It’s First Kiss Friday and a pleasure to welcome my friend Jennifer Skully to my blog. Read on and be sure to find out how to enter her giveaway. Take it away, Jennifer!
Thanks so much, Sherry, for having me on First Kiss Friday! It’s an honor to be here today. And I always love reading all those fabulous first kisses your author friends share!
Today I’m going to give you a little taste of one of my Jennifer Skully books. I also write very sexy romance as Jasmine Haynes, but Jennifer is funnier and a little more lighthearted. Although I do love writing a good funny mystery, too! And It Must Be Magic is one of them, Book 3 in the Mystery of Love series.
Lili Goodweather is one of my favorite characters. She makes me laugh. Because she’s a bit of a crazy cat lady. And she talks to animals (like a cat whisperer). And she has a snarky cat named Einstein who takes after my very own cat Wrigley. And because of the town she lives in, Hideaway Creek (which is a mixture of the 3 little mountain towns that I live near) where she frequents her favorite coffee house, The Coffee Stain, along with all the funny characters living in Hideaway Creek. But when she talks with Erika, the little girl who lives next door, and Erika’s cat Fluffy just happens to tell Lili he witnessed a murder, everything goes haywire. Especially since she has to confront Erika’s dad, Tanner Rutland, who, of course, won’t even consider the possibility that Lili can talk to animals and that there might be a body out in the woods because a cat said there was…
Maybe now you get the picture about why Lili makes me laugh. And the ways in which she’ll turn Tanner’s life upside down.
So let me give you their first kiss! And if you read all the way to the bottom, you’ll find out how to enter my giveaway!
It Must Be Magic (Mystery of Love, Book 3)
By Jennifer Skully
Lili hugged the porch column tighter, as if she were dying to say something else, but couldn’t get the words out. Tanner wouldn’t have believed it if he wasn’t witnessing it. Even she claimed she spoke before she thought.
“Spit it out, Lili.”
She sighed. “Has Erika ever talked about having a new mom?”
He took a step backward and almost lost his footing down the first stair. “No.”
“Oh. Well. Okay.”
That definitely wasn’t all Lili wanted to say on the subject. He just as definitely didn’t want to hear it. Yet he felt compelled to go on. “We’re fine the way we are.”
“I’m sure you are.” Oh no she wasn’t sure because she whispered, “It’s that word.”
“Fine. It’s…” She let go of the column to swirl her hand in the air. “So average. Like when someone you’ve met once and haven’t seen in a year politely asks how you’ve been and you say, ‘Fine, thanks.’ It’s totally meaningless.”
“It’s a perfectly fine word.”
She cocked her head at his sharp tone. “I’m not trying to offend you.”
“I’m not offended.” Actually, Lili made him feel a pang of guilt. He was fine, but had he ever stopped to ask Erika? Not that he’d marry just to provide her with a new mother, but he had assumed she was as fine with their family situation as he was. “I’ve never thought about it before.” Hell if that didn’t stink of being a bad father.
“I’m sorry. I won’t say another word about it.” Lili zipped her lip. “It’s none of my business anyway. It’s not like I have kids or know the least little thing about how to raise them. Feel free to tell me to stop babbling. I told you I did that when I get nervous.”
Actually, she babbled most of the time, but that wasn’t what had Tanner’s gaze riveted to her pretty face. “I’m making you nervous right now?” He took back that step he’d put between them.
A one-word answer wasn’t like the Lili he’d come to know. And semi-appreciate. “Why?”
She had wide, beautiful eyes even in the dim porch lighting.
“Because…” She bit her lip, something that at this moment he found extremely enticing.
He took one more step, closer, very close. “Spit it out, Lili,” he whispered. “I won’t bite.” Well, only under certain circumstances. And he’d make sure she liked it.
“Okay, here’s the thing.”
He had a feeling he wasn’t going to like what she had to say. Having known her all of twenty-four hours, he’d already learned she prefaced an unpalatable notion with those same words.
“I know you told me I couldn’t tell Erika or Roscoe about Fluffy seeing the murder—” She held up her palm as if she had her other hand on a bible. “—and I swear I didn’t. But I did go over to visit.” She took a deep breath, then rushed on. “To see how Fluffy was doing, but I didn’t talk to him. I was hoping he’d be better, but he wasn’t.”
Did she think he was such an ogre that he’d get angry because she’d gone to his house for a visit? Tanner mentally shrugged. Hell, he had issued a lot of edicts, so no wonder she thought he was the ogre.
“It’s fine, Lili—” Then he stopped himself. She didn’t like that word. “It doesn’t bother me that you went over to my house and I appreciate your concern for Fluffy and thank you for not saying anything about a murder to Erika.”
“I asked Einstein to talk to him. You didn’t specifically say Einstein couldn’t talk to Fluffy, only that I couldn’t.”
He almost put his face in his hands to stifle the laughter, but Lili seemed so concerned. As if she thought she’d committed some cardinal sin. “What did Fluffy and Einstein talk about?”
She huffed out a great puff of air and turned to look at the lump lying by the bike tires. Tanner had thought it was a pillow, but now he noticed the green stare trained right on him.
“Not a thing. Einstein doesn’t make friends well.”
“Then how does Einstein get along with Wanetta’s cats?”
“They let her be the leader.”
A womanly attribute. Tanner had the sense not to say that.
Lili peeled herself away from the porch pillar, leaned close enough for him to smell something sweet and heady, something all woman, something he wanted, and put her hand on his upper arm.
“I need to help Fluffy.” She looked up at him with an earnest gaze, her lips parted, her eyes deep in shadow.
On someone else, it might have been beguiling, manipulative even, but with Lili, it was simply sincere.
“You want me to help you find that body,” he said for her.
“Yes.” She highlighted the word with a nod, her dark hair falling like a curtain over one shoulder.
What did she get out of claiming Fluffy saw a murder? What emotional need did it fill for her? Despite his speech about not being 100 percent sure she couldn’t talk to animals, he hung onto that 99 percent certainty. That meant she had to get some emotional charge out of the claim.
What the hell did it matter? If he gave in and went with her, they wouldn’t find a body. Then she would have to give up this nonsense. “I’ll take you.”
She simply stared at him. Her breath puffed in the open collar of his shirt and right down beneath his belt buckle.
Lili could never remain speechless for long. “You’re kidding, right? I mean, you’ll pack up and move away during the night, or you’ll call the men in white with the straitjacket.”
“I won’t move away. And I don’t think they use straitjackets anymore. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it.”
She smiled. It almost stopped his heart. Then she threw her arms around his neck, stepping on his shoe as she went up on her tiptoes to hug him. Her hair caressed his face. Her small, firm breasts pressed to his chest. She was plastered against him yet he wanted her closer. Slipping his arms around her waist, he made sure she couldn’t let go.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” She kissed his ear, his cheek, warm moist kisses that weakened his knees.
His brain short-circuited, and his body went into overdrive. He pulled back, grabbed her face in his hands, and took her lips openmouthed. She responded with a low sound, a moan not much louder than a hitch of breath, but it was enough to make him want to push her down on the wooden porch. She let him take her with hungry kisses, her tongue in his mouth, his in hers, a tender nip of her lip, then a soul-deep mating. Over and over until she was once again plastered to him, and the hard ridge of his erection burned against her belly. She tasted of cherry soda and sizzled like champagne. She melted into him and turned him inside out.
He had never tasted anything like her, never touched anything as soft, never wanted anything as badly.
He was on her front porch. Next door to his front porch. With gaps between the hedge that anyone—his daughter—could see through.
As much as he wanted to take more, Tanner pulled back.
His lips clamored for another taste. Hell, he simply vibrated all over with want of her.
She slid down his body until her feet were back on the porch and opened her eyes. “Wow.”
That was putting it mildly. He’d have repeated the word, if he were capable of speech. She kept her arms looped around his neck, supporting herself against him as if her legs wouldn’t hold her. He wasn’t sure his could hold him for much longer.
“That was a very fine kiss,” she murmured.
He laughed, though it came out sounding a bit strangled. It was a damn sight more than fine, and he was truly beginning to understand her earlier analogy.
“I think I might dream about it, tonight,” she said with a little smile and her eyelids at half-mast.
He would be dreaming about far more than just that kiss.
Sliding her arms down his chest, she put her hands flat against him and pushed away until she touched him with nothing but the tips of her fingers.
“Cat got your tongue?” she said.
No. Lili did.
Everyone believes in carpe diem… don’t they?
For flower shop clerk Lili Goodweather, that’s what life is all about–savoring the precious moments and all the beauty the world has to offer. So it breaks her heart when 12-year-old Erika Rutland can no longer see the magic in everyday moments.
No, not everyone believes in carpe diem… or telepathic communication with animals.
A firm believer in all things practical, widower Tanner Rutland doesn’t want his daughter’s mind filled with Lili’s fanciful tales—especially her claims that she can communicate with cats. And worse, that his daughter’s cat Fluffy has witnessed a murder. When Lili asks him to help search for the dead body that just absolutely has to be out in the redwoods—she claims—he’s forced to confront whether Lili is just plain crazy or her gift with animals is real.
But after that first delicious kiss, he starts to think he’s the one who’s gone completely crazy. Because suddenly there’s something about Lili that Tanner just can’t resist.
Can this single-minded career man give up everything he believes for a little touch of magic?
Here’s where you can find It Must Be Magic
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2LE2CAj
Leave a comment on the blog to enter into my giveaway for an ebook version of the first two books in the Mystery of Love series, Drop Dead Gorgeous and Sheer Dynamite!
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Skully is a lover of contemporary romance, bringing you poignant tales peopled with hilarious characters that will make you laugh and make you cry. Look for Jennifer’s series written with Bella Andre, starting with Breathless in Love, The Maverick Billionaires Book 1. Writing as Jasmine Haynes, Jennifer authors classy, sensual romance tales about real issues such as growing older, facing divorce, starting over. Her books have passion and heart and humor and happy endings, even if they aren’t always traditional. She also writes gritty, paranormal mysteries in the Max Starr series. Having penned stories since the moment she learned to write, Jennifer now lives in the Redwoods of Northern California with her husband and their adorable nuisance of a cat who totally runs the household. Join her newsletter for updates on contests, new releases, and freebies.
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