Tag Archives: SEALed WITH A TWIST

Everything Old Is New Again

3 Sep

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

It’s here again. The official end of summer and the start of the marathon run to the end of the year. Pools are closing. Barbeques are having they’re last hurrah. Commutes are once again clogged with cars. Kids are back in school. My Facebook feed is full of my friend’s frustrations and exasperation with their kids school lists and classroom requirements, followed soon by proud first-day-of-school pictures.

But while Labor Day is one last rest before that metaphorical rush to the finish, this time of year also offers a chance at new beginnings. New seasons of fall sports. New teachers and potential classmates. New work challenges in our day jobs. We may be leading the same lives, but every new season is alive with possibilities. Full with the chance for everything old to be new again.

Power up, ladies!

Anyone who has been in publishing for five minutes knows the constant change that happens in this industry. Flexibility is key and reinvention, common. What remains are good writing and great stories, whether under a different publisher or even, sometimes, a new name.

Last week, Lady Smut author Isabelle Drake shared the exciting news of how her previous released cowboy romantic comedy, Cowboy for Hire, once published by the now defunct Ellora’s Cave, is available again through her new publisher, Riverdale Ave Books.

T0day, it’s my distinct pleasure to share with you the news that my novels, the award-winning Wild on the Rocks and its follow up, SEALed With a Twist, will be republished this Septemer.

Earlier this summer, the powers that be at Amazon decided to close the successful Kindle Worlds program under which my novels were published. As it turns out, this was the best thing that could happen. Both novels will now be available on *all* digital platforms. But wait, there’s more! They will also, for the first time, be available to international readers. But wait, THERE’S MORE. They will also, for the first time, be available in print!

I KNOW!

 

I am super thrilled to be able to share these wonderful stories with so many new readers! These stories have traveled far and wide with me, through some significant life deviations and personal heartache. They have taken me on an adventure I never expected and its on-going. Come celebrate with me at the New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart in a Book annual conference, October 19-20th. I love to meet readers in person and especially those who meet and laugh with us here at Lady Smut.

The only thing constant is change, they say. And the only thing to do with change is to make it work for you. With the change of the seasons comes the opportunity to reexamine and reinvent. To make something old, new again. I hope you’ll celebrate this change with me this fall and share with me some of what may be changing with you, dear readers, as well. Come take another wild ride with me–perhaps, for the first time.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her award-winning debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rockswill be available this September. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

 

Springing Forward: EXCERPT From Sealed With A Twist

30 Apr

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.

You know you wanna know…

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.

Available exclusively from Kindle. Click on image to buy!

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!

Available exclusively from Kindle. Click on image to buy!

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.

Sit rep.

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.

Fuck off.

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.

The hell?

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.

Fantastic.

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

Surviving the Sadness

24 Sep

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Welcome to Theme Week here at Lady Smut. This week we’re celebrating the release of my new book, SEALed With a Twist.

Look! A blurb!

In the follow-up to the wildly popular, Library Journal starred review, RONE award finalist, Wild on the Rocks, a fan favorite returns to Barefoot Bay…

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.

There’s a lot about SEALed With a TWIST that is sexy and fun and it’s full of flirtatious banter. Grant and Skye are on similar journeys, but they’re at different locations on the path. They’ve both lost someone and that loss has rocked their foundations and made them question and reevaluate key components of their makeup. They’re both reconciling pieces of their past and learning to make peace with themselves about it.

This book was very difficult for me to write. In the beginning of the SWAT, Skye learns about the death of her grandmother who raised her and that, because of the choices she made, Skye wasn’t with her at the end. My mother died rather suddenly in the beginning of this year. She had lived with me since 2003 and I had been her 24/7 primary caregiver since 2008, so her loss has had an enormous impact on every aspect of my life.

While I had already written the death of Skye’s grandmother before that happened, fleshing out those scenes in the months afterward became very personal for me, much more than I’d anticipated.

Anyone who deals with grief walks the five stages, but the way in which we take those steps is always unique. No one can tell another how to do it or when to stop or how long it will take or what it will entail. Every grief journey is different. One day, you’ll realize that last breath you took wasn’t quite as hard as the one before it. A few months or years later, you’ll realize that breath wasn’t as difficult as the other one. The only thing you have to do is keep breathing.

Skye’s grief journey is just beginning in SEALed With a Twist. She’s in the very early stages, before the full impact has had time to take root, but even now, she wonders how she’ll survive the sadness. Into these early moments. the man who was once the only good thing in a horrendous, publicly humiliating situation has suddenly show up in her life again. Not only that, but Grant is on his own grief journey and has been since just before he met Skye for the first time six months ago–and he isn’t handling it well at all.

I hope you’ll walk along with these strong and flawed and hurting people as they walk this journey together and discover any journey, however difficult and rocky, is easier to endure when the right person is by your side.

 

 

Kiersten Hallie Krum writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. She is the author of the prestigious RONE award finalist, Wild on the Rocks, and its follow-up, SEALed With a Twist. She is also a past winner of the Emily Award for unpublished novelists. 

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.

SEALed WITH A TWIST

18 Sep

It’s a new week here at Lady Smut and we are still agog about our smokin’ new look–and thrilled to feature the emotional and sexy new book from Lady Smut blogger Kiersten Hallie Krum–SEALed With A Twist.

In this follow up to Kiersten’s wildly popular, RONE award finalist novel, Wild on the Rocks, fan-favorite, Navy SEAL Grant “Twisted” Sisti, returns to Barefoot Bay for the second wedding of his friends, Quinn and Jasper (from Wild on the Rocks)…and runs straight into the arms of a mysterious woman from his rocky past.

 

EXCERPT

~~~~~

“I remember you.”

The words were so soft, it took several seconds for them to resonate in Skye, a slow earthquake that rippled out with increasing impact as their meaning and consequence took root.

“But you changed your look,” Grant continued. “Dyed your hair. Added some new tattoos I should’ve figured were temps. Slathered on enough makeup to make me wonder who you’re trying to hide from. Even with all that, there was something was so familiar about you. Couldn’t figure out how or why.

“Now I know.” His head slid to the side and Skye trembled for a different reason when he nipped at the jittery pulse in her neck. Her neck stretched back with an invitation he was eager to take. His hand slipped to pull one strand of her top out of his way before she felt his tongue on her throat as his mouth followed the line of it up to her ear. “I remember how you taste. How you feel when I’m inside you. How you sound when I make you come.”

That was an uncomfortably thorough and arousing account. Her legs shifted on the sand and restless with the need to relax beneath him and take all that was promised by his hard body and hot words.

“And sweetheart,” he continued, head lifting out of her neck so he could stare into her face. “When a girl runs out on you after a night of spectacular sex, it’s the definition of unfinished business.”

“You left first,” she accused, a child’s defense, but all she could manage against a tsunami of arousal. Dammit.

He released her wrists and brushed her hair back from her forehead before spearing his fingers through the bunched strands to cradle her head in his wide palm. “My friend needed me,” he explained, no less terse for the gentle way he touched her. “The same friend, funny enough, who got remarried last night, no small part because six months ago, I left a sexy debutante passed out in my bed to help him get his head outta his ass and make up with his then ex-wife. I didn’t think you’d bail the second I was gone!”

Remembering how hurt she’d been when she realized he’d run out on her re-ignited Skye’s ire. “Then you should’ve left a note!” She shoved at his shoulders, not that she could move him, but so frustrated, she couldn’t hold back. “Let me up!”

He cursed under his breath, but set her free, sliding off to her right so he shielded her while she set her suit to rights.

“I figured,” he growled, over his shoulder, “that after a night that good, you’d want more. I damn well did.” Checking she was decent, he flipped back around to face her. “Because, you’re right. What happened between us was a goddamn sexual unicorn. I wanted more. I wanted you. All the while, you were using the security guard to work out your rich-girl issues. Daddy cut off your trust fund again?”

She sucked a breath in through her teeth and lurched upright. “You have no idea what I was dealing with that night.”

“Ditto, princess,” he shot back.

“I’m not a princess.” She’d been cleaning toilets for long enough to bring that fact home.

Grant cocked an elbow on his bent knee and sneered, “You are. An American princess. Privileged and entitled. I grew up with your kind, sweetheart. I know your kind.”

“You do not know me.” Skye swept sand off her arms with a regal sniff, unconsciously giving weight to his label. “Amazing that you suddenly recall such salient details of our…dalliance when last night it escaped your memory entirely despite the fact that I stood naked before you. How convenient for you to stumble upon the details now. When, exactly, did you deign to remember you had…Biblical knowledge of me six months ago?”

The corner of his mouth twitched. “Biblical?”

“So help me, if you laugh…”

“This morning.” He cut her off before she could finish what they both knew would’ve been an empty threat. “I remembered this morning when Jasper and Quinn surprised me with morning-after breakfast. He brought up when I pulled you from the pool back then and—” He snapped his fingers so close to her face, she started in place. “Your puzzle pieces clicked together.”

“I am not a puzzle!”

“Baby, you are a Rubik’s Cube of contradictions. Fortunately, I’ve been well-trained in decoding all possible combinations.”

That was be disastrous.

God, he remembered. And in detail. Skye floundered for a retort, floored by too many quick changes to find stable footing.

As if sensing his advantage, Grant tugged her back in his arms. One calloused thumb rubbed her button lip; it caught on wind-chapped flesh, so that her tongue shot out to moisten his digit. She watched his pupil flare into a sharp green as desire drew skin taut across the craggy planes of his face.

A low keen hit her ear and Skye was too turned on to be mortified when she realized it came from her.

“Oh yeah,” Grant said, his words a sibilant sound against her cheek. His hand cupped her jaw, thumb sweeping back over her parted mouth. “I remember that too.”

This was bad. This was very, very bad. She was getting sucked back under when he’d already turned her down once. Truth was, she didn’t want to find someone else to be with for however long she had left here on Mimosa Key. Not when she was drawn to him like an opposing polarity, constantly failing to break the laws of magnetism and getting stuck on him over and over again.

And when he touched her…

Lord, was she in trouble.

It’d been that way since the night she’d slept with him. A night when she’d been given a glimpse of something she knew she’d never have again, not from any other man. And it wasn’t the orgasms or Grant’s physical prowess in her bed. It was how he’d lifted her up and carried her away from her deepest humiliation, from a lifetime of being less than, and made her feel like the most important woman in the world.

Treasured even.

Precious.

“It might’ve been a one-night stand for you, but waking up to find you gone killed me.”

Grant’s shock at her words was no less that hers for having said them. He reared back liked she’d slapped him. “The hell you say.”

But the gate had been breached and half a year of emotional trauma ripped out of her, raw and unrestrained. “That night—that was the worst night of my life. I was a joke, a punchline, and everyone at that bloody wedding knew it. So, yeah, tequila and the pool. Since if I was already publicly humiliated, best to make it really memorable.”

“But then you were there, laughing like I was the best time you’d ever seen. You jumped in the pool and…plucked me up like I weighed nothing.” She latched onto his shoulders, nails digging into his skin. “Cripes, I’ve never known anyone as strong as you,” she mused, fingers tracing the lateral muscles that bunched under her touch. “You took me out of that…horror show and made it…” she sighed heavily, “so much better. And god, the sex was amazing. Don’t look so smug. I may not have a lot of experience, but even I know three orgasms in one night isn’t customary. And then you were gone.”

She’d felt so ashamed and at the same time, so devastated by his absence. “After all that, you made me feel like some filthy cliché,” she said in a small voice. “I was fighting the first hangover of my life. Sick and…so very ashamed for…so many reasons. I had to get out of there before anyone saw me.” She bristled now, embarrassed at how naïve she’d been. “I get it now. I understand how such things work. But Grant, whether you meant to or not, you broke my heart.”

The hand cradling her head slid around to cup her chin. “Skye,” he murmured. “I didn’t know.”

Drained from her emotional purge, Skye merely nodded. “I know.”

He struggled with something for a moment before exhaling hard. Releasing her, he scrubbed both hands over the scruff on his face and considered her over the tips of his fingers.

“That night,” he began. He hesitated. “I—fuck—I was dealing with some shit too. Still am, for fuck’s sweet sake. You were blitzed. Totally shitfaced.” His face softened as if seeing her again. “And so beautiful. Stunning and tragic.”

She winced at the description. “I sound irresistible.”

“Utterly,” he said with simple sincerity. “And I—” His eyes clouded and he ducked his chin to gaze out toward the water. “I needed to forget for a while. I took advantage of that. I took advantage of you.”

The admission cost him. More, she saw the memory of what had driven him then continued to claw at him. ““What happened to you?” she asked softly. When he didn’t answer, she risked pushing a bit more. “You’re different. You’ve changed.” Now he looked at her.

“You come with me right now, back to the villa, and I’ll show you how much I haven’t.”

She’d be lying if she said the idea didn’t tempt her. “Don’t do that,” she gently admonished. “Tell me what you wanted to forget that night. Tell me what haunts you.”

“Tell me why you were drunk in that pool,” he countered. “Tell me what you’re hiding from now.”

“Grant,” she said. Only his name, but it hung there between them, weighted with meaning that didn’t require articulation.

“Let it go, Skye,” he demanded, brusque in a way that was meant to be obeyed.

Unfazed, she tilted her head to catalog his nuances. To anyone looking, he probably came off cool and aloof. A seasoned warrior at rest, perusing the beach with watchful eyes, never fully off-duty, but enjoying the bright side of life.

But all of it was a skillful mirage. The leveled lines of his shoulders remained locked tight, braced against whatever turmoil broiled right beneath his surface. His jaw was set, an acute angle that restrained some unholy impulse.

Beneath all that was…pain. His beautiful irises were dull and flat, deadened by the damage he kept locked away. A knot twisted in her plexus, making her chest feel concave with empathy. She wanted to hold him close, overwhelmed by an instinctive urge to protect this man no one else seemed to notice was quietly falling apart.

So Skye, with the lack of self-preservation no Thornquist breeding could fully wash out, led with her heart.

“Something’s changed in you.” She tried for a smile but knew it was weak. “I can see it there, behind your eyes. You’re not hiding it from me; I think, for some reason, you’re not trying that hard to.”

He started to reply, no doubt more assertions of how wrong she had him, but the alarm on her phone interrupted them. “Time to go,” she announced softly. “Mandy is treating me to a spa appointment.”

She rolled onto her side and pushed against the yielding sand, feeling ungainly and awkward through the modified yoga pose that got her to her feet. Once steady, she gazed down at him, strong and imposing even posed at her feet, self-assured if strangely aloof.

He stood in a rush with far more grace than she’d managed, as though the shifting sand was as solid beneath him as concrete.

Annoying.

Skye bent to gather her shorts and tee, pulling both on mechanically. Casting him a look from under her lashes, Skye searched her feelings, but they were too conflicted for her to settle on one. This was when being bold became uncomfortable risky. By the pool, in the dark of night, she could blame emotional trauma and the mistakes only the night would forgive. In bright sunshiny day, it was much harder to come up with excuses she could live with.

“Stay safe, Grant,” she said, feeling lame but somehow as if it was the right thing to say.

“If you can’t be safe, be fucking deadly,” he returned, then explained, “Something we say on the Teams.”

“Well.” That was certainly…definitive. “Try to be both. Not that I want you to be deadly per se,” she floundered as what she’d said registered. “I mean, I do, if that’s what it takes to make you and your friends safe, but it’s not like I want other people dead.” She winced when humor flashed through his eyes. “Just—keep breathing. For my sake, if not your own.” She studied his stalwart face for a moment. “Because I have a feeling you really don’t care whether you do or not.”

“But you do.”

“Yes,” she confirmed without hesitation. “I do.”

Those arms rippled as he again crossed them over his chest, a move she recognized as defensive but felt more aggressive coming from him. “Not sure what you want me to do with that, Skye.” And, by that flat, unyielding tone, he wasn’t too keen to find out.

Her smile turned wane. “Me neither.” She laid a hand on one bulging forearm. “But I care whether you live or die, Grant Sisti. What puzzles me is why you don’t.”

She gave him a squeeze, and left it at that, stepping back while swinging her bag up and over her shoulder before starting the short walk back to her putt putt.

Before she was three steps in, Grant snagged her hand and pulled her up short. “Skye,” he said in a sibilant tone, too masculine to be a whisper but pitched for her ears only. She shot an inquisitive glance over her shoulder.

Grant closed the distance between them in one stride. His hand skirted up her spine to squeeze the back of her neck. “Don’t try to get into my head,” he warned. “You won’t like what you find.”

“Maybe not,” she allowed. Going with her gut, she twisted at the waist and leaned into his touch, stretching her neck up to briefly press her lips against his. “But I bet I’ll still like you.”

~~~~~

SEALed With a Twist is now available exclusively from Amazon Kindle

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.

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.

 

 

Kiersten Hallie Krum writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. She is the author of the prestigious RONE award finalist, Wild on the Rocks, and its follow-up, SEALed With a Twist. She is also a past winner of the Emily Award for unpublished novelists. 

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.

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