Today’s Bigtime excerpt is also from Hot Mama by Jennifer Estep. In this excerpt, the heroine, Fiona Fine meets her hero. At the end of the excerpt, you can find the information for our Bigtime Contest! Enjoy!
My eyes scanned the glittering crowd. Joanne and
The happy society scene and all the couples burned me out. I needed some peace and quiet. Now.
I shoved through the crowd, wrenched open a side door, and stomped inside the manor. The usual rich, shiny trappings greeted me, but for once, I didn’t pay attention to them. Sam wouldn’t like it if I accidentally melted some ancient knight’s suit of armor or fried another one of his Monets. The mood I was in, they’d go up like dry newspaper.
The music and laughter and happy sounds faded away, replaced by the thwack of my heels on the hardwood floors. I walked into one of the many game rooms that populated the manor and sank down onto the smooth leather couch. A big-screen TV took up one wall, while a pool table crouched in the middle of the floor. Dart boards and various other sportslike contraptions filled the rest of the area, but I didn’t really see them. I didn’t see any of it.
I twisted the ring on my finger. It wasn’t nearly as big as Joanne James’s was, but it meant the world to me, even now. Travis. My heart squeezed like a dishrag being wrung out.
“A beautiful bridesmaid alone by herself. What a sad, sad cliché,” a low, cultured voice called out.
I looked up. A man stood in the doorway. He topped out at just over six feet, with a mane of tawny blond hair that curled around the collar of his impeccable tuxedo. Flashing green eyes contrasted with his golden skin, making him look like a sleek lion in the gathering shadows. He strode into the room, his black suit flowing with easy grace around his perfect figure. It fit him well. Then again, just about anything would have looked good on him.
My eyes widened. If Sam resembled a male model, then this guy was the Goliath of male models. Yummy.
The man stared at me, and his eyes crinkled in amusement. The merriment dancing in his sharp gaze made him look that much better, even if he seemed to be making fun of me. I didn’t like people making fun of me, and I especially didn’t like being looked down on. I got to my feet and tossed my long hair back. With my stilettos, he only had half an inch on me.
“I’m not a cliché,” I snapped.
“Really? You were one of the bridesmaids, right?”
“And you’re sitting here all alone.”
“And you certainly are beautiful.”
Modesty is another one of my nonexistent virtues. On a scale of one to ten, I’m a solid eight and a half. With my blond hair, blue eyes, and up-to-there legs, I’ve got the Barbie look men love down pat. The only problem is they think I’m as dumb as one of the plastic dolls. The same thing goes for my alter ego, Fiera. But more than one ubervillain had gotten badly burned by underestimating me.
Still, the compliment pleased me. Every woman likes to be told she’s beautiful, but coming from Mr. Model, it sounded . . . better. Truer. Sexier.
“If all that’s not a cliché, then I don’t know what is.” His voice was deep with a hint of an accent I couldn’t quite place. White teeth gleamed in his tan face, adding to his already staggering sex appeal.
I crossed my arms over my chest and flipped through my mental Rolodex of Bigtime society players. No match. He must be new in town. I certainly would have remembered him. My eyes drifted over his suit, which draped perfectly over his broad shoulders and chest. Oh yeah. I would have remembered him.
I suddenly realized that I was twisting the ring on my finger. Bloody hell. I’d gone from pining over Travis to ogling a complete stranger in the space of a minute. I really did need to get lucky before my hormones made me have a total meltdown. Literally.
The man continued. “You certainly looked sad and lonely sitting there, staring into space.”
“I was doing nothing of the sort.”
I couldn’t tell him that I’d been looking at the ring my murdered fiancé had given me before he’d died. My pain was my own. I didn’t go blabbing about it to strangers. Besides, no one except the Fearless Five had even known Travis and I were engaged. It was another little secret we’d decided to keep to ourselves.
“I was just taking a break from the festivities,” I replied in my best, cool, bored society voice. “All that happiness can be a bit grating after a while.”
“Really? You know we could create our own festivities, you and me.”
I stifled a laugh. That was one of the lamest lines I’d ever heard. “Really? And how could we do that?”
“Let me show you.”
He flashed me a devilish grin, pulled me into his arms, and planted his lips on mine.
For a moment, I couldn’t believe it. Who the bloody hell did this jerk think he was, kissing me? I was Fiera, for crying out loud. Superhero du jour. Protector of the innocent. Defender of democracy. I could snap his neck like a pretzel stick. I could light his ass up like a firecracker with a mere thought.
I thought of doing bothat the same time. Then, something strange happened.
I realized that I liked kissing him.
A whole lot.
He had fantastic lips. Soft, firm, smooth. He tasted like fizzy champagne and smelled of some subtle, spicy soap. The combination made my head spin more than the three drinks I’d just had.
At five-foot-nine, I’m no small, petite thing, but I felt dwarfed by him. His sculpted chest felt like sun-warmed stone under my hands, and his heart thumped under my clenched fingers. His arms held me securely in place. I opened my mouth to tell him something, I wasn’t quite sure what, and he dipped his tongue in. The taste of him, the feel of his mouth, his tongue on mine overwhelmed my senses. I felt like I’d been zapped with a couple dozen stun guns—all weak and twitchy.
He plundered my mouth like a pirate seeking buried treasure. Nibbling my lips. Skimming my teeth. Probing with his tongue. I couldn’t resist him, and I didn’t really want to. I’d been thinking about having a one-night stand. Let’s see how Mr. Model measured up.
So I opened my mouth wider, and my tongue met his. Then, I went on the offensive. Nibbling on his lips. Skimming his teeth. Probing with my tongue. He pulled me closer until I thought we would melt into each other. I certainly felt like I was on fire in more ways than one.
His fingers skimmed my neck and traced down to the tops of my breasts. He slid his hand inside the scooped neckline and stroked my chest. My nipples sprang to attention. His other hand went through the slit in the side of my dress and moved up my leg with quick, sure purpose. Damn, he didn’t waste any time. Smooth, sexy, and bold. I loved it. Absolutely loved it.
A warm, pleasant tingling started between my thighs and spread throughout my body. My stomach quivered the tiniest bit, and my breath came in soft gasps. My hormones had already kicked into overdrive. If he kept this up much longer, I’d have to throw him onto the couch instead of through the wall. Or on the floor. Or maybe on the pool table. It looked sturdy enough—
A cool, feminine voice dampened the liquid fire burning inside me.
The man sighed in disappointment against my mouth. He pressed his lips to mine once more, withdrew his hands, and stepped back. I tried not to stagger. I felt like I was drunk. And I never got drunk.
“Hello, Bella,” the man said. Regret tinged his deep voice, and his hot green gaze burned into me.
The intensity of his stare made me shiver, a rare thing for me.
I turned my head. Bella Bulluci hovered just inside the door. A forest-green dress of her own design clung to her curvy body, while a simple silver necklace accentuated her graceful neck. A small pair of angel wings dangled from the end of the chain. Bella’s foot tapped out a rapid pattern, smacking onto the wooden floor.
I not-so-discreetly yanked the bodice of my dress back into its proper place. It didn’t have far to go, really.
Bella’s hazel eyes flicked to the man beside me. “Well, I see you’ve met Johnny.”
“Johnny?” So that’s what his name was.
“Johnny Bulluci. My older brother.”
“Guilty as charged, I’m afraid.” Johnny strolled over to his sister and planted a chaste kiss on her cheek.
My eyes zipped back and forth between them. Side by side, the resemblance was obvious. Same tawny hair, same golden skin, same killer cheekbones. The only difference was their eyes. Bella’s were a soft hazel while Johnny’s were as green as polished jade. Johnny also had almost a foot on his sister. Bella was a bit on the short side.
Bella looked at me, then her brother. She shook her head and looped an arm around his waist. “Seducing another unsuspecting bridesmaid, brother dear?” she asked in a teasing tone.
“Make a habit of it, do you, Johnny?” I asked, smoothing down my skirt.
“Only with the exceptionally beautiful ones.” He winked.
I crossed my arms over my still-tingling chest. His sister had just caught us making out like a couple of sex-starved teenagers, and the man still had the nerve to wink at me. Johnny Bulluci had no shame. I rather liked that about him.
“Johnny’s moved back home from
So that’s why I hadn’t seen him around Bigtime before. It explained the accent too.
“He arrived in town several weeks ago, and I thought the wedding would be a perfect opportunity for him to meet and mingle. I didn’t know he was going to disappear. I should warn you, Fiona, my brother is a notorious playboy. Always has been.” Bella’s voice was light, but there was a hint of disapproval to it. Her foot kept up its annoyed, tapping pattern.
“No harm done,” I said in a cool voice and flipped my hair over my shoulder. “Johnny and I were just getting better acquainted.”
“Indeed,” Johnny said, his eyes catching mine again. “Indeed.”
Now for the contest! Comment on any of the “Bigtime Excerpts” posts: Excerpt #1, Excerpt #2, Excerpt #3, or this post to win a T-shirt and book. One winner will receive a Karma Girl t-shirt and book, and two winners will receive a Hot Mama t-shirt and book. Contest will run through Sunday, September 14 at 9:00am, est. Good Luck! CONTEST CLOSED–WINNERS TO BE ANNOUNCED!