Today I am so pleased to welcome Ki Brightly to Joyfully Jay. Ki has come to share an exclusive excerpt from their latest release, Love It Like You Stole It. Ki has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Ki a big welcome!
My breath hitched and I fought to stay calm, normal, as Ben stomped toward my car, hands deep in his jean pockets, shivering in a sweatshirt when it was definitely coat weather.
I’d turned up the heat a notch and unzipped my coat by the time he yanked the car door open and burst the late-night epiphany vibe I’d had going on. He ducked down and studied me, dark eyes hooded with shadows, mouth open as if he was about to say something. But he stopped, and his hard lips softened into an amused smile before he dropped into the passenger seat. The car lights turned his blond hair an odd shade of yellow. Eyebrows raised high, he gave me a quick head-to-toe perusal that socked heat into my face, making my cheeks go into nuclear meltdown. Once again my tongue was glued to the roof of my mouth, and I jerked my hands from the steering wheel, just stopping from hiding my face from him like I used to when I was younger. I wanted to disappear and never have him quit looking at me.
“Stop it,” I mumbled.
He shook his head. “Soap and water do a body good, Meeko.” Ben chuckled, and my skin tingled hot down my chest as my face continued to roast.
I pushed my glasses up my nose and then tried to do it again after they were already where they were supposed to be. “It happens.”
His smile thinned to a hard slash as he cracked his knuckles, and all my good feelings burned rubber in the opposite direction. I leaned away from him, which seemed to bring him down a few notches, but the hard set of his jaw radiated anger. “Where does this whistle dick live?”
“Not so fast.” I held up my hands, and Ben’s eyes narrowed. Leaning back even more, I bumped into the door, but he was a big guy anyway, so if he wanted to smack me he could.
“What the fuck!” He reached out and gently cupped both hands around my left wrist, drawing my hand toward him. I was hit with it, the enormity of being here in the dark with him. This was Ben.
Some weird, wound-up anxiousness I hadn’t been aware of until he was stroking a thumb down the center of my palm dissolved. And turned into something else. A simmering anticipation. Of what, I wasn’t sure. He poked at the overhead light, snapping it on. Brows furrowed, he shot me a questioning look. “How’d this happen?”
“Burned my hand on the stove.”
“You don’t own a torch.”
“Maybe I bought one.”
He blinked at me, eyes liquid and endless. “Why are you telling tales, Meeko?” He drifted close to me, closer than he’d been in a long time. A crisp, musky maleness that wasn’t mine wafted around me, and my dick twitched hopefully, nudged against my jeans. “Whose skull do I need to break?” he asked with a smile, but there was no lie in his eyes. He would hurt someone.
“I’m too old for you to be my hero.”
“I-I—” I pushed my tongue to the roof of my mouth.
He leaned close enough that his breath ghosted across the angry red circle gouged into my palm. The warm air on my injured skin sank into my flesh and traveled on a zip line through my body to my semi. My jeans became an uncomfortable cage. What could I say that wouldn’t make this stop? Wouldn’t send him off to get himself killed? All of that mess with Rocky—the side work—had started so I could do something to show Ben I was worth his time in the garage and…well…maybe out of it too. I wanted him to know I was a good worker, worth all the energy he’d put into training me up. I wanted to show him I was a man now. I could be his friend… I could be more… And I was fucking that all up.
His head dipped, and I was half convinced he was about to kiss my palm. His breath gusted against my skin. Thump. Whump. My heartbeat nearly deafened me. But then he leaned back and let go. It nearly hurt. It was things like that—things that happened once in a long while—that kept my idiotic hope alive.
“Meeko, I can’t… I know words aren’t always your friend,” he said softly.
I nodded fast, making my glasses slip.
With a smile, he nudged them back up. “I see anyone come near you, and it’s game on.”
I goose honked an awkward laugh, and he grinned, handsome as fuck, his lips drawing me in. I wanted to throw myself at him and just beg. Help me. Fuck me. Keep me. But I gave myself a little shake. If I couldn’t show him I was good on the job, how would I ever convince him to spend time off the job with me? I’d made this mess; I had to fix it. He could never know.
Michael Levine is backed into a corner. He started tearing apart cars for the local mob with the best of intentions—to save up money to pay for his mechanic certifications and impress his crush and mentor, Ben. But Michael soon finds himself in way over his head. He knows stealing is wrong, but it’s only cars, and the insurance will pay to replace them, right? What started out as a small job to make some extra bucks soon turns into a nightmare he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to find his way out of.
Ben Jelen isn’t sure where his life is going. On the surface everything looks fine. He has a successful business, he’s raising his niece into a strong person, and he has a boyfriend most guys only dream of—sexy and rich. But nothing feels right. The only things that really keep Ben’s attention anymore are his classic Road Runner, his niece, and Michael—his Meeko. Ben took him under his wing forever ago, and their love of old cars and fast driving has forged a strong bond. Ben’s days don’t feel right if he doesn’t get to see Meeko at least once. But something seems drastically wrong in Meeko’s life, and Ben hopes he can put the pieces together to help him before it’s too late.
Ki grew up in small-town nowhere pretending meteor showers were invading aliens, wild flowers were magic potions, and secret agents hid around every corner. (Ki probably read more than was healthy.) They had one amazing best friend, one endlessly-out-of-grasp “true love,” and a personal vendetta against normalcy.
College was a catapult out of that sleepy little hamlet into a slightly larger, more entertaining city—Erie, Pennsylvania.
In their adopted hometown they enjoy the sandy beaches, frigid winters, and a wonderful fancy water addiction. Ki shares life with two sweet Muses, their Sugar Plum, and two children. Every day with these wonderful people is full of adventure.
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