Like your stories dark?
Published by: Harlequin MIRA
Publication date: May 1st 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance
I feel like I am wrapped in a cyclone. Everything is whirling around me, drawing the air out of my lungs and filling me with the best kind of turmoil. Every time his tongue slides against mine, a prickle in my gut tells me how right we are together. How much I need David. How much I need us.
I hope the cyclone never stops.
Emma Searfoss has spent a lifetime trying to escape her abusive stepfather. It’s why she moved far away from home. It’s why she’s kept no ties with her remaining family. And it’s why she’s got a major rage problem. When her neighbor shows up to fix the kitchen in her new apartment, his enigmatic charm calms the fire in her. David is cool and collected, and he makes Emma feel safe for the first time ever. But David has his own chilling past—his six previous girlfriends have all disappeared without a trace. Emma’s walking a dangerous line, but David’s pull is intoxicating. And impossible to resist…
This is a new adult romance with mature content for readers 17 and up.
I walk down the hall, past the wreck of a kitchen, and into the living room where the door buzzer startles me again by sounding a second time.
“Hold your damn hat on,” I mutter as I press the intercom button. “Yes?” I ask into the small, grey box.
“Hi. Um, is this Emma Searfoss? Apartment seven?” asks a male voice.
“Yes it is. What can I do for you?” I ask. A rush of thick, syrupy relief courses through my veins. I am beyond grateful that whoever it is, it’s decidedly not Michael.
“This is David. I’m here to fix your kitchen cupboards. The landlord was supposed to call you yesterday to let you know I was coming,” he says. Oh. I haven’t checked my cell phone since yesterday afternoon so I have no idea if Carl called me or not. For a moment I hesitate, but then I figure the guy must be legit because part of the rental agreement included refurbishing the kitchen cupboards. Right now they are a complete wreck; the doors are either falling off or missing altogether, the paint is peeling, and most of the shelves are cracked and warped. I haven’t even attempted to unpack the kitchen boxes, expecting Carl to come and fix the cupboards as he promised. I’m pleased that he’s decided to do it sooner rather than later. Whoever David is, he’s got his work cut out for him.
“Oh, ok,” I say into the grey box. “Up the stairs. Second door on the left.”
“I know,” he says casually as I press the door release switch. I quickly grab my purse and toss it into the back bedroom, just incase David is some kind of criminal. I almost snatch the pepper spray out of it first, but then I decide that that would be one step too close to crazy.
There is a knock at the front door, and a second later, I open it. I immediately wonder why I didn’t grab the pepper spray when I had the chance.
David does not look like a cupboard fixer. Frankly, he looks a little psycho, and I wonder how stupid I am to let him waltz into my apartment without checking for a message from Carl first. But if I close the door on him now, I’m going to look like the psycho. A stupid cliché pops unwelcome into my head: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I stuff the words back into my brain, back into the mouth of every Sunday school teacher I ever had.
The only visual indication that David is actually here for the reason he claims is the belt of tools slung low around his waist. There is a hammer swaying off his left hip and some screwdrivers tucked into little loops on the right. A tape measure sits next to the hammer, and what appears to be a pair of lineman’s pliers is sticking out of a small pocket to the side. There are some other tools there too, but I don’t recognize them.
He catches my glance at the tool belt, and I realize that I must have some foolish look of relief on my face, because a second later he is wearing a small, lopsided grin. He looks quite pleased with himself, as a matter of fact, and I immediately think he must be a cocky bastard.
Aside from the tool belt, he is wearing a grey T-shirt, a pair of black skinny jeans, and a pair of heavy black work boots. His dark, mussed up hair is cut short, and it looks as if he forgot to shave – for the past several days. On each ear are two small silver hoops, and his arms are covered in tattoos. I can see the swirls of ink beneath his skin, but I can’t tell what the images are – I don’t want to look at them any longer than I already have. I don’t want him to think I am checking him out. Cocky bastards love being checked out, and I refuse to give him the pleasure.
I step aside and let him into the apartment. He looks around quickly and makes a beeline towards the kitchen. I think immediately that he must be familiar with the apartment’s layout because he doesn’t ask where to go, nor does he hesitate.
“Come on in,” I say sarcastically as he breezes past me.
“Thanks,” he says without turning around. I watch him walk around the corner to the kitchen and wonder whether I am supposed to follow him in there.
“Holy hell,” he says quietly. “What a mess.”
“Sorry,” I answer sheepishly from the living room. And, before I know it, I add, “My Grandma got stoned here the other night and was desperate for some munchies. She gets a little out of hand sometimes.” The utter idiocy of my own words makes me want to evaporate. I don’t even have a Grandma anymore.
In a split second he is out of the kitchen and standing in the hallway, his hand on the door frame. He looks right at me, completely stone-faced. Without a trace of mockery, he says, “I think I might like to meet your Grandma someday.” He quickly turns away and slides back into the kitchen. I am silent. What the hell am I supposed to say to that?
Claire Wallis has penned hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles over the last ten years, with science playing the lead role in almost all of them. Though non-fiction writing will forever be her first love, fiction has unexpectedly swooped in, hooked her by the soul, and become her true love. As a result of this coup d’état, Claire’s writing career has made a complete U-turn, and instead of rocks, plants, insects, and microbes, she is now putting human characters in the lead.
Claire’s previous jobs include working at a limestone quarry, hawking vegetables at a farmer’s market, clerking at the dollar store, and convincing new mothers that they need to renew their subscription to that parenting magazine in order for their child to survive. She lives in Pennsylvania with her amazingly awesome husband and son.