Today I am so pleased to welcome Felice Stevens to Joyfully Jay. Felice has come to talk to us about her upcoming release, The Coincidence, releasing on March 21. We are getting a sneak peek excerpt before release! Felice has also brought along a great giveaway! Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
“Hi again,” I said, itching to touch him but a bit unsure about the parameters of this relationship. Were we dating? Exclusive? Just friends? I wished I knew.
“Hi again. So that was Darren.”
“You look alike except for the fact that you’re much hotter.” I couldn’t help it. I wanted to see that cute blush. There was something so endearing about a big muscly guy all in his feelings that got me a little swoony. Not that it took much to tip me over the edge when it came to Eli. “It’s nice you guys have a close relationship.”
“We’ve always had each other’s backs.”
I could see how important his relationship with Darren was, and I knew anyone of consequence in Eli’s life would need Darren’s approval.
“So many times siblings don’t get along, either because of jealousy or favoritism.”
“Yeah. But in our case, neither one of us measured up to our father’s expectations.”
“But isn’t Darren a lawyer who makes big bucks, with a wife and kids and a big house in the ’burbs?” I held up my hand. “I ticked off the holy grail right there. Your brother seems like a huge success to me.”
Eli leaned back, exhaling a long, drawn-out sigh. “He is. But my father could find fault with anyone. Darren didn’t get into an Ivy League law school or get a judicial courtship after he graduated. He initially thought he’d go into criminal law but eventually decided on corporate-tax law instead.”
“Different kinds of criminals,” I joked, and Eli chuckled.
“You said it. Anyway, my father tolerated it because it was white collar, so he left Darren alone, making me his target after I enlisted in the National Guard after college. That was unheard of for someone from his background.”
“Background? What do you mean?” We never talked like this in my house. I had no idea what Eli meant.
“His family was full of academics and scholars, not people like me. My father once called me a peasant throwback.”
I couldn’t let him speak like that about himself. “Well, I like people like you.” To hell with keeping our distance. I moved closer and laid my head on his shoulder. “You’re my kind of people.”
He put his arm around me, and we sat like that for a while, the shadows of the evening lengthening on the wall. “He turned against Darren because of Isabel too. She wasn’t the type of woman they wanted for him. She was a cashier at the diner where Darren used to eat every night. They met and fell in love.”
Eli’s fingers stroked my shoulder back and forth, and my skin burned under his touch. He kept speaking, and I held my breath, fearing if he realized what he was doing, he’d stop. And if he stopped, I might die. I’d never been so turned-on in my life from a simple touch. My entire body ached from holding myself together.
“Good for them.”
“My father doesn’t like her because he feels she’s not good enough for his son. It doesn’t matter to him that Darren loves her or that they have two children.”
I began to drift, the stress of the day melting away, easing me into a blissful state of euphoria, where all that mattered was me sitting here with Eli’s arm around me.
“My parents would probably love to see their marriage fail, but it’s strong, and I couldn’t be happier for my brother.”
“I’m glad.” I rested my cheek against his arm and closed my eyes, listening to Eli’s soft voice caress me with its sound. I’d never felt such bliss.
I blinked, and when my eyes focused, I gazed up to see Eli standing over me with a funny smile on his face. Struggling to a seated position, I noticed a blanket covering me.
“What—” My voice croaked, so I rubbed my face and tried again. “What happened?”
“Seems you fell asleep. On me. Literally.” Light eyes dancing with amusement, Eli crossed his arms, his generous mouth curving in a smile.
“Fuck. I’m sorry.” The blanket slipped to my lap, and I pulled it off me. “I didn’t realize how zonked I was. Work was crazy today.”
“It’s fine.” He sat next to me. “Um, while you were napping, I ordered some dinner. You didn’t say if you were hungry, but I figured it would be okay.”
Something twisted in my chest, and I found it hard to catch my breath. “You…you ordered dinner? For me too?”
“Yeah. I hope you don’t mind casual. I figured pizza and wings? I have beer in the fridge, or we could finish off the Prosecco.”
If I’d still been with Sawyer and fallen asleep while he was with me, he wouldn’t have covered me with a blanket and ordered dinner. He’d have left and gone out with his friends and not been concerned that I was tired. A guy I’d known less than two weeks showed more caring for me than someone I thought I loved for a year. Eli’s tenderness sent a rush through me.
“That sounds amazing.” My voice wobbled. “Thanks.”
“Are you okay? You seem upset.” His forehead puckered, and those thick, dark brows drew together.
How could I explain when I was so mixed up inside? My emotions were like a spilled jigsaw puzzle with pieces flying in every direction, and all I could do was gaze up at him, skin prickling, blood burning, my breath coming faster. His light eyes darkened to a stormy blue, awareness swirling in their depths. His need pushed against mine.
“It’s just really nice of you to think of me. We hardly know each other.”
That dimple in his chin deepened with his smile. “Isn’t that what we’re doing? Getting to know each other?”
I nodded and swayed toward him, the promise to take it slowly disappearing with my capacity to think. All I saw was his mouth, his lips. The heat of his breath hit my face, and I let it soak into my pores, seep into my skin and blood and bones. I was helpless to anything but the greedy hunger to taste his mouth on mine.
“Eli,” I said, shocked by the reediness in my voice. “Do you want to kiss me?”
I let him set the pace this time. There was no frantic mashing of lips. The tips of Eli’s fingers traced my jaw and cheek, and I held myself still while he explored my face.
“You’re soft,” he said with wonder. “Your skin is so soft.”
“Trust me, that’s the only part of me that’s soft right now,” I said between gritted teeth, my body vibrating on a hair trigger.
Nice guys always finish last, and Coby Epstein is sick and tired of being last. After his boyfriend dumps him, Coby vows to take it slow and not jump into another relationship, no matter what his ninety-five-year-old great aunt says. When Coby sees his ex has moved on, he goes on a series of disastrous first dates and swears off men, determined to be alone. His best friend disagrees and finds the “perfect man” for him online and arranges a date. The only problem? Coby has no idea what she’s done.
Since childhood, Eli Kaplan has been his father’s greatest disappointment, a fact he’s reminded of at every opportunity. For years, he’s struggled with the knowledge that dating women doesn’t work for him. A late-night confession to his brother changes everything and Eli realizes, maybe, just maybe, he can come out, find himself, and find love. Eli takes the plunge and creates a profile on a dating website, not knowing what to expect. One night he chats with an intriguing man, and despite his nervousness, they arrange to meet for coffee. No big deal. They’ll probably never see each other again.
On the day of their first date, nothing could surprise Coby and Eli more than to discover that they live in the same apartment building, on the same floor. In a city of eight million people, coincidences don’t get crazier than that. But as the two men begin to weave their lives together with cautious optimism and hope for a future, they find an even greater thread holding their families together—one born from the ashes of a final solution that couldn’t destroy their ancestors’ courage, leaving scars that remain almost a century later. Past lives torn apart can be pieced together by a future no one could have ever imagined, where love is more than fate or coincidence. It’s meant to be.
Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. She believes that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending just around the corner. Her characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love.
She lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass (or two) of red wine. She’s retired from practicing law and now daydreams of a time when she can sit by a beach and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there are bound to be a few bumps along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed
Felice has brought a $10 Amazon gift card to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Saturday, March 16th at 11:59 pm ET.
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