Obviously I’ve neglected you as of late. Very badly. I’d say I’d get better, but the simple truth is the only reason I’m here today is that I have some time to kill before I drag the husband to yet another lab appointment. It’s almost over, though. Or so they say. God, I hope so.
So for all two readers out there who still follow me, I am alive! The husband has recently undergone his stem cell transplant, and we’re still in Omaha for about a week before they can send him home. (If you want to follow our progress, go to our caring bridge site.) I keep thinking life will get back to normal after that, but I’m not sure. True, we won’t have to come back here four times a month anymore, but it will take him awhile to get his stamina back. In the meantime, I am still Nurse Maid Cate. Frankly, I’m getting really itchy to play Writer Cate again!
And, as predicted, the release of Another Time Around came while in the midst of transplant hell. But it is available!! You can get it at Amazon, B&N, My Bookstore and More, or ask your local bookseller. (I am updating the links to the side, too. I swear!)
The silver lining here is that I’ve had a lot of so-called down time to work on Guys and Dogs. The idea here is to finish the nit-pick edit over the weekend, and get a synopsis and query done and out by the end of the summer. I’ve had other deadlines for myself on this book before, though. And since zero writing has been taking place thanks to that bastard cancer, I am being a little flexible with myself. Have to work my way back into this.
I’ve been getting there, though. And as proof, I offer you an excerpt from the book. It’s rough, but getting there. Hope you enjoy.
Guys and Dogs Chapter Seven
Dinner had been delicious, the movie had been romantic, and they’d been on about a million and ten dates. Travis was getting a hint at Gwen’s reputation with her friends, and knew full well that such reputations are generally based in truth. It was a miracle she’d been as patient as she had been with him. If he wanted to continue – and he wanted to continue – he wasn’t going to be able to put her off much longer.
“Coming in?” she asked when they got to her door.
“Yeah, I think I will.” He leaned into her before she could turn the key and kissed her, letting his tongue sweep her lips. She tasted sweet, like a cosmopolitan and chocolate tart all in one. Not an altogether unpleasant experience.
He lingered to go in for seconds, and after the next kiss ended, she looked into his face with sparkling eyes. “Hello. Where did that come from?”
“From a place I’ve kept at bay far too long.” He kissed her again, and could feel the pressure building within him. God, it had been a long time. Why had he waited?
Gwen unlocked the door as quickly as her fingers could, fumbling for the light switch as she walked in. “Thank God the boys are at science camp,” she said, and thrust herself back into Travis’s arms.
She was soft and sweet, smelling of lilacs and ginger. Like that garden he and Anna had been in years ago. Their first kiss.
“Whoa.” His own voice startled him.
Gwen’s eyes were wide. “What’s wrong? Are you all right? Am I all right?”
He shook his head clear. “Everything’s fine.” He leaned in again, gently lowering her to the couch. “And you’re perfect.”
Travis pressed himself against her, pulsating his hips in rhythm with hers. He lowered his lips to the hollow of her throat, and she let out a gasp. She was tender and her breasts were full under his chin. His hand slid up her thigh. She wasn’t wearing stockings. Anna used to wear black stockings with lace around the top that felt like silk. Then he’d reach her smooth thighs, which had seemed like flower petals.
Travis’s head shot up and his eyes fell on Gwen’s expression of ecstasy. The expression didn’t last long, however, because her eyes flew open and she stared at him. “Really, Travis, if you’re not up for this…”
“I’m up for this,” he said, and dove in. With one hand, he unbuttoned her blouse while the other found its way up her skirt. The taste of her skin was intoxicating, salty and nectar sweet all in one. Why had he denied himself this for so long? How could he have let this not be a part of his life?
He felt her hands, hot on his back as she lifted his shirt. Her nails clipped him gently as she caressed him, taking in every inch of his body with hers. He felt her breasts push against him and his brain almost exploded. “Oh, Anna,” he moaned into her neck.
“Okay, that’s enough.” And it was Gwen’s turn to pop upright. “I’ve been called a lot of things by a lover, but not by my best friend’s name.”
“Oh God.” He rubbed his face with his hands. “I can’t believe I just did that. Oh, hell, Gwen, I’m so sorry, I’m an ass.”
He buried his eyes in the heels of his hands and pressed until colors exploded in front of him and the searing pain shot through his head. He expected her wrath, expected her to deck him. What he didn’t expect was for her to laugh.
“You’re not an ass.”
He braved poking one eye out from under its protective cover to see her smile. “You’re not going to kill me?”
She shook her head. “No, I’m not going to kill you. It’s not your fault you’re hung up on your ex.”
“I am not hung up on my ex.” His voice was louder than he’d expected, but Gwen was unflappable.
“Not that I blame you. If I were a guy, I’d be all over her. She’s got a bit of a self esteem problem, but she’s really fantastic. Smart. Sexy.”
Travis shook his head. “No, I’m not still stuck on her. I can’t be. She’s married, for Pete’s sake.”
Gwen rested her chin on a single crimson fingernail. “Let’s review. You’re thirty-seven years old and never been married. By your own admission, you’ve never had a relationship with another woman that lasted more than six months. It took you over a month to finally try to get me into bed, which I may add is a personal record and, had I not figured out a hell of a long time ago what your problem was, I may have been offended. You just called me someone else’s name when my hand was on your hoo-ha. Either you’re gay, honey, or hung up on somebody. And I happen to know that somebody.”
Travis slumped into the couch. “Crap. This isn’t possible. I didn’t realize how much it still – then I ran into her again. All these memories came bubbling to the surface. And then tonight – God, Gwen, I’m so sorry. I was working her out of my system, I thought, and then tonight. To treat you like that. It’s inexcusable.”
“I’ll live,” Gwen said.
Travis shook his head again, amazed at his own stupidity. “I can’t believe it. I’m hung up on Anna.”
“Welcome to the land of obvious.” Gwen buttoned her blouse.
Considering what he’d just done to her – or not done to her, as the case actually was – Travis thought Gwen was taking it all rather well.
“Well, it doesn’t make any difference. I need to get over her.”
“No you don’t.” Now situated back in her clothes, Gwen crossed the room and collected two glasses and a bottle of whiskey.
“How can you say that? She’s married, she’s got a kid, she’s got a great life.”
“She’s got crap.” Gwen settled next to him again and poured the whiskey into the glasses until they nearly overflowed. “Oh, I’ll grant you the kid. She’s all right. But the marriage? Complete crap.”
“Crap or no crap, she took vows.”
Gwen took a swig, emptying half her glass in one swallow. “You know he screws around on her, right?”
Travis fiddled with his glass, avoiding eye contact. “Yeah. I know. I figured that out a week ago.”
“So who’s broken the vows?” Gwen drained her glass.
“It doesn’t matter,” Travis said, and this time he meant it. “She’s not mine. She didn’t want to be mine. She wanted him. And now she can have him.”
“Bitter, party of one.” She poured herself another glass and prodded Travis to drain his. “Listen, I’ve been trying to clue her in for years but she just won’t see it. I can’t just come outright and say, ‘Anna, your husband is a cheating bastard.’ It would kill her. So eventually I gave up and just patronized her delusions. She knows it’s bullshit, but she turns a blind eye. Now that you’re around, maybe she’ll wake up and smell the rat bastard.”
Travis looked at her, not believing what he was hearing. “What are you saying? You want me to… seduce her?”
Gwen shrugged. “Why not?”
“I can’t believe this.” Hell, his shirt was still half torn off. “My girlfriend is telling me to seduce another woman.”
“Girlfriend? Right. I was never your girlfriend, Travis. I was always a filler for what you really wanted. Who you really wanted.”
The shame hit him anew. “Gwen, I’m sorry -”
“Will you stop apologizing? Listen, yeah, it’s a bruise to my ego, but my ego ain’t all that delicate. Anyway, to get passed up for Anna Crawford? Well, let’s just say there are worse things.”
“Still, I’ve behaved abominably.”
Gwen shrugged. “So? Go behave abominably some more. Steal Anna from Bill. Take her for yourself. She’d be a hell of a lot better off with you, that’s for sure.”
“I’m sorry, Gwen. For tonight and for telling you that I just can’t seduce a married woman, no matter how I feel about her.”
“Okay, you’re a nice guy, right?”
“I used to be.”
“Okay.” She sat her glass on the table. “I love Anna. She’s like a daughter – ah – my little sister. And I kinda sorta have a soft spot for you, too.” She had the good grace to blush. “No pun intended. Anyway, I think she deserves a nice guy. I think you’re that nice guy.”
Travis searched her face, disbelieving. “You’re serious!”
“Of course I’m serious.” She finished her second glass of whiskey. “But you’re too nice a guy to do it, aren’t you?”
To be fair, he thought about it for a moment. “It’s just not in me to break up a marriage.”
She looked him in the eye a moment longer, then patted his knee. “Okay. I get it. I won’t push. As for us, I guess we won’t be having any more dates.”
Travis groaned, not believing he could be such an ass. “Oh God, Gwen. I can’t believe -”
“Don’t sweat it, honey. We’re still friends. Even if you won’t do my dirty work.”
He let the corners of his mouth curve upward. “Seriously?”
“Seriously. And as my friend, would you mind dog sitting this weekend?”
Travis laughed. “You don’t waste time, do you?”
“Only with you, darling. But I’m not kidding. I’m going to New York for the weekend to meet up with some old law school buddies. I need someone to take care of Dinky and Paw Paw. You up for it?”
Travis shrugged. “I don’t see why not.”
Gwen grinned. “Well lookie there. After everything, you’re still my knight in shining armor.”