Divine Deception was so much fun for me to write. This couple doesn’t want to like each other, but when their sex becomes hot and heavy, their hearts can’t help but tangle in the deceit.
EXCERPT:The moment he’d arrived on the property, Nick had lived up to his playboy reputation, letting her hit on him in the field. The lame excuse about Joseph had been as obvious as the erection tenting his Levis. She 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.
Grabbing two glasses and the wine syringe, Frankie invited him to follow her to the back room. Recessed lighting ran under the edges of the low-hanging ceiling, washing the room in its golden hue. Wine casks lay on their side in the metal framework. These barrels held the wines she had nurtured for years, mixing and tasting until the blend was smooth and full bodied. Now she’d see them bottled and never know the satisfaction of another wine well aged in her own cellar. Frankie swallowed the sadness before turning back and handing the glasses to the man behind her. She pulled the stopper from one of the casks, inserted the thief into the hole, pulled back the syringe and extracted a generous amount of wine.
“How long have you been working with Joseph?” The question was casual but the condescending smile Nick flashed pissed her off.
Frankie released wine from the oversized syringe into a glass rather than over his head and the cocksure asshole in front of her offered the second. “A few years,” she said sweetly.
“It took me years to work the thief. I’m not sure I could do it today without having wine all over the floor.” Nick swirled the wine in the glass and brought it to his nose. “Joseph’s a good teacher. You’re lucky he took you under his wing. He doesn’t open his cellars to just anyone.”
Oh, she wanted to hit him. He acted as if she wasn’t good enough for Mill Tavern wine cellars. Frankie set the thief on the barrel and took the glass from him. Lifting it to her nose, she took a slow, steady breath as if savoring the shiraz’s bouquet but actually using the moment to tamp down her irritation. “He’s been gracious sharing his knowledge.”
One corner of Nick’s mouth curved. “Not blending the grapes I hope.” He swirled the wine in the muted light and watched its fat legs descend the sides of the glass. “I mean, those are family secrets.”
Either he had no idea who she was, or Nicholas Gradin IV thought family had to do with blood rather than sweat, tears and love. She opted to believe the former. “That’s true.” Frankie sipped the wine, tasting nothing but resentment. Sharing her thoughts would get her nowhere, so she opted to focus on the superb vintage in her hands and save the confrontation for another time. “What do you think?” She lifted the glass.
Pulling the burgundy liquid into his mouth, the man closed his eyes and savored it on his palate. She hadn’t known tasting wine could be so sensual, but as he swallowed, Frankie couldn’t take her eyes from the pulse in his throat.
“Full bodied with a rounded flavor of plum.” He paused and sucked his bottom lip into his mouth.
Frankie pressed her thighs together against the heavy ache in her womb. What she wouldn’t give to have that mouth on her.
I am so excited! My first novella with Ellora’s Cave will be released tomorrow, April 28. Divine Deception is part of their “succulent” fruit series.
Today, the stars of this story, Nicholas Gradin IV and Francesca Santerre have agreed to a little interview.
Nina: So you two are here at the Writer’s Block and I see you are holding hands. Was it a love at first sight kind of relationship for you?
Frankie: *a very unladylike laugh*
Nick: Hey, don’t be looking at me. The whole thing was her fault. If she’d just told me who she was from the outset I would have–
Frankie: Oh, he’s so full of crap! He slinked into that vineyard looking to find a vineyard worker who might want to trim his vine.
Nick: Me? I think–
Nina: *shrill whistle* Okay, sorry I asked about your relationship. Next question … something a little easier. How did you come to Mill Tavern Vineyards.
Nick: My great grandfather came over from Germany with nothing but a few grape vines and a dream. He found his way to the Seneca Lake region of New York, bought a plot of land and the rest … as they say … is history. *turns to Frankie* Your turn. This should be good.
Frankie: *eyeroll* What he means is my mother met his father at a casino. When they married seven years ago Nick thought my mother was just using him–
Nick: Tell me how you would have seen it. Sexy young mother toting a snotty-nosed brat on her hip looking to get her green card and a chance at the family estate. *Nick laughs and kisses Frankie*
Frankie: *swats at his arm and giggles* Yeah, well, thank goodness Nick’s grandfather, Nicholas Gradin, Jr. didn’t see it that way. He opened his home and taught me all about the grapes and the vineyard. I’m the one that’s been harvesting the grapes and fermenting them into award-winning wines.
Nina: Nick, you know I have to ask, how are things with your father?
Nick: Better. We’ve still got a lot of fences to mend. I mean it’s not like he’s going to get the “father of the year” award or anything. But he’s at least trying.
Frankie: Nick’s taken over the whole vineyard. Nicholas well…
Nick: He went into rehab for awhile. But hopefully with Carmine’s support, that’s his wife…
Frankie: My mother.
Nick: Anyway, let’s just leave it at better. Next question
Nina: For people who followed my blog they heard me lament over how hard it was to tell your story. You two just didn’t want to cooperate. I’m not sure I’ve had such strong personalities circling each other with the desperate need to be together and fighting it so hard.
Frankie: *hooks thumb in her direction* His fault.
Nick: That’s not fair. Nina, you know I tried to be nice right from the first time we met.
Frankie: Ha. You mean the get in my pants kind of nice.
Nick: Come on, look at this package Nina, what hot-blooded male can resist this. *leans over and kisses Frankie long and slow*
Nina: *clears throat*
Nick: Yeah, well, I was just … trying to be friendly.
Frankie: *blushes* And I was just trying to make sure some money-hungry asshole wasn’t going to take my livelihood out from under me. No offense Nick.
Nina: Anything else you’d like the readers to know?
Nick: Let’s just say you’re going to find our story very hot. Frankie’s an animal in bed.
Frankie: *blushes and swats his arm* Niiiick!
Nick: *laughing* It’s not like they’re not going to know everything tomorrow.
Frankie: True, maybe we should give them a little taste today? Hmmmm?
Nina: And since this is the PG-13 version I’m just going to send these two kids into the pool house and away from your eyes.
Nick: Which way? *pulls Frankie to her feet*
Nina: Right over there Nick, but could you just …
Okay, well, they’re gone and from the sparkle in Frankie’s eye, I’m thinking they’re gonna be a while. I guess that means the interview is over. So I’ll just leave you with the hot cover …
and remind you that you can read Frankie and Nick’s story TOMORROW. Available from JasmineJade.com.
Oh, and here’s their trailer …
Okay, I’m going to admit it in public. I love editing. Don’t hate me and please don’t throw things at me. I do. It’s one of my favorite parts of the writing process.
I’m pushing through a first draft at the moment. And when I say pushing, that’s what I mean. I force myself to get up and write the scenes my characters are begging me to put down on paper. I don’t know why it’s not working, but it just isn’t. It’s hard. There is nothing fun about it this particular time around. But I persevere because I know when I get to the end I’ll know exactly what happened and where the villain came from and how my hero and heroine came to their “happy ever after“.
Once that’s done I can go back and fill in the missing red herrings for the suspense portion of the story and beef up the romance. It’s easy because I know what I want to accomplish. It wasn’t always that way. When I wrote my first books it was the original draft that revved my engine. Plodding back through it seemed like such drudgery. But I think it was because I edited as I went. I don’t do that anymore.
This week I’m expecting edits for “Shadows of Fire“, my May 2009 release from Liquid Silver Books. (Edits for “Divine Deception” are completed and the book is just waiting for release.) I can’t wait. Part of it is that I haven’t really looked at this book since I signed the contract last August. I love these characters. Editing gives me the opportunity to revisit them and fall in love with these vampires all over again.
Of course my editor will ask me to “tighten this” or “add more here”. I don’t mind. It’s a challenge to make my writing the best it can be. I love it. I can’t help it. I do.
Of course it’s probably the thrill of knowing my story is another step closer to publication. And only the thrill of getting emails from my readers beats release day.
So bring on those edits … I’m ready!
And I actually have some wonderful news! I’ve been alluding to it for weeks, but the contract has arrived, was signed and now has been sent back.
I signed with ELLORA’S CAVE!
Yes, this is a big deal! I’ve been trying to break in there for over a year. To say I am ecstatic is an understatement. I set a goal to write for their “fruit” theme. I did it. Sent it. It was rejected with an invitation to rewrite and incorporate some suggestions. I did. And they said yes! The title of the story is Divine Deception and takes place at a vineyard in western New York. I was pleased how the story came out. Unfortunately I have to wait until May for this one to come out also. 🙁
Which brings me to my next thing. Shame on me. I haven’t done any writing this week. I wrote one short story, but nothing productive other than that. This is a bad thing. Writing is not easy. Like all jobs, some times the days are fun and filled with words just falling on the page. But sometimes it’s a crappy day. I don’t feel good. Or my muse goes Christmas shopping. But I need to remember I still have to go to work. This is something I’m still learning how to do. When you work for yourself it’s to darn easy to say “I’ll catch up tomorrow.” But then too many tomorrows tumble over on themselves and still, I’ve done nothing.
I’m trying not to beat myself up over it, but it’s hard. Ya know? This week I’m setting a writing goal of 5,000 words. Okay, now I’ve said it out loud. You’ll hold me accountable. It’s not much. But it’s the holiday season and it looks like I’ll be doing some traveling for family business at the beginning of the week. So I have to cut myself some slack.
So check back next week and see if I met my goals. And if you’re brave enough … tell me what your goals are for this week even if they’re not writing related. Let’s hold each other accountable!