Romance cover model John Quinlan generously shared his latest round of cover shots with me. This one is gorgeous, isn't it?
Contact links for John: http://irishjohnquinlan.
(unedited excerpt from Carmine Club No. 1)
Her stomach tightened while she watched the bastard stroll up to her window like he had all day. Mac still walked with the same arrogant strut he'd had in his days as their high school quarterback. If he’d gone bald or gotten fat, Willa wouldn't mind the lecture she was about to get, but if possible, Mac looked better at forty-two than he had at eighteen. She wished she hadn't lowered the convertible top, so she could have the petty pleasure of making him have to ask her to roll down her window.
At least the prick had gone grey around his temples. Those glints of silver do not make him hotter. She caught herself raking her fingers through her hair and promptly squelched the classic signal of sexual attraction.
“Where’s the damn fire?” Mac glared over mirrored sunglasses. Of course the bastard's blue uniform shirt made his damn eyes look like two large drops of the Mediterranean. "I see you've still got a lead foot, Willa. Now you've got a rocket ship on wheels to go with it. That's a dangerous combination."
Turning to stare straight ahead, Willa flipped a hand over the side of the car, her license and insurance card held between two fingers. He made no move to take them. A minute ticked by. Then another. Her cheeks started to feel like they were the fire. Finally, he took her ID and proof of insurance. Gritting her teeth, she watched him from the corner of her eye. He slid them into the breast pocket of his shirt without a glance. The crackling voices from the small radio mounted on his shoulder unnerved her, adding to the static in her head.
“Step out of the car.”
Willa clenched her jaw, but refused to look at him. “I’ll do no such thing. I was speedin'. Write me a ticket. But I’m in a hurry, so if you could manage to do that efficiently, I’d appreciate it. In fact, why don’t you mail it? You have the address, don’t you? Carmine House, just up the road.”
“Woman, you were doing more than twice the legal speed limit. Now you wanna add a charge of refusin' to comply with a lawful order? I can arrest you for both violations. Step out of the car, Willa.” Mac's voice had the metallic quality of a man used to being obeyed.
Infuriated, Willa clawed at the door handle, shoving the heavy door open with all her might. Mac sidestepped her petty gesture neatly, the way he'd avoided many a linebacker half their lifetimes ago.
“This is an abuse of authority.” Willa huffed, shoving her sunglasses to the top of her head so he couldn't miss her haughty look. Her temperature went up ten degrees when he smiled, slow as molasses. Her body reacted to the wayward image in her head—of Mac, his handcuffs, and a dim jail cell—adding to her ire.
“Willa, I just saved you from assaultin' an officer. That charge carries mandatory jail time.” His brows raised a notch, as if to ask why she was stalling.
The road's edge had a downhill grade of at least twenty degrees, turning the simple act of getting out of the low-slung car in her heels into a challenge to her dignity. Her skirt rode high on her thighs while she struggled. He stood there like a knot on a log, not offering her a hand. Grinning. Like a baboon.
Not that she wanted him to touch her. Hell, no. Finally pulling herself erect, looking anywhere except at Mac, she seethed at the way she’d fallen into his hands. Athens was home to the University of Georgia, the oldest state university in the nation. Despite the way the students swelled the population, this city was still a small place. She'd worked her ass off to avoid him since her return, only to end up standing so close she could smell his cheap aftershave. Willa drove her teeth into her tongue to keep from promising him she wouldn’t miss the next time, but he barked again, derailing her train of thought.
“Step to the rear of the vehicle and put your hands on the car.”
Shocked, Willa studied his eyes, peering at her over his gold rims. Mac was stubborn as a mule, a trait she doubted had softened with time. He'd been elected county sheriff two years ago, running on a platform promising to shut down adult bookstores and lock up more drunk drivers, winning by a landslide. Making him a danger to her and her club. Mac would never take a bribe.
Her club was for consenting adults, but what she did wasn't legal, in the strictest terms. She auctioned women's sex fantasies to her male members for satisfaction. She took money from the winning bidder, making her guilty of pandering. Willa believed in the club's purpose enough to risk jail or public scorn, but she was in no hurry to explain to twelve god-fearing citizens of this town why their former homecoming queen, Georgia's one-time representative in the Miss America pageant, and the ex-wife of one of the wealthiest men in the country had become a pimp. She could afford the ticket. She couldn't afford to give Mac an excuse to start nosing around. She absolutely couldn't risk inflaming the intent look in the sheriff's eyes. The heated examination he gave her, starting at her face, traveling to her shoes and back to her face, let her know what she'd suspected all along.
Mac thought they had unfinished business.
Despite her cool reasoning, it was the ghost of eighteen-year old Willa who raised her chin and snapped. “I’ll do no such thing. You’re not gonna cop a cheap feel by pretendin' I need to be frisked, Andrew Mackenzie Rinehart.”
Thanks for dropping in. Have a great weekend!