AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Leisa Rayven
A Very Bad-Romeo Christmas
Cassie & Ethan Outtake
The Apartment of Ethan Holt
New York City, New York
Bing Crosby wafts through my apartment as snow flurries and falls outside the window. Usually, this is my favorite time of the year, but right now, I wish I were anywhere but here.
She's looking at me. My Cassie. The love of my life I fought so hard to win back after too many years apart. The same incredible woman who I begged to marry me a few months ago and who miraculously said, 'yes'.
Right now, she's gazing at me with nervousness and hope, and me being the asshole I am - I'm about to lie to her. I don't feel good about it, but it has to happen.
When she took me back, I promised to never keep anything from her, but I also said I'd never hurt her again, and if I tell her the truth right now, it will cause her pain. I figure I've done enough of that during our time together.
"Well?" she asks, and fixes me with those beautiful goddamn eyes that can melt me with a single glance.
I make a vaguely positive noise and smile. "Hmmmm."
"Ethan, come on. Be honest."
Nope. Not gonna happen.
I summon the fortitude of Prometheus and smile. My stomach's churning and my palms are wet, and as usual when I'm around Cassie, my dick is more hard than soft. Hardly ideal conditions to give the performance of my life.
I stand and walk over to her. A distraction - that's what I need. I pull off my shirt. It sounds egotistical, but I love seeing her react to my body. I could live to be a hundred and never tire of how her eyes widen, before going dark and sultry. Or how she subconsciously licks her lips as she reaches out to touch me.
I grab her and pin her against the wall, hands above her head.
"Honestly," I say. "I'd really like to take off your panties and feast on you." I graze my hand up her thigh, but she pushes it away.
"Does that mean you liked it?"
I make that vague positive sound again and press my face into her neck. "Hmmmm. Delicious." And she is. As I kiss and lick, I can feel her caring less about what I have to say, and more about how I'm touching her.
The point where her neck meets her shoulder is her sweet spot. If I suck on it in just the right way, I predict she'll be putty in my hands, in three, two, one …
"Ethan." She puts both hands on my chest and pushes. Shit. "Stop trying to distract me and tell me what you think about what I cooked for dinner."
I drop my head and sigh. A long time ago I'd have had no problem lying to her. These days, however, I'm out of practice.
I look her in the eye and do my best. "I think you're fucking amazing. That's what I think." Totally true.
"You liked it?"
"'Liked' doesn't even come close to describing how I feel." Also, true. I hated it with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. She told me it was fish pie, but really, there was no discernable taste in there except horror and misery. While I was chewing, I swear my stomach tried to crawl up my throat and strangle me. Even now, it squirms and turns, like a nest of angry, half-cooked eels. If I didn't love her so damn much, I would have spat it back onto the plate.
My Cassie is amazing at a lot of things, but cooking isn't one of them.
Thankfully, my semi-truthful appeasement seems to have worked. She beams at me and does the world's sexiest victory dance. "Hell yes! I cooked you deenah. And you lahved eet. I am a genius. And you are sexay." When she puts her hands against the wall and starts twerking, I laugh. Fucking glorious woman.
See? Sometimes lying is necessary. Look how happy she is. How her eyes sparkle with pride at what she's achieved. God, I love her.
"Okay, then," she says, as she bounces on her toes and pushes me back toward my spot at the dining-room table. "Finish it off, then. I'll get started on desert."
Oh, fuck. "Uh … but -- "
"You said you were starving, right? But you've only had one mouthful. Eat, babe. You're a growing boy." She stretches up on her toes and nuzzles my cheek. "And when you're done, I'll have a feast of my own." She runs her fingers through my hair and pulls my head down so she can whisper in my ear. "In case you didn't get it, I'm talking about your award-winning penis. I'm going to feast on that gorgeous cock of yours until you explode. Would you like that?"
I close my eyes and try to keep breathing. Usually she could talk me into committing murder with the promise of one of her spectacular blowjobs. But convincing me to eat the rest of her 'meal'? Wow. Tough call.
I duck and weave.
"You think I have nothing better to do tonight then wait for you to put your mouth on me?" I ask, and scowl at her. "Fuck that. Let's skip over everything except orally pleasing your man."
She kisses my chest. "Stop it. You know how much snarky, asshole Ethan turns me on. Now eat, before we both forget all about dinner."
Yes, wouldn't that be tragic?
She pushes me down into my chair and perches on the edge of the table. Then she gives me a generous glimpse of her cleavage as she loads up my fork and brings it toward my mouth.
In my head, the theme from Jaws starts up.
As the Forkful from the Black Lagoon approaches, I clench my jaw and beg my stomach to behave itself. I really want to marry this woman and if I projectile-vomit on her, she may never talk to me again.
When the fork reaches my mouth, I call on every goddamn ounce of acting experience I've ever had and force myself to smile as I wrap my lips around its heinous payload.
Oh. Fuck me. It's like pure, undiluted evil. I blink and try not to let my disgust show.
"So good," I mutter around the toxic waste. "Really. I can't believe you cooked this." Bred it from genetic waste matter? Yes. Cooked it? No.
Cassie leans over and kisses my neck. "I'm so glad you like it." She trails one hand down to my crotch and strokes what she finds there. "Hmmm. You're really enjoying it, aren't you? Wow. Giant food boner."
Wrong. Cassie-sitting-in-front-of-me-dressed-in-lingerie-and-an-apron boner. I could be eating rocks right now and still be hard as a … well … you know.
She looks down at my crotch and sighs. "As much as I want to play, I have to finish making dessert. You keep eating. I'll be done in five minutes."
She gives me a quick kiss and disappears into the kitchen. I look around, frantically searching for some way to dispose of what's on my plate without breaking her heart. For a start, I spit out what's left in my mouth. It distresses me that it looks better going out than going in.
I look around and assess my options:
1) Throw it off the balcony. Hmmm. Tempting, but risky. If it hits anyone I could be arrested for engaging in chemical warfare.
2) Bury it in the potted plant near the door. Nope. She'd smell it. Hell, people in the apartment next door would smell it. Also, I really like that plant and don't want it to die from food poisoning.
3) Shove it down the garbage disposal. Never going to work. Even if I walk into the kitchen naked and sporting the world's largest hard on, she's still going to notice the full plate of food being dumped into the sink.
4) "Nuke it from space. It's the only way to be sure." Not an option, but I just like using that quote from Aliens as often as possible.
"How're you doing?" she calls from the kitchen. "Dessert will be ready in two minutes. Almost done?"
"Yep," I say. "All gone. I'm trying to savor every bite, but my mouth had other ideas. Just need to pee then I'll come help you, okay?"
I grab the plate and stride into the bathroom before quickly shutting the door. I scrape the food into the bowl and hesitate before flushing. "Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello – if you boys are down there, I apologize for what I'm about to do." I press the lever and hope like hell the nearest sewerage treatment plant is equipped to handle what's headed its way.
I put the plate on the sink as I wash my hands, and then take it into the kitchen.
"All done. Didn't even touch the sides."
Cassie gives me a dazzling smile. It seems out of place in the disaster area that used to be my kitchen. There are bits of mangled food, vegetable peelings, and globs of flour on nearly every surface. In the midst of everything, Cassie is blithely stirring something in a saucepan on the stove. The slight haze of smoke that lingers in the air doesn't seem to bother her. As a precaution, I flick on the extraction fan.
She watches me with appraising eyes as I rinse my plate and stack it in the dishwasher. When I straighten up and glance at her, she gives a frustrated sigh.
"What?" I ask.
Another sigh. "Just you. Half-naked."
"That annoys you?"
"I'm trying to concentrate. Your muscles are distracting."
I strike a pose and flex. "What? These things?"
Her eyes widen as she gazes at my biceps. I've been working on them recently. They're kind of huge.
Cassie quickly looks back at her saucepan. "Stop it. I have no time to grope you right now."
I stand next to her and take her free hand, then press her palm against my abs. Her eyelids flutter. "Sure you do."
She inhales sharply, then stares into my eyes as her fingers gently trace the ridges on my stomach. I used to work out because it helped alleviate my anxiety and pent up aggression. These days, I do it to be healthy. Oh, and to see my woman look at me like she wants to fuck me until I can't stand. That's exactly how she's looking at me now.
She pulls her hand back and frowns. "You realize that you turn me on so much, it hurts, right? I'm talking actual, physical pain, Ethan."
"Good," I say, and adjust my erection where it's pulsing uncomfortably against my fly. "That makes us even."
She gives my chest, abs, and shoulders one more look before shaking her head and turning back at the saucepan. "You're killing me here. Thankfully, this is almost done. Ready for more?"
"So ready." She's talking about food, but I'm not. I stand behind her and wrap my arms around her waist. My intention is to get out of the road so she can work, but this position also allows me to rub myself against her ass, and that's all kinds of win.
She moans and pushes back into me. "Evil, annoyingly attractive man."
I chuckle as she continues to stir and grind on me at the same time. "Not that I mind you turning my kitchen into a culinary war zone, but why the sudden urge to cook? I thought you hated it."
"I don't hate it. I'm just not very good at it. You make it look easy."
"That's because mom taught me to cook from when I was five."
"Exactly. My mom never taught me. Well, to be honest, Judy isn't much of a chef anyway. Everything she makes is clumpy, and grey, and gross."
"Then she passed along her skills beautifully," I think but have the good sense not to say.
"But why now?" I ask. "I'm happy to cook for us. I enjoy it. And you seem to enjoy eating it."
"I do. You're amazing. But …" She switches off the burner under the saucepan and turns to face me. "I know you and Elissa bring all this amazing food to your parents' place for dinner every Christmas Eve, and I want to be able to contribute. This will be our first holiday season as a couple. I'd like to make it special."
I cup her face and smile. "As long as you're there, it will be special. Trust me. You don't have to go to all this trouble." Also, I love my family and want them to survive the holidays.
"Actually," she says as she wipes her hands on her apron. "I've enjoyed it way more than I though I would. As long as I follow the recipe, I figure I can't go wrong, right?"
"Right." Wrong. So very, very wrong.
The bell on the oven chimes, and she excitedly turns to pull out a tray and lay it on the counter.
I frown at what I see. "Ah, wow. That's an amazing looking …"
"Apple strudel," she says proudly.
Jesus. It looks like a melanoma.
Her smile fades. "Although, to be honest, it's a little darker than I intended."
"Don't worry about it. For your first time, you did a great job."
"Aw, supportive fiancée – I love you."
"Sexy chef – I love you, too."
She stretches up to kiss me. I grip her hips and kiss her back. She is sexy, no matter what she's wearing or what she's doing. But I have to admit, the black lacy underwear under the frilly apron doesn't hurt. I've recently discovered I have a thing for underwear. Specifically, Cassie in underwear. I've spent so much time in the Macy's lingerie department in the past few months, I think they're starting to believe I'm running some sort of escort service.
The truth is I just get over-excited about removing sexy underwear from Cassie's body, and the flimsy fabric doesn't cope well with my clumsy, desperate hands. Nothing lasts longer than a week.
Still. Worth it.
Cassie pulls me close, and I close my hands over her lacy-covered ass as she opens her mouth to me. As incredible as her lips are, it's her tongue that always drives me insane. Soft. Warm. Unbelievably delicious.
It doesn't take long for us to get a little too heated, and I'm contemplating shredding her underpants when she pushes on my chest and pulls back.
"Hold that thought," she says, breathing heavily. "I don't want to ruin the dessert."
I'm fairly sure that ship has sailed, but nevertheless, I exhale to calm my pulse as she slices up the strudel and places a piece in a bowl. Just when I think it can't look any worse, she scoops up a generous serving of what she's advertising as 'custard' and dumps it on top.
"You're not having any?" I ask as she hands me the bowl and a spoon. Why should I suffer alone?
She shakes her head. "Still full from the buffet lunch I had with Elissa. I doubt I'll eat for days."
I look down at the bowl. After this, I doubt I will, either. The outside of the pastry is nearly black, while the inside seems completely raw, and whatever she's done to the apples has left them looking gooey and grey.
I plaster on a smile and scoop some into my mouth. It takes every ounce of self-control not to gag. I swallow and clear my throat. "Hmmm. Did you cook these apples in sugar?"
She nods and points to the canister of white powder near the stove. "Yeah, a heap. The recipe said to use a whole cup. Too sweet?"
"Not at all." The canister she'd pointed to was salt. It was labeled, but obviously not well enough, and now, my tongue has shriveled to the size of a raisin.
I move onto the custard. Yep. Salty as hell. Also, the milk must have been too hot when she combined the ingredients, and the result is lumpy scrambled eggs with random crunchy bits.
I'm aware she's watching me intently for my reaction. I ignore the taste and texture of what's in my mouth and conjure up how it feels to be inside her. She must buy the resulting moan of pleasure, because without warning, she drops to her knees and rips open my jeans.
She doesn't answer. I've barely had time to swallow the melanoma strudel with congealed egg before she's licking me in a way that makes it almost impossible to stand.
I throw the bowl in the sink and lean against the bench as she goes to work. There's no way I'm ruining this moment by being anything by one-hundred percent attentive.
Warm lips close around me, and I hiss out a breath as I watch her.
Fuuuck, she drives me insane. Seeing her put her mouth on me is one of the greatest joys of my life. The sensation alone is knee-buckling, but witnessing the woman I love taking such care to please me? It blows my mind. No matter how often she does it, I'll never see it as anything but miraculous.
I pull her hair back from her face so I can see better. Then I tug all the strands back into a ponytail at the base of her head and wrap it around my hand. I know she enjoys some light hair pulling, but I mainly do it so I can concentrate on something other than how she's dragging me to orgasm way too fast. When she closes her fingers around me and adds firm, slow strokes to what she's doing with her lips and tongue, I look at the ceiling and clench my jaw.
No, not yet, Holt. You're not a teenager. Calm the fuck down.
I take long, measured breaths, in and out.
Damn her and her magical mouth.
For the three years we were apart, I thought I'd developed impotence. Turns out I just wasn't attracted to women who weren't her. On the few occasions I tried to be with someone else, my dick refused to co-operate. He knew what we wanted.
I glance down at her, cheeks hollowing then filling, eyes closed, moans of satisfaction vibrating on her tongue.
That. That's what we wanted. What we still want. Just her. Forever and always.
I'm seized by the urgent need to please her, so I pull her to her feet, pick her up, and stride out to the dining room. She'd set the table with a wreath thing that had tinsel and candles in a delicate balance. It looked great, and I appreciated all the effort, but it all goes crashing into the wall as I sweep it out of the road with my arm.
"That wasn't expensive, was it?" I ask, and perch her ass on the edge of the table.
She winds her fingers in my hair. "Yes, but who cares? Kiss me."
She wraps her legs around my waist as I kiss her deeply, and when I lower her back onto the table and lay my weight against her, she moans.
I pull her arms away from me and press them against the sides of the table. "Grab the edge." She does as she's told, then stares at me with dark eyes as I slide off her underwear then spread her knees. "Don't move. Time for the main course."
I sit on a chair in front of her and wrap my hands around her thighs. Then I lean in to taste her.
Jesus. This is what I should have had on my tongue since I arrived home. Always delicious. Always perfect. Very little preparation time necessary.
She arches and moans as I lick and kiss, and when I close my mouth over her and suck in earnest, I hear the distinct sound of her nails scraping the underside of the table.
"Ohhhh, God … Ethaaaan."
When she moans my name like that, I feel like a god.
I increase my pace. Use my fingers as well. Take her to the edge so many times, she eventually lets go of the table and grips my hair so I can't move away any more.
"Ethan, please …"
I love it when she begs. Not sure what that says about me, but I can't help it. There's no denying my body's reaction. My dick is rock hard and aching, and I'm so turned on, I almost trip over my own feet as I pull off my jeans.
As Cassie watches me, she tugs on the ties of her apron to remove it. I pull her up and unclasp her bra before pulling it off and throwing it across the room.
"I know." Whenever we're together, there comes a moment when we can't stand not being part of each other for one second longer. It's like we're racing against the clock, full of savage anticipation and grasping, desperate need.
That's where we're at right now. We're both so full of tension and impatience, we're rough and animalistic. Every thing that stands in the way of us being joined is automatically the enemy. Cassie's fingernails scrape my hip as she helps yank off my underwear. I feel fabric tear, but I don't slow down. As soon as we're both naked, I pull her to the edge of the table and look down as I guide myself inside her.
Fuck. Fucking fucking fuck.
I drop my head and sigh.
Sweet throbbing relief.
I frown in concentration as I push in further. What I said earlier about never getting tired of seeing Cassie take me in her mouth? It goes double for watching myself disappear inside her. Quadruple for the look she gets as I fill her. No matter how often we do it, or how long it lasts, making love to Cassie is always a revelation. It's like I'm a thousand percent more alive when I'm a part of her.
Even when everything between us went wrong, this never stopped being right.
I start with shallow thrusts. Barely moving. Then I go deeper. Stronger. We moan in unison, both getting lost in each other.
When I'm in inside her, I can't believe I used to think that soul mates and destiny were ridiculous concepts. We fit together so perfectly, there's no doubt in my mind that this woman's body was made for me. Every time I push in, she gasps. When I retreat, she groans like the loss of me is painful.
I feel the same way. How I thought I could ever live without her, I'll never know. One day, when scientists finally discover the meaning of life, it will include a picture of my Cassie.
"I love you," she whispers as I increase my pace. I put my hand between us and rub my thumb against her, and she throws her head back and arches off the table. "Oh, god, Ethan. I love you so much."
She feels so good as I thrust and slide, I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open. But seeing her like this? Head thrown back and chasing down her orgasm? It's too spectacular to miss.
It's not long before she's holding her breath and grasping at me. She starts chanting, "Oh, God," over and over again, each one faster and louder than the last, and I make sure my hips and circling thumb keep pace with her rhythm. Then, she gasps and lets out a long, loud moan, and dammit, I can't hold on a second longer because she's coming around me, and powerful spasms grip and release me until it feels like there's a firestorm in my abdomen. I manage a few more erratic thrusts before I'm groaning her name, and then dizzying waves of pleasure hit me so hard, I see stars. Every muscle tenses as I come, and come, and come, and when I'm done, my legs give out. I collapse onto Cassie, and through our heavy, ragged breathing, I can vaguely hear Bing still crooning about silver bells and Christmasses of white.
"I'm sorry," Cassie says, panting. "I kind of jumped you there, but God, Ethan. Watching you eat something I cooked? Unbelievably sexy."
I nuzzle into her neck and press kisses against her hammering pulse. "Why do you think I cook for you all the time? Watching you eat my food is as sensual as hell." I kiss her mouth, deep and slow. She moans around my tongue.
When she pulls back, she whispers, "Green bean casserole."
I pull back and frown. "If that's some kind of commentary on my sexual prowess, I'm offended. I just orgasmed the hell out of you, and you hit me with 'green bean casserole'? That's cold."
"Silly man," she says with a smile. "That's what I want to take to your parents' place on Christmas Eve."
I was hoping this sexual diversion would make her forget about that whole plan, but it doesn't seem like it. I love that she's trying so hard to impress my family, but she doesn't have to. When we announced our engagement, my mother was so happy, she ugly-cried for twenty minutes. Dad actually hugged me for a change instead of shaking my hand, and Elissa nearly deafened me with her squeal of joy. There's no denying that all the Holts are huge Cassandra Taylor fans.
Of course, after they taste her green bean casserole that might change.
"I'll help you cook it," I say. Please, God, let me help. I can't deal with you going solo again. I won't survive. " I make a great green bean casserole."
She shakes her head. "Thanks, but I have to do this by myself, otherwise I'll feel like fraud."
I nod. "Okay. But maybe you should have a practice run before next week."
"Sure. You can be my quality control."
If all her tasting sessions end up with us fucking like this, I'll deal with as much horrible food as she can throw at me. However, I do make a mental note to pick up a couple of bottles of Mylanta. And a giant canister label that reads, "SALT! If you're looking for sugar, this ain't it!"
"Anything you need," I say, "I'll be there. Just let me know."
"You're the best," she sighs. "And you dick is magic. Nothing like green been casserole. More like a giant cucumber salad."
I chuckle as I pick her up and carry her into the bedroom for round two.
As I throw her on the bed and cover her body with mine, I briefly consider warning my family about her cooking before they experience it for themselves. But then I think how much funnier it's going to be to stay quiet and watch their reactions. The image makes me smile. I'm such an asshole.
No matter what happens, I have no doubt that Christmas with Cassie will be something none of us will ever forget.
Writing has always been a passion for Leisa, and even though she originally intended to be an actress, it wasn't long into her time at drama school that she began writing plays.
Those plays were bad. Very bad. Well, her friends thought they were good, but that's because they were always cast in them and any opportunity to be on stage was met with an obnoxious amount of enthusiasm.
Since then, she's honed her craft, and several of her plays have been produced and toured throughout Australia.
These days, playwriting has given way to fiction writing, and her debut novel, BAD ROMEO, will be available in a worldwide release through Macmillan Publishing in December 2014. The sequel, BROKEN JULIET, will be available in April 2015.
Leisa lives in Australia with her husband, two little boys, three judgemental cats, and a kangaroo named Howard. (*NB: Howard may or may not be her imaginary marsupial friend. Everyone should have one.*)
Visit Leisa Rayven's Website: http://leisarayven.com/
Bad Romeo (Starcrossed #1): http://amzn.to/1NdkqeX
Broken Juliet (Starcrossed #2): http://amzn.to/1TS5qb8
Wicked Heart (Starcrossed #3): http://amzn.to/1NdkrQc **PRE ORDER FOR 2016**
You really want to pre order this book!! I was lucky enough to beta read this baby and OH MY SWOON!! #EthanWho
1. If money was no object what would take out the number one spot on your Christmas list?
If I could afford it, I would buy millions of people in the world a clue. Every day, I see Facebook posts and Twitter rants by people with zero clue, and it always saddens me. How do they function? Do they realize they have no clue? Were they born without clues? Or did they lose them in a tragic clue-destroying accident? This Christmas, I urge everyone to spare a thought for the clueless. If you have an excess of clues, please consider donating them to those less fortunate.
2. What was the first book you read that made you think “wow this is what I want to do, I want to be an author”?
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I read it when I was eleven, and it blew me away. When I found out she started writing it when she was 15 and finished when she was almost 17, it blew me away even more. So far, I've managed to mention it in all three of my books in the Starcrossed series. Maybe I'll turn it into a thing. You know how you always look out for Alfred Hitchcock doing a cameo in his films? Or Stan Lee showing up randomly in the Marvel movies? Every book I write, I'm going to play 'Where's Wally' with The Outsiders. "Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold."
3. What does Christmas mean for you?
Here in Australia, Christmas means scorching hot days, massive buffet lunches, way too many Vodka Cruisers, and a sneaky food-coma on the couch mid-afternoon. We always open gifts super early Christmas morning, and then get invaded by a million relations for lunch. It means prawns, and Pavlova, and my special Baileys-soaked trifle, and all of us end up eating leftovers for a week. We all sing Christmas carols and put on party hats, and if no one ends up in the emergency room with an exploding stomach, we call it a win. I love Christmas. Snuggles and hugs to all my readers at this time of year.
4. What’s your guilty pleasure, the one thing you hate admitting out loud?
I don't really do 'guilty' pleasures, because I figure if something gives you pleasure, why be ashamed? I'm a bit addicted to a few reality shows. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, America's Next Top Model, and Dance Moms, (although, if I ever met Abby Lee Miller in real life, I'd have to stop myself from junkpunching her. Psychologically torturing children is not cool on any level. Maybe I'll put her on Santa's list to receive a clue or two.)
5. What’s next for you in terms of writing?
I have a million stories I want to write, but something I've been working on recently is a story of an ex child-prodigy violinist and a tortured writer who find each other while touring the romantic sights of Europe. The working title is Same Stars, Different Sky, and I'm having a lot of fun with these characters. Of course, Wicked Heart, which is the third book in the Starcrossed series is out next year, and I can't wait for people to meet Liam and Elissa. For fans of Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet, I'm happy to confirm that Ethan and Cassie pop up in a couple of scenes of Wicked Heart, so we get a little glimpse into their happy ever after. J