing pink.”
She crawled back into bed, smiling. “We’ll see.”
“And what about you, Miss Lissy? What price will you pay if you come begging for it?” And then he had it. “I know. You’ll have to promise to love, honor and obey me.”
Her mouth fell open in outrage. “No way! Absolutely not!”
He couldn’t help but chuckle. “Okay, then. How about this? If you lose, you have to wear the slutty gown.”
“The Oleg Cassini?”
He had no idea what the designer’s name was, but he’d loved the way she’d looked in that dress — ultra-feminine and sexy as hell — and had been disappointed when she’d decided to go with something else. “The one that’s skin-tight and has the crystals on the straps.”
She gaped at him. “The Badgley Mischka! I’m fashion editor of the paper, Will. I can’t walk down the aisle half naked!”
“Then I guess the bet is off.” A part of him — the part located about six inches below his navel — heaved a sigh of relief. He reached over and turned off the bedside lamp.
Then out of the darkness, she spoke. “You’re on.”