Haven't done a Sneak Peak Sunday in a few weeks, and with "Not While I'm Chewing" due to come out this month, I thought I'd just remind you all that I have 3 other books available for your reading pleasure!
Click here to purchase "Fresh Ice," "Lies in Chance," or "Dream in Color."
Today I'm giving you a quick chapter from "Fresh Ice." I hope you enjoy it enough to check out the whole book!
“Now that was a good meal!” Adele held the door open as the girls, Sean, and Izzy stepped out of the dark, closed space of the Irish pub and into the sticky damp of the early Nashville evening.
“Who knew you could get the best Irish food in the South?”
“Show me, Sean, where deep fried pickles are Irish food.” Izzy grinned.
“Okay, you got me there. So, who’s up for a stroll downtown? Maybe find a place with great live music.”
“Sounds like fun. Girls, you wanna hang out with the parents a bit more?”
“I’ve got just the place!” Mikayla tossed her hair and laughed at her mother. “A place called ‘Second Chance’s.’ Jenna, you are going to love the bands they have there and the guys are seriously hot, it’s a complete meat market!”
“Oh yes, that’s what a mother wants to hear from the mouth of her daughter.” Adele frowned at Mikayla. “Izzy, how about you?”
Izzy glanced in the direction of the hotel. “I was thinking I’d just turn in early.”
“Oh Mom, come on. Please come with us?”
Izzy looked at her daughter and smiled. “Okay. Where is this place?”
The walk to Second Chance’s was several blocks down to the heart of the music district. As warm rays of the sun lengthened and cooled in the settling of night, revelers filled the sidewalks and the doorways of the countless clubs and eateries. Music and neon throbbed through a haze of mouthwatering food smells. Dazzled with the color of it all Izzy was hardly conscious of the distance they’d walked until Sean opened a door and said, “Here we are!”
The girls evaporated in a sea of dancing bodies while Sean led Adele and Izzy up the stairs to the bar, where tables lined the railing overlooking the stage.
“I’ll go get the drinks, ladies, you enjoy the show!” Sean left as Adele and Izzy looked at the band on the stage.
“At least it’s not a howling band.” Adele toyed with the salt and pepper shakers on the table. “I can’t abide howling bands or bands that are too country, you know what I mean?”
“Sure,” Izzy answered vaguely, leaning on the railing to get a better look at the band.
Sean returned with drinks, and the rest of their conversation faded from Izzy’s consciousness as she lost herself in thoughts of her future now that she held a winning lottery ticket. She sipped her drink and nodded politely whenever Adele glanced in her direction, but her brain was busy sorting out what she was going to do. She was so deep in thought, she wasn’t aware the music stopped until she realized Adele was shoving her roughly. “What, Adele, what do you want?”
“Why does that man look familiar?”
As she focused on the tall, dark haired man on stage, Izzy took in a deep breath. The man was perfection. Under the hot lights his dark, gleaming hair just brushed his strong jaw. I’ve seen him before.
“Ladies and gents,” his easy, light Tennessee accent stirred something warm and wanting deep inside Izzy. “I’d like to thank you for coming out tonight and listening to some great local bands.”
“We love you Quinn!”
The unified shouts of several women startled Izzy, breaking her trancelike concentration from the man
Quinn smiled back at the audience. “I love you all, too. Most of you know I make my living talking about sports, but music has been a passion of mine for years. How about a big hand for Chance, for keeping this place open and bringing us fantastic independent music night after night?”
Here he pointed up to the balcony, where a spotlight suddenly glowed near Izzy. She didn’t look toward the owner of the bar, who waved at the crowd below. Her gaze was locked with the clear, blue-green eyes of the singer. She couldn’t look away and she couldn’t blink. Those are the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen.
He’s the man from the funeral.
Everything around her narrowed until all that was left was the glow of the spotlight around her. Izzy saw nothing but Quinn’s eyes looking up at her. He held his gaze steady with her for a silent eternity. Everything else was dark and silent, like a protective cloud around them. There was no time, no sound, just the glow of recognition in his beautiful eyes. It didn’t matter one bit that they were strangers and would probably never be closer to each other than in this dumpy space. There was a connection between them, and Izzy was lost in it.
“What are you staring at? Do you know that guy?”
Izzy blinked at the staccato blast of Adele’s voice, and the connection was lost. The party below raged on as the band Quinn introduced started playing. Quinn was gone.
Izzy, too, ached to leave. “I’m sorry, Adele. I’m not good company tonight. I don’t think I feel well. I’m going to go back to the hotel.”
“You’re not sick are you?” Adele’s eyes narrowed. “We have a lot of moving to do tomorrow you know.”
No room for discussion about that. “Oh, no,” Izzy wiped her eyes. “It’s fine. I’m fine. I just need…I need some air. I think I’ll walk back to the hotel.”
“What, right now? Alone?”
“Sure. It’s not that late, really, and besides, you and Sean, you guys need some time alone, too. So I’ll just get back.”
“Are you sure?”
Izzy looked over the balcony hoping to spot Quinn, but she couldn’t find him. “Oh, I’m sure. I’ll be fine.”
She’s here. Quinn walked backstage and laid his guitar in its case. Isabella Landry is here, in this building. I could reach out and touch her and it wouldn’t be weird or stalkerish.
But what could I possibly say?
Well, she seemed really interested in what I saying. I could go up and maybe thank her for coming or something. That wouldn’t seem weird. Quinn rubbed his hands across his face. That’s the best reason I can muster for going up to meet a woman? Good manners? My, how the mighty lady killer has fallen. Shaking his head at his own folly, Quinn started for the stairs.
“Quinn, dude, where ya goin’?” One of the musicians put a hand on his arm.
“I saw someone…I have to catch up with.”
The musician’s face creased with a lecherous grin. “It’s a chick, isn’t it? I spotted a couple out there I’m thinkin’ of scorin’ on, too.”
Quinn shook off the drummer’s hand, repulsed by the lecherous expression on his face. “You’re a pig.”
The drummer shrugged. “Yep. I’m a pig. But I’m a pig that’s gonna get laid.”
Quinn ignored the band members’ cat calls as he ran through the back stage and up the stairs. Once in the bar, he scanned the crowded room. She’s gone.
“Hey, Quinn!” Chance shouted over the din of conversation. “I told you, didn’t I? You’re good for business!”
Quinn nodded to Chance, but searched for Isabella.
“Who ya lookin’ for?”
“There was a woman up here. Probably at that table where that couple is.”
“Buddy, there are a thousand women here and quite a few of them are age appropriate. Take your pick.”
“No, Chance, this one was…well, I’m looking for her. You don’t remember if she was with that couple?”
“Quinn, are you kiddn’ me? Look around! I’m workin’ here! If you’re so interested, go ask them if they know her.”
Quinn nodded to Chance and stepped away from the bar. He studied the couple at the table and toyed with the idea of approaching them. A light tap on his arm broke his concentration. Looking to his left, he saw two women, girls really, both looking very interested in him. “Hello, ladies.”
“My friend and I think you are the hottest thing in this place.”
Quinn’s face warmed as the two women moved close enough for him to be very aware that neither was wearing a bra…and both were young and firm enough, not to need the support. “Well, um, thank you ladies.”
“So how about if we get out of here?”
Quinn closed his eyes. How often have I turned down an offer like this?
When was the last time anyone offered?
The thought choked him. He couldn’t breathe the air in the bar anymore.
“Oh Quinn, you must introduce me to your new little friends.”
Quinn shivered at Serena’s icy touch. Of course she showed up. She’ll find a way to make me regret doing something remotely fun without her.
He looked down into her glittering green eyes and gave her a smile. Hopefully Isabella Landry left before Serena sniffed her out.
That would be something for the gossip reporters.
Quinn almost smiled at the thought.
“Ladies, you’ll have to excuse us. Quinn has a previous engagement.” Serena’s eyes narrowed as she glanced at the girls.
“What, you really have to leave so soon?” The braver of the two also seemed to be the denser of the pair.
She is clearly not reading the dynamic here.
“Yes, I’m sorry, little girl. But I sure there are more age appropriate men elsewhere in this…place.” Serena gave a little sniff to remind Quinn how much she hated Chance’s.
“Geez Quinn, can’t your mom let you come out and play?”
Ah you brave little idiot. Quinn didn’t need to see Serena’s face to know exactly what she was thinking. She buried her nails deep in the skin on his forearm.
“Listen here, co-ed…” Serena’s normally cool voice was a ragged snarl.
“Okay, ladies, how about we all just say good night?” Quinn freed himself from Serena’s claw and put a hand on each of the girls’ shoulders. His fingers dangled just close enough to their twenty-one-year-old breasts to make both the girls giggle. I’ve still got it.
I can’t make use of it anymore. But at least I’ve still got it.
“Now my lady friend and I are going to move on, but I’m going to have my friend chance take care of you this evening. Chance!” Quinn pointed to the two girls. “You take care of these ladies, and put it on my tab, okay?”
Chance nodded and winked at Quinn.
“There, now you two have a wonderful night on me, and thanks for coming out tonight.” Mustering up every ounce of Southern charm he had, he kissed each of their hands lightly, causing them to erupt in another wave of giggles as he ushered a still seething Serena out the door.
Once outside, Quinn inhaled the humid night air. “So, that was fun, wasn’t it?”
Serena’s hand stung across his face before he saw her move.
“Hey! What was that for?”
“Don’t you ever act like that around me again, Quinn Murray!” The light of an over head streetlamp made her sharp features seem hollow, dark. Yet her eyes glowed with rage.
“Act like what? I was trying to keep you from killing those girls.”
“Why? They were horrible little bitches.”
Quinn put both his hands on her shoulders. “Yes, they were horrible little bitches. Horrible little co-eds whose daddies would probably love to bring a lawsuit against you and the station if you actually did tear their eyes out.”
“You weren’t thinking about me. You were thinking about those girls the whole time, wondering what they’d be like.”
“Serena…” he crouched slightly to look her in the eye, “when in the last two years have I not been thinking about you?” At least that much is true. The thought of her haunts my every waking nightmare minute.
Her jaw tightened. “Why would you even be here, on stage? You were the one who got up on stage and made them all want you, just like you used to. And I won’t have it, Quinn. You belong to me now.”
Her words shattered against him like glass against a stone wall.
As if I could ever forget. You won’t let me replace you with other women and I won’t let myself drink you away.
Isabella Landry is back in Nashville. And not even that thought can wipe out our little arrangement.
“Serena, of course I belong to you.” He draped an arm around her shoulders and guided her up the street.
He knew this new, desirous tone, well. “Sure.”
“Then let’s go back to my place and you can prove it.”
“Great idea,” he replied with hollow enthusiasm. Isabella Landry, the woman I’ve adored for two decades, is somewhere in this town, and I’m shackled to Serena.
He pictured Isabella’s face as she watched him from the balcony. Her face melded to Sally’s.
And what could I possibly do to deserve anything else?