Hello romance readers!
Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my upcoming release, His Loving Caress. I’m excited about the next addition to the Chasing Love series and I hope you enjoy reading it. The official release date is June 1st and the paperback will be released on May 24th wherever paperbacks are sold. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’ll post another excerpt before the release date. Perhaps two …
Hearts in Harmony
Instead of falling apart when her childhood sweetheart chose his music career over marriage, Elle Lauren fled to Paris to study fashion design. Her stunning wedding gowns now give other brides the happily-ever-after she didn’t have. Ignoring Braxton Chase’s long-distance apologies has been easy. But seeing him once more stirs the deep longings and desires that a decade has not erased.
Braxton walked away from the pressure to marry at a young age, and he’s regretted breaking Elle’s heart ever since. From the moment he sees her again at his Atlanta jazz club, he knows he wants more than forgiveness—he wants a second chance at the heart-and-soul connection that they once had. Can he convince her to trust the sweet, seductive melody of their lost love?
Elle studied her flushed face and glistening eyes in the mirror of the ladies’ room on the first floor. She wasn’t even sure how she’d managed to walk down there. She’d been in a daze and the heaviness returned to her legs and her heart. Braxton had played their song and it had taken everything she had in her not to turn on the tears. For years she refused to listen to the song. But after awhile, hearing “Adore” by Prince had gotten easier. Until now. Braxton played it with so much emotion and vigor as if it was only them in the room. Once he was done, he’d given her the most endearing look, one that elicited heat to her center and caused a rage-filled shudder to travel down her spine.
Upon reaching the ladies’ room she was flabbergasted to see the black wallpaper with orchids, solidifying the fact the flowers were definitely from him. In the plush ladies’ lounge area hung oversized portraits of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, who were some of Elle’s favorite jazz and blues singers. Braxton had always been very detail oriented and even though Megan, who was an interior designer, had decorated the jazz club, it was his vision.
Exhaling to calm herself, Elle rustled through her purse to locate her keys so she could leave. The event was almost over, and she’d already given a sizable donation to the treasurer that would pay for at least two students to obtain their undergraduate degrees. She wasn’t sure if she could make it back up the stairs to say goodbye to Megan and Tiffani, but she knew they would understand when she called them later. Glancing in the mirror one last time, Elle exited out of the restroom and straight into the sight of Braxton who was casually leaning on the opposite wall with his arms crossed over his commanding chest next to a portrait of his jazz quartet.
Elle sashayed straight up to him as his eyes widened. She was sure he wasn’t expecting her to do so. Her heels gave her a little height and confidence, because at five feet five inches, she’d always had to stand on her tippy-toes to reach him.
“What do you want?” she demanded through clenched teeth.
A sly grin reached his lips. “Is that a trick question? Never ask a man who finds you irresistible what he wants.”
“Your compliments no longer work on me. I know you’re not just standing here hanging out. You were obviously waiting for me. And how on earth did you know I was attending the brunch? Megan said you’re rarely here on a Saturday morning, and I know neither she nor Tiffani would’ve told you.”
“Syd sent me a text this morning. You know she always looks out for her big brother.”
“Good ol’ Syd,” she said sarcastically. Elle hadn’t had a chance to speak with Sydney, who, as a criminal profiler, was busy on an important case. But apparently she wasn’t too busy to rat out Elle’s whereabouts to Braxton. She wasn’t surprised Syd told her brother. She had always been the main person dropping hints that Braxton wasn’t over their relationship.
“She thought perhaps it was time for us to finally see each other. Finally face the music, and I agree.”
“I don’t need to face anything,” she said angrily. “I’m not the one who left.”
He nodded as if in agreement, with a solemn expression washing over his features. “I deserve that, and I know I messed up with you. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about just how much I effed up.”
“Yeah, you really did. I hope it was worth it, though. You got everything you wanted, right?” The question was laced with condescension as she stared straight into his eyes. “The platinum records, the awards, the accolades, the drop-dead gorgeous women and of course, the hottest jazz club in Atlanta. Am I missing anything?” Pursing her lips together, she folded her arms across her chest waiting for his reply.
“I don’t have everything I want. I realize now more than ever what is missing, and why I’ve never felt fulfilled or truly happy about my success. I’ve missed you, Elle.”
While he sounded sincere and she respected his honesty, he wasn’t going to knock down her brick wall. He couldn’t know that she felt the exact same way. She loved her career, but there was a piece of her that wasn’t truly happy because he wasn’t there to share in her success. However, she would never reveal that to him.
“Humph. It’s too late for that.”
Braxton closed the space between them and lowered his head to hers. “It’s never too late for something that’s meant to be. Did you enjoy the song?”
“What do you think?”
“Oh, I think you did. It was plastered all over your lovely face, Sunshine.”
Elle winced at the nickname he’d given her in high school. He’d said she brightened up his life. She used to love when he called her that, but now she simply loathed it.
She pointed her finger at his hard chest. “Don’t call me that. You lost those privileges.”
He nestled his hand around her finger, and the feel of his skin on hers sent a wave of shivers through her body. She regretted being in his personal space yet she couldn’t move as he held her in a steady trance. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it tenderly while studying her carefully.
“You are still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid my eyes on.”
Her lids fluttered shut as he kissed her hand once more and a long, relieved sigh released from her throat. Over the years, she’d dreamed of him placing tantalizing kisses on her body. They’d felt so real, as if he were actually there. But when she awoke, reality would sink in as she’d reach out to an empty pillow.
He rested his head on her forehead and took a deep breath. For a minute her pain was washed away and replaced with the strong bond they’d once shared. However, when his arms encircled her waist and drew her closer, her eyes shot open and she remembered this wasn’t a dream. He was there, in the flesh, and she wanted nothing to do with him.
Snatching her body away, she took a few steps back and leaned on the opposite wall to compose herself. Being in his arms again, though brief, reminded her of the heart and soul connection they’d once shared. It was still there, and she needed to get away from him as soon as possible before the waterworks turned on and she gave in to his request to talk.
They stared at each other for a moment. Even though the music from the mezzanine level reached the lobby area, Elle could hear her heart hammer rapidly against her chest over the upbeat song. Before her was the man she used to love and trust. She’d shared her deepest thoughts, fears and dreams with him. Now she hated him. Though a part of her was actually overjoyed he was there. At one point in time he’d been her best friend, and she’d missed that more than anything.
Sighing, she broke their uneasy silence. “I need to go.”
“I meant what I said earlier, Elle. I need to talk to you.”
“We just finished talking. You admitted you effed up, you miss me, and I really don’t care.”
“You know what I mean.”
“And I meant what I said earlier. We have nothing to discuss. You want to know how my life has been without you. Fabulous. Now I have to go check on a wedding gown for an auction. Goodbye, Braxton.” She turned on her heel and hoped he didn’t say anything else or follow her. She needed to jet to the car and fast before the tear in the corner of her eye rolled down her cheek.
“Oh, so you’re attending your sorority’s auction tonight, as well?” he asked in a pleasant, upbeat manner.
She cringed as she replayed his words. She really hoped he didn’t mean “as well” as in he would be there, too. Pivoting toward him, she laughed nervously. “You’re going?” she asked as calm as possible. Seeing Braxton twice in one day wasn’t on today’s schedule.
“Yep. I’m auctioning off an upright piano.” Approaching her, he swept a tendril of her hair from beside her eye and tucked it behind her ear before running a finger down the side of her neck. “So I guess I’ll see you tonight, Sunshine,” he stated in an endearing tone that was accompanied by an arrogant smirk.
The mere touch of his finger on her neck was enough to send a raw shudder through her body that she managed to suppress until she rushed out of the revolving door, down the sidewalk and somehow to the safety of her rented BMW. Crashing her head onto the steering wheel, she exhaled and let the tears flow. Seeing Braxton without warning caused overwhelming emotions to surface that she’d hidden over the years in order to move on with her life. She’d missed him dearly and every blue moon she’d find herself teary-eyed from the pain that still lingered. However, she was irritated for letting him unravel her that easily. Braxton knew exactly which buttons to push, or in this case, which spots on her body to touch that would make her instantly let down her guard. He’d been her first love and the first man she’d ever been intimate with. She hated to admit that after all these years her body and mind were still under his control as if he’d purposely programmed it that way. The few boyfriends she’d had since Braxton never knew what the hell they were doing, and she usually ended up sexually frustrated because she never felt fulfilled afterward. She’d never craved or longed for any of them the way she did for Braxton.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. His Loving Caress is on pre order.
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