A Valentine’s Gift for You (Novel Excerpt)
I thought on Valentine’s Day it might be nice to share most of one of the romantic (not necessarily erotic) chapters from my novel. Just a little somethin’ somethin’ out of Compliments from a Stranger. I hope you enjoy this little excerpt and look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Against a Wall
…About two hours into her work, Reese was bored. It wasn’t exciting work and it was Sunday, dammit. She wanted to have some fun on her weekends, not be sitting in the office. She sent Kyle a quick text, “Are you coming today or not?!” and waited for his response.
While she was waiting for Kyle, one of her favorite songs came into her music shuffle. She started dancing at her desk then singing out loud. She didn’t have a great voice, but it was passable and she’d never gotten booed at karaoke nights. She really started getting into the song, dancing out of her cube and into the open space beside it. Her eyes were closed, head thrown back and enjoying the moment. She was belting out the chorus and dancing fairly provocatively when she bumped into a wall. Or, what she thought was the wall. She opened her eyes and saw the Stranger standing there in front of her, a gleam in his eye and a smile on his lips. Reese quickly took in the sight of him – he was more dressed down today in slim-fitting jeans and a nice shirt, opened at the throat. This was the first time she’d ever seen him without a high-dollar suit and power tie and she definitely liked this more relaxed version of him.
“You were right.” he joked, “That was exceptionally more pleasant than the last time you ran into me.” He smirked down at her, fighting against an outright laugh at her expense. He was actually almost as breathless as she’d become, taken away by her abandon and freedom.
“Hi!” she practically gushed at him. Her smile was broad and real as she came back to her senses. ‘Why am I always running into him?!’ she thought ‘He’s going to think I’m a complete ditz!’
“What are you doing here?” they asked at the same time, then laughed.
“I’m just waiting for a coworker so we can work on a project.” she answered first. “You?”
“Making up for last week before my business trip next week.” he replied. His heart simultaneously soared and sank when he saw her face go from happy to sad in the breadth of that sentence. He was happy to see she didn’t want him to be gone but saddened that he would have to miss her face again. Not to mention that body of hers. Watching her dance around, even in a shapeless sweatshirt, had him wanting to push her against the filing cabinets and take her then and there. But, since he hadn’t even had the guts to tell her his name yet, he doubted that would happen.
She felt her smile leave her face when he said he’d be gone for a week. ‘No bumping into him and no compliments, for another week. Damn. Guess that means there would be no date next weekend, either.’
Before she could say anything, her phone rang. Figuring it’d be Kyle, she told the Stranger, “Sorry. I have to take this. Will you be here a while longer?” He nodded and stepped out of the office, back across the hall to his own.
“Hey.” was her only greeting, seeing it was indeed Kyle via the Caller ID.
“Hey back. Sorry, I won’t be able to meet you today. Car’s acting up again.”
“Fine.” was all she said and then she hung up. She’d never hung up on Kyle before. It kind of felt good – liberating. Working today had been his idea and now he wasn’t going to show? And with the same old excuse he’d always used? He was probably still with some loose woman he’d picked up last night. Forget him.
She looked out across the hall, thinking she might go over and talk to the Stranger. Maybe get his name so she could stop thinking of him as “the Stranger”. But, his light was out. Confused by this turn of events, she returned to her desk and sat down dejectedly, turning her music down until it was just white noise in the background. She thought, ‘Well, since this day is already shot, I might as well finish the timeline before I leave.’
About 30 minutes later, the timeline was mostly done and needed some input from Kyle to be fully complete. She shut down her system and then turned off the office lights. As she turned to the door to leave, she saw a man standing in the way, back-lit from the dim hallway lights. She jumped at first, scared at his presence, but then she could tell from his build that it was her Stranger. She smiled as he stepped into her darkened office. When he pulled the door closed behind him the lock automatically engaged.
“I thought you left.” she said happily. “I’m glad you’re still here.”
“I’ve been sitting over there in the dark, debating what I should do. I decided I had to come over when I saw your light go off. I was afraid you’d leave and I wouldn’t get a chance to see you.” he walked to her as he spoke quietly, gently touching her upper arms when he reached her, walking her backward until she was against the cabinets. He was doing exactly what he had imagined earlier and she wasn’t arguing. “There’s one more thing I’d like to do before I leave…if you’ll let me.” This last he said in a whisper just over her head as if he was saying it more as a prayer than as a statement to her.
Reese leaned back as much as possible so she could look up at him. In her tennis shoes, she realized how short she really was compared to him and she that liked it. He made her feel protected rather than in any danger. She raised her eyebrows in question but said nothing; she simply waited to see what he would do.
He smiled down at her but he too remained silent. He knew this was real but he still couldn’t believe his luck. He fully expected her to stop him at any moment.
With a slight hesitation, he placed his hand on her cheek and held it there. She leaned into his hand, her short hair brushing against the back of it, silky and soft. He slid his other hand down her arm, his thumb barely skimming over her full breast. He laid his hand on her waist then moved it around to the small of her back. He tilted her face up and back then brought his down slowly to meet it. Before his lips touched hers, his eyes searched hers for any resistance. She smiled and nodded slightly then slowly closed her eyes, anticipating the warm touch of his lips.
He didn’t disappoint her. He dropped the last few inches and touched her lips gently with his. He loosely entwined his fingers into her hair, pulling her deeper into the kiss. Pressing gently into her back at the softest point just above her hip, he guided her into place against him. Her lips parted slightly and he tasted the sweetest mix of coffee and chocolate. Her small tongue darted out and tentatively licked his upper lip. He moaned against her mouth and dug his fingers deeper into her flesh, willing himself not to push too hard during this first kiss.
It was taking most of his willpower not to grind against her pelvis to let her know how much he really wanted her. He felt she deserved a soft, slow seduction and he wanted to show her he was the man capable of giving that to her. He was quickly falling in love with this complicated, klutzy, beautiful woman.
Reese realized she was simply holding her hands at her side, as if she wasn’t a willing participant in what was happening. Well, she was no Barbie doll there for him to control. Curling her fingers into the soft cloth of his shirt open shirt collar she pulled him closer then inched her fingers downward until they were dancing against his waist. With an insistent tug on his belt loops, she coaxed him closer until he leaned completely against her, trapping her between the cabinet and his body.
She opened her lips wider, encouraging him to open his as well. When his lips parted, she slipped her tongue inside, skipping softly against his. He sank deeper against her, crushing his lips against hers, their tongues wrestling and tasting. His taste was sweet as peppermint, and she instantly wanted to taste all of him.
It was physically obvious how much this man desired her and yet his restraint was astonishing to her. Kyle had never treated her like this – with him it had been hard, rough, pure grab-and-go from the beginning. She’d always thought of Kyle as just being passionate, his desire spilling over in an uncontrollable frenzy. But, this man, this Stranger, was treating her with gentleness and respect but she could still feel his desire and passion. She wanted to connect with him more than she’d ever wanted to be with Kyle.
Feeling wanton and sexy, Reese wanted this man too much right now to consider the absolute absurdity of the situation: she still didn’t even know his name! She didn’t think he knew hers either. And yet here they were, kissing each other as if tomorrow would never come. Reese realized she didn’t care; she didn’t want to think about tomorrow or even the next hour, she just wanted to feel what was happening right now. She drew her leg up along his until he grasped her knee and hooked it over his hip, positioning himself deeper against her sex.
It was quite literally the best first kiss of her life and she wanted more of him entwined and connected with her.
She wasn’t sure which of them broke the kiss, she just knew that neither of them wanted to stop. Both of them stood there, foreheads pressed against each other, breathing deeply, soft smiles lighting their faces.
He brought his hand back to cup her face, his thumb caressing her cheek. “You are so beautiful, Reese.”
Reese looked up at him in surprise. “You know my name?” she exclaimed, truly surprised. “Well, that hardly seems fair. I don’t know yours!” she mock-complained.
“How did you learn my name?” she asked.
“I’ve known it for a long time,” he answered. “I noticed you the first day I started working in the building. I passed you as you were walking out with some of your coworkers; I think you were taking a new girl out to lunch. Honestly, how could I not notice you? You were so full of life and so happy that day, a bright and sassy smile lit up your face as you told your new associate how much she’d love it here. I heard a couple of them say your name that day and I never forgot it… or you.” He explained all this between the little kisses he was placing across her hairline, down her temple and along her jaw. She sighed and leaned into him again.
Reese felt another blush creep into her face, pleased that he’d noticed her, the plain daisy, among all the youthful roses by which she often felt surrounded and sometimes choked. Surely one of them should have caught his eye before she did! She tried to recall the day he was talking about and then she remembered. He had been actually been part of their conversation!
All the women had noticed him as he walked past their group – his purple power tie had caught their eyes, but the way he superbly filled out his impeccable gray suit had kept their attention as he walked across the parking lot. Reese in particular had noticed his dark wavy hair, just a hint of gray at the temples and his striking pale blue eyes when he’d gotten close enough. Since she’d been facing more toward the building, walking nearly backward while talking to the group of women, Reese alone had taken in the firm curve of his butt as he walked past them and into the building. She thought he’d been out of earshot when she’d winked at her new young coworker and said “Yeah. You’ll definitely love working here Emily.” This had set all the younger women into fits of giggles, several of them exclaiming her name in disbelief of her brashness, as they continued on to lunch.
“I’m not sure how I ever forgot that day!” She sighed softly in response to both the memory and his sweet kisses still raining across and down her face.
He slid his hand from her cheek down her arm and across her breast, testing the weight of it in his large hand, both of them moaning at that brief contact even as their lips and tongues continued to meld together.
Eventually, they broke the kiss again, both drawing deep breaths and trying to control themselves. As he returned to kissing her neck and cheek, she asked quietly, “So, when do I get to know your name?”
“Well, I guess I could tell you. That would be fair. It’s…” he stopped abruptly when the ding of the elevator reached them from the hallway. He looked down at her and saw sudden confusion on her face. Was she still expecting someone?
He pushed himself off her and they both quickly straightened their clothes. He stepped further away and she frowned at the loss of warmth surrounding her. They both looked towards the door when they heard someone whistling in the hallway.
With a sad look, Reese pointed towards the second entrance to her long office suite and he understood. She didn’t want anyone to see her in the office, kissing a relatively unknown man in the dark on a weekend. Not wanting to mess with her reputation in any way, he nodded, kissed her quickly on the forehead and slipped towards the side entrance. He opened the door quietly, slipped out and helped the door close gently without a sound. He took several breathes to steady himself and to get his erection back to a manageable condition. He walked to the stairs and left the building quickly but a little sadly.