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My Hot for Friday excerpt is from my latest contemporary romance SEASON, UNFORGETTABLE. I'm thrilled to announce that Season, Unforgettable recently finaled in the romance category at the Independent Authors Network Book Awards Contest for 2015!
About Season, Unforgettable
Season Scrimshaw isn't selling the land her parents left her when they died, not even to the gorgeous Rann Brogan who saved her life in the forest. Especially not after she finds out he was in the woods to survey her property.
The company Rann works for, his mother's company, wants the land for a luxury condo development and they want it bad. He never dreamed they'd go to such extreme lengths to get it.
Lives spiral out of control, lies and betrayal play center stage. Caught in the middle between his rich and powerful mother and the woman he loves, Rann discovers love is complicated...and sometimes lethal.
Excerpt (Season and Rann meet for the first time)
First, the birds went silent and then the bushes rustled to her right. A guttural growl sent raw fear pedaling through her veins. Had she flushed out a bear, worse, a mama bear protecting her cub? Her hands went to the straps around her neck, a foolish instinct that overrode the alarm bells roaring in her head. She slipped the camera over her shoulder, her hands shaking like leaves caught up in an eddy. When the scrub brush parted, a mountain lion strolled onto the trail. The alarm bells morphed into paralyzing fear. Holy crap, what is a mountain lion doing in this neck of the woods?
Gold-flecked eyes met green. With their gazes locked, both assessing the beast before them, an infinity of time passed. Should she retreat or remain as still as the oak trunks surrounding her? The cat made the first move. He sniffed the air as if trying to identify her scent, his front paws digging into the forest floor beneath him. She'd never outrun him and climbing a tree would be suicide. Cats could skim tree bark faster than a scalded ghost could disappear. She retreated, and forgot about the sturdy branch she hopped over moments ago. Her heel slipped on the wet birch bark, knocking her legs out from under her. Hitting the ground with a solid thud, she clutched her abdomen and gasped for precious air.
Her mother's face rose behind her closed eyes. Oh, shit, have you come to welcome me? This can't be happening…Dear God, don't let it be happening.
A hoarse whisper over her shoulder broke through her heartfelt pleadings. “Don't move. Not. One. Muscle.”
The stranger jumped over her head, the taut muscles of his naked back and broad shoulders blocking her line of vision to the phantom of death. He held a long, sturdy bough in his hand, clasping it in the middle with both hands. Between his stance and his confidence, she almost believed he could do some serious damage should the beast decide to lunge. Oh, how she wanted to believe it.
Another element leaped into the scene in a blur of unbridled speed and motion. She released a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding when the cat's long tail disappeared into a thicket of dense bracken with the monstrous canine in hot pursuit.
Her savior turned to face her. “Are you all right?”
Patting down her legs and torso, the words stuck in her throat. “I-I think so.” When her hands moved to her neck, she remembered her camera and scanned the ground around her. “My cam—”
“Shattered, I'm afraid.” He nodded to the left. “Looks like it hit that thick branch when you fell.”
“Crap. I saved for a year to buy it.”
He extended a hand. “Here, let's see if any part of you is shattered.”
With a moan and a grunt she pulled herself up. And then drank in his beauty, like Hollywood leading actor beauty. A head taller than her, his dark hair glistened beneath a shaft of sunlight. His eyes were blue, dark midnight blue, the same shade as the cotton shirt tied around his waist. His mouth was generous, his lips full and sensual. Below that kissable mouth, a scruffy stubble shadowed his chiseled jaw.
After scanning her top to bottom, he cocked his head to the side. “Well, what do you think?”
Oh, God, how long had she been gawking at him? He'd asked her a question after easing her to her feet. Something about broken. No shattered, he wanted to know if anything besides the camera was shattered when she fell. “Nothing broken. I'm fine, thank you.”
His smile dazzled her. “You're welcome.”
A dog barked in the distance. “Is that your dog?”
“Yes, Rook. Good thing I brought him along today.”
“Do you think he's all right?”
“Oh, yeah, he's fine. He's got that mountain lion treed, won't come back until I whistle for him.”
Still rattled, she put a hand to her forehead and took in her surroundings. “But…how-how did you find—”
“Rook must have picked up the cat's scent. He took off on a dead run and when he didn't return, I decided to check it out.” This time his smile creased the corners of his eyes. “I'm glad I, that is, we, found you.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“So it goes without saying you were out here taking pictures. You a photographer?”
“One day, I hope. Right now, a student at the local college.” She looked over his shoulder in the direction of the persistent barking. “Must have crossed over from the Badlands.”
A quizzical expression crossed his face.
“The mountain lion. I've never seen one in the woods before, but the DNR said they'd tracked one in Minnesota last year…a young male passing through on his way to Canada.”
“You live nearby then?”
“Yes.” She shagged her head backwards. “Duna, my grandfather, and I, live about a mile in that direction.” Her breathing had finally returned to normal, enough to emit a chuckle. “You're standing on Scrimshaw land, sir.”
“Rann Brogan, please call me Rann. I think we should be on a first name basis after that, don't you?”
“Yes, yes, I do.” She shivered and then plucked her broken camera from the ground. “I think it's fair to say I might not be standing on Scrimshaw land if you and Rook hadn't come along.” She turned to leave, calling out over her shoulder. “Thank you, Rann Brogan.”
Pivoting around, she faced him again.
“You didn't tell me your name.”
“Season? You're named after a season? Okay, let me guess.” With his thumb and forefinger rubbing the stubble on his chin, he squinted. “Let me see; not Autumn. You don't look like an Autumn. I'm going to guess Wynter, and that's with a y instead of an i.”
“Wrong on both counts.”
“You're not going to tell me, are you?”
“Already did. My name is Season Scrimshaw.”