Throwback Thursday: TEMPT
|February 8, 2018||Posted by Cambria under Uncategorized|
I’m making it a goal of mine to post more on my site this year, not just cover reveals and new releases (but those are definitely going to be here too!), but things like throwback thursday or flashback friday, where I post about some of my previous novels with excerpts or chapters to read!
I also want to maybe throw in a few bonus scenes (new ones!) with characters you have loved, so if there is something you would really love to see let me know in the comments below and I will work on it!
Today at cambriahebert.com it is Throwback Thursday and I am bringing you chapter one from a novel I released in October 2013 – thats nearly 5 years ago!
TEMPT is part of the Take It Off series which is a series of romantic suspense standalones. You can read them in any order or pick and choose the covers/blurbs you like best!
So let’s get to it!
Scientists, philosophers, or whoever the group of people who sat around a desk and made up the list of the Seven Wonders of the World were wrong. There aren’t seven. There are eight.
Number eight being men.
The reason men weren’t added as a wonder of the world? Because men probably made up the list to begin with.
I knew trying to figure out men, trying to have one in my life was a fruitless effort, but it didn’t stop me from having a relationship. It also didn’t stop me from getting hurt.
Just when I was getting over the epic failure that was my ex, my grandmother died.
So basically, I felt like I’d boxed about ten rounds, the entire time holding my own, and then I was knocked out. Cold.
And now here I was, wandering through the insanely large, insanely busy Miami International Airport so I could get on some plane and fly off to Puerto Rico because my grandmother’s dying wish was for her ashes to be scattered over the ocean there—the place where she met my grandfather over fifty years ago.
How did I get elected for the job?
I was Grandmother’s favorite. I was between jobs. I was down on my luck. I needed a free vacation to a beautiful place.
Right. Because flying to some foreign country (though, I guess technically, it’s not a foreign country since it’s considered a US territory) with a special suitcase just for the remains of my beloved grandmother and then parting with them to an ocean is considered some nice vacation.
Clearly, my family is a bunch of whackos.
Even still, I love my family and my heart still ached over my grandmother’s passing, so here I was. The suitcase rolling along behind me tipped, and my bags toppled to the floor. With a great sigh, I stopped and turned, righting the one on wheels and then bending over to pick up the one I had balanced on top.
I slid it over and unzipped it, peering inside at the bubble-wrapped urn. Nothing appeared to be broken. “Sorry, Kiki,” I murmured, using the name I called her since I could speak, and then zipped it closed. Deciding not to take any more chances with the smaller bag, I carried on, rolling the bigger one behind and carrying the other in my free hand. I also had a messenger-style purse strapped across my shoulder and it banged against my thigh with every step.
I made my way through the rapidly moving crowds, toward the gate I was told would have my ticket. Why I couldn’t get an electronic one like everyone else in the modern age I would never understand.
As I approached the gate, I couldn’t help but be distracted by a man leaning against one of the nearby walls. He was reading a newspaper, holding it up in front of his face so all I could see were the two long-fingered hands holding the paper and his body from the waist down.
He wore a pair of beat-up jeans, really beat up. Like, with holes and hanging strings. The denim was faded in some spots and the fabric seemed thin and likely soft to the touch. His T-shirt looked as well worn as his jeans, except it didn’t have any holes in it. All I could see of it was gray and just the front hem was tucked into his waistband, exposing a tan leather belt.
The way he leaned against the wall, kind of slouching with one foot out farther than the other, drew attention to his shoes. The boots were the same color as his belt and they appeared sturdy and not nearly as used as his clothes.
I couldn’t tell you why I was so drawn to him. That was all I could see. He just looked like some regular (albeit lazy) guy waiting around for his plane to arrive. Although, he was reading the New York Times, which made me snort. He didn’t really look like the kind of guy that would stand around reading that paper.
I snorted to myself again. He probably had a Penthouse just inside the paper and was really reading that.
My gate was off to my right and I turned, eyeing the counter and noting that there weren’t as many people in this section of the airport as the other parts I’d just walked through. The woman behind the counter had perfectly combed hair slicked up into a bun on the back of her head. She was dressed in a navy blazer with the airline’s name on the breast, and she sported a polite look on her face. When I stopped at the counter, I parked my bags next to me and flipped the top of my messenger bag open to reach inside for my wallet and ID.
“My name is Ava Malone. I was told my ticket to Puerto Rico would be here waiting for me.”
The woman took my ID and looked at it and then handed it back to me. Her manicured fingers flew over the keyboard behind the counter and then she paused and looked up. “You’re plane is already here.”
Alarm spiked through me. “Am I late? I thought I was an hour early. As soon as I get my ticket, I’ll go board. Will they hold the plane for me?”
She gave me an odd sort of look. “I’m sure it will wait, seeing as how you are the only passenger.”
Confusion made me speechless. I felt my face scrunch up in an odd sort of way as her words replayed through my head. “I don’t understand,” I said slowly. “I can’t be the only person flying to Puerto Rico today.”
She shook her head. “Definitely not. But you are the only one who had a private plane come and fetch her.”
A private plane? To fetch me?
“You must have the wrong person,” I said, holding up my ID again. “You should check again. I should just have a ticket here. For one of the commercial flights.”
“You’re Ava Malone, correct?”
I glanced at my ID just to be sure. That’s what it said, right there beside my horribly embarrassing photo. “Appears that’s me,” I muttered.
She smiled. “Your pilot is around here somewhere,” she said, craning her neck to look around. Her eyes settled on someone across the room and she smiled. “He’s right over there.”
I turned, following her gaze. There next to the guy with ratty jeans was an older gentleman in a suit, holding a briefcase. I lifted my hand to wave at him. He got this puzzled look on his face and then waved uncertainly.
“Are you sure?” I said, feeling my cheeks heat with embarrassment as I glanced back at the woman.
I turned back around to glance again. The gentleman with the suit was gone. My eyes darted around, looking for him, but once again were drawn to the guy with the newspaper. He must have felt my stare because his head shot up and I saw his eyes peek over the top.
Slowly, the newspaper came down and something else was lifted. A giant white index card.
It had my name on it.
My stomach did a summersault and my heart started thumping erratically.
Why would that ratty jean wearing, Penthouse reading guy have a sign with my name on it?
“See,” the woman said from behind. “That’s him. He has a sign with your name on it.”
“That’s my pilot?”
The woman at the counter giggled. She actually giggled like a schoolgirl.
Shoot. Me. Now.
I gathered up my bags and took a few steps forward, intent on finding out just what the hell was going on, when he lowered the oversized card.
My steps faltered.
The suitcase trailing along behind me kept going and rammed into my calves, making me stumble, and I pitched forward with a startled cry, knowing I was going to go down and praying to the heavens that I didn’t crush Kiki when I fell.
The last thing I saw was the stupid New York Times paper fluttering to the floor as Kiki and I plunged disastrously toward the floor. But then he was there, grabbing up the suitcase, saving it from my clumsiness.
I, however, was not so lucky.
Hard. In fact, if my arms hadn’t been free, I would have fallen directly on my face. Thankfully, my hands slapped against the hard floor, saving my nose from being rearranged. When I hit, I fell over, rolling onto my back, and lifted my hands, staring at them in front of my face. My palms stung from the fall and I cringed imaging how many germs were now crawling all over them from touching the nasty airport floor.
“Are you okay?” said a voice above me.
I jerked my arms down, propping myself up on my elbows, and lifted my eyes.
I remembered why I fell all over again.
Light-green eyes speared me from within a face that, even if he left right now and I never ever saw him again, I would not forget. His face was so striking that it would be etched into my mind forever.
His eyes were the color of green sea glass. A bright green but light because it had spent time tumbling around the ocean floor. They were a striking contrast against the rest of him. He was all dark and bronze with a head full of thick dark hair that curled around on his head. It was messy like he never combed it—though I would think that combing curls would only give him an Afro.
His skin was olive toned, bronzed like he never left the sun, and he had sharp features—a straight nose, full lips, and cheekbones that sat high just beneath those eyes, which were lined in impossibly thick, impossibly dark lashes.
He was tall (or maybe he just looked that way because I was sprawled on the floor) and had a lean build, but he looked strong—the kind of strength that came naturally, not the kind of bulk that came from the gym.
As I stared at him like a complete idiot, he set down the suitcase carefully and squatted beside me. My breath caught (or maybe I just forgot I needed to breathe) when he got closer. He was freaking beautiful. Yeah, I know, guys aren’t supposed to be beautiful, but he was. There was no other word that I could think of that would describe him better.
I was still staring as he reached out and grasped me by the shoulders. The heat of his hands radiated through my T-shirt and practically zapped me back to reality. “Did you hurt yourself?”
Oh my God, he had an accent. It was lyrical and caused my tongue to tie itself in knots.
As if perfection just upped its game and got even better.
It wasn’t a full-on Spanish accent, but barely there—a slight roll of the tongue that caused chills to rise up across my scalp and race over my head and down my spine.
I nodded because speaking was still not an option.
“You’re Ava Malone?”
Say it again. Something inside me begged. Please just say my name one more time.
The desperation going on inside my own head was what fully shocked me out of my trance. There was no way I was about to succumb to some beautiful disaster of a man. And yes, I did know that he was a complete disaster because there was no way on this planet that a man who looked like him could be anything but trouble.
“Yes, that’s me. I’m fine,” I said, shaking off his hands and standing up. “Nice catch by the way.” I gestured to the suitcase that contained Kiki.
He grinned. His teeth were blindingly white against his tanned skin. “Sorry, it had to be one or the other.”
He didn’t look sorry, the snake. He probably enjoyed watching me bust my butt. “Uh-huh,” I said, reaching for the suitcase with the urn.
He reached out and took it first.
My back teeth clenched together.
“I can get my bags.”
“After what I just saw, I think your grandmother would be safer in my arms.”
That should have insulted me. It should have alarmed me that he knew what was inside. Instead, all I got was a vision of being tucked against his chest, with bronzed, strong arms wrapped around me and the beating of his heart beneath my ear.
I needed a drink.
A stiff one.
I pushed my raging thirst and apparent horniness to the back of my mind to say, “How did you know what was in there?”
“Was it a secret?” he asked, a little smile playing on his lips.
“Are you a psychic?”
He laughed. It was a warm, rich sound that reminded me of brewing coffee on a cold, early morning. “No. I’m not psychic. I’m just your ride.”
“My ride?” I won’t even describe the vision that floated through my mind when he said that.
He nodded like I was two. “Yes. Me, pilot. You, passenger.” He pointed between us while he spoke.
“You’re a pilot?”
He fished a pilot’s license out of the back of his pocket and held it up. “That’s what it says.”
I scoffed. “I’m surprised that didn’t fall out of the pocket of those holey pants.”
His smile spread across his face like a slow, contagious disease. A disease that people would actually line up to catch. “My jeans hold in everything that’s important.”
To cover up my juvenile behavior, I squinted at the name on the license he was still holding up. “Nash Prescott,” I read.
“At your service.”
“You don’t look old enough to be a pilot.”
“You don’t look old enough to travel alone.”
I rolled my eyes.
“I’m twenty-three. I’ve been flying since I was a teenager. I’ve got more flight hours than you have hair on your head.”
“Doubtful.” I had really thick, long blond hair.
He cocked his head to the side and studied me. “Anyone ever tell you that you look like Kate Hudson?”
The actress? Daughter of Goldie Hawn. Actually, yes, they had. “Nope.”
He smiled like he knew I was lying.
There was no way I was getting on a plane with him. “I’m sorry you had to come here all the way from… well, from wherever you came.”
“Puerto Rico,” he said, and when he did, his accent came out full force. It made the place sound exotic and enticing. “I flew here from Puerto Rico.”
“You flew here to pick me up?”
“Our abuelas were great friends.” He explained. “When your family called to arrange for her ashes to be scattered, my abuela offered for me to come and pick you up.”
“So they volunteered you to come here like my family volunteered me to go there.”
He smiled. “I guess both our families are loco.” He used his pointer finger to draw circles around the side of his head.
I giggled. Then I sighed. “Look, I’m sorry you had to come here. I’ll just go to the ticket counter and get a commercial flight and let you get back to your… whatever it is that you do.”
“Right now my job is to take you to Puerto Rico, where you will stay with my grandmother and then be escorted to the place where you are to spread these ashes.” He gestured toward the case in his hand.
“I’m supposed to stay with you?” I asked, feeling my eyes bug out of my head.
“Not me. My abuela.”
“Abuela? That’s Spanish for grandmother, right?”
“You don’t live with her?”
He chuckled softly. “I think that would cramp my style.”
Exactly. And why was I still here talking to him? I started to walk away. He stopped me. His hand was like a rope wrapping around my wrist. It was like a handcuff trapping me to a jail cell, a vise around my heart.
“Esperate,” he said softly. The word literally rolled right off his tongue.
I turned back. You would’ve too.
My eyes locked on his, searching their translucent depths. “I really hope you didn’t just insult me.” Even if he did, I really didn’t care. It was the sexiest insult I’d ever heard.
His smile was lopsided. I thought I might faint. “I said wait a second.”
I glanced at his hand wrapped around my wrist, then back up. He saw me looking. He didn’t let go. “There’s no need for another ticket when I can take you.”
I hesitated. What excuse could I give? I couldn’t exactly say, “I’m sorry, but you are way too sexy for me to have to sit alone with on a plane for any amount of time.” It wasn’t like he drove a couple hours to pick me up. He freaking flew a plane to get me. He was doing it as a favor for his grandmother.
“How do I know you aren’t really a kidnapper?”
“Two reasons,” he said, releasing my arm.
I lifted an eyebrow.
“One,” he said, holding up a finger. “I don’t have to kidnap women. If I want one, I get one.”
I actually believed that. He probably had women lined up at home.
“And two,” he said, flicking up a second finger. “My abuela is Marisol Castillo.”
Again, his accent was more pronounced when he spoke her name. A name that I recognized. She was indeed my grandmother’s very dear friend.
“Your abuela is Marisol?”
He produced a picture from the same pocket where he kept his ID and held it out. It was of my grandmother, Cora, and Marisol. I had seen this same image hanging on her refrigerator practically all my life.
I took the photo out of his hands, staring down at Kiki with tears blurring my vision. I missed her. I missed her so much. “Okay,” I said softly. “I’ll go with you.”
He reached around me with his free hand and took my rolling suitcase. “Let’s go.”
I trailed along behind him like a puppy, mentally telling myself I was going to regret this.
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