Hello! I have Amber Lea Easton over today with Noah and Lauren from Riptide.
Setting: Rum Point on Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Hammocks sway in the breeze between towering palm trees as the tide goes out leaving an array of pools where kids lurk looking for small sea creatures. The Caribbean Sea stretches to infinity beyond the long pier. A parrot occupies a perch near the bar squawking out random sayings like “I’m gonna get ya” and “all is lost” (a real cheery bird). A group of scuba divers fresh off a dive gather at a long table outside the bar, their rowdy laughter mixing easily with the sound of the sea and Jimmy Buffet music.
Noah Reynolds, shirt more off than on as he leans back in his chair staring at the horizon while the sea breeze tosses his black hair from his forehead, spins the empty beer bottle on the top of the table.
Lauren Biltmore, long blonde hair twisted into a loose knot at the base of her neck and wearing a white sundress that leaves her shoulders bare, taps her fingers along the back of Noah’s chair, her blue eyes watching me enter with only a tinge of apprehension clouding their depths.
Me: “Hey, you two. I’m glad you were willing to take the time to see me. I know your lives have been a bit hectic lately.”
Lauren: “That’s a bit of an understatement, don’t you think?”
Noah smiles, his attention finally drifting to me. “Just another day in paradise.”
His sarcasm isn’t lost on me. “Well, I’m not here to discuss the mess you’ve been immersed in. My readers want to know more of the juicy details.”
Noah motions to the bartender for another beer. “Ah, I see. I love talking about the juicy details. Bring it on.”
Me: “Well, you two fought your attraction to each other for awhile. Why and was it worth the wait?”
Lauren laughs as she shifts forward in her chair. “Worth the wait? Hell, yes. Why? Well, I wasn’t exactly in dating mode when I came down here. I wasn’t sure I trusted myself to get involved with someone right away, especially not someone like Noah.”
Noah: “What does that mean? Someone like me?” He winks at her, his smile saying that he knows exactly what she means but wants her to say it anyway.
Lauren: “A playboy, that’s what.”
Noah: “Me? I’m as harmless as a puppy.”
Lauren: “A pitbull puppy maybe.”
Me: “But, Noah, you held back, too. You were the one who pulled away even when Lauren wanted more, at least at first. What’s up with that? I mean, look at her…she’s hot. How could you resist?”
Noah shrugs, his attention now focussed on the fresh bottle of beer in his hands as his fingers toy with peeling off the label. “Women and I haven’t had a great history. And there was the stalker…I knew what Lauren had just been through and didn’t want to drag her into the mess.”
Lauren: “No one drags me anywhere. I went willingly. As for the other women in your past, I guess I’m the exception to the rule.”
Noah smiles against the rim of the beer bottle. “You are definitely exceptional, sexy lady. No doubt about that.”
Me: “Tell me more about the stalker.”
Lauren takes a long sip of her sangria before looking me in the eye. “I thought I was going crazy, I really did. After what I’d left behind in Atlanta, I couldn’t be sure what was real and what was my imagination. I wasn’t exactly proactive in getting therapy back in the States so…when things starting happening here, I thought perhaps I’d finally snapped.”
Me: “At first you said you wanted to use Noah for six weeks of no-strings-mind-blowing-liquify-your-bones sex…when did that change into love?”
Noah, suddenly riveted on the conversation, looks at Lauren. “You said that? Really? Hell, I’m up for that at any time, babe. I knew you were into me.”
Lauren rolls her eyes, a blush staining her cheeks. “You had to go and feed his ego, didn’t you, Amber? Seriously? The man doesn’t need any encouragement.”
Noah links his fingers through hers before looking at me. “No matter what happened here on Cayman–the stalker, the near-death experiences, the murder–Lauren is the best thing that could have happened to me. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her.”
Lauren squeezes his hand and stares into his face. “Likewise, babe. I’d do it all again. Well, maybe not all…but you know what I mean.”
They lean into each other for a kiss so tender I can’t help but feel I’m intruding. Sometimes when you’re in the presence of true love, all you feel is awe. That’s how I feel now sitting here with Lauren and Noah with the Caribbean framing their silhouettes.
Author: Amber Lea Easton
Length: 98,000 words
Genres: Contemporary Romantic Suspense (Adventure)
Heat Level: Steamy
AVAILABLE AT: Bookstrand
One violent night shatters Lauren Biltmore’s life. As an anchorwoman, she’s accustomed to reporting the news rather than being the lead story. She escapes the spotlight by fleeing to her brother’s home in the Cayman Islands. Haunted by nightmares, all she wants is a distraction from reality.
Distraction arrives via sexy screenwriter, Noah Reynolds. His take-me-to-bed looks mask a past ripe with scandal. He knows he should stay away from Lauren, especially when the worst night of her life unlocks his writer’s block and while he’s dealing with a stalker of his own, but ethics are his weakness.
Attraction sizzles beneath Caribbean sunshine. As their relationship grows, Noah’s stalker intensifies her torment. Lauren wonders if her paranoia is justified or a carryover from her past. What’s real? What’s imagined? Tentative trust is tested as their love is swept up against a riptide of deceit, murder, and revenge.
His two days on board the Angelfish with Larry had been good for him. Larry had convinced him of the absurdity of his theory that Alicia still walked the earth and assured him that he’d help find out who was bringing up the past. Sometimes there was nothing better than an old friend, even one who tended to piss him off more often than not.
He toweled himself off, his thoughts centered around Lauren and their last date. It hadn’t exactly gone as planned given the dead guy face down amidst the fish. Not that he’d helped the situation with his not-so-smooth-moves-on-the-beach later. The past two days had given him perspective. He wanted her. Right or wrong, mistake or not, he needed to see where this could go. He couldn’t get her out of his mind. Maybe tonight he’d get another chance if he could track her down.
“Noah.” Lauren cleared her throat from where she stood outside the open bathroom door. She leaned against the wall in a Caribbean blue tank dress that hugged her body in all the right places, legs exposed from midthigh down, ankles crossed, long hair glistening over lightly tanned shoulders, gaze averted to the floor and smile playing across lips he desperately wanted against his skin. “Sorry to barge in. You left the deck door wide open.”
“No problem.” He cinched the towel around his waist and wondered exactly how long she’d been standing there. The thought of her watching him shower and dry off did crazy things to his nervous system. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“Erin told me.” She leaned her head back against the wall and dragged her gaze from his toes upward. “Heard you were on private charter for the past few days.”
He leaned his shoulder against the doorframe and let her gaze soak him up. He liked the way she looked at him as if he were dessert.
“About the other night…I’m sorry. Can I make it up to you? Dinner tonight? Etcetera?” he asked.
She caught her lower lip between her teeth, gaze lingering on his chest. “Are you sure this time? No running away when things get hot?”
Electricity zapped in the three feet separating them.
Damn, the woman did insane things to his rational thinking. He’d decided on the boat that he needed to see her, make things right, take it slow, get tangled up in some strings. Seeing her live and in person threw common sense out the window.
“I can’t decide if you’re hotter when wet or dry…I’m thinking it might be a tie,” she said.
Oh, what the hell. With an opener like that, how could a man resist? He crossed the space between them, slipped his hand behind her neck, and kissed her on that mouth he’d been fantasizing about all week.
Her hands slid over his damp chest while her mouth moved slowly beneath his, her teeth lightly catching his lower lip. Eyes open, they smiled against each other’s mouths.
“Miss me?” he asked.
“It would be very uncool of me to answer that.” She slid her hands over his abdomen and lingered on the towel. “Are you still wanting to back off, or have you come to your senses?”
He braced his hands over her head. The only thing he wanted to do was kiss her slowly and make her beg for more. He looked into her eyes. “You’re making me forget all of the reasons this is a mistake.”
“A sexy mistake.” Her fingers touched his chest in a featherlike caress. She licked her lips.
“Good point.” He smiled. “We’re headed into the danger zone.”
“You have no idea how dangerous.” She tugged on the towel, a wicked grin in her eyes.
Oh, he had an idea about the level of danger. He’d thought of nothing else for the past forty-eight hours and ranked this situation a solid Level Red. Despite that, all he could think about was how good it would feel to have her long legs wrapped around his hips while her nails clawed against his back. He needed to pull the emergency brake. Slow, he reminded himself. Slow.
He leaned against her, enjoying the way her body arched toward his like a magnetic pull. He tangled his fingers in the hair at the back of her neck. “What do you want, Lauren? After the other night, you know I’m more complicated than I seem.”
Her gaze flicked up to his. “I know what I’m doing.”
“You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.”
“Show me. Let’s make some mistakes together. We’re both consenting adults. What the hell?” she whispered, her teeth pulling at his lower lip.
“Does that scare you?” she asked.
He paused a fraction over her lips and looked into her eyes. Yeah, she was scary reckless, but that turned him on more than he could say. So what if she wanted to use him for a distraction from her own demons? He knew that had something to do with it—the woman oozed intensity.
Her mouth widened, taking his like a woman starving for the taste of him. Ravenous. Her fingers fisted in the back of his hair. Her bare foot slid up the outside of his leg. Tongues clashed in a passionate dance that left no doubt about mutual desire.
He pressed her against the wall, uncaring about the slipping of the towel down his hips. This woman made him want more than he had dared want in years. His hands roamed up her sides, thumbs caressing the outline of her breasts. Closer. He couldn’t get close enough.
She pressed her hips against his. “Five days ago I didn’t think I’d feel any emotion ever again. Now here I am making out with you. Insane.”
“A little bit of crazy is good for a person.” He wrapped his hands in her hair, holding her face close to him. “What do you feel now?”
“You. I feel you.”
“You say all the right things,” he said against her mouth. His skin rippled beneath her touch. He couldn’t explain his reaction to her…he felt like an addict in desperate need of a fix.
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. For twenty years, she’s worked in the fields of journalism and advertising with a brief detour into the financial industry. Although she holds a BA in Communications & Journalism, she is a perpetual student of life who enjoys taking post-graduate courses on a wide variety of subjects when time allows. Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges, but who ultimately persevere.
Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she’s writing, she considers herself to be simply “a lucky lady liv’n the dream.”
Visit Amber at:
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Website – http://www.amberleaeaston.com
Twitter – @MtnMoxieGirl
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