Today’s author who is sharing an exclusive excerpt needs no introduction. The fabulous Carly Phillips! She’s sharing from her most recent release, Serendipity – and the next two books in the series will be out in 2012.
where love, fate and fortune are intertwined …
Faith Harrington was the classic girl of privilege–until her father was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme and then her marriage crashed and burned.
Now Faith is back in her hometown, hoping for a fresh start. But her father’s betrayal has rocked Serendipity – and not everyone is ready to welcome her with open arms. Then she runs into her teenage crush — the dark, brooding Ethan Barron. Ethan, no stranger to scandal himself, never imagined he’d own the mansion on the hill, much less ever again come face to face with Faith–the princess he once kissed senseless. The chance meeting reignites the electric charge between them.
Still, when Ethan hires her to redecorate what was once her childhood home, Faith is sure that getting involved with the town’s notorious bad boy will only lead to trouble. But her heart has other ideas. And so do the townspeople of Serendipity …
Faith’s mother raised her small nose, which her daughter had inherited, into the air and turned her back on him, facing Faith instead. “Well? What in the world are you doing here?” her mother asked again, ignoring Ethan completely.
“I’m shopping, Mom. What are you doing here?”
“Picking up a few necessities,” Lanie said in another hushed whisper. “This budgeting business isn’t for me.”
Ethan swallowed a laugh he knew would be unwelcome.
Faith rolled her eyes. “Welcome to the real world.”
Her mother straightened her shoulders. “You didn’t answer my other question.” She clearly intended to avoid Faith’s comments. “What are you doing with him?”
So he’d been wrong. She wasn’t going to ignore him, just insult him.
“Really, Faith. A Harrington has to show some class.”
“Like dad did?” Faith asked.
Her mother sniffed, clearly offended. “That comment was uncalled for. You know your father has been maligned and misunderstood.”
“Actually I know no such thing,” Faith said.
“I thought you had a good point.” Ethan added his unwelcome opinion.
“Thank you.” Faith actually sounded pleased.
Ethan grinned. He hadn’t realized his little tigress had teeth and he found himself wishing she’d use them on him – not to reprimand him the way she was her judgmental mother, but in bed.
“And by the way, he has a name,” Faith said to her mother. “It’s Ethan Barron and since I’m here with him, it means I like him. So I would appreciate it if you’d show some respect. Or ignore me along with him.” She’d taken a page from his book the other night when he’d defended her against his brother.
Man, they were a mismatched pair.
Her mother let out a prolonged sigh. “I thought you gave up temper tantrums when you got married.”
Married? This was the first he’d heard about it and the idea threw his stomach into crippling knots.
“This is a waste of time.” Faith gripped the shopping cart handle hard enough to turn her knuckles white. “We have shopping to do. And so do you.” Faith dismissed her parent.
Lanie raised her nose further in the air.
If the woman lifted her chin any higher, she’d be looking at the ceiling, Ethan thought.
“Fine. But we will discuss this,” her mother said and walked away.
“When? Next time she calls me, which is never?” Faith asked aloud. She turned to Ethan, regret etched in her face. “I’m sorry about that. She’s horrible.”
“No more than my brother was to you.” He shrugged it off, truly not bothered. “And you’re not responsible for what she says.”
Blue eyes met his. “Thanks. So where were we?” she asked, obviously eager to put the scene with her mother behind her.
He propped a hand on the shelf behind her. “We were about to discuss the fact that you’re married?” He raised an eyebrow and waited for an answer.
The knot in his stomach unwound a bit. “Better. But not perfect.”
The corners of her mouth lifted in amusement. “What? You thought I was a vestal virgin?”
No, but he couldn’t bear the thought of another man’s hands on her naked body. Especially when he hadn’t had his hands on her yet.
“Relax, caveman.” She poked him in the chest. “It’s over.”
Not for Ethan. He needed to know more. “What happened?”
“Do you really want to have this conversation in the aisle at Target?”
It was better than not having the conversation at all. “Yep.”
“Fine.” She hitched the strap of her purse higher on her shoulder. “I married a man my parents approved of. It turned out he only married me for my father’s connections, but I was too naïve to realize it. Once my father was arrested, Carter had gotten all he could from our marriage. I caught him in bed with his mistress.”
“Asshole,” Ethan muttered.
“Son of a –“ Anger at that kind of betrayal flooded Ethan’s veins.
“It’s over,” she said again, more softly this time. “And it should have been finished long before that. Now can we get back to business?” She pointed to the colored comforters lining the walls.
Ethan wanted more information. He wanted to know if she’d been happy with the man. If she’d loved him but knew better than to push. He had his own walls, didn’t he?
“So how do we choose for Tess?” he asked.
She released the breath she’d obviously been holding. “If you ask me, it comes down to these. There’s this floral.” She touched a pink and black flowered pattern. “Which I don’t see as an option.” She looked to him for confirmation.
He nodded. “I agree there.”
“So it’s one of these animal prints.” She swept her hand over the green, purple, pink or regular black and white zebra stripes. Shockingly, Ethan could live with one of those. “She seems to like purple,” he said, recalling her awful colored hair.
Faith laughed. “Exactly what I was thinking.” She turned and reached high to grab the right size comforter, causing her denim skirt to ride up on her thighs and reveal a flash of what he thought was bare flesh. A second look showed a dusky pink color covering and almost blending with her pale skin.
Ethan’s mouth grew dry. Thoughts he’d managed to keep at bay most of the day came flooding back now. Wanting her. Needing her. His groin hardened at the thought, thrusting against the rough denim of his jeans.
“Let me,” he muttered, reaching for the plastic covering and pulling the blanket into his hands.
“No problem.” He shifted his jeans, trying unsuccessfully to get more comfortable. “Queen.” He read the label. “Is this the right size?” he asked gruffly.
“Yes. I thought we’d give Tess my old room and it’s definitely big enough for a Queen.” She narrowed her gaze. “What’s wrong?” she asked perceptively reading him.
He glanced around. Once assured they were alone at the end of the aisle, he wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close, her back facing the wall. “What’s wrong is you wearing barely there underwear beneath that skirt.”
“What? It’s a full bikini!”
He slid his hand around her thigh and inched his fingertips upward until he cupped her thinly covered cheek. “The color of your skin,” he said thickly.
“It’s light mauve,” she whispered on a sigh as he glided his finger over the damp spot between her legs.
“Do not wear these things with a skirt ever again.” He barely recognized his voice.
“Would you prefer I wear armor?”
He punished her sarcasm with a glide of his finger over her mound.
At his touch, she shuddered and let out a soft moan. “I forgot all about the skirt when I reached up for the comforter.”
He’d never forget the sight or the feel of them in his hand. Knowing he’d gone as far as he could in public, he freed his hand, then sucked in a ragged breath, attempting to relax his body.
“What else do we need to buy?” he managed to ask, all the while wondering when he could have her.
How he could possibly carve out time for them alone.
“I have a list,” she said as she adjusted her outfit.
For the rest of the day, they shopped up a storm, accessorizing Tess’s purple and black room. Faith managed to get him to let her order black lacquer furniture for the teen because it would help convince Tess that Ethan actually heard her when she spoke. That he cared about what she wanted. And they never mentioned the incident in the aisle.
But some how, some way, Ethan was determined to finish what he started with Faith.
Carly Phillips is the New York Times Bestselling author of over 30 romance novels with contemporary characters and plotlines that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. Carly is a stay at home mom of 2 daughters (now almost old enough to read her books!), one soft coated wheaten terrier and a brand new Havanese puppy. She’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers. More information on Carly can be found at www.carlyphillips.com.
So what’d you think? Have you read anything by Carly Phillips before?
**ETA: I was just informed a box of Destiny ARCs arrived at Ms. Phillips’s doorstep today! She, being the generous soul she is, is offering up a copy! So, to enter, tell me something – anything – about serendipity, or destiny. Have you experienced it? Is there some old wives tale? A fun fact? Go go go!