Friday, February 17, 2012
Brand New Excerpt of Penny Serenade: Tokens of the Heart Book One
Brand new excerpt of Penny Serenade: Tokens of the Heart Book One available now on Kindle
When Audrey Kessler opened her new age shop, Tokens of the Heart, she never expected it to be such a success. While her life is all about being neat and orderly, she hasn’t found much success in the other areas of her life. Mainly love.
Enter Dominic Blume, a jack-of-all-trades, who in one day manages to capture her attention and draw her ire. Preferring to play things safe, Audrey does her best to focus on her business and ignore the way her body ignites whenever Dominic is near.
But when she needs a strong, warm body to comfort her after a traumatic event, Audrey worries that she has succeeded too well at keeping Dominic away.
Her mind whirred. The man was bad for her nerves. On one hand he had an incredible face, voice, and body. He smelled damn good, and his seductive smile made her entire being shudder. On the other hand he didn’t know the first thing about communication. His words spilled out, without any filters. She speed walked around the store, finding herself too wound up for the peaceful ambiance she’d created. The music was all wrong. Heavy metal rather than Celtic harp would be more her pace at the moment.
A string of obscenities lay at the tip of her tongue and she was starting to sweat from walking so fast. She needed to find a way to catch her breath and be calm. If she threw herself into her work, thoughts of Dominic, wanting to touch Dominic, and wanting to kiss Dominic, would disappear.
She grabbed a notepad off the counter along with a pen, and wrote down the amount and colors of Betsy’s bracelets that needed to be restocked, especially in lapis blue. Audrey groaned. Great, the lapis blue bracelet, another thing that reminded her of the day the tactless wonder walked in.
No sooner had she jotted down numbers, a streak of light shone into the store, followed by Dominic himself. She groaned again, this time to herself. Wouldn’t he ever leave her alone? She’d never seen him before and now she couldn’t escape him.
Through gritted teeth she asked, “Can I help you?”
“I feel the need to apologize, again,” he said. “Err, repeatedly.”
“It’s not necessary,” she grumbled. “If we stay out of each other’s way then there won’t be a problem.” She’d have to find a new place to go for lunch, which sucked on many levels, or she’d always be looking for him.
“Listen.” He reached out to touch her arm and stopped before his fingers made contact. Curling them into a fist, he put his arm back down to his side. “I’m not in the habit of saying sorry, to anyone, but I can tell you don’t think much of me, and I’m to blame for that. I have a feeling you’re going to hold a grudge against me because of what I said about the pennies.”
Audrey shrugged. She was feeling very out of her comfort zone around him. Words escaped her.
He walked over to the penny display and turned it slow. “These really are something. It’s a clever idea.”
She folded her arms. “Don’t be condescending.”
“I’m not trying to be, I swear,” he said, leaning his god-like body against the counter. “Yesterday I only had one thing on my mind and that was getting the best gift I could for my niece. You can’t fault me for not knowing you made them. Hell, I didn’t even know your name.”
She opened her mouth to argue, but he made a good point. His comment about the pennies wasn’t even the issue anymore, and she knew it. She was angry for having made him out to be perfect at first glance and then felt betrayed by her own high expectations. It was easier to blame him than her lousy quick judgment.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said, looking past him.
“I can tell it matters.”
“I’ll get over it. I’m good at that.” Audrey could write a how-to book on the subject if she wanted.
Dominic straightened and took a step closer. “Can we consider starting over? I’d like another chance.”
If he knew how much he aroused her in that split-second with the way he moved and his words, he’d use that to his advantage.
She clicked her tongue. “I’m not interested.”
His jaw slackened. “Then you’ve already made your mind up about me.”
“I didn’t say that,” she said in a rush. “I just know myself,” she explained, feeling like an idiot. “Anything you say will of course sound better now, but it won’t erase what you said before. You could’ve knocked anything else in the entire store, but you ridiculed something dear to my heart. I said I’ll get over it, but it will take time. The hurt can’t be removed with smooth talk or a charming smile.”
His lips curled in a tantalizing way. “Do I have a charming smile?”
She paused. How had that slipped out? Blurting wasn’t her style. Flustered she looked around the store, trying to focus on something that would guide her. Nothing did. She’d been very close to having everything together in her life before Dominic. It made sense that things would be better if she stayed clear of him. Not knowing what else to say, she glanced at the clock. “Look, I have a ton of work to do. If you aren’t going to buy anything, then you should leave.”
“I’ll leave,” he said, his tone serious again. “I promise.”
The sooner the better, she thought.
“How about that drink later?”
Along with learning some tact, the guy needed to learn to take a hint. She shook her head. “I don’t drink.”
“Do you do dinner?” A twitch of something, smugness? crossed his lips.
“I don’t close until seven,” she answered with a bitchier-than-planned tone. “I usually heat up something in the back around six and munch on it. Thanks anyway.” She wondered when he was going to leave.
“Dessert? I’m a big fan of cake.”
Audrey thought back to the cheesecake at the café and her resolve weakened. “Oh yeah? What kind of cake?”
“Any kind, though I’m partial to white cake with butter cream frosting.”
She nodded. “Sounds good, but I’m a sucker for cheesecake.”
“Noted,” he said and pretended to take out a pad of paper and write it down.
Dessert conversation over, she returned to her frown. He’d almost made her forget to be irritated.