Mid Week Tease: Loving Lily – #MWTease

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It’s Mid Week Tease time again, hosted by the phenomenal Sandra Bunino!

I thought this week I’d open up my bag of tricks and introduce you to a novel written by my alter ego, Marie E. Blossom. Who says that falling in love only happens when you’re a teenager? My two protagonists in Loving Lily have been around the block a few times. In this scene, Lily and Matt have just met. Her car has broken down. Matt saves her. Be warned, Lily is feisty and when things don’t go her way, she tends to swear. A LOT!

 loving-lily   epeditorsesal1s

TEASER:

“Fuck.  Double fuckity fuck,” Lily muttered, kicking at her stupid, dumb, loser flat tire.  She didn’t even bother trying to keep the cursing down this time.  She was in the middle of freaking nowhere with her entire life packed into her stupid SUV.  And what happens? I get a flat.  Of course.

“If you’d bothered to plug your cell phone in, this wouldn’t be a big deal, now would it?” she berated herself out loud.  “But no.  You couldn’t remember to do that, could you? Of course not.  You’re lost, your cell battery is dead, and your car is going nowhere.  Fuck!” She yelled out the last part, kicking the tire again.

She looked up at the trees, judging it to be late afternoon by the angle of the sun.  She’d been looking forward to checking into the bed and breakfast she’d booked, and then heading somewhere for dinner.  Now she was stuck on the side of a mountain, in the woods, in rural Vermont, with no way to get help.

“Looks like I’m walking.  Probably for hours,” she said aloud.  “Because I’m too dumb to plan ahead.  Soon as I get settled, I’m buying an extra phone battery. “

She locked her car and started off down the road.  At least it was summertime.  And not raining.

“I shouldn’t have stopped in the mall this morning.  I didn’t really need a new bra. ” She kicked a rock along the side of the road.  It made a satisfying sound so she kicked it again.

“I could have stopped for lunch.  There was a sandwich shop right off the interstate. ” She’d been thinking about the new bra and the trauma of finally accepting that she’d been stuffing herself into lingerie two sizes too small. When she’d driven past the sandwich place, she decided she wasn’t that hungry.  “But you’re hungry now, aren’t you, Lily?” She stopped for a moment to look up at the sky.  The blue expanse just beyond the treetops mocked her. “Idiot,” she snorted.

The thing was, she really did need a new bra.  She didn’t have many because she hated shopping for them so much, so she tended to wash and rewash until the few she owned were falling apart.  She was at the point where all of the bras she owned were falling apart.

“Fuck.  This stupid bra really is comfortable,” she said aloud, kicking the rock again.

“Hello there! I saw a car with a flat back there.  Is it yours?” a male voice called out.

Lily jumped, heart knocking against her ribs.  She spun around, surprised to see a man standing over a mountain bike just behind her.  What the hell? Where did he come from? And also, oh shit, did he just hear me talking about my bra? Out loud?

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said, unbuckling his helmet.

Lily stared, still too freaked out to speak.  He was huge.  Like, really, really tall.  And built.  Her eyes wandered over his green t-shirt, down his cargo shorts to his feet.  He was wearing some sort of hard boots with metal clip things on the bottom.  Given all the crap that had happened in her life, she should probably be frightened about being caught alone in the middle of rural USA with a strange man, but she just couldn’t work up the energy for it right now.  Plus, he had kind eyes.

And he’s extremely good-looking, she thought to herself, a little bit star-struck.  He was movie-star hot, especially with the hint of silver at his temples.  The crows-feet at the corner of his eyes made him seem real. Approachable.  He looked like a man who’d been through a lot and come out the other side even better.  He smiled appealingly.  Lily stared some more.  His teeth were perfectly white.

“Are you okay?” he asked, making no move to come closer.  It was as if he knew how intimidating he could look if he tried.  He stood there casually, one hand cradling his helmet, the other held palm out near his hip.  It was a distinctly unthreatening gesture.

Lily took in his bright hazel eyes, his messy dark hair, the width of his shoulders, and swallowed, hard.  If he knew I was speechless because he’s insanely gorgeous, not because I’m afraid, he’d probably turn tail and run to get away from the crazy woman, she thought.  “Um, yeah.  That’s my car,” she finally managed to say aloud.  She grimaced.  “And my flat tire. “

He cocked his head.

He looks adorable when he does that, she thought absently, eyes wandering back over him again.

“Do you have someone you can call?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No.  Even if my cell phone wasn’t dead, I’d just be calling the nearest tow company.  I’m not from around here. “

“I figured that,” he said, smiling.  “The nearest tow place would be my brother, Alex.  He owns the town’s only mechanic shop. “

Lily grinned, holding out her hand.  “That’s good to know.  I’m Lily Solton, by the way.  Do you, by any chance, have a working cell phone?”

He walked closer, wheeling the bicycle with him.  It was mud-spattered, but bright green paint shone through the dirt.  When his hand closed over hers, she gasped at how gently he held it.  His hand was warm and dry and strong—she could see the muscles in his forearm flexing, but he didn’t use it to hurt her like some men would.  Instead, he shook her hand and let go politely.

“I do,” he said, then blinked.  “Have a phone, that is. “

Lily laughed out loud.  “If I said ‘I do’ too, does that mean I get to buy you dinner? I mean, if we’re going to get married, the least I can do is ask you out on a date, right?”

To her astonishment, he blushed.

Whoa, she thought, inordinately charmed.  He’s hot and nice and he blushes, oh my.

“Um, yeah. “ He stumbled over his words.  “I mean, no.  Wait, that didn’t come out right. ” He stopped and took a breath and tried again while Lily grinned at him.  “I would enjoy having dinner with you, but marriage on the day we meet is a bit too hasty for me. “ His hazel eyes twinkled down at her.  “It’s not you, it’s me,” he added, chuckling.

Lily laughed, stepping back.  “I get that, sure. “

He reached into his pocket and extracted a phone.  “Want me to call my brother?”

“If he’s the guy with the tow truck, yes, please. “

He nodded and Lily watched him punch a button.

“Hey,” he said, phone to his ear, lips quirking up on one side.  “I’ve got a lady with a flat out on Rock Creek Road. “ He nodded.  “Yeah.  Sure, we can wait. ” He slid the phone back in his pocket, shaking his head.  “Not like you can go anywhere, not with that flat. “ He jerked his thumb back down the road.

“How long?” Lily asked him, trying not to stare at the way his shirt stretched over the luscious perfection of his pectoral muscles.

“He says fifteen minutes.  I’ll walk you back to your car. ” He hooked his helmet on his handlebar and turned the bicycle around.

“You don’t have to do that,” she protested.  “I don’t want to hold you up.  Looks like you were in the middle of a ride. “

He shrugged.  “I ride almost every day.  It’s no big deal. ” He began walking.  “You coming?”

Lily hitched her purse higher on her shoulder.  “Yeah.  I’m coming. “

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Mid Week Tease: Dark is the new sexy – #MWTease

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It’s Mid Week Tease time again, hosted by the delightful Sandra Bunino!

Do you remember that guy you crushed on in high school? The one who was too old for you? The bad boy who lived across the tracks, across town, across the street? My upcoming novel, DARK, is part of a new series about that kind of man: the dark, sexy, strong, forbidden guy who you couldn’t help falling for just a little bit….

Greyson Dark doesn’t like strangers in his territory.

Eva Waverley doesn’t like being told to keep out.

After her father’s suicide, hiking is the only thing that makes the bullying in Eva’s new school bearable. When Greyson rescues her from a tumble, she falls for him despite his autocratic demeanor. She’s leaving for college soon—what does it matter if she crushes on a man everyone else fears?

Greyson suspects Eva is his true mate, but duty demands he remain aloof. She doesn’t know he’s a long-lived Sentry, sworn to protect Earth from the Spiders, an ancient alien menace. When she leaves for college, he’s relieved, but four years later she comes back, all grown up and more gorgeous than ever.

Greyson can’t afford to care for a mortal woman, no matter how compelling. Hackers are attacking Stronghold, the Sentries’ net, and Spiders are swarming beyond the moon, but when Eva is attacked, he discovers he can’t just let her die…

TEASER:

“I’m going away, so you’ll never have to be grouchy about me trespassing again,” Eva called out to the silent woods. Nothing. She sighed, looking around. The breeze mocked her, making her think he was there, but there was nothing but the leaves tricking her with their occasional rustle. “Whatever. I don’t suppose it matters. I’m out of here.” She started walking. It was already getting dark and she needed to finish packing.

“Eva.”

She stopped and took a deep breath, staring at the ground. When she looked up, there he was. Dark. Handsome. Totally unapproachable. It suddenly occurred to her that they’d never introduced themselves. She’d spoken with him more than a dozen times now, and she didn’t know his name. He shouldn’t know hers. “How did you know my name?” she asked.

Instead of answering, he strode forward.

She fought not to step back as her breath caught. She struggled to keep her hands still. She shoved down her attraction for him. He’d never given the slightest indication that he felt the same. She shouldn’t be doing this to herself, anyway. He had to be at least twenty years older than her, or more. And she was leaving. It’s just a stupid crush, she told herself.

“I have something for you,” he said, voice low and rumbly.

“I came to say goodbye, but you weren’t here,” she forced out past her frantically beating heart. He’d come close enough for her to feel the warmth radiating off his body. She could smell him, fresh and musky, like a pine forest just after a hard rain.

“I know.” He touched her cheek lightly, then pulled something out of his pocket.

Eva looked down. His ring lay nestled in his palm with a silver chain strung through it.

“Here.” He undid the clasp, then slid the chain around her neck. “Don’t ever take this off.”

Eva licked her lips, twisting her hands together so they wouldn’t tremble and betray her nerves. “What are you doing?”

“This will keep you safe.”

The chain was long enough to slide down her shirt between her breasts. It tickled.

“I don’t understand,” she said thickly. He’d left his fingers against her neck. She couldn’t breathe with him this close. He was like a storm: dark and overwhelming. She wanted him, badly.

“Don’t take it off,” he repeated, then he cupped her cheeks with both hands, tilting her face up.

Whoa, she thought, when she finally deciphered the complicated look on his face. He was attracted to her. Shy, overweight, messed-up Eva. How was this possible? As she tried to understand this miracle, he moved in and lightly touched his lips to hers.

Eva held her breath for a split-second, then her hands drifted up to his biceps and she held on for dear life. He deepened the kiss, tongue sliding inside her mouth. Eva shuddered. He tasted like mint. He felt like danger. He gathered her close and kissed her harder, teeth nicking the outside of her lips. Eva didn’t care. When he finally lifted his head, she thought maybe she was dreaming, but the taste of blood in her mouth told her otherwise.

 

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Mid Week Tease #MWTease: lost in spaaaaaaace! DAMAGED (Planet Alpha) coming soon!

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It’s Mid Week Tease time again, hosted by the phenomenally awesome Sandra Bunino! Thanks Sandra!

Because I’m so excited about having another Planet Alpha book accepted by Evernight, I’m posting a small (unedited) teaser from DAMAGED (Planet Alpha). This features the first kiss between the heroine, Cori, and a mysterious man she’s met. His name is Reiyn. It’ll be releasing soon!

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“I had begun to think you had abandoned me,” Reiyn said quietly.

Cori stumbled, almost dropping the dratted backpack. “Shit. Warn someone when you’re going to sneak up on them,” she said, heart pounding.

He slipped out from the shadows at the edge of the trail. The setting sun gilded his skin, making him glow like something out of a book. He was shirtless and Cori blinked, hands tightening on the straps. Jesus, he’s gorgeous. His leather pants were high-waisted, covering him half-way up his abdomen, but they didn’t detract one bit from his impressive physique.

“It is never wise to warn prey of the hunter’s presence,” he replied, his voice deepening even more.

“So, I’m your prey now?” she asked him, slipping the backpack from her shoulders. “I think not.” He could carry the damn thing for her if he was going to make stupid threats.

He lifted a shoulder and ignored her question. “Is that the fuel cell?”

She nodded. “Feel free.” She nudged at it with her foot.

As he stooped to pick it up, her eyes widened. His bare back was criss-crossed with silver scars. He’d been lashed. A lot.

“Jesus,” she muttered, staring. Her fingers twitched. She wanted to smooth her palms down over his back. As if that would do any good. Those scars are years old, she thought, squashing the notion before her libido grabbed it and ran away from her.

He straightened up, lifting the heavy fuel cell effortlessly.

“That’s why you do this,” she said instead of touching him. She needed to say something. “Why you work to free slaves. It’s because you were one of them.”

His expression darkened. “Do you still insist on coming with me?”

She frowned. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

He turned on his heel and headed down to the small clearing. The ship sat silently in the fading sunlight, camouflaged with netting and dried grasses. She wished she had a way to use it’s old cloaking function, but maintaining that tech was way out of her price range.

“I know what it feels like,” she said, following him.

Abruptly, he stopped. Cori almost ran into him.

“You know nothing of this,” he said tersely, waving a hand at his skin.

“I was a slave, too,” she said, defiant. She didn’t care if it pissed him off. Nothing he did made sense. One moment he was strong and quiet, and the next, he was aloof and angry. She didn’t understand him.

“I was born in slavery,” he said, dropping the fuel cell into the dirt. “Were you?”

She swallowed, then shook her head. “No. I was captured from a refugee camp after my family died. I was thirteen.” She touched his arm, knowing she was playing with fire. His skin was smooth and warm. “Even so, I know what it feels like to have no freedom.”

Reiyn laughed bitterly, muscles bunching under her fingers. “You think so?” He grabbed her forearms and pulled her against his chest, hard enough to bruise.

Strangely, Cori wasn’t frightened. They pressed together tightly enough that the heat of him warmed her entire body. Arousal slid through her, fast and shocking.

“You know nothing of what I suffered,” he said, then bent his head down and kissed her roughly.

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11.

Mid Week Tease #MWTease: knitting can be hazardous to your health-Joyful Devastation

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It’s Mid Week Tease time again, hosted by the fantabulous Sandra Bunino! Thanks Sandra! Do you like sci-fi? How about two sexy heroes and a hilarious incident with a knitting needle? If so, you’ll like my contribution, a little teaser from Joyful Devastation:

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“Aauuugghhh!” Theo jerked upright from his favorite chair as white-hot pain howled through his groin.

“Theo? What happened? Are you okay?” his sister Ella asked, coming into the living room from the kitchen. She was wiping her hands on her favorite dishtowel, the one Theo hated. The faded dancing gnomes reminded him of evil leprechauns.

“Oh God, I think my balls are perforated,” he gasped out, standing awkwardly and glaring at the gnomes. They stared back at him malevolently. He couldn’t tell what had bit him, but it hurt like a motherfucker and he was afraid to move. He was afraid to look. Instead, he  cupped his hands over his balls awkwardly in front of his sister. And Ella, damn her, could barely keep a straight face. He scowled, hoping irritation would hide the tears he couldn’t quite hold back.

“Hang on. Let me see,” Ella said, throwing the towel over her shoulder. She crouched down and turned him slightly, peering at his junk from behind, then began to giggle.

“How can you laugh?” Theo demanded through gritted teeth.

“Your family jewels are safe, not that you’re using them for anything these days,” his sister retorted.

“That’s not very—” he began to complain when she moved slightly and another searing pain shot through him, cutting off his ability to speak for a moment. He gasped and bent over, hands tightening on his junk protectively. “What the hell did you just do?” he finally managed to choke out.

She brandished her daughter’s favorite purple knitting needle in front of him. The tip was bright red. Jesus, that’s my blood, he thought faintly.

“Looks like you landed on Ivy’s latest creation. She was making you a hat, for when you’re out on stakeouts,” Ella said, still smiling. “And your balls are fine. If you’d let go of them for a moment, you’d be able to see for yourself. It was in your thigh.”

Theo took a deep breath. Dammit. It hurt like crazy, worse even than the time that crazy druggie had shot him in the arm. All he wanted to do was go to sleep after a long night on shift, but he’d promised to stay awake so he could see his niece’s science project. He’d figured he could catch a quick nap in his favorite chair while he waited to see her volcano or poster or whatever, and bam!

This is what I get for being nice, he thought disgustedly. Something warm trickled down his leg beneath his jeans. “Shit. I’m bleeding.” He wasn’t sure if he should try to sit down again, or not move at all. He put his hand lower, trying to put pressure on it, but his sister shoved his fingers away.

“For God’s sake, here.” She pressed her dishtowel to his leg, right up against his balls.

He jumped back.

“You’re making a mess,” his sister said, moving in again.

“Oh my God, are you trying to kill me?” He moved away, grabbing the towel from her. “The thing probably punctured my femoral artery.”

“Oh please, if it had, you’d already be on the floor dying. Pull your pants down.” His sister reached for him, hands threatening.

“What? No! Get away from me.” He backed up, almost falling into the chair. “I’ll do it myself.” He turned around and unbuttoned his jeans, then eased them down.

His sister peered over his shoulder.

“Ella! Get away, Jesus.” His boxer-briefs were bloody.

“You’re packing some serious raw meat down there, brother,” his sister said, laughing.

“Dear God, you have no shame.” He shoved her favorite towel against the puncture wound in his inner thigh, then glared at his sister. “I’m bleeding all over your little gnomes. Serves you right for laughing at me.”

Her brown eyes twinkled at him. “That’s okay. I’ve got more gnomes than you ever had.”

He rolled his eyes. “I think it needs stitches.”

Ella’s smile slipped away. Finally, she’s taking this seriously, Theo thought, aggravated.

“You should probably get a tetanus booster, too,” she said, sighing. “Let me grab my bag. I’ll drop you off at the ER on the way to work.”

Theo eased his jeans back over the wound, using the denim to keep the towel jammed up against the hole. “I can drive. I made it through cop school and everything, all by myself, remember?”

She snorted as she shoved her feet into her tennis shoes. “And what if you pass out on the way, big brother?”

“I’ve never passed out a day in my life!” he said, gesturing indignantly. The motion made his wound throb and he grimaced.

“Uh huh,” his sister said, eyeing him sharply. “Better to be safe than sorry.” She grabbed her purse. “Okay, let’s go.” She opened the door of the house they’d shared since her husband died five years ago. Theo had originally moved in to help her with Ivy and then ended up staying. The house had belonged to their parents, so it was partly his, anyway. He’d been happy she had somewhere nice to live, and he liked being close to the only family he had left. Well, the only family besides his exasperating work partner, Gideon.

“I’ll call Gideon on the way. He can drive me back home,” Theo said as he hobbled to the car. His partner was also his best friend, and he considered him family, too. Gideon had been in foster-care since he was a baby, so when they’d met Theo and Ella had adopted him. Sometimes Gideon seemed sad about never knowing his parents, but everyone knew shit happened and there wasn’t anything you could do about it. Ditto with Tom, Ella’s husband.

“Didn’t he work all night with you?” Ella asked.

Theo shrugged. “He can suck it up. I’ve been stabbed. Sleep is overrated.”

Ella snorted as she watched him open the car door. “You’re not a very nice friend.”

“Gideon would be mad if I didn’t call him.”

“Fine, whatever,” she sighed. “Sounds like a plan.” She waited for him to groan his way into the passenger seat. She shut the door and walked over to the driver’s side. “You know, this may be the first time you’ve ever let me drive you anywhere.” She started the car.

He made a face at her. “Because your driving stresses me out.” The damn seatbelt made the hole in his leg hurt even more.

She gave him a sour look and stomped on the gas, speeding through their sleepy neighborhood like the hounds of hell were on her tail.

“Ella! Jesus, ease up before you give me a heart attack to go with the hole in my leg.” Theo gripped the dashboard, white-knuckled.

She slowed down marginally. “Don’t be such a baby.”

“This is a twenty-five mile an hour zone,” he muttered, beginning to pray. The way she was driving, he might not make it to the hospital.

“What are you going to do, give me a ticket, Mr. Off-Duty Cop?” she asked, making a face at him.

“No, but I may start crying soon,” he replied, hanging on for dear life. “Will you calm down so I can call Gideon? Right now I’m afraid to let go of the dash. The power of my fear is the only thing keeping us from crashing.”

She sighed, long and loud. “Fine.” The car slowed drastically. “But when you bleed out before we get to the ER, don’t blame me.”

“I’m not going to bleed out. It’s just a little puncture wound, remember? You’re the one who was making fun of me earlier,” he said, swiping the screen on his phone. When he heard the other end of the line start ringing, he brought it to his ear.

“Yeah?” Gideon answered. “I’m in the middle of my yoga routine. This better be good, Theo.”

Yoga? Theo rolled his eyes. “I need you to pick me up from the ER.”

“The hospital? What the hell happened?”

Theo heard something crash over the phone and smiled grimly. At least someone cared about him. He threw his sister a triumphant look. She ignored him.

“Are you okay? I saw you forty-five minutes ago when we got off work, what could you possibly have done to yourself—”

Theo cut him off. “I sat on one of Ivy’s knitting needles and need to get the hole in my leg sewn together. Ella’s dropping me off, but I’ll need a ride home.”

There was silence on the other end for a moment, then Gideon laughed so loud Theo had to pull the phone away. His sister snickered.

“Gideon! Come on, it’s not that funny.” Theo glared at the little screen as if his best friend could see.

“It is that funny. Come on man, you sat on a knitting needle. Where did it bite you?” Gideon could barely keep his voice level.

Theo sighed. “On my upper thigh—”

Ella snatched the phone right out of his hand and started talking. “He almost stabbed his balls, Gideon. Oh my God, you should’ve seen his face!”

Theo grabbed the phone back. “Don’t listen to her. Just come and get me in an hour or so.” He thought about how long the waits were in the emergency room and reconsidered. “Better make that two hours.”

Gideon coughed, obviously hiding another laugh. “Okay, man. I’ll be there.”

Theo hung up without saying goodbye. “Are we there yet?” he asked, just to torture his sister. They were on the road to the hospital, but he knew they were at least ten minutes away. His sister tossed him a disgusted look. Theo gingerly touched the lump where he’d stuffed her favorite towel and winced. It was going to be a long afternoon.

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10.

Mid Week Tease #MWTease: Two strangers… Angel Shifters series

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This is my first time participating in the Mid Week Tease, hosted by the fantabulous Sandra Bunino! Thanks Sandra! Here’s my contribution, a little teaser from my latest release, Angel’s Shield:

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Charmeine stood at her back garden, watering her tomatoes in the dark when two men strolled into her yard. She froze, water still pouring from her hose.

“Easy miss,” one of them said gently. “Sorry to startle you.”

She frowned. Where have I heard that voice before?

“We’re just here for the trail shelter,” the second one explained, moving closer.

She squinted, telling her stupid heart to stop banging on her ribs. People come all the time to use the shelter, you ninny. She turned off the hose and backed up. “Hang on. I’m going to turn on the porch light,” she said. She should’ve done that when she’d first gotten home, but there had still been enough light to see the garden. The sun had set while she stood there, staring into the dirt. Sweat trickled down between her breasts and she resisted the urge to rub. The last thing she needed was for some strangers to see her touching herself. She stepped onto the step and reached for the light. The two men waited, like perfect gentlemen. When she flicked the switch, she gasped. The guys she’d served in the diner stood at the edge of her property. “Oh,” she said, like an idiot.

The dark-haired one grinned. “It’s our lovely server, from the restaurant.”

She blushed at the ‘lovely,’ but didn’t let it rattle her. “You’re here to use the shelter?”

The blonde— his name is Haniel, she reminded herself—nodded wearily.

“We’re pretty tired.” He looked around, then shrugged off his dusty backpack. “We won’t bother you. We just want to get some sleep.”

Charmeine bit the inside of her cheek, then made a split-second decision. The kind that drove her parents crazy before they’d died when she was eight. Her mother used to tell her that some day her luck would run out, but she couldn’t help it. She just knew things. Her grandmother always, always, understood. The old lady had told her it was part of her heritage, to follow her instincts and have her hunches proven right. And she was so lonely these days.

“You can stay in the house,” she said, stooping to coil up the hose. She smiled as they stared at her, dumbfounded. “I even brought your burgers home, if you’re still hungry.”

“Miss, we couldn’t impose like that,” Haniel said hurriedly.

“My name is Charmeine,” she replied.

The men exchanged looks. The dark-haired one stepped forward, holding out his hand. “I’m Jeremiel.”

She cocked her head. “That’s an angel’s name.” Her gaze flicked down to his arm where tattoos sprawled over his skin. A bandage marred the smooth lines, making her forget all about her suspicions. “Oh my God, are you okay?”

His hand didn’t waver. “I’m fine. It’s just a little cut.”

It didn’t look all that small to her. She glanced at his face. He was still smiling calmly. She slipped her hand into his, strangely uncertain, but the moment her fingers touched his skin all her worry fled. He felt good. Familiar. She didn’t want to let him go. Arousal slid through her, hot and strange, and she could tell he felt it, too, from the startled look on his face. He felt like… home. Which made no sense. She was already home. The other man had moved closer while they stood there. He smiled at her, too, but his held more teeth than kindness. She wasn’t sure if he knew how intimidating he looked.

“I’m Haniel.” He held out his hand.

She forced herself to let go of Jeremiel and put her palm against his friend’s. A jolt of heat shot through her, like she’d touched a live wire. She tried to pull away, but his fingers closed around hers, almost too tightly. Suddenly, she didn’t want him to let go. She didn’t want to move. She grabbed onto him just as hard as he held onto her and stared at his eyes, the hazel looking more brown than green in the dark. He felt like a promise already sealed, or the bit of excitement you feel when you step in for a kiss. He felt dangerous. Alluring.

She had no idea what the hell was happening.

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