Today I am so pleased to welcome Edie Danford to Joyfully Jay. Edie has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, One Step Back (which I reviewed here yesterday and totally loved!). She has also brought along a great tour-wide giveaway. Please join me in giving Edie a big welcome!
In which our heroes—ex-high-school boyfriends and current coworkers Asher and Joe—are stuck in a hotel suite working on a crazy-making account and even crazier-making sexual tension…
“Need me for anything?” I ask, my voice sounding a little strained.
Ash doesn’t seem to notice. He’s concentrating on two screens at once. “Nah. This’ll take, like…” He curses. Taps madly on the keyboard. Doesn’t finish his sentence.
Smiling, I re-settle on the couch. After muting the game, I say, “Don’t forget to let me know if I can help.”
Shoving a throw pillow against the couch’s arm, I ease back to watch the seventh inning. My eyes drift closed. When I open them, the screen shows a bunch of guys with bad suits discussing postgame stats.
I sit up too fast. The room spins a little as I blink and look around. Ash is still on the bed, but he’s in a different position—half sprawled, looking at his phone. The laptop is closed and it’s been set neatly on a stack of files on the nightstand.
“Hey,” I say, pressing the Off button on the remote.
He looks at me. Smiles. “Hey.”
“Did you finish?”
“Yeah.” He sits upright and performs an arm and shoulder stretch, the movement making his tee crawl up his abs. “Few minutes ago.”
“Feel good about it?”
His head tips as he considers the question. “I do. I’m gonna let it sit tonight, look at it first thing in the morning with fresh eyes. Then I’ll send it to the team at the office tomorrow. Rush job, and it should be in Victoria’s hands by tomorrow night.”
“Awesome. Whizz-kid strikes again.”
He rolls his eyes, but the hazel is kinda sparkly. “Whizz-kid” is what my grandpa used to call him, and I know he can hear affection from our past in the warmth of my voice.
I sit there, debating. I want to poke and prod at him, make him answer the question from our earlier discussion. And, yes, I want to poke and prod at him with a few other things too.
I’d promised next moves in our relationship, such as it is, would be up to him though, and I’d meant it. There’s enough pressure on both of us. Sex should be a release, should be fun, not something that makes both of us more stressed.
This is what the reasonable chunk of my brain is telling me, anyway.
But it’s a small chunk. Weak. Rarely exercised. And at this moment that’s a crying shame. I could use some strength. I’m not used to debating about sex. Typically it’s the athletic activity in my life where I can say “just do it” and fricking mean it.
But there’s still an ocean-sized amount of feelings between me and Ash. I don’t want to fuck this up again. I hadn’t been handing him a line earlier—I want him in my life even if it’s just as a coworker or friend.
Pushing myself up off the couch, I say, “You must be completely wiped. I’ll let you get some sleep.” I pick up my empty beer bottle and take it to the sink.
I wipe my hands on my jeans and turn toward the bed. “Yeah?”
He puts his phone on the nightstand. “Come here.”
A breath quakes through my chest. I take a couple steps. Stop.
“Please.” He holds out his hand. His fingers aren’t steady.
When I get close enough to the bed, I take his hand, squeezing his chilled fingers, looking down into his eyes. They’re huge, dark, the pupils dilated.
“I want you,” he says.
When you fall for a guy who’s about to become your stepbrother—do you listen to your heart and risk everything? Or listen to your head…and take one step back?
In high school I had a hundred reasons to steer clear of my soon-to-be-stepbrother, Joe Beneventi. He was a hothead, and I was reserved. His life was football, mine was academics. He wanted to be out and proud, and I desperately needed to keep my orientation secret.
But when we fell in love, my heart took the wheel, and I took every risk to be with Joe. Then one horrible night our secrets shattered. Joe disappeared—wrecking our families and breaking my heart.
Eleven years later, I landed a challenging job at a premier PR firm. And the hotshot publicist who’s been assigned to my first big account? Yep. It’s Joe. Fate truly hates me because now Joe and I have three days to hole up in a Chicago hotel room and nail down a deal that could make or break our careers. He keeps distracting me, but I’m too jaded to fall for sexy smiles, bedroom eyes, and his impossible-to-ignore body. Except…
I like being close to him again. A little too much. Working together 24/7 is showing me sides of Joe I’ve never seen before. And when we touch, being together seems like the only step worth taking.
Edie lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and random creatures that might or might not be pets. She loves libraries (where she’s found play, work, and love since she was a kid), long walks (unless ice is involved), lewd language (in the right context), luscious romance (of any variety), and alliteration.
Edie has brought a $10 Amazon gift card to give away along her tour. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on at 11:59 pm ET.
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