Authors: Maggie Wells
by Maggie Wells
Copyright © 2011, Maggie Wells
Digital ISBN: 9781935817949
Published by Turquoise Morning Press
Turquoise Morning, LLC
P.O. Box 43958
Louisville, KY 40253-0958
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work, in whole or part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, is illegal and forbidden, without the written permission of the publisher, Turquoise Morning Press.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, settings, names, and occurrences are a product of the author's imagination and bear no resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, places or settings, and/or occurrences. Any incidences of resemblance are purely coincidental.
This edition is published by agreement with Turquoise Morning Press, a division of Turquoise Morning, LLC.
Erotic romance novelist Sara Wright yearns for passion that leaps from the page. After a marriage that proved to be more fizzle than sizzle, Sara’s writing reflects her growing frustration and also her secret passion for her best friend and muse, Steve Larson.
Steve Larson is anything but your typical romance hero. A redheaded computer nerd with a slow, southern drawl, Steve is neither a cattle baron nor a titan of industry. The one thing he does have going for him is that he has loved Sara from the moment he met her.
When she confesses that he has long served as her inspiration, Steve leaps at the chance to take things to the next level. Determined to be the man to make her fantasies come true, he takes a page from Sara’s own books and plots a passion so intense it threatens to consume them and the friendship they both cherish.
When friends turn into lovers, love can get lost in the shuffle. Fact becomes tightly cocooned in fiction as both Sara and Steve learn to balance their desires with the needs of their hearts.
The scene should have been perfect. All systems should have been a go. She’d planned everything down to the last detail. The heat was kicked up to ward off the chill of fast-approaching winter. Every surface of the room was cleaned and de-cluttered, the victims of ruthless swipes of her dusting cloth. From the iPod in the docking station, Norah Jones begged someone to turn her on. Hell, she’d even lit a candle. All in all, it was a seamless setting for a seduction which appeared to be completely stalled.
Sara glared at the blank page on her monitor, and the field of white glared back—glowing at her, taunting her with its pristine perfection. Her eyebrows rose as she leaned forward, ready to answer the page’s unspoken challenge. With four quick keystrokes, she typed ‘cock’. Sara leaned back in her chair, a triumphant smile curving her lips. The smile faded when she realized she half-expected the computer to retaliate.
After checking the empty doorway to be sure no one witnessed her moment of madness, Sara slumped in her computer chair. Her toes found purchase on the floor, and she began to swivel. The swivel used to drive Adam crazy; she loved making him crazy. It took a hell of a lot of effort to get her ex-husband worked up over anything.
Now she struggled to get herself worked up. Sara’s jaw tightened. She gave her head a shake and leaned forward in her chair. She was supposed to be writing a romance, not dissecting her failed marriage. Resolved to tackle this thing head on, she twisted her dark blonde hair into a knot at the back of her head and secured the bundle with a pencil from the cup on her desk.
She deleted the word ‘cock’ then opened the header on the document, intent on getting down to business. As she typed her pen name, ‘Sara Sloane’, she couldn’t help but wonder if her readers would still be intrigued by her stories if they ever met the mess of a woman behind the computer.
The blinking cursor taunted her while she tried to will the words to come. Sara always started with the love scenes—or smut, as she preferred to call the steamier scenes. The smut was her thing, and according to her agent, the reason a woman would choose her book over dozens of others. But at the moment, the smut wouldn’t come.
Sara snorted and settled back in her chair. “No pun intended,” she muttered.
She stared at the ceiling, trying to think sexy thoughts.
A deep, rumbling laugh. Soft, ragged breaths. Hot, slow, wet kisses. Taut, hard muscles bunching under creamy skin. Thick, rich auburn hair clenched between her fingers...
Sara flung herself forward in the chair, almost panting as she glared at the blank monitor. She tried to blink away the picture of her best friend’s blinding white smile, but it wouldn’t go.
Stop, stop, stop that!
The teetering stack of books on the shelf above her desk shifted when she pushed away. Her latest release tumbled over the edge, landing on her keyboard and making her jump. Sara glowered at the dark-haired hero on the cover. The guy was all wrong for her story.
The raven-haired rake whose hands splayed possessively over the female model’s bare back was not at all the man she envisioned when she wrote the book. At the time, the cover suited her just fine, but now the arrogant set of the model’s jaw reminded her too much of her ex-husband.
Adam didn’t grace these pages. Her ex didn’t have enough imagination to set this or any other heroine on fire.
Sara bit her lip. A swarm of hummingbirds took flight in her stomach. She pressed one hand to her belly to quell them. This had to stop. It wasn’t fair. She’d almost convinced herself that the words flowed so easily before because the words had been taboo—
was taboo. Her hero’s true inspiration was her secret, but now Sara was all too aware the taboo no longer existed.
I’m free. He’s free. We can be anything we want to be to one another.
She snatched the book from the keyboard and shoved it onto the shelf. Her fingertips played over the spines of her other titles—six in total. The seventh would hit the shelves within a month, and once again her best friend, Steve, would be an unsuspecting star.
Steve Larson didn’t fit the image of the typical romance novel hero. He wasn’t a wealthy cattle rancher, or a ruthless corporate titan. He didn’t have flowing jet-black hair, piercing blue eyes, or a jaw carved out of granite. To be honest, he was one of those men you have to look at twice to realize he’s so much more than just another attractive man. Yet, Steve had played a starring role in almost every book she’d written. He just didn’t know it.
His presence wasn’t particularly commanding. At least, not at first glance. Sure, at six-foot-five Steve towered over most people, but his easy-going smile put most everyone at ease. He wasn’t a ruthless businessman, but he and his partners worked hard, and the computer consulting firm they started five years before was thriving. His natural charm and the dregs of a southern drawl leftover from his childhood in Virginia were a winning combination, both with clients and most every woman he’d ever met.
Every woman. She dropped into her chair, and the swiveling began again. As his friend, Sara was aware that he dated. Steve dated a lot. So much, that she once teased him about trying to conquer Christendom with his endless parade of Christies, Kirstens, Crystals, and Kristines.
At first, probably because she was so blinded by her ex-husband’s superficial grace and sophistication, Sara had been a little shocked to discover the super-model caliber of women Steve attracted. Once she got to know him better, she understood his allure. Sadly, by then she was already married and just self-aware enough to know that though she was attractive, she didn’t believe she had what it took to topple the competition.
She wondered if he let those women know what a geek he truly was, or if he kept his
obsession carefully concealed under his tailored suits. She figured he probably kept those little factoids under wraps for a while, at least until he was ready to cut his woman-of-the-moment loose. Keeping his mouth shut about his latent nerdiness would be a good dating tactic on his part.
“So say we all,” Sara murmured, staring at the blank wall above her desk.
No, Steve wasn’t typical in the least. His auburn hair defied categorization, even if one had a Pantone color wheel on hand. Instead of the rippling bulk of sun burnished skin so popular in romance culture, Steve’s skin was as translucent as milk glass. His brown eyes sparkled—shockingly dark and beautifully expressive. To Sara, they were the human embodiment of a warm, melting Hershey’s bar when it’s sandwiched between graham crackers and a toasted marshmallow.
A tiny groan tangled in her throat. Sara shook her head, trying to dislodge the tantalizing image she had conjured. It was no use. Sara couldn’t deny it any longer—she wanted Steve. Wanted him so badly she could almost taste him.
I hope he tastes like chocolate….
She sat up straighter and grabbed a pen and legal pad, determined to sort her ping-ponging thoughts out once and for all. Sara knew on some level she’d wanted Steve while she’d been married to Adam. In the year since her divorce became final, the want grew more pervasive and insistent. So insistent, that she’d been avoiding Steve for weeks.
The surge of lust she battled each time she was near the man who had always been nothing more than a friend frightened her. She didn’t trust herself to keep her hands off of him and Sara couldn’t stand the thought of Steve becoming anything less than her friend—her best friend.
In their eight years of friendship, Sara shared more of herself with Steve than she had with anyone else in the world. She was pretty sure she was the only woman he spoke to at length about the dangers of violating The Prime Directive when exploring strange, new worlds. She knew he had a replica of Captain Kirk’s Starfleet shirt in his closet because she’d given it to him, and Steve knew her fancies and foibles. He was acquainted with most of the skeletons in her closet—he just didn’t know he was the secret to her success.
Sara stared at the empty page, knowing this avoidance scheme wasn’t working either. She missed him. She wanted to soak up his bright smiles and feel the rumble of his deep chuckles rather than hear them through a telephone line. She needed to see him. She ached to bask in the golden flame of attraction that sometimes flared in his eyes and made her pulse quicken.
She tossed the pad and pen aside and closed her eyes. His warm hands splayed over her bare back. She could feel her hair spilling over her shoulders like the heroine on the book cover, the ends teasing the facile fingers digging into her skin. She pictured herself surrendering to his plundering kisses, arcing into the heat of his palms, and quivering like a leaf beneath the weight of his long, lean body.
Sara opened her eyes and sat up with a jolt. The corner of her cell phone peeked from beneath a stack of papers, calling to her as if the damn thing dialed itself. She couldn’t go on like this. Being near him was torture, and staying away from him unbearable. Galvanized by the hot rush of arousal flooding her veins, she snatched the phone from the desk.
When he answered, she smiled and said, “Hey.” A blush warmed her cheeks as she caught the faint, husky timbre of her own voice.
“Hey! I was beginning to think you’d forgotten all about me.”
Sara didn’t need to close her eyes to imagine the teasing smile that seeped into his words. “Never. I’ve never known anyone else who looked so much like Richie Cunningham.”
“Ouch. First she ignores me, then she gets abusive.”
Sara laughed. “What are you doing?”
“I’m working,” he said dryly. “Shouldn’t you be working, too?”
She heaved a heavy sigh. “I’m wrestling with my muse.”
“Tell Sharon Stone she should be more cooperative, or no one will hire her.”
“My muse is not Sharon Stone.”
“You picture your muse the way you want to, I’ll picture your muse how I see fit,” he muttered. “Besides, she should be thankful for the gig. She hasn’t made a decent movie since
The faint drawl that tinged his voice sent a shiver down her spine. Taking a deep breath, Sara straightened her spine. “So, are you busy tonight? Do you want to come over and watch a movie?”