At long last, Tera Bodnar and Eric Yun are back–and hotter than ever–in book two of The Loft series: Strictly Business!
Happy New Year, book nerds! With 2017 circling the drain, let’s all hope that 2018 will be a year with many good things to come. But while it’s hard to deny that 2017 was a year of a lot of bad news (to put it mildly), I find it healthy to remember the good things that came out of it. I survived a semester of grad school, moved in with the Boyfriend and celebrated four years together with him, and, of course, became a published author.
Speaking of, I’m sure that all of you are still wondering where Strictly Business is. I feel like I should explain. When I published Whip Smart at the end of October, there were a lot of personal matter in my life–which have only just now begun to settle down–which prevented me from publishing it when I had originally planned. I was disappointed with the rocky start to my romance writing career and was determined to get the sequel out there as soon as possible. And as a result, I feel that I rushed it. When I canceled the pre-order a little over a week ago to fix a mistake in the manuscript, I read through it again to make sure I hadn’t missed any other mistakes, and couldn’t help but think of the things I’d scrapped or changed to make sure Strictly Business was published “on time”, as well as a few new and pretty damn good ideas that had come to me after I’d already started the publishing process on Amazon. Continue reading
Wow, less than two weeks to go until Whip Smart is out. I’m pumped but nervous as hell, what more can I say? To commemorate the countdown to Oct. 22 and as a bit of fun to ease the stress of pre-release jitters, I’d like to share my personal vision for Whip Smart’s leading couple, Tera Bodnar and Eric Yun. Maybe in the future, I’ll release a full “dream cast”, but for now please enjoy the following eye candy.
(EDIT- 4/4/19: Hello, all! For those of you who are new here and eager to see how I envisioned the characters–or those of you returning to enjoy pictures of beautiful people–I apologize for the lack of pictures. Unfortunately, due to this recent blog post by Jenny Trout, I’ve decided to play it safe and remove my celebrity “dream cast” pictures from my blog. I know I’m far from the first author to share their visual inspiration for their characters, that my website/blog is not actually monetized, and that I would never use unauthorized photos on book covers or official promo materials, but I realize now that what happened to Jenny could happen to anyone, and I’d rather not take the risk of getting sued. I know that on other blog posts I’ve used reaction gifs featuring actors/celebrities who also happen to have served as visual inspiration for a few of my characters, and those will remain in those posts for the time being. However, all relevant images from my designated “character ‘cast'” posts will be removed. I will leave the names of the actors/celebrities, though, so anyone who wants to know how I envisioned the characters in my own mind can look them up.)
Teresa “Tera” Bodnar- Nina Dobrev
Eric Yun- Choi Siwon
*Drools* Huh? Oh, you’re still here? Uh, here, have an excerpt while I go in search of my lost dignity…
The loud squawk of a microphone being adjusted jolted me out of my erotic daydream. I turned away from Eric quickly to see Megan and Aaron finally getting ready to sing together. As the opening notes of “Your Song” started to play, a wave of relief washed over me, but it did little to soothe my jumpy nerves. I concentrated very hard on my bottle of booze and the karaoke, wishing that the sexually-charged moment we’d just shared would fade into obscurity. At first, I thought that Aaron and Megan were going for a Moulin Rouge!-inspired rendition of the song, but it quickly became apparent that while Megan was showing off her Broadway-worthy voice, Aaron was dramatically monologuing the lyrics in the style of William Shatner.
I snorted into my bottle of cider when I realized what he was doing, earning me a cheeky sideways glace from Eric that had my face flooding with warmth. “Wow, Luke was right, he really can’t sing,” I joked, hoping to win back the dignity that my snort had snatched away from me.
Eric shook his head with a smile. “He’s really not as bad as he pretends to be,” he said.
“Are you a singer?” I asked him. It was easy to imagine he was; that voice of his had a heated, sensual edge to it to begin with, in a way that made me think of hot coffee spiked with Bailey’s. Not to mention the brief moments when it dropped into a shiver-inducing low gravel that I suspected was his “Dom voice”. I pictured him at a piano, singing softly as he played with me sitting beside him.
“I can be,” he said cryptically, his smirk just barely not cocky. “Luke’s the lead singer, though.”
“Why, you guys’ in a band or something?”
I tilted my head, eyeing him skeptically. “You’re not just trying to mess with me, are you?”
“You really think so little of me that I would do that to you?” He put his hand to his heart as if I’d stabbed him, but his eyes were glimmering deviously.
“So, what, you were just going to casually throw it out there that you’re in a band like it’s no big deal?” I said, pretending to be aloof.
“Yeah, well, it’s hard to find someone who wants to know the real you when you’re a big famous rock star.”
I snorted again, deliberately this time. “You’re full of shit,” I said, surprising myself as I playfully shoved his arm. Damn, even that brief contact was enough to was enough to make my pulse quicken. “So, who’s all in your band?”
“Just, me, Luke, and Aaron. Luke plays guitar and Aaron’s the drummer. Aaron and I were roommates freshman year at CMU, which you know is the school to go to if you’re either a computer genius or a music prodigy, and you can probably guess which of those we were.”
“Wow, talented and humble,” I said dryly.
“Quiet, you,” he warned playfully, but I didn’t miss the edge of “Dom voice” that had crept in, making me bite my lip with suppressed desire. He continued with his story as if he hadn’t noticed the effect he had on me. “Anyway, there’s plenty of classical music and a capella groups if you’re a non-music major and you’re into that kind of thing, but we were just all ‘fuck it, let’s start our own band’, so I asked Luke to join, and we’ve been playing bars and stuff on weekends ever since. We call ourselves Alien Space Rocks.”
“Alien Space Rocks? Sounds like there’s a story behind that.”
He shrugged. “It’s a pretty boring story. We were drunk and couldn’t come up with a name.”
“So what kind of music do you play?”
“Classic rock, mostly,” he said. “Journey, Queen, plus occasionally some early and mid 2000’s stuff that was popular when we were in middle and high school.”
“So you’re a nostalgic kind of guy,” I said. “I’d like to hear you guys play sometime.”
He fixed me with a self-satisfied grin. “Who would’ve guessed there was more to me than just being a huge nerd,” he said.
Now it was my turn to pretend to be wounded. “You say that like it’s a bad thing. Didn’t think I came across as the kind of girl who’s… you know, turned off by nerdy stuff.” I gestured at my own elaborate costume.
“No, no you don’t,” he said softly, not shy at all as he very thoroughly looked me over. Briefly I was thrown back in time, feeling naked despite my clothes the way I had under his burning gaze all those weeks ago the night we met. I giggled nervously, and his smirk widened into that disarming dimpled smile. My heart fluttered; oh, if he only knew the things that smile did to me. Never before had I been so grateful for such dim lighting, which hopefully obscured the blush creeping over my face.
I cleared my throat, but my gaze lingered on him this as we both sipped our drinks. “I mean, some of us are into that kind of thing. And it’s hard not to be impressed by your dedication to total nerd-dom,” I explained quickly, checking him out briefly in his well-fitted uniform and hoping I could pass it off as simply admiring his costume.
His eyebrow quirked up, and I felt my pulse quicken as he rested his elbows on the bar and steepled his fingers to regard me closer.
“Are you? Why thank you, I’ll try not to let your praise give me too much of an ego boner,” he teased. “I mean, that is kind of a big compliment coming from you, Little Miss Jedi.”
“Excuse me, that’s Master Little Miss Jedi to you, Mister Imperial Scum,” I teased back. “I think you came to the wrong place if you were looking for someone to fuck with.”
As I lazily reached out to pick up my plastic lightsaber from the bar, Eric’s hand came down suddenly, capturing my wrist. I gasped and my eyes darted back to his face; a playful smirk was on his lips again, and I could feel my own face reddening further. This was all just a bit of harmless roleplay, wasn’t it? Some nerdy joking between friends? Mentally, I urged my pounding heart to relax and allowed myself tight smile of fake annoyance. Oh, so this is how it’s going to be, Mr. Imperial Officer? I thought. Well, two can play at that game.
I started to raise my right hand, intending to jab my finger at his face for emphasis as I hit him with a witty comeback. But before I could even finish coming up with what I was going to say, he grabbed my other wrist just as swiftly as he had the first. Instinctively, I twisted and flexed my wrists, testing his hold on me; his grip was loose enough that I could have easily broken free if I’d bothered to put up any real struggle, yet tight enough to convey an undeniable sense of command. And oh, how I wanted to struggle… but not to be free. Something about our little game had changed. The boyishly playful look on his face was now tinged with something much darker, and his eyes… I hadn’t been able to tear my eyes away from his since he’d first grabbed my wrist, but the look he gave me now was positively scorching. The energy coursing between us was almost tangible; I could feel it in the way the warmth of his hands around my wrists flowed down my arms and through my body like an electric current, in the way heat of his gaze triggered an unfurling of desire deep inside me.
“And I think all that Jedi arrogance has gone to your head if you thought the Empire wouldn’t find you here,” he said softly, after what seemed like an eternity. “What’s the matter? Can’t use the Force?”
He laughed, a low, sexy, dangerous little chuckle that had me pressing my thighs together with another surge of arousal. He broke eye contact for a moment, calmly turning his attention back to his drink as he moved my right hand over to join my left on the bar. But I wasn’t ready to be free yet. I felt a sudden sense of longing, a desperation for our little game not to be over. When he gently placed his left hand over both my wrists, I struggled hard, but pushed into his hand, not away from it. I felt him tense, and, as if he knew exactly what I was thinking, he clamped down all the tighter, rather than pulling his hand away. He whipped around to face me again, his expression a mixture of surprise, wicked delight, and a hind of imperious fury that for a split second I thought was 100% genuine. Oh, I had his attention now. And if he had any reservations about what I was doing, then the lustful “game on” look I was aiming at him surely told him all he needed to know.
He held my hands there as he took a long drink from his glass, studying me impassively all the while. The back of my neck tingled; in my highly aroused state, my senses seemed to have gone into overdrive. Were people watching us? I glanced nervously over my shoulder; Aaron and Megan had long finished their duet, and while Luke playfully ribbed his friend about his singing abilities, Megan seemed to be trying to cajole a mortified Alexis into stepping up to the microphone. For a second I felt bad for ignoring our friends, but none of them seemed to be paying attention to us. That, or they were making an effort to give us alone time…
“Don’t bother. Your rebel friends can’t save you now, Jedi Scum,” Eric sneered. “You’re prisoners of the Empire, now. So why don’t you just tell me where the other Jedi are hiding, and I promise I won’t let you suffer too much before you die. Maybe I’ll even reward you.”
“Like hell I’m telling you anything!” I said with as much contempt as I could manage. I felt a little breathless; was it possible we were having just a little too much fun with this?
His grip tightened. “We have ways of making you talk.”
“Oh, I’m sure you do. Way of making me more… compliant.”
“Keep up with that defiant attitude and you’ll find out. I have strict orders to hand you over to my superiors unharmed, but don’t think I won’t make an exception if you continue to resist me.”
“I don’t think you’d dare. Then again, maybe you just can’t resist the thought of having that kind of power over a Jedi, seeing her all weak and helpless as you bend her over your knee.”
The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. What the hell are you doing? I berated myself. The minuscule bit of alcohol I’d had was making me far too brave. But I knew on some level it wasn’t the single hard cider that had me so intoxicated. I knew perfectly well what I was doing, and knew equally well that this could be the start of a path I wasn’t ready to walk down. But in the heady rush of that moment, I didn’t care. I was willfully blind to everything but the intoxicatingly irresistible man in front of me and my desperate need to have him spank me.
Eric’s eyes widened, and a look of hesitation flitted across his face before the mask of the Imperial Officer settled over it again. He leaned in so close I could feel his hot breath on my face.
“I’m beginning to think you’re not going to give me much of a choice,” he said finally.
My mouth dropped open a little. Fuck me, he’s actually going for it. “It looks that way. Guess you’ll just have to teach me a lesson in respect.”
He stared at me for a long moment, and for a thrilling, scary second, I imagined him pulling me off my barstool and across his lap right then and there. But he simply gave a cursory glance around the room, drained the last of his beer from his glass, and stood up.
“Be right back, need to use the restroom,” he announced. He barely looked at me, then grabbed his gloves and uniform cap from the bar and turned the corner down the short hallway to the bathrooms. I felt a little dazed; my heart was still hammering away in my chest, and I was flushed all over with pent-up desire. But the arousal was tinged with a creeping sense of humiliation. Was Eric just being a tease? Or had I scared him off with my intensity?
“Hey Tera! Where’d Eric go?” Luke’s voice suddenly jerked me back into reality.
“Huh? Oh, he just went to the bathroom.” I shrugged nonchalantly. “Hey, anyone want to sing with me?”
As Megan skipped gleefully over to me, I tried to push the thought of how easily I’d let my wrists get caught in Eric’s waiting grasp out of my mind, how willingly I’d surrendered to him. But no sooner had Megan begun to tug pleadingly on my arm that my phone vibrated with a new text. With a jolt, I noticed it was from Eric.
Waiting by the restrooms.
Meet me in two minutes if you’re serious.
If not, I won’t mention it. No hard feelings. 😉
Whip Smart comes out October 22nd Happy reading… 😉