Social Networks

Back to website

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Excerpt from Texan's Wedding Night Wager

Texan's Wedding-Night Wager is #7 on Eharlequin's Bestseller list today!
Here's a little preview:

Cara shut down the ballroom lights and stood in the middle of the floor of Dancing Lights, flanked by a wall of mirrors and elegant surroundings that she'd insisted upon when designing her studios. A smile emerged just as Elton John's voice carried over the speakers. The song stirred up vivid memories and Cara slowly closed her eyes. She moved her hips, swaying to the rhythm and the poetic lyrics.

There's a calm surrender to the rush of day

When the heat of the rolling world can be turned away

An enchanted moment, and it sees me through

It's enough for this restless warrior just to be with you

And can you feel the love tonight

It is where we are

It's enough for this wide-eyed wanderer

That we got this far

And can you feel the love tonight

"Can you feel the love, Cara?" Kevin had said to her the day they'd married.

Kevin had brought her hand to his mouth and nibbled, his dark blue eyes piercing hers. She'd tingled with excitement from that single gesture. Cara had felt his love, with every heart-stopping glance, every tender touch and each tantalizing kiss.

"Yes, I feel it, honey," she'd replied.

He'd kissed her lips, whispering, "This is our song, babe."

They'd hung on to each other and sung the lyrics along with Elton's smooth tones, moving to the music as their family and friends looked on. She thought she'd married her Prince Charming, her college sweetheart who could make her laugh one moment and sizzle the next.

Cara's heart swelled thinking back on her wedding day, thinking of being in Kevin's arms, of loving him for all she was worth and hoping for the same kind of happy life she'd wished for so many of her dance students through the years.

She'd had such big dreams.

"Why, Kevin?" she whispered in the silence of the Dallas ballroom.

Gorgeous Kevin Novak, with the penetrating blue eyes and short blond hair, had often been mistaken for David Beckham. She and Kevin had their own private joke about it since, with her curly blond hair and sky-blue eyes, she hardly looked like Posh Spice. Cara smiled briefly at the memory.

They'd had such good times in the beginning, until Kevin had decided building his real estate empire was more important than building their marriage. He'd become a die-hard workaholic, neglecting her needs in favor of the next big deal. He'd broken her heart—hearing their song again brought it all back. The happiness she'd hoped for with Kevin had eluded them. Cara still felt the ache in the pit of her stomach.

She'd moved on with her life, leaving Somerset to start a new life in Dallas, but she hadn't escaped the deep hurt and anguish Kevin had caused.

Cara snapped her eyes open and stared at the fading shadows in the mirror. Her silhouette reflected back the new, confident woman she'd become. She was a businesswoman now, owner of a chain of dance studios, and a choreographer and dance instructor as well.

No longer that optimistic, hope-filled girl who'd wanted a life and children with Kevin, it was long past time for Cara to rectify her situation.

She punched off the CD player and headed to the phone to call the man she hadn't spoken with in over four years. She'd waltzed around this issue long enough.

It was time to divorce her husband.

Kevin Novak chalked the cue stick with slow, deliberate twists, contemplating his next shot. He was one of the best pool players at the Texas Cattleman's Club, but his pal Darius Franklin was making him sweat for the win. "You know darn well Montoya is responsible for setting the fire."

Kevin bent over the carved-oak vintage pool table and took his shot, the solid orange cue ball angling into the corner pocket. He knew darn well Darius didn't believe Alejandro Montoya was responsible for the damaging blaze set at Brody Oil and Gas. But he wasn't above using distraction to earn a win.

"I don't know that for a fact, Kev. The fire was definitely an act of arson, but I'm not pointing fingers yet."

"Montoya has always been a pain in the ass."

Kevin missed his next shot and Darius lifted his cue stick, eyeing the pool table. "True, but arson? That's an accusation I'm not ready to make. It looks like a professional job and if that's the case, I'd have to rule him out."

"I say he's guilty." Lance Brody, another of Kevin's old frat brothers from the University of Texas, chimed in. Kevin's four best friends were all members of Texas Cattleman's Club in Maverick County. They watched the game, sipping drinks and cajoling from the sidelines of the club's game room.

"I'm with Lance," Mitch Brody said, agreeing with his brother. "Montoya's got an ax to grind."

Justin Dupree nodded, taking a swig of beer. "I think Montoya is guilty, too. He's got issues with Lance. Always has."

Lance scoffed. " I have issues with him." Their rivalry went back to high-school days.

Darius eyed the striped blue ball and took his shot. The ball rolled into the side pocket and Kevin winced.

"Nice shot."

Darius laughed. "It hurt you to say that, didn't it?"

"Like a knife in my heart."

Darius shook his head. "You're a sore loser, Kev."

"I haven't lost yet."

And when Darius missed his next shot, Kevin went full throttle, unwilling to give an inch. His competitive nature wouldn't allow a loss. He sank the next four solid-color balls, then the eight ball, winning the game.

Satisfied, Kevin shook his friend's hand. "You gave me a run for my money."

Darius slapped a twenty in his palm. "I'll get you next time." He lowered his voice, setting his cue stick into its case. "So you really think Montoya set the fire?"

"I'm thinking he did. I also think he's behind blocking my project in downtown Somerset. He's got it in for the Brody brothers and their friends. Wasn't a coincidence to find the area I'd designated for a major development is being declared an historic district. He's got to be behind the rezoning. It's all a little too suspicious."

Lance walked up and put his arms around their shoulders. "Come on, you two. Let's forget about Montoya for a minute. We need to set a date for my wedding reception. Kate deserves more than the Las Vegas elopement she got."

Kevin grinned. "Yeah, you really know how to impress a girl."

Justin added, "Lance really pulled out all the stops on that one."

"Funny, guys." Lance pulled a frown, but Kevin knew he didn't mind their teasing. He'd found his soul mate in Kate and wanted to provide her a beautiful reception.

When the game-room phone rang, Lance walked over to pick it up. "Cara? Is it really you? It's good to hear your voice."

Kevin froze. All heads turned his way and he met with four pairs of curious eyes. Emotions washed through his system. A tic worked his jaw while he stood rigid and waited.

"Okay, I'll get him. He's right here." Lance nodded his way, holding the phone up. "It's… Cara. She wants to speak with you."

Kevin strode across the room to take the phone. Before speaking, he turned to look at his friends, and with a quick gesture signaled them to continue playing and butt out.

The guys turned around and Kevin spoke into the receiver. "Cara?"

"Hello, Kevin."

So formal.

God, he hadn't heard her voice in four years. Not once. Not since she'd left him high and dry and made a new life for herself in Dallas. He'd kept up on her through friends and what little he'd read in the newspapers about her successful dance studios.

She sounded the same—sassy if not a little stiff. There was an awkward moment of silence.

"I guess it's time for us to end it," she said.

Images of Cara getting remarried immediately entered his mind. After four years, why else would she call? Had she fallen in love with another man?

Kevin didn't know how he'd feel about that. She'd walked out on him and their marriage. She'd tried to file for divorce but Kevin had sent the papers back to her. He'd given her an ultimatum— if she wanted out, she would have to come back and face him.

"I'm coming to Somerset. I'd like to make an appointment with you to discuss the… divorce."

"Fine." Kevin's lips tightened.

"It's business, Kevin. You should understand that. I need an expansion loan for my studios. The bank recommends… Well, let's face it. We both need to get on with our lives."

It's business.

How many times had he said that to her when he couldn't make it home for dinner? When he'd come in so late that he'd plopped into bed beside her and held her tight until they'd fallen asleep? She'd wanted children and Kevin had asked for her patience. His business had come first, but only because he'd wanted to provide a good life for her. He'd made his millions, but she never understood that he'd done it all for her. And how had she showed him her undying love? She'd packed up in the middle of the night and left him. Just like that. After five years of marriage.

Damn her.

"I'm good with that," he said. "When are you coming in?"


Kevin turned to find all four of his friends silently watching him. "Tomorrow is good. Meet me at the office at five."

Kevin hung up the phone and contemplated his next move. Cara wasn't going to get away with breezing into his life for a day to get her divorce. No, he wouldn't make it so easy for her.

A plan began to formulate in his head and his lips lifted. "Cara's coming to town tomorrow," he said needlessly. "She wants to finalize the divorce."

"I've seen that expression on your face before," Darius said. "What's got you looking so damn smug?"

"Nothing," he replied innocently.

"Like the nothing that nearly got us expelled from UT? Remember when we stole Professor Turner's prized Shakespeare bust from his classroom?" Lance asked, narrowing his eyes. "That kind of nothing?"

Kevin shrugged.

"I don't like it," Lance said. "You looked fit to be tied when she called, and now you're looking like a fat cat who just lapped up a pint of milk."

Kevin only smiled and finished his beer. "I'd better get going."

"I feel for Cara already. That girl won't know what hit her," Darius added.

Kevin walked to the door of the game room, shaking his head. "That girl is my wife. And she deserves everything she gets."

Darius shot him a warning look. "I always liked Cara."

"Yeah," Kevin said on a deep breath, before exiting the room. "So did I."

No comments: