Springing Forward: EXCERPT From Sealed With A Twist
It’s hard to think “Spring” with blizzards in April. But tomorrow is May Day and, here at Lady Smut, the upcoming RT Booklovers Convention puts more than a spring in our step. Occasionally, we skip. Once we even skedaddled, but I’m pretty sure wine was involved. But we’re sure ready to leap over the next three weeks and get going to the mad cap, crazy, bookapolooza hootenanny that is the RT Booklovers Convention, that yearly gluttony of authors and the readers who love them.
Lady Smut’s own Elizabeth SaFleur and Isabelle Drake will be represent in Reno at RT, once again headlining last year’s wildly popular “Never Have I Ever Ever” game, that sexy tell all of all the naughty things we’ve never done…and the naughtier ones we have.
Meanwhile, back here on the home front, since I’ve been out of the loop for a few weeks, I wanted to re-introduce myself to the many lovely new readers who’ve joined us here at Lady Smut. My January post, Dating Apps and Ghost Dicks, vented my frustration with the incomprehensible juvenile behavior of said ghost dicks, but one thing dating apps have taught me is the succinct introduction–which, for a motormouth like me is saying something.
Hi there. Welcome to Lady Smut where we know what we like! I’m Kiersten Hallie Krum and I like to write award-winning, very sexy, romantic suspense novels. I like dive bars and live music and guys who…whoops, sorry. Went into autopilot there for a sec.
Right. Fictional meet cutes. Not real ones. Gotcha.
My heroines are sexy, self-rescuing smart asses and my heroes are smokin’ bad asses who often carry guns and do things that make their ladies (and readers) go “ohhhhh”. I love reunion romances and second-chance romances, which means both of my books, Wild on the Rocks and SEALed With a Twist fit one of those categories.
My debut novel, Wild on the Rocks, won the 2016 Reward of Novel Excellence (RONE) award from InD’Tale Magazine for Best Romantic Suspense Novel:Short. Reviewer Between My Bookendz called the follow-up novel, SEALed With a Twist, “well-written, engaging and plotted to perfection…but what really makes it stand out to me is that this author tackles a serious topic such as PTSD with candor without losing the romance and suspense that centers this book. Plenty of humor and witty banter.”
But hey, books are subjective: one reviewer may like a book, while another reader thinks “are you high? that book sucked!” You’re a Lady Smut reader. Clearly you have discerning tastes in your reading choices–tastes you prefer to determine for yourself.
I hear ya, sisters (and bros), and I want to give you what you like. That’s what we do here at Lady Smut. So keep reading for a steamy excerpt from my latest release SEALed With a Twist. Remember, if you’re in or near the Reno area, don’t miss Lady Smut at the RT Booklovers Convention for some naughty “Never Have I Ever” fun.
And follow Lady Smut. We know what you like too.
Look! A blurb!
Debutante. Heiress. Lady.
Skylar Thornquist has been called them all. But when her family insisted she stand as bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding to Skye’s ex-fiancé, she rebelled, drowning her public humiliation in tequila and a one-night stand of carnal debauchery with Grant Sisti. To escape her family’s iron grip, Skye now hides out cleaning toilets at the Casa Blanca Resort & Spa, masking her breeding and identity under a dye job, heavy makeup, and a smattering of fake tattoos while she tries to discover which label sticks to her best.
Doctor. Joker. Warrior.
Navy SEAL Grant “Twisted” Sisti has been them all. But since he failed to prevent the violent death of his teammate six months ago, Grant isn’t sure he can be any of those men anymore. He’s back at the Casa Blanca Resort & Spa for his best friend’s wedding, but Grant knows he’s reaching the end of his rope. A state that isn’t improved by finding the help swimming naked in his private villa’s pool.
Skye never thought she’d get caught skinny dipping by the man who got her through her worst night. But this Grant is a different man than the one who lit up her world back then. And though it takes him too long to remember her, Skye is drawn even more to the wounded warrior than she was to the charming lover.
Grant is fascinated by the puzzle Skye presents, the debutante who cleans toilets and speaks like a queen. She’s the first thing he’s had any interest in since his friend’s death, the first woman in a long time to see the man before the SEAL.
They never expected to find each other again on Barefoot Bay, both hiding from who there were, both wondering who they should be. Until Skye’s identity is compromised and the Thornquist iron grip gets a stranglehold on her new life…only this time there’s a Navy SEAL by her side.
SEALed With a Twist EXCERPT:
The sunset-timed wedding meant full dark had fallen by the time Grant made his way down the path that would take him around to his rented private villa. A private villa called Artemisia of all things had been reserved for Quinn and Jasper on his dime—his wedding gift to them—along with a sleek pleasure cruiser down at Mimosa Harbor, should the couple ever make their way out of the bridal chamber. What the hell was Grant sitting on obscene amounts of wealth for if not to spoil his friends on special occasions?
He preferred to ignore the fact that he was heir to a robber baron fortune with a trust fund bulging at the seams from interest rates alone. The money wasn’t who he was, a lesson he’d learned early under his father’s strict hand. He used it for start-up funds for his practice and then again years later to buy his place on Coronado and a sports car, two rare outright indulgences. Otherwise he left it untouched, collecting percentages and adding zeroes to the bottom line without any direct effort from him. He set up some charities, enough to keep his soul from going completely black, and got quarterly reports from his money manager that he read religiously so he couldn’t get swindled. Otherwise, he liked to forget it was there. He led a life a Navy salary could afford and left only a chosen few the wiser as to his net worth. Even Jasper didn’t know how deep the Sistanovich pockets went.
And Grant liked it that way.
He strode down the paver-stone, tree-lined path to Blue Casbah villa. The resort owners had put together one hell of a resort, steeped in Moroccan ambiance while remaining Florida flavored, particularly in the foliage. He’d plundered more than a few luxury hotels around the world during the wastrel years before he broke away from the familial herd. Few could compare to the lush environs of Casa Blanca Resort & Spa.
Grant rolled his shoulders as the villa came in view. Each step away from the reception felt like a year off a dead man’s reprieve. He was a shit for bailing on his friend. He knew it. He’d make up some explanation for Jasper if he asked for it.
His mobile pinged with an incoming text alert. Speak of the devil.
Even being the best man Grant ever had the privilege to know or fight beside, Jasper McQueen could be a serious pain in his ass.
Grant exhaled audibly through his nose and typed out a reply.
Don’t talk dirty to me on my wedding day.
A wry smile twisted Grant’s mouth. You wish.
Quinn wants to start the dancing. needs you for the congo line.
Congo line? Christ, more staid tradition from edgy Quinn. Next, she’d want him to start the chicken dance, after which lay only madness and binge drinking.
Sorry man. got a better offer.
He had zero offers, but that wasn’t for Jasper to know on his wedding night. Grant had tried burying his emo fallout in the easy pleasure of the SEAL bunnies, but too many of those hookups started to ring empty and he needed no help there.
Now, it felt like too much effort to bother trying.
His phone pinged with Jasper’s reply. You bailing on my wedding?
I wasn’t there for the first. you won’t miss me at the second. Should know what you’re doing by now without me holding your dick. He reread the text, then backed it up to replace “dick” with “hand” and sent it before he could berate himself for wussing out.
There was a longer pause this time before Jasper’s reply arrived.
You need me, brother?
Grant’s throat got tight. He’d do it, Jasper would. He’d put a word in Quinn’s ear and slip out on his own wedding if Grant gave him the slightest signal. Jasper’s well of responsibility ran that deep, but more, he was that good of a man—and a friend. He had Grant’s back, no matter what, and for that very reason Grant couldn’t let him know how fucked up his head had become.
Nah. You’re relieved from wingman duties tonight.
I ask to be relieved?
Yeah, when he transferred to SOCOM. That was a little too on point for comfort. Been doing without you six months now. Think I can manage another night.
Another long pause, then, Don’t piss me off, Twist.
Don’t ask stupid questions. And stop dicking with my mojo. Dance with your wife.
He turned off the phone to avoid Jasper’s reply and unlocked the villa with a card and a faint regret for the lack of a hard key in his hand. Some asshole decided to shove inside the room behind him, be tough to mount a defense with this flimsy piece of plastic.
The default to combat readiness reassured Grant. Not that he expected to stumble upon violent crime here—recent Russian mob experiences notwithstanding. But with so many things getting past him—first that maid, then Quinn’s too-close-for-comfort téte-a-tête—it was good to see his edge might be wavering, but it could still cut a bitch.
Quinn’d been right; men like him and Jasper were always on, which is why Grant automatically scanned the villa’s interior like it was a tango’s lair. A light had been left on in the living area and another over the kitchen sink so that an ambient haze hovered over the main rooms. He noted the fruit set up on the island block before breaking off to clear the bedrooms and baths. Satisfied no one else had breached the perimeter, he re-booted his phone on route to the patio. Surely, by now Jasper had been distracted away from bugging Twist.
His phone immediately blew up with Jasper’s missed message.
Even through the flat, emotionless language of a text, Jasper’s words were resolute.
You will brief me on what this shit is about.
Grant snorted. Like that was gonna happen. He pulled back the wide glass doors that led out to the patio and pool before typing out, Whatever, man. Kiss quinn for me.
The reply came quick. Fuck off.
And now they were back on the easy ground where Grant was most comfortable. It was his job to dig into the emotions of his team, to make sure their heads were in a place where they could continue to complete their duty.
Damned if he’d have any of them, even Jasper, do the same to him.
He let Jasper keep the last word and tucked his phone in his back pocket as his foot tangled in a pair of shorts left in a pile on the pool deck.
His gaze tracked along to land on a matching golf shirt. He could just make out the Merry Maids logo in the glow of the pool lights.
Gatecrasher. He kicked the shorts up with his toe and snatched them out of the air.
“Fucking brilliant.” He was in no mood to deal with this shit. Feelin’ too much today already, watching Jasper and Quinn get their happy ending, dealing with Putter, working to keep that devil-may-care attitude at the forefront so his friends didn’t zero in on the shit messin’ with his head.
Failing at that if his conversation with Quinn and Jasper’s text messages were anything to go by.
Was it too much to ask for a quiet night swim followed by more tequila and a morning filled with the headache of regrets and good booze? Instead, he had to deal with some reckless townie looking to take advantage of the abandoned villa.
He looked beyond the shirt and the muscle in his jaw clenched when he saw the bra and panties discarded at the edge of the deep end.
A girl townie.
Time was, he’d view this as a chance to end his night with his favorite kind of happy ending. Now, he was only annoyed at having to rustle some kid out of the pool before he could get back to drinking.
The sound of steady splashing caught his attention. He lifted his head in time to catch a glimpse of arms cutting through the water with smooth, sharp strokes.
Her body had length, most of it in the legs that kicked rhythmically in time with her arms, calf muscles cut in relief. Her head tilted for her to take a breath, eyes shut, the oval shape of her face perfectly bisected by the water like a Carnival half mask. Grant’s eyes tracked down to the equally round and, it had to be said, pert shape of her bare ass with tight cheeks he guessed would comfortably fit in each of his hands.
She reached the end of the pool and executed a perfect underwater flip that set her feet in precise location to launch into another lap. The floor lights in the pool illuminated the gleam of her body as she undulated for near half the pool’s length before breeching the surface with the sharp bob of a breast stroke.
Emphasis on breasts, plural, as both globes were revealed to Grant’s growing admiration. The SEAL in him admired her skill. She was an amateur but a damn good one who knew to move with the water rather than against it. Not many amateurs figured that trick out, instead thought swimming was a battle to tame the water to their form. Most never learned the truth.
There was no taming the water. Not in any form.
The man in him was far more intrigued by her other captivating assets. Grant felt a ripple of interest he hadn’t felt in months. He crossed his arms and settled in at rest to enjoy the show.
She was halfway through the return lap when she finally tagged him. Immediately, she floundered, getting a good swallow of pool water as she did, which led to an epic bout of choking while she got her feet under her.
Fixed on him, her eyes bugged out wide, but the pool light now put her face in shadow, hiding their color. Her once fluid limbs locked tight on the water’s surface, with an air of shocked embarrassment that told him she wasn’t accustomed to being naked before strangers.
He liked all that said to him.
’Cept he wasn’t in the mood to tangle with a moonlit mermaid. “You’ve got some nerve, sweetheart.”
“Holy cats,” she managed between coughs. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
“Sorry to disappoint, but pretty sure I paid for the privilege.” His gaze swept over her, clinical and without any admiration. “Don’t remember checking off the ‘naked water nymph’ perk on the reservation.”
“It’s –it’s only—” A final harsh gurgle cleared her throat. “It’s only offered to Gold Star members.”
Her cheek made him fight a grin, which only made him more aggravated. “Hafta remember to thank management for the upgrade when I report you.”
That took care of her cheek. “You can’t do that,” she whispered.
“Think you’re wrong there, nymph.”
Something odd flashed through the shocked embarrassment in her face. Odd and…familiar.
His vision narrowed to pinpoint on her features. Her wet hair left her face stark and that whisper of warning teased the back of his neck again. The one that’d saved his life countless times in the field. The one that told him he’d missed something important.
He felt it, but didn’t get it, so he got pissed. “Tell me your name”
She started at his bark. “N-no.”
Her refusal surprised him. He wasn’t used to being disobeyed, and the only thing that kept his temper in check now was that she looked as surprised by it as him.
Her eyes tracked past him to where she’d left her clothes. It was the new angle of her head that finally clicked an image in his head.
“You’re the maid who snuck behind me while I was on the phone.”
Her shoulders rolled back, chin tilting with an arrogance he’d expect from his Yankee, blue-blooded mother, not a housemaid at a Florida beach resort. “I hardly ‘snuck’. Now if you please, kindly turn your back so I can get out and leave you to your evening,” she ordered, all traces of embarrassed guilt gone.
Grant found himself fighting a grin. “You’re not exactly in the position to make demands, nymph.”
She turned that rigid shoulder to him, exposing plump side boob and a very nice back whose spine was ramrod straight. She swished her way to the edge of the pool where she’d left her clothes—which were now at his feet.
Despite her demand to turn his back, her nudity seemed not to bother her at all. Once at the side of the pool, she looked up, fingers curling around the rim, and, fuck him, his dick finally dialed in to take acute notice, rousing despite her breasts being out-of-sight crushed to the wall.
Her legs kicked idly in the water, muddying his view, but he’d seen enough to know she’d be worth the time and effort—if he was in the mood to make either. Well, parts of him were in the mood, but it’d been a long time since he’d been led around by his dick. One tempting water nymph wasn’t going to make him revert.
“You going to stand there staring all night or are you going to report me?”
More cheek. He really didn’t want to like this woman.
“Probably. If you were a little nicer, maybe you could talk me out of it.”
He waited for the sharp reply, eager to hear what snooty rejoinder she’d aim his way. Any other woman would’ve cut and run by now, especially when he was deliberately being this much of an outright asshole. But something about this woman made him brace.
Good plan, too, since his water nymph contemplated him from below and then shocked the shit outta him by flattening her hands on the cement edge and hoisting herself out of the pool. A whoosh of water and there she stood, naked and without a hint of shame.
Water dripped down her chest and over her high, pert breasts with nipples raised to points by the cooler air. Down the concave slope of her belly and over the natural flare of her hips and the vee of her exposed sex to pool around her feet on the asphalt. She was almost a foot shorter than him, but her height was mostly in her long thighs and curved calves.
He wanted his hands on those hips, his mouth on those breasts, and those lithe legs wrapped tight and high on his back as he sank inside her. He felt the pull of her expectation and somehow wrenched his eyes from the feast to the no less bounty of her face. When she caught his gaze with what had to be the bluest eyes he’d ever seen, the perfect bow of her mouth curved into a smug, Cheshire smile.
“How much nicer do you want me to be?”
Kiersten Hallie Krum writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. She is the award-winning author of Wild on the Rocks, and its follow-up, SEALed With a Twist. She is also a past winner of the Emily Award for unpublished novels.
A member of the Romance Writers of America, the New Jersey Romance Writers, and the Long Island Romance Writers, Kiersten has been working in book publishing for more than twenty years in marketing and promotion. At other times in her career, she’s worked back stage for a regional theater, managed advertorials for a commerce newspaper in the World Trade Center, and served as senior editor for a pharmaceutical advertising agency.
Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. Born and bred in New Jersey (and accent free), Kiersten sings as easily, and as frequently, as she breathes, drives fast with the windows down and the music up, likes to randomly switch accents for kicks and giggles, and would be happy to spend all her money traveling for the rest of her life. Find out more about Kiersten and her books on her website www.kierstenkrum.com.