Thursday, March 8, 2012
Everything You've Got-- excerpt
It's only 12 days until Everything You've Got releases and I can't keep this excerpt to myself any longer! :)
Here's how it all gets started!
Everything You've Got
March 20, 2012, Samhain Publishing
copyright Erin Nicholas 2012
Kat Dayton could generally get men to do whatever she wanted when she wore her kick-ass boots.
But Luke Hamilton wasn’t like other men.
She’d been wearing her kick-ass boots around him forever and he had yet to do what she really wanted—make a move on her.
So, tonight she was going to also need handcuffs. And a blindfold.
Marc Sterling looked from the silver rings dangling from Kat’s fingers to her face and back to
the rings. “Those aren’t very subtle.”
“Screw subtle,” she told Luke’s best friend. “It’s his birthday, he’s being stubborn and crabby, and none of the other ideas will work.”
“Sure, forcing him to show up should put him in a party mood.”
“It’s a surprise party. The whole premise is forcing the guest of honor to show up,” she pointed out.
They had been debating with the rest of their friends how to get Luke to the surprise party for a week. Luke stayed at the restaurant he owned with Marc until midnight every night. In addition, he’d been in a bad mood for, oh, about two months now. And it had been getting progressively worse.
So he was less than agreeable to most suggestions in general and fun, social ones in particular.
His bad mood had definitely made Kat less than jovial.
Because he was pining for a woman.
And this was not just any woman. It was Sabrina Rose Cassidy Sterling. Kat’s best friend. Marc’s wife.
Well, maybe he wasn’t pining. It wasn’t like he’d stopped eating or sleeping or even speaking to or spending time with Marc and Sabrina. In fact, his relationships with both of them seemed completely normal.
But he had been downright surly at the wedding and reception and he’d been…brooding ever since. He’d been a workaholic before, but his time in the restaurant was about greeting his guests and supporting his staff however they needed him. He’d been out and about, talking, laughing and clearly in his element. The hours in his office at his desk were always after the restaurant closed. Now it seemed he spent a lot more time in his office and, though on the surface he seemed normal when he was in the main areas with guests, Kat knew him well enough to notice he was less than happy and satisfied.
It couldn’t be a coincidence that Luke’s grumpiness had started at Marc and Sabrina’s wedding.
Marc took the cuffs from her, passing them back and forth between his hands. “You know, on
second thought, this is a great idea. This might be the one thing that could get him out of his funk.”
Kat had seen that look on Marc’s face before. He looked mischievous. She didn’t like it. “What does that mean?”
“I’m just sayin’ that birthday cake and confetti aren’t the first things he’ll be thinking of when you come at him with handcuffs.”
“There’s going to be confetti?” Kat asked. “That’s a little cheesy.”
“Not the point.”
Kat propped a hand on her hip. “Okay, what will he be thinking?” She knew exactly what Marc was thinking, but she wasn’t at all sure Luke’s mind would go the same direction.
“You, him, a pair of handcuffs. He’ll be thinkin’ this is the best birthday ever.”
Damn right he would. The thought snuck up on her, but right on its heels was, if I had Luke Hamilton at my mercy for even ten minutes he’d think it was the best frickin’ day of his life.
Wow. She really wasn’t sure where all of this was coming from. She’d been around and single in sexy boots for long enough that if Luke was interested he could have done something about it by now. She had no reason to think that he’d be interested in her rocking his world—birthday or not.
Still, given half a chance, she wouldn’t mind giving it a try.
The worst thing that could happen would be she’d lose one of her best friends.
No, worse than that would be him not being rocked by her attempt.
That would be way worse.
And was definitely a possibility.
They’d kissed once in college. It had gotten hot and heavy too. Then they’d been interrupted—by Sabrina, of course—and Luke had never even mentioned it again. And he certainly hadn’t ever tried to pick up where they’d left off.
Stuff like that was a little tough on a girl’s ego, frankly.
“So,” Marc was saying, “with a surprise party you have to find a way to bring the person to the party—which we tried by having it at our house. Or you bring the party to the person. That’s the new plan. We’ll bring all the stuff here and have it in the party room. You’re in charge of keeping him away until we’re ready.”
“Oh sure. He barely leaves this building.” Luke worked fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. It wasn’t healthy, or necessary. They had a fantastic staff. But The Camelot was his dream. There was no place he’d rather be.
“Then keep him in the building but out of the party room,” Marc said with a shrug.
The party room was off the main dining room and had huge doors they could shut to block the party planning. Provided Luke didn’t decide to go check why the doors were shut. Which he would. Luke knew every bent fork, bruised banana and scuffed tile in The Camelot.
“How will I possibly do that?”
Marc swung the handcuffs in front of her face. “Be creative. Get him in his office—then keep him there. Somehow. Be creative. We’ll need about twenty minutes to get all the stuff from our house over here and set up.”
“You said ‘be creative’ twice,” she pointed out. Her heart was already pounding even as she was coming up with an excuse not to do it.
“Creative is fun,” Marc said with that grin she hated. “Creative is memorable.”
Did she want this night to be fun for Luke? Of course. And memorable? Sure. Would she like to be those two things for him? Definitely.
Did she need to use handcuffs for that?
She sighed. Admittedly, she’d like to.
It seemed that her imagination had quite easily taken handcuffs plus fun plus memorable and
come up with a few scenarios.
“You really think this is a good idea?” she asked. Marc was the only person in the world who knew how she felt about Luke. He also knew that she didn’t think Luke returned her feelings.
“It’s a perfect idea. He’s been moping around here for weeks.”
Yeah, moping was a better word than brooding. “I’d just be cheering him up then?”
“A hot girl who wants to handcuff him? Cheerful is a mild word for it.”
“But it will be me handcuffing him.”
Marc gave her a wink. “You’re the only one who should do it.”
She really wanted that to be true. “You promise I’m not going to fall on my face with this?”
“Tell me something,” Marc said instead of answering directly. “You are a go-for-it girl. I mean, you do what you want, you don’t worry about what people think, you’re sure of yourself. Why haven’t you gone after Luke?”
“He was hung up on Sabrina,” she said without meeting Marc’s eyes. There were things behind the bravado everyone saw that even Marc didn’t know.
“Uh-huh. I bought that initially. But you and I both know that Luke knows that Sabrina belongs with me.”
Kat sighed. That was the complication. She did believe that Luke felt Marc was the right guy for Sabrina. Which took her one decent excuse away and made her face the fact that maybe Sabrina hadn’t been what was keeping Luke from being with Kat. Finally she said, “Maybe he doesn’t want me.”
“He’s a very, very smart man, Kat. Of course he wants you.”
She rolled her eyes. “I appreciate the sentiment. But I’ve been right here all along. Why hasn’t he made a move?”
Marc tossed her the cuffs. “Maybe you should ask him that.”
She looked from her friend to the cuffs.
Maybe she should.
And if he told her the truth and it wasn’t good, well, she’d just never be able to face him again.
“If I end up looking like an ass, I’ll kill you,” she told Marc.
He laughed. “I’m not worried.”
She raised an eyebrow—the one that she’d pierced specifically because she could raise it like that. “I’m serious. If this flops, I’ll blame you. Then someday you’ll come to my office with terrible stomach pain and I’ll know it’s acute appendicitis. I’ll know that it could burst at any moment and slowly poison your system, but I’ll tell you it’s heartburn and give you antacids and send you home to suffer. Slowly and painfully.”
He cleared his throat and seemed to be trying to hide a smile. “I had no idea you were so vindictive.”
“You haven’t made me look bad before.”
“And you still think I should handcuff Luke?”
“You should definitely handcuff Luke.”
“I have a blindfold too.”
Marc gave her that damned grin. “That’s my girl.”
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