by Kiersten Hallie Krum
It’s another installment of Sexy Sunday Snippets, and boy, howdy, are we pulling out the big guns today
A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the mind-bogglingly, amazing erotic romance Brutal Game (now on sale), by wunderkind author Cara McKenna. Today, you can get a taste of one of the most deeply layered, complicated, emotional reads of the year.
To jog your memory: Look! A blurb!
The long-awaited sequel to Willing Victim.
Eight months ago, Laurel walked into an underground boxing gym and found herself mesmerized by a stranger named Flynn—a man who fights hard and loves harder. Since then he’s taken her places where fear and curiosity clash in exquisite pleasure, where trust is the price of ecstasy, and in time their brutal games have become her kink as much as his.
But when real life intrudes and hard decisions demand action, will these two whose bond is rooted in fantasy take shelter in each other’s arms, or discover that lust is no substitute for a lasting commitment?
The following excerpt is one of the intensely emotional, almost too-real feeling scenes from Brutal Game. It reveals a major plot point of the story, so SPOILER WARNING.
EXCERPT OF BRUTAL GAME, by Cara McKenna
At long last, a hmm, a yawn. A dozy groan and Laurel turned onto her side, eyes blinking open to find him there.
“Dinner smells good. Is it ready?”
“What time is it?”
Flynn looked to the microwave. “Ten twenty-one.”
“You were beat.”
She sat up. “Jesus. I napped for three hours?”
She looked down at her stomach as though conferring. “Very.”
“Good. Me too.”
Beyond hungry, in Flynn’s case. He’d only eaten a fistful of cheese and a few slices of sausage since before his workout. His gut was packed with butterflies, but they weren’t particularly filling.
Laurel moved to the couch and he loaded a couple bowls with dried-out casserole. He made it a whole minute before the clinking of forks drove him to blurt, “You buy a pregnancy test?”
Pausing mid-chew, she studied him with still-sleepy eyes. She swallowed. “No, I didn’t.”
“Not to sound paranoid, but when’d you get your period last?”
She frowned, thinking. “Oh—it was New Year’s morning. I remember I had a champagne hangover and that showed up on top of it.”
“That was almost two months ago.”
“I know, but like I said, sometimes they don’t come at all on the Pill, or just a mini one.”
That didn’t do much to slow his pulse. “Maybe I should go out and get one now. Just so we can rule it out.”
She nibbled her lip.
“Just ask me to. I don’t mind.” And I’m fucking dying inside. No news was not good news. Whoever’d come up with that saying was so full of shit.
“It’s after ten. And it’s snowing.”
“Someplace’ll be open. Star Market.”
“What, in Dorchester?”
“Wouldn’t you sleep better?” He would. He might sleep at all, in fact. “Seriously, it’s no big deal. I’ll get you some Nyquil while I’m at it, in case it’s the flu. I’ll go right now.”
“I’m going,” he announced, setting his bowl on the coffee table and reaching for one of his boots. “And I’ll grab tampons, in case it’s just PMS. And Kettle Chips.”
She smiled, seeming to surrender. “You know, there’s something surpassingly manly about a guy who’ll pick tampons up for you without batting an eye.”
“Your pussy doesn’t scare me, honey.”
“No, I daresay it doesn’t. I could come—”
“Nope, you couldn’t. Eat up. Stay warm. Back soon.”
She smiled and shook her head, watching him lace his boots and pull on a hat, something simultaneously soft and fierce about her expression. Or maybe that was a fever brewing.
Twenty minutes later, Flynn was unloading his basket onto the checkout conveyer belt. The young clerk passed his purchases stoically across the scanner—tampons, Nyquil, potato chips, pregnancy test, plus a bottle of red wine. It wasn’t until he handed over the plastic bag that the kid showed any sign of life, saying flatly, “Party time.”
Flynn was tempted to meet the snark with a verbal backhand, but he didn’t have it in him just now. Instead he muttered, “You know it,” and headed for the door.
Pregnant. Pregnant. The word had grown larger and larger over the course of the drive, thundering now, echoing and huge. He let it tumble around his skull as he started the trip back home, windshield wipers batting harmless fluffy flakes aside.
What if she was pregnant? He’d been preoccupied with the thought all day, but it changed now, with the test in his possession. With an actual answer at hand.
Plus that’s not really the question, is it?
The real question for Flynn was, what would she want to do about it if she was?
It wasn’t his decision, but if she asked what he wanted her to do… Shit, be honest? Or refuse to say so she wouldn’t feel pressured? But refusing to say, was that supporting her choice or was that forcing her to make it completely on her own? He thought he knew what he’d want her to do, but it felt so goddamn delicate, the question of whether or not to say.
She might not be pregnant. Probably isn’t. Some cramps and hot flashes could be anything, and feeling exhausted after waitressing all day was to be expected. The female body was like a car with no manual, a mystery designed to confound and bewitch the simple male brain. A man was lucky to get invited to dick around under the hood and go for a spin, but fuck if any of them knew how to service the thing.
He pulled up behind his building, yellow streetlight making the steadily fattening snowflakes glow like gold. The plastic bag felt monumental in his grip, as though he were lugging a bomb, not a couple pounds of snacks and feminine hygiene products.
Not a bomb, he corrected. A pregnancy was scary and profound and life-altering, but that was a metaphor too far. Still, his hand was shaking unmistakably as he unlocked the door.
“Honey, I’m home. Got you booze and chips and a stick for peeing on. You on the rag yet?”
A laugh answered that crass greeting, loosening his chest, if only by a fraction. “No, I am not.”
He flipped the deadbolt, rummaged in the bag and pitched the box toward the bed where she was lounging. “Best pee on a stick then, woman.”
She’d changed into her pajamas—or rather, her pajama bottoms and one of his tee shirts. Why was that so fucking sexy? Though he was grateful to register any reaction apart from anxiety, he set the thought aside. Answers first, then depravity. We can fuck to celebrate, if it’s negative.
Laurel knelt and picked up the box, studying it. She opened it while Flynn peeled off his layers.
“Thanks for doing this.” She unfolded the instructions. “Going out in that.”
“It was nothing. Go pee on a stick,” he repeated.
“The snow’s picking up,” she said, still reading.
“Go pee on a stick.”
She met his eyes, smiled dryly. “I guess I’ll go pee on a stick, then.”
“What a good idea. How long does it take to get the answer?”
She scanned the paper. “Three minutes. Wow, that sounds really fast and like forever at the same time.”
Well put. “There’s chips and wine, while you wait.”
She smiled. “Classy. If it comes back a plus sign I better spit the booze out, huh?”
There was a joke in there, but he barely heard it, caught too completely on plus sign. Plus sign. How could one shape—two fucking little perpendicular lines—possibly be so powerful?
Then he thought of the cross, that symbol that had dominated his childhood and bullied his psyche, and somehow it made perfect sense.
Fuck you, lines.
At least these lines would bring answers. The other kind had done nothing but torment and confuse and contradict.
Right. Now, to survive the longest three minutes of his entire life.
About Cara McKenna: Since she began writing in 2008, Cara McKenna has published nearly forty romances and erotic novels with a variety of publishers, sometimes under the pen names Meg Maguire and C.M. McKenna. Her stories have been acclaimed for their smart, modern voice and defiance of convention. She was a 2015 RITA Award finalist, a 2014 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award winner, a 2012 and 2011 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee, and a 2010 Golden Heart Award finalist. She lives with her husband and baby son in the Pacific Northwest, though she’ll always be a Boston girl at heart.
Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities strait is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocks, is now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.