As many of you likely don’t know my writing yet, I thought I’d give you an excerpt from my book, Twisted Up.
It’s a couple of years old, but it’s a deliciously sexy romp of a love story, inspired by a line in a SHEDaisy song, a visit to a bar during trivia night, a conversation with a friend about bowls of coffee, and the dear friendship with a cowboy…
One rope. Three days. And two hearts on the line.
Justin has had enough. Ella, the woman who healed his broken heart, has been cancelling on him for two months straight. Sure, she’s busy with her job, which has her traveling far and wide. But that never stopped her from sharing nights of trivia, long conversations and blazing hot sex—until now. Truth to tell, he misses their easy friendship, the way her sighs fill his ear as he fills her body.
What he can’t figure out is, what’s changed?
At work, Ella finds it easy to talk to rooms full of strangers. Once back at her lonely apartment, though, she’s back to her painfully shy self—until Justin. Their chance meeting grew over the months into a year-long affair, but she can’t shake the feeling that rejection and pain are just around the corner. Best thing to do? End it now, before their intimacy digs too deep.
Suddenly he’s at her door with a length of neon-green rope and a naughty proposition, daring her to say no. Just how good could it be? There’s only one way to find out…
Warning: The sheets are tangled, the hat is crumpled, and the jeans are worn low on the hips. The cowboy is hot, determined, and helpless in the face of bunny slippers. Readers may need extra batteries to get this one out of their system.
“We ever gonna talk about it?”
Ella turned her head toward him. “Talk about what?” She feigned innocence though she knew without having to be told what exactly it was that Justin wanted to talk about.
“You know what.”
“I don’t really want to.” She sighed and took the lifeline he offered when he reached for her hand.
He slid his fingers between hers and squeezed lightly. It wasn’t the first time he’d asked, but in emails and texts and instant messages, she could avoid the subject better and easier than she could with him seated a foot away.
“I know you don’t want to and I don’t want to push it. Part of me thinks you’ll tell me when you’re ready, but the other part of me thinks that unless I prod you and make you tell me, that you never will.”
He was right about that. “That’s the thing. I don’t know when I’ll be ready.” And she didn’t. She might never be and that just wasn’t acceptable if she was going to ever move forward and have another relationship. Whether it was with Justin or not, she would have to get to a place where she could be
“We weren’t suited, you know? He and I. We just weren’t compatible in…” Damn she sounded like it was more a business arrangement or friendship than a marriage. “I had this idea of what marriage would be, of what a relationship between husband and wife should be and the reality didn’t live up to it.”
“I used to think that a marriage was two people that wanted to be with one another, two people that couldn’t imagine life apart. I didn’t really feel that with him, and I don’t think he ever felt it with me either. I think it was more or less that neither of us wanted to be alone.” And that same thought haunted her now, too, with Justin. “It’s not that I expected roses and wine and to be attached at the hip all day and night. I just wanted his attention, his affection, sex. I wanted someone to talk with, share life with and after giving in, in nearly every area of his interest and getting nothing in return…” She shrugged and tried to pull her hand from his, to put some distance between them, but Justin wouldn’t let go. She was open and feeling exposed and she hated it. Sexually exposed she could handle. Emotionally, not so much.
“You deserved better. You still do, baby.”
“So did he. It just wasn’t working out and I didn’t want to hurt him more than I had already by pushing him away, by not being able to accept that he wasn’t going to change or be able to let me in the way I needed him to. Even though I understood his reasons for keeping everything so bottled up, even though I was doing exactly what he tried to protect himself against, I needed more from him. I didn’t want a fairy tale, but I wanted more than I was getting. I was starving for affection, for closeness, for any kind of connection and he wasn’t capable of giving it.”
She thought back to all those conversations, to the look in his eyes, to the disappointment, to the anger, to the relief. He knew she hadn’t been happy for a long time because she’d told him on more than one occasion. He didn’t ask her to stay and try to fix things. He didn’t promise he’d try to change. She was emotionally and sexually needy and she knew it and staying with him, wasn’t going to help her fulfill those needs. There was no guarantee that she’d find someone who could, but she had to try.
“I’m sorry, Ella.”
“No need for you to be sorry, Justin, but thank you just the same.”
“Do you regret it?”
Did she? “No. My mom always said that when it was time, I’d know. She’d realized even before I did how unhappy I was. I wasn’t fair to him. I should have let him go long before. I wasted eight years of his life and mine. I knew before we ever walked down the aisle that I shouldn’t marry him, that something wasn’t clicking, but I did it anyway.”
She didn’t need or want to make excuses, drum up reasons why or what if. What was done was done. She couldn’t undo it, she couldn’t take it back and even if she could, she wouldn’t. “I should have walked away long ago.”
“Why didn’t you?”
Why indeed. “Fear. I was scared no one else would ever want me. Strange to think that when I don’t know that he ever wanted me to begin with. I just don’t know. We were great as friends, bad as lovers.”
Justin nodded. “I think a good marriage takes both.”
She agreed with him on that.
“Do you still see him, talk to him?”
Ella smiled into the darkness outside the dim truck cabin. There was an odd intimacy surrounding them. There were cars and trucks with lights on passing them on the road, but it was almost as though she and Justin were the only two people in the world. “Yes. We actually do still talk, more so than we did when we were married. He moved back home to Georgia and oddly enough, I travel near on occasion. We’ve met for lunch and dinner and talked about the things that made us friends but not lovers.”
“No regrets?” he asked.
She turned toward him. He was looking at her, then the road, then to her. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking or feeling. Since her separation and then her divorce, she’d vowed that no matter what, she’d be honest from then on. Whether it was about how she felt or didn’t feel, what she wanted or didn’t want, what was or wasn’t working for her, she’d be honest. She wouldn’t try to talk herself into someone else’s truths or beliefs or feelings of what was best.
Just like with Justin. If she hadn’t wanted to be with him, she wouldn’t be riding in the truck, getting closer to Dallas and his home, his bed with every second that ticked by. “No.”
“I have regrets,” he said softly.
Her eyes widened as she stared at him. He had regrets? About them? She tried to pull her hand from his grip again but he wouldn’t let go. Was he having second thoughts about this? Maybe she should have put up a bigger fuss, pushed him harder about why he wanted her, why he’d come to see her and made the proposition he had. The only way she was going to find out though what his regret was, was to ask. That was another form of honesty, asking the hard questions even if you were afraid to hear the answers. “What do you regret?”
“Not coming to get you sooner.”
He said it so quietly that she almost didn’t hear it, but for emphasis he lifted her hand and stretched her over a bit so he could kiss it. Her heart stuttered to a near stop at his words, at the relief she felt. “Why didn’t you?”
“Work is the easy answer. I knew you were busy and I couldn’t get away at the time. It gave me an excuse to give you space in the hopes you’d come to me, that you’d let me in again, that you’d start talking to me, sharing with me again. You never did. I didn’t understand why you kept pushing me away and the only way to find out was to put myself in front of you and force you to talk to me, to react to me. So, the first chance I got, I took it.”
“Whatever I had to or have to do to get you to open up again, baby, I’m ready, willing and able to do.”
“I wish I were as confident about us as you are.” What if she could never have a serious relationship with anyone? What if it was more than the lack of affection and attention and sex? What if there was something wrong with her? She hadn’t come from the most stable of homes.
Her father had an affair when he’d been married to her mother and when he left her, he married the woman he’d been seeing and to this day they were still married, happily. Her father hadn’t been happy, not for many years before he’d left. Her stepmother was the exact opposite of her real mother and those differences were overwhelmingly obvious. “I don’t know, Justin.”
“I don’t know know either, baby, not for certain, but by your own admission there were doubts in your head before you got married and throughout you felt something wasn’t right.”
“I wanted more.” And she had. She wanted more attention, more affection, more sex, more of everything. She’d turned into a homebody when what she’d really wanted was to go out and do things, be with people, but her husband wanted to sit and watch ball games and television shows. At first they’d sat on the couch together, but then he bought a recliner and that small bit of togetherness, that little bit of intimacy was gone. Her marriage hadn’t given her what she’d hoped for and she’d turned to going out with friends from work. He’d never seemed to mind. He did his thing and she did hers. They simply paid the bills together and shared a roof.
“I know you did. Some things just aren’t meant to be, Ella.”
“We might not be,” she said solemnly, giving voice to one of her very real fears.
“True, but I’m inclined to believe we are.” He slid her a wink and a waggle of his eyebrows in an effort to pull a smile from her. It worked.
“And why is that?”
“Many, many reasons.”
His voice had dropped to that deep, seductive Texas twang she loved so much. It usually wasn’t so pronounced, but there were moments where it took over and it was all she could do not to melt into a puddle. “Such as?”
“Well, there’s the taste of you on my tongue. One just doesn’t get over that.”
Ella rolled her eyes in his direction and huffed. “Oh, I’m sure one does and can if one tries. What else have you got?”
“The taste of me on your tongue. One just doesn’t get over that either.”
She’d have laughed if he hadn’t sounded so serious. She knew he was teasing her, trying to bring her out again, make her smile, and believe in him, even if she didn’t believe in them yet. “Arrogant ass. There’s more, right? Something more substantial maybe?”
“Of course there is. You talk to me, and I talk to you. We’re holding hands. You didn’t have that before or maybe you did, I don’t know. There are a million reasons why it could and should and would work between us. I’m sure there are a few reasons it wouldn’t, couldn’t, and shouldn’t. I’d rather look at the glass half full than half empty, and I’d rather try than wonder.”
Okay, she’d give him that. She admired that about him too. He could look at the bright, possible side of things and there were times where she could too when she was around him. “Well, and you did drive ten hours in the middle of the night and threaten to hog-tie me if I didn’t come along quietly. Coercion goes a long way, it seems.”
“There is that. But for the record, baby, I didn’t threaten to hog-tie you. We can try that later though. I’m very good at ropin’”
If you’re interested in more…