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My first straight contemporary released March 8th. Just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day. When I think of March 17th and the Irish celebration, many things pop up in my thoughts. Of course, the color green is the first. Second, is rainbows and a pot ‘o gold. Can’t forget leprachauns or shamrocks either.
When Liquid Silver Books sent out a call for submission with holiday themes, I debated about the holiday that I’d like to write about. Gavin and Cassidy showed me that their passion would explode at a pub during a Saint Paddy’s party. So, the scene was set.
Gavin Marshal is a detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He has been working in close proximity with Cassidy. For six months, they have fought their attraction knowing it was frowned upon for them to give into all their pent up desires. Gavin isn’t able to wait until their job allows them to explore a relationship. The night of the party, his control snaps and he gives into the building need. Cassidy is so overcome by the tide of passion, she too is unable to resist.
I had a fabulous time writing this novella for Saint Patrick’s Day. Each little detail for the holiday was woven into the plot and it helped frame a scorching hot sensual romance that I hope everyone will enjoy.
Damn, he needed to get laid. Bitch of it was he only wanted it with one particular woman. And as of now, she had yet to appear.
Lifting the bottle in front of him, he brought it up to his lips. Another swig of ice-cold ale slid down his throat. He speared his fingers into the little wooden bowl in the middle of the table and fished out a shelled peanut. Cracking it open, he inspected the perfect halves and discarded them. He popped the nut into his mouth. A jingling drew his attention to the entrance of the pub as a bubbly, clearly tipsy couple waltzed inside. Still not her. Hell!
Grabbing another peanut, he went through the motions with the shell while continuing to stew over her whereabouts. He had already wasted nearly an hour staring at that glass door, waiting for her to show. It had given him plenty of time to reflect on the circumstances of their situation and the issues keeping them apart. He loved his job, for the most part, and she had an affinity for her occupation. She did it beyond well. Capable, powerful, and smart all described her to a tee. But he wanted to know more about her outside of the daily grind.
Gavin was pretty sure she had similar feelings about him. They simply needed the opportunity to explore the possibilities. He could feel the pent up desire building around them, simmering like a low flame. All they needed was one hot flash, and they’d go up like wildfire. His cock throbbed its agreement.
The door to the pub opened again and the bells on the handle trilled, drawing everyone’s attention to the newest partygoer. Gavin watched as she finally walked into the lounge. She slipped off her jacket, tucked it over the crook of her arm, while surreptitiously scanning the occupants. Who exactly was she meeting? Gavin worried he’d somehow misjudged the situation. Did she intend to meet someone other than her co-workers? Like a date? The peanut in his hand turned to dust as he clenched his fist against a tide of irritation quickening in his thoughts.
He wondered if maybe he should’ve told her he planned on coming here tonight, too. Perhaps their mutual feelings could be explored in a not-work-related atmosphere. Suddenly, he realized the next step he took depended on who showed up to join her. Damn, so much for his well laid plans. He meant to use the element of surprise. Now it looked more like he’d be flying by the seat of his pants.
Fine. He decided to sit back there in the darker area of the bar and watch the proceedings. Surely, some would occur. Simply a matter of time, because she came dressed to kill. Her tight denim skirt hugged a rounded, drool-inducing ass. No doubt the whole package would inspire the urge to murder for a right to buy her a drink, the little vixen. She knew exactly what happened when she flashed those too-perfect thighs, encased in barely-there stockings. If she moved, just so, the bow of one garter could almost be discerned above the hem line of her skirt. His fingers itched to run up the inside of her gorgeous legs, to find the silky ribbon, yanking it loose and exposing her to his hungry gaze.
If the skirt didn’t inspire random violence, the breast-hugging, gathered crop-top would. The flash of tight belly gave only a glimpse of her hot body. The emerald green cotton outlined her luscious curves and showed off a scandalous glimpse of cleavage. At least no one could venture into dangerous territory by pinching her. After all, it was Saint Paddy’s Day and green was the color du jour.
His head spun as he envisioned pressing his lips to one heavy swell, tracing it down and into the vee made utterly tempting by the demi-cup bra she wore. It lifted her up like an offering. Gavin was damned good and ready to lie down as the sacrifice to that beautiful creamy flesh.
For nearly half a year, he had to rely on his imagination when it came to thinking about what she hid beneath understated pencil skirts, and tailored jackets. The simple, no-nonsense pumps she wore, and smoky nylons, concealed her natural curves, too. Business camouflage, he mused. Garments designed to throw off a discerning eye, forcing one to notice the woman and her brains, instead of a lush, jaw-dropping figure. Many times, Gavin had resorted to undressing her mentally, even at the most inopportune moments. Confined in a small cubicle, their attraction slowly building, did sinful things to his common sense. However, acting on those impulses could never happen. Mixing work and romance was forbidden, not to mention utterly taboo.
It didn’t stop the sparks from igniting between them, though.
The day she purposely brushed her hand across his, Gavin felt the chains restraining his desire for her loosen. He drew on his famous control, attempting to wrangle the possessive beast dwelling under the surface into submission. They had a looming deadline and any distraction would be detrimental.
Soon, however, the rules flew out the proverbial window. Sharing in silent, unspoken conversations with only heated looks, he tried to convey the depth of his interest. At some point it had altered from purely sexual chemistry to a deeper magnetism. In his fantasies, he wanted to be with her outside the job, holding her hand as they shared a romantic dinner. He longed to take her to a movie and have her lean against his shoulder, while he offered her popcorn from his fingers.
It didn’t mean his desire for her had diminished. Not at all. The battling parts of him dueled for supremacy. His physical state demanded he claim her body and prove to her the intensity of his passion to make her his, while his mind and heart longed to share more than sexual intimacy. He wanted all of her.
From the looks of things right now, it seemed his physical side just might win that battle first. Six months was a long time to wait for what was his, and he would not risk losing her to an overly interested rival.
His eyes narrowed on her, tracking her movement through the crush of bodies swaying about the small dance floor. Irish ballads blared from the speaker system and the air conditioning blew the swirling decorations into a spinning conflagration. Shimmering green streamers fell in twisted array from the ceiling. A large, papier-mache rainbow was suspended in an arch over the main room. It ended at a huge black cauldron where a drink fountain streamed with a tinge of jade liquid. “All you can drink,” green beer piped out of the top, cascading down into the lower segments. Glass steins embossed with three-leaf clovers lined the table beside it. Not wasting her time on the beer, she strode past the free-flowing liquor without even a second glance. Instead, she charged right up to the high counter, waved down the bartender, and immediately ordered up an Irish Eyes lowball. When he handed her the glass, she tilted her head flirtatiously and cheered, “slainte sloynta.” Her raven-black, shoulder-length curls bounced as she tossed the drink back. The lovely, pale white column of her throat invited stares. He was a sucker for the sight, just like all the other sappy bastards in the vicinity who were eager to capture the pretty lady for the night.
The hell they would. She was his woman, and the time had come to show her that.
He waited, though, watched and knew the opportune time to intervene would arrive soon enough. The crush of bodies made it difficult to keep her in view and the loud din of the party muffled normal conversation. Gavin staked out a new spot that gave him a better view of the proceedings. Quickly stalking past dancers and groups of people, he settled at a bistro table close by, giving him the ability to hear her and track her whereabouts. Settled now, all of Gavin’s attention was focused on his woman.
He watched her as she picked out a seat and draped her leather jacket over the slatted chair back. With little flourish she sat on the wicker stool, letting her elbows rest upon the bar top. Overhead, the cascading lamplight winked off her shimmering gold bracelet. When a loud and boisterous man planted his ass in a seat beside her, she turned to face him. The line of her cheek showed a slight blush. Those long, dark lashes of hers swept down and lifted a smidge. Gavin knew it veiled the beauty of her vibrant hazel eyes.
“What’s an attractive lady like you doing all alone at a St. Paddy’s Day celebration?” the thick-neck asked in a deep, too interested, tone.
“Meeting friends. I’m early, though.” She winked at the meathead and his smile grew lascivious.
“Well, honey, I can keep you company while you wait. What’s your name?”
Her lips pressed together and the pink tip of her tongue peeked out sensuously, wetting her bottom lip. “Cassidy, and yours?” she answered but did not touch on his other offer. Good, things might have gone badly if she had accepted the stranger’s proposition. Flirting is all fine and dandy, but hooking up with a brawny linebacker who had sex on the brain would totally not do.
“Bryce,” he replied, as he motioned to get the server’s attention “Give me a double shot of whisky and Cassidy here could do with another lowball. On me, of course.”
One side of her mouth kicked up in a tight grin, she nodded her head and muttered, “Thanks.”
Mr. Muscle scooted closer and slung his arm about Cassidy’s lower back. She didn’t move an inch, and it pissed Gavin off royally. He ground his molars together, willing his possessive instincts into submission.
Better to wait for the opportune moment to make his intentions clear, and right now was too soon. Let her relax some, lower that guard she always kept wrapped so tightly around her. She needed a few more drinks, some inane chatter with men who acted like gigolos. Afterward, he would march in and rescue the damsel from all the horny, pig-headed players.
“Another Killian’s Red?”
Gavin pulled his stare away from Cassidy and turned to look at the waitress. Nodding his head, he grinned at the harried server. Dressed in a gold-shot corset and velvety black skirt, she looked almost Irish. A cheap, emerald colored plastic top-hat balanced precariously on her head. Two twisted braids draped behind her shoulders and her impish smile tempted him to tip her a bit more than the expected fifteen percent. A little green shamrock decorated one rounded cheek, and Gavin wondered if the cute get-up earned her more money from all the tables she served. He might even be tempted to outright flirt with her, if his concentration had not been so completely taken by the enigma sitting a few feet away.
“With lime, please,” he said, knowing it was probably sacrilegious of him to taint the ale with a spritz of citrus. Hopefully, no snake-charming saints would come to take him to task for his desecration of the Irish brew. He grinned at his inner rambling before leaning back in his seat and refocusing his attentiveness on Cassidy. Now a throng of drooling morons formed a circle about her chair. A regal princess holding court, Gavin reflected. Several shot glasses of whisky and half-filled pints of Guinness lined the bar in front of her. Offhand, he noticed they were in the middle of a drinking game. The Irish Car Bomb, he realized. Once the bartender topped off every shot with a splash of Bailey’s, all of the participants crammed together, and each of them scooped up a smaller glass. One of the college frat boys weaseled in between Cassidy and the rest of the gaggle of lusting whelps. Counting down from three, he indicated the game had begun. Sloshing and plopping followed as each person dropped their shots into a waiting beer mug. Everyone chugged the alcohol down in rapid succession. Gavin waited to see who gulped the triple threat of liquor the fastest.
Cassidy’s drink registered little change and Gavin hid his grin of approval. At least the woman had self-preservation instincts and knew had to use them. It would be entirely too stupid getting soused when she was all alone and left for the panting, salivating wolves.
She set her drink aside and shifted, lifting one thigh and crossing her legs. The change of her position allowed Gavin a glimpse right up her skirt. A bolt of lightning shot straight to his balls, his cock surged to attention, hard as a damn steel rod. The sight of her lacy panties tempted his carnal hunger into dangerous territory. He could discern the slightest shadow of her feminine curls, and nearly groaned as he imagined parting those eye-catching, long legs and burying his head between them.
God damn, but he wanted to taste her. Craved it like a thirsty man longing for water. His patience was quickly running out.
And oh, how he had waited. The last weeks had been a real ball-buster, while they worked together in such close quarters. They spent three of those long, agonizing months partnered up for most of the day, reviewing files and other minutia. This time spent one-on-one gave him a better understanding of the woman underneath the exquisite looks. If her beauty had not drawn him in, her intelligence and witty repartee would have. Cassidy was no empty headed bomb-shell. Nothing got him harder when he was around her than when she challenged him with cold-hard facts and inborn intuition. Some of the most heated arguments aroused Gavin to the point of pain. There had been a few times he almost lost control of himself. All he wanted to do then was back her up against the flimsy wall partition and wrench her skirt up, so he could feel the fiery heat of her pussy against the unbearable pressure of his throbbing cock.
However, he resisted. It took immeasurable control that he didn’t realize he possessed. Counting down the days until they no longer worked together kept him just this side of sane. Finally, they reached the end of their casework-enforced relationship. Now, nothing constrained them to stay apart anymore. No job, no rules, nothing.
Many times in the past weeks, he had wrestled with the idea of asking her out. Be a little dangerous and buck the system, perhaps they might even indulge in a forbidden courtship. Looking at her now, surrounded by eager men, made Gavin wonder if he had waited too long to initiate something outside the constraints of their professional duties.
Earlier this week he had noticed the colorful flyer tacked to the peg board in the copy room, indicating tonight’s little holiday get together. Gavin decided a bit of reconnaissance was in order. He covertly listened in on a conversation between her co-workers, Danni and Juliet. When they confirmed that Cassidy would be joining them, Gavin’s plans for the evening instantly solidified. He suddenly had a Saint Patrick’s gig to attend.
Dressed in a holiday-appropriate, forest green button-up shirt, he came prepared to woo and seduce her. After arriving much earlier than the time on the flyer, he had anxiously awaited Cassidy. His anticipation had mounted as each hand ticked down on the clock.
Now she was here and getting ready to party.
In a few moments, Gavin planned to act upon their attraction. He needed to make a declaration of his intentions and find out where she stood. Imagining what would happen afterward encouraged his resolve. He could hardly wait for their very first kiss and the resulting passion. When he took her, bringing them to the pinnacle of utter bliss, soaring into ecstasy, he had no doubt in his mind that Miss Cassidy Hyatt would finally realize she was his.
The jaunty tune blaring from the speakers petered out with the last few notes of a lively violin. The next song piped up and everyone in the pub perked in interest. “Down By the Sally Gardens,” drew the dancers into a slow, swaying rhythm. A big flat-screen television hung at a tilted angle on the back wall. The current song’s music video showed the sprawling emerald landscape of Ireland and zoomed in on an old, stone castle. A running marquee indicated the Celtic band, Lark and Spur, performed this version of the song. The melody made for a very intimate atmosphere. Gavin clenched his fist to still the knee-jerk reaction of watching Cassidy being led from her chair to an inner area on the small parquet dance floor.
Frat-Boy wrapped both his arms about Cassidy and hugged her in a wimpy embrace. Gavin saw red, bright and vivid as murder, flash through his mind’s eye. Then, as Cassidy swayed back and forth with the lilting tune, that perfect, curvaceous butt drew more than just Gavin’s stare. His palm itched to shape the tight curve and squeeze, put his own mark of possession on it, warning all other moronic, death-seeking men away from what belonged to him and him alone.
God damn, but she was making him crazy. How much longer did this freaking Celtic ballad have? Gavin wondered if he could last for the next few minutes without cutting in to the duo and staking his claim. Patience, he reminded himself.