Secret Tastes Chapter One

We're getting closer to the 20th, the official release day of Secret Tastes, Sam and Adam's love story. I'm really excited. (Yes, I always get that way every time I publish a book. Admittedly, I get nervous, too.)

I promised to post Chapters One and Two of Secret Tastes so for today, here's the first chapter. I'm splitting them in two so each post wouldn't be too long–but also so you can have something to look forward to tomorrow ;-).

Without further ado, here it is. Hope you enjoy it!

Secret Tastes 2D 200x300Secret Tastes (Secret Dreams Contemporary Romance 4) Chapter One

Samantha Lane was wet. Very wet. Even the ends of her long, deep brown hair were sodden. Her umbrella was nowhere near big enough to protect her from the incessant rain.

The good news was she was now first in line for a taxi. The bad news was she'd been standing there for over twenty minutes, and the last cab that picked up the passenger before her had left ten minutes ago. Where were all the blasted taxis?

If she wasn't still on a high from a wonderful night, she'd be downright cranky by now. Fortunately she was still feeling the buzz, which negated the dampening effects of the bad weather and the long wait to get home.

The cooking master class presented by the Michelin starred celebrity chef, who flew in to Sydney just for the special event, had been fantastic. But it was the last two hours of mingling with the attendees that held enormous value for her.

Those who had paid top dollar for the closed door ‘after-class drinks' had been given the opportunity to meet and greet food industry experts who were normally out of reach to the general public. Professionals from fresh food suppliers to well-known Australian chefs were on hand.

And paid top dollar, she had. She wouldn't have missed it for the world. While part of her reason for coming to Sydney was to visit her cousin Kris McCann and their best friends, Jasmine Allen-Summers and Ari Mitchell, she made sure her trip coincided with this rare occasion.

All in all, she had an excellent time. Except for one thing. She was sure she had just made an enemy tonight—with an ultra-glamorous, sensational-looking woman whose first name she didn’t get to know.

Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook—as she’d nicknamed her—rubbed her off the wrong way with her haughty, unfriendly attitude and her ridiculous questions that anyone with the most limited understanding of food preparation would know. For heaven's sake, people shelled out good money to learn advanced cooking techniques, not waste their time hearing answers to basic questions like ‘how do you know if the oil's hot enough?' Seriously!

She wasn't usually the rock-the-boat type of person, but geez, Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook really got up her nose. It had been her bad luck that she had to sit next to the woman all through the class. When she quietly—and very politely—volunteered to teach Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook the basics of cooking after the master class had finished, she got an evil glare and a bitchy flick of lustrous hair with perfectly manicured fingers. She probably shouldn't have offered, but the woman was hogging the Q&A with her elementary level questions.

Samantha exhaled loudly. Thinking about Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook while standing in the middle of a driving rain diminished her remaining enthusiasm. Thank God she wasn't likely to bump into that woman again.

She craned her neck, hoping that the vehicle drawing near was an empty cab. Unfortunately, it wasn't even a taxi. Maybe she should text Kris back and tell her she needed to be picked up after all. She should have waited until she was inside a cab before sending her cousin a message that she would catch one home instead.

The approaching car slowed down to a stop directly in front of her and the driver wound down the passenger side window.

“Sam?” a man called from within.

Surprised, she bent down to look inside the vehicle. Her heart started beating wildly as a handsome face with chestnut hair and hazel eyes grinned at her. Goodness, it was Adam Craig.

“Adam! What are you doing here?”

“I've come to pick up a friend. I didn't know you'd be here. Hop on in.”

She eyed the interior of his expensive luxury car. “I'm drenched. I might ruin your leather seat,” she responded.

“Don't worry about it,” Adam said with a laugh, reaching over to open the front passenger door.

With a grateful smile, she closed her umbrella and got in. She felt guilty about the amount of water dripping off her but she let herself relax. She was comfortable with Adam. As he was one of the best friends and business partners of Trey Andrews, Kris's fiancé, she'd known Adam long enough to know he was a wonderful, easy-going guy.

“Are you okay?” Adam asked.

“Yeah, thanks. I'm glad you saw me standing there. I was debating whether I'd go back inside and ask Kris to pick me up. I didn't anticipate the lack of taxis but I suppose it's understandable in this weather on a Saturday night.”

“I should have known you'd be here. How come you didn't mention it yesterday?” Adam asked.

“Oh, I told the girls about it but you guys must have been so busy chatting that you didn't hear.”

“We should have another karaoke session like that,” Adam said with a grin. “That was fun.”

“It certainly was,” she agreed, remembering with fondness their little party organised by Kris and Trey at their place in celebration of her short visit from Melbourne.

Adam was a bit like her when it came to karaoke—not bad at all, but not good enough to win any competition. As usual, Jasmine had been the best singer. Her husband Kane Summers had stared at her like he'd wanted to ravish her as she sang a sexy song. Ari could carry a tune, too. When her fiancé Dylan Summers—Kane's brother and Adam's other best friend and business partner—joined her for a duet, it had been touching. Cheesy, but touching. But she thought the best part of yesterday was when Trey proposed to Kris after showing off his new dance skills while Jasmine sang.

“So how was the cooking class?” Adam asked as he drove toward the covered area just outside the entrance of the function centre.

“It was great! Well worth it.”

“Good,” he answered distractedly as he scanned people's faces. “There's Sandy,” he murmured as he honked his horn briefly to attract his friend's attention.

Sam's eyes widened in dismay as a strawberry blonde looked up from her phone and smiled at Adam's approaching car.

Oh, hell. She couldn't believe it. Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook was Sandy—Adam's on-again, off-again girlfriend.

She thought Adam and Sandy had broken up for good. Were they back together again? Why was Adam picking her up?

Appearance-wise, it didn't surprise her that the two were attracted to each other. Adam was a gorgeous hunk and Sandy was a stunning girl. But how could someone as nice as Adam have someone so bitchy and juvenile as that woman for a girlfriend?


Adam shook his head surreptitiously as he watched Sandy trot to his car. He was certain Sandy would assume his acquiescence to picking her up as a sign that he still cared. She'd be wrong. But as much as he had been tempted to ignore Sandy's call for help, the chivalrous part of him couldn't stand the thought of leaving a woman—any woman—stranded in this type of weather. The fact that Sandy was an ex who was still pushing for a reconciliation didn't stop him from doing her this favour.

Sometimes, especially when it came to obstinate girls, his considerate nature was a curse.

Sandy was about to get in the front passenger side when she froze. She'd caught sight of Sam already sitting there. Obviously, this was totally unexpected.

He pressed a button to wind down the window. “Sandy, get in the back,” he called out.

It took long seconds before Sandy snapped out of her shock and did as she was told.

“Hi,” Sam said as Sandy settled herself in the car.

Sandy didn't respond.

Adam sighed. Sandy was the competitive type and typically couldn't stand being overshadowed by another female.

“Sandy, this is Sam,” he said, glancing at his rear-view mirror and catching Sandy's big scowl. “Sam, this is Sandy,” he said to Sam who was staring at the road ahead.

“Hi, Sandy. Good to meet you,” Sam said pleasantly. Turning to Adam, she said, “Sandy and I were sitting next to each other during the class but we didn't get to properly introduce ourselves.”

“Oh, right. I hope you both had a great time,” he said conversationally.

“Hello, Sam,” Sandy finally acknowledged from the back. “How come you've never mentioned Sam to me before, Adam? We've been together for months and this is the first I've heard of her.”

He suppressed the desire to roll his eyes. Sandy's tone was amiable but the barb was there. “I had my reasons,” he answered mysteriously.

There was a time when he'd considered Sandy's bitchy attitude as plain straightforwardness. He had been quite infatuated with her. As a big plus, she was a bombshell. But when he finally came to his senses, he simply got more and more annoyed by her behaviour. Sandy could be ultra-charming, but she also loved spending his money.

He used to see Sandy as a sweet, albeit somewhat immature, twenty-five-year-old who simply wanted a good life—a lifestyle he was easily able to give her. Well, not anymore. Now, he just found her irritatingly shallow. Funny how his perspective had changed when the lust had worn off.

“So, darling, you're dropping Sam off first, right?” Sandy asked sweetly. “I thought we could have coffee at my place before you head back home.”

He stopped a snort that wanted to come out. Sandy's persistence in wanting to get back with him was commendable and flattering. But frankly, he was tired of it.

A brilliant plan crystallised in his head. “No. I'm dropping you off first. I'm stopping by at Sam's,” he answered, glancing at Sam who looked surprised.

“Are you? Why?” Sandy asked suspiciously.

“Why? I want to,” he answered, hoping Sam wouldn't clarify to Sandy that she was only on a short visit from Melbourne and was staying with Kris and Trey.

Sandy was like a dog with a bone when it came to him. Telling her they were over—over and over again—didn't seem to work. Until Sandy saw with her own eyes that he'd moved on, he doubted she would let go.

Fortuitously, just yesterday, he had agreed to be Sam's pretend boyfriend for the sake of her parents. She wanted to resign from her father's accounting practice—which she was supposed to head when her dad retired in a few years—to follow her dream of going into the food industry. But Sam was afraid she'd break her parents' hearts if she did that.

Apparently, though, both her mum and dad had been keen for her to find a life partner. When Kris had jokingly suggested that she should give the excuse that she'd met a man in Sydney, and that was why she wanted to quit the practice and leave Melbourne, Sam grabbed at the idea.

As a helpful guy happy to assist a friend in need, he was more than happy to play Sam's boyfriend if her parents insisted on meeting one. But he could also take advantage of this charade, couldn't he?

He reached over and grabbed Sam's hand, giving it a warning squeeze. “You're not too tired, are you, sweetheart? I thought we could continue talking about the plan we started discussing yesterday—the one involving me meeting your folks.”

Sandy's gasp from the back was audible while he noticed Sam swallow a smile.

“Of course not, honey,” Sam answered, playing along with him. “It'll be great to finalise that plan.”

He grinned at her and caught the twinkling in her beautiful brown eyes.

“So when did you two start going out?” Sandy asked coldly.

“A month ago,” Adam responded, making it up on the spot. “Although we'd known each other for much longer than that. Sam is Kris's cousin.”

He hoped Sandy wouldn't ask any more questions. The last time Sam had been in Sydney was three months ago.

“But you and I went out on a date just two weeks ago,” Sandy said pointedly.

“That wasn't a date,” he contended. “You asked me to have lunch with you and, as a friend, I turned up. Sam knows about it. I told her.”

“Yes,” Sam said, backing him up. “Adam explained everything to me. He promised not to do it again.”

Adam almost laughed out loud at Sam's comment. It was great.


End of Chapter One.

Hope you enjoyed that. I'll post Chapter Two tomorrow.

Miranda xxx



Secret Moves: Cover and Chapter One

Release day for Secret Moves (Secret Dreams Contemporary Romance 3) is almost upon us! Within twenty-four hours, I'll be pressing the publish button for this book. From there, it will only be a few hours wait before they go live on the various stores.

Once it's up on the stores, I'll let you know. I know you're just as keen as I am to finally see it available. 🙂

In the meantime, here's the cover and Chapter One for you to enjoy. I love Kris and Trey, and I hope they–and their story–make their way to your heart too. Happy reading!

Secret Moves 2D small

Secret Moves (Secret Dreams Contemporary Romance 3)

Chapter One

Oh, weddings, you bring out the best and worst of emotions. Kristen McCann smiled wryly as she spotted a pensive-looking young woman stare surreptitiously at a couple kissing passionately in a quiet corner of one of Sydney's luxurious five-star hotels. Judging by their clothing, the sad-faced girl and the canoodling pair were guests of the bride and groom. She didn't recognise them, so she guessed they were on Kane Summers' guest list, and not on her best friend Jasmine Allen-Summers'.

She sighed as she made her way back to the grand ballroom after a quick trip to the ladies'. This wedding—and the lead-up to it—elicited something in her, too. Lately, to her discomfort, her libido had been very much awake.

Ever since she and her cousin Samantha Lane arrived from Melbourne a few days ago to fulfil their bridesmaid duties, she'd been constantly in the presence of two loved-up couples. Since she and Sam were staying at Kane and Jasmine's place while in Sydney, she'd been witness to the newlyweds’ desire for each other, even though the pair tried their best to keep their passion private. Then there were Ari Mitchell, their other best friend, and her boyfriend Dylan Summers, Kane's brother. Those two seemed to be in competition with Kane and Jasmine for the title Sizzling Couple of the Year. Add to that mix the fact that she'd had a long sex drought of eleven and a half months. It was no wonder she'd been craving a warm, masculine body to alleviate some tension.

She glanced at the amorous couple again, and her eyes widened in disbelief. The PG-rated kiss of a few seconds ago had now become an R. She let out an incredulous laugh, surprised at the audacity of the guy to visibly fondle his girlfriend's breast in full view of anyone who passed by. Fortunately, most of the wedding guests were inside enjoying some dancing. Honestly, they should get a room!

She placed her palm on the heavy door of the ballroom and pushed, only to misstep and stumble when she saw who was on the other side of it.

“Oops. I'm sorry,” a deep masculine voice said as he grabbed her arms to stop her from falling flat on her face.

She grinned. “It's not your fault. I was just surprised it's you.”

The hunk with incredible grey eyes and dark brown hair lifted his eyebrows at her questioningly.

“Don't mind me,” she said with a shake of her head. “I just happened to be talking about you with Ari a few minutes ago. Your name's Trey, right? I'm Kris McCann.”

“Hi, Kris. Yes, I'm Trey—Trey Andrews.” The gorgeous one gave her a curious look as he shook the hand she offered him. “But of course, I already know your name. Hard to miss when you're one of the stunning bridesmaids.”

She smiled at the compliment.

“So, why were you and Ari talking about me?” Trey asked.

“Oh, it was nothing important,” she said with a laugh. “Besides, I really shouldn't tell you.”

“Now, Kris. You can't just leave it like that. You can't incite my interest then leave me hanging,” Trey said lightly.

She pursed her lips. “Considering I agreed with Ari's suggestion, there's really not much point discussing it with you.”

“Now I'm even more intrigued,” Trey said with a wide, engaging smile.

She sighed—well, it was really more like a swoon. Trey really was gorgeous. Should she tell him that she had asked Ari to introduce them to each other for the possibility of some casual sex? Ari was clearly against the idea, warning her of Trey's reputation as a playboy. Since it had been Dylan who'd told Ari that, and Dylan was Trey's best friend, she had no reason to doubt the accuracy of that statement.

Not that she cared about Trey being a playboy. Crude as it might sound, all she wanted was to get laid and Trey happened to catch her eye. But Ari had been concerned about possible complications. To put her friend at ease, Kris had agreed that it would be better if she considered someone else who was a complete stranger to all of them.

“I can see the wheels turning in that beautiful head of yours,” Trey teased flirtatiously. “Come on, tell me.”

She bit her lip to hide her smile as she stared at him, contemplating her next words. “My cousin Samantha and I are here in Sydney for three weeks to house-sit for Jasmine and Kane while they're on their honeymoon. I said to Ari that I wanted to make the most of it. One thing I wanted to do was to meet someone for some casual sex while I'm here. Not that it's something I do a lot of, but it's been a while, and I'm…you know,” she said with a shrug.

Trey's eyes opened wide in surprise. She must have shocked him with her candidness. The truth was, sometimes her brain-to-mouth filter failed to work. The fact that she already had a bit of alcohol in her made it worse.

“Sooo,” Trey said with a suppressed smile. “How did I end up being in the conversation?”

She lifted her shoulders. “Since it's a moot point, let's not talk about it.”

“Why is it a moot point?”

“Because it won't be with you!” she laughed.

Trey's eyes sparkled with interest. “So you considered me?”

“Considered you and scratched you out,” she confirmed flippantly.

“Why? What's wrong with me?” he asked with mock indignation.

“Nothing much that I can see,” she admitted, casting an admiring glance at his form. She bet there was a great body hiding underneath that expensive suit.

Trey's smile widened, making her want to swoon again. Damn it, Ari. Why did I listen to you?

“So why did you scratch me out?” he asked.

“Ari didn't think it was a good idea. Too complicated.”

Trey laughed out loud. “That, coming from someone who propositioned her friend's brother-in-law for a one-night stand.”

She joined him in laughter. “I know. But I think that's why she's worried. She thinks I might fall for you like she did with Dylan.”

“Oh. Are you looking for a boyfriend? If so, she's right to warn you off me. I'm allergic to relationships,” Trey said with a teasing smile, but his eyes betrayed his seriousness.

“No, I'm not looking for a boyfriend. I'm looking to get laid. But to avoid any unexpected consequences, I've agreed to look elsewhere.”

“Are you always this frank?” Trey asked, astounded.

She sighed. “Unfortunately. Mind you, I am a little bit worse tonight because of the alcohol.”

“But you're not completely drunk?”

“Do I look completely drunk?”

“Not completely. Just a tiny little bit. Which means the alcohol wasn't affecting your judgment when you thought of me as a potential playmate,” Trey said, giving her a suggestive wink.

She chuckled. “I'm sure you already know you're one hot guy, Trey. But you know what? I agree with Ari. Better not go where we might not like the consequences. What if I fell for you without meaning to? We wouldn't want that now, would we?” she asked jokingly.

Trey let out a nervous laugh. “No, we certainly wouldn't want that! I'm sure Ari and Jasmine would line up to have my head if I hurt you.”

She smiled, concealing a sigh. What a shame. If Trey was a total stranger, she was almost sure they could end up in bed that very night. But, hey, it wasn't to be.

She glanced at the throng of people dancing the night away and couldn't help the smile that formed on her face. She loved dancing.

“Would you like to dance, Trey?” she asked. “Dancing together wouldn't hurt, would it?”

Trey looked embarrassed. “Uh, sorry. I don't dance.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean I can't dance.”

“Oh, come now. Anyone can dance. You're not turning me down because I said I won't be sleeping with you, are you?”

“What?” Trey asked, chuckling. “Of course not.”

“Good. Shall we?” She held out her arm for him to take.


Trey mentally shook his head as he ambled to the dance floor with Kris. She was one intriguing woman, and he'd surprised himself by agreeing to dance with her.

He liked her outspokenness. He wondered if she was simply a little bit drunk or if she really was as straightforward as she seemed to be.

She was a breath of fresh air, very much unlike most of the women he'd met in the past, who'd told him what they thought he wanted to hear so they could get in his pants—and most of all, his pockets.

Kris nudged him with her hip, encouraging him to move. He started to shuffle his feet—or tried to. Heaven knew he couldn't dance and avoided it at all costs. But his lips curved up as he watched Kris, even though he felt like a klutz next to her.

God, she moved well. Really, really well. He'd noticed it earlier when the bridal party danced the bridal waltz with bits of salsa, tango, and freestyle thrown in. She was easily the best in the group, and it was obvious she loved every minute of it.

He wondered if she had sex just like she danced—with abandon.

He took a sharp breath at the erotic picture that formed, and snaked an arm around her waist to pull her close. “You're a great dancer,” he said in her ear so she could hear him over the blaring music and people singing merrily along at the top of their lungs.

Kris grinned, her beautiful blue eyes sparkling. To his surprise she swayed seductively around him, letting her hand slide across his chest, his shoulder, his neck, then back to his chest as she completed the circuit of his awkwardly jiggling form.

Hell, she made him hot. And he couldn't have her. Damn.

The fast music ended and a slow tune started playing. He took advantage of it and pressed her against him with a firm arm around her waist.

Kris curved her arms around his neck, her body soft and yielding against his.

Fuck. She felt good. He felt his loins stir as he danced intimately with her.

“Do you like dancing, Trey?” Kris asked, her breath tickling his ear.

His chest heaved. Did she want a literal or a metaphorical answer?

“Depends on what you mean by ‘dancing',” he answered huskily, brushing away a strand of blond hair that strayed to her face.

She let out a low, sexy laugh. “I mean dancing as in actual dancing—not sex.”

“Oh. No, I don't. Except for right now.”

“Oh? What makes ‘right now' different?” she asked, her arms tightening around his neck, her body pressing closer to his.

Was she giving him a hint? A come-on? Was he under consideration again? He wouldn't mind that at all!

He licked his lips and smiled. “You're an excellent dance partner, and it's incredibly arousing dancing with you,” he said. Not that he had to draw her attention to his excited member. It was quite obviously hard against her.

Kris leaned back and scrunched her face cutely. “You're still out of the game, even if I'm flirting with you while your you-know-what is poking my belly.”

He laughed out loud, even as disappointment pricked him. “But why? I think we'd have a great time together.”

“That's the problem. We might have too great a time. I think you're dangerous, Trey Andrews,” she said openly.

He gaped at her, trying to determine her meaning. Was she saying she could easily fall for him if they slept together? He sighed. He wasn't being egotistical, but there were enough girls in his past who'd said they were only after sex and ended up chasing him for a relationship.

He couldn't have that. A few years ago, he'd been too trusting of a particular woman and found himself taken for a ride. He'd learned his lesson. Now, his chosen lifestyle—the bachelor lifestyle—suited him to a tee. He had no plans of giving it up.

He still let himself be seduced by beautiful women, though. He was a full-blooded male, after all. But he was careful enough—and, he'd like to think, considerate enough—to let them know he wasn't interested in anything beyond casual.

So Kris was right. He wouldn't want her falling for him at all. Better not go there.

“Okay,” he said. “It's loud and clear. You and I won't be having sex. Right?”

“Right,” Kris agreed.

“Great,” he said, ignoring the deflation he suddenly felt. “Let's go back to the topic of dancing—real dancing. Dylan mentioned you guys took some lessons for the bridal waltz. Where did you go?”

Kris chuckled. “I taught everyone.”

His eyebrows arched. “You taught everyone?”

“Yes. I'm a part-time dance teacher at a Melbourne dance studio.”

“That explains a lot,” he said with admiration. “You do dance like a pro.”

“Thanks,” she said with a smile. “But the guys were excellent students. We only had a handful of sessions and they got the steps pretty quickly.”

“If I were in that bridal party, you would have had a harder time. I don't think you could teach me how to dance like that in one hundred lessons,” he said self-deprecatingly.

“Oh, but you underestimate my teaching skills!” she teased. “Let's have a bet on this.”

“What do you mean?”

“I bet I can teach you how to dance well in a few lessons. By the time I have to go back home to Melbourne, you'll be a good enough dancer that you could be the centre of attention on any dance floor.”

He snorted in disbelief. “Me become a good dancer in three weeks? Yeah, right.”

“Prove me wrong then,” she challenged.

He smiled. This could be fun. “Okay. I bet I'll be the first guy who fails your class.”

“I bet you'll pass with flying colours,” Kris answered.

“What does the winner of this bet get?” he asked.

Kris grinned. “If I win, you take me to a nice dinner. If you win, meaning you're still a crap dancer in three weeks, I'll take you dancing—where you will have the wonderful opportunity to dance solo in front of an audience.”

“Hang on a minute. That doesn't sound right,” he said in confusion. “If you lose and I still have two left feet by the time you go home, my prize for winning the bet is to dance solo in front of people?”

“That's right. That would ensure you work hard and not pretend you're not learning even though you are.”

“Why would I want to win, then?”

“Exactly. That's why I should win.”

“I don't know about this. I make a fool of myself every time I dance, so I just don't,” he admitted.

“You're dancing right now,” Kris pointed out.

He laughed to cover his embarrassment. “Yeah. It's your fault.”

He was rewarded by a sweet smile.

“You're not doing too badly,” she consoled him.

He snorted. “You don't need to spare my feelings.”

“Look around you,” she encouraged. “See how much fun everyone else is having? You don't have to be a good dancer to enjoy dancing. You just need to be less self-conscious.”

“There is still no way in the world I'm going to dance solo with everyone staring at me.”

“That's why you have to help me win this bet, you see? Come on, it'll be fun!”

“You sure know how to motivate your students, don't you?” he grumbled.

“So we have a deal?” she asked in an almost-squeal.

Oh, hell. How could he say no to that excited face? Plus, the idea of spending more time with Kris appealed to him—even if they weren't going to sleep together. “Okay, we have a deal,” he said a tad cautiously.


“I do have one big condition, if I'm going to participate in this very scary bet,” he said.

“What's that?”

“Don't tell anyone you're teaching me how to dance. My friends would undoubtedly want to watch me trip over my own feet, and that would be mortifying.”

“Okay. But how are we going to keep this from them?”

They were both silent as they thought of a good enough excuse. Suddenly, Kris said, “I know. We can tell them you're taking me to all these different clubs so I can find a decent man to have a short fling with. My cousin Sam wouldn't want to tag along if that's the reason we give her.”

He laughed. “Okay, for some reason, I can actually see them believing that. Little would they know you're trying to convert one of my left feet to a right one.”

“Now that I think about it, it would be great if you could take me to places where I could have my choice of hunks to play with. Maybe after our lessons we could go out and do that?”

What? He stared at her in disbelief.

“I'm not kidding, Trey. I still intend to fulfil this little fantasy of mine. Take me to your favourite pick-up places. Pretty please?”

“Sure,” he replied, feeling bothered. He found himself hoping that Kris was simply way too tipsy to mean what she'd just said.


Secret Moves, out very, very soon.



Secret Designs Chapter One


Here's the date: September 20. So just a handful of days to go before Secret Designs is out! I'm getting excited. 🙂

The next post you'll see from me will be one that says “it's now available at Amazon”. In the meantime here is Chapter One, as promised. Enjoy!

Secret Designs (Secret Dreams Contemporary Romance 2)

Chapter One

Secret Designs (Secret Dreams Contemporary Romance 2)

Arielle Mitchell shook her head, unable to believe the passionate woman who had been unleashed last night. Was that really her? She'd never been that responsive, energetic, or—okay—damned horny with anyone else before. If she hadn’t known Dylan Summers beforehand, she might even suspect he had put an aphrodisiac in her drink or something.

Well, come to think of it, she really didn't know Dylan. She'd only met him once before, when her friend Jasmine Allen pleaded with her to accompany her to his birthday party six weeks ago. They only stayed for fifteen minutes, so she hadn’t  even talked to him that much.

Yes, Dylan could very well be someone who would put an aphrodisiac in a woman's drink. What else could have made her so lustful last night?

She snorted at her ridiculous thoughts. Don't blame someone else for your wild and wanton ways, Ari!

Okay, then. The truth was Dylan turned her on—really turned her on; turned her on enough that she found herself doing things she'd never done before.

“Hi, Ari!”

Ari jumped at the sound of Jasmine's voice on the other end of the line.

Oh, right. She’d almost forgotten the phone against her ear—almost forgotten that she’d called Jasmine. To confess. Geez.

“Hi, Jaz,” she responded. “Am I calling too early? Am I disturbing you guys?” She grimaced at the thought that Jasmine's boyfriend Kane might be listening in on their conversation.

“No, it's fine,” Jasmine answered. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, everything's okay,” she replied, trying to sound casual. “I just want to tell you something before you hear it from someone else.”


Ari inhaled deeply, then spilled it out. “Last night when I went out with my workmates for Friday night drinks, I bumped into Dylan, Kane's brother. And, uh…well…I slept with him.”

“What?” Jasmine asked in surprise.

“It was just a one-night stand,” she explained hastily. “We're both very clear on that and we're both okay with it. I wanted to tell you because I'm not very good at keeping these things to myself. And it was already starting to bother me that you might hear it first from Dylan or one of his friends instead of me.”

“Okay,” Jasmine responded, still shocked from the news.

“You're fine with it, right, Jaz? And Kane would be okay with it, too?” she asked worriedly.

“Of course. As long as you and Dylan are okay with it.”

“Yes, definitely. Like I said, we're both very clear it was just a one-night stand and we're both totally fine with that,” she replied, feeling the need to repeat herself.

“Then there's no problem,” Jasmine stated.

“Good. Well, I'll let you go. Please let Kane know what I just told you. I'll see you in a few days.”

“Okay. Bye.”

Ari placed the phone down on her coffee table with a relieved sigh, glad that was out of the way. She stood up from the sofa and stretched. As she walked to the kitchen, the stiffness of her muscles and the delicious soreness between her legs made her blush. Unbidden, her recent physical exertions played back again in her head. Where the hell was the stop button for her memory banks?

Enough already, she berated herself as desire continued to unfurl within her.

“It was just a one-night stand, Ari,” she said out loud as she poured granola, then milk, in a bowl. “Forget about him. It won't happen again. It can't happen again.”

She plonked in a chair with a heavy exhale and knew it wouldn't be easy to push away the last ten hours from her memory. The image of a gorgeous, dark-haired, blue-eyed guy with a seriously hot, muscular body loomed large in her thoughts. Dylan Summers was way too hot to be forgotten quickly—especially when he’d just given her the best night of sex in her life.

She propped an elbow on her dining table and rested her chin on her hand, breakfast forgotten. She'd only had three hours sleep. She was tired, but if Dylan were still around she would be keen for more sex. Goodness, wasn't she the one who instigated the last round after they woke up? Well, she’d had to. She wouldn't have another chance. Dylan had only agreed to a one-night stand.

Last night was meant to be about celebrating the end of a busy week with her workmates in one of Sydney's popular nightspots. She didn't go with the intention of hooking up with someone. But how was she to know her ex-boyfriend would be there, too? With the woman she had once considered a good friend? The same woman she’d caught in bed with him while they were still together?

That had called for a third glass of wine. Two was her usual limit. Anything more than that and her good judgment went out like a light.

Dylan saw her first. He and his two friends had approached their group. Somehow the two of them had ended up in a corner talking and flirting with each other for close to an hour. She couldn't even remember ordering a fourth drink, but she must have had one, because her good judgment went comatose on her while she was still wide awake.

She blushed as memories of her forwardness came flooding back.

“How about you come home with me, Dylan?” she’d asked.

His handsome face had expressed a blend of desire and concern. “Are you sure, Ari?”

She’d placed a flirtatious hand on his arm. “Why not?”

“I'm only looking for some fun, Ari,” he'd replied warily.

Dylan's cautious reaction made her more determined to get him to go home with her. No doubt the alcohol was mainly responsible for such brazen behaviour, but more than that, she didn't want to feel like a reject all over again.

“Great. So am I,” she’d responded.

Dylan's eyes had flared with heat that had made her heart pound hard in her chest. “I'd love to go home with you tonight, Ari. But are you sure you don't have a problem with just a one-night stand? You're Jasmine's friend and I'm Kane's brother. It could be real awkward if we can't handle it.”

“No, I don't have a problem with it. Do you?” she asked breezily.

“Absolutely not.” 

After hasty goodbyes to their group, they got into a taxi. Dylan's hands were incredibly naughty during their trip to her apartment, creeping way up her thigh and burrowing under her top—at one point, successfully unhooking her bra. She lost count of the times she laughingly swatted a wandering hand away, conscious of the driver watching them from the rear-view mirror. She wondered if taxi drivers were used to having couples make out in the backseat of their cabs.

Their night together had been…amazing. Dylan was incredible and insatiable. So was she—insatiable, that was. Their morning sex had proven that.

Then he was gone.

Was it normal for someone to feel empty and at the same time have unstoppable fluttering butterflies in the stomach after a one-night stand? She hadn't done it before, so she didn't have anything to compare this reaction with.

Oh, well. She wasn't doing herself any favours by dwelling on the feelings swirling within her. Better to get on with her day than re-live her hot night with a hunky guy. There was no point stoking a desire that couldn't possibly be satisfied by the same man again.


“Hello, darling. We've been waiting for you. We've already started dinner, like you told us to.”

“Hi, Mum,” Dylan said as he enfolded his mother Linda in a warm embrace. “Sorry I'm late. I was at a friend's birthday party and she wouldn't let me leave. I had to wait until she was drunk enough to not notice that I was gone.”

“Dylan! Honestly, I don't know why you surround yourself with immature friends. You're already thirty-two, in case you’ve forgotten. Don't you think it's time to tone down your social activities a little bit? Maybe find someone to settle down with?”

He playfully rolled his eyes at his mother's censuring tone, used to this mini-lecture for being the second-oldest of five siblings and having never taken a girl home to introduce to his parents.

He couldn't help it that he wasn't as romantically inclined as his three brothers and only sister. Wasn't there usually one in every family who went the opposite way from everyone else? It didn't bother him in the least that, in his family's case, he was the odd one out—the one who didn't want to settle down in a permanent relationship.

“Mum, you know I'm your black sheep,” he said, putting an arm around Linda as they walked to the dining room. “But you have to admit that my social life is the only thing you could complain about. In every other way, I'm the perfect son,” he joked, giving his mother a kiss on her forehead.

“I complain about some of your friends and I complain that you don't want a steady girlfriend. So that's two things I'm not happy with, not just one,” Linda retorted.

“Aww, but you love me anyway.”

This time his mother rolled her eyes at him. But she had a resigned smile on her face.

“Hello all!” he said to everyone squeezed around his parents' big dining table. He went around to give the women a kiss on the cheek and the men a pat on the shoulder. Everyone was there: his parents, his sister Faye and her fiancé Ray, his twin brothers Riley and Bradley and their girlfriends, and his older brother Kane and his girlfriend Jasmine.

Seeing Jasmine brought back memories of the night he'd had with a beautiful, chestnut-haired woman with expressive brown eyes. Phew, last night was easily one of the most incredible nights he'd ever had. Just thinking about it made him hot and bothered. If Ari Mitchell wasn't Jasmine's friend, he wouldn't think twice about propositioning her for another tumble or two.

But experience had taught him he couldn't remain friends with girls he'd had sex with for more than one night. For whatever reason, his track record was quite consistent: he didn't have problems developing friendships with women he'd had one-night stands with, but once it went beyond the one time, maintaining the friendship became difficult. So a repeat of last night with Ari was not in the cards, not if they would have to continue being friendly with each other because of Kane and Jasmine.

“Woo-hoo! Dylan! Are you listening?”

Kane's voice snapped him out of his musing. He sat on the empty chair and grinned at his brother. “Sorry, were you saying something?”

“I said, I'm sorry we dragged you out of your friend's party. But thanks for being here.”

“Oh, sure. No worries. I might head back there after we finish here. What made you call a family dinner tonight, anyway?” he asked Kane.

“Well, now that everyone's here, I can announce my good news,” Kane replied, a blissful grin settling on his face. There was a dramatic pause before Kane finally announced, “Jasmine and I are getting married.”

Cheers erupted around the table as everybody congratulated the couple.

“I had a feeling that was why you wanted to have dinner with all of us tonight, Kane,” Faye said. “I'm so happy for you guys. Do you have a ring yet?”

“Yes, it's here in my pocket,” Kane responded as he pulled out a small box. “We wanted to surprise everyone so Jaz took it off so no one would guess our news.” He took the ring out and placed it on Jasmine's finger before giving her a kiss.

“This is wonderful news,” Linda said, touching the corner of her eye to dab a happy tear away. “Have you set a date yet?”

“Not yet,” Jasmine answered. “But it would be a good few months after Faye and Ray's wedding.”

“What do you mean a good few months?” Kane asked with a frown. “Why couldn't we get married a month after them?”

Jasmine chuckled. “They're getting married in less than two months, honey. We need time to prepare for ours.”

“Isn't three months enough?” Kane persisted.

“I don't know,” Jasmine answered.

“It's possible,” Faye said. “As long as the venue and service providers you want aren't already booked. Jessa and I can help you prepare.”

“See,” Kane said to Jasmine. “Your sister and my sister have already done all the research for their own weddings. They can help organise the kind of wedding you want within three months. Right, Faye?”

“Sure. As long as Jaz wants to get married that soon, of course. Maybe she'd prefer to wait a little longer.”

Kane looked at Jasmine with a hint of concern.

Jasmine laughed and placed a hand on Kane's cheek. “Okay. A month after Faye and Ray's wedding.”

Kane smiled brightly and gave his fiancée another quick kiss.

Dylan watched the obvious affection between his brother and Jasmine. He glanced around the table and saw the happiness in each of the person sitting there—happiness they shared with their significant other. He was the only one who sat alone and did not have someone to share a knowing look with, or a squeeze of the hand, or a peck on the lips. He scratched the back of his ear, strangely unsettled. Why did he feel left out, all of a sudden?


“Did you have a good time last night, Dyl?”

Dylan looked at Kane in surprise. His brother was lining up his shot at the pool table but arched an eyebrow at him when he didn't respond straight away.

“Last night was good,” he answered.

“Yeah? What did you do?” Kane asked as he hit the cue ball. He sank a solid.

“I was out with Trey and Adam.”

“Where did you go?”

“The Establishment. Then Ivy.”

“Okay. Anything exciting happened?”

Kane's questioning was too casual, Dylan thought. He positioned himself to take a shot after Kane missed.

“I saw Jasmine's friend Ari at Ivy,” he said after sinking a striped ball.

“Oh, right. How was she?”

How was she? Dylan couldn't help the smile that tugged his lips. “She was great.”

He concentrated on his next shot but missed. When he looked up, Kane was staring at him in a funny kind of way. He narrowed his eyes at his brother.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Like what?” Kane asked innocently.

“Like you know something.”

“Is there something to know?”

Ah. Kane did know something. Had Ari told Jasmine about last night, already?

“Ari and I hooked up,” he admitted to Kane.

“You like her?”

“It was just a one-night stand, Kane.”

Kane nodded, as if he knew it already.

“Is Jaz cool with it? Are you?” he asked with concern.

“Sure. As long as you two are okay with being in the same room after what happened. With Jaz and I getting married, I'm sure you'll see more of Ari.”

“I know that. You know me, Kane. I can be friends with women I've slept with.”

“That's not exactly a secret,” Kane said dryly. “I don't know how or why you do it.”

“Hey, I'm just a friendly kind of guy. I naturally get along well with girls I sleep with, otherwise, they wouldn't have attracted me in the first place. See, the trick is to limit the sex to one night only. Once it gets past a one-night stand, it's damn difficult to manage a friendship. Somehow, women's expectations change when you sleep with them too often. Remember that,” he told his brother.

Kane chortled. “Why on earth would I need to remember that? I'm getting married in case you haven't heard the news.”

He grinned. “Well, with you out of the market, that means more opportunities for me.”

“Oh, Dylan,” Kane said resignedly. “I don't know why you won't just find yourself a steady girlfriend instead of drifting from one girl to the next.”

He simply shrugged. “I'm still happy with my lifestyle.”

“Well, it's your life. As long as you don't make Jaz unhappy by playing games with Ari. But it looks like Ari's fine with it, too, anyway.”

“Ari told Jaz?”

“Yes, she rang this morning.”

“Okay, good. No one has to make a big deal of it, then.”

Dylan watched Kane concentrate on his next shot but his mind had already left the game. All this talk about Ari was disconcerting him.

It was a strange feeling. For the first time in a long, long time, he was missing a woman. He was missing Ari.

Damn, she was hot.


Secret Designs, available from September 20 at Amazon.




Shhh…Here’s SECRET WORDS’ First Chapter

In just a handful of days, Secret Words will be out!  On July 15, you can enjoy the first book in the new series Secret Dreams.  It's hot, sexy and yes, sweet :-).

But before that, here's the first chapter.  Enjoy!

Secret Words (Secret Dreams Contemporary Romance 1)

Secret Words by Miranda P. CharlesCHAPTER ONE

“No, no, no!” Jasmine Allen cried softly as she stared at the bold handwritten ‘Out of Order' sign stuck to the door of the ladies' bathroom.  Hoping against hope that a prankster put up the notice, she twisted the knob.  Locked.  Damn it!

Had she known that the car trip to Sydney's Royal National Park would take more than two hours, courtesy of the broken-down truck that created a traffic jam on the main highway, she wouldn't have drunk all that lemon and ginger tea for her sore throat before they left her sister's home.

She squinted at the map someone pinned to the door showing the directions to the nearest available ladies' room.  It indicated it was about a five-minute walk away.  But with her bladder close to bursting, she didn't have five minutes.

Well, there's the men's room, she thought desperately.

She walked around the small red brick building that stood amongst gum trees and chirping birds, hidden from the view of the picnic area where her sister Jessa, her fiancé Rob, and their friends were gathered for Rob's birthday.

She tried to listen for sounds from inside the men's restroom but couldn't hear anything.  With fingers crossed that no one was inside, she cautiously placed her hand on the door to push it.

She let out a short yelp as the door was yanked open from the inside.  Her eyes opened wide as they landed on a dark-haired man whose blue eyes stared back at her in horrified surprise.

Jasmine's mind went blank, forgetting for a moment why she was there.  There was no other way to describe the man in front of her.  He was a total hunk.  She gaped at him for a long second, until her body reminded her she needed to go.  Now.

“I think the ladies' room is around the corner to your right,” Mr. Hunk said, seemingly recovered from his shock.

“It's out of order,” she squeaked as she shoved him out of the way and ran for one of the cubicles.

Relief flooded her as she let go, followed by a sense of acute embarrassment.  Did she just rudely push someone so she could go to the toilet?  In the men's room?  She felt her face burn.  The fact that the guy she jostled was mega-hot and attractive didn't help her dignity and sense of femininity.

She finished her business and crept out of the cubicle, relieved that no one came in while she was there and disappointed that Mr. Hunk was gone.  Well, what was she expecting?  That he'd wait around for her?

She thought of blue eyes that belonged to a handsome face as she washed her hands.  Maybe he was here on a picnic, too.  If he used this particular bathroom, he must be hanging around close to her group's spot.  Didn't her sister say they chose this part of the park because it was a lot quieter?  A smile formed on her face at the possibility of bumping into him again.

The sound of male voices coming from outside prodded her to hurry up and leave the room she wasn't supposed to be in.  She hastily turned towards the door, eager to get out, when she felt her left foot slip from underneath her.

“Oww!” She landed on her butt awkwardly, her arms thankfully managing to stop her upper body and head from hitting the floor.

Gingerly, she braced herself up and tried to stand.  Pain shot up from her ankle and her face contorted in an ugly wince just as the door flung open.  To her delight and chagrin, there he was again.  Mr. Hunk.  How freaking embarrassing!

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Uh, I think so.  I didn't notice the puddle.”

“Here, let me help you up.”  Her knight in sexy blue jeans leaned down to give her a hand.

She smiled her thanks as she accepted his assistance.

“Ahem,” a voice intruded, causing her to look away from Mr. Hunk's handsome face to find a middle-aged man poking his head inside the restroom.

“Excuse me.  May I go in now?” the man asked.

“Yes,” Mr. Hunk answered.  “Thanks for waiting.”

She gave her new friend a quizzical look.

“I told him not to go in until you came out,” he explained.

“You were guarding the door for me?” she asked in disbelief.

“Yeah.  I thought you might need a little privacy while you invaded the men's room,” he said with a teasing grin.

“Thanks.  That's very kind of you.”

“No worries.  There's not many people around in this part of the park and a pretty girl like you shouldn't be found in the men's room.  It always pays to be careful,” he said quietly, then turned his head towards the cubicles.  “Not that I think you're dangerous, sir,” he called out loudly to the older man.

“I understand,” the other guy responded.

“Aahh,” she cried softly as she put weight on her left foot.

“Your ankle?” her knight asked.

“Yes, I must have sprained it.”  Her eyes watered from the pain and the predicament she found herself in.  She prayed her ankle wasn't too bad.  Her sister's wedding was next week and she didn't want to be a limping bridesmaid on the day.

“Where do you need to go?” he asked.

“To the sink first.  I need to wash my hands again.”

Her heart raced as a muscular arm went around her waist as he helped her hobble to the washbasin.

“Why don't I help you walk back to wherever you need to be?” he offered.  “You probably shouldn't be putting much weight on that foot.”

“How do I know you're not dangerous?” she asked with a smile that conveyed she was joking.  She felt safe with him already.  But was that being too naive?

He laughed out loud.  “How about I introduce myself first?  My name's Kane and I work for Krand Architects.  I'm definitely not an axe murderer.”

“Where's your proof?” she asked with a mock frown.

He took his wallet from his back pocket and fished out a business card.  “Here.  See?  Ar-chi-tect,” he said with exaggerated enunciation as he pointed to the title ‘Director and Head Architect'.

She chuckled at his playfulness and snatched the card from him.  “Glad to meet you, Kane … Summers?  Are you related to Faye Summers?”

“Yes,” Kane replied in surprise.  “I'm her oldest brother.”

Oh.  She checked him out with new eyes.  She could now see the resemblance between him and Faye – one of her sister's best friends – especially their blue eyes and the fact that they were both extremely good-looking.

“And you are …?” Kane prodded.

“Oh, I'm Jasmine Allen.”

He lifted his eyebrows.  “You're Jessa's younger sister?”


He grinned at her.  “Well, then, now you know for sure I'm not an axe murderer.  You live in Melbourne, right?  When did you arrive?”

“Yesterday.  I'm here for five weeks.”

“Wow, that's a good length of time to be away from work.  What do you do?”

“I'm a corporate trainer.  My boss wants me to consider moving here to Sydney to fill a position that will be vacant in three months.  Since I have plenty of annual leave up my sleeve, I thought I'd take it now so I could see if I'd like living in Sydney while I house-sit for Jessa and Rob when they go on their honeymoon.  Plus, I also wanted to come early for Rob's birthday.  Speaking of which, we should head back to the party.”

As Kane escorted her out of the men's room, she tried to hide the wince that formed on her face.  She was in more pain than she would like to admit.

“Do you think I should carry you?” Kane asked tentatively.

“Ah, no.  I think that would be too awkward,” she replied, her cheeks turning pink.  The thought of being in his arms heated her up all over and made her heart pound hard.  This guy was doing crazy things to her system.

“Okay,” Kane said.  “But you shouldn't use your left foot at all until you've had it checked by a doctor.  Hang on to me and I'll help you hop along with your right foot.”

“Thanks.”  She put her right arm around his shoulders as he kept a tight grip around her waist and held her against his side.

Whoa, this position won't help me cool down.  Not at all.

“I hope I can walk all right by next week,” she babbled, keen to distract herself from her ridiculous physical reaction to this man.  “I wouldn't want to ruin Jessa and Rob's big day by being on crutches during their wedding.”

“I'm sure you'll be fine as long as you don't do silly things while your ankle's healing,” he consoled her.

Yes, just continue to hold me and I'll be fine.

She decided not to respond in case something totally inappropriate came out of her mouth.


Jasmine exhaled her disappointment when they neared the place where the rest of their group was busy barbecuing, chatting and laughing.  Kane Summers would have to let go of her soon.

She couldn't understand it.  Why this intense attraction?  He might be one hell of a looker, but he was just one of the many handsome guys she knew.  What made him the most magnetic of them all?

“Nearly there,” Kane said.

She wanted to swoon at the husky tone of his voice.  Instead, she forced herself to focus on keeping her left foot raised while she hopped with her right.

“Jaz!  What happened?”  She looked up to see Jessa's worried face.

“I slipped and sprained my ankle,” she answered.

“Oh, no!  Are you okay?  Where did you slip?  In the bathroom?”

“Yes,” she responded in a small voice.

Their group gathered around them, wanting to see what was wrong.

“It's just a sprained ankle, guys.  Please don't worry,” Jasmine pleaded.

“Maybe we should take you to a doctor,” Rob said.

“Rob, seriously, I'm fine.  I'll just put my foot up and relax.  Please carry on with your party.  You'll only make me feel bad if you fuss over me.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.  Please.”  She looked around with embarrassment as about fifteen pairs of eyes stared at her.  She didn't even know who a few of the others were.  She had run straight for the bathroom as soon as they got there.

Fortunately, Jessa remembered to make the introductions before shooing her friends back to what they were doing.  “It's all right, guys.  We got this,” Jessa said.

Kane led her to the nearest bench and helped her sit down.  He squatted before her, gently picked up her left foot and took off her shoe.  He lightly caressed her swollen ankle and oddly enough, his touch made it feel a little better.

“Do you girls know how to treat a sprained ankle?” he asked Jessa and Faye, who stood on either side of him.

“You need to put ice on it and bandage it up,” his sister responded.  “But I don't think we have bandage.”

“We have ice!”  Jessa went to the portable drink cooler and gathered ice cubes.  When she walked back to them, Kane held out his hand for the cubes, wrapped in a tea towel.

“You want to do this?” Jessa asked in surprise.

“Sure.  I'm already holding her foot,” Kane responded, taking the makeshift ice pack from Jessa.

Jasmine flushed at the meaningful look exchanged by Jessa and Faye.  She wondered what they were thinking.  Would they have a problem if she and Kane dated?

Whoa, Jasmine, slow down.  You're getting ahead of yourself here.

At twenty-seven, she had dated plenty of guys.  But even though her family thought she fell in and out of love too often, the truth was she hadn't fallen in love with a single one of her past boyfriends.  She didn't see the point in extending the relationship when she was sure it had nowhere to go.

With her sister's upcoming nuptials, her desire to find that special someone had become stronger.  But finding that one guy might have become harder due to her fear of exposing her little secret – a secret only two other people in the world knew about.  She hadn't even told Jessa, although there were times she had wanted to open up to her only sibling.  But she still wasn't prepared for the repercussions.

She had a mental picture of people – of Kane – finding out about her secret activity and shivered at the thought.

“Too cold?” Kane asked, his concerned look quickly warming her up.

She shook her head and smiled at him.

“So did you two meet outside the bathrooms?” Faye asked.

“I heard Jasmine yell so I went back in and found her on her bottom.  Then we introduced ourselves to each other,” Kane answered, his eyes still fully on her flushed face.

Back in?”

Kane grinned while her face reddened even more.  He raised an eyebrow at her.  She shrugged and gave a resigned chuckle.

“Jasmine slipped in the men's room,” Kane stated.

“What?” Faye and Jessa exclaimed.

“The nearest ladies' room was out of order and I was desperate to go,” Jasmine explained.  “So I used the men's.  I slipped as I was about to come out and Kane heard me.  He was waiting outside to make sure no one else went in while I was in there.”

“That's so sweet of you, Kane,” Jessa said.  “Thank you.”

“Aww, it was nothing.  I'm just glad I was there or one of your bridesmaids might not be able to walk down the aisle on your wedding.”

“If Jaz is still in pain next week then she doesn't have to walk.  Things don't always work out as planned,” Jessa said pragmatically.

“Don't say that, Jess!  I want to be fine for your wedding,” Jasmine insisted.

“Well, then, you have to make sure you rest your ankle until it's recovered.  It doesn't look too bad but we'll stop by a medical centre on our way back home.”

“If you're going to sit around for the rest of the afternoon, you better sit on a picnic blanket so you can keep your ankle raised,” Kane suggested.

“Good idea,” Jessa agreed.  “You can lie down and read a book or something so you won't get too bored while the rest of us play games.  But I'll sit and chat with you most of the time.”

“Don't be silly, Jess.  I'll be fine reading.  You guys should be enjoying yourselves with Rob and not worrying about me.  It's his birthday, and all I have is a sprained ankle.”

“Okay.  We better help you move to the blanket, then.”

“I'll carry her,” Kane said.  With easy movements, he scooped her up in his muscular arms and sauntered towards one of the picnic blankets under the shade of a tree.

Good heavens, this man is literally sweeping me off my feet.


Kane's heart thundered in his chest and his body hardened.  There it was again, that delicious reaction to Jasmine.  He'd known her for less than twenty minutes and he already craved being close to her.  What was this called?  Instant chemistry?

He pressed her closer to him, wanting to bury his face in her long black hair that smelled like some exotic flower.

He was glad he had stayed behind and waited for her while she used the bathroom.  He'd always been a sucker for damsels in distress, especially when the damsel was as beautiful and attractive as the one in his arms.

He gently laid her down the blanket and immediately felt bereft when he released her.

“All right?” he asked.

Jasmine nodded, her eyes locking with his with a look of wonder that seemed to reflect what he was feeling.  Did she feel it too?  That irresistible pull between them?  She looked so mesmerising and vulnerable sitting there that he had a great urge to kiss her.

“Here, put your foot up on this, Jaz,” Jessa said, placing a rolled-up jacket underneath Jasmine's left calf and breaking the spell that encapsulated them.

“Stop fussing.  I'll be fine,” Jasmine told her sister.  “All I need now is my handbag so I can read from my phone, then you can look after your birthday boy.  He looks lonely without you over there.”

“Which one is your bag?” Kane asked, wanting to continue to do something for her.

“Uh, that red one next to the white one,” Jasmine replied, pointing her finger at the location of her purse.

He went to retrieve it for her.  On his way back, he noticed the curious looks Faye and Jessa were throwing at him.  You're being too obvious, he berated himself.

If things were different, he wouldn't have cared if anyone thought he was interested in Jasmine.  But he was in a messy, difficult situation with Hannah and he needed to fix things with her before he could move on.  Faye knew that and, knowing how close his sister was to her best friends, he was certain Jessa knew that, too.  He would be frowned upon if he pursued Jasmine at this time, and he couldn't blame them if they did.

He smiled at Jasmine as he handed her her purse then went to join the boys by the barbecue table.  Right now, it was all too complicated.  So he knew what he had to do.  Stay away from Jasmine.


Secret Words now available at Amazon.