Hey everyone! So we're creeping closer and closer to the release date for Because My Heart Said So! The book releases on June 15th but it's now available for pre-order! I'm really excited about this collection of friends-to-lovers stories from some of my favorite writers—Nia Forrester, Lily Java and Rae Lamar. Don't forget to join our Facebook group to get cool, exclusive content and have a chance to win free stuff!
In the meantime, check out a sample from Blind Expectations, my novella from Because My Heart Said So. This scene takes place after a heated argument between my characters, next-door neighbors, Trevor and Leah. Hope you dig it! And don't forget to pre-order for a special, discounted price!
From Blind Expectations:
:: "Did you get my message?” she pressed when it was clear he wasn’t entertaining the question she already knew the answer to.
“And you didn’t respond because, why?” She leaned her back against the front door because the room was spinning slightly, and crossed her arms over her chest.
“It was late.”
“Bullcrap. You’re ignoring me.”
“We talked the other day, Bright Light.” His use of her nickname made her feel better for a split second before she remembered her mission.
“We only talked for like forty-two seconds before you mysteriously had to get off the phone!”
His full lips twitched. “Mysteriously? It was one in the afternoon. I was at work, and I had a meeting.”
“I don’t like this.”
“You don’t like what?” He cocked his head a little, leveling his gaze on her. Trevor had the most magnetic eyes. They were hypnotizing really. He’d never used them on her, but she understood why women were left fully surrendered to him. They were so dark brown, they appeared almost black. His extra long eyelashes made his eyes even more arresting. She fidgeted beneath his unwavering gaze now.
“You don’t like what, Leah?” he prompted.
“This,” she whispered.
He bit his bottom lip, not breaking his gaze, and her heart started thumping in her chest. She couldn’t get a handle on what his expression meant, or what he was thinking.
“I don’t like for us to not be… us.”
“Maybe we’re not who we were anymore,” he said, his voice low. “Maybe it’s time for us to be something else.”
She furrowed her brow and looked at him. He was talking in Morse code, but his eyes were serious.
“I miss you, Trevor. You can’t leave me.”
She saw his chest heave and the glint in his eyes shift.
“C’mere,” he said, beckoning her with a short head nod.
She closed the short space between them without hesitation, letting him wrap her in his arms. He felt familiar and safe. Trevor always smelled so good, like warmth, and man, and home.
“You don’t ever have to miss me.” He pulled back and looked at her, his arms sliding to her waist. “I’m always right here. I’ve been here.”
“I can’t take your rejection. It hurts my insides.”
His eyes softened and he chuckled.
“Leah. After all this time, you know I want you.”
The way he was looking at her, so intently, made her breath catch. And suddenly, she was hyper aware of him in a way that was dangerous. He slid his hands into the front of her hoodie and pulled her closer, so that if she wanted to, she could tilt her head up and reach his lips.
Where did that come from?
She’d spent a long time suppressing her instant attraction to Trevor. He was too important to let herself go there with him. So she swallowed her desire. She acknowledged the constant hum in her body every time he was near but didn’t let herself fantasize about his dark chocolate skin, or his full lips, or his sleepy bedroom eyes. But now, with him standing so close, smelling so good, the liquor charging her system, her resolve was fogging.
She licked her lips and noticed when his gaze dropped to her mouth and lingered there before he met her eyes again.
“Are you going to church tomorrow?” she asked suddenly, her voice a little breathier than it should’ve been. Her heart rate certainly hadn’t slowed.
“Are you going to church tomorrow?” he countered, grinning. “You’re not gonna be too hung over?”
“I don’t get hangovers.”
He cocked his head to the side and eyed her.
“Often,” she amended.
His hands were in her hoodie, and he pulled her closer, surprising her because now she was almost flush against his sturdy chest. She could feel his body heat, could feel her own temperature spiking, matching her increased heartbeat.
“I thought you were fasting from liquor too.”
“I was but...I failed. I’m not disciplined like you.”
“I think I’m a little too disciplined sometimes.”
She blinked up at him. He was staring at her mouth again, and she pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. This entire situation was dangerous. But she couldn’t move. She didn’t want to. He dropped his head to the space between her collarbone and neck, drawing in a breath she felt him release softly against her skin. His beard, which he’d just recently grown out, was tickling her neck, and heat circled to her stomach and lower until she was literally pulsing. Oh my God.
“Trevor?” She breathed, her brow furrowed as if she expected him to answer why her body was suddenly reacting to him this way.
“You’re drunk, Leah,” he said, his deep voice in her ear now. “And you have no idea. No idea.”
He pulled back and looked at her. “Or maybe you do.”
She looked up at him, her heart thudding in her chest. “What’re you… what?”
He drew in a breath.
“You gotta go home,” he exhaled, pulling her by the elbow toward his front door.
He slipped on his sneakers by the door without releasing her and pushed her outside, closing his door behind them. He reached and pulled her hood over her head as they walked the few short feet to her apartment.
“C’mon, Lee, you didn’t lock your door?” he said when they reached her door, and he pushed it open.
“I told you; you can’t start feelin’ yourself just because you have that little baby piece. It’s like a staple gun; it’s barely gonna stop anyone. And it won’t do anything if you can’t get to it anyway.”
“Stop lecturing me,” she pouted.
He shook his head, mumbling, as he headed quickly to the bathroom, then her bedroom, no doubt checking for an imaginary intruder. He came back still shaking his head at her.
“I’ll be by at ten for church,” he told her once he reached the front door, which she was still leaning against.
“I don’t want you to leave yet.”
He’d stopped right in front of her and was staring down at her with that intense look again.
“I miss you, Trevor. And I feel like you’re pulling away or something. Like, we’re not the same. And you can’t do that--switch everything up on me like that.”
He looked at the ground and shook his head.
“Because things aren’t the same. I can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing, Leah.”
Her heart was hammering in her chest and she felt tears threatening. She licked her lips, and his gaze dropped there before he met her eyes again.
“Why do you keep looking at me like that?”
“I think you know why.”
Because My Heart Said So, Coming 6.15.16
Available for Pre-order now.
Okay, so here's the Finding Kennedy playlist. I think all of the songs mentioned in the book are included here. Well, except for Prince because his music is notoriously unavailable on the Internet, so if you want to hear him, you'll have tobuy it. These are songs mentioned in the book as well as songs that I listened to a lot while writing. I imagine The Protoype's sound as a mix of Hiatus Kaiyote, Bilal, D'Anglo and Radiohead with The Internet's fusion and coolness. I know that sounds crazy but Kennedy did say, "Their music was a mesmerizing mix of jazz, soul, and hip-hop that sounded familiar but at the same time, was like nothing I’d heard before."
Anyway, a few of you asked for the playlist so I hope you dig it. Happy reading and listening!
Finding Kennedy is now live on Amazon!
When Kennedy James unexpectedly shows up at her grandma’s house in Tyler, Texas, no one knows what to make of her arrival—including her. The only thing Kennedy does know is that something in her life has to change, and it needs to happen right now. She’s been numb for much too long.
Then she meets Travis Broussard, the perceptively cool guitarist of the indie soul band, The Prototype. The timing couldn’t be worse, but their attraction is instant, magnetic, and at times overwhelming, causing Kennedy to question if it’s possible to feel too much.
As Kennedy attempts to embark on a new path, she finds herself at a crossroads. But if she chooses to follow her heart, is she prepared to deal with what she might find?
So I have some pretty exciting news to share with y'all. This June, I'll be collaborating with three super talented indie writers Nia Forrester (The Commitment Series), Lily Java (Sticky Moon) and Rae Lamar (The Aris Effect) to release Because My Heart Said So: A Friends-to-Lovers Collection. As already Nia said, I'm pretty sure this will be one of the coolest things that I do all year. Long before we collaborated to bring you these four friends-to-lovers stories, I was a genuine fan of each of their work. Nia blew me away a couple of years ago when I was first introduced to her via Wife, Lily's debut Sticky Moon was easily one of the best books I read that year, and earlier this year, when I was introduced to Rae's Aris series, it quickly became one of my absolute favorite romance reads in a long time. Basically, they are all the bomb-diggy (yes, I said that) and I'm grateful and humbled to work with them on this project.
Yay this! This is truly #4Writers4Love.
Anyway, today, we'll be introducing you to Because My Heart Said So via our Facebook page. Please CLICK THIS LINK to join the page and keep up with the happenings and goings on until (and even after) the June release date.
Also, you guys may remember that I'm releasing the second book in my Prototype series, Finding Kennedy, which will drop May 20, 2016. I'm sharing one last excerpt before the release. I hope you enjoy!
Finding Kennedy, Coming May 20, 2016
:: We rode for what felt like forever. Until my mind quieted. Until the noise in my head was less than a hum. Until the vibrations of the bike were even with my breaths.
We pulled up to a place that sort of looked like a small house that’d been gutted and turned into a storefront. The entire street was lined with quaint buildings like it. It smelled like fall-- crisp and clean. “Evan’s” was written on the sign that hung just over the front door.
“Where are we?” I asked once I’d pulled my helmet off, smoothing my braid, which was hanging over one shoulder. My body was still humming, coming down from the high of our ride. I was still seated on his bike and watched as Travis removed his helmet, raking his fingers through his hair.
“In Allen, just outside Dallas. I wanted a beignet and some wings,” he said, nodding toward front door of Evan’s as he climbed off.
A small smile touched his lips, and he helped me off the bike. “Was the ride too much?” he asked, watching as I stretched my arms above my head.
“It was perfect.”
He smiled, brushing a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
“This place is owned by a cat named Evan from back home,” Travis explained, as I looked around. “It’s pretty low key,” he offered, reading my expression. “And it’s old school, so no TVs.”
I looked down at my boots.
“I gotta warn you though, dude is a little... off.”
“Off?” I met his eyes again, grinning.
“Last time I was in here, he was trying to tell me that world is actually flat. Like, he argued me down about it. Got all animated and shit, talking about how Antarctica is really an ice wall.”
I laughed and he shook his head, his dimple showing as he chuckled.
“Why does he think the earth is flat?”
“Your guess is good as mine. I tried to follow what the hell he was talking about-- something about gravity being an illusion, and the earth really being a disc.”
I laughed, eyeing him. He smiled and grabbed my hand, interlacing our fingers as we walked together toward the entrance.
“I kept thinking he was gonna laugh, but it never came,” he continued. “All he kept saying was ‘stay woke.’” He widened his eyes, looking like a zombie, and I laughed.
“And you still come here?” I asked as we paused in front of the door.
“You know how hard it is to find a good beignet in Texas?” He raised his brows.
“But beignets and wings?”
He nodded his gaze sweeping over me, landing on my boots. He grinned then met my eyes again.
“My taste is particular.”
“Nah,” he said, his eyes turning serious despite the playful grin on his face. “I don’t believe in that. You should never feel guilty for enjoying what brings you pleasure.”
A half hour later, we were seated at one of the plush booths, and I was completely in love. Evan’s was the coolest place I’d ever been—part restaurant, part bookstore, part record store. It smelled like vinyl and sugar. I chewed slowly, smiling at Travis who was watching me intently, waiting for my response since I’d told him I’d never actually had a beignet.
“So what’s the word, baby doll?”
I swallowed, relishing the sweetness of the pastry, and grinned.
He laughed, stuffing the last of his into his mouth. Sly Stone’s “Just Like a Baby” played from the speakers, the lazy groove filling the space, seeping into my bones, relaxing me. Or maybe that was just Travis’s energy. I’d expected this day to be like last year, unbearable, too drenched in reality. But I felt almost… dreamlike. The sadness, the ache was still there, but it was hazy instead of overpowering. I could breathe with Travis.
The book trailer for Finding Kennedy has arrived! And by arrived I mean, I finally took the time out to make it. It's sort of a tradition around these parts—finish a book, make a trailer. I almost have as much fun making these as I do writing the book. Almost.
Anyhoo, watch and share if you're inclined.
Finding Kennedy arrives May 20, 2016.
Happy Sunday everyone! And Happy Mother's Day to all of the mommies (and mommy-figures)! Hopefully your day is full of peace, love and some much-deserved rest. Seriously--go take a nap. But before you do, here's an unedited excerpt from Finding Kennedy, coming May 20. Hope you dig it!
“You can’t boo me, man! Keep beatboxing!”
“You’re failing hard right now. You need to be boo’d ‘man’,” Travis said, laughing. He said ‘man’ like Mickey Mouse and I glared at him then flipped him off.
“Oh word?” He raised his brow, still chuckling. “You feeling yourself, Lil Bit?”
“One more time,” I said, ignoring him and positioning myself in front of the bed again. I lifted my leg, preparing to try to hop over it like that guy in that 90s movie, House Party. Cassie loved that movie. I looked at him, waving my hand in his direction.
“Come on, dude! You have to beatbox, Travis! I need the momentum of the rhythm.”
He laughed and shook his head, but did as I asked, beatboxing and bobbing his head as he watched me. I danced around on the ugly brown and white hotel carpet for a minute before finally lifting my leg and attempting the stunt.
His beatboxing stuttered to a stop when he burst into laughter.
“Kennedy, stop, before your uncoordinated-ass breaks somethin’,” he said, as I barely righted myself before I fell. I grabbed onto the ledge of the TV stand. It wobbled like it was about to fall.
“I promise, I can do it. I did it once when I was eight. There’s just not enough space between the bed and the TV. This room is too small.”
“Right. That’s definitely the problem.”
He ran his hand over his head as he laughed. He was perched on the edge of the bed, barechested because his shirt drying on the vent on the other side of the small room. He’d gone in the bathroom and tried to blow dry his jeans and even though they were damp and probably a little uncomfortable, I was glad he hadn’t taken them off. Travis in boxer briefs would’ve been sensory overload and I was already hanging on by a thread. Hell, we’d been in the room for almost three hours already and I still was having a hard time not staring at his chest.
I tilted my head and looked at him.
“You’re talking big shit. Let me see you do it then.”
“Hell no. I’m not trying to break my neck,” he said, grinning as he grabbed another Twizzler out of the bag he supposedly bought for me.
He stuck it in his mouth his gaze skating lazily over me. I still had the towel wrapped around my waist and when his eyes landed on it, I could tell he was holding in a smile. He did that every time he looked at it.
“I thought these were for me.” I closed the space between us and snatched the last one out of the bag that was laying next to him on the bed, arching my brow at him. “You ate 80 percent of them.”
He chuckled. “80 percent of them?” He was mimicking me again and I pushed at his bare shoulder. He grabbed my hand, jerking me toward him and I almost fell into his chest. His eyes were playful when he looked up at me.
“You don’t want me to have your candy, Kennedy?”
I bit back a smile, my skin tingling when he grabbed my other hand, interlacing our fingers, and pulled me further between his legs. His eyes were dancing with amusement.
“You’ve already had some of my candy, Travis. Whether I wanted you to have it or not.”
He grinned, biting on the Twizzler the same way he did his toothpicks before finishing it off. I looked down into his eyes and drew in a breath when he gently urged me closer, resting his forehead against my abdomen. He pressed a kiss against my navel through the cotton material of my t-shirt and I couldn’t help it, I pulled my hands from his, running my fingers through his hair, which was still a little wet from our run through the rain. He lifted his head from my belly and looked up at me, grabbing my hips, then sliding them up to my waist. My heart was thumping staccato, matching my breathing because I wanted to climb onto his lap and let him chase away the memories that a bike ride and the beer we’d been drinking couldn’t with his touch. I knew he could do it, even if it was temporary.
He reached for the towel that was knotted at my waist, untying it with one small tug. It dropped and I sucked in a breath.
“You don’t need the towel,” he assured me with a small grin. “I can see more in those tiny shorts you wear.”
I looked away, toward the large window where the rain was still pounding, my face hot. He waited until I met his eyes again, his thumbs drawing slow circles on my lower back as he held me.
“I got you, Lil Bit, alright?” His raspy voice was low and he raised his brows. “You don’t have to hide. You’re safe with me.”
I tugged at a lock of my hair, unable to hide my smile.
“You sure about that?”
He grinned, gently nipping my belly as he slid his fingers up, suddenly tickling my rib cage. I yelped and squirmed, giggling as I tried to move from in between his legs but he held me.
“You’re funny, huh?” he said huskily, continuing his assault on my rib cage.
I squealed, laughing as I attempted to pull away, holding my arms close to my sides as he attempted to tickle me there.
“Okay, okay, stop, Travis!” I barely managed between my laughter.
There was a satisfied glint in his eyes when he finally stopped tickling me, drawing me completely between his legs again by my waist. He pulled on the bottom hem of my shirt, urging me downward and tilted his chin up, biting on the corner of his lip as he grinned. He was so sexy. I leaned down, brushing my nose against his but pulled back a little when he lifted his head, so that he couldn’t reach my lips.
He chuckled, his brown eyes turning the shade of burnt sienna. He pulled at my shirt again and this time I acquiesced, leaning down and brushing my lips against his softly before leaning further into the kiss. He immediately reached up, placing a hand on my nape as he kissed my bottom lip, offering me a low hum of approval. His tongue barely traced the seam of my lips, as if he just had to taste me, before he toned it down again, kissing me lightly. With me standing and him sitting on the edge of the bed, it would seem like I’d be the one in power but Travis was definitely in control of this kiss.
He was controlling the tempo and right now it was slow, his lips molding against mine sweetly, demanding nothing but my presence. He kissed my forehead then the bridge of my nose. He pulled away before I was ready, releasing me, and I sighed, my entire body alive and tingling because of his touch. But it was more than that. It was his presence. It was him.
“You do look good in my shirt though.”
Finding Kennedy arrives 5.20.16.