Set against the steamy and sultry world of South Beach, Florida, a modern romance unfolds in Stay.
Alexa is beautiful, independent and hard to resist for serially unattached Julian. Neither one is looking for a relationship, but their palpable chemistry and instant emotional connection is too strong to ignore. For the first time in years, Julian is interested in more than just sex. He wants a relationship with intoxicating Alexa, but it’s not that simple. Not only are Julian and Alexa struggling with the intensity of this new relationship, but they also have to contend with Luke, Alexa’s best friend, whose own love for her leaves him willing to do anything to convince her that Julian is not the man for her. Luke’s determination and Alexa’s secret past threaten to tear Julian and Alexa apart as she struggles to open her heart to love. Julian and Alexa embark upon a roller-coaster ride of emotional and physical passion that both pulls them apart and holds them together. Despite their affinity for each other, Alexa fears that Julian will leave when he learns about her past and Julian is unsure he can love a woman who in so many ways remains a mystery, a woman who keeps threatening to run, a woman who can’t decide if she is going to STAY.
ExcerptI don’t want to admit I’m not ready for him to leave. I want to spend every second I can with him and that means walking with him to his car.
I try to mask my sadness by being funny. “Now what kind of date would I be if I didn’t at least walk you to your car after all of that?” I point and twirl my finger at my rumpled sheets, making reference to the sex we just had.
He laughs as he put his clothes back on. “A tired date. I guess you didn’t get enough of a workout. Maybe we should go again.”
“Hmm … I assure you I was worked out good, Julian. But if you think you can go again, I’m in.” I’m only half kidding. I really do want him to stay.
He walks over to me, pulls me to a standing position, and holds me close. His eyes are blazing, and I can feel him hardening against me. “I can go all night, baby. You should think about that before you challenge me.”
“I’m going to require some proof of that, maybe not tonight, but soon.”
“I’ll be happy to give you all the proof you need. As a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to it. But right now, I’m going to walk out of here before I end up back in your bed.”
Julian holds my hand tightly as we walk outside to his car. He gets inside and rolls the window down. He reaches out and pulls my face to him so he can kiss me again. I feel his tongue in my mouth, and I only let it last for a minute before I pull away.
“I’m going to drag you back to my bed and make you stay if you keep kissing me like that, Julian.” He groans but lets me pull away.
“Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you did great tonight.” I know exactly what he means, and if I’m being honest, it makes me feel good to hear him say it. I did do well. He doesn’t mean sexually either. He means emotionally. I didn’t freak out once.
I smile and answer him. “I did, didn’t I? Yeah me!” After one night of emotional honesty, I’m finding myself able to joke, out loud, about my limitations. It’s kind of overwhelming, and I feel a rush of tears spring to my eyes. Julian notices and flashes me a reassuring smile. He turns the car on and fastens his seatbelt. I exhale sharply. He really is going to leave now. My heart swells, and I realize I already miss him. I’m falling for this man, hard and fast.
Before he rolls up his window, Julian motions for me to lean in. I think he’s going to try to kiss me again, so I don’t get too close. He doesn’t try to kiss me though. “You know now that this is really going to happen, right, Alexa?” He points to himself and then to me. “And it’s going to be amazing.”
“Not just amazing, Julian. It’s going to be epic.”
Julian leans his head back on the couch and looks straight ahead. “Do you know that I haven’t touched you tonight because I can’t focus on anything else when I’m touching you? Do you know I haven’t been able to stop thinking about your lips and your tongue and your beautiful body since Saturday? I had to will my body to stay still and not pick you up and hold you when I saw you at lunch today. I didn’t even trust myself to shake your hand. I’m aching to be close to you, to be inside of you. This physical connection between us could consume me.”
Julian gives me a sweet kiss and picks me up into his arms. I wrap my legs around his waist and he carries me the short distance down the hall and into his bedroom. He doesn’t say anything and doesn’t try to kiss me again. His gaze is hot and full of longing. He’s holding me tightly against him, as if he’s afraid I’ll try to get away. I don’t want to go anywhere except wherever he’s taking me. I officially lost any desire to fight these feelings of doubt I had the minute he kissed me in the elevator. For tonight, I’m his, and I don’t want to wait anymore. His heart is beating rapidly, and his breathing is heavy. I can sense he’s also through waiting.
I open my eyes, and Julian is staring down at me with that same reverent look he had in the hallway a few weeks ago. The same one that had me looking for an escape. The same uneasiness I felt then passes through me, and I can’t figure out what about his stare is making me so uneasy. I’m going to fight through it. I push myself up to my feet and stand in front of him. I turn my face up to him and thread my fingers through his.
“Kiss me, please.”
I say the words softly and pleadingly. I’m aching to feel his lips on mine, and I’m searching for a way to bring the physical aspect of our relationship back into the dynamic. It’s feeling too emotional between us, and I’m uncomfortable. I half expect him to tell me no. He has withheld himself from me all night and has proven his restraint. I would’ve let him have his way with me the moment I saw him in the lobby earlier had he tried. I don’t want to wait for this anymore, and I’m not feeling shy about it.
I’m not sure if it was the way I asked him or the fact we’re touching, but something has helped him decide we’re past the just-talking portion of the program now. Julian leans down and brushes his lips against mine. He starts to pull back, but I just can’t let him. I let go of his hand and reach up around his neck. I pull him to me and press my mouth to his. Hard. I open my lips and slide my tongue into his mouth. What happens next can only be described as something similar to a dam breaking. All of the lust and need we’ve been holding back tonight races through our bodies, and we hold onto each other as if we might drown in these feelings. Julian’s lips and tongue find their way to my neck and my face, and he marks me with his longing. His mouth is hot and wet on my skin. Our tongues are battling as each of us tries to control the tempo and pace of our kisses. I can feel his muscles tighten as desire courses through him, and I melt into his strong body as he pulls me to his chest. I’m on fire, and nothing could keep me from this man in this moment.
Julian is very close to me, and I swear I can feel the heat coming off of his body. If he started ripping my clothes off right now, I would not be surprised.
“Dios mío, Alexa. You’re something else. Keep saying things like that to me, and I promise the talking portion of this program will be ending very soon.”
I meet his gaze with the same intensity he’s directing at me. “Promises, promises, Julian. I just hope you’re not all talk.”
Julian leans into me and puts his face right in front of mine. I look at his lips because I can’t look him in the eyes anymore. I slowly lick my lips in invitation because I’m sure he is going to kiss me now.
“Like I said earlier, Alexa, I’m determined to get to know you better before I fuck you tonight. If I even start to kiss you or touch you, both of our mouths are going to be too busy pleasing each other to do any talking. So stop trying to make me harder than I already am and tell me if you prefer white wine or red wine.”
My voice comes out in a whisper. “I’m scared this is all a really good dream and that I’m going to wake up and find out I imagined you.”
He presses his lips to my ear and whispers back. “This is very real, and I’m here, baby. I’m not going anywhere.”
As I ponder this, Julian slowly reaches up with one hand and gently runs a finger through one of my curls. “Better,” he says quietly as he twirls it slowly. He doesn’t look away, and neither do I.
“Better?” I pick up my drink and take a sip. I need something to cool me down. My whole body starts to overheat when he touches me.
“I prefer your hair this way. Esmuy sexy.” He keeps twirling.
Um. Okay. This is seriously hot. I love when he speaks to me in Spanish.
“I’d rather take this woman to bed than the one with the ponytail. I can picture you straddling me, and I can see your beautiful hair floating across my chest as you make your way slowly down my naked body.”
I’m in the middle of taking another sip of my drink when he says this to me, and his comment makes me choke. Holy shit! What a visual. And so quickly too. We’ve only been talking for a few minutes, and he’s already talking about getting naked? Apparently he thinks my ‘discomfort’ is funny and laughs out loud.
“Something wrong with your drink?” he asks through a sly smile.
I try to recover by putting my lips seductively on the straw and taking a slow sip. “Mmm, no, it’s perfect.”
He arches his brow at me, intrigued by my not-so-subtle response. Hell, I can play this game too. This is fun.
“Good, because I always try to give it the way it’s wanted.”
“I bet you’re very giving, Julian.”
He pauses, narrows his eyes and looks serious for a moment. “You have no idea, Alexa.” I love the way my name rolls off of his tongue. He caresses it when he says it.
His eyes are locked on mine and the way he is looking at me is making me squirm in my chair. I think we are both imagining “giving” something to each other. I try and break the tension with some more teasing.
“Do you give this hard of a sell to all the ladies, Julian?”
Julian chuckles and shakes his head slightly. “Oh, Alexa, you’re the only lady I want to give anything hard to at the moment.”
Well, he’s definitely not shy or sexually repressed.
We’re talking pretty quietly, but I still look around to see if anybody else heard him. This conversation has taken an X-rated turn. The couple sitting next to us at the bar are totally engrossed in the beginning stages of a hook-up and seem totally oblivious to anything around them. Nobody else is paying any attention to us either. I look down towards the other end of the bar and catch Luke staring intensely at me. He’s shaking his head. I’m not sure if Julian sees him do it, but I don’t want Luke to come down to where we are. His presence last time caused Julian to walk away, and I don’t want that happening again. I nod and smile at Luke and give him a little wave to say I’ve got this. He scowls at me but doesn’t come closer. I turn my focus back to Julian and take another sip.
“Okay, Julian, I’ll play this game with you.”
“I assure you, corazón, this isn’t a game.”
“Really? You’re not just trying to see how much you can shock me?”
That makes him smile. “Well, unless you have a really good poker face, I haven’t shocked you very much yet.”
The truth is I do have a pretty good poker face. I am a little shocked by how “descriptively” he talks to me. I’ve never met a man who is more overtly sexual. It just oozes through his pores. He’s incredibly sexy and confident without being creepy. No doubt he has been perfecting his craft over the years.
I’m doing my best to play it cool because I like how he’s talking to me, and I don’t want him to stop. But I also don’t want him to think I’m “that girl”; the one who makes a habit of picking up men in bars. I don’t want him to think I’m a prude either. I tell myself to get a grip. I can’t believe I’m so concerned with what a guy I don’t even really know thinks about me. How did this happen? I try to play it all off and give him a fake, shy little smile.
“Oh, I’m a little shocked … and kind of scandalized.”
“Only a little?” Julian shakes his head. “I guess I need to up my game.”
His comment makes me laugh nervously. If he ups his game I’m in serious trouble.
I look down at my drink for a moment and swirl my straw. When I look up, Julian is staring so intently at me it sends shivers through my body.
“I thought this wasn’t a game.”
Julian has been leaning up against the bar the whole time we’ve been talking. He straightens up and takes a step backward. I can feel my eyes widen. Wow. It is impossible to miss the erection straining through his jeans, and I can’t help but stare. I bring my straw up to my lips to take a sip. I’m suddenly feeling very hot all over again.
With a tone that is serious rather than cocky he asks, “Still look like I’m playing?” Oh my God, he is shameless.
I continue to look at his crotch and shake my head. “Nope, looks like the real deal to me.”
“Oh, Alexa, it’s very real. Let me know if you need any more proof.”
I’m seriously so flustered right now I don’t know what to say. So, I do the only thing a respectable girl can do in a situation like this. I thank him for my drink, get off the barstool and turn to walk away. I can feel his eyes on my body, and I hear the laughter under his breath. Damn. Round two definitely goes to Julian in a knockout.
About The Author
I’m originally from sunny Southern California and spent my summers in South Florida. I attended college at FSU and received my Masters in New Mexico. I finally settled in the Washington, DC area. My happy place has always been anywhere near the water.
When I’m not writing, I help run a business with my husband, watch an inordinate amount of sports (my kids play something 365 days a year), indulge my competitive spirit on the tennis court, and spend time with my awesome family and friends.
I am an avid reader, but find my characters feel neglected when I hang out with other author’s characters for too long. When I do read, historical fiction is my favorite genre. I love traveling and experiencing different cultures, places, and times.
I feel so blessed that my love of books inspired me to finally do something that I forgot I had always dreamed about doing.
My someday has arrived!