Posted by Julie at Jul 11, 2012 6:00 am
So, I confess…I did receive a “senior superlative” the year I graduated. I was voted “Best Leader” by my classmates, which probably just meant I was the bossiest girl in the Class of 1983. I’m okay with that. Unlike a lot of people, I loved high school. I made good friends that I still have today, I had a lot of great experiences because of my involvement in student government and in show choir, where I served as a lead soloist and “president” of the choir. I got to travel, meet a lot of community leaders and to be honest, skip a lot of the classes I didn’t want to go to. (I hereby thank Coach Hailey for letting me skip a LOT of PE in order to rehearse and/or plan pep rallies and dances.)
In other words…I was a LOT like Erica Holt, the heroine of my story, “A Moment Like This,” in the Harlequin Blaze collection, THE GUY MOST LIKELY TO… I can’t say that I had a secret crush on the class bad-boy (I’m not exactly sure who that guy would have been in my class…we had a lot of them…I did to to Catholic school after all!) but I did have a lot of expectations on me that made me very conscious of how people perceived me as opposed to who I was deep down inside. That’s what made this story so appealing to me…a chance to explore that theme.
And the hero? Scott “Rip” Ripley? I can honestly say I never quite met a guy like him (although maybe I did and I was too young and too naive to see it!) He’s a bad boy with a sense of humor and a secret past that drives him to be “the Guy Most Likely to Ride out of town on a Harley” the moment graduation is over.
But now he’s back…and Erica will never be the same. At least…that’s her plan. :-)
**For those of you who read my books, the heroine of “A Moment Like This” is Erica Holt, best friend of Abby Albertini, the heroine of TOO WICKED TO KEEP. I’m going to give away five copies of that book…so post what you think of the excerpt below for a chance to win! US shipping only.
EXCERPT FROM “A MOMENT LIKE THIS”
She kissed him. She didnâ€™t think, didnâ€™t overanalyze, didnâ€™t over-orchestrate the touching of lips that sheâ€™d been anticipating for over nine months, ever since Scott â€œRipâ€ Ripley had checked the â€œyesâ€ box on the invitation to their ten-year class reunion.
The planning was overâ€”and the party had begun.
With her mind, body and soul open, she surrendered to the dizzying sensations that came from finally taking what she wanted for so very, very long.
Just as she expected, he tasted like sweet cola and freedom and forbidden lust. The warmth of his tongue as it swirled around hers possessed enough heat to melt asphalt.
She gripped tight to the stone wall beneath her. Grit bit into her skin with an exquisite pain that kept her from going too far, too fast. Not that she hadnâ€™t already gone farther and faster than she ever expected.
â€œErica,â€ he murmured, his mouth still pressed to hers.
â€œMm-hm,â€ she verified.
â€œWhat are you doing?â€ he asked, skimming his lips across her cheeks, down her chin, and then along the ridge of her jawline.
God, he was good. Oh, so good.
â€œKissing you,â€ she replied.
â€œYes, you are.â€ He wiped his hands on the thighs of his jeans, then speared them into her hair and repositioned her face so that she had no choice but look at him directlyâ€”without lip contact. â€œBut why?â€
She blinked. Was it her imagination, or was his jaw more square-shaped now than it had been all those years ago? His eyes looked even bluer. As it had been in the past, his hair was longer than the St. Aloysius dress code requirements allowedâ€”and it still suited him.
â€œWhy?â€ she repeated. â€œBecause itâ€™s long overdue.â€
She kissed him again and for a second time, he didnâ€™t resist. Ten years clearly had changed the man. When sheâ€™d tried this last time, heâ€™d pushed her away and forever ended their secret, albeit totally platonic friendship.
The memory shouldnâ€™t have been so fresh, but ten minutes or ten years couldnâ€™t erase what had become a singular moment in her senior year. She could feel the bite of the torn leather booth against the back of her thighs and could still smell the greasy pepperoni and cigarette smoke in the South Side pizza parlor where theyâ€™d met for her French lessons.
In his old neighborhood, no one would recognize them. No one who saw them together would talk or spread rumors or better yet, intrude. No one whoâ€™d witnessed her spontaneous attempt to kiss himâ€”which heâ€™d spurned before her lips had touched hisâ€”would ever report that St. Aloysiusâ€™s good girl had attempted to seduce the ultimate bad boy.
And had failed.
But she wasnâ€™t failing now. This kiss was everything sheâ€™d wanted ten years ago. Tentative, yet passionate. Unexpected, yet natural. Forbidden, yet undeniable.
Until he broke away.
â€œYouâ€™re playing with fire,â€ he warned.
She smiled. â€œGod, I hope so.â€
She moved in for another kiss, but this time, he caught her by the upper arms.
â€œHolt, you need to slow down.â€
She narrowed her eyes. â€œAnd you need a new script. Thatâ€™s exactly what you said to me our senior year before you stopped returning my calls.â€
He scooted away from her, swung his leg over so that he was facing the school grounds and after throwing her a wary glance, launched himself onto the carefully tended lawn.
â€œI did you a favor,â€ he insisted, punching a finger in her direction.
The gesture pushed her over the edgeâ€”literally and figuratively. She jumped off the wall with a little more force than necessary and when one heel caught the ground at an odd angle, she dropped to her knees, blindsided by a burst of pain in her ankle.
He was beside her in an instant, cursing even as he braced her foot.
â€œCan you move?â€
She inhaled and exhaled until the tiny bursts of light in her eyes disappeared. â€œIâ€™m fine. I just twisted it a little.â€
â€œLet me check.â€ He felt around for the zipper that ran up the back of the boot, but as much as she didnâ€™t mind having his hands on her, she wasnâ€™t done being angry yet.
She yanked out of his grasp and rubbed her joint through the leather. â€œI said Iâ€™m fine. Did anyone ever tell you that youâ€™re bossy?â€
He scowled at her. â€œAs I recall, you cornered the market on bossy a long time ago.â€
â€œAnd what? You find bossiness unattractive?â€
â€œRight,â€ he snapped, â€œlike anything about you is unattractive.â€
Erica grunted when her fingers dug into a sore spot. â€œWell, you were all hot and ready to go on a wild adventure with the sexy, anonymous biker chick. You even climbed a damned tree to find out who I was. The second you saw it was me, you put on the brakes. What am I supposed to think?â€
â€œNot the second,â€ he countered, dropping from his knees to his ass, as if her pointing out the truth had thrown him off balance.
Well, maybe it had. She had very little idea about what his life had been like since graduation, but she knew he hadnâ€™t joined the priesthood or become a monk. His aunt and uncle still socialized with her family, so she knew heâ€™d served in Iraq and had returned unharmed. She knew heâ€™d graduated from college and that he lived in New York City.
Beyond that, his life was a mystery as much as hers likely was to him.
But it had been that mystery that had inspired her to jump completely out of her comfort zone. Around the same time sheâ€™d learned Rip was coming to the reunion, Erica had watched her normally cautious, infinitely serious best friend, Abby, lose her mind over a mysterious man from her past. At the time, Erica had thought Abby was making a huge mistake opening her heart to a man with a shady pastâ€”but in the end, Abby had found the love of her life.
Sheâ€™d taken a risk. Sheâ€™d gone against conventional wisdom and as a result, exchanged loneliness for delirious happiness.
Erica didnâ€™t expect the same outcome for herself. She wasnâ€™t looking for a soul mate. For tonight, for the weekend, she just wanted to have some fun.
Buy a copy of GUY MOST LIKELY TO at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or your local brick and mortar store that carries Harlequin books.
GREAT NEWS…each of these novellas will have a sequel entitled GIRL MOST LIKELY TO… which will be available exclusively for your e-reader in a week or so!