I’m a little, tiny bit excited right now because I finally get to share the cover for Concealed with you! I think it might be the prettiest cover in the Hiding From Love series so far. Concealed is the third book in the series, and the second full-length novel. Each book can be read as a standalone, but they are linked. So, take a look at the super hot cover for Concealed, and then scroll down for a sneak peek of the first two chapters!
Concealed Copyright 2013 © Selena Laurence
A donde el corazon se inclina, el pie camina.
Follow Your Heart
The guy standing in front of me is a pussy. Granted, I don’t know him, but I can tell. Little wire rimmed glasses, floppy brown hair, t-shirt with the damn chemical formula for coffee on the front of it – a pussy, and he’s just answered the door at the apartment of the woman I’ve come four thousand miles to see.
“Can I help you?” he says as he fiddles with his iPhone.
“Yeah, I’m here to see Alexis.” I inhale and smell the faint odor of bacon from inside the apartment.
The guy finally quits fucking with the phone and looks up at me. I see when it happens. That moment he realizes who I am.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he mutters, a scowl settling on his face.
I smile – sort of. “Excuse me?”
“Marco? Who’s at the door?” I hear her call from inside. The adrenaline shoots through my system and I clench my fists, the need to take some sort of physical action nearly overwhelming. Knowing she is so close, but this asshole is literally and figuratively in between us is almost more than I can bear.
Marco, the pussy, is still standing there staring at me, and before he can gather himself to answer, Alexis peeks out from behind him, trying to see who’s interrupting their domestic bliss at nine a.m. on a Sunday morning.
The smile she starts with drops from her face, and I can see her skin visibly pale. She steps out from behind her boyfriend, the same boyfriend she’d said she was done with two years ago, and gapes at me.
“Hey babe,” I say cheerfully. “How the hell are you?”
No hay rosa sin espinas
Every rose has its thorns.
I stand next to my boyfriend of four years and look into the face of the man I cheated on him with. Here. At the front door of my apartment. And it all comes rushing back. The way he made me feel. His heat and his size, and his obnoxious, overbearing personality. Marco looks down at me as if I had something to do with this very unwelcome intrusion.
“So, Lex, you going to ask him in…or what?” he drawls at me.
I look up at Marco wondering if he’s lost his mind. He stares back at me blandly. “Uh,” I clear my throat. “Um, yeah. Why don’t you come on in.” I gesture to the living room with my arm as I move out of the way. Marco, however, seems to be planted in concrete in the doorway. Gabe steps toward him, and they stand there, chest to chest. Well, not exactly, since Gabe is about three inches taller, but in any case, neither one of them moves, and I can feel the testosterone churning like water in a Jacuzzi.
“Marco?” I ask quietly. “Are you going to let him by?”
He blinks one more time at Gabe who bares his teeth at him – yeah, I know, it was supposed to be a smile, but I’m just sayin’.
“Sorry about that. Come right on in. Looks like she’s invited you,” Marco says, his voice full of bitterness as he steps out of the way.
“Cool,” Gabe responds moving inside. “But I’m not a vampire, you know. I don’t need an invitation.”
I swallow. Marco’s face turns an interesting shade of burgundy and his jaw clenches. Gabe walks on in and sits down on the sofa, looking like he owns the place. Some things never change.
Holy crap. Why is this happening to me? Haven’t I been punished enough for what I did? I look at Marco apologetically. “I swear I had no idea,” I grit through my teeth to him as we continue to stand in the doorway. “I haven’t had any contact with him, just like I promised. None.”
Marco avoids eye contact with me. “I believe you. So what the hell is he doing here?”
“I have no idea, but I’ll get rid of him fast, I promise.”
“Do you think you’re safe alone with him?” he asks.
If there is one thing I’m not, it’s safe alone with Gabe, but not in the way Marco thinks.
“Yes,” I say truthfully, sticking to Marco’s definition of “safe.”
“Then I’m out of here,” he replies. “I’m sorry, but I can’t deal with this right now, I’ve got to keep my head in the game if I’m going to take those LSATs next month. I’ll go grab a cup of coffee, call me when he’s gone.”
“Ok,” I say as I lean up and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “I’ll see you later.”
He grimaces at me and walks out shutting the door behind him. I stand there for a minute, afraid to turn around and face what comes next. Suddenly a low voice speaks next to my ear and I jump, turning to face the 6’1” 210 pounds of male beauty that stands close enough for me to feel his heat and smell his cologne.
“Two years, babe,” he growls. “Two fucking years, and not a word.”
I swallow and try to look away. He brings his fingers up underneath my chin and forces my eyes to his.
“We had an agreement. And don’t try to tell me your feelings changed. I can see it in your face. Nothing’s changed in those two years. Not one damn thing.” He steps closer, forcing me to back up against the door, then he puts his hands on either side of my head. He leans in to me, and breaths deeply. “God, you still smell the same. Like flowers and Alexis.”
My heartrate skyrockets even higher, something I didn’t think was possible right now. He brushes his cheek against mine, and I can feel the stubble there, my nerve endings flaring to life as I remember the last time he had his face this close to me. I can almost smell the dust and diesel fumes from the trucks where we stood in the center of the US Army camp in Afghanistan, chaos erupting around us while he caressed my face and murmured how he loved me.
“What are you doing here?” I whisper, trying hard to keep my hands at my sides so I won’t touch him back.
He pulls away enough to look me in the eye. “What do you think I’m doing here? I came for you.”
I gather up all my emotional strength and give him a little shove. He moves just enough so I can step away from him and the door. I know it’s only because he’s letting me. If Gabe wanted to keep me pinned here for the next twelve hours he could.
I walk into the living room and sit down in the armchair. No couch for me. Huh uh. I need my own, very private, single space.
Gabe smirks as he eases past me to sit on the sofa, as if he knows exactly why I made the seating selection I did.
“You know, you can’t just show up at people’s homes unannounced like this,” I scold, trying to keep things as formal as possible. “You really upset Marco.”
Gabe snorts. “Markie Marc will get over it,” he replies rolling his eyes.
“I’m serious, Gabe. This is totally unacceptable.”
“And I’m serious too, Alexis,” he responds, cool as the proverbial cucumber. “He’ll get over it, and I don’t give a damn what’s acceptable or not. You and I had an agreement, and you reneged. I want to know why, and I’m not going anywhere until you explain it to me. I might not go anywhere then either, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
I run my hand through my dark hair in frustration. “Give me a minute to catch up here. You know we haven’t spoken in two years, and suddenly you’re at my door on a Sunday morning with no warning. The last time I heard from you was a letter from Hawaii like eighteen months ago or something.”
He leans forward and his jaw is set in a hard line, his eyes narrowed. “Really? You really want to bring up the fact that I wrote you eighteen months ago from Hawaii? You want to talk about the last time you heard from me? Because I can tell you the last time I heard from you. Oh, wait! That’s right, I never did hear from you. No phone calls, no letters, not one fucking word, Alexis. After I told you I loved you, after you swore you and college boy were done.”
He stands up and starts pacing the room like some sort of caged jungle cat. The apartment is small and he’s big, and I feel claustrophobic suddenly, like the room doesn’t have enough air.
“What do you want me to say? Does it even matter why it happened? It’s over. It’s been over for two years. Why are you doing this now?”
He continues to pace the room, touching little things as he walks around, observing my physical environment in a way that makes me feel like he is undressing me, seeing my vulnerabilities in my knick-knacks.
“You really think it’s over?” he asks softly. Dangerously.
I stand up and fold my arms protectively across my chest. “Yes, I really do.”
He stalks closer to me. “Yeah?”
I swallow, my breath coming faster the closer he gets.
He reaches me and stands almost flush against me from head to toe, his arms at his sides. I should step back, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him know how uncomfortable he makes me. His voice is deep and heated, and I feel it low in my core, where it circles around places it shouldn’t.
“If it’s over, then you won’t mind if I do this, because it won’t mean a damn thing.” He leans down and brushes his lips across mine. I moan softly, unable to control the involuntary reaction to the sexiest man I’ve ever known.
His lips return, pressing more firmly this time, his tongue sliding out to lick my top lip, then my bottom one. I feel his hand come up behind my head as he digs his fingers into my hair and pulls me closer while my mouth opens to him, and his tongue slides inside like temptation into a sinner.
As I melt into his hold on me, my gut burning to touch him everywhere, a door slams outside and I start, pulling away. My eyes fly open as I realize what I’ve done. He has that look on his face that I hate. The one that says, “I can melt your panties any damn time I want.” In that moment I hate him, hate what he can make me do. Before I know what I’m doing, I bring my hand up and send it flying across his face with a loud smack.
He stands staring at me for a minute, and I see something that looks a lot like hurt cross his face, making me regret what I’ve done almost before I’ve done it. But then he recovers and the cocky, smirk returns.
“That’s what I thought,” he snarls at me. “This,” he gestures between the two of us, “is nowhere near done. And I’m not going anywhere, babe, so when you’re done denying it, give me a call. I sent you my number plenty of times, I’m sure you’ve got it stashed away somewhere. I’ll be in town indefinitely.”
With that he strolls out the door. I have a vase in my hand before he’s even cleared the opening, but the shattering sound it makes as it hits the door is no more satisfying then kissing him was.