by Chana Alexander (me)
Blurb and Excerpt
Coming 2010 Resplendence Publishing
Eva Raines is an uncomplicated country girl who’s all about food. Eva moves to the Napa Valley where her culinary skills come to the attention of the owners of a start-up and Eva finds her niche as a personal chef. Now all she needs is a man as perfect as her cooking, but she has serious doubts such a creature exists.
When wealthy entrepreneur, winery owner, and noted lothario, Gabriel Abbott, makes plans to seduce his flavor of the month, his assistant hires All Things to All People to cater a gourmet dinner. Eva expects to use her way with food to showcase the startup. What she unexpectedly discovers is that her culinary skills showcase far more. Gabriel Abbott finds himself seduced by her voice and the sensual flavors and textures of her food and his previous plans are quickly forgotten. He begins to obsess about meeting his little chef in person. He’s not alone. Once Eva hears Gabe’s voice and spends time in his home in the Napa Valley, she begins to wonder about the real man and her dreams of him are so hot they could ignite a barbecue.
When Eva and Gabe finally come face to face, the question is, how hot will their fire burn?
Gabe woke to singing. The room he lay in was dark and it took him a moment to remember where he was. When he smelled Eva, he knew. Gabe reached for her, but the spot where she’d lain was empty. He leaned back on the pillows, crossing his arms behind his head, and listened. It was an old Bonnie Raitt song, one he’d always loved—Angel from Montgomery. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the music. At first he thought Eva had turned on a CD player, but after listening for a few moments, he realized that there were no instruments accompanying the singing voice. It was all Eva. When she finished the song, she launched into a raw rendition of Lowell George’s Dixie Chicken. Gabe found himself grinning. If Eva would be his Dixie Chicken and he would most definitely offer to be her Tennessee Lamb. Gabe reached down to make sure he was covered in case she happened into the bedroom. He was relieved to find that she had thrown a quilt over his open fly. Maybe he’d covered himself. His memory was pretty vague.
Eva must be feeling better or she wouldn’t be up and about, and singing her lungs out. Her singing voice kept a smile on his face. It was smoky, peaty, and right on key. She sounded exactly the way she sounded when he’d awakened her with his late night phone calls. Warm, cuddly, sexy as hell. Just as Gabe began to wonder what she was up to, his nose started twitching and his stomach began to growl. She was cooking. If his nose was right, she was making Reuben sandwiches. Shit, he hadn’t had a good Reuben since the last time he was in Chicago and he’d taken his sister and her family to a deli.
Gabe adjusted his jeans and made sure to zip them up before he climbed out of bed. He stepped into the hallway and looked for the bathroom. When he came out of the bathroom, he ran into Eva just coming to wake him. He took a look at her long legs as she approached and he noticed that she wasn’t quite as stiff as he expected her to be. Despite the scrapes on her knees, she moved with an athletic grace he found extremely appealing. She still wore the man’s boxers she’d slept in. They hung on her slender frame so she’d rolled the waistband several times to keep them up. The ragged tee shirt didn’t cover much. Light from the living room shone through the thin cotton, framing her narrow waist and the gentle flare of her hips. He felt himself stir at the sight of her erect nipples poking against the material. He decided to be polite and look at her face.
“How’s your head?” He asked, studying the bruise on her forehead. She’d pulled her dark red hair back and braided it.
“It’s all right,” Eva replied. “It’s just a bump.”
“And the knees?”
“Sore.” She shrugged. “They’ll be better by the end of the week. Gabe…” she began.
“Hmm?” Gabe raised his eyebrows and waited.
“Thank you. Thanks for bringing me home and cleaning me up. I’m… I’m… I have to admit I’m more than a little embarrassed.”
Gabe felt his mouth twitch. “Why would you be embarrassed? Because I cleaned your cuts or because I stripped you naked and feasted my eyes on your beautiful body?”
Eva’s mouth opened and she sputtered for just an instant before she covered her flaming cheeks with her hands. Gabe heard a muffled, “Oh crap,” and he laughed.
Gabe took hold of her hands and he lifted them away from her face. “You have nothing to be embarrassed about, Eva. It was my pleasure. Truly. I would go so far as to say you are now in my top ten list of remarkable experiences.”
“Really?” Eva shot back, grinning now. “How high do I rank?”
Gabe ran a thumb across her luscious bottom lip. He heard her sharp intake of breath. “Number two, maybe.”
“Not number one?” she whispered.
“Give it time,” he teased, “I haven’t tasted you… yet.”
Eva lifted her chin. Gabe stared into her eyes, asking permission without saying a single word. He could see uncertainty warring with her strong desire to challenge him to do exactly what he threatened. Taste her. Everywhere. Starting with that delicious mouth of hers. He watched as Eva’s lips parted in anticipation, and he knew which side won. Before she could change her mind, Gabe slid a hand under her braid and he cupped the back of her head. He rubbed his lips against hers, as if testing the waters. Eva sighed softly in response, accepting him, but at the same time Gabe felt one of her hands press firmly against his chest as if holding him at bay. For an instant, he didn’t know which part of her to listen to, but then her tongue flicked delicately over his lips and he shut his mind up and kissed her.
The moment Gabe’s lips touched hers, Eva felt like butter left too long in the hot summer sun. At the same time, a tiny voice in the back of her mind reminded her that she really didn’t know the man at all. She’d been in his home, even in his bedroom. She’d strolled his gardens, picked his herbs, cooked for him, tasted his wines. Yet she truly didn’t know a thing about the man. The idea of pushing him away flashed through her brain, but her body decided not to listen. Her body responded automatically to the delicate touch of his mouth against hers. Before she knew what she was doing, Eva had licked his lips. Gabe’s body replied instantaneously. In fact, he practically combusted. An arm slid around her waist and Eva found herself drawn firmly against his hard chest, while the hand at the base of her skull tilted her head back to allow Gabe easier access to her mouth.
Eva had been kissed, but not like this. Not by a man this hungry. Not ever. His tongue explored her mouth liberally, uninhibitedly. It tangled with her own, tasting her as if she were a rare wine. Without realizing it, Eva dug a hand into Gabe’s thick hair and pulled him even closer, while her other hand clung to his shoulder. Eva felt the wall behind her back as Gabe rubbed his long, hard length against her, the material of her boxers moving with him as he pressed himself against what Eva considered her sweet spot. Caught entirely off guard by the strength of her desire, she heard herself whimper, feeling helpless, pleading for more.
A warm hand slid under her tee shirt and fingers moved up her belly. Eva found herself arching her back, giving him easier access. Gabe wasted no time in discovering the sensitive underside of her breast. He stroked the satiny skin with his fingertips and then, as his big hand cupped her breast, his thumb circled her nipple. Eva’s legs shook when he rolled her aching tip between his thumb and forefinger. She tore her mouth away from his, and tossed her head back, moaning, while his teeth sought her neck and he nibbled his way down her collarbone. Eva knew where his mouth was headed and she nearly screamed in anticipation. Abruptly, he shoved her tee shirt up and he arrived at her breast. Gabe closed his hot, wet mouth around a nipple that had become almost painful with desire. He sucked, closing his teeth around her taut point, biting, the action deliberate yet delicate at the same time.
Eva did scream, at least, she thought she did, and her hands sought the front of his jeans. She stroked his hard length through the taut material. She heard Gabe groan, his mouth still on her breast. He sounded as if he was in agony. In one fluid motion, Eva unzipped his jeans and she moved his boxers and freed him. A single thought raced through her brain as her hand ran down his steely length, Oh my God, and then it disappeared as her tee shirt was torn from her and her boxers were shoved down her thighs. Gabe’s fingers searched the delicate folds between her legs. She could tell she was incredibly wet and very slippery.
“Jesus Christ,” she heard him grit out between clenched teeth as a finger was thrust carefully inside her. Her body welcomed the intrusion and her mouth trembled as he took her lips again, thrusting his tongue inside, matching the rhythm of his finger. Eva teetered on the brink of what seemed like either a precipice or a cataclysmic orgasm. She wasn’t sure which. She slid her thumb over the tip of Gabe’s big cock, finding a drop of moisture there. The image had her panting. She heard him growl deep in his throat and her boxers vanished. She felt his hands reach beneath her bottom. Gabe began to lift her off her feet and… suddenly Eva smelled smoke. She pried open her eyes and watched, puzzled, as a gray haze drifted their way from the kitchen. For an instant the sight didn’t register, then the smoke detector above their heads began to shriek.
“Shit!” Eva yelped. “The potatoes!” Her feet found the floor. She shoved Gabe backward and bolted for the kitchen.
“Fuck the potatoes!” she heard him rumble from behind her retreating back.
Julia Barrett/Chana Alexander