divine deception

This was a fun little Valentine writing exercise. I used a WORD GENERATOR to pick some words that I had to use in a romance story. A roll of the dice and we’re given three characters, mine were a BANKER, A COWBOY, and A BASEBALL PLAYER. I need to work in the adjectives PICKY, FAMOUS and ANGRY. And the whole scene needs to take place in a TAXI CAB. Well, okay, here’s my Valentine’s story writtene especially for my visitors. Please enjoy …

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The taxi driver set the gray-haired woman’s two oversized suitcases on the sidewalk of the Plaza hotel and handed the happy chihuahua’s leash to the doorman. She folded two bucks in his hand with a wink and a smile as if the five percent tip were an overpayment. He bent and kissed her on the cheek. “Happy Valentine’s Day Mrs. Bozeman. I hope you enjoy your second honeymoon with your beau.”

A sweet blush crawled up her cheeks. “Forty-seven years ago today Mr. Bozeman asked me to be his girl. Pinned me right there in the hallway before he went on to win the high school state basketball championship.”

He already knew that. “I suspect he’s thinking he won a whole lot more.” He bent and kissed her velvet cheek before climbing back into the taxi cabMikal rarely came to earth in human form, but today Cupid’s army worked special magic on lost souls and broken hearts. And every once in awhile they got to check on some of their most successful cases. 

“Mister, hey mister.” The young boy dressed in a cowboy outfit standing on the sidewalk and banging on his passenger window couldn’t have been more than eight or nine. “I need your help.”

He rolled down the window. “I’ve got someone to pick up, kid.”

“You can’t. I’ve got something important for you to do. Real important.” Determination furrowed his brow.

Mikal had a schedule and with only six more hours until the portal closed, he didn’t really have time for complications. He absently picked up the Starbucks cup, a double iced cinnamon dolce latte with whipped cream, his one vice whenever he had to hang out on earth. He shot the kid an indifferent look. “Where do you need to go?” Children were Gabriel’s problem, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t get this lost kid back to his parents. 

“You really drive this thing? I mean, I don’t mean to be picky or anything, but I woulda thought angels could fly or something.”

Mikal choked, whipped cream spraying on the steering wheel. “What did you say?”

He leaned into the car through the open window. “Listen, I saw your glow from upstairs. And all these people are going all gooey when they see you.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder as an angry couple stopped, looked at each other and apologized, falling into a hug and deep kiss. The kid was right. It was part of the magic he’d been gifted.

“So if you’re not an angel,” the boy said. “Then I’m expecting the Men in Black to show up any minute.”

No one but the dying and animals usually saw him. But this kid had certainly piqued his curiousity. “No aliens here. Get in.” He flipped the roof light off so people wouldn’t try to jump in with them. “What do you need?” he asked as the boy climbed into the front seat. “Are you mooning over some girl and you want her to pay attention to you at recess?”

The kid rolled his eyes. “Think I’d bother you for something stupid like that? Sheesh, it’s my parents. My mom came here to talk to my dad. He’s a famous baseball player.” He shrugged. “She doesn’t know I know. I mean, he doesn’t live with us or anything and I’ve never met him, just what I see when we watch his games.”

“But she told you about him?’

“Nah, she told me my dad and her were divorced after she became a banker. That was awhile after I was born. But the way she said it, I never really believed her. I found some letters from him last year hidden in the back of her closet.”

“You shouldn’t be snooping in someone else’s stuff.” Mikal took a deep pull of his coffee.

“I wasn’t. Honest.” The boy studied him. “You don’t have any connection with Santa or anything do you?”

Mikal swiped his mouth with the back of his hand to hide his smile. “No, different cloud entirely.”

“K, well then the truth was I was looking for something.” He shrugged. “It’s not so much that I miss having a dad, but my mom, she’s so sad all the time.”

Mikal sensed there was something the boy wasn’t telling him, but he waited him out.

“I have cancer,” he said it so quietly as if the disease were his fault. Mikal could barely hear him over the rush of the traffic in the street. “I’m pretty sure I’m gonna die and I don’t want my mom to be all alone. I went looking to see if I could find something. And I came across all these gooshy letters and stuff from a guy named Kurt. He never mentioned me. I’m thinking he doesn’t know he has a son.” He toyed with the zipper on his windbreaker. “Kurt Dittrich is my mother’s favorite Yankee. She cheers for him at every game.”

“I’m not sure how I can help.” Mikal worked miracles, but not in such a short time if they were in different cities.

“You can help by making sure they fall in love again. Dur!” He shook his hands in the air. “What’s your job anyway?”

Mikal couldn’t help but laugh. “To bring people together. But they’ve got to at least be in the same place.”

“Yeah, well my mom’s here and my dad’s on his way.”

“How do you know?”

“I wrote to Kurt Dittrich and told him I was sick and I wanted to meet him and I’d be here at the Plaza today. Then I asked mom to take me to a broadway show on Valentine’s. She thinks I’m down here talking to the doorman and getting a cab.” His small hand wrapped around Mikal’s forearm and he covered it with his own, healing flowing directly into the child. The boy looked at their joined hands and smiled. “You just gotta use your angel magic and make them fall in love. Please, you just gotta. It’s my only chance.” Tears welled in his eyes.

“Jon! Jonathon Leavy!” A pretty blond in jeans and peacoat hurried out of the hotel. “Have you seen a little boy about this tall?” she asked the doorman.

“There she is,” the kid said. “Help me, please. Don’t let her leave until he gets here. Break your engine or something.” He opened the door and hopped out. “Please.” He waved his arm toward the door. “Mom, I’m right here.”

“Jon, you scared me right to–” She started toward them and barrelled into a man with a baseball cap and sunglasses, his head down. Their collision nearly knocked the woman over, but his strong arms wrapped around her waist and held her.

The man took off his glasses, his gaze going soft. “Kate? Kate Leavy?”

“Kurt Dittrich? It’s been … it’s been a really long time.”

“Yeah it has.” He brushed the hair from her face. “And you’ve grown even more beautiful.”

Even Jonathon could see the sappy way his mother looked at the man and he was pretty sure it had nothing to do with him being a famous baseball player. The angel had done his job. He turned to give him a thumbs up, but the taxi cab was gone. And he suspected … so was his cancer.

Copyright © Nina Pierce 2017
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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY ONE AND ALL

I think finding the right profession for my heroes is one of the toughest jobs. (Get the pun?) I mean there are stories like “Deceive Her With Desire” or “A Touch of Lilly” where a profession like being an alphabet guy just flows naturally from the plot. But sometimes that’s just not the case.

In my novella, Divine Deception, Nicholas Gradin is a chemical engineer. It just seemed to be a natural offshoot of growing up on a vineyard and learning to mix wines. And although I think he’s pretty irrisistable, an engineer in and of itself just isn’t sexy.
But I have to say there are just some heroes I can’t resist:

*
Bartenders
Cowboys
Firefighters
Demons (Fallen Angels)
Vampires

They just scream alpha to me. Totally in charge. Totally ready to square off with a fiesty heroine and rock her world.

So what about you? Are there any heroes that make your knees go weak just because of their day job?

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream-Man – A JustRomance.me Bloghop

 

 

For those of you joining us on our Midsummer Night’s blog hop … Welcome! I hope you’re enjoying yourself as you bump around the internet checking out hot guys and hotter excerpts. *wink* For those of you who have just stumbled here, perhaps you’d like to join in the fun and start HERE (beginning July 19) to find new authors (and all kinds of cool prizes)!

You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about men lately. The heroes of my stories, that is! (Get your naughty minds back here on the blog, ladies. *vbg*) I mean, it’s hard enough finding a name that fits. No one wants a romance hero named Chester or Gerald or Ralph. And names like Raphael and Dominic have a certain ethnic ring to them. The name has to fit who the man is and what he does for a job.

NicholasXSmallAnd there’s the rub. It’s tough to find the profession that both fits my hero and my story and is still, well … hero-worthy. In DIVINE DECEPTION, Nicholas Gradin is a chemical engineer. It just seemed to be a natural offshoot of growing up on a vineyard and learning to mix wines. Of course the engineer in and of itself isn’t sexy, so I’ve got him riding a Harley. Yep, that’s a hero I can get behind! *snort*

In SHADOWS OF FIRE Reese Colton is not only a firefighter (How hot is that?), but a vampire as well. *sigh* I love him.

Then there are the professions that just scream I’m an alpha male!. You know those totally take charge men who square off with a feisty heroine and rock her world. Like Aiden the DEA agent in DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE or my police chief, Cole Takoda in BONDED SOULS. Nothing says don’t worry ladies, I have your back (and your front and …) well, like a man who’s protecting others.Buff FiremanXSmall

So what about you? How do you feel about a romance hero’s profession? Can they make or break a romance story for you? Any certain professions that just make your knees go weak or have you throwing a book against the wall? Inquiring minds want to know.

**** CONTEST NOW CLOSED ****
One random person commenting on this post between now and 4 PM EDT on SUNDAY, JULY 21 will be chosen to receive a $15 gift card from Amazon and a print copy of DANGEROUS AFFAIRS. (Shipping to US residents only. An international winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card only.)

                              ***************

The hero or should I say heroeS in my newest release A TOUCH OF LILLY, are FBI agents looking to take down a nasty assassin who’s been killing off world leaders.

A_Touch_of_Lilly_Cover_for_Kindle

BLURB:
Ex-Chicago detective LILLY D’ANGELO has a secret she doesn’t share with anyone. A master of the one night stand, she’s given up ever finding a soul mate and thrown herself head first into her career. That is, until she captures the wrong alien. Kidnapped and sold into the sex slave trade, she’s shipped into deep space. Barely escaping with her life, Lilly now travels the galaxy working as a bounty hunter using her secret talents to bring down criminals and seeking revenge on the one male who ruined her life.

Agent DALLAS SAWYER works for deep space’s version of the FBI. After a disastrous mission that left several of his team members murdered, a president executed, and Dallas near death, he’s determined to take down the assassin targeting government officials. When a sexy human female gets between him and his goal, Dallas and his alien partner find themselves on the receiving end of a passionate night they won’t soon forget and a proposition that may very well blow up in their faces.

Because in deep space … true love can happen with just a touch.

EXCERPT:
“I know who Grebetz’s boss is,” Lilly said. Okay, so that might not be the truth. Lilly suspected she’d seen Venair Grebetz’s boss. The hologram of the Braugtot had certainly flustered the otherwise confident Znedu. But if this was a bargaining chip to keep her from QAL headquarters, then she’d go all in.

Dallas walked up to her. “What do you mean you know his boss? Have you been hunting him?”

“She’s lying,” Thaegan said. “The witch is trying to buy some time.”

“Shut up, Thaegan.” Dallas kept his dark eyes focused solely on her. Her stomach did a slow roll that had nothing to do with fear.

“Lilly, tell me exactly what you meant,” Dallas said.

“I haven’t exactly been hunting him.”

“How about if you elaborate.” Dallas dragged the words out slowly.

He reached for the dagger in her hand and she gladly handed it over to him. What Lilly needed was for Dallas to trust her. She no longer wanted to get away from this man, quite the contrary as a matter of fact. It had been so long since a human male had touched her with the passion Dallas had, and Lilly wanted more of that even if Dallas didn’t believe she had control over his desires.

“I’ll tell you only if I still get the bounty for Grebetz,” she said bravely. Even male companionship wouldn’t keep her fed.

“I don’t think you’re in a position to make any kind of deal, Seraphelium,” Thaegan said.

Dallas turned abruptly to his partner. “Damn it, Thaegan, I’m warning you…”

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And if you’re not hot enough already, how about a few more professional men to add to your fantasy list (you’re welcome *g*) …

cowboy and his gun

a man's place is in the kitchen

bartender

 

Welcome to Six Sentence Sunday where I find six sentences from one of my books. I think for the last weekend in May I’m going to pull something from my first book published with Ellora’s Cave, DIVINE DECEPTION.

“I expected my little stepsister to have pigtails and braces, not…” Nick’s hand motioned up and down Frankie’s torso.

“Well, you didn’t seem to mind the package yesterday.”

“Yesterday I thought you were the vitner’s assistant and one of my father’s employees, not his new daughter.”

“Funny, yesterday I thought you were a womanizing pig of a manwhore.” She shot him a patronizing smile. “Guess one of us was right.”

Hee hee … I guess there are a few family secrets in this story. Which is on sale at Amazon. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking time to leave a comment. I really enjoy hearing what you think.

Click HERE to see all authors participating in Six Sentence Sunday this week.

Welcome to Six Sentence Sunday. This week I’ve chosen six sentences from my novella set in a NY vineyard, Divine Deception. Since I just received my copies of the print anthology it’s include in, I thought I’d celebrate this Sunday.

This scene takes place after Nick, who’s coming back to sell the family vineyard meets the cellarmaster’s assistant, Francesca. Frankie’s desperately trying to save the failing vineyard … and her home.

“I’m sure Nick is hungry after his long motorcycle ride from the city streets of Philly where he works so darn hard making a living and carousing with women,” Frankie said.

“Pharmaceutical research sure as hell beats worrying about the weather and sugar content of grapes,” Nick snipped before shooting back the last of his wine and splashing another generous amount into his glass. It wasn’t how a gentleman enjoyed a fine vintage but tonight he neither felt like a gentleman nor a connoisseur of wines. Tonight, he’d ignore the elephant of bankruptcy swinging from the chandelier and suffer through this farce of a family dinner raging drunk. “Any Neanderthal can mash and ferment grapes. It doesn’t take a Mensa certificate to squeeze grape juice into a refractometer and test for sugar levels, Francesca.”

I always appreciate all the comments I receive every week. Thanks so much for taking time to let me know what you think of the six sentences. Click HERE to find other amazing authors participating in today.

BUY the novella for $.99!
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I couldn’t do an update this week without telling everyone how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful mom. She raised 5 children (each of us a year apart … you do the math … FIVE teenagers! And she survived!) She’s been wonderful as I’ve become a mom. She hangs back until we ask for advice and then gently shares her wisdom. Mom lives far away from me and though we don’t talk on the phone very often, I think about her every day.

But 27 years ago when I married Mr. Nina another wonderful mom came into my life. I’m so fortunate to have someone else who loves me unconditionally, supports and encourages. I truly am doubly blessed.

I’m not going to be with either of my moms today. But they are in my thoughts and prayers. If you’re a mom … Happy Mother’s Day. And I wish for all of you the special love of a mom.

Now, onto the good news this week …

Sizzling Hot Books reviewed BLIND LOVE. Michelle had this to say …

Blind Love was a hot and sweet story. I enjoyed seeing a woman not holding back her feelings of discontent with her family and how she went for what she wanted … a book to go back to when you are in a sentimental mood, but with hotness thrown in.

And Miz Love Loves Books gave BLIND LOVE 5 STARS and Miz Terious had this to say…

Ms. Pierce has penned a wonderful mystery with twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing until the very end. The chemisty between Julie and Damon is smoking with sex scenes that will have you squirming in your seat. It doesn’t get much better than this. Intrique, family dynamics, hot sex and a true happy ending. I’ll be looking for the second book in what promises to be a great series.

And quite out of the blue I received an awesome 4 STAR review for DIVINE DECEPTION from Night Owl Romance. And Pauline had this to say …

Each and every character in this story was well developed and added to the plot. The emotions in this story are extensive and run the gamut from sorrow, guilt, anger, joy and hatred. The location itself is almost a character and Ms. Pierce brings it to life, I could almost smell the dirt and taste the wine. This author is one of my must-reads and this story showcases the talent that put her there.

How about an EXCERPT:
Having Nick present while she visited with Joseph wasn’t really in her plans. Frankie had tried to talk Nick into taking the motorcycle to the hospital later in the morning but Margaret had come running down the granite steps swinging a picnic basket as Frankie was climbing into the truck. She handed it to Nick with two quick kisses on his cheeks and stood watching as he climbed into the passenger side of the cab and they pulled from the driveway.

Now they were headed into town, the midmorning sun hanging in an azure sky, its rays dancing on Seneca Lake. Normally Frankie would have loved a day like this but the cab seemed claustrophobic with Nick Gradin’s surly attitude sitting between them.

“It’s not my fault you didn’t know who I was,” she said quietly.

Turning to her, he cocked a skeptical eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest.

“You knew your father had a stepdaughter.”

“And a child bride,” Nick remarked coldly. “I expected my stepsister to have pigtails and braces. Not…” His hand motioned up and down her torso.

“Well, you didn’t seem to mind the package yesterday.”

“Yesterday I thought you were Joseph’s assistant.”

“Funny, yesterday I thought you were a womanizing pig of a manwhore.” She shot him a patronizing smile. “Guess one of us was right.”

He frowned. “If you’ll recall, I wasn’t the one who came on to you in the field.”

“As I recall, it was you who was ready for action in the wine cellar.”

“I was simply reading the signals you were sending out.”

“Then you have a faulty GPS.”

“My wiring is just fine thank you.”

“I suppose you think it is, with all the woman you have tumbling into your posh Philadelphia bed.”

“Now what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Oh, as if you don’t know.”

“I have no idea what you’re…oh, this is stupid. Pull over here.” Nick motioned to a dirt road that led to a small alcove near the lake.

She’d been parking there once in high school.

“I’m not going to see Joseph until we clear this up and can at least be civil to each other,” he said.

Frankie acquiesced. He was right. It wouldn’t do Joseph any good to have them bickering in front of him. She turned the truck into the trees, their pumpkin and gold leaves floating passively on the gentle breeze. They bumped down the dirt tracks, the center lane overgrown with the dried weeds of summer. Frankie felt as if she was entering the lion’s mouth. Anger surrounded Nick like the cloud of dust trailing behind them. She had no idea why he was so pissed when she’d only spoken the truth.

Shoving the truck in park and shutting off the engine, Frankie stared out over the lake. Its cobalt surface rippled at the gentle touch of the fall breeze. Maybe this was the perfect place to help Nick see things her way. Though she hadn’t exactly started the conversation off in the right direction, maybe she could try again. “I think—”

As if he hadn’t heard her, Nick got out and slammed the door. Pacing in front of the truck, he pulled at his bottom lip, an angry scowl furrowing his brows. What the hell was his problem? Frankie got out and stalked after him. “For someone who wants to talk, you’re damn rude, you know that, Gradin?”

He grabbed her and pressed her against the front of truck, the solid planes of his chest trapping her. “I don’t know what my father told you about me but I do not—I repeat, do not—have a rotating door on my bedroom. There is no harem of beauties waiting for me in Philly. When I choose to sleep with a woman I like there to be a little chemistry between me and the lady.” His mouth came down hungrily on hers, his taste already familiar. When his tongue ran the seam of her lips, she had no choice but to open to his assault. Fisting his hand in her hair, Nick controlled the breath-stealing tempo while his other hand surrounded her breast, squeezing the sensitive flesh. Warm shocks of want shot straight to her pussy. Frankie’s hands seized the soft chambray of his shirt, her heart racing in her ears. Nick broke from her as abruptly as he began. “And there’s no denying our chemistry, Francesca.”

I love this book. I actually did a bunch of research to get details about vineyards and wine making. It was a ton of fun. And then when Nick and Frankie’s chemistry became combustible … well, I was completely smitten.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt

Having Nick present while she visited with Joseph wasn’t really in her plans. Frankie had tried to talk Nick into taking the motorcycle to the hospital later in the morning but Margaret had come running down the granite steps swinging a picnic basket as Frankie was climbing into the truck. She handed it to Nick with two quick kisses on his cheeks and stood watching as he climbed into the passenger side of the cab and they pulled from the driveway.

Now they were headed into town, the midmorning sun hanging in an azure sky, its rays dancing on Seneca Lake. Normally Frankie would have loved a day like this but the cab seemed claustrophobic with Nick Gradin’s surly attitude sitting between them.

“It’s not my fault you didn’t know who I was,” she said quietly.

Turning to her, he cocked a skeptical eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest.

“You knew your father had a stepdaughter.”

“And a child bride,” Nick remarked coldly. “I expected my stepsister to have pigtails and braces.

Not…” His hand motioned up and down her torso.

“Well, you didn’t seem to mind the package yesterday.”

“Yesterday I thought you were Joseph’s assistant.”

“Funny, yesterday I thought you were a womanizing pig of a manwhore.” She shot him a patronizing smile. “Guess one of us was right.”

He frowned. “If you’ll recall, I wasn’t the one who came on to you in the field.”

“As I recall, it was you who was ready for action in the wine cellar.”

“I was simply reading the signals you were sending out.”

“Then you have a faulty GPS.”

“My wiring is just fine thank you.”

“I suppose you think it is, with all the woman you have tumbling into your posh Philadelphia bed.”

“Now what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Oh, as if you don’t know.”

“I have no idea what you’re…oh, this is stupid. Pull over here.” Nick motioned to a dirt road that led to a small alcove near the lake.

She’d been parking there once in high school.

“I’m not going to see Joseph until we clear this up and can at least be civil to each other,” he said.

Frankie acquiesced. He was right. It wouldn’t do Joseph any good to have them bickering in front of him. She turned the truck into the trees, their pumpkin and gold leaves floating passively on the gentle breeze. They bumped down the dirt tracks, the center lane overgrown with the dried weeds of summer. Frankie felt as if she was entering the lion’s mouth. Anger surrounded Nick like the cloud of dust trailing behind them. She had no idea why he was so pissed when she’d only spoken the truth.

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Don’t be jealous, but today I’m in Richfield, Ohio at Romanticon, Ellora’s Cave 1st annual reader/writer conference! And you bet there are some very sexy cover models walking the hall. Now don’t despair. I will have some pictures when I return, but until then, enjoy the cover of Divine Deception and a short excerpt.

Please enjoy this excerpt:
The moment he’d arrived on the property, Nick had lived up to his playboy reputation, letting Frankie hit on him in the field. The lame excuse about Joseph had been as obvious as the erection tenting his Levis. Frankie had no doubt he knew the man was terribly ill. Well, she’d gone for broke and melted in his presence like some love-struck teenager drooling over her first crush. It had been almost too easy. Everything was moving in the right direction. It pissed her off that her body hadn’t gotten the memo about remaining aloof. Though her lips had barely feathered over his, he’d left her panting and weak-kneed as he strode back to his Harley.

She turned back to her lab table and the grapes that needed to be assessed for sugar content. “Well, at least he’s not too hard on the eyes.”

“What?”

She wheeled around at the sound of Nick’s voice. As if her thoughts had conjured him, he stood there, all six feet of solid danger wrapped in black leather, sucking the air from the room.

“Mr. Gradin, I didn’t hear you come down the stairs.” She was pleased the words were delivered evenly and without a nervous stutter.

“Please, call me Nick.” He slipped his hands into his back pockets and tipped back on the well-worn heels of his biker boots. A silver hoop earring winked at her from below the short crop of hair. Dark spikes, highlighted with bronze framed a strong face and accented the growth of beard shadowing his jaw. He oozed confidence. A sense of superiority sparked in the gold of his eyes but she needed to ignore it or it would just piss her off. Anger wasn’t the angle she was looking for here.

“Have you come to assess the wines?” she asked coyly. “I was just going to do that myself.” Frankie shot a quick glance at the grapes in the baggie then back to him. “Well, after I do the sugar levels on the fruit from the vineyard. I’m thinking we can begin the harvest next week. The pinot noirs are right on schedule. I’m planning on getting the netting out in the next couple of days to protect the grapes from the hungry birds.” The words were tumbling out too fast for comfort and she bit down hard on her tongue to keep it still. A seductress shouldn’t be nervous.

The man stared at her, a smile curving his arrogant mouth. A mouth accented by full lips that could probably bring hours of sinful enjoyment to a woman’s flesh. Well at least her business would also be pleasure. That thought brought a smile.

“There should be a shiraz we’re looking to bottle in the next couple of weeks?” His gaze traveled slowly up the tall rubber boots, over the stained apron covering her thighs and tummy and lingered on her breasts. She held her breath not wanting him to see how hard she was finding it to fill her lungs. With tantalizing seduction, he dragged his eyes to meet hers. “If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to have a sample.” He arched a thick brow. The double entendre was not lost on Frankie. He was making this so damn easy.

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Divine Deception is my novella set in Western New York. It’s part of Ellora Cave’s succulent series that included stories with fruit as their central theme. This story involves grapes and more specifically … wine. It’s meant to be a fun little read. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from chapter one.

Obtaining his life’s dream may very well destroy hers …

Nicholas Gradin III splashed three more fingers of thirty-year-old scotch into the crystal tumbler sitting on the mahogany desk, not bothering to add ice. He didn’t need some watered-down version of liquid courage. He needed straight up, balls-to-the-walls bravery for the weekend ahead. Even though it was all of his making, Nicholas didn’t really want to face the huge obstacle that stood between him and freedom. Gulping a generous portion of the scotch, he turned and stared out the study window. He’d chosen this room on the east side of the mansion specifically so he didn’t have to stare at the goddamn ugly vines that tortured his very existence.

One month, six weeks at the most and the last of the grapes would be harvested and the vines left to wither. Nicholas could only hope all the lies would die along with them.

Nicholas watched the lush lawn sway in the early autumn breeze, hoping it would soothe the frayed ends of his nerves. He laughed derisively and swallowed his resentment with a hefty shot of alcohol. Who was he kidding? It wasn’t lush-it was overgrown and unkempt. Without the benefit of the lawn service that he’d fired last spring, it looked like shit. Perhaps he should be staring at the vineyard. At least a skeleton crew still meticulously tended the vines.

No, even that thought slid him deeper into a morass of self-pity.

In his youth, the vineyard had been his playground full of fertile soil that not only nurtured the grapes but a foolish boy’s vivid imagination. As he’d grown it had become his gym, offering hours upon hours of backbreaking work that honed his muscles and allowed him to dream of a different life. Now, he was a middle-aged man imprisoned by its incessant demands. As happened to his late parents, the vineyard was sucking the very marrow from his bones and leaving him wilted and apathetic. He had no doubt it would kill him one day. He figured drowning himself in the intoxicating oblivion of liquor was a preferable path to death.

Nicholas finished the scotch and turned to stare at the bottle taunting him from the desk.

“You worry too much, my love.”

Turning to the comforting sound, Nicholas stared at his young wife lounging elegantly against the open door. Her ebony hair curved over her bare shoulder, the ends nestling in her plentiful cleavage. The white top she wore was sheer enough to show off the pink lace beneath. Black patterned leggings hugged her hips and her legs to just below her knee. He had no doubt she wore nothing beneath the exotic second skin.

Even after seven years of marriage, the woman was a walking hard-on.

Knowing the spell she cast over him, Carmine smiled and lifted the bunch of red grapes in her hand to her full lips. Curling her tongue around one, her mouth made love to it before she sank her teeth into its flesh. Juice dripped down her chin and she gathered it up with flick of her tongue before she spoke. “Two and half days. You can do anything for two and a half days.”

Grapes, the fruit of hell itself. Most of the time, he hated the damn things-the smell, the texture, the sight. But when Carmine held them, Nicholas remembered all the reasons they were known as the fruit of gods. Even she could turn the despised globes into a delicate food of seduction.

Capturing his gaze, Carmine stared intently at him as the pink tip of her tongue caressed the dangling fruit. In and around each swollen berry, her tongue darted and tasted. A low moan keened from her throat as she snatched another and took it into her mouth with a loud “pop”. “Really, I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as you’re anticipating.”

Nicholas swallowed hard, trying to find his voice. “I’m not anticipating anything more than a quiet family weekend.”

With a doubtful arch of her brow, she pushed from the doorway and walked to him. Black stiletto heels clicked softly across the hardwood floor. Carmine slinked up to him, her lithe body molding to his. Her breasts pressed against his chest and his body sprang to attention. Sliding her palm across his shoulder, she looked into his eyes. “The tension rides on your shoulders…” A long, red nail dragged up his neck and over his jaw. “It knots right here…” Her nail continued its journey across his forehead, the other fingers tickling across his face. “And it leaves deep lines on your brow.” She came up on her toes and her teeth grazed his chin. “But I know how to help take your mind off the homecoming.”

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I don’t do this very often, but I just finished edits on my newest book with Ellora’s Cave. So I thought I’d share with you thirteen reasons you might like to read my debut novella with them, Divine Deception.

1. It takes place in a vineyard in western NY. And to add credibility to the story a had to suffer through a whole bunch of hands-on wine research. 😉

2. There’s a really sexy, naughty boy hero, Nicholas Gradin IV who drives a motorcycle.

3. It’s a Nina Pierce novella, need you ask if there’s hawt monkey sex? Ummm. only like every time you turn around. *g*

4. Everyone’s got a secret.

5. Francesca Santerre is one kick-ass heroine who has an agenda all her own!

6. It’s my first story with a new publisher and that always makes a book special! (Yeeeeaahhh … this guy has nothing to do with that, I just wanted to add in some eye candy.)

7. Did I mention there’s some crazy outdoor loving in this story? (Oh, I did? Well, it bears repeating.)

8. Nicholas wants to sell the vineyard …

9. Frankie wants to make sure it stays in the family …

10. Both of them will do anything to get their way!

11. There’s a whole cast of other characters that get in the way of Frankie and Nick’s goals. (Okay, not exactly these guys, but take my word for it … there are other people in this novella.)

12. It’s a romance … of course there’s a happy ending!

13. I couldn’t do a Shameless Thursday without including this cute little trailer … now could I?

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