Book Three of the Heart of Fame series, Guarded Desires, releases next week (16th). I can’t believe it’s almost here. I also can’t tell you how excited and nervous I am for this book to be free in the world. If you don’t know already, this is the very first male/male erotic romance I have written. I’m incredibly proud of it. (And holy smokes, look at that cover!!!)
So without any further carry-on, here’s the entire first chapter for your reading pleasure. I hope you enjoy it. (Oh, and there’s a contest at the bottom *grin*)
Chris Huntley’s reaction to the tall man in the dark sunglasses scared the shit out of him.
Standing on the balcony of the harbour-side mansion the studio had rented for this trip, Chris watched the imposing Australian stride along the mansion’s private jetty away from the yacht that had delivered him. Faded blue-denim jeans barely contained thighs that were long and muscular. A broad, sculpted chest and powerful shoulders strained against a snug white T-shirt, as did biceps that spoke of impressive strength.
Aslin had said the guy was built, but damn, he hadn’t mentioned like a goddamn wrestler.
Liev Reynolds moved with the confidence and potency of a man threatened by nothing. Chris knew the attitude well. Aslin Rhodes, his brother-in-law, moved the same way. A menacing calm that said loud and clear you would get hurt and hurt badly if you tried to mess with him. Chris had always assumed it came from being an ex-soldier, but as he watched the Australian approach the mansion, he knew it had nothing to do with military training. For starters, Liev Reynolds had no military background at all.
Chris gripped the stainless-steel balcony railing harder.
His entire life, he’d cast himself in the role of sexy, funny ladies’ man. His reputation—hell, his career—was built around that role. The guy that made women laugh with his sharp wit even as he made them want to strip off their clothes and beg him to have sex with them. Just about every time he left the comfort of his home in Beverly Hills and went out in public without Aslin and his sister, more than one woman would do that very thing.
He’d made millions of dollars thanks to his sex appeal. The studio that produced his sitcom milked his sex appeal for every advertising penny. The studio of his first action film had capitalized on it in their pre and post-release marketing. The critics of the film had noted it. The pre-production media buzz of his next film, a comedy horror, was already talking about.
He was, for want of a better word, a mega sex symbol. Up there with the best of them, with the sexiest men alive. Linked to almost every delectable woman the gossip mags and celebrity sites could name. If there was a single, sensual, eligible actress out there, Chris had apparently slept with her.
He didn’t fight the reputation. In fact, he welcomed it. True, he didn’t have a girlfriend. Nor even a steady fuck-buddy, but when it came to the media important facts didn’t matter.
Chris could live with that. He’d learned to live with it. It was part of his life now. He was a sex symbol, women wanted to sleep with him and he slept with women. That was the way it was.
Which explained why he was petrified watching the Australian bodyguard his brother-in-law had arranged to protect him while back in Oz draw closer. Because he’d never ever had his dick harden at the sight of a man. Harden, for fuck’s sake.
His gut churned. A vise-like invisible band wrapped his chest. His breath grew shallow. Rapid.
With every step Reynolds took closer to the mansion, an unmistakable tension stirred in Chris’s cock.
The kind Chris only experienced in the presence of a beautiful woman.
What the fuck?
Since when was he attracted to men?
Since never, that’s when.
He stared hard at the Australian, his heart beat a rapid trip-hammer. It had to be something else. Something not Liev Reynolds.
Chris searched his brain, trying to remember what he’d been thinking about before the privately chartered motor yacht had delivered Reynolds to the mansion.
Bethany. Asleep on your shoulder. Her hair tickling your face.
Chris snapped straight, clicking his fingers. “That was it,” he muttered. He’d been thinking about the flight over and how his new personal assistant had fallen asleep on his shoulder. The first non-professional thing the young woman had done since his sister and Aslin employed her six months ago.
He’d been thinking how nice her hair had smelt, like coconut and some exotic flower. He’d been thinking about the warmth of her cheek seeping through the cotton of his shirt. He’d been thinking how disapproving his sister would be. How Rowan had been adamant his new P.A. stay as emotionally detached from him as possible.
He’d been thinking about how much fun he was going to have telling Rowie about the flight.
That had to be it. He was thinking about an attractive young woman now in his employ and his cock had taken the messages from his jet-lagged, sleep-deprived brain and mixed them up into something else. And those messages just happen to reach his cock when his gaze fell on Liev Reynolds climbing from the motor yacht.
He chuckled out a shaky breath. Simple. Sort of. He didn’t think he was sexually attracted to his new P.A. Fuck, that would complicate things a tad, but he was sure as shit that was less complicated than being sexually attracted to the Australian bodyguard currently striding along the jetty. Being sexually attracted to a man would complicate the shit out of things. And confuse the shit out of Chris as well.
But he wasn’t. So there was nothing to worry about.
He gripped the balcony’s railing and dropped his stare to the man in question.
And bit back a groan as a thick spasm claimed his cock.
Chris’s mouth went dry. Jesus, what the hell was going on?
Think of Bethany. Think of Bethany.
Closing his eyes, he turned his thoughts to his P.A.
His cock didn’t spasm.
He opened his eyes and looked down at the Australian drawing even closer to the mansion.
His groin throbbed. His balls grew heavy.
Chris stepped back from the railing. He ground his teeth. Bunched his fists. Fuck.
Looking down at his crotch, he choked back another groan.
In a few minutes time, he was meant to be discussing with Liev Reynolds the expectations of being his bodyguard during the Dead Even press junket in Australia. How the hell was he to do that with the goddamn obvious makings of a goddamn erection?
Exhaling a slow breath through his nostrils, he slumped against the railing and watched Reynolds disappear from his line of sight beneath the balcony’s overhang.
Fuck. Maybe he should reschedule the meeting? Maybe he should have a shower and fix the unsettling erection with his hand? Maybe he should ask Bethany to join him, just to be sure that’s what the stupid erection was all about in the first place?
Maybe he should—
The soft chime of the mansion’s doorbell ended the unnerving question. He jerked around, his heart slamming fast into his throat.
A petite young woman with wild strawberry-blonde ringlets tumbling about her freckle-dusted face looked up from where she sat on a leather sofa situated in the middle of the living area. “I think Mr. Reynolds is here, Mr. Huntley. Shall I let him in?”
Chris drew in a slow breath, forcing his heart rate to slow as he counted to ten. It was a meditation technique Aslin had encouraged him to use during the filming of Dead Even, the action blockbuster on which he’d met his brother-in-law, the very film he was back in Australia to promote with a press junket and red-carpet screening. He hadn’t needed to meditate since filming ended. His sitcom was on hiatus while he was in Australia and life was pretty damn stress free at the moment.
Chris flinched at Bethany’s voice. She was only six months in to the job and already better at it than his last personal assistant. She was proficient, friendly but detached and utterly professional. And so far it didn’t seem like she was planning to kill everyone important to him like the last nut job that had been his P.A.
He smiled at the young woman, letting the tension melt from his shoulders. “Sorry, Bethany. I was wool gathering. Let him in please.”
Bethany Sloan smiled back and nodded, rising to her feet as she did so. “As you wish, sir.”
She placed the iPad on which she’d been busy arranging his schedule for the next seven days onto the coffee table in front of the sofa. Straightening the simple linen pantsuit she wore with an efficient brush of her palms, she walked from the room.
Chris watched her go. Efficient, affable and professional. Not ditzy or quirky or a closet psycho. Selected by his sister and Aslin for those specific attributes, along with the fact her security background check was spotless.
When it came to looking out for Chris’s wellbeing, his sister was thorough.
Letting out a sigh, he turned back to the stunning view of the harbour and gripped the stainless steel rail.
It made sense the arriving Australian bodyguard wasn’t responsible for his unexpected arousal. He was jet-lagged. He’d only arrived in the country three hours ago, and the flight attendant in the first-class section on the flight over had flirted with him the whole fourteen hours, even while Bethany slept on his shoulder, enamored enough with Chris to suggest—in a not-so subtle way—a threesome. Perhaps his arousal was a delayed reaction to that? He’d never had sex with two women at once. Maybe after Reynolds left he’d ask Bethany to locate the flight attendant, invite her to the mansion and suggest she bring a friend.
A wry snort sounded in the back of his throat at the thought of asking Bethany to do such a thing. His off-handed suggestion they both have a glass of wine when first arriving at their new home for the next seven days had been met with a frown and disapproval.
Come to think of it, the more he thought about Bethany the more he realised his hard-on—now currently deflating, thank fucking God—had to be a sleep-deprived reaction to her untamed hair, her freckles, her super efficiency and her complete and utter lack of adoration toward him.
Yeah, that had to be it. He was used to women of all ages throwing themselves at him, flirting with him. It stood to reason he’d be turned on by one that didn’t, right? He’d also found a challenge appealing, hence his move from award-winning sitcom star to action-film movie star. His agent hadn’t approved of the move, nor had his manager. The only one that had thought that particular challenge a good idea was his sister, and Rowan was currently on the other side of the world about to give birth, Aslin no doubt hovering over her like the proud, protective British mountain of muscle soon-to-be father he was.
If only Rowan and Aslin knew what they’d done by employing Bethany. Chris’s stupefying physical reaction to the sight of Liev Reynolds striding along the jetty had nothing to do with the man and everything to do with the young woman’s complete lack of interest in—
“Mr. Huntley?” Bethany’s clipped voice with its New York accent sounded behind him, and he started. “Mr. Reynolds is ready for you.”
For some stupid reason, Chris’s heart smashed up into his throat again.
With one final look at the sweeping harbour view before him, he sucked in a deep breath and turned to face his P.A. and the Australian bodyguard recommended to him by his brother-in-law.
He had to bite back a soft groan when his gaze fell on the man.
There were a lot of similarities in Liev Reynolds’s physique to Aslin Rhodes. Both were tall, menacing and powerfully built. However, that was where the similarities ended. For starters, Chris didn’t get a wholly disturbing stirring in his groin when he’d first met the Brit who eventually married his sister.
Reynolds was taller than he’d appeared from a distance. Taller. Broader. Stronger. Laugh lines fanned out from the corners of his eyes, eyes a brilliant blue and framed by thick dark-blond lashes. His square jaw was clean shaven, his neck a muscular column, his shoulders wide. Under the snug white T-shirt, his chest was well sculpted and muscular. As were his deltoids, biceps and triceps. A six-pack set of abs was hinted at in the shadows of the white cotton. His hips were low and narrow, and faded blue jeans did, in fact, hug thighs that were muscular and corded, just as Chris had suspected from his first view of the man. Liev Reynolds was, to put it bluntly, the epitome of male potency.
Chris’s stomach lurched.
Jesus, what was going on with him?
The Australian bodyguard took a step forward and extended his hand. “G’day, Mr. Huntley. Liev Reynolds.”
Chris looked at the offered greeting, one socially accepted between men throughout the western world. His mouth grew dry.
The Australian chuckled. “I’m not into fist bumps. Sorry.”
Chris blinked, the realization he hadn’t shaken Reynolds’s hand hitting him with sinking horror. “Sorry,” he blurted, snatching the man’s hand just as Reynolds was retracting it. Hot licks of tension shot through him at the hasty contact, spearing into his groin. His cock throbbed. “Sorry,” he repeated, ignoring the unnerving sensation as he shook Reynolds’s hand with an up-and-down motion he knew was borderline frantic. “I’m jet-lagged.”
Beside the Australian, Bethany raised one straight red eyebrow.
Reynolds laughed, returning Chris’s shake with a firm, steady grip. “No worries, mate. I can only imagine what it’s like flying halfway ’round the world. Rhodes told me to go easy on you.”
Chris’s gut clenched. He gazed up at the taller man, wishing to fuck Aslin was here right now so Chris could beat the shit out of him.
Goddamn it, thanks to the Brit, he was about to spend the next seven days in the constant company of a sexy woman who wasn’t interested in him and a…a…fuck, there was no other way to describe Liev Reynolds but sexy as well.
Jesus, what the hell was going on?
So what did you think? Now, CONTEST TIME!! Leave a comment below about the chapter and in 24 hours I’ll draw one lucky person’s name. That person will win an e-copy of Book One and Two of the Heart of Fame series, Love’s Rhythm and Muscle for Hire.
You can pre-order Guarded Desires at Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble NOOK and Samhain Publishing (just click on the sellers’ names to go directly there)