Sneak Peek: Four Nights at Sea

 

This passage is from Chapter Four of book 2, in the International Affairs Series from Lyrical Press: FOUR NIGHTS AT SEA.

Charlie has already travelled from New York to Miami, and is currently onboard. Here she meets with Quinn–not our romantic hero, but boy is he awesome! 

EXCERPT:

Charlie speared a mushroom and brought it to her mouth, then pushed chicken around on her plate. Her appetite had disappeared. She stared at her picked over lunch, hoping they’d announce the cabins were ready and she’d get a reprieve from the onslaught of people. She was on activity overload watching the passengers file in and out of the restaurant.

She looked up to find a real hottie, who could have been his school’s football star, wearing a pair of khaki shorts and a University of Miami T-shirt, grinning at her. “Who said I’m scared?”

“Your big blue eyes,” he replied, friendly laughter joining his grin as he held out his hand. “Hi. I’m Quinn.”

At ease with his friendly manner, she accepted his hand. “I’m Charlie.”

Quinn waited for an invitation, which she freely gave by indicating the seat across the table, before he pulled out the chair opposite Charlie and made himself comfortable. She wondered why such an attractive and yummilicious jock needed a singles cruise to find love.

“I can read the question in your eyes,” Quinn said, placing his muscled arms on the table and leaning forward. “I could ask you the same thing. Beneath that very reserved outfit, you’re fucking gorgeous.”

Swallowing her shame at being so transparent, but unmoved by the reserved comment, Charlie cleared her throat. “I don’t know what you’re referring to.”

“Sure you don’t.” His broad smile reached his eyes as he leaned even closer. “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

Quinn wasn’t being rude. He’d simply asked what they’d both been thinking. Charlie glanced at her notebook and then back at the handsome jock. No time like the present to start, she thought. “I’m working. Writing a Valentine’s Day feature.”

“Okay, I’ll bite.” Quinn leaned back in his seat, looking entertained with her explanation. He crossed his forearms over his broad chest and let his gaze travel over her conservative outfit. “What’s the topic?”

“The prefect place to find love,” she said.

“And you think Cupid carries a whip?”

“I’m not talking about whips,” she objected, pushing the heel of her palm to her stomach to still the churning. “Some travelers may be here for the—uhm—leather goods, but I’m sure just as many are here to find love. I’m researching and writing about the perfect place to do that. I think a cruise fits the bill.”

“Maybe,” he said slowly.

“Why are you here, Quinn?” It was time to put on her reporter’s hat and turn the questions on him. “You don’t look like a guy who needs to be in an organized setting to find a date.”

“I brought my date,” he said with no hesitation. “And if you want me to be frank, I’m here for the sex…sex tips. No reason to get lazy just because I’ve landed the man of my dreams.”

Her lips curled up in a smile. She’d been way off base. She’d missed it.

“It’s not you. It’s me. I seem to fly beneath most people’s gaydar,” Quinn teased. “It took me two weeks of ordering iced cappuccinos, double foam, and extra chocolate to get Luis to recognize my advances as more than friendly banter.”

“Luis?”

“My man,” Quinn explained. “Luis manages a café off campus where most graduate students hide from the noisy undergrads. I kept batting my eyelashes, but he never noticed. I tipped him so big, I practically spent a month’s rent allowance the first week there. Knocked up against him at every opportunity, and all he did was apologize for being distracted and bumping into me.”

“Did you try speaking to him?” Typical man. Acted out, but didn’t talk. Charlie shook her head in frustration. Men were so dense.

“Of course I did. At first, I tried starting a conversation about a car he was restoring, but he sidestepped that. He treated me like any other customer and totally ignored the sparks exploding between us. He claims not to have realized that I was interested in him at all. Wasn’t even sure I was into men.” Quinn shook his head in disgust. “So you’re not alone in missing those vibes—because, baby doll, he missed them and I was sending them out loud and clear, whereas with you, they may have been mixed in with other signals.”

“How’d you get him to notice you?” Charlie asked, drawn into the love story. Nervousness melted away and she found herself leaning towards the extremely good-looking man in order to hear every word.

“It was a Friday night. I was the last one there, and I pretended to be absorbed in my studying rather than in Luis.”

“That’s so cute,” Charlie said, feeling the warm fuzzies spread through her.

“Not really. I sat there, sporting a very painful boner, watching the man I wanted sway to music as he mopped.” Quinn placed one fist over the other and pretended to mop to a sensual rhythm. “I finally got the nerve up to approach him, wrapped my arms around his hunky torso, and grinded up against his tight tush.”

“Wow!” Tush. So cute. She brought her hands to her chest and sighed.

“Yeah, wow. He decked me. Luis turned around and landed a right hook on my face. He thought I was a mugger or something.”

“Holy cow,” Charlie said, unable to stifle her laugher. “That must have really sucked. You’re seeing stars for all the wrong reasons.”

“It gets better,” Quinn said, holding up his hand. “The cut beneath my eye bled like crazy.”

“Did you tell him to call 911?”

“Fuck no.” He laughed and waved a big hand in front of his face. “I told him to kiss it and make it better.”

Charlie placed her elbows on the table, interlaced her fingers, and rested her chin in them. “Go on.”

“He started muttering some stuff in Spanish and stomped off to the back of the shop. I mean, I knew what I knew. He was definitely into men and all, so I knew I hadn’t misjudged the sparks.”

“How’d you know he was gay? If he didn’t know about you, it makes sense that he wasn’t all that in tune with things.”

“Nah, I knew.” Quinn puffed out his chest. “Maybe I was the surprise mid-western jock, but Luis had a bad boy reputation. He was into sex. Men. Women. It didn’t matter.”

“So he’s bi?”

“He refuses to put a label on it. It makes sense. I’ve been with women. Loved being with them. But I prefer my man. However, there are a few women I wouldn’t turn away from,” Quinn explained. “It’s just that I want him. I love him. Love plays a major part in the physical relationship for me.”

“That’s refreshing,” she admitted. “So tell me what happened with Luis.”

“Like I was saying,” he drawled, winking and rolling his hand for emphasis. “After he’d come out about his omni amorous sexuality and his father had disowned him, he turned into one of the biggest studs in Miami. Men, women, both…made no difference where he parked his dick. His nightly conquests fueled the gossip vine. Not only does he have the highest-grade equipment, he knows how to use it well.”

She grinned in challenge.

“Don’t doubt. I know what I’m talking about,” Quinn said. “You’ll agree when he shows up. Luis is hot.”

“Fine. So he ran off into the kitchen. What’d you do?” The writer in her needed to reach the ending.

“I sat up, with a lot of effort I may add.” Quinn reached for the hem of his shirt and she swiped at his forearm. “Shy, eh?”

“No,” she replied. “I just don’t think you should strip in public.”

Quinn chuckled. “You’re in for many surprises this weekend, Charlie.”

“Whatever,” she said, dismissing the mischievous smile on his face. “Go on.”

“I managed to pull my t-shirt over my head and used it to apply pressure on the cut. Mr. Rico Suave returned with a baggie of ice, but when he saw the blood soaking through my shirt he reached into his back pocket for his phone and insisted on paramedics. I was done waiting for him to notice me. I called on my high school grappling moves.” He demonstrated, stretching his legs under the table, and wrapping his feet around her ankles. “Within seconds, the man was writhing beneath me on the floor.”

“I get it,” Charlie blurted, covering her face with her hands.

“You’re blushing.”

“Am not.”

“Are so,” Quinn said, pulling at her wrists and settling her hands on the table between them. “Don’t worry. I won’t give you the details on how he finally got the message that I wanted him, but he did.”

“I figured that much.” Heat flooded her body and she squirmed in her seat. “So you’re here to make sure there’s enough spice in your sex life.”

“Oh, there’s enough spice,” Quinn bragged. “I want to add more and keep it that way. Luis is more experienced than I am. I want to explore and learn.”

Charlie sighed. She’d envisioned a great love between Quinn and Luis, and now Quinn wanted to explore. “You want other partners?”

“Not what I said,” Quinn insisted. “We’re open to sharing together. But that isn’t what this is about. We’re committed to each other and we’re planning on getting married next year. I want to keep him so damn hard and ready to erupt at my touch or glance.”

She fanned her hand in front of her face and lifted her hair off her neck.

“You’re beet red. It won’t do,” he said, shaking his head. “On this cruise, you’re not only going to have to dress the part, which means heading to your cabin and getting out of that uptight outfit, but you’re going to have to loosen up if you want to get that info for your writing.” He wrapped his hand around her fingers, holding them still. “If you keep reacting like that, some Daddy Dom is going to throw you over his shoulder and lock you in his cabin for the whole cruise. Unless that’s what you—”

“No.” Charlie shook her head. “I’m not getting carried off to some cabin. I’m not getting involved with anyone. I’m here in a professional capacity. That’s it.”

“Sure, baby girl. That’s a lot of protest for one tiny question.”

“It’s the truth,” she said, using her free hand to pluck a grape from the bowl and pop it in her mouth. She was a professional.