Today’s Wickedness is from my upcoming release STRONGER THAN SIN which will be out from Grand Central Publishing in October 2010. For those of you who have read SINS OF THE FLESH, I hope you’ll enjoy seeing Dr. Liliana Carrera come back and get her own story. I somehow knew from the moment that Liliana came on the scene that she was special. Of course, that meant that she needed a really amazing hero and Jesse Bradford was born.
Jesse is a sexy football player who had to leave the game because of a bone disease that was discovered when Jesse is injured during a game. Faced with the loss of the one thing that he knows — playing football — Jesse submits himself to genetic engineering in the hopes of saving his career. Of course, he gets way more than he expected which leaves him something more than human, but less than the man he wants to be. Until Liliana comes into his life and the hero must emerge.
I hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt. You can also read another excerpt from the beginning of the book and some behind the scenes photos of Ocean Grove, where the book is set, by following this link to the STRONGER THAN SIN page.
Jesse wasn’t in his bed when she walked into the room.
Closing the door and locking it behind her, she glanced around the large suite and noticed that he was out on the balcony that faced the beachfront.
Striding toward him, she stopped to put down the bag of take-out she had brought on a low coffee table in a sitting area near the windows and French doors leading to the balcony. She had dropped by her parents’ place again, received another helping of her mother’s soup and other goodies intended to help Jesse feel better.
While she wasn’t sure that there was any medical basis for thinking the food might assist, she knew that mentally it did her a world of good. It reminded her of her roots and the love her family had for her. Something Jesse seemed to have lacked, which saddened her.
Jesse, she thought, staring at his back as he stood facing the ocean. A strong wind was blowing westward, ruffling the shorter strands of his hair.
She hadn’t had a chance to tell him that she liked the change – the shorter hair and clean shaven face.
She wondered if had done it for her which caused a skitter in her midsection along with warmth farther below that he had cared enough to do it.
She had come to discover that about him. Despite all the tabloid gossip and bad boy antics, he cared about others. His sister. Mother. Possibly even the father that denied his existence.
Maybe even her.
She laid her hand over her fluttering midsection and walked to the French door. He seemed distant, a solitary figure looking almost lost against the vastness of the ocean before him.
Not wanting to intrude without welcome, she rapped on the glass door and waited for his reception.
He turned, his face grim and set in sharply chiseled lines. They relaxed somewhat as he saw her, grabbed the handle of the door and slid it open.
She stepped out onto the balcony and he closed the door behind them.
The wind increased the chill of a day that was quickly fading to night. Intense reds and purples painted the sky and the ocean had darkened to slate grey with the arrival of night.
“Cold,” she said and wrapped her arms around herself. Even though she still had on her winter jacket, the wind seeped beneath the wool, which made her wonder how he stood there in nothing but fleece sweats braving the wind. Once again staring out at the ocean. The white of the bandage at his temple a glaring contrast to his skin in the dim dusk.
“Aren’t you cold?” she asked and patted her arms to try and generate some heat.
He hunched his shoulders, shot her a half glance. “I wasn’t sure you’d come back.”
“I said I would. I needed to see how you’re doing.”
He gave another shrug, seemingly indifferent except she sensed undercurrents beneath. Dangerous ones.
“I’m here. I’m alive. Consider your obligation fulfilled.”
A self-defense mechanism? she wondered. Push her away –push what he was feeling away – in order to keep from being hurt?
Only as she had discovered after pouring her heart out to Carmen, it was no easy thing to keep him at bay. Somehow he had touched her. Infiltrated those areas she had thought safe.
Trying to shore up her defenses, she beckoned toward the bag of food on the table within. “I brought food. I thought you might be hungry.”
Some emotion finally cracked the stern lines of his face. A hint of a smile and glitter in eyes that had gone to slate grey. He took a long stride toward her, until barely inches separated them. Laying a hand at her waist, he bracketed her side with it, sending her insides quivering.
Jesse glanced down at her, sensing the tremor in her body.
She was as aware of him as he was of her. At his touch, her gaze had gone wide, revealing eyes that were nearly black with desire. When she moistened her lips, the last of his restraint disappeared.
He bent his head, whispered against her lips. “I’m hungry, but not for food.”
Then he closed the distance and kissed her.