We seem to be in a romantic suspense season right now. It’s everywhere!
I really can’t believe the Vistaria Has Fallen series ended more than a year ago, but there you go. It’s been a year.
So…a little snippet from one of the books in the upcoming boxed set to give you a glimpse at what’s in store.
FROM CASUALTIES OF WAR
They finished the tour on the top deck. Parris missed nothing. She pointed at the champagne bottle on the bar and raised a brow.
“There’ll be a swimming pool’s tonnage of this stuff going around tomorrow night,” Adán admitted. “It won’t mean a thing to anyone. I figured it would mean something to you, though.”
She went over to the bar and pulled the champagne out of the bucket. Ice sloshed. She deftly unwound the foil and wire from the neck of the bottle. “You mean, it means something to you that I understand, while all the Glitterati won’t.” Her green eyes skewered him.
“My point exactly,” he said.
She popped the cork, not letting it fly across the room. The bottle hissed. Adán turned over two flutes. He controlled the impulse to insist he pour. She would resent him trying to take over.
Parris put the bottle back in the bucket and handed him a glass. “Congratulations, Adán,” she said, and tapped hers to his. “I think it’s safe to say you’ve made it, now.” She looked around. “At least, on one level.” Only, she said it with a remote air, as if half her mind was on something else.
“Yes, on one level. Thank you.”
Parris put her glass down. “I got you something, to mark the occasion.” She dug into her jean jacket pocket and pulled out a newspaper-wrapped gift about two inches square and held it out to him.
“Newspaper,” he said and laughed. “So I don’t get a big head, right? Because gift wrap and a bow is just way too pretentious.”
Parris’ grin was strained. She picked up her glass again, and leaned her back against the bar.
Adán pushed the stool beside her out of the way and put the gift and his glass on the bar. He unwrapped the little gift and smoothed out the newsprint under it, studying it.
It was a gold necklace, the chain thick and sturdy. It was the pendant—the pendants—that bore examination.
There were three squares hanging from the chain, all the same size. He separated them with his finger.
The happy mask and the sad mask that, together, symbolized drama were the first two.
The third was the same styling, only the mouth was a zig-zag and one eye looked up, while the other looked down. A man going crazy.
“It’s the damndest thing,” Parris said. “I found the two normal masks in a second-hand store, months and months ago. Didn’t think anything of them. You see ‘em everywhere in this town. Then the third one—”
“That’s me and you, reacting to Hollywood,” he said.
Her smile was dazzling. “You got it! I knew you would.” Her delight was radiant. She twisted to put her finger on the third mask. “I spotted this in a smoke shop, way across town, just last week. I couldn’t believe it. I bought it right on the spot, even though I didn’t know the other two would still be there—I thought for sure they’d be gone.”
“Only they weren’t,” Adán finished.
“It’s as if they were waiting for me to come back and get them,” she added.
His heart squeezed.
She was right there. Her thigh was nearly touching his because she was twisted on the stool to look at the necklace. Her hair flowed over her shoulder, gleaming red gold in the overhead light in the cabin.
It wasn’t candlelight or firelight or the glow of a sunset. It didn’t have to be.
Parris looked up at him. Her smile slipped. Did she feel it, too?
He kissed her. It wasn’t planned. He didn’t think about it, not in that moment. Later, when he reckoned up the size of the disaster, he would admit to himself that sub-consciously, he had wanted to kiss her for a long time.
The first touch of her lips was exactly as he imagined it would be. Softness and heat. A touch of chilled champagne and underneath, a taste that was purely her own. He couldn’t describe it, but it fit her perfectly.
Smooth softness under his fingers and silk sliding over the back of them. He’d pushed his hand under her hair, to hold her face.
She gasped against his lips. It was a soft sound.
And she leaned.
It was the smallest of motions but it was there. It shouted volumes.
Adán drew her off the stool and up against him.
The kiss deepened. It was heavenly. His body grew languid and heavy with a wanting more powerful than he’d ever experienced. This wanting had been years in the making.
He grew aware that he had pressed her up against the bar when she pushed against his chest.
“No,” she breathed into his mouth.
Adán tore himself away from her. Two staggering steps, then he made himself turn back to face her. His heart slammed against his chest. He was dizzy.
Parris bent, clutching the bar with white knuckles, her hair streaming to hide her face. She looked as though she would be sick.
“Goddamn it!” she cried in English. It was almost a scream.
It occurred to him that he should apologize. It wouldn’t fix things, though. Nothing would. Bitterness touched him. “This changes things…” He stuck with English. It felt safer using English, that anyone might overhear.
She flexed, standing upright in a balletic movement that spoke of her strength. She pushed her hair back. Her face was wet with tears. “It ruins things. Damn it, Adán, how could you?”
He drew in a deep breath. “We’ve known each other for four years,” he said. “In all that time you’ve never lied, until just now.”
THE VISTARIA AFFAIR series boxed set is available for pre-order.
Take my stories on a test run. 4 full novels free. Sign up below.