A Summer Romance Excerpt from Bestselling Author Gena Showalter
About the author: GENA SHOWALTER is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books in paranormal and contemporary romances, as well as young adult novels. Her series include White Rabbit Chronicles, Angels of the Dark, Otherworld Assassins, Lords of the Underworld, Alien Huntress and Intertwined.
Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated all over the world. The critics have called her books “sizzling page-turners” and “utterly spellbinding stories”, while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”.
“Um, about our…” Thea licked her lips, obviously nervous, and glanced behind her to ensure no one stood nearby. “Evening together,” she concluded in a whisper. “Since we don’t want anyone to know about us, you’ll have to meet me at the Scratching Post.”
Daniel swallowed a laugh, knowing she wouldn’t understand his amusement.
Didn’t think he’d make a move in a crowd? Challenge accepted.
“Fine,” he said. “I planned to take you into the city to pick fabric for the theme room. If you’ll send me links to what you like, I’ll pick it up myself. Then I’ll meet you at the bar. What time?”
“You want me to decide? Are you ceding control to me already?”
“Already? Try never.” She scowled at him, a little kitten pretending to be a tiger. “Meet me at nine.” A firm statement this go-round.
He experienced a familiar rush of excitement, exactly what he’d lived for since leaving the military. But underneath the excitement? A hint of impatience and a dash of irritation. He wanted this bundle of delicious contradictions now.
“I’ll be there,” he said with a nod. Nothing would keep him away.
The bell above the front door tinkled, and Dr. Vandercamp strode inside the lobby. Princess didn’t growl at him, but she didn’t rush over to greet him, either. That’s my girl.
“I’m headed back to the office,” Vandercamp said, “and thought I’d check on our pup.”
The word our raised Daniel’s hackles.
Thea took a step forward, wringing her hands, the scent of her fogging his head. “Brett? Brett Vandercamp?” The doctor looked her up and down and brightened.
“Her name is Dorothea,” Daniel snapped.
She ignored him. “How are you, Brett? I’d heard you moved back to town to take over your dad’s veterinary hospital.”
“I’m well, and you heard correctly. How about you? What have you been up to?”
She played with a loose tendril of hair, the curl coiling around her finger. Her color was high—because of douche-nozzle Vandercamp?
“I’m even better now that you’re here,” Thea said with a tremulous smile. “You look good.”
“So do you. Very good.”
What. The. Hell. Were they flirting? “I didn’t realize you two were friends,” Daniel grated.
“I tutored Brett,” Thea said, her gaze remaining on the vet. “Thanks to me, he made an A in history.”
Vandercamp rested an elbow on the counter, leaning toward her as if he had every right to invade her per- sonal space. “I haven’t seen you around, had no idea you’d grown even prettier.”
“Really? You think so?” She blushed the loveliest shade of rose. “I mean, of course I’ve grown prettier. Thank you for noticing.”
When Daniel had complimented her, she’d called him a liar.
Annoyed, he inserted himself between the pair. “Are you here about the dog or trolling for a date?”
“Why not both?” Far from intimidated, Vandercamp picked up and examined Princess. He changed her bandages and said, “What do you say, Dot—Dorothea? Want to go out sometime?”
Her breath caught in her throat, as if she couldn’t believe something so wonderful was happening to her.
Say no. She had better say—
“Yes,” she said. “I’d like that.”
Daniel gripped the edge of the counter with so much force he feared he would crack the wood. As Thea exchanged numbers with Vandercamp, he focused on his breathing. In, out. In…out.
When the vet left at long last—good riddance!—Daniel glared at the flustered Thea. “You’re dating me.”
His little kitten showed her claws, hissing, “I’m dating you under duress. We are not exclusive, Mr. Room Wrecker. If we were, then and only then could you warn me away from Brett.”
I will not punch a wall. She was the only woman he wanted, and he expected to be the only man she wanted. “What would you like me to wear for our date?” The words shot from him, as sharp as daggers.
Her gaze slid over his white button up and dark slacks. His Sunday best, as his momma used to say. “Wear a T-shirt and jeans on our date. No, sweatpants.” She waved a finger over him. “And make sure both are baggy.”
The motion startled Princess, who snarled at her. To his surprise, Thea stuck out her tongue at the dog. A second later, she covered her mouth with her hand, those shamrock eyes wide. Then she giggled. Soon the giggle bloomed into an all-out laugh. The amusement lit her entire face, making his chest ache.
She’s mine, and I won’t share. But she’s right. If our relationship is to remain a secret, I can’t warn Vandercamp away.
He bit the inside of his cheek until he tasted blood.
A boom of thunder rattled the building, and Princess quieted. She began to tremble. He pressed her against his chest. Sometimes, in the heat of battle, explosions and gunfire raging all around him, he and his buds had to lie down and press together in the shadows, waiting for the opportunity to strike…or for death to strike them. Feeling another’s heartbeat had been their only tether to life.
“Finally! We’re getting some action.” Thea messed with her phone. “There’s a ninety-five percent chance of hail.” She skipped to the door to…record the storm?
“You like hail?”
“Don’t be silly. Only crazy people like hail,” she said—while grinning. “Maybe a freak snowstorm will blow in and a tornado will hit. We could have a snow- quakenado blizzard. Do you know how awesome that would be?”
“Only crazy people like hail, but sane people wish for a snowquakenado blizzard?” The incongruity of her statement somehow eased the tension inside him. “Sweetheart, I’m getting mixed signals from you.” In more ways than one.
Another giggle, and hell! He wished she had stayed quiet; the sound of her good humor only enchanted him more. “If everything goes as predicted, the sun will show up in about an hour and the storm will move on.” She opened the door and stepped outside, saying over her shoulder, “You’ll be safe here, so there’s no reason to worry.”
Who was this girl? “I’m not worried.”
She’d wanted to be a meteorologist but had dropped out of school after getting married. He wondered why.
He wondered about every detail of her life, and it disconcerted him. Curiosity had never before factored into his romantic pursuits, but the more he learned about Thea, the less he realized he actually knew.
Daniel carried Princess to the front door and peered out the glass, watching as Thea spoke into her phone, wind whipping around her, rain soaking her hair and plastering her scrubs to her skin. Her nipples were hard.
A sense of possession riveted him in place, invaded his blood, his bones.
Secret or not, she’s mine. No other man will have her.
He walked away before he gave in to the temptation to join her outside. He could wait for their date to make his move. Barely.
About CAN’T HARDLY BREATHE by Gena Showalter (on-sale September 2017): New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with an irresistible Original Heartbreakers story about a woman who’s never felt desired and the man who wants her more than air to breathe…
Bullied in high school, Dorothea Mathis’s past is full of memories she’d rather forget. But there’s one she can’t seem to shake—her long-standing crush on former army ranger Daniel Porter. Now that the sexy bad boy has started using her inn as his personal playground, she should kick him out…but his every heated glance makes her want to join him instead.
Daniel returned to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, to care for his ailing father and burn off a little steam with no strings attached. Though he craves curvy Dorothea night and day, he’s as marred by his past as she is by hers. The more he desires her, the more he fears losing her.
But every sizzling encounter leaves him desperate for more, and soon Daniel must make a choice: take a chance on love or walk away forever.
About THE DARKEST PROMISE by Gena Showalter (available now): Possessed by the demon of Misery, Cameo isn’t allowed to experience joy. If she dares, her memory is wiped clean. With no other recourse, she sneaks into a land more fantastical than any fairy tale, determined to find the one man with the key to her redemption.
Lazarus the Cruel and Unusual rules his kingdom with a single unwavering focus: to build his army and annihilate his enemies. Nothing distracts him—until Cameo. He is relentless in his quest to make her smile…and seduce her into his bed.
As dark forces conspire against them, threatening to destroy the fragile bond they’ve forged, the once-calm Lazarus grows crazed. Every heart-stopping kiss and wicked touch causes Cameo to teeter on the brink of happiness. But if she falls, she risks forgetting him forever…