terça-feira, 29 de novembro de 2016

Book Blitz: "No Secrets" - N. Raines

Title: No Secrets
Author: N. Raines
Publication date: November 29th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance

She wants him…
Alyxandra Franklin crushed on Cris Garcia the first time they met. He wasn’t like the guys in her crowd, the boys in grown-up bodies. No, Cris was a man. A man who’d stand up for his girl, hold her close and keep her love safe. In spite of her feelings, Alyx never made a move on him. How could she? He belonged to her best friend, Gabi. And now it’s too late.
He hates her…
Cris figures if he never sees Alyx Franklin again, it’ll be too soon. She’s nothing but a spoiled stupid rich girl, too busy partying to care about anyone but herself. She’s the reason Gabi, the girl he loved, lost her life.
But he’s wrong. Gabi had secrets. When those secrets blow up his life, Cris is willing to go to any lengths to unravel the lies. Even if that means befriending Alyx—and sleeping with her—to learn the truth.

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Excerpt 1
Brandon nuzzled her ear. "It's just you and me, baby."
She pushed him away as she tried to think. Oh, God. If only she hadn't had all those drinks. Her muzzy state made her clumsy and off-kilter. She meant no, but Brandon wasn't taking no for an answer. Though she'd slapped away his hand, he kept pushing.
He tickled up her side as she tried to squirm away. "Bet I can change your mind…"
God, she was ticklish there. She couldn't help laughing, even though she was pissed he wouldn't take her seriously. "Don't…no, stop it. I mean it, Brandon. Stop…"
A deep voice cut through her weak giggles and Brandon's whispered teasing. "You got a problem with your hearing? She said stop."
They both froze. Alyx couldn't make out the man's face in the darkness, but she knew the voice.
When he stepped into the light, Alyx stiffened even as her chest flooded with relief. Grateful as she was that someone had intervened, why did he have to be that someone?
He gazed at them stony-faced. His eyes zeroed in on Brandon's hand on her waist. She felt Brandon's hand tighten, then drop away as he glared back at Cris. "What do you want?"
"I want you to leave her alone." He nodded at Alyx.
"Why don't you just mind your own business?"
Cris ignored him, focusing on Alyx. "Do you want this assclown touching you?"
"Hey!" Clenching his fists, Brandon took a step toward Cris.
Alyx spoke quickly. "I just want to go home." Though pissed off at Brandon, she didn't want to see him and Cris get into it.
The air quivered with nervous energy as the two guys eyed each other. Brandon's jaw was set as though he wanted to lay into Cris, and Cris looked as though he'd like nothing better than to bust Brandon in his preppy, pretty-boy face.
Another voice broke the tension. "Everything cool over here?"
A man stepped out of the darkness and stood beside Cris. Alyx recognized him from inside the bar, the guy who'd been sitting with Cris. Tall and broad shouldered, he was the kind of guy you'd want watching your back when trouble came calling.
"Yeah." Cris's even tone belied the tenseness in his body. "It's all good, man." He glanced at Alyx. "Where's your car? I'll drive you home. You're in no shape to get behind the wheel." Then he turned to the big guy, his friend. "Rick, can you follow us so I can get a lift back here to my ride?"
She tottered on her three-inch heels while Brandon sneered. "Well, I uh…my car's not here. I mean, I came with a friend…but she left without me." God, did she sound pathetic or what?
Brandon's nasty laughter rang out behind them as his climbed into his car. "Good luck getting home, Alyx." He gave the door a slam, then peeled out of the lot, gunning the motor as a farewell fuck-you.
Total silence reverberated before Cris spoke again. "You got some real nice friends."
He didn't even try to hide his contempt, obviously convinced she was stupid and irresponsible. Maybe he was right.
"Well, um, I could call a cab." She unsnapped her tiny purse and wanted to cry when all she found was a compact, a tube of lipstick, and a couple of crumpled dollar bills.
Oh, crap. Not even enough to take the bus, if buses ran this late. What to do? Her brain scrabbled frantically to come up with an answer. "I could call my sister to come get me." Right, ask her for a favor after you ditched her party. But no matter how pissed Morgan might be, she wouldn't leave Alyx stranded. Nor would she tattle to their parents.
She felt both men's gazes on her, the big guy's soft with sympathy, Cris's hard and judgmental. She felt every bit the spoiled little airhead they imagined her to be.
The big dude spoke up. "Well, I could—"
"No," Cris said. "I got this, Rick. Come on, Alyx. I'll take you home."

Excerpt 2
He sat, shifting as though he couldn't get comfortable. "I gave you a hard time last night. Acted like a real prick. Just wanted to tell you I'm sorry."
"Okay…" She was afraid to get too excited. Why the sudden change in his feelings?
"And not just about that," he went on. "I want to apologize for everything. For the way I acted when Gabi died. The shit I said. Blaming you…it was wrong."
Wow. This was monumental. Alyx didn't even know where to begin. "Thank you," she said at last, though that didn't even begin to cover it. But something was off. She should be overcome with relief, lighter than air. She wasn't, though. There was still too much she didn't understand.
"You said it was my fault…" Her voice was a thread of sound.
He looked away. "Yeah. I know. It was fucked-up."
"I still don't get it. Why did you blame me? I loved her as much—" She was about to say As much as you did, but stopped herself. She'd loved Gabi as her closest friend, but it wasn't the same as the feelings Cris had. "I loved her too."
He gazed out at her mother's garden. "I know. It was stupid of me. I wasn't thinking straight. I mean, you couldn't have known what would happen when you called her that night."
"Called her—" Alyx stopped, her words breaking off in midair. What call? Even though Cris's explanation made no sense, something warned her not to probe further. A weird tingle passed through her, urging her to listen rather than speak.
"You did the smart thing, calling her for a ride home. Nothing strange about asking a friend to help you out when you're not safe to drive." His gaze traveled over the herb garden, the clusters of rosemary, mint, and basil. At her mother's roses, just starting to bloom. "You couldn't have known she'd be killed on the way." Then he looked at her. "Right?"
Something in his eyes belied his words. A chill that seemed to accuse her, in spite of everything he'd said.
She swallowed, her throat as dry as chalk. "Right."
He spoke again, but she couldn't make it out. His lips moved, but all Alyx could hear was a buzzing in her ears, as though a hive of bees were nesting in her head.
What had he said? That she had called Gabi the night her friend was killed?
It made sense now. Cris blamed her for getting drunk, for calling Gabi.
But it wasn't true. She hadn't called Gabi the night of the accident. Hadn't spoken to her, in fact, for days. Everything Cris said, everything he believed, was untrue.
Gabi had lied. But why?

Excerpt 3
He took her hand. "Come with me."
She allowed him to lead her to an alley next to the building. "What's here?" she asked, not afraid, just curious.
"This." He took her in his arms and kissed her.
Her lips were so pillowy soft, he wanted to lick them, bite them. Whoa, slow down there. Good way to scare her off.
She must have read his mind, because she placed her hands on his chest and gently urged him back. Her eyes were clouded with confusion. "Maybe we should…I don't know, slow down some."
He took a step back, disappointment settling in his gut. But he wouldn't be like that pushy douche outside Chauncey's who kept pestering her, who wouldn't take no for an answer. "Okay."
"I mean…" She shook her head. "I don't know what I mean. I like you, Cris. I have for a long time. But I just—"
"Because of Gabi, you mean?"
"Yeah. I was her friend, and you…"
"Is it weird that we're—"
"No," he answered quickly. "We both…we cared about her." He couldn't choke out the word love. "But she's gone."
Alyx was silent, as if weighing his response. "I hope it's not wrong."
A pang of guilt zinged him, but not because of Gabi. Because he was here with Alyx under false pretenses. She thought it was just a date. He had other motives.
But enjoying her company wasn't a lie. The way he felt holding her, kissing her—that was real. "Does it feel wrong?" he asked, holding his breath for her answer.
"No," she said at last, lifting a hand to his cheek. "It feels really, really right."
They kissed again. Gently, he urged her mouth to open. He tasted hops and yeast, but the bitter tang of the brew was no match for the sweetness of her kiss—a flavor he wanted more of.
When he released her, reluctantly, she sagged against the side of the building. Her eyes were dreamy and soft. She smiled hesitantly when he gave a quiet laugh. "What's funny?"
"Just…your makeup." Scary looking as it was in the glow of the streetlamp, it couldn't hide her natural beauty. "I never pictured I'd be kissing a zombie."
She laughed. "Well, I'm kissing one too."
When he tried to kiss her again, she stopped him. "Wait."
After fumbling in her purse, she pulled out a handful of tissues and touched them to his face. He jerked back at their moist feel. "What are you doing?"
"They’re wipes. To take off the makeup," she answered.
He snorted. "Baby wipes?"
"Hush, you. No, they're for makeup." Gently, she swiped the cloths across his forehead, over his cheeks, down his nose. He watched her as she tended to him carefully, tenderly. Her concentration on the task just made him hotter. Each time her fingers brushed his skin, his pulse spiked.
It felt like foreplay.

Author Bio
N. Raines (who also writes as Nona Raines) is a former librarian who lives in upstate New York with her many pets. She’s currently working on her next novel between walking the dog and shooing the cats off the laptop. Her erotic romances are published with The Wild  Rose Press and Loose Id. Her transgender romance His Kind of Woman was nominated for the 2014 DABWAHA sponsored by the Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books review blogs.  Her most recent work is the romance novella Write to Me and the transgender romance Her Kind of Man.

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