Long Game (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt 3

More Cress and Quin today!

Get caught up:

Part I here

Part II here

She dug her phone out of her pocket and took photos while they were stuck, even managing to get her hand and some of her head out the window to try to get a shot of the structure above them.

‘Quin, can I take one of both of us, please?’ She waved the phone in front of him. She wanted to get a shot, no matter how bad, so she’d always remember that he brought her here on her first night in the big smoke.

He finally looked at her, an exasperated grin lurking on his quite delicious lips. She blinked, and looked at his chest instead. Much safer. ‘If you must.’

She turned so she could be nearer to him, flipped the camera and then took a couple of shots. ‘Thanks,’ she murmured as she went back to looking out the window and craning her neck to see more.

‘We’ll be stopped here for a bit. There’s an accident up ahead.’ He waved to his GPS system, which must have real-time information. Another city thing she hadn’t realised. ‘You can probably stick your head out if it makes it easier. Just keep an ear out for motorcyclists who might knock your head off.’ His grin was evil, but she didn’t care because her head was out the window in a flash.

With her phone in front of her face, she snapped as many photos as she could. Mostly of the bridge structure, but she grabbed a few of the traffic and a train on the bridge, and the sun setting down the shining river way off in the distance. There was so much to see, her phone got shoved away while she soaked it all in. A tap on her thigh had her drawing back into the car.

‘Sorry to break the gawking, but the traffic’s on the move.’

Cress grinned as she seated herself properly inside again. ‘Thank you. This has been the best fun. I’ll have to send a few pics back home.’ But they’d wait until her trip across the bridge was over. She wasn’t missing a minute.

Words were hard to come by as she drank it in. She couldn’t see too much of the view of Sydney but she didn’t care. It was the structure that kept her gaze, and she wouldn’t be getting bored of that in a hurry.

Quin’s tapping against the steering wheel made her glance across. ‘You okay?’ ‘Traffic. I hate being at a standstill, or crawling along like this.’ Quin gave her a quick glance. ‘But I know, it’s the best thing ever in your whole life, and if there wasn’t traffic, you’d have missed it all.’

She grinned before chuckling. ‘Took the words right out of my mouth.’ Then she poked his arm. ‘But stop interrupting me. I’m having a moment with the coathanger, and you’re not rating as highly.’

His mutter of, ‘Well, excuse me,’ had her grinning but she didn’t glance back at him, no matter how many fidgets or agitated tics he displayed. She didn’t tune him out, she found that impossible, but she’d spent years perfecting the art of pretending he wasn’t affecting her.

When they got off the bridge, she let out a sigh and twisted around to see it for a last moment. Quin chuckled. ‘No hanky-waving goodbye?’

‘Oh, hush. Just because you don’t have a monument you love.’

They drove in silence for a little bit and then Cress looked at the signs for the suburbs. They didn’t make sense. Her geography of Sydney wasn’t good, but she was sure they were heading the wrong way. ‘Aren’t we meant to be going west, and this is North Sydney?’

Quin flashed her a glance. ‘Yes, Watercress. We can slide up here a bit, then cut across and get home. Don’t worry. I’m not going to get you lost on our first outing.’

She chuckled. ‘Didn’t you say you were lost when we ended up on the bridge?’ The tugging across his forehead and the slight colouring of his neck gave him away. ‘Quinlan Fitzpatrick, you did that just for me.’

He frowned deeper and shuffled in his seat, but didn’t admit to anything.

Not that she needed his admission. ‘If you weren’t driving, I’d throw my arms around you and give you the biggest kiss.’ If only. She’d give him a smacking cheek kiss like she’d give her brothers. Only in her head did it get any better than that. Making sure she slotted him back into the right place in her brain, she added, ‘You’ve just motored up to the number one brother spot.’

Quin’s grin was easy, quick to flash at her, and exceptionally satisfied. ‘Can you text Tris and let him know?’ As her eldest brother, and Quin’s best mate while growing up, Tris and Quin had always kept up a steady rivalry vying for top brother position. After Quin left town, when she was thirteen, Ollie, Damo and Gar tried to push Tris out of top brother at various times. It was a fun bit of sibling rivalry that she’d miss now she was in Sydney without them. But if she could do it via SMS, that would keep them all still in touch.

Cress laughed. ‘I should. I’ll send them all photos.’ She buried her head in the phone and shot a couple of photos to her brothers and Dad. When she was done, the phone went back in her pocket and once again she marvelled at the number of cars, the people, the lights, and all the shops.

The congestion seemed to ease with the traffic flowing more smoothly when Quin said, ‘The Sirens guernsey has the Opera House sails. Did you try to get them to change that?’

Cress sighed dramatically, then shot him a smile. ‘I was shattered they didn’t incorporate the bridge, but sadly, I’m so low down the pecking order, I had no say.’ She waited a beat before she said, ‘I did wonder if I could hang back from signing until they put it on there.’

‘When Tris said you were signed, I kept expecting them to announce they’d been remiss and were now incorporating the bridge into their design.’

‘I figured that sometimes not everything can be perfect.’ She swallowed her chuckles and became a little more serious. ‘I have a shot at my dream. Not everyone gets to do that. I have to just be glad to be playing, and not stress about everything else.’ She took a slow breath. She had to say this before she chickened out. ‘Do you reckon you can remind me of that when I’m freaking out about some little minor thing, probably tomorrow?’

Quin’s chuckle made her sharing worthwhile. ‘I’ll remind you, Watercress. If you need a kick up the bum, I’m the toughest brother you’ve got, so believe me, I’ll give it to you.’ She glanced across as he shot her a wink. All her insides went smooshy.

Part IV

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32510Does she dare pursue all her dreams?

Everyone in Grong Grong knows Cress Kennedy’s childhood dream is to play Aussie Rules Football, so when the Sydney Sirens sign her in the new Women’s Aussie Rules competition, she heads to the big city to pursue her dream. But no one in Grong Grong knows of Cress’s other dreams: the ones that revolve entirely around Quin Fitzpatrick.

Quin Fitzpatrick left Grong Grong as an eighteen-year-old to play Aussie Rules in Sydney, but after eight years the shine has gone from the lifestyle. When his best friend’s little sister follows in his country-to-city footsteps, he promises to look after her. She can stay with him and he’ll protect her as best he can. Besides, Watercress is the little sister he never had.

But Cress is all grown up now and playing Women’s Aussie Rules, and it’s about time that Quin sees her as a woman too…

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Long Game (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt 2

You met Cress and Quin in the first installment…what happens next?

Covering herself with a snort and smacking his shoulder, she said, ‘Hey, I didn’t copy you, promise. I applied for Melbourne teams.’

Quin covered his chest with his huge hands. ‘Wound me, right where it hurts.’

Cress groaned and did up her seatbelt. He started the car. ‘I wasn’t thinking about you when I tried out. Dad poked and prodded until I went down.’

‘You didn’t get in?’ Quin’s question held a touch of disbelief and she almost preened.

‘The Sydney Sirens rang before I heard.’

Quin laughed. ‘That doesn’t surprise me.’

A niggly thought chased through her mind. ‘Did you tell them to?’

‘No.’ Quin shook his head and the frown he gave her was genuine. ‘They have scouts down in the Riverina.’

Her lips itched as she held in a grin. ‘So you knew they were wanting to put together a girls’ team and you didn’t put my name forward?’ She faked a huff.

He muttered a curse under his breath and his fingers clenched on the wheel. She began to snigger because she couldn’t hold it in any longer. He was so like her brothers.

‘Sit there and shut up while I concentrate on getting us out of this place.’ His growl was just like her brothers’ too, however the depth of his seemed to have some accord with her body. When he growled, her body tingled. Like she was a freaking tuning fork. There was no defence to that. None that she’d found anyway. She sat quietly, while her entire body strummed to the echoes of his growl.

Focusing her attention outside the car helped her regain control. It looked like they were in the city. Big sandstone buildings, dazzling lights even though the sunset was an hour away, an incredible number of cars and trucks, buses and people swirled past and around them. When they stopped at a red light, she said, ‘Are we in the city?’

‘Right in the heart of it, Watercress.’ A little grin as he glanced at her made her heart speed up. ‘You going to survive this?’ He waved his fingers, then moved off as the light changed.

There was a question. She’d barely survived quick footy or family, trips to Sydney and now she was living here. At least for four months, or almost four months. If they made the finals, it would be four months. The whole of summer; mid-November to mid-March.

She’d stayed at home for as long as she could, working the harvest with Dad, but he still had weeks to go. She had a team meeting tomorrow and the start of a new gardening job. Her brothers promised to help Dad out, but knowing Tris, Ollie, Damo and Gar, she doubted they’d be much use, or even remember. They all had their lives to live.

Although they never broke promises, and they had promised.

She sighed. Dad would hire someone if things got tough. She hated leaving him in the lurch. No matter how many times he told her she was his employee and employees leave, especially when chasing their dreams, it didn’t make her feel any less guilty.

Quin snapped his fingers. ‘You here, Watercress, or sleeping?’

She spun towards him, wondering what she’d missed. He was still concentrating on the traffic. There were still cars everywhere. Who could imagine this much traffic after eight pm on a Sunday night? She looked beyond the cars, and up ahead loomed something familiar. Big stone pylons and steel. A multi-lane roadway they seemed to be driving on.

She glanced around faster, her stomach tightening and squeezing, sweat breaking out on her palms. She gasped. ‘Quin, is this the bridge?’ Her voice was so high-pitched it was hardly recognisable. ‘You’re taking me on the Sydney Harbour Bridge? On my first night.’ Her voice dropped. Her heart swelled to almost bursting. ‘Wow. You’re amazing, Quin.’

‘I’m lost, Watercress. Lost. Don’t go getting all starry-eyed.’ He sounded grumpy, but underneath she was sure he was gratified, and that he’d done this deliberately.

She’d raved about the bridge. It was the only thing she loved about Sydney. Sure, the harbour was beautiful, and the beaches, but there was water out of Sydney that had fewer people. There wasn’t another ‘coathanger’ and the beauty of the structure had always attracted her. Grey steel should never look beautiful but the construction of this was always mesmerising. The straight lines intersected by the zigzag-filled arches were exquisite. Those four huge sandstone pillars, plonked in pairs at either end, should look misplaced and awkward; it worked to be breathtaking.

She’d welded a rough imitation in high school and it was the farm mailbox now. But she hadn’t come close to the exquisite detail of the real thing.

Those huge steel arches were right there ahead of her. On the left and the right, across lanes of traffic, were the huge sandstone pillars. And she, she was on the most beautiful monument in the whole city. Words couldn’t describe how she felt right now.

She poked at buttons until the window came down and then she squished in her seat, angling her head so she could drink it all in. Her first glimpse of the bridge and she was on it. The lighting was enough so she could see the incredible crisscross of metal. Sun from the west illuminated the length of the bridge, and she wished she was a bird so she could fly around it, marvel at it. Heck, if she was a bird, she’d roost here, spend every day flying around her favourite place in all the world. Not that she’d seen the world. She’d only seen parts of Australia. Very few parts.

But the bridge. She wanted to hang her head and shoulders out of that window, stretch her arms wide, and feel the wind rush her face as they drove beneath the beautiful arches.

Except they weren’t moving.

And she was on the bridge.

Can’t wait to see what happens next?

Part III

Part IV

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32510Does she dare pursue all her dreams?

Everyone in Grong Grong knows Cress Kennedy’s childhood dream is to play Aussie Rules Football, so when the Sydney Sirens sign her in the new Women’s Aussie Rules competition, she heads to the big city to pursue her dream. But no one in Grong Grong knows of Cress’s other dreams: the ones that revolve entirely around Quin Fitzpatrick.

Quin Fitzpatrick left Grong Grong as an eighteen-year-old to play Aussie Rules in Sydney, but after eight years the shine has gone from the lifestyle. When his best friend’s little sister follows in his country-to-city footsteps, he promises to look after her. She can stay with him and he’ll protect her as best he can. Besides, Watercress is the little sister he never had.

But Cress is all grown up now and playing Women’s Aussie Rules, and it’s about time that Quin sees her as a woman too…

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Game On (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt 5

It’s fair to say that this, the final excerpt from Nicola Marsh’s sexy sporty GAME ON is definitely NSFW.

How did we get here?

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

I tugged on her hand, hard, hauling her body flush against mine. She gasped in surprise and I took the opportunity to kiss her, invading her mouth like I’d yearned to do since I first saw her. She tasted of hops and something sweeter, something enticing.

 

She moaned as my tongue tangled with hers, releasing my hand to claw at my shirt. Tugging it out of my jeans. Fumbling with the button. Zeroing in on the zip. Eager, I liked that. Liked that she knew what she wanted and wasn’t playing coy or mucking around to get it.

 

When she palmed my cock through the denim, I almost lost it.

 

‘Impressive,’ she murmured against the side of my mouth as she continued to stroke me with single-minded determination, tracing the shape of my cock that throbbed with her touch.

 

‘Glad you approve.’ I backed her toward the couch, not breaking eye contact, seeing the exact moment her eyes widened when I slid my hands up her thighs to palm her arse.

 

Hot damn, she wore a G-string, giving me instant access to smooth skin. I traced the curve of her and snagged the elastic, heard her sharp intake of breath as I let it go with a snap.

 

‘Tease,’ she said, her lips curved into a naughty smile that promised this would be great. Stupendous.

 

‘I’ll show you tease.’ I lowered her onto the couch and knelt at her feet. She propped on her elbows, watching me as I slid the denim mini down her long legs, revealing a tiny triangle of damp black satin. I wanted to get behind that scrap of material so damn bad my balls ached.

 

I stared at her, seeking silent permission before taking the last step. In response, she arched her hips slightly. Offering herself to me. Such a fucking turn-on.

 

I almost tore her panties in my haste to get them off. She didn’t care as I trailed a finger from her belly button to her clit in a slow, deliberate swipe that had her wiggling in anticipation.

 

‘You like that?’ I circled her clit with my thumb, lazy strokes designed to tease and torture.

 

‘Yeah …’ she ended on a groan as I increased the pressure, desperate to be between her slick folds but wanting to make her come first.

 

‘Good, because you’ll like this even more.’

 

I lowered my head and licked her, using my hands to pry her thighs further apart while laving at her clit. Lapping at it. Sucking, until she writhed beneath my mouth, urging me on.

 

I picked up the pace and she grabbed at my head, holding me to her as she came on a loud, triumphant yell that made me feel like a goddamn sex master.

 

When she finally released my head, I raised it to see her lying splayed on my couch, eyes closed, smug smile; pussy wet and waiting for me.

 

Her eyes snapped open when I unzipped and she watched me grab a condom from my wallet, slide it on and guide my cock toward nirvana.

 

‘That was so good,’ she said, pushing into a sitting position, bringing her tits delectably close.

 

‘It’s about to get better.’ I peeled off her tank, unhooked her bra and took a second to admire pert B cups with erect rosy nipples before sliding into her an inch.

 

Her eyes widened, appreciation making them darken to molten chocolate as I slid in further, taking my time so she could adjust when all I wanted to do was ram into her.

 

She felt so tight, so good. I leaned forward, flicked the tip of my tongue against a nipple. The other. Alternating between her tits, nipping and sucking, laving until she couldn’t sit still.

 

She reached around me and dug her fingers into my arse, trying to pull me closer. I obliged, sliding into her to the hilt, the fit so snug I couldn’t help the groan ripped from deep within.

 

I found her mouth as I started to move, sliding in and out in a slow, deliberate rhythm set to titillate. But she felt so hot and slick, kept moaning into my mouth with each thrust, that I couldn’t hold back for long.

 

When she bit down on my bottom lip, intentionally or not, I kinda lost it. The momentary pain heightening the pleasure, the friction of my cock sliding in and out of her making me light-headed.

 

She wrenched her mouth from mine in an effort to haul me even closer, if that were possible. The pressure in my balls built, the muscles in my lower back tightening as I pounded into her. Over and over. Mindless with lust. Craving release. Each torturous, wonderful second driving me insane.

 

I came on a roar, barely registering the pain of her sinking her teeth into my shoulder as I saw spots.

 

I had no idea how long it took for me to form a coherent thought. When I could function again, I blurted the first inane thing that popped into my head.

 

‘Just so you know, I have a sweet tooth and plan on coming back for seconds and thirds of that ice-cream all night long.’

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Are they playing to win…or playing for keeps?

Angelica Bryant has a dream. The only child of a soccer legend, she pays her bills by working at her father’s bar while pursuing her goals: a role in sports management and a place in the newly established Women’s Aussie Rules league. Football is her passion, and she won’t let anything get in her way: including an ill-advised one-night-stand with one of Australia’s most successful agents.

Jaxon Flint thrives on success. His workaholic lifestyle keeps his agency and the athletes he represents at the top of their game – and all of his emotions at bay. Until he meets Angie, W.A.R.’s newest star, who undermines his carefully laid plans and gets under his skin. Is he willing to relinquish his careful control both in and out of the bedroom?

When Angie and Jaxon end up working together, it’s game on!

All three Women of W.A.R. titles release 20 February 2018

Long Game (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt 1

Last week, we introduced you to Angelica and Jaxon. This week, we’re delighted to bring you Cressinda and Quin from Catherine Evan’s Long Game. Read on!

Chapter 1

‘Watercress!’ The bellow echoed not just in Cress’s mind but also throughout the cavernous area of Central Railway Station. That rich, deep baritone she knew, and loved, was calling her from the opposite end of the concourse. She was heading for the suburban trains, and he was here.

She should cringe at having her nickname shouted out like that, but bubbles of excitement rode her bloodstream. She stopped and searched through the crowd for Quin Fitzpatrick. Only he and her brothers ever used the stupid childhood nickname, and her brothers had all waved her off when she left Wagga Wagga hours ago.

Finally, she spied him and made a dash towards him. Her heavy kitbag and an overnight bag hampered her legs but when she reached him, she let them go and launched herself at his chest.

She’d do this to any of her brothers. Especially if she hadn’t seen them in ages.

Quin was similarly built to her brothers: tall, big chest and well-muscled shoulders. Nothing about this hug should feel different, yet it did. It always did. She took a few seconds to soak up the scent of Quin—musk, citrus and a hint of good honest sweat—and bask in the strength of his arms around her, his chest against her, and his face brushing her cheek. Then she walloped his shoulder. ‘Put me down this second. You’re making a scene.’

He laughed as he plopped her to the ground. For a moment she wished he’d let her slide slowly down his body, but she brushed away that longing. Quin Fitzpatrick was off limits. He was her fifth brother. She needed to keep him in that place or she’d never be in Sydney, never be able to have a crack at her dream.

‘I’m so glad to see you, Quin. I thought you wouldn’t be able to get away and I didn’t want to bother you with driving into the city to pick me up.’ Cress grabbed for the handles on her bags. ‘I hope I haven’t put you out?’

‘No, Watercress. Nothing like that.’ He took one bag before he slung his arm across her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. ‘I’m stoked you got picked for this side. I couldn’t believe it when Tris rang me.’ They began walking out the way he’d entered.

Cress still had mixed feelings about her brother organising Quin to take her in. Of course they’d organised it before telling her; before she’d even thought about accommodation. She shouldn’t have been surprised, but it left her living with the man everyone thought was like her brother, when she’d loved him her entire life.

Laughing to hide any other emotion, Cress elbowed him lightly in the ribs. ‘I’m awesome, why couldn’t you believe it?’

Quin shook his head, grinning at her with that same grin he’d given her from the moment she could remember him. The one that turned everything inside her into something that jittered and squirmed. ‘You still can’t just say thank you?’

Fighting the jitters, she poked her index finger just above his heart. ‘You still can’t say congratulations?’

His eyelids flickered momentarily and then he took a step back, pulling away from her reach. ‘Cressida Kennedy, congratulations on being selected to play for the Women’s Aussie Rules team, the Sydney Sirens.’

Beaming so big she thought the skin might peel off her face hadn’t yet become old. The same dopey grin appeared again. ‘Thank you, Quin. That means a lot.’

He hugged her again, tight and close, before pulling away. ‘Let’s get your stuff in the car.’ He waved his hand towards the exit.

Getting outside the terminal into the fresh air was, well, not exactly fresh, but better than the over-scented air she’d had for hours. Used to working outdoors, with machines, plants and animals, she wasn’t overly keen on cleaning product scent or air-freshener. The mix of fast food, burning coffee, and over-scented bodies wasn’t a great smell either. Here was traffic, pollution and that smoky, ozone train smell. They weren’t her usual smells either, but were as close to home as she’d be sniffing for a while yet.

‘You’ll get used to it,’ Quin said as he dropped her bag to the ground and popped the boot.

She wasn’t sure she would. ‘I can’t believe I have the opportunity to even try to get used to it. It’s still sinking in. I’d heard they were doing this comp but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be asked.’ She tossed in her overnight bag and then swung the backpack off and slid that in, before Quin tossed in her kitbag. Once done, he slammed the boot.

‘Yes, you did.’

Staring at him, she wasn’t sure what he was talking about. ‘Huh?’

‘You may not have told anyone, but you dreamed it, Cress Kennedy. You’ve always had big dreams. Dreams bigger than any girl in Grong Grong. Probably bigger than any person in Grong Grong.’

She laughed. ‘Says you.’ He’d had the same dream and years earlier had left town for the city and the male team of the same club she was playing for. She hadn’t consciously followed in his footsteps; she just loved Aussie Rules as much as he did. And just quietly, was almost as good as him. Not that she’d tell him that. It was another secret she held close.

Abruptly stopping as she moved down the car, her hand rested on the metal as her brain replayed his words. Traffic created an incessant buzz, broken by the wail of a siren in the distance, and the cacophony of voices as people roamed past. Quin’s car bipped and the body shook briefly as the interior light flared and extinguished. It broke her from her thoughts and she hurried to jump in.

She brushed her fingers along Quin’s thigh, forgetting herself. His muscles contracted at her touch and she whipped her hand away, covering the touch by murmuring, ‘You remember my dreams?’

He didn’t start the car. He looked across and gave her a lazy smirk. ‘Easy task, Watercress. Mine weren’t much different.’ His eye roll made any romantic notions she’d harboured vanish.

Part II

Part III

Part IV

PRE-ORDER NOW and tune-in this week for more from Catherine Evans!


32510Does she dare pursue all her dreams?

Everyone in Grong Grong knows Cress Kennedy’s childhood dream is to play Aussie Rules Football, so when the Sydney Sirens sign her in the new Women’s Aussie Rules competition, she heads to the big city to pursue her dream. But no one in Grong Grong knows of Cress’s other dreams: the ones that revolve entirely around Quin Fitzpatrick.

Quin Fitzpatrick left Grong Grong as an eighteen-year-old to play Aussie Rules in Sydney, but after eight years the shine has gone from the lifestyle. When his best friend’s little sister follows in his country-to-city footsteps, he promises to look after her. She can stay with him and he’ll protect her as best he can. Besides, Watercress is the little sister he never had.

But Cress is all grown up now and playing Women’s Aussie Rules, and it’s about time that Quin sees her as a woman too…

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Game On (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt 4

Don’t miss a second of the action:

Part I

Part II

Part III

and now, Part IV from Game On by Nicola Marsh!

‘Let’s go.’

We’d barely made it out the front door and onto a busy Chapel Street when she stopped. ‘I don’t even know your name.’

I wanted to tell her but I’d seen too many women react to it, and if she worked in a sports bar she may know my identity by reputation. I didn’t want to see her change. I liked her just the way she was, bold with a hint of susceptibility, embracing the sexual attraction between us but doubting its potency at the same time.

I didn’t want her to treat me any differently, so I settled for ‘Jack’.

‘Angelica,’ she said, with a proud tilt of her head, as if she expected me to make fun of her.

‘Angel …’ I tried the abbreviation on for size. It fit.

When she stared at me in wide-eyed surprise, like no one had ever called her that, I ducked down to nuzzle her neck, inhaling a unique scent reminiscent of roses mixed with jasmine. Refreshing, like her.

‘You don’t mind if I call you that?’

‘I don’t mind.’ The corners of her mouth twitched. ‘Though I have a feeling I’m about to become a fallen angel, with my halo around my ankles.’

I grinned, enjoying her sense of humour. I couldn’t spar with many women like this. It turned me on as much as her hot bod.

‘Good. It’ll be alongside your panties.’

She inhaled sharply, the flare of heat unmistakeable as she gripped my hand tighter. ‘You’re way too charming for your own good.’

‘Hey, you’re here, aren’t you?’ I swung our arms as we started walking, glad I’d chosen tonight to stop by Bobbie’s. I frequented the bar regularly because my clients liked it. Sportsmen flocked to the iconic bar in trendy South Yarra for three things. Live bands. Drink cards. Hot women.

I didn’t go in for the whole bar scene, especially at the end of a long day, but what my clients wanted I provided. It’s what made me the best manager in the country.

Besides, socialising with sports stars often led to referrals for new clients and I had enough elite footballers, basketballers, soccer players and swimmers on my books to keep me solvent forever.

‘Me being here has absolutely nothing to do with your dubious charm.’ She matched my lengthening stride with ease, her quirky smile alerting me to an incoming zinger. ‘I’m here for the free ice-cream.’

‘You’ve got a smart mouth.’ I stared at it, imagining all the naughty things she could do with it. Damn, I couldn’t wait to get her alone.

‘It usually gets me into trouble.’

A brief shadow flickered across her eyes as I inwardly cursed for saying the wrong thing. I wanted tonight to be about fun. Playful sex was the best.

‘Here’s hoping.’ I held up my free hand, fingers crossed, and she laughed as I’d intended.

‘Where do you live?’

‘Right here,’ I said, stopping outside the newest high-rise on the block.

‘Impressive.’ She craned her neck, looking skyward.

‘I try.’ I punched in my security code and the heavy glass door swung inward on a hydraulic hiss. We didn’t speak as we traversed the marble foyer, past a massive floral arrangement, to the private lift that serviced the penthouse only.

I swiped my card and the doors slid open, revealing more speckled Italian marble, shimmering gold and mirrored walls. I hadn’t lived here long, the bulk of my time spent in hotel rooms around the country, holding client’s hands, negotiating deals, cleaning up their messes.

I earned every cent of my exorbitant fees, because if there’s one thing I’d learned in this business it’s that young people who earned a shitload of money often ended up in trouble because of it.

As we stepped into the lift and the doors slid shut, I risked a glance at her. She looked calm, serene almost, but the death grip on my hand said otherwise.

‘You okay?’

She nodded, but still didn’t speak until the lift doors opened directly into my apartment.

‘Wowza.’She baulked as we took a few steps inside. ‘I’m not really interested in what work you do but whatever it is, it sure pays better than bar wench.’

I laughed as she flung back my earlier smart-arse remark. ‘I guess you can call me a hand-holder of sorts. I negotiate for celebrities, sporting personalities and models, but my official title is talent management.’

She stared at me with open speculation, as if trying to size me up, before stepping closer. She hadn’t lost the death grip on my hand and I hoped like hell she wasn’t about to ditch me before we’d begun.

‘Now that we know each other’s names and occupations, why don’t we get to the ice-cream?’

I breathed a sigh of relief. ‘I thought you’d never ask.’

We’d apologise for stopping there, but we just wanted to make Friday all the sweeter 😉

Part V

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Are they playing to win…or playing for keeps?

Angelica Bryant has a dream. The only child of a soccer legend, she pays her bills by working at her father’s bar while pursuing her goals: a role in sports management and a place in the newly established Women’s Aussie Rules league. Football is her passion, and she won’t let anything get in her way: including an ill-advised one-night-stand with one of Australia’s most successful agents.

Jaxon Flint thrives on success. His workaholic lifestyle keeps his agency and the athletes he represents at the top of their game – and all of his emotions at bay. Until he meets Angie, W.A.R.’s newest star, who undermines his carefully laid plans and gets under his skin. Is he willing to relinquish his careful control both in and out of the bedroom?

When Angie and Jaxon end up working together, it’s game on!

All three Women of W.A.R. titles release 20 February 2018!

Game On (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt Part 3

Things get a little steamy in today’s instalment…

Don’t miss Part 1 and Part 2!

Chapter 2

JAXON

How long since I’d felt this kind of pull with a woman? Months, years, aeons?

I dated. Casually. Women who knew the score. Usually wannabe models or starlets wanting a leg-up in the industry, using me for my credentials. I didn’t mind. Having money, prestige and contacts meant I scored whenever I wanted.

Not that I was a man-whore. I was selective. Choosy, even. But for a guy who’d been bullied at school to the extent girls avoided me, I got my fair share of sex these days. I considered it an occupational perk.

So what was it about this woman that had me eager to take her back to my place and see if we could create sparks beyond the verbal kind?

I liked banter as foreplay. Give me a quick wit and I was a goner, the boner in my pants testament to that ever since we’d started sparring.

But I didn’t pick up women in bars. Wasn’t my style. But the longer she studied me like some complex science experiment she couldn’t figure out, I knew this time I’d make an exception.

There was something about her … an elusive hint of vulnerability beneath her brash exterior that guaranteed she’d be fun in bed.

Decision made, I stood. ‘I’m leaving now. For ice-cream.’ I made those cutesy inverted comma signs with my fingers that I hated. Shit. She had me seriously rattled if I was resorting to trite.

She stared at me and I saw the battle she waged in her eyes; big, brown, expressive eyes with dark caramel flecks that a guy could drown in. Interest. Excitement. Tinged with fear.

‘I don’t have ice-cream with just anyone, especially when I don’t know them.’ She raised an imperious eyebrow and squared her shoulders, drawing my attention to pert breasts encased in black cotton.

Unlike most of the women here she didn’t go for the slinky revealing look, yet she rocked a denim mini and cotton tank better than the haute couture of past dates.

‘The only way to rectify that is get to know me better.’ I held out a hand, daring her to take it. ‘My apartment is just around the corner.’

‘Of course it is,’ she said, rolling her eyes. ‘Though shouldn’t that be ice-cream parlour?’

‘There’s ice-cream there. Strawberry, boysenberry and double choc chip.’ She smiled and my cock thickened further. The simple action of her lush mouth curving upward transformed her face from pretty to spectacular and I couldn’t help but imagine how that beautiful mouth would feel wrapped around me.

‘What are you, a girl?’

I almost said, ‘My sister visits regularly,’ out of habit. But Erin hadn’t visited in two years. Thanks to me. And I had to live with the truth that I’d contributed to my sister’s death every fucking day.

I cleared my throat, hating the way it tightened whenever I thought of Erin, so I blurted the first fib I could think of. ‘My mum stocked the freezer with her favourite flavours.’

It made me sound like a mummy’s boy. I didn’t care. Besides, I couldn’t tell her the truth: that I stocked Mum’s favourite flavours in the hope she would drop by unexpectedly like she used to.

These days, we avoided each other. I hated seeing the devastation in her eyes, she hates seeing the guilt in mine.

An eyebrow quirked. ‘Wow, so we’re really going to eat ice-cream?’

I couldn’t resist. ‘I’m going to eat something.’

Rather than slap me, she chuckled. ‘Bad boy.’

‘I can be good too.’ I gave in to the impulse to touch her and trailed a finger down her bare arm. Goosebumps sprang up over her skin and I glimpsed the telltale hardening of her nipples.

Fuck, I wanted to wrap my lips around them so bad. To suck them into my mouth, twirl my tongue over them, have her arch and thrust them into my mouth. Were they pink or brown? Large areola or small? Were her tits the perfect handful?

She must’ve glimpsed the lust in my eyes because she eased away. ‘This is way out of my comfort zone,’ she blurted, colour flushing her cheeks. ‘But I’m renowned for my bluntness so here goes. I like you. I like the fact you’ve been straightforward with what you want. I don’t like the fact I haven’t had sex in almost a year.’

She blew out a long breath. ‘And I’m very tempted to rectify that alarming statistic with you.’

My cock surged to fully erect. Suit jackets were good for something after all. How could this gorgeous, intriguing woman not have had sex in almost a year? A travesty, one I intended on remedying if she let me. She’d be so responsive, going off like a firecracker with the slightest ministrations, and I couldn’t wait to get my mouth on her.

‘Then what are we waiting for?’ I held out my hand, willing her to take it.

She hesitated, staring at it for an eternity, before she finally moved, sliding off the stool to stand in front of me. Wow, she was tall, at least five-nine, her height a welcome surprise. I always felt like I’d break the petite ones, considering I’d hit six-two at nineteen.

‘I won’t bite.’ I flexed my fingers, inviting her to take hold. ‘Not unless you ask politely, that is.’

When her tongue darted out to moisten her bottom lip, I almost lost it, the yearning to grab her hand and make a run for it incredibly strong.

‘This is so not me,’ she murmured, so softly I barely heard, before she finally, finally, placed her hand in mine. ‘But maybe for one night it can be.’

I squeezed her hand and she squeezed back, strong and sure, at odds with her wary expression. ‘For what it’s worth, I’m not some sleaze who picks up women in bars for one-night stands.’

She gave a slight nod. ‘I’m a pretty good judge of character and I wouldn’t be doing this if I thought you were.’

I wanted to say she shouldn’t be so trusting. That you couldn’t tell a good guy from a bad on first meeting. But it wasn’t my place to lecture her and I knew she’d bolt if I did. Did that make me a selfish prick? Hell yeah, but with her soft hand in mine, my little head overruled my big one.

‘Let’s go.’

Can’t wait to see what happens next? Go straight to PART IV

And don’t miss the steamy conclusion in PART V

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Are they playing to win…or playing for keeps?

Angelica Bryant has a dream. The only child of a soccer legend, she pays her bills by working at her father’s bar while pursuing her goals: a role in sports management and a place in the newly established Women’s Aussie Rules league. Football is her passion, and she won’t let anything get in her way: including an ill-advised one-night-stand with one of Australia’s most successful agents.

Jaxon Flint thrives on success. His workaholic lifestyle keeps his agency and the athletes he represents at the top of their game – and all of his emotions at bay. Until he meets Angie, W.A.R.’s newest star, who undermines his carefully laid plans and gets under his skin. Is he willing to relinquish his careful control both in and out of the bedroom?

When Angie and Jaxon end up working together, it’s game on!

All three Women of W.A.R. titles release 20 February 2018!

 

Game On (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt Part 2

For the next few weeks, we will be previewing titles from our brand new Women of W.A.R. series, available Feb 20. This week, we are featuring Game On, the flirty workplace romance from internationally best-selling author Nicola Marsh.

Part One is available here.

He laughed, a rich, deep sound that rumbled all the way through me, arrowing straight between those damn ovaries. ‘From the way you handled those dickheads, I may have just fallen in love a little.’

‘Be still my beating heart,’ I deadpanned, enjoying our dry banter all too much.

How long since I’d done this? Swapped witty one-liners with a pro? Try never. The guys I’d dated occasionally in uni had been fellow sports-freaks who viewed sex the same way I did: as a form of exercise. No muss, no fuss fun.

I’d hooked up with exactly three guys, one a year, during my studies. None of them had made me sit up and take notice like this guy.

‘Just so you know, I don’t do love, so I paid you a massive compliment.’ He raised his beer in a silent cheer.

‘Just so you know, I don’t talk to strangers, so the fact I’m sitting here listening to your BS is a massive compliment.’ I clinked my beer bottle against his, unable to stop a burgeoning smile.

Because staring into those mesmerising dark eyes filled with humour made me want to laugh out loud for the hell of it.

‘In that case, I’ll drink to that.’ He took a slug from his beer, the smooth convulsive action of his throat making my fingers itch to reach out and touch. ‘At the risk of reverting to trite jerk status, what do you do when you’re not emasculating misguided men?’

‘I work at a bar not unlike this one.’

I must’ve inadvertently screwed up my nose because he laughed again. ‘And not loving it, obviously.’

I shrugged, not willing to divulge my reasons for sticking around at my father’s bar when he obviously didn’t give a crap one way or the other. ‘It’s a stopgap until I get where I want to be.’

‘Where’s that?’

The truth hovered on the tip of my tongue but most guys didn’t understand a woman wanting to make it big in Aussie Rules; why would this one be any different? ‘Anywhere but here.’ I placed my bottle on the bar and gestured around. ‘Seen one mirror-lined, liquor-stocked, den of inequity filled with memorabilia from washed-up sports stars, seen them all.’

‘Sounds like you really love your job. Cheers to that.’ He took another slug of his beer as I bit back a grin.

I liked sarcasm. Go figure.

‘Let me guess. You’re one of those annoyingly chipper people who live for work.’

He held up his left hand. No ring. Not that it meant anything to some guys. ‘Guilty as charged.’

‘Workaholics are good.’ I cast him a sly sideways glance. ‘They end up alcoholics who keep me in a job.’

‘I thought you were only playing bar wench as a stopgap?’

‘And I thought you were just leaving?’ As much as I was enjoying our banter, I should go. I had an early start on the training track tomorrow and another double shift starting at midday.

‘Is that an invitation?’ He eyeballed me, bold and challenging. Damned if I didn’t like it. ‘Would you like to leave with me?’

No innuendo. No sly jibes. A blatant invitation that tempted me more than it should.

If I had a bucket list, sex with a stranger wouldn’t be on it. That was before. Before him.

‘Just so we’re clear, we’re not leaving here to have ice-cream, right?’

‘There can be ice, and cream, involved.’ He leaned closer, a waft of something crisp and expensive washing over me, befuddling me more than his words. ‘If you’re lucky.’

I didn’t pick up men in bars.

I didn’t do one-night stands.

But the longer I stared into his dark, hypnotic eyes, the more I knew without a doubt I was in danger of doing both.

What happens next?? 

Part I

Part III

Part IV

Part V

PRE-ORDER NOW

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Are they playing to win…or playing for keeps?

Angelica Bryant has a dream. The only child of a soccer legend, she pays her bills by working at her father’s bar while pursuing her goals: a role in sports management and a place in the newly established Women’s Aussie Rules league. Football is her passion, and she won’t let anything get in her way: including an ill-advised one-night-stand with one of Australia’s most successful agents.

Jaxon Flint thrives on success. His workaholic lifestyle keeps his agency and the athletes he represents at the top of their game – and all of his emotions at bay. Until he meets Angie, W.A.R.’s newest star, who undermines his carefully laid plans and gets under his skin. Is he willing to relinquish his careful control both in and out of the bedroom?

When Angie and Jaxon end up working together, it’s game on!

All three Women of W.A.R. titles release 20 February 2018!

 

Where Love & Cupcakes Meet

by Jacquie Underdown

Food is almost a dirty word these days. It is wrapped up in so much confusion. It can be prescriptive, healthy, poisonous, toxic, or super.

Eat this. Eat that. Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that.

My latest contemporary small town romance, Bittersweet, is a book primarily about finding love amidst the turmoil of grief, but food, specifically cupcakes and sweet desserts, is featured heavily.

But the story doesn’t focus on anything restrictive. It doesn’t mention weight or calories or shame.

Cupcake decorated with a heart shaped cake pick

One cannot live well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

~ Virginia Woolf

This book only speaks of the pleasure food can bring in both the eating and the cooking.

The pleasure of sharing food with the people you love—family and friends.

The emotional balm a red velvet cupcake with sweet cream-cheese frosting can provide.

Eating is so intimate. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you are inviting a person into your life.

~Maya Angelou

Bittersweet demonstrates how food and love are a powerful partnership.

How sharing of food can bring people closer together, can forge friendships, and foster deep relationships.

Mother And Small Child In The Kitchen At Home Beautiful And Happ

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

~ J. R. R. Tolkien

Bittersweet is a celebration of love and cupcakes and the undeniable joy the combination these two items can bring to a person’s soul.


32702A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

Amy Jenkins, a talented and ambitious chef, is left humiliated and debt-ridden, after her city restaurant fails. When her best friend calls asking for help in her small town cupcake shop, Amy jumps at the chance to hide out in the small town of Alpine Ridge while her shattered ego mends.

The youngest Mathews brother, Tom feels over-looked and under-appreciated. His brothers remember every mistake, but never give him the responsibility or opportunity to take his place in the family business. So, he spends three weeks out of every month working at a mine in the back-end of nowhere. But then Amy moves to town to help run his pregnant sister-in-law’s bakery, and suddenly home seems to be where his heart is.

Amy’s move was only ever meant to be temporary, but when tragedy strikes the Mathews family, Amy finds herself unable to move on. As she and Tom get closer, Amy finds every excuse to stay: first, she claims it’s for the family, then she claims it’s for the shop. But maybe, it’s for her own heart…

“I couldn’t put this book down from the first pages. Even when I had to get up to find some Kleenex, I didn’t want to stop reading. I can’t wait to read the stories of Tom’s older brothers.”  –  Betsy N., Reviewer

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Exclusive Excerpt: The Magician’s Keeper

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A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

Dora watched the inmate, Mr Gordon, trying to keep her features carefully schooled and follow the instructions given during the induction. She was to always be on the lookout for possible shifts in mood that may precede an attack on the prison guards, other inmates but especially visiting legal representatives. This particular inmate was showing all the signs of suppressed aggression – and in her opinion quite justly. The lawyer was revolting and did not appear at all sympathetic to his client’s cause.

The inmate’s heavy brow had grown thunderous, his dark eyes flashed and his broad chest heaved with irritation. She really couldn’t blame him, she was starting to feel a little annoyed herself.

Her eyes lingered on the v- of his orange overalls. His skin was smooth with only a hint of chest hair. She looked away as her pulse raced a little.

Lord.

It was impossible not to notice the man’s frustration, but it was equally impossible to ignore fact he was a very attractive man.

In a delicious, big, bad wolf kind of way.

She shook the feeling away, knowing just how very inappropriate it was, as another equally as absorbing sensation took its place. A very real righteous indignation on Gordon’s behalf flared hotly in her gut.

Here was a vital, strong Magician, imprisoned in an unfair justice system simply for trying to get people to believe in their cause. He was the very kind of man her mother had died trying to help through her work in the UMC.

Her heart thumped loudly and she took a breath to steady herself.

The Magician’s Keeper is available for pre-order now!

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Exclusive Excerpt 2: Team Player

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She’s never been shy about what she wants – and now she wants them both…

‘They’re going to want to know about grandkids, if I know Mum.’ Lyle doesn’t sound happy. I thought he’d be the one keen to discuss everything. He’s the one who usually brings this shit up.

‘Tell them nothing.’ Charlie’s even less happy.

‘That’s not going to help,’ I point out. ‘We have to give them some kind of an answer.’

‘Like what?’ Charlie rests his chin on my head. ‘How can we answer something we don’t know?’

‘We say something like, “At the moment we aren’t ready for kids but unconventional families are pretty much the norm now days, so I’m sure we’ll work something out.” Would that work?’

Charlie’s nod is gentle and felt through my scalp. Lyle looks at me intently. ‘That’s good, Hannah. You’re good at this.’

‘I’ve had all day to think about it.’

Each must be lost in their thoughts because no one says anything for a long time.

‘We should sleep,’ I say softly. ‘You guys have to be rested before you go.’

Charlie hums but doesn’t stir. Lyle, frowning, looks at us both. ‘We need to have this talk tomorrow, otherwise it’ll hang over us.’

I nod. ‘I’ll talk to Irene and Lauren first thing.’

‘Should we?’ Lyle asks quietly.

‘If I organise it, neither of you will be cornered by your mother.’

‘I’m voting that Han’s our spokesman.’ Charlie, the big scaredy cat, is quick to agree with me.

Lyle nods. ‘I’m in complete agreement.’

I’m having a bit of trouble coping with the role reversal. I’m usually the one running from relationships and families and feelings. Who’d have thought I’d be doing this?

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