by Aleatha Romig
Mandy When we finally pull apart, before I can speak or even contemplate what happened, Malcolm's blue eyes shine down on me, taking me in and reading me. His voice rumbles through the background commotion of the bar. “You taste like sweet wine and smell like perfume and desire.” Warmth fills my cheeks. “You taste like good beer.” “Good? You're a beer connoisseur?” I shrug. “Mostly, I know cheap beer.” He lifts my chin, bringing his indigo eyes into focus. The room disappears, making those blue orbs all I can see. “I'm a connoisseur,” he says as his thumb gently rubs over my bruised lips. “And you, beautiful Mandy, if you were a beer, would never be a cheap one. No, you're a rich custom craft brew. I see it in your eyes, feel it in your touch, and smell it in the air. Kissing a stranger isn't something you do, is it?” I try to move my eyes away, but Malcolm's grip of my chin is unrelenting. Meeting his gaze, I reply, “No. I won't even bore you with how long it's been since I've kissed a real man.” His eyes sparkle. “You kiss fake men?” “Boys. Well, only one actually.” “You kiss boys...” And then, as if the reality of his statement hits home, he asks, “You have a son?” My heart flutters, its speed increasing by the second. “I do, but I don't want to talk about him. Not because he isn't important for he is—he's my world—but because tonight isn't about him. It's about me.” I can't gauge Malcolm's reaction. I can only guess that he's assuming that I'm some needy woman trying to get a man to take on the responsibility of a kid who isn't his. I reach out and splay my fingers over his chest. His heart is beating to match mine. “I don't want to talk about him,” I continue, “because he'll never know about you—I'll never tell him and never introduce you. Don't worry. I'm not after a man to rescue me. I'm perfectly content with my life as a mother. I just wanted to remember what it felt like to be a woman...for just one night.” “I'm not anti-children—” I shake my head. “Stop. That doesn't matter.” It’s then that I notice the filled glasses on the table and laugh. “When did the waitress come?” Malcolm bows his head until our noses touch. He inhales deeply, his eyes closing as his hand falls to my lap. “I'd say just after you.” More heat floods my cheeks. “I-I didn't...” “Then we need to do something about that.” He looks again at the full glasses. “I think the drinks came while my tongue was busy getting to know your sweet mouth.” His hand splays over my thigh. My breathing hitches. “Malcolm?” “You said you want one night. One night doesn't end with a kiss. It begins with one.”
Aleatha Romig is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana, USA. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she's not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time a with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams! Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers. Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These stand alone thrillers continue Aleatha's twisted style with an increase in heat. In the fall of 2015, Aleatha moved head first into the world of dark romantic suspense with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series that has taken the reading world by storm. She also began her traditional publishing career with Thomas and Mercer. Her books INTO THE LIGHT and AWAY FROM THE DARK were published through this mystery/thriller publisher in 2016. 2017 brings Aleatha's first "Leatha, the lighter side of Aleatha" with PLUS ONE, a fun, sexy romantic comedy. Aleatha is a "Published Author's Network" member of the Romance Writers of America and PEN America. She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.