In one of the first interviews I did after Crimson and Clover was published I was asked what I liked about romance novels. My answer? The slow buildup between the couple, the anticipation as the reader watches them fall for each other, those moments that leave you actually yelling at the book, “Oh, for the love of all that’s holy, just go on and kiss her!” So when Liv Rancourt urged me to take part in this year’s No Kiss Blogfest, I signed right up!
Kissing someone is pretty intimate, actually very intimate, and your heart always kind of skips a beat before you do that. — Keanu Reeves
Today a whole boatload of authors are participating in the 6th Annual No Kiss Blogfest, hosted this year by author Amanda K. Byrne, and will be posting excerpts of those tingly, tension-filled moments when you swear you’re going to get to read about that first lovely kiss … but it doesn’t happen. Not yet. Look for the hashtag #nokissblogfest on social media to find all the posts, or go to Amanda K. Byrne’s website by 7:00 a.m. Pacific time where she’ll have all the links for you in one place.
My offering is from Sister Golden Hair. Go ahead and yell at Rhett and Rhys if you want to — I know I did!
“Will you play something for me?”
Rhys looked up at her from under his lashes. “I will if you’ll come sit beside me.”
There was no resisting that look or that smoky voice, and Rhett slid onto the bench next to him.
“Much better.” Rhys continued to play, and Rhett caught bits and pieces of different songs, like someone spinning the dial on a radio. “Any requests?”
She shook her head.”No, just whatever you want to play.”
“Hm.” His fingers stilled on the keyboard as he turned toward her. Those dark blue eyes traveled from the top of her head on a slow, maddening journey downward. As she sat there being perused, Rhett knew exactly what a deer in the headlights felt like. Nervous and unsure, she wanted to flee, but she was caught by that gorgeous face in such close proximity, and by the heat of his thigh pressed against hers. So she just sat there frozen as his gaze moved over her face and down her neck. Even the warmth in his eyes wasn’t enough to thaw her out enough to move.
When his gaze reached her thighs, barely concealed by the frayed strips of ripped denim, he smiled and turned back to the keyboard. His hands began to move again, and Rhett recognized the opening bars of “Tiny Dancer.”
“So, um …” She had to stop and clear her throat. “So you like Elton John?”
“His earlier stuff, yes,” Rhys replied, still looking at the piano keys. “I’m not too keen on anything he’s done past about 1980 or so, though.”
“Me either. It all got kind of synthesize-y, and … and …”
“Bubblegum,” he finished for her.
“Yeah, that’s it. Too pop.” She waited for him to start singing the lyrics, but he continued to play the opening bars over and over. “Are you going to sing it for me, too?”
A slow smile curved his lips. “Only if you’ll sing with me.”
The heat of mortification flooded her cheeks at the thought of singing in front of anyone, especially Rhys James. “Oh, I can’t sing.”
Strands of sun-kissed hair fell onto his shoulder as he tilted his head toward her. “Can you carry a tune?”
“Well, yes, but -”
“Then you can sing.” His face scrunched into a mock-wounded look. “C’mon, Rhett. It’s no fun singing by myself all the time. Sing with me. Please? Or I’ll just sit here playing this same stanza over again until we run mad.”
That mischievous twinkle was back in his eyes, and she couldn’t help but laugh. “All right. But you’ll be sorry. You start, though.”
As he began to sing the song in that sultry voice that was the biggest reason Illicit rocketed to the top of the charts, Rhett sat mesmerized, unable to believe she was actually sitting next to him as he sang. Because the moment he started to play the piano, he transformed from Rhys Collinsworth to Rhys James. A couple of words in, he glanced over at her with eyebrows raised in expectation, and she remembered she was supposed to be singing, too.
She joined in with the most tentative voice she could muster, almost a whisper. Halfway through the first verse Rhys glanced over and said “Louder,” so she tried to up the volume while still keeping it as soft as possible.
At long last – it seemed like hours to Rhett – the song was over. She sagged with relief as Rhys finished playing with a flourish. He turned to her with a smile. “See? That wasn’t so bad. You can sing.” Rhys leaned forward, one hand on the piano and the other propped behind Rhett on the bench.
“Only because I like that song.” Nerves Rhett didn’t even know she had began a frantic dance at the feel of his hand so close to her backside. That yummy smell of dark chocolate and rum filled her senses as he leaned nearer. “I loved the way they used it in Almost Famous. That scene on the bus, you know? I’m just glad some advertiser hasn’t used it yet to make people dance like idiots in some commercial,” she babbled.
A grin lit his face, and Rhett thought she might go cross-eyed as a bolt of pure need zapped through her.
“What do you have against dancing?”
A shiver skittered through Rhett as his warm breath touched the skin of her face. Mixed in with the chocolate and rum was a hint of the beer he sipped on earlier, and if the people at Sam Adams had any sense at all they’d hire Rhys to appear in their ads. Run a magazine ad with a scratch-and-sniff thing, and no store would be able to keep that stuff in stock.
“I don’t have anything against dancing,” she breathed. “I love to dance, even though I haven’t done it in years.” As his dark-blue gaze touched each part of her face, she found she had to push her voice past an industrial-sized constriction in her throat. “I just don’t like dancing in commercials.” Why the hell was she still talking about that, for God’s sake? “They’ve got people doing stupid dance moves for barbeque grills, and breakfast cereals, and used cars, and … and vitamins. And it just looks … stupid.” No, stupid was the way her voice sounded as Rhys bent his head forward and breathed into her ear.
“You’re right, it does.” His chest pressed against her shoulder as he drew in a deep breath. “What’s that scent you’re wearing?”
Lost in the heady sensation of having his lips so close to her neck, Rhett almost replied ‘chocolate and Bacardi’ since the scent she wanted to wear was his. Besides, he had her in such a stew that for a moment she couldn’t remember the perfume she’d worn for over twenty years. In her mind’s eye she could see the bottle on her dresser and the tube of matching lotion right next to it. What the hell was it called?
“Beautiful,” she said as the name popped into her head. “It’s called Beautiful.”
“Very apt,” Rhys murmured. “But I don’t think it’s the perfume I find so appealing. I think it’s just you.”
And then his face was close to hers again, so close that she could see the reflection of her own face in his eyes. The tip of her tongue peeked out to moisten her suddenly dry lips, and a low sound of desire sounded in the back of Rhys’s throat.
Sister Golden Hair excerpt ©2014 by Juli Page Morgan, All rights reserved.
Be sure to visit Amanda’s website for links to more no kissing goodies, or look for the hashtag #nokissblogfest on social media! And remember, no kissing allowed.
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