Now we’re back to offer our weekly free Romance excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded High Risk Love, you’re in for a real treat:
Risks. Fear Nothing.
I live for the rush of adrenaline I get when I work my stunts. Nothing else matters but the feel of my heart pounding when I challenge the line between life and death. Women are nothing more than a distraction; they use me for my connections, as I use them to escape the pain of my past before moving on to my next adrenaline fix. My life is consumed with excitement, danger and risks–it’s all I needed.
Fear. The complete wrong time.
Jasmin and Jet will face off over photos, stunts and the truth hidden in their hearts. The last person Jasmin wants to be with is a man who takes life for granted. Jet wants to give his heart to no one; especially one who might not understand the secrets that haunt him. Despite their protests, Jasmin’s and Jet’s lives tangle; the threads of love and fear bind them. Between their passions and their pasts, they fight to hang onto each other . . . but will the stakes be too high when faced with the ultimate sacrifice?
This is a 75,000+ word novel.
** 18+ for adult situations, sexual situations and language.
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And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
Excerpt of “High Risk Love”
I sat in my hotel room, on the edge of my bed, buck naked and still too hot to sleep. The breeze blew in through the sliding glass door that led out onto the questionably safe balcony, but the night air did nothing to cool my skin.
Blame it on the heat or blame it on the small room and heavy blankets.
It wasn’t the nightmare, the memories I relived in my sleep. No, that was not why sweat slid down my spine, trickled down my chest and off my arms. I stood up, walked to the open door and looked out. The gulf was visible and the breeze off the ocean was good, headed straight in my direction.
Wide awake now, I let out a slow breath, bowed my chin to my chest and rubbed the back of my neck. Scars and secrets; I couldn’t escape either one.
Think about something else. Anything else.
“Jasmin.” I whispered her name. The scent of her lingered with me, a mixture of floral and earthy scents that had buried themselves in my brain. I thought back to the feeling of her hand in mine. Her small fingers in mine, curling up around my own, skin so soft—how many girls had I touched in my lifetime? I’d done far more than just held their hands and felt . . . nothing. Yet a simple touch and I’d immediately wanted more. Placing one hand on the edge of the doorway, I continued to stare out at the ocean as I thought about Jasmin, wondered if she was asleep now, or maybe she was awake like I was. Better yet, maybe she was thinking about me. I grinned, and then thought about that sweet Spitfire lying in bed, thinking about me, touching herself.
I let out a groan of torment as images assaulted me, like a movie I couldn’t, didn’t want to stop. Her hair would be spread out on a pillow, and she’d whisper my name as her fingers circled her moist wet center. Her other hand would find a nipple begging for attention, tugging on it lightly, she’d moan, her fingers speeding up as she stroked herself, faster, more frantic now. Her green eyes would dilate with lust, her body arching into her hand as the orgasm started to spin her out of control.
“Fuck,” I whispered, feeling out of control myself, my hand moving in a rhythm that wouldn’t take me long imagining her delicious tight—
The knock on the door snapped me out of my fantasy. “Who is it?” I barked, walking stiffly to the edge of the bed, scooping up my shorts and sliding them on though they were tented to the extreme.
Grumbling, I stomped over to the door and snapped it open, glaring. “What now?”
Hugh smiled at me. “Got a girl in there to go with that raging hard on?”
I glared at him, frustration mounting. “No. Thanks for asking. What the hell do you want in the middle of the god damn night? Surely not a booty call?”
Hugh batted his eyes and softened his voice into a high-pitched lisping falsetto. “For you maybe . . . stud muffin.”
He snapped a fist out and punched my shoulder. “Duty calls. Rodney decided at the last minute to do your scene at night. Thinks it’ll look better with the explosion.”
I banged my head into the door frame. “Seriously?”
“Hey, it’s not like you’re leaving an unlucky lady behind.”
I took a swing at him that he dodged easily, again laughing at me. “Come on, man. Get your clothes on and cover your raging dick. Nobody wants to see that. Well, maybe Elise does.”
With a flick of my wrist, I slammed the door in his face, smothering his continued laughter.
“Stupid Rodney Asher and his stupid ideas.” I turned on the overhead light and yanked on my clothes one piece at a time, every brush against my erection bringing it hard and ready with the merest hint of attention. Yeah, this was going to go just fucking dandy.
Grumbling all the way to the movie set, I thought about Jasmin as I walked. I’d promised her I wouldn’t seduce her, and if her job was on the line then it was a valid point. But how the hell was I going to be around her when the mere thought of her made me literally want to take matters into my own hands?
And while I thought I’d seen desire in her eyes, she’d made it clear she didn’t want me. Who could blame her really? A smart girl like that, what the hell would she want with a stuntman? What did I have to offer a girl like her anyway? If she wasn’t trying to make it on the big screen, there was nothing I could give. I wasn’t naïve enough to think I could protect her—after all, I hadn’t even been able to protect myself and Jasper. And I couldn’t even offer her the things a girl like her deserved; my time was barely my own the way I flew from set to set. What kind of life was that?
Nothing. Which was better anyway.
With my mood souring, my libido disappeared. Jasmin didn’t want me no matter how badly I wanted to see and feel her sweat soaked skin beneath me.
This was going to be a bitching tough week.
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Rodney kept us shooting until well past sun up, no matter that we’d pointed out it was no longer dark, hence the excuse that he wanted the explosion more visible against the night sky was a moot point. He waved us off.
I leaned back in the folding chair I’d plunked myself into, sunglasses on, ball cap twisted backwards as I tried to snag a few zzz’s.
A kid approached me, pimple-faced and wearing big thick horn-rimmed glasses. He held a camera up. “Mind if I take a few shots? It’s for my school newspaper.”
“Knock yourself out,” I said. The whir and click of the camera brought me upright, reminding me of a promise I’d made. I scrambled for my cell phone. 9:55.
“Shit.” I stood and waved at Hugh. “Be right back!”
Sprinting off the set and down the street, I dodged people and cars alike. I said I’d be there to escort her at ten, damn it. Breathing hard, I pushed myself faster, no longer tired from the long night of shooting. Across the street from Jasmin’s hotel I paused to catch my breath, hands on my knees. She was standing out front . . . waiting for me?
A smile crept over my lips as the wind caught the edge of her pale yellow sundress, swirling it around her lean thighs. She was wearing shades, flip flops, but no hat, and her camera was clutched in her hand, the strap wrapped around her wrist.
I drank her in, the sight of her giving me a not unpleasant shiver that ran the length of my body.
Checking the street, I crossed, catching her attention about halfway to her. She saw me and her face lit up, like . . . I meant something to her. My feet stopped where they were and I bathed in her smile, feeling it curve around me, warmer than the sun on my skin. God, how long had it been since a woman actually cared about me, didn’t want to use me for their own ends?
Fuck, what the hell was wrong with me? She was a photographer; she needed me to get her job done. This was a bad idea.
The blare of a truck’s horn snapped me out of my whatever-the-hell-I was-feeling and I dodged the pissed off driver with about half an inch to spare. I jogged the rest of the way across. Jasmin was pale when I reached her, almost green there was so little color in her face.
“Hey, you okay?”
“He almost hit you.” She clutched her camera, knuckles white.
“Yeah, but almost doesn’t count,” I answered, offering her my hand. She shook her head.
I fought the disappointment that coursed through me. You knew this going in today. She’s not for you. Not this girl. Get the fuck over it.
Jasmin walked beside me. “Are you feeling alright?”
I blinked, brought out of my thoughts. “Yeah, why?”
“You’re all sweaty. Like you’ve been running,” she said, arching an eyebrow at me. “Did you forget about me and have to run all the way?”
I splayed a hand against my chest and opened my eyes, wide and innocent like. “Me? Jet Sterling forget something as important as you? Never. I was . . . .” Crap, what was I doing then?
Her eyebrows seemed to arch even higher. “You were . . . .”
Think fast man. “A bee.”
“Yes, there was this bee, actually, a whole hive of them. You know, the killer bees? Well, I stumbled across a nest—”
“Here? At your movie set?” Her lips seemed to be quivering, and suddenly I felt the absolute need to make her smile. To hear her laugh again. Even at the expense of my own pride and ego.
“Well, no, not at the movie set. On the way to get you, this huge hive of bees attacked an old Mexican woman. She looked like a ninja swatting at them left,” I jabbed with my left, “right,” I crouched and threw an uppercut into the air.
Laughter spilled out of her. “And you had to help her?”
“Carried her on my back, all the way to her home, with the bees chasing us, of course. She gave me a tortilla in thanks.” I smiled, pleased with myself.
Jasmin chuckled. “You’re a terrible liar, you know that?”
“Actually, you’re the first person who’s ever said that. Ever.” God, how I wanted to grab her, pull her into my arms and kiss her until . . . until what? What was this damn fascination I had with the green-eyed beauty? There were more women out there than I could count, and any one of them would be happy to spend a night or two in my bed. But this one, I wanted her and she didn’t want me. Was that the draw? Had it been so long since I’d actually been denied that it was turning me on?
“I was thinking, if you don’t mind, we could do some pictures down at the beach,” she said, pointing to the path that would take us to the closest public beach. “If you’re okay with stripping down to your swim trunks, and maybe getting your jeans wet.”
“I’ll strip down to less than that for you,” I said, enjoying the blush that spread across her cheeks. Stilling the urge to trace the blush with my fingers, I gave her a wide grin. “But only if you want.”
She held up her hands. “I think we can pass on the full striptease. Save it for someone else, someone who wants it.”
Ouch. I must have made a face because she touched me on the arm, her eyes crinkling up with concern. “I didn’t mean it like that. I mean, there have got to be lots of girls that would want you to strip for them.” Her eyes widened, the color increasing in her cheeks “I mean . . . .”
Oh God, I was enjoying this. I just stared at her, let her dig the hole deeper. “You probably look great no matter what . . . .” She finally gave up, and just when it was about to get interesting. Damn.
She cleared her throat, then pointed at the set as we passed by. “Do you need to get your swim trunks, or let them know that you’re going to be a while?” Her words were rushed, as if that would hide her previous stuttering mess. Which I found charming. Charming?
“Jazzy, you know you are incredibly cute when you’re flustered,” I said, regretting the words even as I said them. How many times was I going to have to remind myself that she wasn’t for me? Damn it.
But she smiled, and then tears came to her eyes, confusing the hell out of me.
“Thanks.” Her pace picked up and I was left standing there, staring at the swaying back end of her again. I was more confused than ever. She called over her shoulder. “I’ll be setting up on the beach, you come when you’re ready.”
What had happened there? Why had she looked ready to cry? Crap, I did not need another emotionally unstable woman chasing me around. No more playing. Jasmin was off limits.
I jogged onto the set, checked in with Rodney, nodded at the pimple-faced teenager who held up his camera. “Catch me later, kid. I’ve got a date with a pretty lady.”
He frowned as I snatched a pair of swim trunks from the costume gals who tittered over my choice.
“Don’t you want to take the Speedo?”
Laughing, feeling the weight of the mask I had to wear even for them, I wagged a finger. “Nah, if I want to show that much skin I might as well just go in the buff. If I do, I’ll send someone to fetch you all, so you can watch.”
Leaving the giggling women behind, assured that my charm did work on some portion of the female population at least, I made my way to the beach. Standing on the edge where the brilliant white sand met the concrete path, I searched for my Spitfire. The thought rolled around in my head and it took me a moment to clue in to the words.
My Spitfire. Damn, I had to stop thinking about her. Period, end of story. No Jasmin for Jet.
Shit, maybe I was sick or something. Maybe I’d picked up a bug, eaten something off. The water, maybe that was it, I had been drinking the water, didn’t everyone say not to drink the water in Mexico? Yeah, that had to be it.
The wind blew straight off the ocean, bringing me a wash of salty air, hot sand and coconut sunscreen. But I couldn’t see Jasmin anywhere. Stepping off the path, I headed straight for the water, then stood with my head leaned back and considered shouting for her. A pale flash of yellow caught my eye at the far end of the beach.
There she was, squatting low, camera up as she took pictures of the local kids playing in the surf. They dodged and darted in front of her and she followed them, the camera a part of her.
Walking slowly, the sand pulling at my feet, I wove between the few blankets and towels on the beach until I stood a few feet behind her. She was laughing, her voice pairing with the kids squeals and swiftly chattered Spanish. Like music, it mesmerized me, and I stood there for a long time, just watching her, feeling like I was privy to something special.
To someone special.
I closed my eyes. Good God, I must have picked up something for me to be waxing poetic about a girl I barely knew, had only just met.
My eyes flew open and I smiled without thinking. “Waiting on you, Spitfire. You done playing?”
A soft smile curved one side of her full lips and my mind wandered once more into dangerous territory.
There was only one thing to do. With a rush, I scooped her up onto my shoulder and gave her a spin, much to the delighted kids who were now screaming encouragement.
“What are you doing, are you crazy?” She said, grasping my shoulders.
“That’s what the doctor says.”
She punched my arm, not hard, but I fell to the ground, pulling her on top of me, then I held up my hands. “Oh, God, I think you bruised me.” I looked up at her with one eye. “Kiss it better?”
Her response was to pull the camera out and start taking pictures, effectively blocking my attempt at charming her. Which was for the best anyway. She was right to push me away; something about her was too much, too intense. Not right for me. Though the flicker of desire in those green depths teased at me, and the feeling of her body quivering against mine in that split second before she scrambled away was almost enough to change my mind.
She was most definitely too good for me, without a doubt. I could acknowledge that, but with every moment I spent with her I became more and more convinced she wasn’t as immune to my charms as I’d thought. But that’s all it was, flirting, my usual, nothing more. This was fun, light.
I smiled, giving her a wink and the color rose up on her cheeks. Nope, there was no turning back, no way I’d quit flirting with her now, if nothing more than to see her squirm.
I wasn’t going to ease up.
Not for one second.
Once I had my camera up, I was safe, the lens blocking me from the way Jet’s eyes made me feel. The way his everything made me feel. Like I was losing a battle I didn’t even know I was fighting, a battle I didn’t even want to be in. His body had curved around mine in that moment he’d pulled me down on top of him, our skin touching here and there, his muscles moving against me; I shivered again. That wasn’t the worst of it though.
Jazzy. He’d used my nickname that in the past only Ryan had ever really used. It stung, a sharp barb of remembering what I’d lost. Yet at the same time it seemed to fit, a soft warmth over a deep hurt. How could I be so split, so divided over one man? This was surreal. It had to be Jet’s constant charm and flirting, I just wasn’t used to it. He would ‘break me in’ so to speak, get me used to the kind of men I would be dealing with from now on.
Gorgeous, sexy, dangerous men.
Maybe Kevin was right; maybe this was going to be too much for me. I squashed the traitorous, wimpy thoughts. No, that wasn’t me. I could do this with one hand tied behind my back.
Or your hands tied to a bed post?
I grit my teeth and directed Jet while continuing to take pictures. I had him lay down on his back, shirt off, arms behind his head. Sculpted pecs, abs and arms beckoned me to slide my fingers along their edges, to see if they were truly as defined as they looked. There were several scars across his ribs, faint, but they had obviously been deep when they’d happened judging from the thick white scar tissue. The edge of a tattoo peered at me from just under his belt, running along his pelvic bone by the angle of it. I couldn’t tell what it was, and damned if I didn’t suddenly, desperately want to know. His right nipple was pierced, a silver ring through it that caught the light here and there, winking at me, taunting me it seemed.
“That hurt?” I asked, motioning toward it.
Grinning, he nodded. “Only for a second; was worth it, especially seeing as the prettiest girls always notice it first.”
Caught in his gaze, my face heated as I thought about all the ways to explore his last words. The breeze tickled along my skin, whispering up my thighs under my sundress and suddenly the desire for Jet’s hands to replace the breeze gripped me.
I had to stop this, like now.
“Close your eyes,” I said and he did as he was told. I got several very good shots of him before he couldn’t seem to stand it any longer, opened one eye and smiled up at me. That smile was deadly, the pull of it seemed to start in my very core, dragging me toward him. He was far too dangerous. It would be so easy to let him touch me, help me ignore my life for a while. But that wasn’t fair, not to him or me. I wouldn’t use him as a balm to my grief and loneliness. I couldn’t seem to stop taking him in though, and not just because I was taking pictures of him. Every part of him was like a wicked bundle of temptation from the angle of his jaw, to his broad sun-kissed shoulders, lean hips and those eyes . . . those eyes would be the death of me. I just knew it.
Once we got the pictures done I could go, back home, back to my life, and forget about this stuntman with the teasing devil in his golden eyes. I had to, there was no other option.
It didn’t take long before we got into a steady rhythm of me directing and him listening. Jet was photogenic, but even with that we weren’t getting the pictures I wanted. There was no feeling to them, no emotion. Gorgeous as he was, something was missing. It was like he was hiding behind the smiles and the laughter; who he was really wasn’t coming through.
Sweat dripped down off my cheeks and chin in an extremely unladylike manner, the sun beating down on me. I’d brought sunscreen with me but it was confiscated at the airport and now I was suffering the consequence. Damn security processes, what did they think I was going to do with sunscreen? With my last $20 gone to bribe the security guard, I didn’t have the money to replace it.
“Why are you frowning?” Jet asked, lifting his eyebrows at me.
“Forgot my sunscreen,” I answered, pointing at the water, an idea and picture already formed in my head. “Time to get your jeans wet.”
Oh, maybe that wasn’t something the men would want to see, but I had a feeling I was going to bring scores of women to the magazine with Jet’s pictures. This should keep Kevin happy too. New subscribers had to be a good thing, right?
He sauntered down to the water, took two strides and dove in under the waves. Standing back up, the water sparkled as it flicked off him. He splashed at me and I stepped away, covering the camera.
“Hey, none of that or you’ll be buying me a new camera,” I said.
Laughing, he crooked his finger at me. “This is way too nice to be in here alone, you should come in with me.”
“Can’t.” I held the camera up, pointing at it with my other hand.
Picture after picture I took, feeling the need to get just the right shot. The perfect shot. The one that would clinch my job for me. It was eluding me though, just out of reach. Finally, I called it.
“That’s good for today, though I’m not quite ready to call this done.”
Jet stepped out of the water, shaking his head, his hair going every which way.
“Are you two wrapping things up? I thought we could all go for lunch together.”
I turned to see Hugh strolling toward us, an easy, open smile on his lips. Women’s heads turned as he passed and I could see the attraction to the tall, dark, and handsome man—I just didn’t feel it myself.
“I don’t know if I want to share you just yet,” Jet whispered into my ear, his sudden closeness and the coolness of his ocean-soaked skin against my sun-baked back made me jump. That was surely why I jumped. It had nothing at all to do with the shock of lust coiling through me, urging my hips backwards to bump into him.
“Yeah, lunch would be good, but I’ll have to pass,” I managed, stepping deliberately away from him. I didn’t want to tell them I couldn’t afford to go out. Even with the small advance Kevin had given me, I wasn’t sure what was okay for me to spend it on and what wasn’t. I was pretty sure sunscreen was out, but even using the money to eat out made me nervous.
“Ah, come on, I’ll even pay,” Jet offered almost as though he knew what I’d been thinking.
I took a moment, and then gave a nod. “All right, then I can get some dirt on you from your friend here, as after the bee story this morning I think it would be best if I have some outside information on you.”
Hugh frowned. “Bee story?”
Jet laughed and snatched my camera, despite my protests, and handed it to Hugh. “I’ll tell you all about it at lunch. Hold this would you?”
“Hey, you can’t have my camera!” I yelped, struggling to get at it, a fear that Hugh would drop it tangling the breath in my throat. I had no way to replace it if he so much as bumped it and the thing turned off or worse, wouldn’t turn back on. “Seriously, give it back!”
I wasn’t ready for what happened next, surprised at how fast Jet could move. With an easy scoop, he had me over his shoulder.
“No, I don’t want to get wet, I want my camera back!” I smacked his butt, my hand stinging on the wet jeans and hard muscle.
“Oh, baby, you know I like it rough.” He laughed, swatting my backside in response, but made sure to give me a squeeze too, his fingers kneading the curve of my ass.
I screeched a denial, both of his treatment of me and the hot burst of anger that shot through me as he threw me into the water. Closing my eyes and mouth, the salt water sluiced over me, soothing my scorched skin. He was right, this felt amazing on my overheated body and I floated under the waves for a moment before pushing to the surface.
The water was waist height when I stood up, and I smoothed my hair back, plucking at my sundress, still pissed off even thought the water felt good. “Seriously? You couldn’t take no for an answer?”
He splashed me. “Not lately.”
I glared at him. “Well, maybe you should try it on for size. Not everyone is here just for your pleasure.”
He didn’t seem perturbed by my attitude at all. In fact, he continued to smile. “Are you sure about that?”