But this had caught him off-guard,
something evil and sinister he’d never seen coming,
an invitation in a smile, drawing his lips to hers like a lamb to the slaughter.
A blood sacrifice of his marriage vow on the altar of lust.
—A Love Surrendered by Julie Lessman
HAPPY FRIDAY!!! First off, I’d like to give a great big THANK YOU to each and every one of you who took the time to vote in the Family Fiction Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards! Whether you voted for me or not, it’s important to support both the Christian authors you love and Family Fiction Magazine, one of the premiere online magazines that promotes Christian fiction in the market today. You might want to sign up for this excellent free online magazine because you will not regret it!
Now, as many of you already know, I sponsored a contest for anyone that voted in the Family Fiction Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards, which entered them in a random drawing to receive a $25 gift card and a signed copy of A Love Surrendered. We had a stellar turnout, and OH, how I wish I could send each and every one of you a gift card and a signed copy of A Love Surrendered! But, alas, if I did, my husband would shoot me and Marcy and Patrick’s prequel would never be finished, so it’s really better this way! J
That said, I am happy to announce that the winner of this contest is …
Super congrats to Johanna, and I will be contacting you about your gift card and then sending you a signed copy of A Love Surrendered when it releases October 1st. Yes, you read correctly—October 1st rather than my usual release date of September 1st. I have to admit, when I found this out, I was a wee bit surprised, but my publisher assures me that October will be a much better release date for me than September. Sigh … what’s a month between friends, right?
So … to get you in the mood for A Love Surrendered, I have already given newsletter recipients a sneak peek at a Steven and Annie excerpt in my February 2012 newsletter, so those of you who don’t get my newsletter may want to sign up for it on the newsletter tab of this website at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/. And if you are signed up and didn’t receive the newsletter, PLEASE let me know that as well.
Then to celebrate the one-year blogaversary of a good friend of mine, Megan from Hardcover Feedback blog, I am offering another fun Steven/Annie excerpt along with a book giveaway of a signed copy of any of my books including A Love Surrendered, but the giveaway ends TOMORROW, Saturday, March 3, so you may want to hightail it over to leave a comment. In addition, there are also fourteen giveaways from other authors as well, all ending tomorrow, including MaryLu Tyndall, Sarah Sundin, Lorna Seilstad, Camy Tang, Marta Perry, Cheryl St. John and Kathleen Y’Barbo, to mention just a few, so you may want to check it out. Here’s the link:
And now, as promised, here’s a scene from A Love Surrendered that involves Katie and Luke. Our quote today comes from their sub plot where Luke is upset when he finds out Katie is being tutored by her old fiancé Jack. He forbids her to continue, telling her, “It’s just not smart, Katie, for a married woman to spend time alone with a man unless he’s the dean, a blood relative or a priest.” But when Katie discovers that the late hours he’s been keeping at work include a pretty, young intern, she blows her top, ending in a huge fight followed by two weeks of silence. This scene picks up where Luke apologizes to Katie at the end of the two weeks, and as you will see, our Mr. McGee has to choke down a hefty piece of humble pie.
I hope you enjoy it! Have a great weekend!
The clock in the parlor chimed nine as he slipped into his pajama bottoms and spiked fingers through his hair. Wiping down the sink, he tossed his towel over the rack and his clothes in the hamper, peeking in on Kit on his way to the kitchen. Chugging a glass of milk, he heard the front door open and close, and instantly the milk pooled in his mouth. He set the empty glass in the sink and sucked in a deep swallow of air, ambling down the hall as if it were a walk in the park.
She was bent over the coffee table with a stack of books in her hands, and his eyes automatically roved from shapely legs to the gentle curve of her hips, imparting a heated awareness of just how much he’d missed his wife. Swallowing the knot of pride in his throat, he folded his arms and slacked a hip to the wall. “You hungry, ‘cause I can fix you a sandwich?”
Emitting a tiny squeak, she whirled around so fast half the books spilled on the floor. She slapped a hand to her chest, voice hoarse. “Good night, McGee, why don’t you just hide behind the door and jump out—you scared the living daylights out of me!”
Tamping down a smile, he strolled in and retrieved her books. “Sorry, Sass, but I do live here you know, as unappealing as that may be at the moment.”
He leaned over to kiss her, but she quickly turned away. “How’s Kit?” she asked over her shoulder on the way to their room. “Did she go to bed without a fuss?”
“Yeah, if you don’t count three glasses of water and six stories a ‘fuss.’” He followed her down the hall, eyeing her from the door as she unbuttoned her blouse. “How’d your orals go?”
“Fine.” She glanced up, color staining her cheeks as he watched her take off her blouse. Shifting her hip, she clasped the blouse close with a tight purse of her lips. “Do you mind?”
No way he could stop the lazy grin that slid over his face. “Not at all, Sass, you go right ahead.”
Blouse bunched, she angled a brow. “Well then, do you mind turning around?”
He crossed his arms and leaned against the door, the slightest bit of edge to his tone. “Actually I do. You’re my wife, Katie Rose, and I can look all I want.”
Emitting a noisy breath, she snatched her nightgown and started for the bathroom.
He blocked her way with palms flat to the door, softening his tone. “Come on, Sass, can’t we talk this out, please? I have something I need to say.”
She parked her hands on her hips, blouse dangling at her side. “Well, unless it’s an apology, McGee, you’ll be talking to yourself.” She paused, tilting her head to the right. “Or as your wife, is listening something else I’m expected to do?”
He exhaled, feeling the heat of his pride creeping up the back of his neck. “It is,” he said quietly, “an apology, that is, not something you’re expected to do.” His smile was contrite.
That took the wind out of her sails. Her chin inched up. “All right … I’m listening.”
He pried a hand from her hip and led her to the sofa, easing her down before sitting beside her. Replenishing his air, he took both of her hands in his. “Katie,” he whispered, forcing the words from his throat. “I …” He swallowed hard, cleared his throat and tried again. “Katie, I … well, I owe you an apology,” he said in a rush. There. It was out, and he wasn’t even annoyed by the drop of her chin. Thumbs grazing her palms, he forged on. “I was wrong to yell at you in the office, and I apologize.” He released a reedy breath. Okay, that wasn’t so bad.
She arched a brow. “And?”
Without realizing it, he began to grind his jaw. “And …” he said, dragging the word out as long as he could, “I want you to know I respect your opinion regarding the situation with Lauren, and I won’t be working with her again.”
He blinked, a muscle spasm adding to the grind of his jaw. “Because … she’s gone, so you have nothing to worry about.”
“Gone?” she said, the question as flat as the press of her lips.
“Because she just is.”
She leaned forward, eyes laying him bare. “Gone to lunch, gone across town, gone on vacation—I want facts, McGee, not single syllables.”
He blasted out a sigh. “For pity’s sake, Katie, I fired her, okay?”
She nodded her head. “I see. And why exactly would you do that?”
He gulped, nearly choking on the words caught in his throat. “Because … you were right …” His eyelids flickered briefly as he pushed the rest of the sentence off the tip of his tongue. “And … I was … wrong.”
Her smile could have blinded him, which given the superior gloat in her eyes, might be a good thing. “Ahhhhh … words I never thought I’d hear from the lips of Luke McGee.” She sat back with a fold of her arms, the smile suddenly nowhere in sight. Her voice was clipped. “And when exactly did this revelation occur?”
It felt like fire ants were swarming his neck, which, based on the dangerous look on Katie’s face, would have been his first option. His voice was a croak. “Uh … recently.”
She cocked her head, brows lifting to new heights. “Really. How recently, would you say? Last week, this week, yesterday, today?
His voice cracked. “Today.”
She leaned forward, and he was pretty sure her eyes burned more than the ants. “Why?” she whispered, her voice akin to the calm before the storm.
Avoiding her gaze, he opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He swallowed hard, tried again. Still nothing.
Lunging forward with wildfire in her eyes, she jerked his chin up, index finger and thumb pinching his skin. “So help me, Luke McGee, you better spit it out right now what you or that woman did to get her fired or I will launch on you like a bad of case of measles scratched raw.”
Teeth clenched, muscle spasms in his face had a field day as he slowly removed her hand from his jaw, biting the words out. “She-made-a-pass-at-me, okay? Are you satisfied?”
“Deliriously. What happened?” she snapped.
He shot to his feet and started to pace, practically gouging his hair by the roots. “Nothing, I swear. She was on a stool pulling a box from a shelf and needed help.” He reinforced his lungs with more air, then dove right back in as he mauled the back of his neck. “The next thing I know, I’m helping her down and she … she …”
Katie’s eyes narrowed, stretching two syllables into four. “She-e wha-t?
He stopped, suddenly too exhausted to worry anymore. Venting with a sigh, he plopped on the couch and put his head in his hands. “She slid down the front of me and put her hands to my waist. Said my body was like a rock.”
Nothing. He waited, not sure he wanted to see her expression. A giggle floated in the air, and he glanced up, a pinch of hurt between his brows. “You think this is funny?”
Lips pursed to ward off a smile, she shook her head in a series of tiny, little shakes before her eyes widened with a grate of her lip. “Are you sure she wasn’t talking about your head?”
His eyes narrowed into a squint. “This isn’t funny, Katie Rose, and I think you’re being awfully cavalier about another woman flirting with your husband.”
She sobered quickly, a tender slant to her brows. “No, darling, I don’t think this is funny. I’m just venting with humor so I don’t scratch your eyes out.”
“Oh,” he said, discreetly scooting a few inches away.
“Did you kiss her?”
He jerked up as if he’d been shot. “Kiss her??” he rasped, nearly dislocating his jaw. “For the love of all that’s decent, Katie, are you crazy? No, I didn’t kiss her, I pushed her away.”
Her lips twitched. “And she didn’t kiss you?”
He shook his head hard. “Of course not! I wasn’t about to let it get that far.”
“And you fired her?”
“Absolutely, right on the spot.”
She took his hand in hers, ducking to peek up at him. “Then what’s the problem, Luke? You admitted I was right and you were wrong, you apologized, you resisted temptation and you sent the hussy packing. All in all, I’d say that’s a pretty good day.”
He shot her a sideways glance, mouth sagging that she was taking it so well. His lips clamped as a sliver of hurt prickled. Too well. “Aren’t you even a little jealous?”
She shimmied close to tuck an arm to his waist. “Not really, because unlike someone I know,” she said with teasing emphasis, “I trust you, which …” She poked his shoulder. “is not carte blanche for a married man or woman to spend time alone with the opposite sex unless they are the boss, a blood relative or clergy.” She pressed a lingering kiss to his cheek. “But that said, I’ve watched women ogle you since my first day at the BCAS, Luke McGee, and heaven knows I’ve done my fair share. So it’s no great surprise to me that women find you to be a dangerously handsome man. But I also know you love me, you love God and you love your family with a vengeance, and in every single situation I’ve ever seen you in with a woman—me included—you’ve proven yourself to be one of the most honorable and decent man I’ve ever known.”
A slow grin traveled his lips. He slipped an arm to her waist, pulling her close. “Really?”
“Really.” She scrunched her nose. “Of course your thick head and caveman mentality does cancel a lot of that out, you know.”
His grin faded to soft as he caressed her cheek, weaving his hand into her hair. “I love you, Katie Rose,” he whispered, a prick of wetness in his eyes. “Thank you for loving me.”
“You’re welcome, Luke,” she said softly, grazing his jaw with the tips of her fingers. The barest hint of a twinkle lit in her eye. “It’s not too hard, you know—most of the time.”
He zeroed in on her lips, and his mouth went dry. “Dangerously handsome? Caveman mentality?” Prodding her back on the couch, he gave her a grin that had trouble written all over it. “You’re putting ideas into my head, Sass,” he whispered, taking his time to suckle her ear.
“Wouldn’t take much, McGee,” she said, voice breathless. “You tend to have a one-track mind when it comes to your wife.”
The grin ramped up to perilous. “Glad you noticed. I’d be in a sorry state if you hadn’t.” In one seamless move, he eased her legs up on the couch and stretched out beside her, playfully tugging her lip before delving into a kiss that made them both groan. “I wonder,” he whispered, her skin warm against his mouth, “should I utilize my caveman skills and carry you to bed over my shoulder or …” He nuzzled his way down the curve of her throat. “Just make love to you right here?” His ragged breathing matched hers to a heartbeat as he placed wispy kisses along the delicate line of her collarbone. His hungry hand swept the length of her, pausing to play with the button of her skirt. He looked up with a half-lidded smile. “Any suggestions?”
“Just one,” she said, voice hoarse and breathing even worse. She lassoed his neck and pulled him down hard. “Shut up and kiss me.”