Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sneak Preview - Dare to Dream

Since Today's Chocolate is a rerun (more of Mo's Bacon Bar, it's starting to grow on me), I thought I would offer a preview of the forthcoming Dare to Dream. In the spirit of maintaining that erotic romance can offer the reader a satisfying story in addition to sweltering love scenes, I'm submitting the unedited Chapter Two here.

A bit of backstory, even though this excerpt is fairly easy to follow. Dare to Dream is the fourth novel-length work in a series I do for Phaze. This book begins in the time concurrent to the events closing its predecessor, Daring Young Man. A planned fifth book, Daring Red, will be set along the same time to offer alternate scenes that happened offstage during books three and four. All the Dareville books are available through this link, as well as Fictionwise, All Romance eBooks, Kindle, and will be made available in Coffee Time Romance's store soon.

Enjoy!

From Dare to Dream by Leigh Ellwood

Chapter Two

Redding Marbury breezed through the small kitchen and squealed to a halt before the refrigerator. His gaze hadn't so much as darted in his older brother's direction, yet clearly the journalist's keen eye proved omnipresent.

"Jay, for Christ's sake," Red moaned. "It's not his funeral."

"It might as well be," Jake Marbury, Jr. groaned. He slumped at the small breakfast table, squirming in the discomfort of his best Sunday suit. Used to be he could find solace in a stolen moment in this kitchen. He and Redding had grown up in this house, shared countless meals and animated conversations with their parents and friends right here. Even after Cynthia Marbury's death, J.J.—as he'd always been known—could sit and savor the ghostly aroma of sugar cookies long ago eaten, comfort foods that nursed him through many difficult times.

This morning, however, there was no aromatherapy or welcoming sight to heal or even soothe his misgivings. Not the homely floral wallpaper, nor the ever percolating carafe of Jake, Sr.'s favorite dark roast provided enough balm to counter the bile rising in Junior's stomach. After today, all of this would belong to Lauren McKenna. Lauren McKenna-Marbury—because she seemed the hyphenating type…Mrs. Jake Marbury. A woman half Dad's age.

The gold-digging cow.

After an intense inspection of the refrigerator's contents, Red selected a bottled root beer and took the chair to J.J.'s left. The abrupt hiss of the cap's release took J.J. by surprise, and he awoke from his reverie to find his younger brother scowling at him.

"What?" J.J. protested. "You don't like the idea of Dad marrying Lauren any more than I do. Why get on my case?"

Red took a quick but audible pull from the bottle before answering. "I know. I'll admit I'm not too thrilled about Dad marrying somebody my age, but I never expected him to curl up and die alone, either," he said. "I know I didn't want that to happen, anyway. So, what choice do I have but to be happy that he's finally happy again?" Don't you want that for him, too?"

"Yes, I do. We've been over this. I told myself a long time ago that if Dad wanted to get into another relationship, I wasn't going to stop him. But," he sighed, "I always figured he'd go for somebody closer to his age. Somebody with whom he'd have things in common." Indeed, when he'd learned once that Jake had a date with Marlene Robeson, who used to do the books at Jake's store, J.J. had been thrilled. The older divorcee seemed just the ticket to bring Jake out of his mourning. Apparently they didn't mesh as well as J.J. had hoped.

"What commonalities? Medicare?" Red snorted. "He has plenty in common with Lauren."

"The store. Big whoop. Her and half the town." That their father had made Lauren manager of his organic grocery shop still nettled under J.J.'s skin. The woman had been a teach with no real business experience. She only ended up working for Jake, initially as an office manager, after a scandal involving racy pictures forced her resignation from Dareville Academy. Falling in love might have been a happy accident according to Jake, Sr., but J.J. wasn't fooled. He knew Lauren had orchestrated the whole plan—she weaseled into Jake's life, his bed, and now his home and livelihood. J.J.'s home. It wouldn't be his anymore—even though he hadn't physically lived here in years, the place held his heart. Damned if Lauren didn't have plans to renovate everything and remove any evidence of Cynthia's existence.

"Why are you looking at the wallpaper like that?" Red asked.

"Like what?"

"Like you're afraid it's going to melt, or bleed. Will you just relax, Jay?"

"What if she changes it?" J.J. asked. "What if she redoes the whole damn house until we don't recognize it anymore?"

Another long drink. The bottle hit the table as Red let out a mild belch. "Dude, it's just wallpaper. Let it go."

"It's home. It's Mom." It's over. Whoever said change was good was full of shit, J.J. decided. Sure, his father might think life was better for having Lauren, but where did that leave him? Red wasn't wholly concerned, but Red had a home and family of his own, while J.J. had a condo in Virginia Beach and an equally nice place in Dareville. Neither, however, was really a home. Not like this place.
Home was where he found love. Lauren threatened that security. Her brand of love involved things that vibrated and moaned, and would certainly prove risky for his aging father, J.J. knew.

"You know about Lauren, don't you?" J.J. felt the strain crease his forehead as his right eyebrow raised. "All the kinky shit she's into."

Red twisted his lips in an expression that rendered J.J's argument irrelevant to him. However, his brother wasn't about to be silenced. "Remember those pictures that got her booted out of DA?" J.J. prodded.

"No, because I never saw them, and it's none of my business," Red said. "Nor is it yours."

"And she hangs out with Brady Garriston and his weirdo friend. Come on, you've heard the rumors about them, right?" Sex freaks, and God knew what else. Not that J.J. was a monk, he loved a nice, sweet piece of ass as much as the next red-blooded guy, but the stories of the rock star's regular "house parties" were too bizarre for him to comprehend. To picture his sixty-year-old father humping around in a pile of naked flesh in Brady Garriston's living room was just too much.

"She's going to give Dad a heart attack," J.J. warned. "We're going to get a call and come here one night to find him dead with a ball gag in his mouth and a dildo up his ass."

That did it. Root beer sprayed the expanse of the Formica tabletop and lightly misted J.J.'s suit. He scooted back.

"Watch it!"

Red's howling laughter lasted for several seconds. His own suit, unfortunately, was not spared the brunt of the spilled soda, and he frantically dabbed at his opened collar with a napkin. "Dude, don't ever do that," he gasped.

J.J. fumed. "Let's see you laugh when it really happens."

"Jay, come on." Now tided, Red twined his fingers on the table. "Lauren hangs with those guys because they're married to her friends, who are also our friends. Second, it doesn't mean Dad and Lauren are rolling with that kind of crowd. I know for a fact the spend a lot of time at home."

No doubt looking for a place to hang the Pleasure Swing 3000. J.J. didn't share his thoughts on that.

"Third," Red continued, "I think it's great Dad has a sex life still, after all these years. Give the rest of us hope when we're that age. And fourth," Red's smile slipped into a devilish grin, "I think you're jealous because you never get invited to those sex parties."

J.J. straightened and attempted a blasé attitude. "Who says I haven't? Have you and Charlene?"

The expected smart-aleck retort never came. Red rose and pitched his empty bottle in the trash can by the refrigerator. "Come on," he cajoled. "Let's go see what's keeping Dad. We need to get moving."

J.J. glumly followed his brother. With any luck, his had decided to play runaway groom.

***

There you have it. Will be posting more excerpts in anticipation of a Fall/Winter release!

No comments: