It’s here! It’s finally here! Catch a Falling Star, the third book in my Second Chances, contemporary romance series is now here! You can purchase it for only 99 cents UNTIL SATURDAY ONLY at Amazon! Sunday, the price goes up to $3.99. So zip on over! In the meantime, you can continue reading Chapter One right now….
The barista continued to stand beside the table, wringing her hands and biting her lip. “I’m sorry, Mr. Paul,” she burst at last. He turned to her. The barista’s eyes shot to Jo. “I didn’t mean to let someone sit at your table. I was busy when she came in otherwise I would have—”
“It’s fine, Kelly,” he reassured her.
Kelly breathed a sigh of relief and rushed off.
Jo’s insta-lust deflated to disappointment. She started gathering her things. “I didn’t realize this was your table. I can move.” Handsome, rich, and if he thought he was entitled to his own table in a crowded coffee shop—along with his own blonde to wait on him—a total prick. Of course he was too good to be true.
“It’s not really my table,” he laughed, waving for her to sit. “It’s just that I come down here a lot, and being a creature of habit, I sit in the same place so often that the staff likes to reserve it for me. It’s sweet of them.”
“Oh.” Jo hesitated. Was he a jerk or not? It would have been a crying shame to waste so much sex-appeal on an entitled douchebag. “Well, if you don’t mind me sitting here, then I hope you don’t mind if I get some work done.”
“Not at all.” He nodded. “I came here to work myself.” He opened his bag and took out a handful of bound pages, manuscripts of some sort.
Jo slipped back into her warm smile. “Don’t tell me you’re a writer too.”
“No, I’m not.” He matched her grin.
“Then please, please don’t tell me you’re an editor.”
He laughed. “Are they the enemy?”
“Some of them.” She smirked, remembering the hassle over her last book.
He took a sip of his coffee. “No, I’m a director.”
“Movies or television?” Not that it mattered. She had work to do.
“Theater, as it happens,” he answered. “Although I’ve been known to do an episode of television here and there. Ever heard of the show Second Chances?”
“Oh. Yes. They film it at an old nursing home about twenty minutes from my house.” She reached for her coffee, suddenly feeling more like she was talking to a friend than a character from her books.
“You’re from Maine?” For a brief moment, he relaxed to something more genuine than the leonine smile he’d been using to mentally undress her. At least, she assumed that’s what he’d been doing with eyes like those.
“Born and raised,” she answered with a nod, then looped the subject back around to him. “I love the theater.”
“Do you?” He still wore that expectant grin, as if waiting for her to realize he was Stephen Spielberg or something. “What was the last show you saw?”
She winced as she took a sip of coffee. “To be honest, I haven’t had time to see a show in ages.”
“Right.” He nodded as though she’d been stretching the truth to butter him up.
Not to be outdone, she asked, “What was the last book you read?”
His lips twitched again. Those lips were sensual and kissable. They held infinite potential for very naughty things. Jo wondered if he would let her kiss him so that she could describe the way they felt in a future book.
“I’ve been too busy to read anything other than scripts,” he said, bursting her fantasy before it could spin out of control. The sparkle in his eyes told her she’d been too obvious with her imagination anyhow.
“Oh, of course.” She let her appreciation show as she sipped her coffee. And why not? It was too fun to flirt with the man. Well, Diane had told her to have fun while she was in town. Flirting with a random stranger in a coffee shop was as fun as she got. “I’ll let you get on with your reading then.”
“And I’ll let you do your writing.” He met and held her eyes for a few delicious seconds before reaching for the manuscript on the top of his pile. “Let me know if you need some help when you get to the juicy bits.”
Jo laughed…and her unmentionables tingled. She adjusted her laptop on her knees and scanned over the last words she’d written. It didn’t help that she was close to one of the juicy bits. Her hero and heroine were about to find themselves alone, dripping with desire, and unable to control themselves. She felt her cheeks go pink and stole a peek at the delightful Mr. Paul. He was sipping his coffee, but his eyes snuck up to meet hers. He smiled as though it was a game. Jo snapped back to her work, wondering if she should change the description of her hero to be a tall, elegant man with blue-green eyes that crinkled when he smiled.
He was too delicious to resist. She clicked to open another document. Her fingers flew across the keyboard as she recorded every aspect of her handsome stranger’s appearance and personality with the paintbrush of prose. Mr. Paul leafed through his script. His tempting spark was replaced by a serious frown of concentration that was almost as seductive as his smile. Jo stopped typing and lost herself in studying her companion.
The rain picked up outside, drumming against the windows. Dozens of wet New Yorkers scrambled in and out of the shop. Mr. Paul caught her staring. He closed his script, marking his place with one long finger.
“You’ve reached the naughty part, haven’t you.” He flashed back to majestic charm.
“Maybe I have.” She played coy and typed a sentence about the rich cadence of his chocolate voice.
“Care to read it aloud?”
Jo swallowed, way, way more turned on than she had a right to be. But the man had asked her to read her work aloud. No self-respecting author in her right mind would fail to feel the compliment there. Giddy with confidence, she glanced up at him from under her lashes, like her heroine would. “I’m afraid, Mr. Paul, that you’ll have to go to your local book store like anyone else to read one of my love scenes.”
“Call me Ben.”
A shiver pulsed through her. She bit her lip, arching a brow in challenge, refusing to back down.
He blinked. “You’re not joking, are you?”
“You really are a writer.”
Jo burst into giggles, breaking character. “Yes, I am. Are you really a director?”
His lips twitched with the same mysterious joke from before he’d sat down. “You’ve really never heard of me? Benjamin Paul?”
She shrugged. “You’ve never heard of me.”
“I don’t read romance novels.”
“Well maybe you should.” She rested one elbow on the arm of the chair and gave him her best coquettish smile. “Men could learn a lot from romance novels, you know.”
“Oh really?” He leaned back, settling into his chair with hip movements that set Jo’s blood on fire. “Do tell.”
“You could learn what really turns a woman on.”
“Is that so?” He purred each word.
“You could learn about gallantry and seduction.”
“I’m very good at seduction.”
His interjected comment sent another tremor slithering through Jo, landing hard in the most inconvenient places.
“I bet you are.” Her smile warmed and her pulse pounded. “But do you know what a woman is thinking when she’s in bed with you? Do you know what her deepest expectations and fantasies are? What finally pushes her over the edge and makes her c—” She pulled back from the edge of too far, biting her lower lip. She hadn’t had this much fun or been this turned on by a conversation with a stranger in…ever.
He stared at her, eyes dancing with white-hot mischief, as if he was reading her thoughts to glean the answers to her question. She needed to fan herself.
“Alright, what’s your name?” He leaned forward to reach into his messenger bag, seduction replaced by purpose.
“It’s Josephine Burkhart.”
“Josephine Burkhart,” he repeated, making her name sound like pillow talk. If that wasn’t toying with her she didn’t know what was.
He drew his smartphone out of his bag and tapped it. With a scintillating arch of his eyebrow he tapped the screen several more times. His wicked expression dropped to genuine surprise. “Well look at that. Josephine Burkhart.” He slid his finger across the screen. “You’ve written twelve books!”
“Fourteen,” Jo corrected him with a triumphant shrug. “One is coming out in two months and I’ve just turned another in to my editor. Not to mention the one I’m working on right now.”
“I’m impressed,” he admitted.
He tapped the phone’s screen a few more times. It was fascinating to watch him slip out of his initial persona. He was still gorgeous and charming, but the wolf had been tucked away in favor of the man. Normal Benjamin Paul was somehow even more of a turn-on than rakish Mr. Paul. Jo’s heart did a whole new kind a flip in her chest, one that left her far more unsteady than she wanted to be.
“I suppose every day brings its own surprise.” He lowered his phone to focus on her. Just like that, the sexy beast was back.
“Did you think I was lying?” The warm buzzing in Jo’s stomach took on a more sinister hum.
“No,” he answered, unconvincing. “But we artists like to exaggerate our accomplishments.”
He handed her his phone over the top of her laptop. On display was a list of links in a web browser for Benjamin Paul. The cluster at the top was a series of articles about his recent theater award. Not just any award either. According to the phone, he’d won Broadway theater’s most prestigious award for directing only a few months ago.
Jo laughed. “Trying to prove that you’re not exaggerating?” She handed the phone back.
“Just providing context.”
Their eyes met as he slid his phone into his back pocket. An impromptu pelvic thrust accompanied the movement. Well then. The man knew how to fill out a pair of jeans. The tingling in Jo’s stomach spread through her entire body, certain areas in particular.
“Congratulations on your award,” she said. Her cheeks felt as pink as could be.
“And congratulations to you on your book release,” he answered. “I’ll be sure to line up for a signed copy. And in the meantime I’ll pick up some of your other books as soon as I can to learn about what women think when they’re about to come.”
Her heart thumped to a stop, then sped up a thousand times over. “Of course you could always just ask.” What? Where did a comment like that come from? Had the rain waterlogged her brain?
“Oh really?” Ben sprawled back in his chair, once again oozing sexuality. His lips and his eyes were the only part of him that still glowed with humor. The rest? Well, the rest of him made her reckless.
“That’s the reason women have to resort to reading romance novels, after all. Men rarely ask what’s going on in their heads. They’re usually too busy thinking of their own. Heads. One in particular.”
Heat infused his look from head to toe. “You’ve just been with the wrong men.”
“You’re probably right.” Her eyebrow flickered up. “But I have yet to be convinced that the right men exist outside of the pages of a novel.”
The intensity of his stare set the hairs on the back of her neck on edge. The coffee shop would have to turn the AC on in a minute in spite of it being forty degrees outside. He watched her, perfectly still, like a wolf. She met his gaze with equal intensity. If he thought he could out-smolder her he had another thing coming. She wrote romance for a living, dammit.
At long last he took a breath and leaned forward. He surged halfway across the table, forearms coming to rest on his knees. She leaned closer to him.
“I live in this building, just upstairs. Would you like to come up and do some research?”
Jo’s heart hammered against her ribs, making her short of breath. She was sure he could see temptation pumping under her skin. He was close enough to smell his cologne. His lips were relaxed, begging to be kissed. His eyes still danced with mischief, utterly focused on her. Her. She’d never wanted anyone so hard so fast.
“Isn’t it a little dangerous, picking up strangers in a coffee shop in the middle of the afternoon?” It was a miracle that her voice didn’t crack.
“You’re not a stranger,” he murmured. “I’ve Googled you. You’re Josephine Burkhart, Romance Novelist.”
“My friends call me Jo,” she hummed in reply. Dear God, she was actually considering it. She, Jo Burkhart, with her overactive imagination and reclusive ways, easily forgotten and pushed aside, was considering an afternoon delight with an award-winning Broadway director she’d met in a coffee shop.
“Well then, Jo.” He pushed her along with his deep, sultry voice. “Shall we go upstairs?”
Her mind went blank. All she could hear was the pounding of her heart and her shallow breaths. She couldn’t think. Nothing came to her. Nothing but unadulterated lust and the urge to take a chance.
“You know, I think I will.”
Whoa! Is Jo actually going to go through with it? Continue reading by hopping over to Amazon and purchasing the book for only 99 cents, but ONLY UNTIL SATURDAY. Not that I’d say no to you purchasing the book for the regular price of $3.99.
And be sure to check out the first two books in the series, Summer with a Star and One Night with a Star. Each book in the series stands alone, though. You don’t HAVE to have read the others to be right at home in any of them. Both books were given rave reviews in InD’Tale Magazine!