Lia has her perfect life mapped out after college–including her long term boyfriend Chris. But that will mean leaving her best friend Ethan behind, so how can that be perfect? Lia wants them both, but when things heat up, she’ll have to choose where her true future lies.
This Christmas, forbidden passion is sparking a fire… and MAKING HER MELT.
This Christmas, forbidden passion is sparking a fire… and MAKING HER MELT.
Excerpts from Making Her Melt
Too early to sleep, but too late to go anywhere. Especially in this weather. Ethan stretched out in bed, the sheets cool and rough. This time was the in-between, the hazy middle ground when his defenses lowered enough to admit what he wanted—or who he wanted.
“Pathetic,” he muttered.
Better to admit the truth, if only to himself. Then maybe he’d finally pick himself up, move to his hometown, and somehow manage to forget her.
Even though years overseas hadn’t made him forget. He was pretty sure leaving town wouldn’t make him forget his best friend’s girlfriend either. But at least he wouldn’t have to watch them, happy together, smiling, laughing, kissing, while his gut clenched in a tight knot of jealousy and shame.
At least he’d be in the countryside, able to breathe again.
Able to breathe without the constant erection he had around her. It was getting harder to hide it. He’d jerk off before seeing her, but that only seemed to make it worse. Because every time he stroked himself, every time he came, gasping, her face flashed through his mind. Then he’d see her in real life, and his body would charge up, ready to make fantasy a reality.
And—oh great—now he was hard again. Alone. In bed.
There was only one thing to do about that, but he wasn’t going to think about Lia this time. It wasn’t respectful to her, wasn’t respectful to his best friend. Fuck, it wasn’t even respectful to himself. He could jerk without thinking of her, couldn’t he? God, he hoped so.
Porn, that was the answer.
He flipped on his phone until he found a site full of beautiful, naked women. Nameless. Faceless. Not Lia’s name. Not her face. Just breasts and hips, just bare skin he could imagine against his. He scrolled down the page—and then stopped. This woman had dark skin—a little darker than Lia’s but it still made him think of her. Lia’s breasts would be smaller, but he could look and imagine. He could touch himself and pretend it was Lia’s hand instead…
No. Stop thinking about her.
He forced himself to keep scrolling until he had a different woman, one with pale skin and fine red hair. She looked at the camera with a sultry expression, a wanting expression, unlike Lia in every way, because damn sure he’d never seen her look at him that way. That expression was for Chris. This… this was for Ethan—a glossy picture of a stranger, cold and emotionless, and his own hand, pulling too hard and too fast, making it hurt. It was all he deserved, and he made himself face the reality of it, the coolness of the sheets against his skin—not a warm body.
The emptiness of this room, of his apartment.
The loneliness of it.
And it worked, somehow. Because he was that hard up, that hungry, and his balls drew up tight. Hot pressure raced down his spine, two seconds from coming, on the razor’s edge, something like pain in his cock, fist tightening. His phone bzzzed in his hand, making him flinch, holding him in that sharp moment, almost coming but not yet, and then the image on his screen flipped from the nameless woman to a woman he knew very well.
Lia. He groaned, helpless and pained.
Her eyes were sparkling, because he’d made some stupid joke, and her smile had been so bright he ached with it, and he’d snapped the picture right in that moment and set it on his phone so that whenever she called—
Oh God, she was calling. And he was coming, unable to wait a second a longer, especially when he was looking at the woman he really wanted, the only woman he wanted. His cock pulsed and spurted and spilled hot come down his hand like lava. The air sucked out of the room like it did every time she smiled or talked to him or motherfucking called him while he was masturbating, and he was panting, eyes closed, trying to calm down already. And most of all, trying to pretend like she hadn’t just made him climax when he pressed the Answer button.
Ethan grit his teeth as Lia launched into her third story about how great Chris was. And yes, Chris was smart and funny and obviously kicking ass at the internship with a state senator. But did she have to sound so breathless when she talked about him?
He’d brought this on himself.
Yes, of course he’d go with her, anywhere, anytime, like he was some kind of stand-in boyfriend. Just walk and talk and laugh with her, but don’t go home with her. No, she was going home to Chris.
Chris, who had emailed him after the phone call. Thx for covering.
As if they were still back in Afghanistan, covering each other’s asses. But Lia wasn’t a shift they could trade or a ration he could lend. She wasn’t a barrage of gunfire he could deflect. She was Chris’s girlfriend, and Ethan needed to fucking remember that.
No matter how hot she looked with a handful of kettle corn.
“God,” she moaned. “This is so freaking good. Why did you never tell me this was so freaking good?”
Maybe because you’re making sex noises, and if you keep that up, my dick’s going to be hard. He wasn’t sure which bothered him more, stories about Chris’s general awesomeness or Lia’s kettle corn orgasms every time she took a bite.
Her lips would be sticky by now, coated in caramelized sugar and salt. He’d give anything just for one lick, but she wasn’t his to taste. She wasn’t his at all. The only thing he could do was grip the steering wheel and glare at the dark Austin roads as he drove.
Wind whipped inside the truck cab, coming in through the tilted rear windows where Oreo had his nose pressed to the night air, ears flopping wildly.
“Chris thinks the senator’s going to run,” Lia said.
Chris worked for a state senator who was considering a run for the House of Representatives. Ethan knew he had big plans for his representative’s career—and his own career, eventually. There would be travel, and eventually, an apartment in DC. Lia would be gone, and Ethan would have no reason to hang around anymore.
No reason to stay and nowhere else to go.
“Maybe you can look for a teaching position in Washington,” he managed to say in a normal voice.
She gave him a strange look. So maybe not that normal. “I’m going to stay in Austin,” she said, but he didn’t believe her. Couldn’t believe her. Chris would end up spending more time in DC, especially once he made the inroads he wanted to. Especially when he ran for office. And Lia would be there to support him, because that was the kind of wife she would be.
He was suddenly grateful he hadn’t eaten any kettle corn. He might have chucked it back up.
“Well,” he forced out. “Maybe you should keep your options open. You can take the full time job as an aide as a temporary thing until you and Chris figure out where you’re going to live.”
She looked annoyed now. “I already know where I’m going to live. The same place I’m living now.”
Why the hell couldn’t he leave this alone? But he couldn’t. It bothered him that she was acting like things would stay the same. “You’re going to be graduating in a few weeks, Lia.”
“Thanks for the newsflash, Ethan.”
“That means I can’t meet you and Chris on campus for lunch between classes.”
“So we’ll see each other after work,” she said. Stubbornly.
He closed his eyes briefly before focusing on the road again. Nothing but darkness, the trees a shadow wall pointing toward home. Lia’s home with Chris, the place Ethan didn’t belong. All three of them were friends, but things had already begun to change when Chris had graduated this past spring and gone to work for the representative full time.
“Everything will be different,” he said, unable to say more. Unable to say, You can’t be alone with me anymore.
Even tonight had been a mistake.
Ethan hefted the ax over his head. It landed with a satisfying crack. Wood flew on either side, skipping over the brittle grass like pebbles on water. Shards of wood dotted the frosted landscape.
He made no move to pick them up.
Christmas was yesterday—not that it mattered. The firewood pile beside the cabin already reached his shoulders.
That didn’t matter either.
What mattered was the endless, empty frost-glazed hills.
Dearling was a small, tightly-knit community nestled deep in Texas Hill Country. The people here worked hard labor, drank hard liquor, and trained all year for the annual pie eating contest. They had welcomed Ethan with curious smiles and begrudged respect—for his uncle, he assumed, who was a bonafide military hero. And maybe some for Ethan’s own history, even though he’d just done a couple tours before getting out. It gave him something in common with the husbands and fathers and brothers around here, a connection he’d never felt on the bustling UT campus or the teeming sixth street clubs in Austin.
Though for all that he liked Dearling, it didn’t seem to matter much either. What mattered was the force of the ax and the burn in his shoulders. They distracted him—at least for a while.
He reached for the next log and centered it on the stump. This was between him and the earth, a little mutual destruction to pass the afternoon. By nightfall he’d be sore as hell and hopefully tired enough not to see her in his dreams.
A foreign sound traveled through the thin winter air. Tires crunching on gravel. He frowned. Who the hell would come out here?
Maybe some local Good Samaritan had come to make sure he was prepared for the coming frost. He’d reassure them, though. Uncle Griff’s cabin had come fully stocked with a lifetime supply of beef jerky. Besides, Ethan was used to it. Most people imagined Afghanistan as a hot, dry desert, but the nights could be brutally cold. And the high elevations near Bagram got snow year round.
Oreo was going wild from inside the cabin. The pit bull whined through the door, clearly eager to serve and protect. Either that or to check for snacks. But he’d been locked inside so he wouldn’t lose an eye from a stray shard of wood.
Ethan turned the corner of the cabin, expecting one of the dusty trucks he always saw when he stopped into town. Dearling, Texas, was quaint and country and the perfect escape for him.
Instead he saw a familiar blue sedan with a dented fender that had been like that when Lia bought the car.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he muttered to himself. First he saw her in his sleep and now he had visions of her car while he was awake?
How far did a man have to run to get a little peace?
But Oreo wouldn’t be barking his head off for a vision. This was real. She was real. Jesus. His pulse quickened. He squinted, but the glare on the window made it impossible to see. A hollow space opened up in his chest, knowing she’d followed him out here. Knowing she’d probably called his cell and gone to his empty apartment long before this. He hadn’t seen or felt much of anything in the month since he’d dragged his ass to Dearling, but that was already changing.
The door opened and a boot landed on gravel. Pointed toe, slender ankles.
He wondered idly how terrifying he looked right now. Women tended to shrink away from him when he stood at full height. And when he glowered. Lia had teased him about the glowering, and he’d responded that this was the way his face looked. That had only been partially true. That was the way his face looked when he had to watch the woman he loved kiss and hug and fuck his best friend.
Lia stood and wobbled slightly, finding her footing on slippery rocks and the sloping drive. She spotted him and did a little wave, more reserved than he’d ever seen her. She reminded him of the young Lia, the lanky preteen with hopeful eyes.
“Merry Christmas,” she said quietly.
Remorse tasted bitter in his mouth. There was a time she would have thrown her arms around his neck. She would have made him wear a Santa hat, and he’d have pretended to hate it. “Merry Christmas.”
“Nice digs,” she said, lying her pretty little mouth off. His uncle was career army, which meant he travelled more than he didn’t. That gave Ethan a place to crash when he needed it. Far as he could tell, that was the only function the barebones cabin could serve. He didn’t mind, especially since he could be alone. Just him and Oreo.
Up until two minutes ago, anyway.
“You get lost on the way to Lake Travis?” he asked pointedly. As in, what the hell are you doing here? It wasn’t nice, but he was done being nice. Done pretending he could be friends with her.
There was a big fucking difference between friends and lovers.
She leaned forward at the same time he did. They held that way, her lips inches from his, warm air forming a cocoon. Like breathing against the glass and watching it fog up. Her mind had clouded, blocking out any thoughts of defenses. She had no way to protect herself from the soft press of his lips or the ache it inspired in her. There were no walls left standing when he kissed her more firmly. She crumbled into pieces—into the lips that fused to his and the hand that held his arm and the toes that curled in her boots.
His hand slipped behind her neck and pulled her closer. Just that one touch, and she felt his presence surround her. He enveloped her like a mist and she breathed him in. Her whole body arched into him. Her breasts brushed his arm through her sweater. Maybe it was strange that he’d rubbed her off before they’d kissed, but it made this part easier. Her body was already primed for him. It knew what to expect—pleasure—and she rubbed against him in hope and expectation.
He groaned into her mouth, hot and desperate. “Lia. Lia.”
Before she could answer, his hands were on her hips, moving her, shifting her. He tucked one of her legs over his so that she straddled him, her core against his. Even through all that thick denim, she could feel his erection pulse, and she clenched in response.
“Oh God,” she whispered. How had they gotten here so fast?
How had it taken them so long?
“So good. You feel so fucking good.” He laughed unsteadily, and she knew he understood the impossibility of them. The inevitability. They had always been leading toward this, always been reaching for this without knowing it.
“Touch me,” she said on a breath, and he did. He obeyed her words, but he turned the tables, commanding her with his firm hands and warm breath. Hands around my neck, he said without words, and she curled herself around him, tangling her fingers in his soft, short hair. Rock against me, he said, and she moved her hips in time with his.
She had imagined him every way she could think of: fast and breathless. Slow and gentle. But she had never quite brought her fantasies to this—to this quiet, determined force of him.
Be mine, he said, and she melted in the warm embrace of his arms. Her body turned liquid and lax. She buffeted against the cliffs of his chest and lapped the shore of his lips.
It wasn’t enough, to be moved and directed. She wanted to run her cool fingers over him, like ripples over rock, until the earth shuddered beneath her.
The zipper rasped as she eased it down. He grunted as her fingers felt the length of his cock. He was still in shadows though. She pushed the flaps aside, eager to find him, her fingertips brushing against hot velvet.
His breath caught, and his body shuddered, ready and willing and—not there at all.
She blinked, but the cold rush of air hadn’t deceived her. He had crossed the room to get away from her. Crossed the whole freaking cabin. His movements were jerky as he straightened his clothes and looked anywhere but her.
He paced in front of the fireplace, not meeting her eyes.
She curled up, protecting herself. The lumpy cushion was still warm from his body. “Ethan?”
“You’re not ready yet.” He spoke to the ground, pacing, pacing. “It’s only been, what? A week since you broke up? Two?”
“A month,” she said, and watched him flinch. He knew the breakup had happened just after he left Austin. She spoke softly, “But let me decide what I’m ready for, and when.”
He stopped walking and faced her. “All right. You may be ready, but I’m not.”
Will be found here come release day: http://www.amazon.com/
Amber Lin writes edgy romance with damaged hearts, redemptive love, and a steamy ever after. Her debut novel, Giving It Up, received The Romance Review’s Top Pick, Night Owl Top Pick, and 5 Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies. RT Book Reviews gave it 4.5 stars, calling it “truly extraordinary.” Since then, she has gone on to write erotic, contemporary, and historical romances.
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Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
- 3 signed copies of Chance of Rain (which is set in the same world as Making Her Melt)