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Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Naughty New Year with Tina Donahue

Tina Donahue is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist who writes passionate romance for every taste – “heat with heart” – for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. She’s won Readers’ Choice Awards, was named a finalist in the EPIC competition, received a Book of the Year award, The Golden Nib Award, awards of merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competitions, and second place in the NEC RWA contests. She’s featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before penning romances, she worked at a major Hollywood production company in Story Direction. Outside of being an admitted and unrepentant chocoholic, she’s flown a single-engine plane, rewired an old house using an electricity for dummies book, and has been known to moan like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally whenever she’s eating anything Mexican or Italian.

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The following scene opens the action in Red-Hot, my contemporary novella. Set in Manhattan on New Year’s, Eric is about to meet a woman who will change his life. Who says resolutions and sexy dreams don’t come true?

Eric Neal shouldered past too much humanity at 2Nite, a popular Manhattan dance spot. Lyrics shrieked. Bass pounded. In honor of the New Year holiday, white, red, and gold spotlights swept past, the neon colors bright enough to burn retinas.

After a brutal day’s work, on a freaking holiday no less, he should have fled this commotion for his staid club and a relaxing swim followed by a few drinks. He couldn’t now.

She drew him to her.

His breathing picked up.

In a sea of outrageous colors, her flame-red hair stood out like a sultry beacon. Cut as short as a guy’s, those glossy waves were somehow dangerously feminine.

He grinned.

An elbow rammed into his arm, another in his back. He gasped.

Someone shouted, “Sorry, man.”

Wincing, he sidestepped the voice’s owner and craned his neck.

Arms above her head, she bounced in place and pumped her fists to This is My Fight Song. Her gyrations weren’t exactly dance steps, but more like Sylvester Stallone’s moves in Rocky when he’d jumped up and down outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Despite the wintry night, she wore a silvery tank top that glittered wildly. Her super-short black skirt bobbed above her slender thighs.

Eric swigged his Heineken.

Her combat boots ruled. Adorable and oddly sexy, they pulled him closer.

Perspiration beaded on her temples. A soft rose tint blushed beneath her pale skin, not a freckle in sight. 

He guessed her to be mid-twenties or so. If it hadn’t looked weird, he would have leaned closer and tried to catch her scent.

She opened her eyes.

Those babies couldn’t have been bluer, her features cute, rather than drop-dead gorgeous, fitting her perfectly.

His legs weakened.

She grinned and danced for him alone, it seemed, their gazes welded. When she turned, he followed and circled her.

Her laughter tinkled within the raucous noise. He joined her, enjoying himself.
The music wound down. She lifted her face to the ceiling, exposing her long, creamy throat. “Whew. That was something.”

No kidding. A few times in his life, sex hadn’t been this good.

Without asking, she took his beer, enjoyed a long sip, and returned the bottle with a sweet smile. “Thanks, I needed that. Hey.”

Her husky voice surprised him. “Hey. You were really into the song.”

“Yeah?” She fingered beer off her lips.

If she’d given him the chance, he would have licked the drops away.

The couple behind her horsed around and ran into her. She lurched forward.

Eric caught her arm to keep her from falling. Her cinnamon-and-vanilla scent enhanced her natural musk. His heart walloped. “You okay?”

“Never been better.” She beamed. “Thanks for rescuing me. I’m Rusty. Short for Russell.”

Eric stepped back as far as he could on the crowded dance floor. Unlike the other women here, she wasn’t busty. Her boobs were barely a handful for a man. What some might call pert and hopefully real. Courtesy of nature not doctor-prescribed hormones. “Huh?”

Her laughter pealed above the others’ shouted conversations. “Don’t worry. Dad named me—his only child and daughter—in honor of my grandfather. I’m not a guy.”

Thank god. That would have been disappointment he couldn’t have handled. “Nice to meet you, Rusty. I’m Eric.” He offered his hand.

She slid her fingers across his, her palm satiny and warm.

His mouth got drier than dust. He squeezed gently and stroked her thumb. “You come here often?” This was his first time. For some reason, he’d gone through the front door tonight rather than walking past this place as he usually did.
“I come whenever I can, if I’m not busy.”


“Or protesting. You gotta do what you gotta do to make things right. Agreed?”

He supposed. “What do you protest?”

Her reddish eyebrows lifted. He wasn’t certain if she was surprised or excited by his question.

Passion quickly sparked in her eyes. “Unfairness. People taking advantage of others because they can. Stuff that needs to change.” She smiled broadly. “I’m proud to say the cops ordered me to get lost at OWS.”

Occupy Wall Street. Eric had seen the disturbance from his office window. His fellow attorneys had laughed off the protest as a mere nuisance. Nothing that would damage them or the corporate heads they represented. Of all the women for him to meet, he had to choose one who would probably snarl at his occupation. Maybe kick him where it hurt when he would have preferred she be nice to him.

Good sense told him to bow out gracefully and run for the street. He couldn’t budge. Didn’t want to. Her scent was too entrancing. Everything about her fascinated him. If she wouldn’t have thought him odd, he would have held onto her hand for hours. Her other parts too. Reluctantly, he released her. “What do you do when you’re not protesting? Where do you work?”

“For my dad.” She took the beer, enjoyed another sip, and licked her lips. “But I’m also developing a website.”

Eric warned himself not to stare too much at her mouth or her tongue…wet and pink, it kept darting out to lick her ruby-red lips. “Yeah? What are you trying to sell?”

“Nothing.” She frowned. “That’s the point.”

She wanted to discuss her revolution. Who was he to deny her? “You’re creating an informational spot for what’s wrong with the world?”

“Not a bad idea.” Her lovely smile returned. “But that would take more time than I have and people don’t bother reading stuff even if it’s the truth. They’re too busy surviving. That’s what I’m trying to help them with.”

Weapons, ammunition, and dried foodstuffs came to mind. Items survivalists coveted. He hoped that wasn’t what she was talking about. “Sorry, I’m not following.”

“No prob. Let me explain.” She touched his forearm.

Given the intense heat in here, he’d folded his shirt sleeves back. Skin touched skin. His sizzled. “Sure. I’d like that.”

Her cheeks flushed. “I’m into bartering. Forget retail and even eBay. There’s already enough stuff in this world. Actually, too much. It’s only making the one-percent richer. Like they need it.” She made a face. “My site’s going to help people connect so they can trade their things. No lucre involved. You need a shirt? Fine. You offer a purse for it or whatever else you have and don’t need any longer. Want a ride? You babysit or fix something for the other person to pay for the service. Great, huh?” She looked at him expectantly.

No way would he argue. The idea wasn’t half bad. There were already several sites like that around. Could be she’d somehow make hers different from them. “Yeah, that’s cool. Are you planning to do this full time someday rather than working for your dad?”

“It’s my dream. He’s a great guy, the absolute best, but this is something I have to do.”

“I can see that.” Rarely had he witnessed such naked joy except when he’d pleased a woman in bed or had given her an expensive gift. Rusty’s delight transcended anything purely sexual or distastefully material and touched him in a way he hadn’t expected. “Mind if I ask a question?”

“Not at all.” She squeezed his arm gently. “I love talking about this. Most of the time, guys run in the other direction. Especially around here.”

They were near the Financial District.

 He struggled not to laugh. “Bastards. They should stick around and learn something.”

“No kidding. What did you want to know?”

Everything about her. What she liked to do besides dance and protest. Her favorite books, films, food. Her past and present. What she did for her dad. Eric guessed she worked as an admin or maybe manned the front counter at their family deli, if they owned one. If they did, selling new stuff there couldn’t bother her. Everyone had to eat. Considering how much she liked her dad, he couldn’t have been a titan of industry. “When you’re working full-time for yourself, how are you going to live if you’re not offering anything for sale? Where’s the money going to come from?” He stroked her fingers. “You’re not a trust-fund baby, are you?”

“Me? Not a chance.” Her happiness evaporated. “I’ve already thought about needing money to pay bills so I’ll ask for donations like Wikipedia does to keep it going.”

He didn’t have the heart to tell her they didn’t need charity according to articles he’d read. They’d already hauled in enough cash to hire a lobbyist. “Think that’ll work?”

“I can see you don’t.”

“Whoa. Have I said that?”

“You didn’t have to. I can read your face.” She wilted. “It’s donations, advertising, or a subscription service like Angie’s List.  Not going to happen. I’m not hawking stuff on my site or going public like Angie did. I want to help people survive, not enrich myself. Someone has to care about those who’ve lost their jobs and homes and can’t get work. Politicians don’t.”

Eric liked her even more. He smiled. “Good for you. Have you ever considered running for office?”

Her face turned as red as her hair. “Maybe. When Bernie Sanders threw in the towel, I cried. Then I got pissed when he endorsed Hillary. I wrote him a nasty email.”

“Did you send it?”

She shook her head. “I figured he had to do it or risk insurmountable crap. IRS audits. Hit teams. Stuff like you see on The Black List, Blind Spot, and Designated Survivor. Who knew?” She waved her hands. “Enough about that and me. What do you do? Where do you work? Are you married? Engaged? Involved?”

He backed away from her questions.

Rusty stayed put and crossed her arms. That didn’t plump her sweet little breasts.

Nor did it matter. She was perfect as she was. Honest and direct. So different from the people he usually hung around. “I’m not involved with anyone.” The truth. “How about you?”

She tapped her foot. “Would I be drinking your beer if I were?”

Definitely not. She was too forthright. “Good to hear.” He held out the bottle. “Want more?”

“Maybe.” She joined him and finished the brew.

He leaned close enough to catch her fragrance again, the musk intense this time. Heat barreled through him. “Would you like another?”

“Later. Tell me about you first. Do you work for a bank?”

She’d probably guessed that because of his tailored slacks and grey dress shirt. The other guys wore chinos or jeans and sweaters. Luckily, he’d left his jacket and tie in his office. His plan had been to grab a quick bite and drink then slog back to his desk.

Work had never seemed as unimportant or dangerous if he told her what he did for a living. Too bad he hadn’t been involved in criminal law. He might have impressed her by working for the underprivileged and those screwed by The Man. Saving the despised corporate class wouldn’t generate that response. It’d be bye-bye Rusty before she got to know him and understood some businesses did serve the public rather than destroy lives. “Nope. I don’t even go into banks. I do everything by smartphone.”

“Not me. I want up-close-and-personal service. It’s the only way those poor tellers will keep their jobs until robots replace them.”

He hadn’t considered that. Convenience had been his only goal. “Good point.” Before she asked again, he had to offer what he could without turning her off. Better to ease into what he did gradually and appeal to her good nature. “I work in an office and push papers for a living. You know, read stuff, comment on it, fix problems, attend meetings, make sure everyone’s happy. Boring as hell at times, but it supports me and my boss is reasonable, for the most part.”

“Do you work for a man or a woman?”

“Woman.” Precisely like Harvey Specter in the TV series Suits.

The sound system shrieked. Patrons shouted and cursed at the ear-splitting noise. It settled down, somewhat. Shut Up and Dance With Me blared from the speakers. The crowd erupted in wild applause. Sweeping lights pulsed like strobes.

Rusty bounced and yelled, “You heard the song. Come on.” She handed his empty bottle to a passing server and bobbed around him, arms waving, hips grinding.

Dancing wasn’t his thing unless it was something slow and intimate. Doing his best, Eric jerked and writhed like the other men, certain he looked like a gorilla on speed.

“Awesome.” Rusty pointed at him. “You’re good.”

He laughed at her compliment. “I’ll never compare to you.”

She spun in place, skirt flying, her combat boots stomping the floor. She wiggled, whirled, and pulled him into the fun. He bumped her hips with his.

Their asses snuggled. He slipped his arm around her waist and swung her off her feet. Easy-peasy. She weighed practically nothing.

Her pleased squeals were hearty as all get-out and mingled with the din.

They boogied hard, forcing those nearby to back up or get run over.

She did a jig similar to what the Gangnam Style guy performed on YouTube.

Arms flung out, Eric worked his torso and legs as he never had. Several muscles pulled. Agonizing aches shots through him. Rather than stop, he danced as if his life depended upon it.

An undeclared contest sparked between him and Rusty. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he matched her step for step, his lumbering, hers delightful.
She stopped.

He did too, grateful to rest, but concerned too. “What’s wrong?” He gulped air. Perspiration dripped into his eyes, stinging them. “Did I accidentally kick you?”
“Uh-uh.” She stared.

He did too. “What?”

“Shh.” She cupped his head, her thumbs on his cheeks and lowered his mouth to hers.

His breath caught. Her tongue filled him, her kiss wonderfully wet and ungodly hot, her taste stunningly fresh.

He just about died.

She’s through with love and just wants to have some wicked fun...

Burned by her cheating boyfriend, Jasmina is finished with the idea of forever after with any guy. That fairy tale doesn’t exist—at least not for her. From now on, protecting her heart and letting pleasure rule is her motto.

Lucky for her, she has the perfect men in mind. Noah and Kyle, two of the hottest cops in West Palm Beach. She hasn’t been able to get them out of her head since they handled an altercation at Wicked Brand, the tattoo parlor she manages. When they come back to get inked, sparks fly.

Noah’s ready to play, and Kyle’s on board. All they want is her—submission, bondage, spanking…no strings or regrets. Seductive days roll into steamy nights, igniting feelings the guys hadn’t expected and Jasmina can’t deny.

What began as a sensual adventure could turn into so much more…if Jasmina can risk a different kind of love.

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