Heather Lire's Blog
January 2, 2019
I have one of those cousins who sets goals every year on her birthday one for every year she’s been alive. For years I’ve watched her set these amazing goals and accomplish them. As I’ve thought about this year and all the changes that are coming to our family I’ve decided to embrace this but instead of doing how many years I’ve been alive I’m doing the year. Hence the #19in19. That being said here are my 19 goals
Complete the Whole 30Re-release the Holiday Vermont SeriesStart either a Masters or Ph.D in Urban EducationWrite 1 book Buy a houseWrite 52 book reviewsBlog once a weekFinish Against the Boards (Kenzie MacLir title)Finish The Lost Laird (Kenzie MacLir title)Read the Complete Los Ejemplares Collection by Miguel Cervantes (In Spanish)Learn PhotoshopRead 12 books in SpanishRead 5 Books in FrenchWrite a recipe bookRead 150 booksGo on a trip with Mr. LGo on 12 hikesLearn a new skillDo something that terrifies me
August 6, 2017
All of my life, at least as far back as I can remember I’ve told stories. I’ve always been able to take two people and create a story about them, from the mundane to the elaborate. If you were to ask any of my friends from Kindergarten to 5th grade what they remembered the most about it, they would tell you it was my stories.
When I was entering high school my family moved from my small rural town that I’d spent my ENTIRE life in I stopped sharing my stories. Oh they were still there, only there were there for me alone as they helped me traverse the rocky road that was big city high school in the 80’s. I also took refuge in the little satellite library in my new neighborhood. It was there that I discovered the Gothic romances of Victoria Holt, and then the love stories of Harlequin, in fact I can still remember the ENTIRE plot and stories of my very first two HQN books. Books that if I ever find I’m buying. From there it was Brave the Wild Winds by Johanna Lindsey. Let me tell you that was an eye opener.
I’ve been hooked on romance stories ever since. So much that my stories changed, and were all romance based. My characters found true love as they traversed whatever my imagination came up with. I still never shared these stories with anyone. Not even my creative writing teacher.
Fast forward several years and I’m married and a story comes to me…one I want to share. So I tell my mother-in-law. She looked at me and told me I was stupid for wanting to write a story. I ignored her, and then quietly proceeded to write that story.
As I did, other characters and stories flooded my imagination. I suddenly had so many stories and not enough time to write them all down. Especially as I had two toddlers to chase. But every chance I got I wrote…and shared them with no one.
When my boys were 4 I went back to school for a degree in foreign language literature. This more than anything made the stories and people in my head come alive even more. This time I couldn’t NOT share them. So I did. With the one person I knew who loved reading as much as I did, only she wouldn’t tell me to stop. She was honest in if the story sucked or needed work. But more than that, she encouraged me to keep writing. My baby sister.
Slowly over the next several years, as more and more people asked me when I was going to start sharing my stories I thought I could. So I joined RWA, and then my local chapter, where I met my writing partner in crime, the other half of Kenzie MacLir, and I pitched my stories. And some one bought it, and then another person. And soon I had people I’d never met telling me they loved my stories.
I managed to get the most amazing literary agent, and things were looking up.
Then my personal world crashed…and in came the depression I’d battled off and on for most of my life. For the first time ever I couldn’t beat it. I’d watched it almost destroy so many women in my family I’d vowed that it wasn’t going to do that to me. But this time…this time it was beating me. And the words…they just stopped.
That was 18 months ago.
In that time I’ve had to battle for every single word as I had writing obligations. But new stories, new characters. They were all gone.
I did everything I could think of. I read books (so many books) but then I realized I wasn’t reading new authors or books. I was re-reading only. If I read a new book it was by an author on my keeper shelf. I stopped reviewing books.
Everything that made me me just stopped. I was just coasting through life. My husband noticed, my kids noticed, the friends I hadn’t let fall to the wayside noticed.
And then something amazing happened…
I went on a football recruiting trip with my oldest. We decided to drive instead of fly so we could see parts of the country we’ve never seen before. I looked at the map and the different routes we could take and settled on one. No interstate highways for us. It was all state and county roads. From Denver to Oklahoma City. We were going to drive through small town America. Places were FFA (Future Farmers of America) the 4H were the main clubs.
As I was driving, listening to country radio in these small towns, (places where there were no fast food restaurants) and where the oil companies delivered the gas to the farmers and where you shared the road with tractors and trucks. My mind wandered. It does this when you have no one to talk to, no social media to distract you, and the stories, the characters they suddenly were back.
I wanted to pull over and start writing…or wake up the teenage boy who told me “I’ll drive most of the way mom so you can write or whatever” and instead slept for 10 of the 12 hours we were driving. I didn’t…though I did stop at all the historical markers I saw.
I asked him if it would be okay if while he was doing his football stuff if I went back to the hotel and wrote…he said yes (but gave me that look) so I stayed and visited with parents from a part of the country where football is life. And I let the stories come.
When I got back to real life I wanted nothing more than to sit down and start writing, but I wasn’t able to as I came back in time for me to start going back to work full time. Getting my lesson plans in order, updating my class website, writing letters to parents. And looking at the calendar, knowing that in 2 weeks I will have 3 hours every day after school all to myself where I can sit and write.
And I’m so excited. Because these characters they are so flawed and aching for their shot at happiness that I can’t wait to write them.
July 4, 2017
Growing up in small town America nestled in the mountains the 4th of July was always a HUGE deal. We all got up early and headed into town to get our spots for the parade. My family ALWAYS sat in the same place on main street. For me the highlight was seeing my grandpa in his WWII uniform marching with all of the other American Vets. After the parade the entire town would go to the city park for a huge breakfast. Then it was off to my other grandparents for a huge family bbq with homemade ice cream and root beer. At dusk everyone would make their way to where the fireworks were going to be. We got to run around with our friends, watch our parents and grandparents visit with friends and then the show would start. The local radio station would be playing patriotic music along with the show.
As I got older though and learned about my family history, specifically my American history, I discovered that I come from people who were on the Mayflower, signed the Declaration of Independence, fought in the Revolutionary War (on both sides I discovered) and were instrumental in so many ways to help found this great nation.
Do we have our ups and downs? Yes. Do we get bad leaders? Absolutely. Are their ignorant people living her? One hundred percent yes.
Regardless of all of these things, I can say that I am one hundred percent proud to be an American. That I come from people who stood up to tyranny and injustice and fought for a better future for their children. So today as we celebrate our nations birthday, lets remember all of the good we have, and put away the negative and remind ourselves of the men and women who faced insurmountable odds 251 years ago and defeated the largest military in the world. Lets remember what it means to be an American.
June 3, 2017
Until I logged in this morning I hadn’t realized just how long it’s been since I was on this page…which means the five of you who read this are due and update.
Today marks the first day of my summer break. To give you and idea of how the last few months have gone here’s a picture…
This means that most everything has fallen by the wayside unless it had to do with teaching, looking for a new teaching job as the school I was at is closing next year so the staff was reduced by more than half, and track season (someone decided he needed to be a track super star this past season, he missed out on state by one one hundredth of a second, but won the state high school pentathlon) and going on college football recruiting trips (and yes it was the same child).
But school is out, my classroom is packed up and sitting in my garage or entry way (the garage needs to be organized to fit my classroom) until August when I can move into my classroom. I’ve traded a one hour each way commute (yes my school was that far away in good traffic) to a five minute commute (new school is 2.5 miles from my house).
This means that I can FINALLY finish the edits on Second Chance at Forever and get the pre-order up. It has a brand new cover, has been re-edited and been expanded in parts.
I did manage to finish my novella for Changing on the Fly: The 2nd Period. My story Second Chance at Love is a part of the Holiday Vermont Series. That book will be out in October.
Until next time…
August 20, 2014
All afternoon I’d had the feeling I needed to call home. I needed to talk to my parents. As a 22 year old who’d moved across the country and barely remembered to mail her parents weekly the need to talk to my parents was overwhelming. So I dragged my roommate home, we’d been out together, and I called.
The first inclination I had that something was wrong was my dad answered the phone. My dad NEVER answered the phone. I didn’t wait for why are you calling, or how have you been. I simply asked what’s wrong?
“Your brother has ALS.”
“Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
I dropped the phone. I knew Lou Gherig’s disease. As an avid baseball, Yankee’s fan, I knew all about the disease that had killed one of the sports greatest players long before his time. Or at least I thought I did. Till my dad started talking.
Maybe 5 years to live
My funny, best guy to have around little brother was going to die.
The worst part.
I was in Seattle. My parents were in Vegas. My brother was in Australia.
My roommate picked up the phone and got all of the information from him. The doctors were running a second set of tests. They wanted to make 100% sure they had the right diagnosis.
The really scary part. He was already paralyzed.
So I waited. I couldn’t wait by the phone. We arranged a time each night where they would call me and tell me if they’d heard from the doctor. For 3 nights the answer was no answer. Then came the new diagnosis.
A disease that closely mimics ALS, but doesn’t kill you. In some places it’s called the French Polio.
Ever since then whenever I’ve heard of someone having ALS or there’s been a campaign for it I’ve been right there. Because even though my family member ended up not having it 30,000 other American family’s were dealing with it.
There is no funding for this disease. There is no research. There is only one drug and that isn’t a very effective one at that.
August 16, 2014
For years I’ve battled depression and an eating disorder very quietly. The only person knowing how bad it can get my husband Mike. For several years now I’ve been very stable, with not a lot rocking my boat. I’ve made changes to those I’m close to because of how their negative attitudes have affected my mood. I’ve also been on a dosage of medicine that keeps everything in check.
Then Texas happened. While I was in TX I had something really awesome happen to me, and something really bad. I got sick. We thought it was something simple. And it has turned out to not be simple. It’s not simple because what ever is making me sick has also triggered one of the worst episodes of depression I’ve experienced. And as much as I’d love nothing more than to load up my kindle and grab my comfort reads and hibernate I can’t. I can’t because I have kids who need me. Kids who rely on me to make sure they get up for school, and are picked up from football practice, and that there’s food in the fridge and pantry. Because of them I get up and shower everyday, because I’m not allowed to pick them up from the HS in my pj’s. I eat, because I nibble on what I’m making them.
But what has truly sucked is that those few people I have reached out to simply have a phone conversation to pull me out of my funk for just a few moments haven’t reciprocated. There’s no call back saying sorry I missed your call is everything ok. No response to a FB post. Nothing. Crickets.
It is then that you discover how truly alone you are. That those who you thought were your friends are really just acquaintances.
And while this relapse has sucked giant fucking elephant balls, I know that it will pass. That one day, hopefully soon, I’ll not have to fight getting up. That I’ll be able to sit at the computer and love my characters and be able to tell stories again.
May 26, 2014
“Don’t you look hot?”
Colin looked over his shoulder in the mirror, at the woman who owned him. It was ass-crack thirty and she should still be asleep.
“What are you doing up?”
Her body swayed and he turned, facing her he wondered that he ever let her out of bed. She was ever more beautiful now than she was when he’d fallen in love with her. If the men at Maxim ever got a look at her fresh from bed wearing a pair of his basketball shorts, and a t-shirt rocking on of their sons they’d name her the sexiest woman on the planet.
Not that he’d ever let that happen.
He was the only person who got to see her like this.
“Someone has decided he likes his daddy’s hours.”
He lifted Max from her arms and kissed his cheek, “If he only knew his daddy would prefer to be naked in bed with mommy instead of wearing this contraption.”
Brynn stepped up to him and adjusted one of his Purple Hearts, and smoothed down his jacket. “Yes, but today is important and as much as mommy would prefer to be in bed with daddy, she understands this comes first.”
God, she slayed him.
“I’ll take him with me so you can get some more sleep before Foster gets up.”
“Yep, now give me a kiss and get back in bed. You have a busy day and need all the sleep you can get.”
“I love you.”
He leaned down and kissed her, murmuring against her lips, “Love you too.”
It didn’t take him long to have Max dressed and loaded in the car. Ben walked out the front door as he closed Max’s door.
Ben nodded, “A little nervous.”
“Don’t be, it’s just a bunch of guys doing something that needs to be done.”
Ben pulled himself together and climbed in the SUV.
The drive took them five minutes, the rest of the town was still sleeping, cutting down on the holiday traffic. He pulled into the parking lot, and parked. They were the first ones to arrive, something for which he was grateful. He liked to spend just a few minutes by himself and his thoughts before the others arrived.
Max gurgled from his car seat, Ben turned around and made faces at him, making him laugh. A car pulled up beside them. He didn’t have to look to know who it was. Colin got out and waited for Justin to join him at his vehicle.
“You ready for this?”
It was the same question Justin asked him every year since they’d started doing this.
“As ready as anyone ever is.”
He got Max from the car and situated in his stroller. On the seat next to Max’s car seat was the box he needed. “Ben grab that box will you?”
With Justin and Ben helping they made their way to the flag pole next to the covered statue at the entrance to the cemetery.
Colin parked Max’s stroller next to it and moved next to Justin and Ben standing by the flag pole. Ben placed the box in Justin’s outstretched arms and stepped back. Colin took his place and opened the wooden box, revealing an American Flag. This flag was only flown four times a year, Memorial Day, Flag Day, July Fourth, and Veteran’s Day. For the last four years he’d had the privilege of being one of those chosen by is local VFW to raise the flag on Memorial Day. An honor he took very seriously.
Normally it was just him and two other Veterans, but this year the city had something special for all of its Veterans planned.
But first they needed to raise the flag.
Reverently he removed the flag from the fabric lined box it was stored in and stepped to the flag pole where Ben was waiting, with the first hook. Ben attached the first one, and waited while Justin pulled the rope and began to raise the flag, while Colin unfolded it. The second eyelet was hooked, and Colin and Ben stepped back, and saluted as the flag was raised.
Other’s arrived just as Justin tied the rope to the pole and they began helping set up chairs. Most of those coming this morning would be standing, but there were some who were getting up in years, and they needed to be sitting.
Mayor Baldwin, the old one, not to be confused with his son the current mayor arrived and joined him and Justin at the edge of the chairs. He was followed by the Fire Chief, and Principal of the High School.
All of them in their dress uniforms.
They lined up, representing all the branches of the Armed Forces, rendered honors to the men and women who were coming for the private unveiling of a tribute to all those who’ve ever worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces.
The last person to arrive was one of Colin’s favorite citizens of Holiday. Lieutenant Jack Snyder. At one hundred and five years of age he was the oldest citizen of Holiday and a veteran of three wars. He’d fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam before retiring.
Whenever he was at the VFW everyone would gather to hear his stories.
He was accompanied by several members of his family, who had all fallen in his footsteps and joined the Marines.
Colin and the others waited until Jack and his family had taken their seats before they moved to theirs at the front of the group. Ben had taken Max out of his stroller and was holding his so he could see everything.
Mayor Baldwin, the new one, was waiting next to the covered statue. At his nod, music began to play, the Armed Forces Salute filled the cemetery. As each branch’s anthem played the soldiers stepped forward or stood.
There was pride and emotion on all of their faces.
“I want to thank each of you for coming this morning. I know for a lot of you getting out of bed this early is difficult, but the city felt it was important that we unveil this for the Veterans first, before the rest of the city see it.”
The covering was pulled of and Colin didn’t bother hiding the tears. He knew if he looked around everyone’s eyes would be wet.
A flag draped coffin carried on the shoulders of eight soldiers in their dress uniforms, representing the major wars that had been fought. A small plaque was at the base of each soldier, telling which conflict, the years of it and how many American’s died.
Colin looked down into the bright somber eyes of his son and knew that if he’d had to do it all over again to make sure that Brynn and his boys were safe from evil he would.
Ben stepped forward and picked up a trumpet he hadn’t noticed. The birds stopped singing as the first notes of Taps echoed over the rising sun.
Everyone stood and rendered honors to the statue in memory of those who’d fallen in combat, and those who’d fought and come home. When the last note sounded, no one moved, each of them lost in the memories of those they’d known who hadn’t come home.
Colin didn’t know how long the silence lasted, but even Max, who was never quiet didn’t make a sound.
The mayor shifted, breaking the moment and those who needed to sit, sat back down.
“We thank each and everyone one of your for your service and wish each of you a Happy Memorial day. And don’t forget the town picnic tonight and concert benefiting our local VFW.”
Everyone laughed, like they could forget the concert. It was all that had been talked about for the last three months besides Jack’s stories.
Max started to fuss, and Colin took that as his cue to leave. Max had used up his quota for good behavior. With one last look at the statue and flag, he vowed to bring Foster back that night when he lowered the flag and would share another story about the man he was named after.
February 6, 2014
I love the Olympics. It doesn’t matter if it’s the winter or the summer games I love everything about them. I love the pagentry of opening ceremonies, watching all the different countries compete in events where the athletes have devoted their entire lives to being Olympians, and the giant party that is the closing ceremonies.
With the winter games starting today in Sochi I thought it would be fun to share some clips from some of my favorite movies based on the Olympics.
And really can you have a post about Olympic movies and NOT include this clip.
Now I want to know what are some of your favorite Olympic Moments?
January 15, 2014
So I’ve been searching the internet to find pictures of who I think Case and Jessica are for Second Chance Hearts.
So without further ado here who I think they are. Case will be played by Jessie Pavelka and Jessica will be played by Mr. Lire’s cousin. What do you think?
January 3, 2014
One hundred and fifteen friggin’ degrees.
A wave of stifling heat hit Ethan the moment he walked out the doors of McCarran International Airport. It was one of the reasons he loathed Vegas in the summer.
Who in their everlovin’ right mind would live here?
He grabbed the handle of a cab door, and felt a thump on the back of his leg. He glanced down to see what hit him, and discovered a face peering up at him.
“Jonathan Wendell Childs, how many times do I have to tell you to stay by my side,” the mother looked turned her attention to him, “I’m so sorry, Sir. He’s been bouncing off the walls since we got off the plane.”
Ethan sympathized with her. He remembered what it was like to travel with his nieces. “That’s all right. My nieces and nephews weren’t meant to sit for very long either. Why don’t you take my cab?”
She shook her head.
“No, that’s okay.. We’re waiting for the hotel shuttle.”
He took in her luggage, the death grip she had on her son and the fussy baby in the car seat. There was no way he was letting a woman who looked to be the same age as his sister and two small kids get on the shuttle. He gestured for the cabbie to get her luggage.
“It’s no problem. Trust me, you want to take the cab.”
He helped load her luggage into the back of the cab, and slipped the cabbie a hundred dollars.
“Her trip is on me,” he said under his breath so only the cab driver could hear him.
What a cute family, too bad he’d never have one.
He opened the door to a waiting cab, and gave the driver his destination. He pushed the encounter with the small family from his mind settled back in the seat, pulled his phone from his pocket, and opened his messages.
He had twenty emails, fifteen missed calls and ten texts. More than half of them from his assistant. Now what, he thought. When he’d spoken to her during his layover in LA, she was on her way out of the office for the weekend. There should have been nothing pressing, at least nothing that couldn’t wait until they were back in the office on Monday.
He scrolled through the emails on the way to the hotel, and spotting one from his brother, he opened it. He smiled, reading the antics of his nieces and nephews. He clicked on the attachment and got his first black and white look at his newest niece or nephew. All he could make out was a hand and two TV static blobs. He couldn’t tell what the sex was, and Ryan wasn’t saying. Not that he was surprised. no one in his family found out if they were having a boy or a girl. Besides if he even knew what to look for when it came to determining the sex, Ryan would have put a sticker over the sex so Ethan wouldn’t know.
The cab pulled to a stop outside his hotel. He put his phone away and exited the cab. The bellhop lead the way with his luggage and Ethan was soon on his way to his room. He waited while the man opened the door, his phone dinged, alerting him to a missed call. He pulled it from his pocket, before he could see who called him, his phone rang again, the ring tone alerting him to who was calling.
“What’s the emergency, Lucy?”
He was not in the mood for any emergencies or problems.
“Your meeting has been postponed until Tuesday morning. Chadwick had an emergency and won’t be back in town until late Monday night.”
“What do you mean he has an emergency? He knows that this was a fly-in-fly-out meeting. I’ve been traveling all summer and want to sleep in my own damned bed this weekend.”
“I know you do, and trust me, I made that abundantly clear. He’s paying for your hotel and your meals while you’re there, and if you want to see a show that’s on him as well.”
“I don’t give a good god-damn that he’s flipping the bill. I can pay for my room. That isn’t the point. I’m tired of traveling. I’ve not been home in months other than to empty out my suitcase and put clean clothes in it.”
“Ethan, calm down and enjoy your weekend in Vegas. Go play at some tables. Have a Vegas hookup.”
He pulled the phone away from his ear and looked at it in disbelief. Lucy hadn’t just told him to have a Vegas hookup, had she?
“Have you been talking to my brother, Lucy?”
Ryan had been after him for almost a year to find a woman and let loose, even if it was just for a weekend.
“No, I haven’t. But you need to relax.”
Before he could retort she hung up. He frowned at his phone before shoving it back into his pocket and turned to face the butler for his suite, villa, whatever the hell it was called. He was suddenly glad he’d followed the impulse to book a room. It looked like a busy weekend in Vegas as always, and rooms could be hard to come by at the last minute.
“I’ve placed your luggage in the master bedroom, Mr. Cartwright. Will there be anything else, Sir?”
He shook the man’s hand to slip him a tip in a time-honored tradition, and thought about his question. After eating nothing but rice and pho for the last month, he was craving a nice juicy burger and fries.
“Yeah there is. Can you tell me where I can get the best burger around here? And I would prefer to not go out in the heat.”
The man laughed, “I don’t blame you. I don’t like to be in the heat either. The Skybox Bar and Grill. The have the firecracker burger there. It’s made with the ghost pepper, it’s so hot the chefs have to wear gloves and respirators to make it.”
“Thanks, Man, I’ll have to check it out.”
Ethan walked into the Skybox Bar and Grill and immediately noticed three things, there were TVs on all the walls with a different sporting event on each one, there wasn’t a lot of people inside, and the brunette sitting by herself at the bar.
She was his fantasy come to life. Shoulder-length, dark brown hair cut in a choppy mess, legs that went on forever under her short jean skirt, toned arms he could see thanks to the tank top she was wearing. When he got a look at her face, however he almost ran into a chair. It was a mixture of Penelope Cruz and Audrey Tautou, the two women who topped his fantasy top five list. If her face wasn’t enough, her laughing blue eyes pulled him in even further. He didn’t care what, he had to do. He wanted to know this woman.
“Is this seat taken?” He asked reaching her side.
He waited as she looked him up and down, before gesturing for him to take his seat. He hadn’t missed the flash of heat in her eyes as she’d appraised him. It was a look he’d become accustomed to during college. It was something he and Ryan had used unabashedly.
He held out his hand.
The mixture of a Spanish and French accent had him suppressing a groan.
“Come here often?” He asked, His skills at picking up women were a little rusty, but he figured with a little work they would come back to him.
She met his gaze head on. From the glimmer in her eye, she knew exactly how she was effecting him.
“Never.” He replied, “So what brings you to Vegas?”
He raised his hand to catch the bartender’s eye.
“A wedding. And you?”
Every time she said something, it took all of his concentration to pay attention to what she was saying and not what he was imaging her saying.
“Business. I was supposed to be here for a few hours, long enough to sign some papers and then fly out.”
He couldn’t keep the irritation at being stuck in Vegas out of his voice. Regardless of that fact, he was suddenly glad his plans had changed.
“So how long you here for?” She asked as she lifted her drink and took a long swallow, tilting her head back to catch the last drops in her cup.
Ethan stared at the long expanse of her exposed neck, and swore he could feel all of the blood in his body head south. Holy hell. He couldn’t remember the last time a woman had affected him this much.
“Till Tuesday. You?”
An idea began to formulate in his mind, as he waited for her answer.
“I leave tomorrow.” She paused, “At least that’s how long the bride paid for the room I’m staying in. Whether I leave or not is up to me.”
No one could ever accuse Ethan of being slow on the uptake, especially when it concerned a beautiful woman. She was as interested as he was.
“Have you eaten?” He asked, no time like the present to get things in motion.
“Non, I couldn’t decide what to eat.”
She gestured towards the menu on the bar in front of them.
“How would you like to join me for dinner? We can move over to one of the tables and get to know each other.”
More nervous than he could ever remember being around a woman, he waited for answer.
“Ouias, I could do this.”
Merde, Audrey thought, as she followed Ethan to the table in corner of the bar. He affected her more than she realized if her English was slipping. Having learned the language as a teenager when she’d gone to boarding school because she had to communicate with her classmates in English. Over the years she’d become just as comfortable in English as she was in her native French and Spanish, unless she became flustered.
Though she did prefer to swear in those languages. Americans rarely understood what she was saying.
From the moment he walked into the bar she’d been aware of him. There was something about him that intrigued her.
It had been a long time since she’d let a stranger talk to her, especially a man. Being the daughter of a famous Spanish footballer, and French actress she’d grown up around charismatic and sexy men.
None of them had ever affected her the way this American did.
She wanted to know more about him.
“Where are you from?” She asked, taking the seat he pulled out for her.
He took the seat across from her and leaned his arms on the table.
“I grew up going between Spain and France. Papí is from Segovia España y maman is from Nîmes, France.”
She leaned her arms on the table, mimicking him.
“How does someone from Segovia meet someone from Nîmes?”
“They met at a fútbol match. Papí loves it, and maman was there with some friends. As maman tells it, it was love at first sight, as papí tells it, it was lust at first sight. I grew up going between the two of them. And attending every single fútbol game between the two countries.”
“So you have some fun stories to tell, huh?”
When he didn’t ask who her parents were, she relaxed the jaw muscles she hadn’t realized she had clenched at his question. In the past whenever she’d met someone new and he had asked where she was from and given this same answer they’d ask if she was related to Amado Rodriguez, the famous footballer. When she’d admit he was her papí they’d forget all about getting to know her and instead clamor for an introduction to him. It had gotten worse as her two older brothers had become professional athletes as well.
“What’s the craziest thing you saw?”
She thought about it for a minute and decided on a story about her brothers. How he reacted to the story would determine whether she stayed to eat with him or not.
“My older brother, Jax, plays fútbol for Juventus. They were playing Málaga, and there was an illegal tackle. When the Málaga player was pulled off of Jax he wasn’t moving. Because of the way he was tackled he was messed up.
While we were at the hospital my brother, Raoul, told a reporter that if he’d been playing a real sport like rugby, he would have known how to take that hit and we wouldn’t be waiting in the hospital to find out if his head was broken.”
“I remember when that happened. I was in France on business and had just started following rugby as it’s similar to football here. It was all over the news. How did your parents react to what he said?”
“Maman wasn’t happy. Papí said it was expected between those two, but told them no more bad talking about each other in the press. We are family and always show a united front.”
“That sounds like something my parents would say. What about you? What do you do?”
It took Audrey a minute to process his question.
She was used to people asking more questions about her family as soon as they discovered who they were, especially her brothers. Having someone ask about her wasn’t something that happened a lot. Though her ex-boyfriend had held off on asking about her family until they were in Vegas for a wedding he thought they would be at.
Overhearing him telling someone he was only there to get the scoop on Jax Rodriguez had been a blow to her self-esteem. As soon as he’d discovered he wouldn’t be meeting him, and pumping him for information he hadn’t wasted anytime in booking a flight home. So much for not caring who her family was.
For a heartbeat she’d regretted all the money she’d spent on sexy lingerie expecting to move their relationship into the bedroom. She couldn’t regret the way she felt wearing them, though, and decided she was going to wear them for herself.
“Earth to Audrey.”
Audrey tuned back to Ethan.
“I’m sorry, you asked what I do. I work in a book store.”
“Do you do the ordering of books or help people find books they are looking for?”
“Both. I’ve spent the last couple of years learning everything I need to know to open my own bookstore. I love exposing people to good books.”
“When did you learn English?”
His change of direction threw her for a moment.
“When I was fourteen, my parents sent me to a boarding school in Scotland. I was forced to learn it.”
“You speak it beautifully.”
She ducked her head and smiled because of his compliment. She wasn’t a shy person, at least not now. Before she’d been sent to Scotland she rarely ever spoken, but something about the way he looked at her had her feeling almost bashful.
His gaze was so intense and piercing, like he was trying to discover all her secrets.
Before she could respond, their waiter arrived. Opening her menu she glanced at it briefly before closing and ordering. She’d been contemplating the menu when he’d walked into the bar.
She had taken one look at him and felt an instant attraction. He looked nothing like the men she usually dated, as she tended to date Hispanic men.
Ethan looked like she’s always imagined an All-American Male looked like, tall with golden brown skin from the sun, light brown hair and brown eyes. It was also his casual elegance, that spoke he was someone who was comfortable with who he was.
Ethan’s order broke into her thoughts. She stared at him in shock.
“Did you really just order The Ghost Burger?”
He leaned back, stretching out his body for her perusal, “Yep, and I’m going to eat it and document it for my cousins back home. Eating this burger will make me the hottest food king.”
She stared at him incredulously.
“Is this a good thing?”
All of the moisture in her mouth dried up as he put his hands behind his and stretched his spine so that every can of his six-pack showed through his t-shirt.
Maudit, she thought, I would drink from every can in that six-pack. She’d never understood or really appreciated the sayings her American roommates had taught her until now.
He flashed a quick grin at her, and it had all of her nerve endings dancing. Oh, the things he made her want to do.
“Yeah it’s a good thing. When we were kids our cousins from Louisiana would brag that they could eat anything no matter how hot it was, so my brother and I challenged them to a hot contest. Right now my brother, Ryan, is the champion, He made this hotter than hell chili with all sorts of hot peppers and ate an entire bowl.” He laughed, and Audrey knew it was a good memory, “That chili was so hot no one else would take more than a bite. If I eat this burger I get to unseat him, and I will be the new king.”
“You and your brother are close, no?” She asked, from the laughing adoration in his voice she could tell he loved his brother.
“He’s my best friend.” There was a hint of something in his voice as he said it, that struck her as poignant, and a little envious.
They drifted into a companionable silence, each lost in their own thoughts until their food came.
Audrey watched in stunned disbelief, her own food forgotten as Ethan ate every piece of his burger. He also drank several glasses of milk.
Their waiter was holding a camera to document him eating something no one had been able to eat before. He’d attracted a crowd as he had eaten and several of the women were checking him out. The sudden and viscous mine that went through shook her.
She had known him less than an hour and to have this strong of an emotional connection to him had warning bells going off in her head. Not that she was going to back away. No, she was going to see it through. Explore what he made her feel, and when it was time to leave Vegas, she was going to go on with the plans she’d started months ago.
As he took his last bite the crowd cheered and several men swarmed him in a rush to congratulate him. She shook her head at their antics. Even growing up with three brothers, she would never understand the things that made them cheer.
“Congratulations, Sir, you are the first person to finish eating the Ghost Burger.”
She leaned back in her chair and watched Ethan accept congratulations from everyone and get his picture taken for the bar’s wall. The crowd eventually departed and she was left alone with Ethan. The smile creasing his face transformed him from an intense but gorgeous man, to a fun, go with the flow guy.
Like most people, herself included, Ethan had two sides to him. She wondered which one she was going to get to know. Both sides of him intrigued her, and she’d only known him for an hour.
The crowd eventually dispersed, leaving them alone. He was wearing a grin. She’d heard one of her brother’s friends describe as “shit eating.” It was a phrase she’d never understood. Why would you were a smile while eating shit. She figured it was one of those American sayings she would never understand.
“Are you going to call your brother and inform him you have just beaten him?”
“Nah, where would the fun be in that? I’m going to order a giant print of the picture where I take my last bite and get the trophy and have it delivered to him,” Ethan laughed.
The sound was low and erotic, and washed over her body. She resisted fanning herself. Between his grin and laugh she swore it was hotter inside the casino than out.
Ethan paid for the check when it came, after the waiter departed Ethan put a hundred dollar bill on the table and leaned close.
“Do you feel lucky?”
The snort laugh that came out of her mouth made the edges of his mouth tip up. “Did you just quote Dirty Harry?”
“You know Clint Eastwood?”
“He’s huge in Europe. I had a roommate from Italy who swore that the American West, except for L.A., was just like his western movies. My dad however loved his Dirty Harry movies.”
“So, are you feeling lucky?”
Intrigued, she leaned forward, “I am,” she nodded towards the hundred dollar bill on the table. “What’s that for?”
“We’re going to see how long we can ride this hundred dollars. You pick the game and I provided the hundred.”
Audrey wasn’t a gambling person, point in fact she’d been in Vegas for a week and hadn’t gambled once. Her choices for the evening were to turn him down and spend her last night in Vegas herself in her hotel room or say yes and spend her last night with an incredibly sexy man.
She chose option two.
“I’m in. The game is craps.”
Ethan stood, swiping up the money and extending his hand to her. “Do you know anything about craps?”
She shook her head.
“Not a thing.”
The part of her brain that warned caution at all times, started to remind her of the last guy she’d followed blindly, but she quickly hushed herself. For once in her life she wasn’t going to err on the side of caution. Nope, she was going to through caution to the wind and see where the evening took her.
She took his hand and followed him out of the bar and through the throng of people. The first three craps tables they came to were full, but the fourth had an opening for one more person. Ethan shifted so she was in front of him and pressed her to the table.
The feel of him pressed up against her, had her brain shorting out, and parts of her body that hadn’t seen any real action coming to life.
He leaned over her, and threw the hundred down on the table.
The next three hours flew by as they got caught up in the thrill of the game. Audrey could see why this game was used to fill sexy times in movies and books. The adrenaline rush that came with the game, combined with the whole blow a kiss on the dice myth ratcheted up the sexual tension over everyone at the table.
Ethan held the dice out to her and blew on them, just like she had every time he’d thrown, but this time she kept her eyes on his and saw his pupils dilate and heard the indrawn breath.
If he was feeling half as much as she was she was surprised they hadn’t caught on fire.
She was oblivious to what was happening with the dice, her gaze trapped in his. She dimly heard the people around them yelling and saw hands slapping Ethan.
She leaned forward at the same time he did, their mouths meeting.
The second her lips touched his, all the nerve endings in her mouth went off like the fireworks in Washington D.C. on the Fourth of July. Her brain shut off and her body melted like the sweat on the outside of a chilled glass of champagne on a hot summer day.
She didn’t know how long the kiss lasted, and she didn’t care. She wanted more.
The cheering and clapping brought her out of the cloud of lust She pulled back a millimeter at time, and whispered across his mouth, “Félicitations. Sounds like you’re the big winner.”
Ethan stared down into the glazed blue eyes of the woman who had just sent his blood pressure into the atmosphere. He’d thought the scorching heat from the burger was going to sear his brains cells off, but no. The last three hours with her body pressed against his, the kisses she’d pressed to his knuckles before every throw, under the guise of blowing on them, had him questioning everything he’d believed and thought for the last several years. She was even hotter.
The moment her lips had touched his, the memory of the mouth burning burger fled, replaced for every with the memory of his first kiss with Audrey.
Fire ran through his veins, setting alight nerve endings, creating sensations he didn’t remember ever feeling before.
It was all he could do to not pull her into him and strip them both naked to put out the fire racing through him.
“Madre de Dios” he murmured. He was almost positive she would find bruises on her hips from the grip he had on her. In all the years he’d been enjoying the female body he’d never had a kiss like this one. Combined with the fact he hadn’t been with a woman in years, the result of his self-imposed celibacy for an event in his life he felt responsible for, and he was ready to go up in flames.
While his body was scrambling to calm down, the noise of the crowd penetrated the haze that was Audrey.
“Congratulations, Sir, you’ve won again. Would you like to place another bet, Sir.
He looked at the dealer, his brow crinkled, as he held a trembling Audrey in his arms. He was glad to know she was just as affected as he was.
“No. I want to cash out.”
The dealer handed him a ticket. Ethan didn’t bother looking at it. He just shoved it into his pocket. He turned and for the first time in his life, he ignored the manners his mother had beaten into him and his siblings. Grasping Audrey’s hand, he dragged her from the casino floor and toward the elevator lobby.
“What floor are you on?” He asked in a deep voice.
He needed her alone, now. He needed to put out the fire racing through his body, and the only way he wanted to that was inside her.
Reaching the elevators he stabbed the up button and pulled Audrey in front of him. He had just enough working brain cells to make sure no one could see how much relief he needed.
“Room 25001.” She whispered, her breathing ragged.
As the elevator opened he ushered her in and hit the button for the twenty-fifth floor. Not caring whether the doors were closed or not, he spun her toward the back wall and pressed himself into her body.
Before he could do more than begin to kiss her, the swift elevator dinged and the doors opened. He reluctantly pulled back from her and ushered her out onto her floor. She led the way down the hall and with every sway of her hips, he groaned under his breath.
Audrey stopped at a door and turned to face him.
“I never do this. I don’t invite men I’ve just met to my hotel room.”
A savage part of him, one he had been unaware of, smiled.
“I don’t follow women I’ve just met to their hotel rooms,” he paused, “Please tell me you’re protected.” If she wasn’t, well then a bellman was going to make a very large tip.
The tightness in the muscles of her back where his hand rested relaxed a fraction. She nodded her head, and slid the keycard into the slot, unlocking the door. She pushed it open and he followed her into the room.
copyrighted by Heather Lire