Elyssa Patrick’s new rom-com, The Devil on Your Shoulder, releases tomorrow 4/4. I can not wait to read it. Elyssa was kind enough to share an excerpt with us.
No one expects a meet-hate at a wedding. But when an arrogant playboy steals her seat, a plus-sized wallflower finds herself engaged in a battle of insults . . . and a kissing duel. Kisses are one thing, but love is a declaration of war.
Nora prepared herself for the worst.
She was going to let this man—this man she didn’t like and couldn’t stand—put his mouth to hers. And she knew, without a shadow of doubt, that his kiss was going to be everything she expected.
Long story short: it was going to be bad.
Long story not so short: it was going to be really, really, really bad.
But she was ready for the onslaught, for the pure arrogance of his kiss. He thought he was God’s gift to the Universe and all humankind. He thought his kiss was going to destroy her . . . or awaken her in ways she hadn’t yet been awakened.
She’d been kissed before, and she’d be kissed again.
This kiss would be nothing special. Let him try and prove this point, which was the aim of this experiment. He would prove nothing. Nothing at all.
Besides, she also had a point to prove. He was expecting her to be shocked and awed, but she was going to turn it around. He was going to kiss her, but he would not walk away the victor.
With that in mind, she got her arsenal ready. His finger was still on her mouth, and it took everything in her to not bite him again. She let him draw closer and closer until his body brushed against hers.
He lifted his finger from her mouth. “Let’s make a bet.”
“What kind of bet?” The mere hint of a contest intrigued her. She was competitive and liked to win when she entered a game. And this was a game.
“I won’t touch you—”
She eyed his body, the one whispering against her body, and arched an eyebrow. “Kind of hard to do if you kiss me.”
“Except for our lips,” he said over her interruption.
“You’re not going to touch me except for your mouth,” she said. “I don’t see what the bet is.”
“And you’re not going to touch me,” he said.
“Not a problem.”
He looked down.
She looked down.
And hastily lifted her treacherous hands away from his chest.
“No touching,” she said. “I’m still not seeing a bet here.”
“The first one to touch the other loses.”
“Your hands on me just like they were.”
Her stupid hands.
But . . .
“Hey, you’re just as guilty,” she said. “You touched me first.”
He tipped his head toward her, almost like he was acknowledging that she won this round. But then he backed away, and her hands dropped down. She ignored the fact that she had to curl her hands into fists, to stop reaching for him again.
“What’s the bet? Bragging rights?” she asked, trying to clear her head out of whatever nonsense she’d just been in. She needed to focus on the contest, on winning, on being right.
“That, and a prize of the winner’s choosing.”
Ohhhh. “Any kind of prize?”
His dark eyes lit up, and he looked at her in a different kind of way. “You’re secretly evil, aren’t you?”
Was she? Was she harboring a secret supervillain inside? Although she wasn’t a fan of leather or spandex, she could always wear something else. Like yoga pants, a tee, and pink fuzzy slippers. Very threatening. Very villainous.
“Not evil,” she said, done with her little supervillain fantasy for now. “Just thinking of what my prize will be.”
“And what will your prize be?”
She didn’t know. “Too many choices. I’m kind of liking the idea of telling you to strip down and streak.”
“Sweetheart, if you want to see me naked, you don’t need to claim a prize for that. I’m all too willing to—”
“Don’t even finish that sentence,” she said. “I don’t want to see you naked. Cops are probably out and about, and the image of you in your skivvies—”
“—behind bars is a little too delightful.” Nora paused for a moment, relishing the thought. “But I won’t do that, because I don’t think a prize should involve handcuffs—”
“—You just want me in handcuffs.”
“—or going to jail. And, ew, stop sexualizing everything, you perv.”
“I’m not the one sexualizing things. You’re the one who mentioned me stripping down, then handcuffs. I’m completely innocent.”
“Innocent, my ass.”
“Do you want to know what my prize will be when I win?”
“If you win, and no.”
“I don’t want to know. It’s probably depraved or humiliating . . . or it might be both. The winner will claim her prize and the loser will just have to accept the terms and conditions.”
“Sounds good to me,” he said. “You ready for this?”
Was she ready? Laughable. She had plans for this kiss, and they didn’t involve her losing to him.
“I’m ready,” she said.
Nora made sure her hands were by her sides, and that his were on either side of her head. He moved back a little so that not even his body touched hers.
Only their lips would touch whenever he decided to lower his head and start this kissing contest.
But he didn’t kiss her.
His strategy was to obviously unnerve her . . . to get her to move. He expected her frustration to boil over that she’d be so fed up that she would grab the lapels of his black suit, drag his mouth down to hers, and rock his world.
In one moment, they just stared at each other. Sizing the enemy. Looking for any weaknesses. Preparing for battle. In the next, something shifted. He still looked at her as if he was thinking of all the ways his kiss could bring her down. To be fair, she was planning her kissing strategy, too. But . . . but . . .
She was being silly. Foolish. Losing her head in this soon-to-be battle of kisses. His game plan almost worked, but she wasn’t going to let herself fall for it. No way.
He stepped closer but didn’t touch her.
He almost touched her. His hands almost brushed hers. A kiss was almost about to happen.
It was a contest. A bet. Nothing more. She had to remind herself of those facts; she couldn’t let herself think that he actually wanted to kiss her. That would be ridiculous.
“Well,” she said, trying to goad him into action, “are you going to get on with it or what?”
He smiled, that charming dimple flashed like lightning, his dark, velvety brown eyes sparked. “Impatient, are you? I knew you wanted my mouth.”
She knew what he wanted, the sick bastard. She gave it to him because it would help her win. She sneered.
His smile grew wider, that dimple deepened, and his head lowered.
Her breath left her, her body froze, and her heartbeat paused, almost as if it was waiting for this kiss to happen. Which she wasn’t. Not at all. Not in the slightest.
This was just a kissing battle.
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