The Myths of Working from Home by Liana Brooks

If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “It must be so nice to do nothing all day and just sit at home!” I could actually sit home all day doing nothing.

America’s office culture makes most social interactions for a writer weird.

Them: “So, where do you work?”

Me: “I work at home.”

Them: “Oh, like, massage therapy or something?”

Me: “No, I actually write books.”

Them: “Oh…” *long and unhealthy pause* “Like TWILIGHT or like dinosaur erotica? I mean, not that I’m judging or anything, but is it angsty teen vampires or dino peen? ’cause I’m tweeting this and people want to know.”

Yeah, it’s awkward.

Of course there’s the people on the other side of the fence. The ones who know I write books.

Them: “It must be so great to be a writer and do nothing all day but create!”

Me: “Yeah, it’s really fun. I love my job!”

Them: “You know, I’m going to write a book too one day.”

Me: “That’s awesome!”

Them: “I can’t right now because I have a kid, and well, you probably don’t know what it’s like having kids at home. Or friends. Or a social life. But I’m way too busy to write books!”

*awkward pause as one of my four kids comes up to demand my attention*

Me: “Oh, those gosh darn kids. I can see why no one with children has ever written a book. Ever. At all. I may be lying…”

When you become a successful writer (or even a desperately-working-to-become-a-successful-household-name writer) people like to come up to you and ask what your schedule is. If you go to Google you can search for daily habits of famous authors.

10am – morning whiskey and eggs

11am to 3pm – write

3:15pm – adulterous affair with parlor maid

3:30 pm to 6pm – read newspaper

6pm – supper with other gentlemen of means

7pm – diatribe about women getting above their place and acting like humans

8pm to 11pm – objectify women and criticize their clothing

12am – try on women’s drawers

1am – dual with Lord Soinso on Parliament lawn wearing skirts

3am – fall in bed in drunken stupor

At least I assume that’s how all the literary greats lived out their days. They certainly didn’t spend them raising children, at least not according to their diaries. I dunno… there’s this assumption that men who write have a loving (possibly wealthy) wife who handles the domestic and wordly affairs while they commune with their muse (usually in the form of alcohol), and that women who write are either spinsters (looking at you Jane), childless, or older women with no familial obligations. This is based largely on the very outdated and misogynistic idea that a man’s parental duty ends at conception and that women with children can’t think about anything but diapers.

This attitude more than anything accounts for all the “I want to write a book but I’ve never found the time…” daydreamers in the world.

If you keep telling someone they can’t do something they’ll eventually believe you.

Let’s bury those myths and mountains, shall we?

Myth #1: You need to be independently wealthy to write

… lies! Most authors are either supported by a significant other or a full-time job, but very few of them are trust fund babies rolling in money. Some of the most famous authors you know were single parents and working poor when their first book came out.

Myth #2: You’ll never find time to write if you have kids

… lies! I four kids and I still find time. More to the point I make time to write. The real difference between daydream and reality here is that the people who get things done make the time to do it. If writing is important to you, you will find time to write, even if it’s sending yourself 15 minutes worth of badly spelled writing you typed out on your phone on a bumpy bus ride into work.

Myth #3: The only way to make money publishing is to know someone

… lies! Unless you’re talking about knowing yourself. That much you need to have. Know what you love, know how much work you can reasonably put into self-promotion, know your limits, and know your strengths. Line those up the right way and you can do anything.

Myth #4: There is only One True Path to publishing and it is __________

… lies! Self-publishing, publishing with a small press, and publishing with a big press are all fabulous options. What works for you isn’t what works for anyone else. What works for one book of yours may not work for your next book. Research all avenues of publication and then decide where you belong.

Myth #4: If I don’t have my family’s support I can’t write

… lies! Mostly. Listen, in April my 8th title comes out. Since 2009 I’ve published three novellas, four short stories, and in April my first novel comes out. Guess how many of those titles my parents have bought or read? Mind you, several of those short stories are free. Go on. Guess… did you guess zero?

Guess how many books my loving and supportive spouse of thirteen years has read (he doesn’t buy them because I load them on the e-reader for free)? He’s read two.

There are different kinds of support. It’s hard to write if your spouse/roommate/lover/kids/whoever shares the house with you doesn’t give you time and space to write. It’s frustrating when they question why you’re wasting your time, or ask when you’ll get a real job. But you don’t need them cheering you on. There are amazing online writing resources for authors of all ages. There are strong writing communities on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other social media sites (check out the #amwriting hashtag sometime). You can get feedback from writing communities like Absolute Write and Critique Circle.

In a perfect world your family would fully understand what you do, buy all your books, and expertly critique your work. In a less than perfect world you have to make do with what you have. Tell your loved ones that writing makes you happy and healthy, ask for 30 minutes a day (or make that time when they aren’t around), and get the rest of your support from the community of writers that is already out there and ready to cheer on new authors.

What does my day look like? It’s getting up hours before dawn (less impressive now that I live in Alaska), getting four kids out the door for school, entertaining the 3-year-old, walking the dog, dodging moose, cleaning house, running errands, volunteering for local charities, emailing people about a million crazy things, spending far too much time on Twitter (@LianaBrooks), making a to-do list before I go to bed, and carving out time to write every day, plus edits as needed. A majority of my day is spent thinking about books, but not doing any physical writing. I plot things while I clean the kitchen. I make up dialog while I’m waiting at the school carpool line. I scribble down ideas for scenes on my to-do list so that when I wake up the next morning I can write my 1000 words for the day without hesitation.

Next time you’re facing your Wall of Nope, kick it on down and remember that when you want something, nothing can stop you.

So, what are you going to create today?

Liana

 ***

evenvillainshaveinterns_600x900Bootleggers, drug dealers, crooked cops, and dirty politicians… Chicago has always had a reputation for indulging in the finer vices of life. That’s why Doctor Charm’s favorite daughter found America’s second city so appealing—criminals are never boring. As second in command for the powerful Subrosa Security group, Delilah Samson finds opportunities to use her superpowers at every turn. Whether it’s stealing a priceless French painting from a mobster or stopping a drug deal, she’s game.

In fact, the only thing she doesn’t care for is Chicago’s favorite native son, Deputy Mayor Alan Adale, the man who made Lucifer jealous. Sinfully handsome, or possibly just sinful, Adale has been pursuing Delilah since she first arrived, and she’s been dodging.

When she finds ties between the new kingpin in town and a drug The Company wants to buy so they can create more superheroes, Delilah takes the gloves off. Teaming up with the spooky Spirit of Chicago, she aims to take down the dealers, the mobsters, the kingpin, and The Company. All without falling in love with the one man capable of capturing her heart.

Buy: Even Villains Have Interns (Heroes and Villains Book 3)

***

Liana Brooks would like to SCUBA dive Europa (that moon around Jupiter), but with the NASA shuttle program shut down she’s resorted to writing science fiction instead.  She likes southern beaches, warm weather, sharks, and striped socks.

Her superhero romance series started with Even Villains Fall in Love and continues with Even Villains Go To The Movies and Even Villains Have Interns. For those who prefer their romance without a side order of spandex she’s written PRIME SENSATIONS (part of the Tales From the SFR Brigades anthology) and FEY LIGHTS. Her first novel, THE DAY BEFORE, is coming out April 28th and is available for pre-order anywhere e-books are sold.

You can find Liana on the web at www.lianabrooks.com, on Twitter as @LianaBrooks, or on Face Book under the same name.

Top Ten Ways to Procrastinate When You Should Be Writing

*Waves* Hi y’all. I’m Lee Brazil, author of m/m romance with Breathless Press, Story Orgy, Pulp Friction and Evernight. I’ve been a professional writer for about three years now. Maybe longer if you count the fact that I started writing in 2010. I didn’t get paid for it then, though. Didn’t actually get my first royalty check until mid-2011. In all that time of writing, I’ve produced a lot of books.

But I’ve also spent a lot of time nto producing anything.

I’ve come to consider myself an expert at procrastinating when I should be writing. I have a variety of stall tactics that I employ on a regular basis. When inspiration isn’t striking… and writer’s block is impending, sometimes it’s easier just to not sit down at the computer and work at all.

So, here are my Top Ten Procrastination techniques, in no particular order, just in case you need to stall for time when you should be producing words on the page.

  1. This works great, especially if you, like me, live in an old house and have to wait for the hot water to heat up. It also comes with a neat little series of side distractions… like suddenly realizing that you really should refold and stack the linens in the closet.
  2. Get the mail. I love this one. I have a post office box in town, so getting the mail can take me a full hour or more. Even better if I bump into an acquaintance who wants to chat about the unusual winter weather we’re having, the incredibly low price of a gallon of gas, and the sad performance of the Denver Broncos in the last game.
  3. Walk the dog. She actually hates this, because she has to stay by my side the whole time when she’d rather be off running in the woods and scaring up the wild turkeys, or chasing down a deer.
  4. Bake something. Like brownies. Or cookies. Muffins are good. Then you have to clean up the kitchen. Maybe even take out the trash… sample the goods.
  5. Read a book. This actually counts as work. SCORE! It’s research… or market sampling if you read in your genre. Necessary, and exemplary even.
  6. Clean your desk. It’s such a mess, how can anyone work in a messy environment?
  7. Check your email. Fifteen times should do it. Just in case something urgent shows up in there.
  8. You need to promote, right? And interact…and look at cute videos of cats and pictures of shirtless guys.
  9. Beware. This one can be very, very time consuming. I’ve gone to Pinterest with the best of intentions and wound up hours later having added dozens of margarita recipes to my Great Margarita Quest Board, when I know darn well I’m only going to try one new one over the weekend.
  10. Text From Dog. Hysterical.

What about you? How do you not write when you should be?

Lee

***

The Ice King 200x300CPA Rafe Montaigne’s day is heading downhill fast and he hasn’t even had a decent cup of coffee yet. What could make it worse? A secretary in a snit.

Elian is efficient, attractive and cold as ice toward his boss, and he has been since Rafe’s ex stopped by the office.

Rafe is a sophisticated player, a businessman who knows how to have fun and he’s not particular about whether his playmates are male or female.

It seems Elian isn’t quite so indiscriminate… What’s a boss to do when his secretary won’t play nice?

Buy: The Ice King

***

I found myself between the pages of books, and that is why I write now. It’s why I taught English and literature for so many years, and it’s why my house contains more pounds of books than furniture.

If I’d had my way, I’d have been a fencer…or a starship captain, or a lawyer, or a detective solving crimes. But instead, I am a writer, and I’ve come to realize that’s the best thing in the world to be, because as a writer, I can be all those things and more.

CONTACT LINKS: FB http://www.facebook.com/lee.brazil

Blog http://leebrazilauthor.blogspot.com/

Wedding Belle Blues by Mia Epsilon

Hello, I’m Mia Epsilon, wildly excited about the PRINT release of my book Wedding Belle Blues. I write contemporary romance, love almost every minute of it and also love to read.

How Much is Too Much?

I’ve always wondered just exactly how much detail my writing should contain. I mean, I want it to be believable, sure, so readers don’t feel yanked out of the story or worse, can’t ‘see’ what’s happening. But I also don’t want to gross anyone out or worse, bore them to sleep. Plus, let’s face it, some real life things we don’t want to talk about let alone read in our chosen method of escape. So how ‘real’ should it be and how much is too much detail?

I’ll start with an example from my upcoming print release Wedding Belle Blues. The heroine is planning a wedding and shopping for a wedding gown. I spent hours looking at pictures of wedding gowns and drooling over details. I wanted the readers to be right there with Anna as she struggles to find THE dress. But I didn’t want my readers to give up reading in disgust over numerous discussions and descriptions of sweetheart shaped necklines, A line skirts, and mermaid, trumpet, or ball gown styles. I think the resulting scene is a good compromise of detail to ‘see’ without going so overboard we all get buried in lace and tulle.

As a reader of historical romance, I like to get the jest of what’s being worn without having a history lesson. I finished a book before the holidays where the author described in minute detail each item of clothing the heroine wore. If you’ve never read historical romance, know up front the women didn’t just throw on jeans and a T shirt and head out. They had corsets and stockings and under things, loads and loads of under things. When I read, it’s fine for the author to mention the heroine had petticoats and corset and such. But not every single detail. I actually had to look up a few of the terms because I’d never heard of them before. Needless to say, it yanked me completely from the story and I never really got back into it. It was a great shame and disappointment because the plot and characters had grabbed my attention.

Also, when I read a contemporary romance, I really do not want to read how the heroine deals with, um, how’s the best way to say this, ‘that time of the month’. I really, really don’t. I don’t mind hearing, “Yuck, it’s that time, my stomach has a mac truck driving through it, and damn if I didn’t use the last tampon so now I have to go to the store when I really just want to curl up and feel sorry for myself”. I do NOT want to hear all the details. I read to escape, not to be faced with the crap I’m reading to escape.

When I read future and fantasy, I want enough to make the world seem I’m living in it without so much I fall asleep getting the details. I mean, let’s be honest, I adore the Lord of The Rings movies. But trying the read the book is like slugging through mud wearing one hundred pounds of wet wool clothes with your shoe laces tied together. There’s just so much detail the characters take a backseat to the world. It’s off putting. I want to know what Frodo and friends are doing, not every elven blade of grass they are seeing.

So in short, for my writing, a reader gets enough to describe what’s happening around the characters or what they are experiencing without losing them in the details. At least, I hope they do. What do you feel is too much when you’re reading?

Mia

***

weddingbelleblues_200x300Anna is planning the perfect wedding, but she doesn’t anticipate her future mother-in-law’s offer of help’ which translates into take over. Her groom-to-be avoids her and insists their growing problems are just ‘bridal nerves’. Worst of all, her best friend, Robin, begins to act strange. Everyone around her has his or her own agenda. What’s a girl to do when she begins to realize the perfect life she envisioned is all a lie?

Robin has two great loves in his life: his best friend Anna and his motorcycle. Not one to make a scene, he supports Anna in her plan to marry the wrong man and regrets she can’t accept his ‘dare devil’ lifestyle. But when push comes to shove, he’s more than willing to make the necessary sacrifice and prove he is the man she needs.

As the wedding date nears and plans shift into high gear, Robin and Anna grow closer and not just as friends. Each must decide what the perfect life truly means while trying to negotiate the maze of wedding plans, secrets, and hidden motives. Will someone be left singing the blues?

Buy: Wedding Belle Blues

Author Bio:

Mia Epsilon lives with her ever patient soul mate in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Appalachian Mountains. She’s an avid reader with too many favorite authors to name. Mia is a huge Doctor Who fan and happily suffers a chocolate addiction.

Mia can most often be found at her computer spinning new tales or in a quiet padded nook (a nook, she swears, not a padded room) with her e reader. She’s currently hard at work on her series ‘Weddings by C & C’ and trying to build its reputation from ‘just another wedding story’ to ‘OMG you have GOT to read this book!’

Social Media Links:

Blog

Face Book: MiaEwrites

Twitter: Mia Epsilon @MiaEpsilon

Google+: Mia Epsilon

Goodreads: Mia Epsilon

 

Casting the Spotlight on Liana Brooks

Liana Brooks  Liana Brooks would like to SCUBA dive Europa (that moon around Jupiter), but with the NASA shuttle program shut down she’s resorted to writing science fiction instead. She likes southern beaches, warm weather, sharks, and striped socks. Her superhero romance series started with Evan Villains Fall in Love and continues with Even Villains Go to the Movies. For those who prefer their romance without a side order of spandex she’s written Prime Sensations (part of the Tales From the SFR Brigades anthology) and Fey Lights.

You can find Liana on the web at www.lianabrooks.com, on Twitter as @LianaBrooks, or on Facebook under the same name.

***

EvenVillansMoviesPRfront_200x300When your mother is America’s Superhero Sweetheart and your daddy’s the Number One Super Villain, you grow up feeling a little conflicted.

Angela Smith has superpowers—nothing that will ever make her comic-book famous—but her ability to psychically sense and manipulate the emotions of people around her has drawn unwanted government attention. Forced to choose between her quiet life as a teacher under constant surveillance or the life of a rogue, she chooses the latter. She plans to hide out in sunny Los Angeles where being a blue-eyed blonde won’t make anyone bat a false eyelash.

Silver screen star by day, superhero by night, Arktos is a triple-threat. He can fly, freeze anything, and see glimpses of the future, all of which he needs to keep the city of Los Angeles safe, but which does nothing for his social life. When a frightening vision of an explosion leads him to rescue a damsel in distress, he finds himself trading Shakespearean insults with a rogue.

Angela knows just how dangerous well-intentioned superheroes can be: one tried to kill her family when she was young. Arktos knows he should hand the rogue over to Company justice; it’s not safe for someone like her to be in the middle of a fight.

But they can’t seem to stay apart. And together, they just might be able to melt all the obstacles standing between true love for a hero and a villain.

Buy: Even Villains Go To The Movies (Heroes and Villains Book 2)

***

Angela tossed the red curls of her wig and parked Luiz’s bike in the alley behind the conference center. She hadn’t put on her Rage getup since arriving in L.A., but tonight the mental screams of terror echoing from the center warranted the kind of investigation that would attract questionable attention.

Tight black jeans, a bright red tank top that matched her hair, and a leather duster that was too heavy for the L.A. heat were a start. She’d added a black domino mask that obscured the shape of her nose and cheekbones when she’d moved to New York, because no one needed to see their favorite school teacher beating down the local thugs. The heart and star pendant around her neck— a little invention of her Daddy’s that would shield her from most things—completed the outfit.

The “most” still worried her some days.

Terror radiated from the building, escalating until the headache tearing into her brain was a living fire. Whatever was happening, she would hit back. Hard.

Checking to make sure the alley was empty, Angela sauntered toward the back door and hoped someone inside had been kind enough to leave it open. More often than not the people hired to cater at these places would stick a rock in the door to keep it from locking every time they slipped out for fresh air.

If not she could always pick the lock. Angela sighed. The whole point of moving away from her sisters was to avoid a life filled with crime and superheroes.

Angela reached for the door and someone hit her. A breeze ruffled her wig and she found herself on her back in the alleyway, staring up at a masked man. No hate tainted the aura around him, nothing that suggested that he was dangerous except that he was bigger than her.

She raised an eyebrow. “Hello?”

The man took a deep breath. “Hi.” He smelled like mint.

“I’m new to the area, so I’m not familiar with the protocol when you’re jumped by a masked man in an alleyway. Is there a secret handshake or something?” she asked, sarcastically.

“I’m here to save your life.”

Angela looked around for signs of danger. The man was the only thing in the alley, and he was cradling her, hand cushioning her head, muscular arms suspending him in a pushup so his body weight wasn’t resting on her.

“Right. What danger am I in, exactly?”

“The door is going to explode and kill you,” he said in a very serious tone.

She lifted her head to peer over his shoulder at the door. It was a mistake. The movement meant gyrating under him in his spandex suit, and she caught a whiff of cologne, soap, and clean sweat. His emotions shifted, becoming tinged with desire and arousal.

Angela cleared her throat and lay back down, trying to put space between herself and her captor. “Mm hmm. Tell you what, let me up and I’ll help you find your doctor. I bet someone is very worried about you missing your medicine.”

Buy: Even Villains Go To The Movies (Heroes and Villains Book 2)

Scarlett Legacy by Shelli Rosewarne

Hi all.

It’s wonderful to be here today with my new release, Scarlett Legacy. It’s a paranormal romance, inspired by the fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood – but this one is definitely not for children! Now, my Big Bad Wolf is bad in a whole different way, so I thought I would share a few mini excerpts, as well as my top ten reasons why the poor wolf is just misunderstood, and is actually much more fun than Prince Charming any day!

  1. Wolves can play the hero too. Well, sort of!

She was lost, he realized. Well, that was just perfect. His teeth bared in a wicked smile, he could go and “rescue” her. She would think he was Prince Charming when actually he was the big bad wolf.

  1. You can still get the honest-to-goodness castle (come on, be honest, wasn’t that half the Prince Charming appeal?). This Big Bad Wolf has obviously moved up in the world!

Grey stone rose up from the thick trees, topped with actual turrets and what looked like a round tower on one side. The tower and roofs were a reddish slate and the only windows she could see on the upper levels were narrow slits. It was incredible, like something out of a fairytale, or a gothic novel, and for a long moment Natalia simply gaped at in surprise and amazement. Wow.

  1. If you’ve ever loved wolves, you get to go up-close-and-personal with your own one. Cool, if a little scary? Besides, it’s like getting a two in one deal – who doesn’t love a bargain?

Eventually she had to shift, her cramped muscles protesting at her, and he shook himself like a dog and jumped to his feet. Natalia couldn’t stop staring at him in wonder. It was just so unreal. She had always adored wolves at the zoo and on television, so in one way it was crazy to be so close to one, and then even crazier to think it was actually a person. She shook her head. This had to be one of the oddest nights of her life.

  1. No one messes with his woman. Who doesn’t go gooey for a bit of alpha male?

Damian slowly crouched down next to the man, aware that the village street had gone eerily still. Any number of wolves would back him in an instant but it wasn’t needed. Kevin’s crisp shirt was muddied, his immaculate hair mussed, and the man looked ridiculously pathetic as he sat gasping in the dirt. Damian calmly let the wolf rise, let the other man see the animal lurking behind his eyes, and when Kevin cringed back in fear, Damian spoke, “That was for cheating on Natalia. If you ever hurt her again, I will kill you. Do you understand?”

  1. He can still be a big softie at times (just don’t tell anyone!).

“You’re actually here,” she whispered, complete disbelief in her voice. “You came.”

“I said I would,” he replied and, because he couldn’t stop himself from touching her, ran his finger down the petal soft skin of her cheek. Lightly tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear, he looked down at her. Her eyes closed a moment, and when she opened them again, they were watery.

“Why would you do that?”

He was surprised she’d asked why rather than how, but he answered her as honestly as he could. “Because I couldn’t not do.”

  1. What a deep voice you have! The better to greet you with.

His voice was deep, rich, with a slight accent running through it. She could feel it rubbing down her spine like velvet.

I am a total sucker for a deep voice, throw in the accent too and I’m a puddle on the floor.

  1. What big eyes you have. The better to see you with.

He was tall, taller than her, which was a rarity. Kevin had always complained that she towered over him when she wore heels, but this man had a good foot on her! He obviously worked out; camouflage combat pants encased long legs and a knitted sweater clung to broad shoulders and what she could tell was a defined chest even through the layers. Jet black hair hung in surprisingly shaggy locks to his shoulders, but it suited him, framing a rugged face with chiseled features and the strangest eyes she’d ever seen—a deep amber color that seemed to hold her mesmerized.

Hmm, yes please! Now, what was I saying?

  1. What big hands you have! The better to grab you with.

Now, even putting aside the theory about big hands, who doesn’t want to be grabbed by a rather yummy wolf.

            He returned her kiss with equal fervor and lifted her out of the folds of her dress and flipped her onto her stomach over a nearby tree trunk. For a moment, she squeaked in protest and then he pushed down on her back with one large hand, while with the other he slid two fingers deep inside her slick center.

  1. What a big mouth/teeth you have! The better to eat you with.

*ahem* yeah, I’m not going there! Use your imagination.

Now, you may have noticed I’ve only got to number nine there – so help me out! What do you think would be the best thing about the Big Bad Wolf. Bonus points if you can sneak a bad pun in there J Or if you can’t think of one, just share with me your favourite fairytale and what you like about it.

Thanks loads for having me today – and I really hope I’ve converted you a little to the benefits of my wolves! If you want to catch up with me elsewhere, I’m on:

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shelli-Rosewarne/364962230246715

Twitter – @shellirosewarne

Blog – http://shellirosewarne.wordpress.com

***

ScarlettLegacy_200x300Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

When Natalia rents a holiday cottage she is looking for peace and quiet. A place to reassess her life and recover from her failed relationship. Instead, she finds a man who turns her world upside down.

However, people and things are not as they seem, and Natalia begins to discover that legends are real and fairy tales have a basis in reality. As she grows closer to the enigmatic Damian, she finds herself tested as danger and passion go in hand in hand, and everything she thought she knew about the world will be questioned.

After years of waiting Damian had given up hope that he would ever meet his destined mate, and he certainly never expected her to be a sassy American who had no idea that his world even existed. Can he convince Natalia to believe in the impossible, and more importantly, can he protect her from those who seek to destroy his people?

Find Shelli Rosewarne on Amazon

***

Excerpt

Natalia eyed the shining water with fresh appreciation. She had to admit it would be nice to do something to take her mind away from all the crap.

“I didn’t bring a suit,” she murmured, a bit regretfully.

His grin turned wicked. “You don’t need one. There’s no one around.”

She glared at him. “You’re around!”

“I won’t look.” His eyes were teasing.

Yeah, right! She snorted. “I don’t believe you!”

“Okay, how about this. I may look, but I promise I won’t touch. Unless you ask me to, of course.”

Natalia burst out laughing, surprising herself. Ten minutes ago, she’d been sobbing her eyes out.

His gaze softened. “Come on, you could do with it.”

The water did look calm, she thought as she eyed it up. “You’re sure it’s safe for swimming?”

“Sure, I used to come here as a kid.”

She shot him a quick glance at that. It was hard to imagine him as an innocent child. He grinned back at her as though he knew exactly what she thinking—which, quite frankly, shouldn’t surprise her after today, but she wasn’t going to go there right now.

“Look, if you’re that bothered leave your underwear on. It’s such a warm day you’ll dry out afterward.”

Really, it wasn’t much different than a bikini, was it? She found herself nodding before she thought better of it and he reached a hand down to tug her to her feet. A half smile tugged at her lips. It might be a bit old-fashioned, but she liked the little gestures he made like that. Then he pulled his shirt over his head and she stopped breathing.

His body was like something out of a magazine, or like the Greek statues at the museums she’d been to for tedious fundraisers. Bronzed skin covered sculpted muscles with a dusting of hair leading down into his pants—which, oh Christ, were coming off as well! She closed her eyes a moment, and then couldn’t help herself and had to peek. So much for wondering whether he was going to keep on his underwear as he wasn’t wearing any. He seemed completely comfortable in his nakedness, and when he bent over to neatly place his clothes on the rock she had to clench her hands to restrain from reaching out to that tight ass. Jeez, you could market that! He turned back to meet her gaze and her cheeks flamed at the knowing amusement in his eyes. Before her fuddled brain could even start to think of something to say, he leaned forward and brushed a quick, hard kiss across her lips.

“Don’t worry. You have the exact same effect on me,” he whispered to her and then stepped back. “See you in there,” he told her with a grin, before turning and jumping off the rock straight into the shining water.

Find Shelli Rosewarne on Amazon