Shattered Heart - Teaser
It took everything he had in him, but he jerked his eyes away from her mouth. "Cyn, you keep licking those fine lips of yours and I'm going to end up kissing you."
She arches a brow and grinned, a devious glint in her pretty brown eyes. Yep, screwed. Fuck!
Cyn's body tingled from head to toe as Shane danced her, slow and easy, around the dance floor. He wanted to kiss her. Which was bad-very bad, because she desperately wanted to be kissed. With his big body pressed against hers, she let herself pretend, if only for a few minute while the music played, that there was no Carlo, no horrible track record because of her broken picker, and for fuck's sake, no self-imposed moratorium.
Before she'd run into him-literally-she'd been half-drunk. Maybe whole-drunk was more accurate. But now she felt stone-cold sober. Sober enough she was unable to deny that the man, who smelled better than chocolate ice cream, had been her unattainable dream. The one forever in the "what if" category. The very one she swore, if she ever for the chance-the freaking opportunity, she'd take it. In a hot second. And now he wanted to kiss her.
What the hell was she thinking? This was Shane-fucking-Conlon! She was taking her goddamn chance; it was likely the only one she'd get. Cyn licked her lips again and she drowned. A thrill raced through her and lust pooled in her stomach. "What if I want you to kiss me?"
"I'd say you've been drinking." He turned them.
"So have you." She ran a fingertip down the side of his neck.
"You're playing with fire." He gazed down at her with his lips pressed tight together, and the muscles in his jaw twitched.
"Nobody has to know. More specifically, Joey doesn't have to know."
He sighed through his nose and his hand on her lower back slipped around her waist and gripped her tight "Killing me."
"I'd rather be kissing you."
He steered them off the dance floor, and walked Cyn to a far corner of the bar, turned her and backed her against a wall. "You think that'd be enough?"
The cool panel of the wall against Cyn's back sent a chill racing over her skin. Shane dropped her hand and framed her waist in his big palms. He was so much taller than her, and built like a truck-towering over Cyn, blocking out everything around her. Cyn gazed up at him was she ran her hands up his muscled chest and over his broad shoulders. With a slight grin arching one corner of her lips, she tiptoed up and circled the back of his neck with her palms, tickling the edge of his close-cut hair with her fingertips.
Their lips were only a breath away, their bodies pressed tight together. He was hard; she felt the line of his cock against her stomach like a brand on her skin. "Do it, Shane. Kiss me."
"It's not going to be enough." He grazed his lips over hers.
It was a bare whisper of a touch, nothing more, but filled with so much heat Cyn's entire body ached for him-for more. "Do it."
Screw it. Cyn gripped the back of his neck and jerked him to her lips. His mouth came down over hers and his warm tongue swept inside, and-oh, sweet baby Jesus-he was right. Cyn arched against him and Shane's grip tightened on her hips, pulling her tighter to his hard body.
Shane depended the kiss and knew this one taste wasn't going to be near enough.
~ ~ ~
Unworthy Heart - Deleted Scenes
Here's one final deleted scene from Unworthy Heart in which Ryan and Maiya have one last phone call before finally meeting face to face in L.A.
* * *
Maiya glanced away when her phone rang from her purse on the counter. Saved by the bell. At the same time the microwave beeped signaling the food was done. Getting up, she retrieved her cell, giggling when she saw who was calling.
“Hello, can you not see I’m offline right now?” Maiya smiled and moved to the microwave.
“You’re never offline. You’ve said it a million times. ‘I’m always reachable.’ In fact, if I had a dollar for every time you made sure everyone knew you were available, I’d be a rich man.”
She smirked. Those may have been her words, but his voice sure didn’t sound anything like hers. His was smooth, and creamy. Like hot chocolate sliding down her throat, settling warm in her tummy. Mmmm. “You don’t sound anything like me, you know? But points for trying.” She pulled the cellophane wrap off the dinner plate and grabbed a fork and napkin. “Is there a point to this call or are you just calling to annoy me?”
“Annoy you? Maiya, I’m hurt. I don’t try to annoy you. Frustrate or tease maybe, but definitely not annoy you.”
“You’re so full of shit. What do you want? I’m busy.”
“And now you insult me? Thanks. See if I call you for help next time.” Ryan let out an exaggerated sigh.
“Oh come on. You’re really laying it on thick now. What do you need, Mr. Donnelly? I’m at your service.”
He chuckled. “Nice. I love it when you’re at my service. Makes things go so much smoother.”
“Emmie, is that ready yet?” her mother hollered from the living room, not five feet away.
“Hang on, I’m coming.”
“Okay. Wait. Coming?”
“No. Shit. Not you. Just...give me a minute okay, Ryan?” Maiya scooped up the dish and utensil in one hand and brought them out to the living room.
“Here you go.” Maiya set the plate down on the worn TV tray that’d become a permanent fixture too long ago to remember and moved it in front of her mom’s chair.
“Who’re you talking to?”
“Its work. I’ll be right back.” Maiya grabbed her own smokes from her purse and stepped outside the door. Sitting down on the concrete steps, she lit a cigarette. “Nowwww, I’m all yours. What do you need?”
“Shoot, you really are busy. It can wait. I’ll talk to you about it tomorrow.”
“Hell no. You’ve got my attention now. Lay it on me. Blow my skirt up. Make a move.” When he didn’t answer she knew she’d stumped him again. Another point for me today!
“I never know what you’re going to say next.”
“Good. Keeps you guessing.” She took a drag and exhaled the remains.
“I think you like me guessing.”
“Maybe.” Maiya looked up at the door when she heard her mother calling her name again. Dammit. She didn’t want to cut this short, but it was looking like her mother wasn’t going to let her have a freaking half a second to herself.
“You don’t strike me as a woman who wears skirts.”
“Huh? Where’d that come from? And what the hell would make you think I don’t wear skirts?”
“You said, ‘blow your skirt up.’ I figure you probably wouldn’t make it that easy.”
The door opened. And, yep, Joanie came calling. “Emmie, I need you in here.”
Maiya gritted her teeth and glared up at her mother. “I’ll be right there.” The door slammed closed, and Maiya blew out a harsh breath. For fuck’s sake, the woman had no concept of life outside of what she wanted.
“Hey, it really does sound like you have your hands full. I’ll call you tomorrow. No big deal.”
Shit, his voice had gone all deep and soft, and a ripple of desire spilled through her, extinguishing her agitation, before pooling straight between her legs. She swallowed. Hell, she’d give anything to keep him on the phone now, even with her mother breathing down her neck. “You sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. Have a good night, Maiya.”
“All right. Take care. Talk tomorrow.” She listened as the call disconnected. Sweet, baby Jesus her hands were shaking.
Maiya looked down at the forgotten cigarette pinched between two fingers, half burnt away. She’d taken only one drag. Stubbing it out in the coffee can on the stoop, she went back inside.
~ ~ ~
Another fun deleted scene from Unworthy Heart in which Ryan and Maiya engage in another "work" phone call.
Two days later, Ryan, arched his back and stretched, popping his spine at the kitchen table after disconnecting from the seven a.m. weekly status call. Maiya had been on the line; her voice low and raspy like it always was in the morning. The tone vibrating through the headset made his skin tighten and prickle into goose bumps. She always sounded like she’d barely rolled out of bed and then dialed in to the call. She probably had. He could tell she wasn’t a morning person—where he was up, showered and dressed for the meeting each week. By the time the call started, he’d already had two cups of coffee, ready to head into the office when it ended.
About to shut down his laptop, an instant message popped on his screen.
Maiya Rossini: Hey you, you’re in trouble. ;- )
Ryan Donnelly: When am I not?
Maiya Rossini: Very true. Can I call?
Ryan Donnelly: Cell.
He waited for it to ring twice before answering. “Ryan Donnelly.”
“Killing me here.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Feigning innocence, he chuckled to himself, knowing it would keep her talking.
“You’re driving my analyst crazy, that’s what. And don’t give me that innocent tone.” She snorted. “Seriously, you went over Chris’s head, Ryan. You know you can’t do that shit. It makes the whole team look bad. Besides that, he’s been busting his ass for you, so you totally offended him.”
Bingo. Maiya’s unfiltered rebellious nature popped out, front and center via curse words. This was his favorite part of their play.
“We need to work as a team, you know?” She cleared her throat.
“We need to work as a team, you know?” She cleared her throat.
“Oh come on, you can’t be serious?” Ryan leaned back, stretching his legs out in front of him, her raspy voice rolling over and through him like a high fever as they fell into familiar banter.
“Completely. Totally. Incredibly...serious.”
“Okay, okay. What do you want me to do?”
“I would like you to apologize.”
As usual, she got straight to the point. No surprise there. “Don’t hold back much, do you?”
“Oh, please. As if you do?” She laughed.
“Okay, you win. I’ll apologize.”
“Wow, I had no idea you’d be so easy! Do it today, pretty please?”
“Easy? I wouldn’t go that far, but I’ll make an exception for you just this once.”
“Such a charmer.”
Her sarcastic response had him chuckling. “I’m a pro at being charming. Easy? That’s a whole different story.”
“Riiighhht. By the way, I’m coming into the office next week.”
“I heard. I’m looking forward to meeting you in person.” Ryan shifted the phone to his other ear and shut down his laptop. Their work relationship, especially as of late, teetered on a fine line between appropriate business discussion and flirtatious innuendo. It’d become an addicting habit for him—one he’d be wise to put a stop to. Regardless of his, so far, failed intentions to keep things on a professional level with her, he was looking forward to meeting her in person.
“Definitely. There’s a team function planned. We can have a drink or...something.”
Was that subtle bait hanging out there for him? Oh, yeah, he’d bite. “Sure or…something.” He paused before packing his laptop in his bag, anticipating her response.
“Hmm. Alrighty then. I’ll let you go so you can handle the mess you made. I’ll talk to you later.”
It wasn’t the response he was hoping to get from her, but it served to bring his thoughts back to where they needed to be. The marketing campaign he’d been assigned was the biggest one of the year. There was an opening for an Associate Director of Projects and he had his eye on it. Ryan hoped the success of the project would lead to landing the promotion.
“Talk soon, Maiya.” He disconnected the call, grabbed his bag and headed toward the garage. The last thing he needed was to screw up his opportunity by getting involved in a personal way with Maiya.
The problem was, Maiya Rossini was a challenge and Ryan loved a good challenge. However, it didn’t escape him that she was also trouble. The other problem was, he liked talking to her, enjoyed flirting with her too, but it had to end there. Playing this game with her could prove disastrous, but when it came to Maiya, he wasn’t sure he could help himself.
~ ~ ~
Enjoy another deleted scene from Unworthy Heart in which Ryan and Maiya are on a "work" phone call.
* * *
“Are you crazy, Ryan? We can’t do that. You know each team is responsible for their individual piece of the project.” Maiya Rossini sat at her desk in her home office listening—or cutting off rather—Ryan Donnelly as he lay out his latest and greatest for solving the newest roadblock on the marketing project he managed for their company. A campaign her team had a large stake in.
Propping her elbow on her desk, Maiya rested her head in her hand, tapping her pen on her notepad with the other. “The better approach is to hold them accountable and make sure they complete the layout validation themselves like they’re supposed to do.” There. That sounded professional and matter of fact.
“They haven’t gotten to it yet. Why can’t we just test it ourselves? Then it’ll be done and we can move forward. Listen, I have this all figured out.”
“No, no way. Besides, that’s not how we do things. Look, I know you’re frustrated, and I appreciate your…” She searched for the right word. “Dedication, but…” Maiya blew out an exasperated breath at a complete loss of what else to say.
They’d had this same conversation—or variation of it so many times in the last few weeks it bordered on ridiculous. The man needled every patient bone in her body, and although she could appreciate his drive to succeed, she needed to rein him in.
“It’s simple, we just...” Ryan continued, oblivious to her words.
Tossing the pencil aside, she leaned back in the chair, and propped her feet on the edge of her messy desk. She gazed up and mentally traced little shapes in the textured ceiling, half listening as he babbled on and on. Every so often she’d interject the ever important, “Uh huh’s” and “Mm hmm’s,” adding an eye roll here and there, which of course, he couldn’t see. She really should think about repainting the ceiling.
“You’re not even listening to me are you?”
“Huh? Oh, of course I am.” She dropped her feet to the floor. “I think you’re jumping the gun is all, and you’ll probably screw it up, but... you do what you feel is right. You are the lead project manager after all.” She rolled her eyes.
“Why am I not surprised you don’t agree with me?” He let out a sigh and her skin tingled.
“Sorry.” She shrugged. “I really think you need to just realize I’m right and do what I say. The sooner you do that, the easier things will get.” Maiya raised her brows, and pursed her lips, eager to hear his response. She knew full well her playful arrogance would annoy him. A beat of silence hung on the line before he finally spoke again.
He chuckled. “Now you say, white.”
“What. Ever. Are you saying I’m being difficult on purpose? You know, no need to answer that question. It’s okay, I know your sensitive male ego just can’t take being wrong so often In fact, admitting I’m right might just be the death of you.”
A half groan, half growl sounded in her ear from the other end of the line. Damn, he sounded so yummy when he made that noise.
And there it was. Again! The little warm knot she felt in her stomach each time their conversations strayed from serious work topics to laughter, and something akin to flirtation hidden beneath sarcastic teasing sparked to life. Never mind how sexy his voice sounded over the phone. It made every inch of her skin get tight.
“You’re getting an answer. You ready? Yeah, you love being difficult for no reason. I think your middle name is difficult. It is, isn’t it? Maiya ‘Difficult’ Rossini. I know it.” He laughed. “Look, either way, I need your team’s help if I’m going to pull this off.”
“Ooh, you’re so lucky I’m going to let those zingers slide... for now. And FYI, you already have my team’s cooperation, Ryan. You have one of my best analysts on this project. What you’re proposing is to do everyone’s job for them. Control freak much?” She snorted.
“Low blow. I’m not a control freak. I’m simply saying— Wait, did you just snort?”
“Of course I did.” She spun in a circle in her chair, wearing a grin the size of her couch.
He burst out laughing. “You kill me, Maiya.”
“Not dead, yet, Ryan. Guess I need to step up my game.”
“Bring it. I don’t think you have it in you.”
“A challenge, huh? You’ll lose if I really turn up the heat.” Speaking of heat, she’d gone warm all over. And again, dead silence on the other end of the line. She guessed she won this round. Point for me. Maiya cleared her throat and leveled her tone in an attempt to sound more serious and get the conversation back on track. “Anyway, let me know what you decide to do.”
Their teasing banter came too easy between them now, and Maiya was trying her best—sort of, but not really—to avoid it. And lately ruffling his feathers had become a game she enjoyed a little too much.
“Okay, okay. I’ll get back to you. Talk soon.” He hung up.
Shaking her head, she placed her wireless headset on its cradle, scooped up her cell and walked to her backyard. Maiya plopped down in one of the cherry red, cushioned Adirondack chairs on her patio, stretched out her legs on the ottoman and lit a cigarette. “That man is a pain in my ass.”