In honor of my wedding anniversary today and all the love that I'm feeling, I've decided to share an ENTIRE CHAPTER from THROWING HEAT. I can't believe it releases in just one more week on October 15th! Where has the time gone?
I won't go into that ramble right now (another time--trust me :-)
Without further ado--THROWING HEAT!
Peter Kowalskin looked through the peephole in his front door and grinned. Leslie Cutter stood on the other side, her ever-cool exterior two steps away from melting. A frown struggled to form between her perfectly groomed brows and almost succeeded.
Almost. “Open up, Kowalskin.”
His crappy day had suddenly gotten a whole lot better.
A moment ticked by while he considered whether or not to make her suffer a little and work for it. The urge to give her a hard time was almost irresistible. Few things in life were as much fun as ruffling the woman’s feathers.
“I know you’re in there. Are you going to make me wait out here all evening, or are you going to open the door and let me in?” she finished, her voice ripe with irritation.
Just because he could, Peter said loudly so she could hear him through the heavy oak door, “What’s the magic word?”
Her face tightened and her hazel eyes flashed briefly. “Seriously, Peter? How old are you?”
Old enough to know exactly how to have a really good time. “The longer you stall, the longer you stand there.”
Through the peephole he watched her roll her eyes and mutter under her breath. Finally she shook her long hair back and tipped her chin, going all haughty. “Fine. At least one of us has the capacity to be mature. Please let me in.” She added a sugary sweet smile to punctuate her request.
Pete knew she’d rather bite his head off. And it was funny. Damn funny.
Relenting, he opened the door and stepped to the side as he swept an arm wide in invitation, magnanimous as the best of hosts. “Come right on in.”
Scooping up the small leather suitcase by her feet, Leslie held her head high and strode over the threshold. “Thank you.”
The look she shot him was more like “fuck you” and he laughed heartily. “For a woman who’s temporarily homeless and in need of a place to stay, your tone is decidedly ungrateful.”
“I am ungrateful. If you were any sort of a decent landlord then I wouldn’t have a flooded apartment right now. My grandmother’s handmade quilt was destroyed because of your lack of proper plumbing maintenance.” Her lips pressed in a tight line. “Now your butt is stuck with me until everything is fixed.”
He did feel bad about that. That old converted warehouse where she lived had been nothing but a money pit since he’d purchased it a few years back. Maybe it was time to cut his losses and sell it.
Not before he made it right for Leslie, though. “The super has assured me that he’s on top of it.” And he was just going to take Jerry’s word for it, since actual property management was about the last thing he wanted to do.
With a hand at the back of his neck, Peter rubbed at the sudden tension and tossed her a lopsided grin meant to disarm. “If you don’t have rental insurance I’ll cover what’s been damaged. I know it won’t bring back your grandmother’s quilt, but it’s the best I can do.”
Leslie took two steps down into the sunken living room where his iPod was playing music softly in the background and glanced over her shoulder, her sleek sheet of hair whispering across her back with the movement. The hard glint in her eyes seemed to soften a degree. “Thanks anyway, but I’ve got it covered.”
Peter took a good long look at the woman standing in his living room and felt his palms go sweaty. It’s what always happened whenever the two of them were alone and in close proximity. Leslie was the kind of woman who had that effect on people.
“I heard about your breakup with John because of his last-minute trade to the Red Sox. Your little Southern heart couldn’t stand the idea of bedding a Northerner ?”
Her chin came up. “Just because you’re from Philadelphia and you think you’re perfect doesn’t make the East Coast utopia, Kowalskin.” A mischievous glint came into her eyes. “My good Southern manners simply keep me from pointing out your delusion.”
Laughter bubbled in his chest and let loose. “Well, thank God for that. I’m not sure my heart could handle the truth.”
Her lips twitched and she looked away, but he caught the grin anyway. “I’m glad I could save you the heartache.”
Peter took the steps and padded barefoot across the plush carpet toward her. “Here, let me take your bag and show you to your room like a proper host.”
Leslie eyed him. “Since when do you give a rip about proper?”
She had a point. Since when did he give a shit? Probably since about the time she walked through his door. “I’m trying on something new.”
The woman laughed right in his face. “Good luck with that.”
Stopping directly in front of her, he could make out the gold and green flecks in her eyes. He knew that they went dark as a forest when she was aroused. Even now they were beginning to change color.
The woman was a lot of things, but immune to him wasn’t one of them.
She’d never admit to it though. Not without a good hard shove, anyway. Lucky for him he didn’t mind getting pushy.
The time had come.
Peter pressed closer to her, invading her personal space until they were eye-to-eye. Hers rounded almost imperceptibly and he grinned. But she stood her ground, squaring her shoulders and trying desperately to look down her nose at him. Given that they were about the same height he imagined it wasn’t so easy to do.
Because it was just so tempting and self-control wasn’t his strong suit, he leaned in and hovered close.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked, sounding suspiciously breathy.
Taking a moment to savor the scent of her, he inhaled something creamy and coconut and bent his knees, effectively lowering himself. Tension began to coil inside him when her breasts came into view directly in front of him. Her sharp inhale pushed them out toward him and he fought back the urge to groan.
She had breasts like a goddess.
Her body went taut, but before she could snap at him, he grinned and wrapped his fingers around her suitcase handle. “Just grabbing your luggage.” He held it out for her to see. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.” Then he stepped back, the charged air dissipating with the distance, and turned toward the stairs. “Your bedroom’s upstairs.”
Leslie cut in front of him, her ass swaying rhythmically with every step of her long legs, and he couldn’t help admiring the way the pocket stitching on her jeans drew attention to her cheeks. They were embellished with tiny sequins that sparkled with every sway of her lush hips. Once she reached the bottom step she tossed him a look. “Shows what you know. I’m not wearing underwear.”
Momentarily at a loss for words, he trailed behind her to the landing, his gaze glued to her backside. Damn if he could see a panty line—which meant she wasn’t kidding.
Shaking his head to clear the building haze, Peter barely managed to rip his gaze away from her incredible ass in time to direct her into the second room down the hall on the right. “Over here,” he pointed and took the lead.
He’d known having Leslie stay with him while her apartment was being repaired was asking for trouble. But he was the kind of guy who thrived on it. Bad decisions were his forté, “reckless” his middle name.
And that girl, well, she had trouble in spades.
It trailed after her like a lovelorn stalker. From the moment he’d first met her four years back she’d been entangled in one mess or another. But then she’d moved to Denver, started dating his teammate John Crispin, and her life had seemed to settle down.
When she’d called him at two a.m. pissed as a three-legged goose and cursing his name because her bedroom was flooded and she was stranded on her bed, he’d felt guilty. Like, mega guilty. The superintendent had warned him a few weeks back that the building’s plumbing was in pretty bad shape, but they were nearing the postseason and all his focus had been on making it to the Division Series, and he’d told Jerry that he would look into it soon. Then he’d forgotten about it.
Leslie calling him all kinds of creative oaths with that pretty mouth of hers had proven to him just how wrong he’d been to assume that plumbing was the sort of inconvenience someone could put off dealing with.
And yeah, he could have comped her hotel stay, but what would have been the fun in that?
Moreover, he was a little surprised she’d actually taken him up on his offer.
Then again, she wasn’t the most sociable thing. With Crispin traded to Boston and Mark and his wife Lorelei in the middle of a big move, Leslie had more or less no other options besides him.
Oh, there was that young bartender at the club she managed, but the kid was still so green that if he ever got her alone he’d be a nervous wreck before the front door was even shut. Part of him felt for the guy. Sympathized even.
Leslie Cutter was every man’s wet dream.
When he was a kid, while other boys had posters of Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer plastered on their walls, he’d been obsessed with the curves of 1940s pinup girls Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe. He’d spent his fair share of nights growing up fantasizing about them.
And now he had the modern-day equivalent standing a few feet behind him in jeans and a pink T-shirt that fit her like second skin.
It was enough to make the horny teen in him weep.
“Your room,” he said as he reached the door and pushed it wide.
Stepping to the side as she brushed past, Peter caught a whiff of creamy coconut again and something stirred low in the pit of his stomach. Ever since that night in Miami the scent of that damn tropical nut did that to him. Got him all kinds of fired up.
“This is a great room.” She sounded surprised.
“Did you think I was going to offer you a dungeon or something?”
Leslie walked to the side of the bed and ran her hand over the sleek gray duvet. Glancing at him out of the corner of her eyes, she quipped, “Something like that.”
“Were you hoping for whips and chains?” The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them.
Her eyes flashed. “Would you even know what to do with them, if I was?”
Nope. But he was a real fast learner. “Try me, princess.”
Leslie flipped her hair back and managed to look as regal as the nickname he called her. “You wish.”
Yeah he did. It’d been the bane of his existence for going on three years now.
“There’s a bathroom just through that door.” He pointed to the door on the far right wall, trying to change the subject before he got himself all worked up over nothing.
He and Leslie were never going to happen.
She’d made that abundantly clear after the night they’d sort-of spent together in Miami. Normally that would’ve been just fine and dandy with him. Except that night had gone down in history as what he sadly referred to as “The Shame.” That blew, and it made it hard to just shrug it off.
That ugly little fact had stuck in his craw since the moment she’d fled his hotel room. Her moving to Denver had only made it that much worse. Every time he laid eyes on her it was salt in the wound. And since she was the sister of his best friend and teammate, he saw her a whole frigging lot.
Somehow they’d come to an unspoken agreement about that night, neither of them wanting to rehash the past. It was their secret. Mostly because of the embarrassment, but also because Mark would no doubt bust his nose if he knew what Peter had almost done with his sister.
“Hey, Peter. Thanks for letting me crash here for a few days.” Leslie’s voice cut through his musings and pulled him back into reality.
“No worries. We’re leaving tomorrow to begin the Division Series in St. Louis anyway. I’ll be in and out of here for the next few weeks and it’s nice knowing you’ll be staying over.” He crossed his arms over his chest and added, “Normally I have to hire the neighbor kid to come check on things, and I think he’s been stealing, so this is better.”
“Oh, well, glad I can be of service.” She stood on the far side of the king size bed, trying to hide her stress. But he could see it in the set of her shoulders, the tightness around her mouth. She needed rest.
Relaxing, Peter glanced briefly around the large room, hoping the clean, simple décor would do. He liked things uncluttered. Maybe it was because his personal life could be such a mess. “Let me know if you need anything, okay?”
She tossed him a dismissive glance, already toeing off her shoes. “Will do.”
Closing the door, he strode all the way down the hall to his bedroom. When he reached his door he glanced over his shoulder and noticed her suitcase sitting on the floor. Grabbing it, Peter turned the knob and swung her door back open.
“Hey, you left this in the hall.”
Leslie swore in surprise, her T-shirt stuck up around her chin. He’d caught her in the middle of taking it off. Her large breasts were on full display in that pitiful excuse for a bra she wore. He could see her dusky areolas through the white lace.
Heat pooled in his groin and he went achy. The kind of dull throb that made it real clear his dry spell had gone on for way too long. It started in his balls and weaved its way upward.
Muttering around the pink cotton, Leslie pulled it the rest of the way off and threw it on the bed. Her eyes lit defiantly. “What are you looking at?” she demanded, hands on her hips.
Ignoring the heaviness in his balls, Peter leaned nonchalantly against the door frame, crossed his legs, and hooked his thumbs in the front pockets of his jeans, suitcase dangling from his fingers. The woman was staring him down unflinchingly, and all the while her nipples were puckered and almost completely visible behind the delicate lace.
It was killing him.
Letting his eyes go hazy, Peter ratcheted up the Philly in his voice just to annoy her and drawled, “Nothing of yours I haven’t kissed before.” He held out the suitcase, dropped it.
And left her sputtering.