Thursday, 19 August 2010

Excerpt Day – Wet © Margie Church

Excerpt

Lightning flickered in Reagan Landry's bedroom like a bulb ready to burn out. She lay in her king-sized bed counting the seconds. "One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four—" A drawn-out crack of thunder interrupted her counting. "Less than a mile away. Probably will be two seconds before one or both of the kids wake up."

Seemingly on cue, three-year-old Gregory scrambled into bed with her. "I'm scared," he said.

"It's just a little rain storm—nothing to be worried about." Reagan cuddled her young son, happy to comfort him with her touch, and in a few minutes, his breathing became even and deep. She smiled. I wish all our problems could be solved so easily.

Rain pelted the windows with increasing speed. Lightning flashes illuminated the big wet splotches sliding down her windowpane. It's gonna be a long night. Ava's pitiful wails began after the next angry grumble from mythical Zeus. Leaving Gregory behind, Reagan padded down the hall to her baby's bedroom.

Noah was already there, reaching for their crying daughter. Ava's chin quivered as he lifted her out of the crib. Ava's shoulders jerked with each sob while Noah patted her back. "It's okay, baby, Daddy's here."

Reagan stood in the doorway taking in the sight. Seeing them together warmed her heart and tears sprung to her eyes.

As he turned in front of the rocking chair, Noah raised an eyebrow. "When did you get here?"

"How about we trade kids?" Reagan said in a quiet voice. "Gregory climbed in with me a little while ago and he's asleep again. If you carry him back to bed, I'll take Ava and then you can go back to sleep since it's my night for kid duty."

"I don't mind."

"I know, but Gregory is getting too heavy for me to carry." Another long rumble of thunder shook the skies. "And he's still getting used to you being around. If he wakes up, this might be a good chance to build some trust."

Ava's tearstains were evident on Noah's white, muscle t-shirt when he handed Reagan their pouty daughter. Reagan led the way to her bedroom.

Noah lifted Gregory out of her bed. "Goodnight, little girl," he said to Ava on his way through the doorway. His lips glanced off Ava's head and landed on Reagan's cheek.

Reagan blushed. "Goodnight to you, too."

Noah gazed at her for a moment, seeming to want to say something and then he walked toward Gregory's room.

"Okay, Ava, let's see if we can get you back to sleep," Reagan said after he was out of sight. A clap of thunder made the little girl jump and release a fearful-sounding hiccup. Reagan rocked her daughter as she spoke. "It's okay; it's just a little bit of thunder. The angels are bowling."

She drew the comforter back, moved away the pillow, and then put her young daughter down. Ava cried the second she was out of Reagan's arms. Cuddling and cooing comforting words helped only a little; Ava remained wide awake and fussy.

"Let's see if I can help, Reggie," Noah said, using his favorite nickname for her.

Reagan glanced up at the sound of his voice. "Oh, I didn't hear you come in."

The bed sagged as he joined mother and daughter. He pulled the covers over his waist and turned Ava on her stomach. Her little head popped up immediately, and she gazed from mother to father before scampering into Noah's arms.

"Having me around is new for her. She's going through a phase." Noah nuzzled Ava's cheek. "Isn't that right? You love your mom, don't you?"

Another loud crack of thunder made the infant wail. She buried her little face against her father's shoulder and cried harder.

Noah rolled out of bed and walked around the lightning-lit room, while gently bouncing Ava in his arms. He pointed to the rain spatters on the window and reassured her all was well each time thunder gurgled in the nighttime sky. Ava gripped Noah's shirt through all his explanations. In the end, he came back to bed with their unhappy daughter and leaned against the headboard.

Noah released a long sigh. "Hold her for a moment, will you?"

"What are you doing?" Reagan asked as Noah took off his shirt.

He tossed the garment toward a bedroom chair. Laying her back on his chest, he said, "Come on, little girl, cuddle with me." Seconds later he was prying her fingers out of his chest hairs. "Yeow! Let go! Help out, Reggie, before she tears every hair loose."

Ava seemed agreeable to holding onto Reagan's finger instead and quieted herself by sucking her other thumb.

"Come a little closer," Noah said in a low voice.

"Why?"

"You're jabbing me in the ribs with your elbow and if you want our daughter to sleep I need you to move in."

Reagan moved closer.

"I won't bite."

Reagan settled in even closer and rested her leg over his thigh. Being so near to Noah made her whole body quiver inside. Reagan asked, "Is she asleep?"

"Soon."

"Where did you learn this trick?"

"During one of those desperate parenting nights when nothing else worked. She takes after her mother."

"How so?"

"I seem to recall holding you in my arms kind of like this the night before I shipped out. That was the last time we kissed, if my memory serves."

"I can't believe how much you've bulked up since . . . ."

"Since the last time we were in bed together?"

"Yeah."

"Boxing. I took out a lot of my frustrations on the bag while I was in Korea."

"I wouldn't want to tick you off."

"Muscles aren't just for hurting people. I'd think you'd know me better by now, Reagan. Anyway, being a JAG lawyer is demanding and stressful."

"Tell me about it. You missed Ava's birth, and a million other important days in the past four years."

"Being a lawyer is important to me and I was in the Navy when we met. You knew how much I loved my career—I've never kept my aspirations a secret."

"I always hoped one day the kids and I would come first. Guess that's why we got divorced."

"I was in Korea working on a court marshal. We've been through this . . . ." Noah released a drawn-out breath. "I don't want to argue, Reggie. I don't know how long I'll be able to stay in Washington. Can't we just make the best of things while I'm here?"

Ava wiggled and whined. Regan pressed her index finger to her lips. "We're keeping our daughter awake."

After a long silence Noah said, "This is a first."

"What is?"

"Mother and daughter both in my arms, in bed. I never imagined this happening."

"Your body feels strong enough to carry all of us."

"I'm glad you think so. Now that I'm connecting with Gregory again and met Ava, that's what I want."

Noah's declaration created a cacophony of emotion and Reagan couldn't come up with a decent response. She'd always loved him, even when Noah's father called her a "low born scrapper" and told her to get out of Noah's life before she ruined it. When her family said she was foolish to waste her best years waiting for Noah's next leave, she still wanted him bad.

They'd ignored their parents' wishes and eloped. Their families retaliated with cold, judgmental behavior that rarely let up. Reagan defended her decision to marry a career naval officer through all the battles—until she was pregnant with Ava and felt more overwhelmed and discouraged than she ever had. Her family's criticisms seemed to make a lot of sense. She caved in to their pleas to accept their support and build a new life with her children while she was still young enough to find real love this time. She filed for divorce.

Only a few months ago, Reagan thought Peter was the right man for her. He'd bailed her out emotionally so many times when loneliness and the trials of single parenthood wore her down. When she felt like a failure as a woman and a mother he lavished encouragement. Peter was willing to be a stepfather to her children and was warming up to the task so well they'd discussed making their relationship more permanent.

Then Noah came home. Seeing her ex threw a monkey wrench in her feelings for Peter and their relationship headed south faster than migrating birds trying to beat Old Man Winter. Noah wasted no time proving how demanding he could be about his role as a father and insisted on spending time alone with both kids. Her family and friends said Noah was acting like a bully and disapproved of their living arrangement. Even if Noah's stay was temporary and having him around made things easier with the children, everyone close to Reagan said she was one short leave away from getting hurt again.

But when Noah showed her how much he loved being a father she melted. She found their current coexistence peaceful and fun, and many days she caught herself wishing he wouldn't be leaving again.

In other words, nothing ever changes.

His chest rose and fell under her cheek and Reagan wondered if he'd fallen asleep with Ava. His unique scent evoked memories of the passionate night they conceived their baby girl. Though divorced now, her desire for him still smoldered. She recognized how close her knee was to his balls and considered inching her leg a little higher. You still have it bad for him, Reagan. Just because he said he wanted to carry us, doesn't mean he wants us to be lovers again. The fact Noah could fall sleep with her body glued to his irked Reagan. Rising on her elbow, she gazed at him. His long, thick eyelashes were as dreamy as ever and his full lips were parted. He's so hot for me.

Yeah, right.

Careful not to wake father or daughter, Reagan slipped out of bed and lifted Ava into her arms. Noah rolled onto his side, and seemed content to spend the night right where he lay. Reagan covered him with the quilt. Her hand rested on his powerful biceps for a few seconds. Muscles have many purposes indeed. Without hesitation, she kissed her fingertips and pressed them to his temple. "Goodnight."

The storm quieted by the time she returned Ava to her crib. Now where to sleep? She leaned against her doorjamb and watched the father of her children while he slept. Peaceful. Contented. As though he still belonged there. Did he? The tired part of her wanted to crawl into bed and go to sleep; the other half wanted to crawl into his arms.

What's the point? Noah's made his choice. She walked down the hall to his bedroom.

She scanned the room, observing Noah's tidy belongings. I bet this place could pass any white glove inspection the Navy wanted to conduct. Reagan had been in Noah's bedroom only a few times since he'd moved in, and she'd never come in alone. She felt sneaky slipping under his covers and settling in. His scent on the pillow next to her enveloped her senses as though he rested there, too. I can't believe Noah fell asleep. He didn't even make a move!

© Margie Church

WET

Author: Margie Church

Publisher: Noble romance publishing

Genre: Contemporary

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2 Speak To Me:

Margie Church on 19 August 2010 at 22:08 said...

Wow, how cool was it to find this post via a Google Alert! Thanks for the blog space and promo on my new release. I'd be back! If you're looking to find more of my books, I'd love to have you stop by my site: www.romancewithsass.com . Thanks again!

Erotic Horizon on 20 August 2010 at 21:40 said...

@Margie...

Google Alert is all kinda sweet - make my day most days...

Congrats on your release...

Love the cover...

:)