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XOXO Sweet and #Sexy Romance #Anthology is here-Read an excerpt

We are excited to be part of the XOXO Valentine event. Check out this exclusive excerpt from this anthology of sweet and sexy short stories by some fabulous authors.  You can also check out our book review here.

Sexy, sweet, and short, this collection of erotic romance is a box of Valentine conversation hearts, filled with fun surprises and unusual twists. With over 30 authors in the anthology and stories from Sommer Marsden, Kathleen Tudor, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Elizabeth Coldwell, Saskia Walker, and Cheyenne Blue, XOXO is a Whitman’s sampler of decadent delights and the perfect introduction to erotic romance.

By Mariposa Cruz

Just a few hours,” Gwen assured Steve, who warily eyed the garden reception at the Shadowridge Country Club, his shoulders rigid with tension.
Steve had opted out of the Legacy Motors empire—as a teacher, his summers remained open for renovation projects, and his life was almost free of family entanglements. Even so, he found facing the entire clan at once daunting, so he asked Gwen to accompany him to the wedding.
“And you look amazing,” she added, linking her arm with his. Gwen resisted the urge to squeeze his muscled bicep. Steve walked with the ease of a man comfortable in his own life. Who knew her strictly T-shirt and jeans roommate could wear a charcoal suit so well? The cobalt-blue shirt matched his eyes.
“Peach suits you; it makes your skin glow,” he remarked as the spring breeze lifted her skirt and exposed her long legs. Despite the cool breeze, Gwen blushed under the intensity of his gaze. Don’t ruin a perfect living situation with a midlife crush, she told herself. As a secretary who managed executive-size neuroses all day, it was relief to come home to a self-sufficient man with a wry sense of humor.
Shell-shocked by Nolan’s abrupt departure and his engagement to a twenty-something, Gwen found a kindred spirit in an ad to share the rent and renovation of a three-bedroom bungalow downtown. In exchange for reduced rent, she spent her Saturdays pulling carpet, painting the walls or weeding the garden, slowly restoring the house and her life. The weekend renovations tanned and toned her body better than any gym or salon ever could.
Most of the women at the reception had long tresses or elaborate up-dos. Gwen nervously smoothed her dark bob.
“You hair looks fine,” Steve assured her. “Do I have a hair out of place?” He tilted his shaved head toward her for inspection. Gwen laughed.
“It’s your sister’s wedding, try to be happy,” she told Steve.
“Aside from the fact that Melissa abandoned her art to marry a corporate drone like our father, I’m ecstatic. She can create scrapbooks for her multitalented future offspring.”
“I hope you’re not using that line in your toast.”
“I’ll be good to the bride. As for everyone else, all bets are off.” His thumb lightly caressed her palm.
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll see.” He winked at her. Before Gwen could press for details, the Hartley clan surrounded them. Steve’s older brother, Marcus with his slick hair and slicker grin greeted her cordially while his wife Deirdre’s lips curled in a semblance of a smile.
“So, how’s the shack?” Marcus smirked.
“Still a work in progress,” Steve replied.
“I can’t believe how much the place has changed. He’s so attentive to detail, it makes such a difference,” Gwen exclaimed. She squeezed his arm and beamed a knowing smile to Deidre. Marcus frowned at his wife who scowled in return.
“I’ll grab us a couple of drinks,” Steve murmured in her ear.
“I’d like that,” she replied. Steve had just left her side, when she saw Nolan stroll toward her with his fiancée, Leigh. He traveled in the same circles Steve had fled, embracing the lifestyle her roommate loathed. With an excess of gel coating his diminished hair, he swaggered like a teenager with the prom queen on his arm. Gwen rubbed her arms against a chill, her insides in knots. With her life on track, why did she feel at loose ends around Nolan?
“Lovely wedding,” Leigh trilled.
“We’ll do something similar, but smaller, more intimate,” Nolan said.
“Less costly,” Gwen added.
Nolan frowned.
“Yes,” Leigh agreed. A muscular arm encircled Gwen’s waist. With Steve’s strong body behind her, the knots inside her melted. Drawing her even closer, Steve introduced himself to Nolan and Leigh.
“I’m afraid this lovely lady owes me a dance. I’ll have to steal her from you,” he said. Steve guided her to an open spot on the dance floor. His touch was firm but light, his rhythm easy to follow, unlike Nolan who rigidly pulled her through every move then glared at her for not following his lead.
“I never figured you for a dancer,” Gwen said. With a firm hand supporting her back, he spun her in a quick turn at the end of the song. She giggled at his wicked grin.
“Salsa is one of my many passions,” he replied.
“What are your other passions?” The salsa faded into smooth jazz and Steve drew her closer.
“You,” he whispered in her ear.
She shivered with exhilaration and terror. “When?”
“Since you appeared on my doorstep, but you seemed pretty fragile at the time.” His hand caressed the length of her back. “Now that finally I have my hands on you, I don’t think I can let you go.” Warmth pooled in her belly as she leaned into him.
“I won’t let you. What’s next?”
“I have an idea. Follow me.” Steve waved at a few family member members they passed as he led her to one of the far buildings.
“Tryst in a coat closet?” Gwen asked.
“Something better,” he promised.
“You’re kidding,” she exclaimed…

Buy Links: Amazon | Cleis Press

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