About the Book :: Behind the Scenes :: Excerpt

March 2006 / Harlequin Arabesque / ISBN 1-58314-629-6
buy at barnes&noble.com - buy at amazon.com

Playing With Fire…

Victoria Spenser is a young woman desperate to leave behind her troubled past…including her psychic ability to detect fires as they happen. She arrives in America after years of living in Jamaica, hoping to live a quiet, normal life as a housekeeper with her aunt on a grand Maryland estate. That dream dies when she meets the sexy owner of the estate, Robert Braxton.

…Could Get Them Burned

Robert is an arson investigator who likes to live a life of order. He doesn’t believe in Victoria’s ability to sense fires, but he can’t deny her independent spirit and challenging dark eyes that hint of a loneliness he knows too well. But when Victoria senses a fire that kills an elderly woman, they will be thrown into the path of a dangerous arsonist who will threaten their love—and their lives…

This book started out as a category romance that I couldn’t sell to either Silhouette or Harlequin. I was told it was “beautiful and moving”, but that there wasn’t enough ‘romance’ (code word for sexual tension, I presume) between the hero/heroine. So, I decided to expand it by adding a subplot and more characters, called it Illusive Flame, sent it to BET and they accepted it. I definitely find it ironic that this story is now under the Harlequin umbrella. But as long as my name is spelled correctly on the cheque, I don’t care who sends it.

The heavy thunder of footsteps soon interrupted her thoughts and cut through the quiet of the house. Victoria pushed the mop and bucket aside as the footsteps approached.

A man stormed into the kitchen his striking profile marred with irritation. Eyes the color of dark molasses swept through the kitchen with annoyance then briefly landed on her.

He headed towards the hall. “You’ll have to prepare the rooms,” he said in a voice so deep it seemed to vibrate within her. “You know the ones. It seems Nicholas and Patrice are coming for one of their famous visits. When? I don’t know. But knowing them it will be sooner rather than later. You know how delightful their visits are so be prepared.”

She caught her breath as he passed by her. He smelled like the earth and had a scent purely his own. Her eyes drank him in. They slid down his impressive back, which stretched his red chambray shirt, falling to his solid legs clad in worn jeans. Then she glanced down and noticed the large muddy footprints. Her awe turned to outrage.

“Not one more step,” she said in a quiet voice that shot through the room like a released arrow.

Her words hit their target. The man spun on his heels and glared at her. “I beg your pardon?”

“You should not be begging for my pardon. You should be begging for your life.” She placed a hand on her hip. “Is what kind of man walks through a nice clean floor with shoes not fit for the gutter?”

His tone grew soft as her voice rose. “Madam,” he said in an ironic tone. “Do you know who I am?”

“Yes. A man who obviously can’t fly. So if you wish to walk further you’ll take off your shoes and apologize.”

“Do you want me to do both at the same time or one after the other?”

“Whichever you can manage. I don’t expect much.”
He lifted a challenging black brow. His piercing dark eyes focused fully on her. The remoteness never left them, but something unreadable mingled there. “And who would I be apologizing to?”

“Ms. Spenser.”

“Ms. Spenser? You don’t have a first name?”

“It’s no concern of yours.”

“Why not?”

“You won’t be using it.”

He offered her a quick unflattering glance; taking in her altered uniform and interesting face. “Yes, that’s true.” He turned and walked out, leaving more muddy prints.

Incensed, she grabbed her mop and followed him down the hall, mindless of the dripping water that followed her. “Do you think I speak for your entertainment?”

He stopped, glanced up at the ceiling as if gathering patience then slowly turned.
Victoria took an involuntary step back. From across the room he hadn’t appeared so large or so fierce. She had found his face striking, but on closer inspection that description didn’t seem to fit. Although he had high cheekbones, a sensuous bottom lip and brown eyes surrounded by curling lashes, his attractive features seemed to mask a more predatory nature.

“You’re lucky I do find you entertaining, Ms. Spenser. I’m a busy man. What do you want?”

“I expect an apology.”

“For what?”

“I just told you.”

He folded his arms; Victoria tried not to notice how the motion put an extra strain on his shirt. “Refresh my memory. If something’s not important I usually forget about it.”

She clenched her teeth. “I spent an hour wiping that floor you just mucked up.”

“Right now you’re making a fine mess of your own.” He nodded to her mop.

She shoved the mop at him, pleased when it dripped on his shoes. “Good. Then you can do the hallway too, Mr. –”

He lowered his voice as he gripped the mop. “Braxton.”

“Mr. Braxton and I…” Her anger froze as his name registered. “Braxton? You’re Mr. Braxton?”

He began to smile, a smile as genuine as crocodile tears. “Yes.”

March 2006 / Harlequin Arabesque / ISBN 1-58314-629-6
buy at barnes&noble.com - buy at amazon.com

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Gaining Interest :: Table For Two

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