The Other Man — Excerpt

While I’m on holiday from hosting my shows, I wanted to share an excerpt from my newest book, The Other Man. I return live on January 6th. Enjoy!

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1622588_376837429146100_3911479762819831790_oVincent Miller stared at the beaming bride, who stood at the altar as she married Jacob Westwood. He had never seen Leah Martin look so beautiful. She had always been a looker, but now at her wedding, she had a bridal glow about her. Her caramel skin radiated with a golden sheen, the thick riot of russet curls shimmered, and her ivory gown was the perfect complement to her curves.

She laughed as she gave her flowers to her maid of honor. A little boy came down the aisle with a broom decorated with pink ribbons and frills. When the little boy placed the broom at the bride and groom’s feet, she and Jacob jumped over it. The bridegroom tripped and his arms flailed to keep from falling. The church rang with laughter as he smiled and stole another kiss from his new bride.

Third in line, Vincent watched with hooded eyes as Leah hugged more guests while the photographer took pictures of the bride and groom with everyone in the receiving line. As his turn came up, he braced himself and allowed his face to show only happiness for her.

“Vincent!” she screamed in his ear as she hugged him. The world receded. The flash of the photographer’s camera faded as an onslaught of sensations cascaded over his mind and heated his surging blood. His nostrils flared as he greedily inhaled the cocoa butter–scented skin. The assault of that delicious aroma nearly made his eyes roll into the back of his head. All her round, soft curves melted into his solid frame like warmed syrup over pancakes. The gentle clasp of her arms around his middle effectively imprisoned him, but he was a willing captive. He gritted his teeth in an attempt to still his senses from saturating themselves in the presence of this woman. Yet, when she pulled back from him an instant later, his body ached to hold her again.

“Hey, Vincent.”

The sound of the husband’s voice was an ice cold bucket of distraction that disintegrated the hold Leah’s presence had on him. Vincent gave himself a mental shake as he tugged on the ends of his suit and smoothed his hair in a nonchalant way. He hoped as he reached out to shake the groom’s hand that the slight tremble of his own hand wasn’t visible.

“Congrats, you guys.” How words erupted from his mouth was a mystery. Before he could say more, the photographer gestured and Leah jumped between them with her arms around their necks. Vincent’s lips stretched and curved upward as a sardonic voice whispered in his mind. Smile for the camera.

 ***

Do you see what you missed out on, Vincent? The flash from the camera blinded Leah Westwood as she stood in the middle of her husband and her ex-flame.

The instant she articulated the thought, she felt the Spirit chastise her. Okay, okay. So maybe he hadn’t missed out on everything. They’d been intimate on more than one occasion. Yet, she did feel a pure sense of feminine pleasure at seeing this man, whom she at one time wanted to give her life to, watch her marry another man worth twelve of him. Jacob glanced down at her, his eyes gentle but lit with anticipation. A

bubble of sweet, ginger ale–like joy burst from inside her. Heady and intoxicating happiness made her want to fly. She loved her husband with To think God had crafted them for each other still amazed her. Jacob Westwood, the one man to subdue Mercury, the rage monster inside her.

“You look so beautiful, Leahgirl,” Jacob whispered as he kissed her cheek.

Although she recognized her own beauty, she wished she didn’t have so many men try to hit on her, grab at her, or flirt with her. It became tedious. Maybe there was a curse to being pretty. God knew how often she longed for the face of a tarantula.

“You don’t look so bad yourself,” she returned the compliment. She reached up and tugged the short, thick blond hair. He laughed, his periwinkle eyes filling with teasing light. The formal wedding suit rested

on his broad frame, accentuating it. Jacob wasn’t tall, but he stood almost a head above her. Her hairline came to his square chin, nicely trimmed with a goatee.

Vincent walked away and she greeted more people. Her lips curved into a wide smile but at the same time little needles of nervousness pricked her skin. Her throat started to constrict and she took a deep breath to calm the nerves. Sweat broke out on her forehead as she remembered the night. It was the night she met the two men who changed her life forever: her husband and her attacker. If she hadn’t been so pretty, maybe that scumbag would have left her alone. No. She refused to go into a full-fledged panic attack at her wedding. She was safe here beside Jacob.

“Leahgirl, what’s wrong?”

Jacob’s voice broke through the memory that had almost unveiled itself and she shook her head. This was her wedding day. The past would not interfere with it. She sent a quick prayer to the Almighty to help her with wayward thoughts, and then pushed the trepidation back and focused on all the people who had come to wish them joy.

***

The muscles in Jacob’s neck were tense and he rolled his head to relax them. He closed the door to the hotel room. His fingers tugged at the tie around his throat and loosened it as he rubbed his neck for a few moments. As his muscles stretched, fatigue seeped into them. Who knew weddings could be so time-consuming? From the moment the preacher declared, “You may now kiss the bride,” he’d wanted to race to the hotel suite.

He glanced out the window. The stars glistened against the backdrop of the city. The soft white blanket of snow gave the scenery a fanciful snow globe allure. Cars scuttled back and forth. Street lights changed. The night bustle added its magic to this special day.

For several hours he’d smiled, shook hands, laughed, and enjoyed oh so brief kisses with his new wife for the benefit of the guests. His eyes were dry from the numerous flashes of the camera. The photographer had cajoled, begged, and finally demanded they pose for pictures at each moment. He could have strangled the man.

Leah had been in her element. She sizzled and crackled with the vibrant energy of her happiness. She’d fluttered from one table to the next, her face bright with joy as she connected with the guests. The air about her buzzed and zinged. Hot like a tongue of fire, she singed people. More than once, he saw drooping backs straighten and unconscious frowns transform into smiles. Leah was a bolt of lightning, unable to be harnessed yet magnificent because of the unfettered freedom. He’d watched her all day, longing building up to a pressure inside him begging for release. When they did exchange kisses, he knew she was as eager for their time alone as he.

At last, they had each other to themselves.

Leah twirled around. The knee-length gold dress she had changed into for the reception shimmered in the light. His lips tilted to one side as he remembered how she refused to lug around her bridal dress on her big body for hours.

Big body. He watched her as she stepped out of her shoes and jumped on the bed. Her childish antics were in direct contradiction to the woman he desired with increasing intensity by the moment. This was their wedding night. And he was about to enjoy it.

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