Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Believe in Me, Part 1 #freeread

As promised, here’s part one of my story for the Holiday Kisses anthology! 

Leona Sharp and Ryan Lee have been friends forever, it seems. Although there’s an attraction between them, they've never acted on it. On New Year’s Eve, Leona finally allows herself to give into the temptation, but she vows that it will only be for one night and as soon as the clock strikes midnight they will put it in the past and go on as if it never happened. Ryan, however, has other plans…
* * * *
“Who’s the lucky guy getting to kiss you at the bells?”
The pumice stone slipped from Leona Sharp’s fingers. She released Jed’s hand and picked up the instrument, frowning at the heat burning in her cheeks. Damn her pale complexion, and double damn his insistent flirting.
Leo would never date a guy who came by the salon for a manicure once a month. Usually in preparation for a hot date he’d picked up from somewhere or other. She reached for his outstretched hand.
“I don’t have a date,” she admitted, because she was a horrible liar. She continued to work on the rough skin around the nail of his index finger.
“Really?” Jed’s brow quirked, and his sleazy gaze turned her stomach.
Ugh, no. Please, please, no.
Jed removed his hand from hers, leaned forward, and rested his elbows on the table. His dark eyes bored into hers.
On the pretty scale of one to ten, Jed was an eleven. His dark hair and tanned, lean body ticked all the right boxes. But gorgeous or not, the guy screamed “hump ’em and dump ’em.” She needed a stayer.
“Come to the New Year’s Eve party at my buddy’s place tonight. I’ll make sure you get your kiss.” He grinned, and if it wasn’t for the fact that he made her skin crawl, she would have appreciated the beauty of the smile.
“Hey, Leo.”
Relief washed through her at the familiar voice. She turned toward the sound, a smile splitting her cheeks. Ryan Lee, her boss, stood a few feet away. Now his rugged sex appeal she could get behind.
“Rye! You’re back.” It had been a week since he’d left London to visit his parents at the border.
Jed straightened in his chair. Frick, she was supposed to be giving him a manicure. Leo picked up his hand and gave Rye a quick, apologetic smile. Jed looked miffed.
“So tonight?” he pressed.
Leo suppressed a shiver.
“We have plans,” Ryan said. She darted a look at him. A frown creased his brow and his blue eyes glinted like steel. “Leo and I are going to a party at the Med. Remember?” Rye looked at her, one black eyebrow cocked.
Gratitude swelled in her heart and she grinned at Rye. “I forgot.” Shallow excuse, but Rye was digging her out of a hole and she appreciated it. “Can’t wait.”
The smile he threw her way was dazzling. Leo’s heart raced and her skin tingled.
Jed cleared his throat. Leo returned her attention to him with a murmured apology. She focused on buffing instead of the Adonis sparking her inner fire. Dammit, she thought she’d gotten over all those mushy feelings for Rye. He was her friend.
“Are you staying long?” she asked Rye while keeping her attention focused on Jed’s hand. She fought back a sigh. The sleazeball even had pretty hands.
“I’m going over the books. I’ll be here all day,” Rye told her, then left.
“Thought you weren’t dating anyone,” Jed grumbled.
Leo’s cheeks heated. She and Rye weren’t dating, but that didn’t stop her from wanting him. Or rather, wishing he was a stayer, not a player. Instead of trying to lie, she just gave him a polite mind-your-own-bloody-business smile.
The morning flew by. Everyone booked something or other. The period between Christmas Eve and Hogmanay were the salon’s busiest days. After what felt like an eternity, Leo bid farewell to her last customer of the morning and headed for Rye’s office.
She paused and eyed her pale complexion in the mirror. Leo grabbed the nearest brush and tried to smooth out the frizzy auburn mess that had become her hair. Why hadn’t she put heels on this morning? Rye made her feel so tiny. At her height, she came face to melt-your-knickers-off chest with the man—and that didn’t help her get over his hotness.
She rapped on the door to his office then pushed it open. Rye was on the phone so she made her way to the chair opposite and picked up one of the leather folders on his desk marked Sales Figures. Leo plonked down, opened the book, and flipped through the pages.
Hair and Other was only one of his salons in London. He’d asked Leo to come down and manage the shop after Will, her brother and Rye’s best friend, had passed away in February. Leo leaped at the chance to leave Newcastle and move on. She had to keep busy, it helped with the grief. Though there were still times when she remembered, especially on her days off. Then again, she couldn’t not remember Will. He was a good guy. Rye and Will had been friends since she was a little girl, and as far as she could remember, she’d always had a silly crush on him.
Thank God, at twenty-six, she was well and truly over that now. But damn if he didn’t still make her tummy flip.
“Curiosity killed the cat, you know.”
* * * * 

Make sure you pop over to Kaylie Newell’s Blog tomorrow for the first installment of her story, Winter Break. You can find Kaylie’s Blog here.
And Lacey Wolfe's also posting part one of her story, The Gift Beneath The Tree, tomorrow. You can find her Blog here.
I'll be back Wednesday 31st for the second installment of Believe in Me!