‘Sup, Friends? It’s been a while. The time, though, has not gone idly by. This is my very late pop-in to let you know the third and final book in The Meddling Friends: Kelsie series, The Island Getaway, will be released by April 14th. This book follows up The Wish List and The Four Proposals.
I will also be updating my blog with more regularity over the coming months, including catching up on my recent travels. If you’re into that kind of thing.
For now, here’s a cover preview and the first chapter (Needless to say, spoiler alert if you haven’t read the first two) –
12-1/2 Days ‘Til the Best-Dressed Evening Surf Session Ever
Kelsie always wondered the color of Laken’s eyes when they were closed. As susceptible to her moods as to her surroundings, they were a constant showcase of her emotions. Blue when she was happy or humored, they turned green when Laken was feeling mischievous or curious or, oddly enough, hungry. When she was upset, Laken’s eyes were most frequently gray, their hue changing with the depth of the emotion. Though, true sadness sometimes shown in deeper blues, flecked brown.
Together like this, with no one else around and all focus on each other, Laken’s eyes could be a dozen different colors within a span of seconds. Midnight. Violet. Chocolate. Onyx. Every beat they would change, like fireworks bursting against a night sky.
At the moment that mattered most, though, when sensation overtook conscious will and Laken’s eyes fell closed because she could no longer hold them open, there was no way of knowing what went on underneath. It was one of those things that, no matter how much she learned about Laken, Kelsie would simply never know – destined to remain forever a mystery to her.
“Kelsie.” Head tipped back, Laken’s neck arched in unobstructed display. Tongue running from the hollow of her throat to the tip of her chin, Kelsie indulged in the salty sheen that mixed with the incomparable flavor of Laken’s skin.
Far from her teen years, and all the insecurities that went with them, Laken knew she was a beautiful, brilliant woman. She knew how kind and funny and worthy she was of every ounce of admiration given her. Like this, though, she had no idea just how incredible she became. Surrendered to the moment – eyes closed, lips slightly parted, breaths leaving her in slow, near-soundless sighs – she would be too distracted to care even if she could see herself, but Kelsie could see her, and every response she drew from Laken was like a work of living art.
“Oh God.” Laken reached for her. She always reached for her. Whenever Laken thought she might lose all control, go hurtling off the Earth, she never went for the headboard or the sheet or the pillow. There was one time she gripped the handle of the car door, but it was more out of concern it was about to swing open and reveal them in flagrante at the drive-in than by choice.
“Oh my… Oh God.” This time, as all other times, Laken found her solidity in Kelsie. One hand on her shoulder, the other curled around the back of her neck, desperate fingers gave a tug on Kelsie’s hair that sent shivers up the back of her head.
It wasn’t always the same. Sometimes Laken’s arms wound completely around her, inhibiting freedom of movement and forcing Kelsie to make creative adjustments, or both Laken’s hands tangled in her hair. Occasionally, it hurt. Often, Laken’s hands left marks behind, branding Kelsie in ways that felt less like ownership than as if she owned the world. In those moments, when Laken couldn’t hold tightly enough to her, Kelsie was a goddess or a superhero, some transcendental woman with a gilded touch. Every time she made Laken reach for her, it felt like the most right thing she could ever do.
“Wait. Don’t…” Hands clenching, Laken’s eyes pressed more tightly shut, and Kelsie inhaled the whimper from the lips a fraction of an inch below hers as if it was a tonic on the air.
“Don’t… Just… God, hold on.” That made Kelsie feel powerful too, every time the articulate doctor with her usual calm composure turned into a babbling mess of fragments and mono-syllabic words. “Keep… Don’t… Hold… Just…”
Unable to cobble the scraps into a coherent declaration, Kelsie was fairly certain, as Laken’s hand slid from her shoulder to clutch at her bicep, none of the words desired her to stop. Though, she wasn’t sure why, or where exactly, Laken thought she would go. That she had the capacity to go. Leaving Laken hanging anywhere, in anything, would only set them both adrift. Save a natural disaster sweeping through the bedroom or a Laken clone appearing equally naked at the door, there was nothing compelling enough to distract Kelsie from the noble pursuit of Laken’s ultimate pleasure.
She could, however, be forced away, she discovered an instant later when Laken’s body jolted up and a narrow shoulder butted against her jaw, causing Kelsie to moan in something that could never quite be pain as long as Laken was holding that tightly to her.
“God…” The spasm that rocked Laken bordering on violent, Kelsie monitored the situation as best she could in their extremely close quarters. Ten months of coaxing reaction out of Laken, she couldn’t say she had ever earned that particular response. “I’m not…” Words falling hot and breathless against her ear, she wasn’t sure which of them was melting faster. “Entirely sure… if it’s… is it… over? Wait. God.”
When Laken went suddenly slack against the hand supporting her clammy back, Kelsie lowered her to the mattress, feeling somewhat like a magician, and even more like an adolescent, as the fingers still cocooned in Laken’s warmth struggled to behave.
“Sorry.” Small breath huffing past her lips, Laken’s eyes cracked open – midnight blue, for a split second, lightening to navy. “Are you okay?”
Fingers brushing her chin, Kelsie discovered it tenderer than expected as she turned her head to press a kiss against the probing fingertips.
“Oh, I’m fine.” Own fingers no longer able to resist temptation, they coaxed another small moan out of Laken before Laken’s hand traveled down her arm to close around her wrist.
“I can’t.” She made a weak attempt at restraint.
“Are you sure?”
Eyes fluttering closed, Laken seemed to be weighing the pros and cons of letting Kelsie have her way with her spent body before she jerked again.
“I can’t.” She pulled the hand away, holding it captive, far too learned in Kelsie’s ways to trust it wouldn’t return to naughty play if allowed to slip free. “That was…”
Kelsie gave herself minor whiplash with her inability to decide where she wanted to focus, on Laken’s slightly flushed face or her aggressively heaving chest.
“Quite possibly… very possibly… the greatest orgasm ever produced.”
“You mean, since the last time you said that?” The smirk came automatic to Kelsie’s face.
“This was like twenty percent above your best work.” Declaration doing no terrible things for her ego, Kelsie tried to suppress the chuckle of satisfaction as Laken’s eyes eked open once more. “Oh, don’t get cocky.”
“You said it.”
“Yeah,” Laken conceded. “It just means you’ve been waiting until now to bring your best stuff.”
“You think that was my best stuff?” The dumbstruck fascination on Laken’s face was well worth the haughty lie and severe wrist strain. Until about five minutes ago, Kelsie didn’t even know her hand could bend that way. “I’m working the long game here. I’ve got to hold a few things back.”
“No.” Fingers kneading into her shoulders – part massage, part demand – Laken pulled her down. “You really don’t.”
“You say that now. What happens in twenty, thirty years when you’re long since tired of all I’ve got, and some limber twenty-five-year-old who majors in stripper studies starts looking really good to you?”
“You show me all your best stuff now,” Laken said. “And I promise not to have a mid-life-crisis affair with a twenty-five-year-old.”
“All right,” Kelsie accepted those terms. “But if you get thrown from the bed or pass out, I’ll have to take you to the hospital, and I will explain to them exactly how the incident occurred.”
“With a victorious smile, no doubt.” Laken pulled Kelsie’s lips to hers, and Kelsie’s grin gave way to the driving need of everything that was always there between them, and that, once in a while, when she least expected it, still felt like a freefall without a parachute.
Growling, and not in a good way, at the interruption of her phone playing an all-too-familiar tune, she tried to recollect how she’d neglected to banish it from the bedroom the night before. Oh, that was right. She dropped it on the dresser with everything else after work, Laken started tearing her clothes off at the dinner table, and it hadn’t really occurred to either of them to check the environment before tumbling into their bed.
Kelsie did hope the shirt she’d been wearing hadn’t ended up in a plate of marinara.
“Sorry.” Sending ocular daggers toward the ringing intruder, she attempted to channel her superhero-goddess telekinesis and heave the offending device from the room.
“If I’m not used to it by now…” Laken wasted no more breath on the matter, investing it instead in suckling Kelsie’s lower lip as Melissa’s ringtone at last faded back into oblivion.
Sinking into the deepest depths of Laken’s kiss for a minute, possibly two – Laken did have a way of altering time – when the phone rang again, tone different, it was with a lust-blurred gaze and a frisson of worry that Kelsie glanced over her shoulder.
“Get it.” Laken urged her with a small push. “It’s obviously important.”
Nothing more important than the woman lying willing and expectant beneath her, Kelsie couldn’t entirely disregard the statement either. Nearly a decade out of college, her friends had yet to reach a stage of acceptance that there were times too late to call, but it was rare to get more than one after-ten-p.m. interruption in the same night. The last time she received such back-to-back communications – when the boys whisked Walt away for a night of manly bonding and bad decisions – fresh in her mind, Kelsie blew out a breath and slid from the comforts of the blankets and Laken’s body, trying not to let thoughts of serious tragedy enter her head.
“Yes, Doug?” Withholding her irritation in case it was something truly terrible, Kelsie didn’t let it go completely in case there was good reason to be irritated as she carried the phone back to the bed.
“Hey, where are you?”
“It’s two-thirty in the morning.” Sliding beneath the covers with a shiver, she wondered about the temperature in the room as Laken melded back to her side. “Where do you think we are?”
“You don’t sound like you just woke up.”
Jumping as a teasing touch moved across her skin, Kelsie glanced to find eyes dipping light brown to match the accents in the comforter, a scarcely-suppressed smirk on Laken’s lips that made her all the more a priority.
“That’s because I didn’t,” she said, thought occurring to her in the next moment that, if her night was already interrupted, she may as well take the opportunity to brag about it. “I was too busy giving Laken the best orgasm of her life. So far.” Ensuing roll of Laken’s eyes warping them bluish-green, she was so utterly perfect in her exasperation, Kelsie fought the urge to ditch the call before she knew what it was about. “Do you need something?” she tried to hurry the conversation along instead.
“Melissa just called me,” Doug responded, and the irritation Kelsie was clamping down on burst wide as she realized she did, in fact, know what the call was about. Just as she had known what it was about when it originated from Melissa’s phone. “She said she tried to call you, but you didn’t answer.”
“Laken,” Kelsie declared. “Orgasms. Why in the hell would I answer?”
“You answered my call.”
Because she’d been duped. Unable to get at her directly, Melissa engaged a go-between, an intermediary to lure Kelsie into a feeling of sincerest concern, only to whammy her with the reality the only concern was for Melissa’s lack of rational thought.
“And I’m not happy about it,” she warned him.
“She is really freaking out, Kels,” Doug said, but it was with some distraction Kelsie heard. Fingers inching slowly down her abdomen, she watched Laken’s teeth work a supple bottom lip, as if contemplating how merciless she wanted to be. “She is convinced you’re going to get married in Hawaii.”
“I know.” Kelsie broke off in a ragged breath as Laken decided, if she was going to be bad, she may as well go all the way with it. “And I still don’t know why. When did I ever give any of you the impression I would get married without telling you?”
“June, two years ago.” It was a miracle Doug was too distracted to notice her state of pleasant distress. “You said weddings were overblown, and if you ever got married, you were going to City Hall. September that year, you said you were eloping with your then nonexistent fiancée. October, you said, when you did get married, none of us would be invited. November…”
“Jesus.” Comprehension slightly delayed, Kelsie wasn’t sure if she was responding to Doug’s thorough record-keeping or Laken’s thorough touch. “Did Melissa document this?”
“That’s from memory,” Doug answered. “My memory. So, it’s probably paraphrasing. I’m sure she could quote you verbatim if you ask her.”
“I’m sure she could.” Kelsie bit back a moan. “But I was only saying that. You had to know it was a joke.”
“Would you please just call her?” Doug didn’t sound entirely convinced. “She said she won’t be able to sleep until you promise.”
“Was she drinking?” Kelsie found the question after several seconds of utter disconnection from her brain.
“I don’t know. Probably. She and Jay went out to dinner.”
“So, she had half a bottle of wi…” Eyes rolling back, she buried the mouthpiece against her cheek, fingers of her free hand moving through the thick fall of hair at Laken’s neck. “Wine. Was she weepy?”
“She was definitely a little sniffly,” Doug answered.
“Then, she’s already asleep.”
“I don’t know,” Doug uttered. “She said -”
“How many nights have you taken Melissa home after a night of drinking?” Kelsie asked.
“Compared to me?” His silence served as answer. “This is her pattern. Melissa gets tipsy, she gets sad, she goes to sleep, she wakes up, and she feels better. She’s fine.”
“If you say so.”
“I do.” Eyes flickering as she stared into Laken’s emerald green gaze, Kelsie struggled to keep her voice from doing the same. “If I call her now, I will only wake her up, remind her she’s ludicrous, and we’ll end up having a three-hour conversation we can just as easily have tomorrow.”
She would also have to put Laken on hold, and that wasn’t about to happen a second time that night.
“All right,” Doug relented, and brain increasingly pulled between the processing of speech and the processing of Laken’s touch, Kelsie slid her hand between her chin and the speaker, not entirely sure she would be able to withhold the next moan that tried to get free. “So, this best orgasm thing? Oral? Or like finger-fu…”
“Goodnight, Doug.” She found the mind to end the call and keep him from indulging his auditory voyeurism, before dropping the phone in the direction of the bedside table, drumming up not a single fuck when it hit the corner and clattered to the floor. “You are bad.” Fingers sliding onto Laken’s cheeks, Kelsie tugged her down, but Laken offered sufficient resistance, content, it seemed, to tease her with her ridiculously perfect lips and scolding expression.
“And you’re a braggart.”
“That’s right.” Kelsie had zero compunction about it. “I do intend to brag about you until the day I die.”
Gaze softening, Laken’s eyes showed a myriad of colors at once, creating a kaleidoscope through which Kelsie swore she could see the entirety of the universe.
Soft fingers running across her lips, Kelsie knew the next words that escaped them would roughly resemble a power ballad, and decided it best to say nothing. Coaxing Laken down, she sighed at the silky tongue winding around her own, as impossibly gifted fingers beckoned her toward Heaven.
NOTE: Given the route I took with the cover, I am also replacing The Four Proposals cover to create a more uniform look throughout the series.