Sep 10, 2016

Retro Sunday Smooch: Countering His Claim

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a smooch from Countering His Claim but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- ptclayton

Can you please contact Helen Lacey: mail (at) HelenLacey (dot) com to receive your copy of The Cowgirl's Forever Family!


And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Countering His Claim, which is being reissued DownUnder in October as part of the Local All-Star Anthology.


Passion sets sail in USA TODAY bestselling author Rachel Bailey's tale of high-stakes inheritance

Never be distracted by a woman is hotel magnate Luke Marlow's golden rule, especially when the woman just inherited half his late uncle's luxury cruise liner. But ship's doctor Della Walsh is the exception. Her dignified beauty ignites Luke's desire despite his suspicions. Even so, he will gain full control of the ship at all costs.

For Della, the ship has been a sanctuary. Now she has just three weeks to change Luke's mind and save the ship—until passion comes along and steers them off course….





 [Scene set-up: Della has spent the day showing Luke the facilities on board the Cora Mae, and now they're on the deck in the moonlight, trying to avoid their attraction...] 



He looked up to the stars and a flash of movement caught his attention. Within an instant he was beside Della, one arm around her waist, pointing skyward. “Shooting star.”

“Oh,” she said on a long breath, her gaze following his finger.

The feel of her against him was mesmerizing. Absorbed in the moment, she’d forgotten to be on her guard and allowed her soft curves to meld into his side, her head resting back on his shoulder as she tracked the star’s path.

“Make a wish,” he murmured beside her ear.

A kiss. In this moment, all he wanted was to turn her to face him, to lean down and touch her sweet lips with his. It was wrong, he knew it was wrong, but the blood in his veins thundered and a delicious heat began to rise.

The star faded and the night sky again grew still, the only movement the ship’s steady forward progress and the gentle breeze that danced in Della’s hair. But she didn’t move away. Part of him dared not move and break the spell, but the larger, rebellious part of him—surrounded by the scent of vanilla and woman—risked inclining his head down to hers, and was rewarded when she shivered.

“Like to know what I wished for?” he said, voice low.

Her eyes drifted shut. “You’re not supposed to tell. It won’t come true if you do.”


“Maybe,” he said, his mouth so close to her ear that his lips brushed her lobe as he spoke. “But if you knew what the wish was, perhaps you’d grant it.”

He pressed a light kiss on her neck, just below her ear. Della held herself still but didn’t pull away. “I don’t have any magical powers to grant wishes.”

“I’m not so sure.” He pressed another kiss to her soft skin, this one at the edge of her jaw.

As he cupped the side of her throat with one hand, he felt her racing pulse and turned her to face him. A small sound of protest passed her lips even as she leaned in and placed the lightest of kisses on his mouth. It took everything inside him, but he locked his muscles tight and didn’t move an inch. Della had held herself back so much, he wouldn’t ruin this by pushing too far, too fast. Instead, he waited for excruciating seconds for her to come back to him. Her warm breath caressed his face as she looked from his mouth to his eyes, fighting some inner struggle. Then she tilted her head forward and stole another butterfly kiss, and again, he gently moved his lips but nothing else, despite the protests of his straining body.

Her scent curled around his thoughts, leaving little reason in its wake, but he held firm until she tipped her chin up for a third time. Now, her lips were more confident and she wound her arms up around his neck. That was all the permission he needed, all the permission he could wait for. With a groan, he pulled her in.

He deepened the kiss, tasting her, needing to be close, connected to her. Holding her flush against him with the hand she’d stitched, he traced a path over the curve of her spine with the other, down over her hip, back up to feel the swell of the side of her breast. He’d wanted her from the moment she’d first appeared like an angel from the crowd on the deck the day he’d boarded, but now, he craved her with an urgency that rocked him. His body was ablaze; the kiss was nowhere near enough. Her fingers wound up into his hair and dug into his scalp, her mouth demanding against his.

“Della,” he rasped as he wrenched his mouth away to drag some oxygen into his lungs.

She stilled and looked up at him with eyes that were suddenly alert…and stunned.

“It’s okay,” he whispered as he rubbed a thumb over her damp bottom lip.

She unwound her arms from his neck and let them fall to her sides. “No, it’s not.” She said the words quietly, almost to herself, her eyes averted. Then she drew in a deep breath and met his gaze. “Luke, you don’t want to do this.”

He almost laughed at how far that was from the truth. “I can tell you that my body disagrees in the most strenuous of terms.”

“That’s because it’s under a misapprehension.”

“What would that be?” he murmured as he skimmed his fingers down her spine to the dip in her lower back, trying to bring the two of them back to the place they’d been only moments earlier.

For a full second, her eyes darkened in response to his caress, before she blinked the effect away. “Your body thinks there’s a chance this will go further.”

“Hate to be the one to break it to you,” he said lazily, “but your body agrees with mine.”




Tell me, have you ever wished upon a shooting star? I've tried, but I've never been quite fast enough. Whether you've been able to or not, I'll be giving away a copy of The Local All-Star Anthology, which includes Countering His Claim, to one commenter.

Countering His Claim is still available as an eBook in the US, Australia and NZ, as well as other parts of the world, and in paperback in some places. The Local All-Star Anthology will be on the bookshop shelves in Australia and NZ in October.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from a gorgeous Amy Andrews book will be posted!

36 comments:

  1. Morning Rachel

    That was so good re reading that smooch I did love this story and of course I love cruises as well :) and yes I have over the years wished upon shooting stars although not many and I am sure there are less and less of them these days or maybe it is just that I am not outside at night much anymore.

    Woohoo on the re release love it when they bring fab stories out in these anthologies :)

    Have Fun
    Helen

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    1. Helen, I hadn't thought about that but you're right - I've seen less lately. I wonder if the skies are getting lighter with all the city lights, or if, like you, I'm just outside less at night now. Probably the latter - why be outside when there are books and blankets inside? :)

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  2. hello no I don't wish on shooting stars --good smooch -------Lyn W

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    1. Lyn, it's a funny tradition, isn't it? I wonder where the idea first came from? Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. Ooh, luscious smooch, Rach! Star gazing on a cruise ship with a sexy man -- Happy sighs. ;-)

    It's been a long time since I've seen a falling star, but I was always too awestruck to ever make a wish in time. LOL. Birthday cakes and candles...now that's a different story.

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    1. Oh, yes! With birthday candles I always manage to get a wish in. :)

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    1. Donamae, isn't it interesting that making a wish on a falling star is such a part of our culture, but so few of us have done it!

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  5. Hi Rachel,
    Yes, i have wished on a shooting star. Wonderful smooch too

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    1. Tammy, it seems you're one of the few. Lucky you!

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  6. I love seeing a falling star, Rach. There's something so special about it. Magical even.
    Have I ever wished upon one? Sure. But normally the shooting star is well gone before I've thought of something worthy enough :-)

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    1. Amy, they are really magical, aren't they? In fact, now I'm thinking it's been too long since I just sat and looked at the night sky. Maybe in a few weeks when it warms up a touch, I'll spend some time reacquainting myself.

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  7. Always when I see one which is not very often. Spur of the moments things so could be anything. Lol
    Star light, star bright,
    The first star I see tonight;
    I wish I may, I wish I might,
    Have the wish I wish tonight.
    For your book ;) cheeky I know. Hi Rachel.

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    1. Jan, I *love* that little rhyme! And, again, I haven't said it in years. Now I think about it, I had a heap of other star stuff in another book, Million-Dollar Amnesia Scandal - it seems I have a strong love of stars!

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    2. Oh sounds like fun. I have a lot of stars in my Arabian deserts and moons over oasis. Love a starry night.
      Starry, starry night
      Paint your palette blue and gray
      Look out on a summer's day
      With eyes that know the darkness in my soul....

      I always think of that song and was started singing it when wrote starry night. Lol

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    3. That's one of my favourite songs! I have a few versions of it - I particularly love the Josh Groban version - have you heard it?
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI8fsi_aJ3c

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    4. Just listening to it now :) Oh gorgeous and found a copy of Million dollar amnesia scandal now mine ;)

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    5. Jan, I love Josh Groban's voice! I've seen him in concert twice - he needs to travel to Australia more often.

      Oh, cool about finding Seth & April's story! Hope you enjoy it. :)

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  8. I can't recall ever seeing a shooting star - although that may come down to me preferring to be inside and that when I'm outside voluntarily it's usually when I'm in a well-lit area.

    Is it bad that I know Countering His Claim is on my e-reader, but I don't recall having read it.

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    1. Lol, Lyn - you read *so* many books, I'm not at all surprised that you can't remember reading it!

      When I was a child, we did a lot of camping and caravaning, but, like you, I've been inside a lot more as an adult. I need a telescope so I can watch the night sky from the comfort of my sofa!

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  9. Shooting stars are very special. Would love a copy of the anthology ��

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    1. Kim, they are so special, aren't they? Something there sure has captured people's attention for centuries.

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  10. What a marvellous anthology.

    I saw a shooting star not long ago, yes, I made a wish.

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    1. Good for you, Mary! I think you might be the commenter with the most recent experience of wishing on a shooting star. :)

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  11. Goosebumps readings this excerpt. No shooting stars, but lots of wishes in my past. :-)

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    1. Clare, I love wishes! There's something magical about them whether they're done while blowing out a candle or on a shooting star or while blowing a father christmas flower (is that what they're called?).

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  12. Great smooch, Rachel.

    Oh yes, I've wished upon a falling star. They do seem to carry some magic.

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    1. It's a strange thing for humans to focus on, but I agree, Jen - I think they have magic!

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  13. Hi Rachel - fabulous smooch! I have wished upon a star...and I do believe wishes come true :)

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    1. You're a true romantic, Helen. I like that about you! :)

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  14. Lovely smooch! I do believe wishes can come true, but I've never even witnessed a falling star, sadly enough.

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    1. Riet, I love that so many of us believe that wishes can come true. We need a little magic in our lives. :)

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  15. I sure have, Rachel. And on a new moon too! Never miss a chance, I say!

    What a lovely scene. No wonder this story has been reprinted!

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    1. Gosh, Annie, we can wish on a new moon? I'm totally doing that from now on!

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  16. The most amazing shooting star appeared to whizz past us as we drove in Northern France towards the Channel tunnel. I crossed my fingers and hoped our application to migrate to Australia would be successful. The next day, the long-awaited letter arrived. Yay.

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    1. Wow, Pam, that is so cool! And even better that the letter arrived the next day. Probably just a coincidence, but I choose to believe in the magical element. :)

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