Sep 23, 2012

Sunday Smooch — Barbara DeLeo

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Contract for Marriage by Barbara DeLeo, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Jo Fereday!
Congratulations, Jo! Can you please contact Michelle at
and she'll send you a copy of Bella's Impossible Boss.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from 

Pregnant and alone after her ex lover’s death, magazine editor RUBY FLEMING’s not about to give up her home to the man who broke her heart—until she discovers her mother left half of the estate to somebody else, and realizes she’s trapped.

Property tycoon CHRISTO MANTAZIS wants the one thing his riches can’t buy—the villa where his mother has lived and worked as housekeeper for forty years. That it’s the same house he was banished from after being caught making love to the owner’s irresistible daughter stirs up old memories and sweetens his desire.

When Christo offers a marriage of convenience to break the deadlock, Ruby knows it’s the only way for them to get what they want. Ruby needs her baby to have the link to its past, Christo needs his mother to retain her home, and for him to have the child he could never father.

But it’s another need—to have Christo again—that Ruby must resist at all costs.

Set up: After much agonising, Ruby has agreed to a marriage of convenience with Christo. They've just attended a charity ball held in Christo's name and are leaving the crowded venue via a private elevator. A pregnant Ruby is feeling a little sick in the lift.

“Oh,” she said, as her mouth dried. She pressed against the far wall, but the ground seemed to suddenly drop away, and her heart was in her throat.
Christo took a step closer. “Are you okay?”
She pulled her tongue across her lips as the dropping sensation intensified.
When he next spoke his voice was closer, a whisper against her cheek, and as she lifted her lashes, he was centimeters away. “It’s the nature of the mechanism,” he murmured. “It makes everything swifter, less steady.”
The second she shut her eyes, the dropping sensation stopped. When she blinked open, Christo had his hand pressed against the stop button. “We’re between floors now. Not much longer. Are you okay?” Concern gathered at the corner of his eyes. “Maybe you’re more sensitive to motion now that you’re pregnant.”
She pulled in a calming breath and smoothed damp palms down her dress. “Thank you.” She managed a dry whisper. “I’ll be okay in a minute.”
“It’s a strange feeling. Like being out of control.” His voice was a low, comforting rumble. “That’s something you and I always had in common, neither wanting to feel out of control.”
The skin across her breasts heated and she could feel it crawl up her neck. “True.” She’d been in this situation before with Christo, when the pull of his body had caused her to lose focus, forget what was important.
He shifted his weight so he was a fraction closer, and all air seemed to siphon from the cell-like space. “Do you feel out of control now, Ruby?” Desire flashed bright across his features, from the set of his shoulders to his look of certain promise.
The tips of her breasts pearled tight and she lifted her chin. He could’ve been speaking about her reaction to this lift or her body’s reaction to him. Every part of her hungered for him to move closer.
“Say the word and I’ll start the elevator again.”
In the smallest of movements she shook her head and, as she did, he brushed his knuckles down her cheek. When she reached up to place her hand on his, he dipped his face and claimed her lips.
His warm, solid mouth met hers and Ruby couldn’t help herself. Obeying only her body, she pulled him closer, reveling in the strength and surety of him inside the tiny space. As he opened his mouth and his tongue slipped between her lips, she dug her hands into his hair.
His fresh, ocean scent ignited the adrenaline already shooting through her veins, and when he walked her back to the solidity of the lift wall it was as if nothing could ever frighten her again.
Every sound around them—her breath in short, sharp bursts, the slide of her dress silk against his fine suit—echoed around and around.
“Christo.” She tried to catch her breath as his fingers found the shoestring straps at her shoulders and slipped beneath. “Who are you?” The steely man at the pool when she’d first arrived, the protective son, the charity founder—they all seemed so different, but were all wrapped in the skin that lay so close to her now.
For a moment he said nothing, just drifted his fingers across her inch by inch as his gaze bored into hers. “A man who needs to taste a woman.” He growled the words, pushing the straps down so the swell of her breast was exposed and he reached down to kiss her there.
Her mind swirling in confusion and need, Ruby dragged his face back to hers and kissed him, long and deep again. Searching the warm cave of his mouth with her tongue, every part of her body cried out to be closer.
He returned the depth of her kiss, and his hands slipped in unison down her quivering sides, past her rising breasts, her body aching for his touch beneath. As his hands traveled lower, she let her own fingers trail the lengths of his arms, from the tight biceps only a gym trainer could own to forearms, then to hands she imagined pinning her to a bed. His kiss, the intensity of him, took her breath away.
Looking up she was startled by the image in the mirrored wall opposite. She had a view of his jacketed back, her fingers buried in his hair, his hands traveling down her body and a delicious shiver ran across her skin.
As his fingers curled into the fabric of her dress, she arched her neck, inviting the ribbon of kisses he trailed hot and damp. Burrowing her hands under his suit jacket, she slid them across crisp cotton, searching across the rigid stomach muscles—an instrument she could play.
And then, despite her racing heart, her fingers froze.
The only place for her hand to go was under his shirt, to the heated flesh she could feel beneath. And then what? Move her touch to his trousers? The buckle at the front? Everything—the marriage going ahead, securing the house for her child, being unaffected by Christo’s presence in her life—depended on her not taking this further. She’d surrendered to him once before. It wouldn’t happen again. If she lost perspective and everything came crashing down, they’d all suffer.
She stiffened and he pulled away.
Reaching for the straps that had slipped from her shoulders, she righted herself then brushed away hair that had fallen across her face. “Christo...” She caught her breath. “Could you start the lift again, please?”
He didn’t move, the fiery imprint of his palms on her thighs constant. “You don’t feel out of control anymore?” His breath was warm against her hair.
Her answer scraped the back of her throat. “I think we should go.”
He stepped away, and his warming shroud was replaced by cool distance. She busied herself with smoothing her dress and tucking loose strands of hair behind her ears.
“I’m sorry,” she said. He stood facing her, back to the doors. “I don’t know what came over me.”
“Motion sickness?” His lips turned up in a perfect crescent.
As she spoke, his head moved in acknowledgement but the understanding in his face spoke to her. This was about him convincing her that she should give her whole self to him. When he had her in his bed she’d be fulfilling his every need, just as she had when they’d been teenagers.
It wouldn’t happen. She’d lost all judgment when it came to Christo Mantazis’s manipulation once. For her own sake, and for that of her baby, she needed to keep that part of herself out of his reach.
“Thank you for coming tonight,” he said. “I think it was a successful evening all around.”
With a sudden jolt, the elevator came to a halt. Ruby tugged in a breath as Christo pulled back the door of the shiny black cage, stood aside, and let her walk out first. Of course it was successful. He knew exactly where her weak spot for him was, and she needed to keep it guarded. To keep her baby’s family stable, she had to never let him see that vulnerable part of her again.
What she did need to do was negotiate the limousine ride home, endless nights with Christo under the same roof, and the burning understanding that she still wanted him—only much, much more than before.
And now he knew it, too.

To be in the draw to win a e-copy of Contract for Marriage, just tell me about your most interesting/scary/funny elevator/car journey!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Anna Campbell   will be posted!


  1. Ooo, I love this week's SS! Elevators! Yum! I feel like we've all been stuck in an elevator before... now that's scary. I absolutely hate confined spaces, so you can imagine how that was for me lol. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. I love this smooch! And I've missed Ruby and Christo, so it was good to visit with them again. :)

    Elevators? I'm not hugely fond of them, but I especially dislike the glass ones - I don't need to know how high we're getting!

  3. Uh-oh! Ruby is in BIG trouble! Great smooch, Barbara! I love the chemistry between Christo and Ruby!

    I also love your cover - the cover fairy did a wonderful job!

    Mmmm, I can tell you about traumatic car journeys! I used to get terribly terribly car sick when I was a child but it eventually wore off... or so I thought. Many many years ago, as an adult, I went on a car rally with a friend. All I'll say is... humiliating!

  4. Sounds like a great story!

    The strangest elevator trip I had was once when I was working nightshift, I had to go get something on another floor. The elevator did not go to the floor I selected, but down to the basement, stayed there for about 30 seconds. Then it went up to the ground floor. Then it went back down. It did this a few times, then it took me back to the floor I had started on. I avoided that elevator after that.

  5. Will definitely be looking for this story.

    Elevator story? I work in a hospital with 12 floors - 9 above ground, 3 below ground. When I first started working there, I took the various stairways and elevators to get to know my way around. Some elevators have both front and rear doors. No one told me that one of our service elevators' rear doors opened onto our dock, 3 floors below ground, and once the doors closed the only way to get back on was a key! After a few moments of realizing it was going to be awhile before it came back, I carefully got off the dock and tried the door to the outside. Fortunately it opened, without alarms, and I was free. All I had to do then was walk around the outside of the hospital, about 4 blocks in all, and go back in the front door. No more getting out of elevators again without knowing I could get back in!

  6. Hi Barb - what a fabulous smooch! Off to fire up my kindle so I can read the rest.

    On holiday in Vietnam a couple of years ago, hubby and were trapped, mid floor, in the hotel elevator. An hour later the doors open, still midfloor. My nimble husband had no problem scooting up and out.... me .... well, I was dragged up by hubby and two of the hotel maintenance workers....not my finest moment but good for a laugh now :)

  7. Lovely to see you here, Alyssa. Not liking confined spaces must be horrible when you have to ride the elevator! And some of them go so fast that they literally take my breath away. Think Ruby's lack of breath was for a different reason, though...{;o) Thanks for your comment. You're in the draw!

  8. Oh, yes, the glass ones are horrible, Rachel! We went on one a few weeks ago that had a glass floor and I had to shut my eyes all the way up! Thanks for visiting Ruby and Christo again!

  9. Hi Sharon, Yes the cover fairy granted me my wish for Christo andRuby! Oh poor you with the car sickness. I suffer too and so does one of my kids. A car rally just makes me come over in a cold sweat!! Poor you.

  10. Oh, Chey, that's like one of those nasty horror movies with elevators. Best we don't think about that on a lovely Sunday! I'm so glad you're not still going up and down like that! Thanks so much for stopping by. I've popped your name in the draw.

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  12. Hi Rita, your heart must have racing the minute you put your hand on the door! Imagine being trapped down there until someone happened to come by. (shudder) Sorry for making you relive that elevator journey! I guess if you'd have had a Christo in there with you it mightn't have been all bad {;o) Lovely to see you here and you're name's in the draw.

  13. An hour in a lift, Helen! Poor you. And I bet that being in Vietnam it was pretty hot. I had the same experience in our apartment building in Athens only I was stuck at siesta time—not a single person to help me out for an hour and a half.. Hey, maybe that's why I wrote the scene with Christo...Having him in there would certainly have made the time pass quicker...{:o)

  14. I hope this isn't tempting fate, Barb, but I haven't got an elevator moment.
    But did love your smooch. Way to go, and all the best with your debut novel.

  15. Hey, Sue! I guess there's not much call for elevators in the gorgeous part of the world you live in {:o) So glad you liked the smooch.

  16. Barb, Christo is so darn hot!!! Love the excerpt =)
    I had a scary elevator experiences by proxi. We were holidaying in units, going out for dinner. The elevator opened, a five year old Tabitha got in and the doors shut.
    She came back up when we called the lift again but she's still a little clingy around them five years later, poor kid.
    My 18 yo was riding in an overcrowded elevator during schoolies week on the coast when it stopped. They were stuck in there, crammed tight, for an hour. That would freak me out!!

  17. Oh, Robbie, that story just gives me the chills! Poor Tabby, and poor you seeing those doors close. A very similar thing happened to us last week in noisy, sweltering Athens. We pushed the button to get off the bus, the driver stopped and my eight year old got out and then the doors closed and the driver drove off with the rest of us still on board! I instantly turned from quiet, polite woman to squealing banshee. The driver stopped and we were reunited with Jay but it was VERY scary for a few moments. Christo is gorgeous, isn't he!!

  18. Oh! My most memorable elevator ride was when I was pregnant too - only I didn't have a Christo to hold my hand... or anything else ;) I felt queasy for the rest of the evening. Oh, the joys of pregnancy! Every girl should have a Christo in those moments! Love the smooch!

  19. Ooh, Barb, gorgeous smooch! Christo and Ruby have some serious chemistry happening. Congrats on the release of Contract For Marriage. Can't wait to read it!

  20. So lovely to see you here, La Verne! I wasn't imagining that travelling on an elevator when pregnant was icky, was I? Oh yes, I could think of all sorts of situations when a girl might need a Christo! You're in the draw {:o)

  21. Hi Michelle, Yes, just as well they stopped when they did or we may have needed to call in the firemen...Actually I could think of a few worse things than a lift full of firemen...

  22. Barb, what a sizzling smooch. Ruby sounds like she's in lots of trouble.

    The best elevator story I can think of are when you get in one at the RWA conference and it's so noisy and fun and filled with happiness! I like those elevator trips... and I think Christos better keep away from those ones!


  23. Hi bn100 Thanks so much for stopping by! Glad you liked Ruby and Christo's smooch!

  24. Hey Catherine! Oh, I completely agree about writing conferences. The story goes that there was a collection (scrum?) of Aussies rugby players in the lift at the RWNZ conference this year and the crowd went wild!