My love affair with California began at the tender age of fifteen and continues today, three decades later. So it should come as no surprise that the book of my heart, which somehow turned into a trilogy, is set there.
Maybe it was the indescribable thrill of a Midwestern girl seeing the ocean for the first time (we have a lake in Chicago, but it’s not the same). Or the sight of unapologetically bronzed coeds with movie-star teeth driving silver metallic convertibles and playing volleyball in the sand. Perhaps the towering palm trees swaying against the impossibly blue sky? But that was in Southern Cal; my Chances trilogy takes place in Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, hundreds of miles north.
I was an unassuming only child of the 70’s, growing up in a place where a short, precious summer turned into a long, cold winter seemingly overnight. What else was I to do but read (thanks, Carolyn Keene)?
In high school, I often opted for the city bus because it stopped in front of the library. Just a branch, mind you, but they had loads of paperback books. And no matter the inventory du jour, I was drawn to the revolving wire rack of romance novels. Harlequin Presents, Danielle Steel and later on, Nora Roberts.
The books took me to places all over the world where effortlessly beautiful, wonderfully flawed heroines were swept off their feet by dynamic, irresistible heroes. I preferred the books to the afternoon soaps because I could imagine the characters in my mind’s eye. And if I found the ending disappointing or abrupt, I would simply continue the story in my head.
Writing such ideas down, however, took another thirty years.
In the interim, I went to college and met my own prince charming. And he took me to San Francisco on our honeymoon.
And, as cliché as it sounds, that’s where I left my heart. Well, part of it anyway. Because eight years and two babies later, he took me to Lake Tahoe for the very first time.
And my frisson with California moved even farther north.
I hope my books will take you there. And you’ll leave a little piece of yours behind too.
Here’s a short synopsis and steamy excerpt from Second Chance, the Chances trilogy opener.
Lindsay Foster has convinced herself that marrying Paul Webster is the right thing to do. But now that Brian Rembrandt is standing in front of her again, undressing her with his eyes, she finds herself torn between the life she’s always wanted and the man she’ll always love.
Brian’s up for that fight; he’s used to getting what he wants. And he’s never met a rule, or a woman, that couldn’t be broken.
But it’s more complicated than that.
This love triangle has an extra side. Lindsay’s best friend Moira Brody has a game-changing secret. And she’s not the only one. Even Brian is no help for what happens next. The chain of events set in motion on the tranquil shores of Lake Tahoe come to an astonishing end on a foggy San Francisco night. And alters the course of four lives forever.
Excerpt from Second Chance by Martha O’Sullivan
“You missed your flight.”
Lindsay’s hand froze on the brushed nickel door handle and after counting to five to collect herself, she remarked neatly, “I left you a message.”
The hand attached to the voice gripped her arm and swung her around. “Your message thanked me for the flowers. It said nothing about the flight. Or the weekend.”
The steel blue eyes staring back at her were as cold as the choppy gray peaks pummeling the shore. “I thought you understood. I couldn’t come.”
“You said you’d think about it.”
“And I did,” she attested, lifting her chin. “I decided it wasn’t a good idea.”
“I disagree.” Brian braced his hands on the door jam, trapping her between his arms, and spoke in a low growl. “Do you know how hard it was for me to get a flight to Reno on a Friday afternoon in July?”
She sucked a breath. “No.”
“I had to buy my way on or wait until morning. Luckily, I found an entrepreneurial minded college kid who likes to drive.” Hedging her in, he paused for a moment and then asked, “Do you know why I did that?”
Knowing he didn’t expect an answer, Lindsay merely gulped.
“Because I was already at the airport,” he continued satirically “And,” he slanted his mouth over hers, “I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to do this.”
Breath hitching, he crushed his lips to hers. They were white-hot. Burning as intensely as the fire he’d stirred within her. Resisting glimmered, dulled, then dissipated in her mind. Instead her arms linked his neck and she melted into the heat. He tasted rugged, felt rough, like the end of a long day. Their mouths collided, parted, rejoined, until they found that familiar crescendo and began the climb. The flame caught, flickered, combusted, as Brian’s tongue snarled with hers and his hands combed her back. And then a flare began to kindle in another chasm, deep within her.
Even through the denim, Brian was rising to meet it, fill it. Rigid against her, he released her mouth and buried his face in her hair. “When I told you I wasn’t giving up so easily this time, I meant it.” He stepped out of her embrace and taking her hands in his, demanded, “Should I leave?”
His eyes had softened to make room for his heart, she realized. And she could deny hers no longer. Throat swelling, she shook her head from side to side.
The corners of Brian’s mouth curved, but his expression remained tight. “Then we need to get something straight. If I come in, I’m going to stay,” he informed her in a disturbingly reasonable tone of voice. “And if I stay, I’m going to make love to you all night long.”
She should tell him to go. Ignore the ripples in her stomach, the way her heart was chasing them. Instead she surrendered to them. “Promise?”
He pushed away the windblown tendrils that had fallen into her face. “Promise.”
Pine cones screeched across the asphalt and winter’s forgotten leaves danced on the grass as he opened the door and led her up the stairs. No words were necessary; he knew the way. To her bed, her heart, her soul.
Telling rain began beating against the roof as he laid her on the soft down. Sitting next to her, he swept his fingertips across her lips. “I’ve never wanted anyone the way I want you,” he avowed with a kiss. “Even you.”
Pulse leaping to join his, she ordered in a husky voice, “Show me.”
They exchanged a look of portentous understanding. Then Brian rolled on top of her, seamlessly moving his body into hers. Positioning himself between her legs, he framed her face with his arms and in a voice as thick as honey, confided, “Linds, I haven’t been with anybody else.”
Lindsay was dumbfounded. “You haven’t?”
“Neither have I.”
That seemed to shock, then please him. Immensely. “But what about…” he faltered.
She shook her head from side to side, noting the hint of prayer in his voice. “You were the last man to touch me,” she told him honestly.
The weight of her words filled his lustful eyes with delight and appreciation. “I’ve waited sixteen months to make love to you again. I can’t wait much longer,” he gallanted.
She lifted her arms to his neck and skimmed her lips across his. “Who’s asking you to?”
The challenge registered in his eyes as his mouth pounced on hers. He set his sights on her bottom lip and pulled, as if to tease, before kissing her with his whole body. His tongue meandered up and down her throat while his thumbs traced the thin cotton of her shirt until her nipples stood on point. Finally he unhooked her bra and slipped the v-neck over her head.
“You are so beautiful.” He allowed himself a few seconds to wallow in her heaving breasts. Then he cupping her, he gushed, “How have I gone this long without you?”
She’d lain in bed many a night dreaming about this. Remembering the way her head bowed back as Brian kneaded her breasts with his sure hands. The way her gut coiled into a spool of yen when his tongue did laps down her abdomen to her bellybutton and back again. The way the euphoric swooning in her head became a creamy deluge between her thighs.
He reacquainted himself with her curves as he inched her jeans down. Holding their weighted stare, he knelt above her, unbuttoning his tailored shirt from the top as she worked from the bottom. When their hands met, he stilled hers on this virility.
“Ooh,” she growled blissfully. He was as hard as she was wet. And she couldn’t wait until his billowing cock was between her legs.
Unbuckling his belt, he kicked off his jeans. Fully aroused, he glided all that separated them over her hips and crawled back to her. His seeping erection nudged at her as he scooped her dewy triangle. Every cell in her body was on high alert now, in anticipation of what was to come. She spread her legs in wholehearted invitation.
She whimpered when he found her moist creases. His fingers knew each tuck, each fold, each pleat of her center. His thumb settled on the fleshy nub at her core and he began to coddle her. She trembled, purred, pleaded, until finally he plunged into her saturated reservoir. His fingers thrust in and out as she squirmed beneath him, digging her nails into his back as her sharp, short gasps of baiting pleasure filled the air.
But that was nothing compared to the drone that escaped Brian’s throat when he entered her. She tightened around him, dripping as he grew inside her, grinding against him as he rode her. She lifted her buttocks and brought him deeper still, raising her hips to increase the friction, pushing him farther into her as his abdomen sailed over hers. Lindsay could count her stable of lovers on one hand, and Brian was by far the best of the bunch, she recalled as the tip of him pounded the remotest part of her. The orgasm built, retreated, then roared back in full force. It ripped through her with such wielding power that she howled once, then again and begged for more.
And just before Brian filled her, he obliged.
The Chances trilogy by Martha O’Sullivan is available at: marthaosullivan26.wix.com/marthaosullivan
Martha O’Sullivan has loved reading romance novels for as long as she can remember. So much so that she would continue the story in her head long after the last chapter was read. Writing her own novels is the realization of a lifelong dream for this stay-at-home mom. Martha writes contemporary and erotic romances with traditional couples and happy endings. She is the author of the Chances trilogy available now from Red Sage Publishing. Her current work-in-progress in a Christmas novel set in Florida. A native Chicagoan, she lives her own happy ending in Tampa with her husband and two daughters.