Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Read the 1st Chapter of Entice Me...

 This title is offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, September 25th.


      by Nicole Morgan

Years pass after two strangers' lives intersect. They find one another again. Their attraction for one another is stronger than either of them anticipated. Will Jace entice Alexis into letting down her walls of insecurity? Or will she entice him into finding a true and unrelenting love?

Chapter One

Alexis breathed in deeply, trying to calm her nerves. She wrung her hands together to prevent them from shaking. Her daughter, Ariel, was curling the last stray piece of hair amidst the mess on top of her head in what was looking to be a feeble attempt at making it look somewhat normal.
She had always hated her hair. Too many permanents and dye jobs when she was younger made it dry and sometimes too frizzy to be manageable. She had to admit the antifrizz lotion that Ariel had applied did tame her tangled locks somewhat. Still even with the extra care her daughter was putting into the snarly tresses, she couldn’t help but feel she was making a huge mistake.
“Get that look off of your face, Mom,” Ariel said.
She sighed. “Is it that obvious?”
“Duh, Mom. You look like you’re going on a date with an axe murderer and not some handsome man. Chillax!”
Ariel released the clump of hair from the hot curling iron, causing it to bounce down into a spiral wave which actually looked pretty. Setting the iron down on the counter in front of them, Ariel grabbed a hair pick and a can of hair spray.
“You don’t understand how nervous I am. I haven’t been on a first date in over twenty years.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t go then.”
Andrew, her son and the eldest of her two children by mere minutes, stood in the doorway to her bathroom giving her the look of disapproval that she had seen so many times in the past week.
“Andrew, don’t start!” Ariel snapped at her brother.
“I’m just saying that if she’s nervous, maybe that’s her gut’s way of telling her this is a bad idea.”
“Maybe she’s nervous because she can’t figure out why her son is such a huge asshole.”
“Ariel!” Alexis chided her daughter. “Do not talk to your brother like that.”
Andrew gave his sister a smug look before directing his attention back to his mother. “Mom, are you sure about this? I mean you don’t really know this guy. At all. He could be an axe murderer.”
Or he could be a fantastic guy who treats Mom like a princess.”
Andrew shrugged. “My bet’s on axe murderer.”
“Well, you always were the stupidest of the bunch. Mom tried to give you up for adoption when you were younger, but no one would take you. She was stuck with you. It sucks, but she’s persevered. So stop trying to discourage her from being happy. This guy could be great for her.”
“Maybe you should just shut up!” Andrew argued.
“Stop it, both of you!” Alexis shouted. “Now, first of all I am sick and tired of hearing you both go at each other like a couple of spoiled brats. I raised you better than that. Secondly, yes, Andrew, I am nervous. But that is because I haven’t dated in years. The divorce from your father only became final a year ago. I don’t meet men. I don’t talk to men. I don’t even know how to act around them. I spent the last twenty years of my life trying to be a good wife and mother. All so he could leave me for a twentysomething nurse with fake boobs and collagen-filled lips.”
She held up her hand when they both opened their mouths. “No, let me finish. I don’t hate your father, but there is still a lot of hurt there. He left me for a newer model, like I was the old, run-down car in the garage. So, I’m insecure, and I have issues, okay? That does not mean that I should never give another man a chance. I may not be as young as I once was. I may have to dye my hair to keep the gray from showing, and I may use creams to hide the creases working their way around my eyes. But I am not so old and decrepit that I can’t give love a chance.”
“Love? Geez, Mom, you haven’t even met the guy in person yet,” Andrew interrupted.
“No, I haven’t. And I know that it could be a disaster. That we could have no chemistry and the night could be a waste of my time. What if it isn’t though? What if things go well? You two go out every Friday and Saturday night. You go out with your friends, go on dates, and always come home laughing and in a good mood. Meanwhile, I spent another night at home alone and watching old movies on cable while eating ice cream. I want more, damn it!”
Ariel set down the pick and can of hair spray and began to clap. Applauding her mother for the speech which had just left her breathless, she added, “Bravo, Mom. I’m with you. I want you to get out there and meet people. You have done so much for us. I want you to be happy, too.”
“Thank you, sweetheart.”
“Mom, I love you. It’s not that I don’t want you to be happy. I just worry about you. I saw how what Dad did hurt you. I don’t think I could handle seeing you hurt again.”
Andrew gave his mother a kiss on the top of her head. He had always towered over her at six feet four inches. It was a trait that he got from his father. Her side of the family barely surpassed the five foot ten inches mark. She was only five foot three, and if she believed her doctor at her last checkup, turning forty had granted her with the surprise of losing an inch.
“I know, honey. And I thank you for that. I just need to do this, if for no other reason than to prove it to myself that I’ve not become some sort of hermit who has no life.”
“All right.” Andrew held up his hands in surrender. “I’ll stop being a pain in the ass. I’m telling you though. If he does hurt you, I’m going to kick his ass.”
“Why must you two cuss? You know it drives me crazy.”
“Sorry, Mom. Finish getting ready. I’ll just wait downstairs for the doorbell to ring. We wouldn’t want to keep Mr. Walker waiting, would we? Maybe I’ll fix him a drink, something nice to make him good and sleepy.”
“Andrew Jonathon Foster, don’t you dare!” she shouted to him, but he had already left.
“Relax, Mom. He’s just teasing you. I hate to admit this, and if you tell him this, I will deny it, but I understand where he’s coming from. We both worry about you and love you so much. You’re the best mom in the world and deserve so much happiness.”
Alexis reached for her daughter’s hand and squeezed it. “Thank you, sweetheart. I love you both, too. You guys are my whole world. Could you do me a favor, though?”
“Sure, anything.”
“Fix this!” Alexis waved her hands around her head.
Smiling, Ariel answered, “You bet. Just wait and see. You’re going to knock his socks off.”
For twenty minutes Ariel gently combed through curls, spraying small amounts of hairspray as she went and allowing her mane of hair to fall freely before giving it more spray to keep the look from failing.
Surprisingly when she stood and held a mirror up to get a full view of all angles of her hair, even the back, she was stunned. Her hair actually looked good. Not that much different than those women in the shampoo commercials who swing their heads around in slow motion and look like they’ve just spent hours in the salon.
“How did you do this?”
Ariel was standing behind her and rested her chin on Alexis’s shoulder. “All I did was style your hair, Mom. You’ve always been this beautiful. Now get dressed, but be careful when you slip the dress over your head. I’ll go downstairs and make sure Andrew doesn’t put Mr. Walker in a headlock when he gets here.”
She kissed her daughter on the cheek and thanked her for all her help before Ariel left her alone. Ariel was most like her, while Andrew had his father’s headstrong mentality and overbearing personality. She loved them both equally, but when it came to twins, they were as different as night and day. Ariel was the affectionate and compassionate one, while Andrew was more closed off emotionally. They somehow found a way to complement one another with their differences. Not always seeing eye to eye, they always had each other’s backs and were the best children she ever could have wished for.
Taking a look in the mirror, she stared at her reflection for a moment. She looked like a new woman. Volunteering at the local Veterans Administration Hospital, she rarely wore makeup. She found it to be too time consuming to deal with. The truth of the matter was she never wore makeup much anyway. Even when she was younger.
For years she had always taken good care of her skin, stayed out of the sun for excessive lengths of time, and when necessary, always used sunscreen. Moisturizers and daily cleansing had kept her skin fresh and radiant until her midthirties when age started to catch up to her.
That was when Jonathon, her ex-husband, had started to work extra hours at the hospital. Having always being a devoted wife, she didn’t see the warning signs. The late nights grew longer until some nights he didn’t come home at all. He would always have an excuse of some emergency and him being the only surgeon available.
She didn’t think anything of it until she saw an article in their local newspaper that said the hospital he worked at was considering laying off one of the seven new surgeons they had hired that year due to decreased need. The gut-wrenching realization that had hit her in that moment was still very fresh in her mind. Even thought it was nearly two years ago, she could still remember sitting there thinking, Oh my God. He’s having an affair.
That entire day she had spent in a haze. Never being much of a drinker, she had actually poured herself a glass of wine to calm her nerves which by midday had been beyond frazzled. She had waited for his call to come, telling her there was some sort of an emergency and he wouldn’t be home for dinner.
Minutes ticked by as though she was caught in a time warp that moved at a snail’s pace. She had felt so nauseated she hadn’t been able to eat anything all day. Her emotions bordered on hope and despair.
A part of her wished that she would confront him and he would offer up this huge explanation and make sense of it all. She would feel foolish, and he would tell her how crazy she was for even thinking for a second that he could have an affair because he was so in love with her.
Her logic kept reminding her that wouldn’t happen though. There was no explanation. He had been lying all these months. She was sure of it. They hadn’t made love in nearly six months. It was something she wrote off to his busy schedule and gave him a pass on.
Giving him a pass was something she had perfected over the years. Jonathon could do no wrong. He was the perfect husband, handsome, charming, provided well for his family. What was not to love about the charismatic man who had swept her off her feet when she was nineteen years old?
The kids had already come home from school and eaten a small snack before heading off to various practices and activities they had. They rarely stayed home much during that time, since they were brand-new owners of driver’s licenses and were the proud recipients of cars their father had bought them. Ariel had gotten a silver Volkswagen Jetta, while Andrew got his dream car, a Dodge truck.
She hadn’t even bothered to cook dinner this evening. The two weeks before her epiphany she had it ready every night, ready to dish up and serve on the table, only to receive a last-minute call telling her he wouldn’t be able to make it for dinner and to not wait up, it would probably be a long time.
After the minutes ticked by so slowly she thought she might go crazy from the impending dread of the inevitable confrontation, she grabbed her keys and got in her car. Driving to the hospital, her hands shook so fiercely that she gripped the steering wheel to keep them steady. When she was only a few blocks away from the hospital, she texted Jonathon with an urgent message, asking him to call.
Her phone had rung just as she pulled into a parking space in the vast lot. She was several rows away from her husband’s BMW but not so far that she didn’t have an excellent view of him ushering a young blonde in the passenger seat of his car.
“Hello,” she had answered calmly.
“What’s wrong? I got your message. Is it the kids? Are they okay?” he replied with concern in his voice.
“The kids are fine. I was just wondering if I should set an extra seat at the table tonight. Will your girlfriend be joining us?”
Silence loomed on the other end for only a moment, but there was a long enough pause to tell her that he was damn nervous about how to respond.
“Alexis, what are you talking about? My girlfriend?”
“Blonde hair, blue strapless dress, black stilettos, and boobs so big I can only assume they are fake.”
In that moment she watched as he scanned the parking lot for her. She felt a sense of glee knowing that after all the months that he had been lying to her, cheating on her, and making her look a fool, she now was in the driver’s seat. No longer would she be the blind wife sitting at home while he was off doing God knows what with another woman.
“Be at the house in thirty minutes. We have some things to discuss, Jonathon.”
With that final demand, she hung up the phone and drove home, her hands shaking even more and tears flooding her eyes. Until she had actually seen him with another woman, a part of her hadn’t really believed it. On that day, in that moment, her whole world crashed down around her.
The sound of the doorbell interrupted her from the memories of nearly two years ago. Her eyes widened when she looked and saw the red numbers on her alarm clock telling her it was seven o’clock. How long had she been standing there in her bathroom, completely lost in the painful memories of the past?
She ran from her bathroom and quickly slipped off her robe. Her panties, stockings, and bra were already on. All she needed to do was manage to slip her new dress on without messing up the masterpiece her daughter had created atop her head.
Carefully she slipped her arms through the sleeves and opened the neck wide to avoid a single hair being touched. The plunging look of the dress helped her, and she managed to get it on with ease. She tugged at the shoulders and smoothed down the front, twisting and turning as the fabric fell into place.
Running back into the bathroom, she dug in her makeup drawer for her lipstick. Her eyes, face, and everything else was done. Just one quick swipe across the lips and some heels and she would be ready to…she stopped dead in her tracks when she looked at her reflection.
Had she looked this fat in the dressing room when she tried this on? She turned to her side and sighed when she saw her belly pooch. Her nerves had kept her from barely eating these past few days, so she was certain she hadn’t put on any excess pounds. Panicked that the date would end before it even started, she decided to turn to old faithful. Her body-slimming, tummy-tucking girdle which she used to wear whenever Jonathon’s hospital had a black-tie event.
She was slipping it on underneath her dress just as Ariel knocked on the door and came in. “Oh my God, Mom. He is gorgeous!”
“He is? Oh, what am I saying? I know he is. I saw his photo before. I just didn’t think that in real life he would look…How gorgeous is he?”
“Umm…so gorgeous I’m thinking about locking you in your room and telling him I’m really you.”
“Very funny, Ariel. Give me those shoes.”
Ariel tossed her the shoes, and Alexis slipped into them. Her height increased by another four inches which probably made her look more confident than she felt. She felt her ears to make sure she hadn’t lost an earring during all her rushing around and went into the bathroom for one final once-over.
“You look beautiful, Mom.”
“Thank you, sweetheart. Come on, introduce me to my date.”
Ariel opened the door, and Alexis followed her out of the room. She rounded the corner of the hallway and started to descend the stairs. She could hear the familiar voice of the man who she had shared several conversations with since meeting one another by accident on Facebook. One minute she was wishing an old high school friend happy birthday and the next minute she was receiving a friend request and private messages from a man who worked with the birthday boy. Days later he asked for her phone number, and weeks later he had asked for a date.
She got to the living room just in time to hear Andrew ask him the ridiculously embarrassing question of what the man’s intentions were with his mother. Mortified, she shot her son a look of disbelief and extended her hand out to her date.
“Jace, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Alexis, you’re even more stunning than I imagined. Your picture does not do you justice.”
Instead of shaking her hand, he delicately took her fingertips in his and lifted them to his mouth for a small kiss. The gesture damn near melted her. Who did that type of thing anymore? It was so elegant and dapper.
One of the first things she noticed was his nails. They were kept trim and neat, but his hands still didn’t look manicured like Jonathon always kept his.
Jace’s features were much darker in person than in his photo online. His skin wasn’t tan as much as it was his tone. It only accentuated his dark hair, which had a faint hint of salt and pepper in it. He kept it short, almost to the scalp.
The angles of his face were chiseled, and while he didn’t have a typically GQ handsome face, she sensed a ruggedness to him which made him probably the most handsome man in any room he entered.
The dark-blue suit he wore with a simple matching tie brought out the blue of his eyes. They were a deep color. Looking at them, she was reminded of the ocean on a moonlit night. She had never looked at a man’s eyes and thought of the word beautiful before, but his truly were.
“You’re very kind. I take it you’ve met my children, manners and no-manners.” She pointed to Ariel and Andrew in the appropriate order to indicate just which one she was calling out for his rude behavior.
Jace chuckled. “Indeed I have. You have quite a pair here.”
“Yes, well, some of their good upbringing eludes them.”
“No worries. I would be equally as protective with my mother if she were still with me.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s no worries. She’s in a better place now. So, shall we? Our reservation is in twenty minutes.” Jace held his hand out in a gesture toward the front door.
“Of course. You two try not to burn down the house while I’m gone, and killing one another is also off limits.”
“I’ll wait up for you,” Andrew said.
“Really, Andrew, I think I’ll be fine.” She shot him a look which was meant to be a final warning of his behavior.
Jace opened the front door and waited for her to step outside. They both quietly walked to his SUV. He drove a white Ford Explorer, and it was polished as though he’d just picked it up from the detailer earlier that day.
When they reached the vehicle, he opened it with the click of his remote and opened her door. He gently held his hand on the small of her back for a moment while she turned to get inside. Once she was nestled comfortably on the seat, she tugged at the hem of her dress to avoid it from being caught in the door. He smiled at her politely and closed the door before walking around to the other side to get in.
Sliding in behind the wheel, he turned to her. “You really do look beautiful, Alexis.”
“Thank you, Jace. You look very handsome yourself.”
He smiled at her and put the key in the ignition before putting the SUV in drive and pulling away from the curb. The quietness that surrounded them did nothing to diminish her nerves, and she was starting to feel the familiar panic she had for the past several days. Her heart was racing, and she wondered what on earth she was doing. She was forty years old, a divorcée with two kids, and she was wearing a girdle.
“I hope you like Italian food. I booked us a table at Molinelli’s.”
“Oh, that sounds wonderful. I love Italian food.”
Please God don’t let me balloon up from pasta, she silently prayed to herself. Carbohydrates were never her friend. She prayed they would be good to her tonight. She would order a salad and fill up on that. Then she would have an excuse for being too full to finish dinner. She didn’t want to be one of those women who ordered water while picking at her food and saying something nonsensical like “Sometimes I just don’t eat” while laughing like a ditzy blonde.
They had just turned onto a side street which she knew was on the way to Molinelli’s when he pulled the car over to the side and put it in park. He didn’t cut the engine, but he sat there for a moment before turning to her.
“I’m sorry, Alexis. Don’t be scared. It’s just that I’ve been thinking about our date all week long. I really like you, and I want this night to go well. Not to mention all day I couldn’t stop thinking about doing this.”
Before she even knew what was happening, her face was held gently in his hands while his lips fused against hers. She was so shocked by the sudden intimate gesture that she sat there frozen. He didn’t push her, didn’t try to demand more than she was willing to give. Instead he just softly kissed her lips and pulled away. With his face a few inches from hers, he brushed his thumb along her lower lip and grinned.
“Better than I imagined.”
She wished she had a way to control the blush which she was certain flooded her cheeks. His kiss had felt wonderful. His lips were just the right combination of soft, yet firm. The tender way he held her and spoke to her was just as hypnotizing as his charm.
He put the car back in drive and pulled back out into traffic. She had no idea what this tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome man saw in her. One thing she was sure of, if he kissed her like that again, she would be putty in his hands. It had been over two years since a man touched her, and having that innocent form of intimacy they just shared awoke parts of her body that she was certain were long since dormant and had cobwebs lurking in them.
Oh, you are so screwed, Alexis. The thought echoed in her head as he drove them to the restaurant. What on earth had she gotten herself into?

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