Thursday, March 31, 2011

* Time to Pretend * by Michele Zurlo

Happy release day to my friend Michele Zurlo! TIME TO PRETEND has all the elements I love in a story - Erotic Romance, Contemporary, May-December, Menage a Trois/Quatre... Michele is sharing some excerpts today. Enjoy!

Word Count: 99,369
Heat Level: SEXTREME
Published By: Siren-Bookstrand, Inc.

One glimpse of Daniel DiMarco sets Alaina Miles’s hormones into overdrive, but she cannot act on her feelings. Not only is he ten years younger than her, he’s a notorious womanizer. When the tension between them escalates into one night of passion, Alaina takes it in stride. It’s a dream come true, but it’s only one night.

When a leak in her roof forces her to hire a contractor, Evan Carrico, Daniel’s best friend and secret lover, is the man for the job. It doesn’t take long for Alaina to realize that her attraction to Evan is much more serious than it should be.

As she falls in love with them and they fall for her, Alaina discovers their secret, but she wants to wait for them to build enough trust in their relationship to tell her themselves. When she stumbles upon them locked in a passionate embrace only hours after a tragic event, will the explosion destroy everything they’ve built?

Available at Bookstrand:

Story Excerpt:

Waving her closer, he lifted the spoon and blew on the small puddle of sauce. “Taste this. Tell me what you think.”

Flavors exploded on her tongue. Alaina couldn’t have identified them all if she tried. Her awareness of Daniel was temporarily diverted. “Wow. You really can cook.”

He lifted a brow and set the spoon on the counter. “I’ve cooked for you before, Lainie. You still doubt me?”

She shook her head. All doubt about his abilities in the kitchen fled. Daniel was a man of many layers. Part of her wanted to peel them back and get to know him in ways no one else ever had. The rest of her was divided between being afraid he would reject her once he knew the truth about her relationship with Evan and the fear of losing Evan.

Words stuck in her throat. There were so many, and yet none were appropriate. Tears burned behind her eyes. This was all too much to handle.

Confidence fled from Daniel’s stance. He pulled her close, surrounding her with his arms. Alaina lost her fight with the tears, and they leaked from her eyes. She gripped at his biceps, worrying them with desperate clenches.

“Hey, Lainie, don’t cry. Oh, shit. I’m sorry. I never meant to make you cry.” Daniel pressed urgent kisses to her forehead. He tried to tilt her face up, but she wouldn’t move away from where she buried her face in his shirt.

She wanted to tell him it wasn’t his fault. She knew he had been teasing. Their fight over their misunderstandings had been resolved before they parted ways two mornings ago. She wasn’t the kind of person who carried groundless grudges.

When she lifted her head to tell him those things, he captured her lips in a tender kiss that only brought more tears gushing from her eyes. This one simple act communicated his feelings so clearly, just as Evan’s kiss had done two nights ago.

She was trapped in a hopeless, helpless situation.

Gentle hands trailed along her hips. Heat seared her back as those hands traveled upward and moved her braid out of the way. When a second set of lips seared her neck, she realized Evan was behind her, kissing her neck while Daniel claimed her lips.

With a startled gasp, she jerked away from both of them. Her actions bordered a little on the violent side, but she didn’t care if one or both of them suffered bruised lips.

Anger made her body and her voice shake. She pointed an accusatory finger at both men. “You did this on purpose!”

Daniel held his hands up in a supplicating gesture that managed to also be condescending. “Lainie, there’s no need to get upset.”

“No need? You lied to me!” Her gaze bounced between Daniel and Evan. “You both lied to me. You used me, and you lied to me.”

Evan took one step forward, but he checked himself when she took another step backward. “Alaina, honey, we didn’t use you. We aren’t using you, and we didn’t lie to you, not really.”

“Not any more than you lied to us.” Daniel turned off the sauce boiling on the stove and crossed his arms over his chest. The popping sounds from the boiling concoction slowed and stopped.

Alaina’s sharp intake of breath should have been warning enough, but Evan shot Daniel a warning look just the same.

Daniel ignored them both. “Lainie, we wanted you to get to know us separately before you had us together.”

Her wildest dreams were coming true, but she was too angry to take solace in that fact. “Did it ever occur to you to let me in on your little plan beforehand, Daniel? You go on and on about hating women who play head games, yet this is exactly the kind of thing you bitch about.”

He took a step toward her, but she backed around the island counter. He stopped, letting her have something between them. “This is different, Lainie. We’re both in love with you. We both want a relationship with you, and I think you want a relationship with both of us, too. Why don’t you just calm down now?”

The world exploded in red as Alaina’s fists came down on the counter. She wasn’t the kind of person who yelled, but she definitely had the lung capacity when she needed the volume. “Calm down? Damn it, Daniel! You both used me for a one-night stand, and then you both came back for another night. I’ve been out of my mind, confused by the fact I was falling for both of you and afraid of hurting either of you and afraid of damaging your friendship, and you expect me to calm down when I find out you planned this all along? I’m a woman, not a blow-up doll!”

Daniel’s face had taken on that ruddy undertone it got whenever he lost his temper with her. Curiously, Evan seemed completely unaffected by their angry outbursts.

Planting his hands firmly on the counter opposite Alaina, Daniel leaned closer. “So we went about this the wrong way. It’s not like we’ve ever done something like this before. Cut us some slack.” He glanced at Evan before focusing his gaze back on Alaina. “Or at least cut me some slack. You don’t seem pissed at Evan.”

She growled, a snarling sound she’d never made. “He didn’t even know me when you invited him into my bed. At least he fell for me honestly. He treated me with dignity and respect. I’m sure this wasn’t his idea.”

Evan’s shadow fell between them, diverting the flow of anger that seemed to amplify between Alaina and Daniel. Needing to know his place in all of this, she lifted her face to meet his gaze.

“It wasn’t my idea, Alaina, but I wasn’t against it. After I met you, I was all in. I’ve never shared a woman with anyone, not even Danny, yet the idea of the three of us together just seems so right.” His blue eyes searched hers for something. “I know you’re angry. You have every right to be. Maybe we went about this the wrong way. We’re sorry we hurt you. But we’d like to ask you to put that aside for now and seriously consider having the both of us in your life.”

“You made me feel like a slut.” Hurt suffused her quiet words. Alaina no longer had enough anger to power her lungs.

Daniel’s aggressive stance relaxed. “Don’t say that, Lainie. It’s not your fault. We’re just irresistible.”

Alaina sighed at Danny’s attempted levity. Her gaze fixed on her hands still curled into fists on the countertop. “I’ve never had casual sex, not once in my entire life before I met you.”

Evan rested his hand over her fist. She didn’t unfurl it, and he didn’t force the issue. “What you have with us isn’t casual.”

Just like that, a switch was thrown in her head. She understood what they had done and what they were offering. This was her dream. This was what she wanted. It didn’t seem quite real, not yet.

Adult Excerpt

Alaina thought she was going to die. White-hot heat seared paths around her clit. Two fingers pumped into her hole. Evan’s mouth tortured one nipple while his fingers rolled the other, sending sharp pulses of pleasure to her core. Unable to stay still, she writhed under the dual onslaught.

She had imagined this a hundred times over the course of the past week, but she was still unprepared for the havoc two lovers created. Though they had very different styles, each of her men was a fantastic lover in his own right. Together, they were incredible, and they hadn’t even come to the good part yet.

“Don’t stop.” She was so close. Daniel’s lips closed around her clit and sucked hard. Tingling heat concentrated at her core. Her hips rose from the bed, and she cried out as she came.

Her lovers shifted. Strength returned to Alaina. That had been a starter orgasm, one to prepare her body for the pleasure to come. She jabbed her elbows into the mattress and lifted her upper body to watch Daniel and Evan undress.

The show she caught was even more erotic than she could anticipate. Evan watched as Daniel dropped his pants. The hungry look in his eye betrayed something Alaina had never guessed. Her heart went out to Evan for a brief second, and then she noticed the way Daniel paused to display his body.

Daniel not only knew Evan found him attractive, he reveled in it.

Alaina wanted to continue her observations to see if Daniel would stare at Evan the same way, but she yielded to some instinct telling her they didn’t want her to know yet. She hoped for “yet” because she didn’t know how long they could keep it a secret before their reasons for doing so blew up in their faces. The fallout would destroy their perfect little threesome.

Mindful of sudden movements, she let her head sink back to the mattress and closed her eyes. How long had Daniel and Evan had feelings for one another? Were they already lovers?

What were they doing with her? She didn’t doubt that both Daniel and Evan found her attractive. She might not understand it, but she didn’t doubt it. She didn’t understand why they hadn’t shared their involvement—she still wasn’t sure she could assume involvement—when she had given them the chance. Unwilling to confront them now, she refrained from doing anything that might indicate she had noticed more than they wanted her to see.

The mattress dipped on either side of her. Alaina opened her eyes and smiled up at her lovers, favoring each of them individually. She banished the worries from her mind. Given the way they were both looking at her, they were there because they wanted to make love to her. Thank goodness she wasn’t an elaborate beard. Her heart was involved, and this meant a great deal to her. Though she wasn’t ready to admit it to either Daniel or Evan, she was in love with them both. She couldn’t say exactly when or how it happened, but things like that didn’t matter now.

Evan’s rough fingers traced a path down her arm, leaving gooseflesh everywhere they touched and expectant skin everywhere he didn’t. “How are you, Alaina? Do you think you can get up on your hands and knees?”

She wanted to see them kiss, right there above her. Less than two feet separated their lips. Cream rushed to her already wet pussy, leaking down her crack to lubricate her ass. She was sure one of them would want to fuck her there. She wanted them both together, but she wasn’t sure she could handle it. They were both so much larger than her. Daniel’s cock was long, and while it was thick, Evan’s was even thicker. She’d never seen one so wide before.

Shoving that erotic picture away, she sat up and turned so that her bottom rested on her heels. “I’m game for anything you guys want to do.” Even as her hands encircled their hard cocks, she flashed them her best wicked grin.

Daniel sat up. He threaded his fingers through her hair, which had come loose, and held her still for a kiss. His mouth opened, and he devoured her, dazzling her with his skill and finesse. The taste and scent of her climax lingered on his lips and tongue, creating a hunger that would soon need sating.

When he broke the kiss, Alaina looked into his face to find him similarly affected. He blinked at her through half-closed bedroom eyes, and he offered no smile. All amusement had vanished, leaving only a focused, serious man behind.

He scooted back to lie down, his head resting on a pillow and his long, muscular body filling half of the space. Evan had moved behind her. One hand on her ass urged her closer to Danny.

“Touch Daniel, sweetheart. I want to watch you suck him while I fuck you from behind.” He caressed up and down her spine with his fingertips, sending waves of electricity straight to her nipples. “Are you okay with that?”

She leaned back so that his arms cradled her, and he planted a string of kisses on her neck. “Anything, Evan.”

He rested his cheek on the top of her head. “You can ask for things, too, Alaina.”

She laughed lightly. Daniel closed his hand around his erection and pumped it slowly. Her breath caught. “For now, just being with both of you is what I want.”

Daniel’s hand froze. He impaled her with a hard stare. “For now?”

She crawled across the narrow expanse of bed separating them. Using one fingernail, she grazed a path along his inner thigh. “For now, Danny. Later, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of requests. You know how demanding I am.” Steel was softer than her tone. She didn’t like the fact they weren’t telling her they were both bisexual and in love with each other. Not wanting to ruin the mood, she favored him with a soft smile to make up for it. “For now, I’m content with letting you call the shots.”

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The Awakenings Series: Letting Go, Hanging On, Two Masters for Samantha
Coming in March 31: Time to Pretend (Awakenings #4)
Paranormal Titles: Irrepressible Force
Daughters of Circe Trilogy: Torment
Coming in June: Desiree (Daughters of Circe #2)
Coming in July: Riley (Daughters of Circe #3)
Writing as Debora Ryan: Tomorrow Cries, Crimes of the Heart

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Michele Zurlo said...

Gale- Thanks for having me!
Michele Z.

Michele Zurlo said...

Gale- Thanks for having me!
Michele Z.

Gale Stanley said...

My pleasure! Love the book!