in the Touch
by Laura Trentham
by Laura Trentham
Falcon Football Book Three
Alec Grayson returns home to Falcon, Alabama, to rebuild his life after a knee injury ended his NFL career. As the Falcon high school quarterback coach, Alec's love for the game is reignited. Meanwhile, he puts his hard-partying past and the betrayal of the people he trusted most behind him, and adopts a hard demeanor. That is, until a spitfire artist with soulful eyes and a body that haunts his dreams gets under his skin and threatens to crack his armor.
Lilliana Hancock is forced to leave her struggling-artist lifestyle in New York and return to Falcon after her father's unexpected death leaves her a decrepit family mansion. Determined to use her skills to turn the home into a successful bed and breakfast, Lilliana is stopped at every turn by the town contractor, who happens to be Alec, the gorgeous and arrogant jock to whom she lost her virginity in college. Except Alec doesn't remember, which infuriates her. Too bad she can't forget the way his body felt against hers or how his heated gaze follows her...
Will they be able to put their pasts behind them for a future together?
Genre: Contemporary RomanceMelting Into You Purchase links: Amazon BAM iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Artist, Handyman, Coach, Sports, Football, Second Chances
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Excerpt, Slow and Steady Rush, Caught Up in the Touch & More
Melting Into You Excerpt:
Pulling out a flashlight and crunching his shoulders into the tight space, Alec muttered, “Good Lord.”
Having your inspector utter calls to the Almighty didn’t bode well. After a couple of minutes of grunting, he clicked off the flashlight and reversed his shimmy. Would she need to tear the wall out? Rewire the entire upstairs? Lilliana waited for the crushing blow to her plans.
“Dammit!” He jerked as he ducked his head out from under the cabinet. Crouching on the nauseating pink tiles, he fingered a tear in his shirt. Blood oozed, but she couldn’t tell how long or deep the scratch was.
“Goodness, how bad is it?” Falling to her knees, she tugged his shirt out of his pants, lifting it to reveal his wound. She traced smooth, firm skin alongside a long, shallow scratch. Her voice creaked a little. “It’s not bad. Let me dab on some ointment, and I can stitch the tear in your shirt. It’ll only take a minute.”
She went to work on his shirt buttons from the bottom, her breathing pacing faster to match the beat of her heart.
“Stop. I’m fine. I have other shirts.” His words sounded rushed, panicked.
He grabbed at both her wrists, but the movement only flipped his shirt apart, exposing the bottom half of his chest. Something dark edged from the checked cotton. He froze, his hands loosening. She finished working his buttons open and spread the shirt to expose his entire chest.
“Oh. My. God.” Her words compressed out of lungs that held no air.
She wasn’t in shock from the defined muscles of his chest. That she’d expected. It wasn’t even the sexy dusting of hair trailing into the waistband of his pants. What hypnotized and held her rapt was the enormous tattoo that covered one side of his torso.
The vibe was difficult to nail down. Tribal with some Picasso cubism thrown in. Script played peekaboo along his side, obscured by the shirt hanging on the curve of his shoulders. What words would a man like him pick to inscribe on his body? One thing was certain—his tattoo was a work of art. Now she was less interested in his warm, man-scented skin than what was drawn on it. Impatiently, she pushed his shirt off his shoulders to hang at his elbows.
The tattoo extended to his shoulder and over his upper arm, stopping at mid-biceps like a permanent sleeve. In all the football practices she’d attended, he’d never revealed his ink. Unlike the boys or other coaches, he wore long-sleeved workout gear and used a towel tucked into his shorts to wipe away sweat, but she’d chalked his habits up to being a quarterback and needing a protected throwing arm and dry hands.
Never in a million years would she have guessed what preppy, uptight Alec Grayson had up his sleeve. Literally.
“It’s old. From when I was young and stupid. Most of my teammates in Philly had tats and I thought I was the sh—” He muttered to cover the curse word and ran a hand through the top of his hair, mussing the regimented style. “I’m planning to get it lasered off.”
“Don’t you dare!”
Clarity struck like a shot of adrenaline to her heart. He was ashamed or at least embarrassed by the tattoo. With trembling fingertips, she skimmed the outer line of a dark black swirl of ink tracing the muscle of his pectoral. At first contact, the muscle jumped, and he flinched away as if in physical pain.
“Don’t you dare,” she repeated in a whisper leaning in to follow the line with her lips.
Melting Into You Purchase links: Amazon BAM iTunes Kobo B&N
by Laura Trentham
Falcon Football Book Two
Jessica Montgomery has always lived by three simple rules: stay calm, stay professional, stay in control. Working tirelessly to make it into the executive ranks of her family's business, her dream job of CFO is within reach--if she can convince one stubborn and sexy Alabama restaurateur to take her offer and manage Montgomery Industries flagship restaurant in Atlanta.
On the surface Logan Wilde is all good-old-boy charm and humor, but he can't seem to outrun the hell-raising reputation of his high school years. Although he has thought about leaving his hometown in Falcon Alabama, he has grown to love the town, his restaurant, and his part-time gig coaching the football team.
Jessica estimates it will take a week tops to get Logan Wilde's signature on her generous offer, but their first meeting is anything but professional. Logan shreds Jessica's control and unleashes a passion she didn't know existed even as a deeper connection between them takes root. When her family's manipulations threaten to tear them apart, Jessica has to decide whether her dream is really the CFO job or the man who has unselfishly offered his love.
Genre: Contemporary RomanceCaught Up in the Touch Purchase links: Amazon ARe BAM iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Sports, Football, Restauranteur
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Caught Up in the Touch Excerpt:
What rock had that dude crawled out from under? He looked about a month overdue for a shower. It was a pity too, because under the grime he wasn’t an ogre. And he had his teeth. In fact, contrary to the stereotypes, they were straight and white, but maybe it was an illusion of the dim bar and his dark, unkempt beard.
Jessica checked her watch. What the heck was she supposed to do in this mosquito-sized town for three hours? She refused to hang out at the Walmart. The heat exacerbated the headache that had been brewing since Birmingham.
The AC in her car had gone on the fritz, going in and out and not keeping things as chill as she liked. She loved her Audi, bought with her own money right out of business school. Sleek, black, expensive—at least it would have been if she hadn’t found a deal on the used car. Unlike Caroline, Jessica had refused her father’s generous gifts of cars and house down payments, knowing his offers came at a steep price. Her sister had gained a mansion and a Mercedes but had given up any pretense of independence[JS1] .
Although, she couldn’t criticize, considering she was in podunk Alabama following her father’s orders like a brain-washed minion. Cars and houses hadn’t tempted Jessica, so her father had just found another lever to ensure her compliance.
She tossed her bag on the passenger seat and climbed behind the wheel, the black leather, which looked buttery soft, cooking her like a hotcake on a griddle. The sweat trickling down the back of her neck would probably sizzle on the seat. She started the car, and an anemic burst of cool air chugged out of the vent. She turned the AC to max, but the air seemed to get warmer.
She reversed out of the parking spot, but before she could shift into drive, the temperature gauge blinked red and the car sputtered off. She turned the key over and back, pumping the gas pedal a few times. Nothing. An unwelcome helplessness set her knees into a tremble. She tried again. The battery buzzed, but the engine didn’t crank.
Her mind swirled until the tsking, logical side of her brain gained control. With the advent of smartphones, help was only a few clicks away. She would call AAA. They would send a truck and tow her car to the nearest garage. Then she could call a taxi. Simple. She sighed. As long as she had a plan, she could control the panic tramping around her belly.
The car turned suffocating, the hot air constricting her lungs. She cracked the driver’s door, but the slight breeze coming off the tarry parking lot didn’t provide much relief. She riffled through her bag and came up with her phone. A tiny message in the corner of her screen sent ripples of unease through her stomach. No Service.
Were these people Quakers or something? No cell phone service? How did they communicate? Smoke signals? She shuddered a breath out of her dry mouth. Next logical step would be to head back inside and plead for help. A shadow crossed her body the same time a hard rap on the car roof made her bobble the phone to the floorboard.
“Sorry, ma’am. Didn’t mean to startle you. Are you having problems?” Mountain Man rested his forearms over the top of her door. His wrists were thick, his hands huge. The black under his fingernails was a workingman’s polish, and fresh red scratches zagged over the back of his hands. As he repositioned the frayed blue and white baseball cap shadowing his eyes, the muscles along his forearm jumped. Dark brown hair flipped into almost curls around the edges.
The sunlight emphasized the thinness of his cotton shirt, one shoulder seam pulling apart across the broad expanse of his torso. His masculinity wove around her, at once disconcerting, yet easing her illogical, escalating panic.
“My car won’t start.” God, she hated the little-girl, tinny sound of her voice. She cleared her throat and tried again, forcing a practiced steel into her words. “It’s been acting funny since I hit Birmingham.”
Mountain Man assessed the parking space she’d pulled out of and pushed the brim of his hat up a couple of inches with his forefinger. He squatted, and she slid out of the car to watch. He swiped his fingers through a puddle on the blacktop and rubbed. Then he smelled his fingers. He turned toward her, still in a squat. “Looks like a coolant leak. Your AC been working?”
“Not well. And, my temperature gauge flashed red just before the engine died.”
“Pop the hood, and let me take a gander.”
She pulled the lever on the dashboard and joined him at the front of the car “Are you a mechanic?”
“I’m a handyman, remember?” Again, he graced her with a panty-melting grin before leaning over the engine compartment to jiggle hoses.
His scent filtered through the humidity to her. Not the stench of unwashed male she expected. Underlying the clean sweat and grease was a mystery that hooked her closer, until she was leaning over the hood too, close to his shoulder. The one with the ripping seam. She swallowed, her throat stiff as if a noose had tightened. Usually, panic accompanied the feeling, but not this time. This time a covey of birds beat their wings in her stomach.
He turned toward her, one hand on the edge of her raised hood. His eyes were brown, but not a plain brown or even a deep, intensive one, but an electric brown with sparks of gold. They danced over her face. His voice came out gruff, almost a whisper. “I understand your problem.”
She massaged the taut cords of her neck. For a heartbeat, she wondered if he referred to her or her car. Hope lilted her question. “You do?”
“Yep. One of your hoses is cracked. Probably due to the heat.”
She swayed on her heels and dropped her face, pretending to study the hulk of metal and plastic under her hood. No matter her degrees and successes, sometimes she was a complete and total idiot. Like now. This redneck mountain man could never understand her. Her hair swished forward, strands sticking to her cheeks, hiding her face. “Can you fix it?”
He left her standing over the puzzle of her engine. He hadn’t even offered to call a tow truck. She felt oddly abandoned.
He stopped at an old blue and white Ford pickup parked in the shadow of a huge oak tree. Instead of climbing in and driving off with a grin and a wave, he flipped open a white, metal utility box in the truck bed. Clanging metal accompanied his search. He made a satisfied exclamation before trotting back toward her. “Duct tape. I always keep a roll handy. You mind hanging on to my hat?”
Without giving her a chance to answer, he pushed the ball cap into her hands, dropped to lay on the ground, and scooched under her car. With his knees bent, his legs stuck out from under the bumper.
An embroidered flying falcon on the side of his cap had lost half of its thread, and she picked at the fraying brim. She shuffled her feet apart and flapped her blouse to catch the slight breeze ruffling her hair. The occasional rip of tape punctuated the unidentifiable song he hummed.
His shimmy reversed itself, and he emerged with new brown stains on the front of his shirt and a glossy smear along his cheekbone. He rubbed his fingers along the edge of his shirt dirtying it further, and ran the back of his wrist over his forehead, wiping away a rivulet of sweat.
“You’ve got some grease on your cheek.” She pointed like a three-year-old.
He brought the edge of his T-shirt to his face and scrubbed it clean. At least she assumed that’s what he was doing, because she couldn’t tear her gaze away from his torso.
Michael, the boyfriend she’d broken up with six months earlier, had kept his chest waxed to show off the contours he worked hard for in the gym. Mountain Man did not wax. Curly brownish hair trailed from his partially revealed pecs straight into the waistband of the gray boxer briefs peeking out of his jeans. And, for all the time her ex-boyfriend had put in at the gym, he had never built the solid, thick muscles of the man standing close enough to touch.
Mountain Man didn’t lift weights for an hour then push papers around a desk for the rest of the day. Maybe he chopped wood or moved bales of hay or broke horses. She’d watched a documentary on real-life working cowboys one sleepless night and had unusually erotic-laced dreams when she’d finally drifted off.
“Do you ride a horse?” Wait a holy-rolling second . . . had she said that aloud?
Caught Up in the Touch Purchase links: Amazon ARe BAM iTunes Kobo B&N
by Laura Trentham
Falcon Football Book One
She lives by the book—and is still searching for her happily ever after.
Darcy Wilde has tried hard not to live up to her last name. As a librarian in Atlanta she lives a fine life far away from the football-obsessed town of her childhood. But when her beloved Grandmother needs help, Darcy takes a leave of absence and heads back to the home and past she left behind.
He knows how to play the field—and is in no rush to settle down.
Robbie Dalton knows a thing or two about painful pasts. After bouncing around in foster care and the Army for years he is finally ready to move on and make a home for himself in Falcon, Alabama as the newest high school football coach. Sparks fly when the sexy new coach and the sharp-tongued librarian meet, but neither of them is looking to make ties.
But when it comes to love, sometimes you’ve gotta throw away the rule book to cross the finish line…
Everything changes when Darcy falls in love, not only with the gruff, protective, and smoking hot man who's sharing her days and nights, but also with the complex tapestry of people who weave Falcon together. Could this be where she belongs - and who she belongs with?
Genre: Contemporary RomanceSlow & Steady Rush Purchase links: Amazon BAM iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Librarian, Army, Coach
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Slow & Steady Rush Excerpt:
Robbie Dalton steered his black pick-up truck down the narrow washed-out lane. He’d have to talk Miss Ada into either laying more gravel or, better yet, paving the road. If he could convince her to sell him the farmhouse, he’d pay for it himself. A state forest, open fields, and the river enfolded the house. The absolute privacy appealed to him.
Honestly, he’d be doing the woman a favor. The house needed thousands of dollars in repairs and would require months of labor. But memories of past generations were steeped into the walls like a strong tea, flavoring the feel of the place. Robbie loved it. Miss Ada had told him to wait and see how the football season went, because if he couldn’t coach the team to a winning record, he might not be around long enough to unpack.
Trees crowding over the narrow lane ended in a stark line, and the harsh Alabama sun blazed after the relatively cool shadows. Fields once farmed in cotton had been left fallow. Tall grasses, newly sprouted pines, and hardwoods encroached.
He slowly bumped by the old woman’s house. The nurse’s huge SUV sat out front. A shudder passed through his body at the thought of getting trapped into a conversation with Ms. Evelyn. He’d stop by later.
Avery barked softly, and Robbie put an arm around the dog, steadying him. For the most part, Avery had adapted to losing his front leg. He still loved to run and jump and play, but there were times he whined as if he missed it, licking and nipping at the stump.
The rutted lane wove close to the river. The truck windows were down and the radio off. After four tours in Afghanistan, Robbie craved the silence, needed to know bone-deep that mortars, the beat of helicopter blades, or the zing of bullets wouldn’t break the serenity.
A sound broke through the silence. He killed the truck’s engine, his senses heightened by a pulse of adrenaline. The noise cut to him again. Close to the river. Human or animal? Maybe a hunter or maybe one of the wild pigs that had been wreaking havoc in the river bottoms.
Grabbing his pistol from the glove box, he said, “You stay here, buddy.”
Avery whined and hopped down the seat as if to follow.
“No, the bank’s too steep. I’ll be fine. Stay.” He took the time to rub the Belgian Malinois behind the ears. Avery seemed to prefer Robbie never leave his line of sight.
Ingrained training had him crouching low and moving across the short open field as if a sniper had him in his sights. He squatted at the edge of the bank and parted low-hanging willow branches. Leaning forward, he hung onto a ropey, pliable limb, his fisted hand stripping a row of leaves. His heart nearly stopped but then galloped out of his chest to match his bulging eyes.
Holy shit. It was a naked woman. A fine, naked woman.
She stood hip deep in a slow-moving eddy with her back to him. Her face tilted to the sky, she shook wet hair and squeezed out the water. The feminine, graceful movements dried his mouth. Rivulets raced from her shoulders to the hollow of her lower back. Water bobbed around her ass, framing perfection. The beauty of the scene went beyond the erotic.
He was intruding on a private moment and needed to leave. He squeezed his eyes shut. Nothing but the whisper of the wind in the trees and the flow of the river filled the quiet.
He took a step back, cracking a dead branch under his boot, and froze. He’d be fired from the team if he were accused of voyeurism. Had she heard him? One eye opened and went straight to woman in the river. He tried his damnedest to look away, but hell, he was only human.
Another intruder captured his attention. The water lapping the far bank rippled. Wide body, flat head. He mouthed a curse. Cottonmouth. Big one, too. A bite might not kill her, but it would cause excruciating pain. The snake swam straight toward his fine, naked woman.
He stood, thumbed the safety, and cupped the gun in both hands. He had one shot to get the job done. Not the first time he’d been in that position. His finger caressed the trigger. The gun’s report and the woman’s scream trampled the seductive beauty of the scene.
The woman fell and stirred up enough silt to darken the usually clear water. Bits of snake floated down the river. “My God!” she repeated as a litany, giving the snake remnants wide berth.
Shallow, fast-moving water eddied around her shoulders and concealed her curves as she scrambled backward on her hands and feet. Dark hair streamed into her face. She brushed it aside only to have the water push it back in front of her eyes.
He couldn’t let her panic and drown. Pushing willow branches aside, he called out, “You’re welcome.” He’d aimed for nonthreatening, but had landed closer to surly. Wincing, he rubbed his nape. Jesus, he was an idiot.
She startled and shielded her eyes against the sun. Her other arm curled over her breasts. “You could have shot me. What are you doing out here?”
Her voice shook, and he recognized the emotion. Fear. He followed her darting gaze to the near bank. Clothing hung from a low tree branch.
Her words jumbled out. “The state forest starts on the other side. You’re on private land. Were you spying on me?”
“Of course not.” Maybe he’d looked a little longer than necessary, but damn . . . what man with a beating heart wouldn’t? “That was a cottonmouth, by the way. You wouldn’t want to get hauled to the hospital like that, would you?” He tried a jokey smile and made vague gestures toward her nakedness. Her expression remained stony, turning his smile into a grimace.
“It looked like an innocent little water snake to me. I was in more danger of getting shot than bit.” She crouched. Water cascaded over her shoulders. Her arm pressed her breasts together, only the top curves visible. The hand not covering her breasts shooed him away like a dog. “Hello? Would you mind giving me a little privacy?”
What the fuck was the matter with him? He was acting like a perv.
“Of course. I’ll be on my way and let you get decent, ma’am.” He inclined his head and touched the brim of his baseball cap with a forefinger, playing the gentleman even as base impulses urged him to watch her nude body rise out of the water.
“Wait just a minute! We’re not done, mister.” Her voice, husky and melodious now that shrill fear no longer colored it, sent a tingle down his spine.
Halfway across the field to his truck, he stopped and tugged his cap lower and thought about the firecracker scrambling up the bank. He hadn’t seen her around town. Who the hell was she? A more important question forced itself into his consciousness. Was she still naked?
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Be on the lookout for Laura Trentham's future release(s): A Brazen Bargain coming January 2016, Kiss Me That Way coming May 2016, Then He Kissed Me coming June 2016 and Till I Kissed You coming August 2016
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