Today we have a smooch from Jennifer St George but first
... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is jjhicks.
Can you please contact Kate at kate (at) katehardy (dot) com to receive your copy of Holiday with the Best Man
And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Jennifer St George's Wild For You.
When her celebrity boyfriend breaks up with her on camera to boost the ratings of his TV show, fashion designer Madison Mills instructs her assistant to organise a vacation that’s a long way from New York, where there’s no paparazzi and where there are definitely no hot men.
Madison soon finds herself on a walking tour in the wilds of remote Tasmania. There’s no chance she’ll be recognised but on the ‘no hot men’ criteria, her assistant has spectacularly failed. The lead guide, Daniel Black, could be the face and body of any fashion campaign. But, Daniel’s quick judgement that’s she an urban princess has her bristling with every step.
Ex-military man Daniel has found peace in the wilderness. Hosting walking tours ensures lots of solitude and no long-term commitments. So when circumstances lead to him guiding Madison alone, he’s not sure he can survive for nearly a week with a woman whose life revolves around hemlines and fashion shows.
The rugged landscape challenges them both and Daniel soon learns there is more to Madison than meets the eye. But when Madison’s location is leaked to the press, can he convince her that a wilderness guide and a fashion designer from opposite side of the world can find a way to make it work?
Madison has lost her creative mojo. She's hoping this walk through the Tasmanian wilderness will help spark the idea for her new collection. Her hot, gorgeous walking guide Daniel just might have all the answers....
‘I have to admit, your office is nicer than mine,’ she said, pulling her lunch from her pack.
He surveyed the area. ‘Yes, I have natural wilderness and you work in a dense urban jungle.’ She closed her eyes and focused. Something was swirling through her brain, but she couldn’t quite condense it into something solid. She opened her eyes and allowed the beauty of her surroundings to wash over her.
Daniel lit the portable stove. Soon, she was sitting on a moss-covered log and sipping hot peppermint tea. If she couldn’t find inspiration here, she suspected she couldn’t find it anywhere.
‘So, how’s that theme coming along?’ Daniel asked, sitting on a stump in front of her.
‘What, you can read minds now?’
‘No. It’s just you usually talk non-stop and today you’ve been unusually quiet. I figured you were working on your theme.’
She flicked up her eyebrows. ‘How very insightful of you.’
‘Ah, you have to know your men.’
She cocked her head. ‘Excuse me?’
He laughed. ‘Sorry. The military terminology. It’s hard to shake. I meant, it’s important to try to understand what my clients are looking for when they come on holiday here. Some want to talk all about themselves – I usually ensure the other guides look after them – while some want to know all about the park and its the fauna and flora, and some are looking for peace and quiet.’
‘And they’re your favourite type of client, right? The quiet ones.’
He smiled his assent.
‘So how have you classified me?’
‘You? You’re an enigma.’
She crossed her hands across her chest. ‘How so?’
‘I thought you were a helpless New York princess who would hate every minute of the trip. Who’d never be ready on time and couldn’t stand the natural environment,’ he said, removing a leech from the back of his hand. ‘But you’ve turned out to be highly practical and you seem to enjoy and appreciate the wilderness.’
‘So now I’m a wilderness-appreciating princess?’
He shook his head. ‘More an urban wilderness princess.’
Her skin tingled and her eyes widened. ‘Say that again. Over and over. Don’t let it get away.’
His brow crinkled. ‘What?’
‘Urban wilderness,’ she demanded. ‘Say those words.’
He shrugged, clearly having no idea of the genius he’d just brought forth. ‘Urban wilderness. Urban wilderness,’ he said in a confused but intrigued tone.
Racing to her pack, she pulled out her notebook. She scribbled the precious words before they disappeared on the breeze. That was it! She wrote the words over and over. Urban wilderness. Urban wilderness. Her whole body hummed. That was the theme. The perfect, brilliant collection theme.
Throwing back her arms, she stared up at the sky and cried out. Energy, wildness, power: her mojo, flooding back into her body. She felt so light, she could have floated up into the canopy. She had it. This collection would be her best.
‘Everything okay over there, crazy lady?’
Daniel. She turned and stared at the man who’d given her back her passion and creativity – and her inspiration.
‘Are you all right?’ he asked, clearly bewildered by her behaviour.
She dropped her notebook on her pack, walked over to him, threw her arms about his neck, stood on tippy toes and kissed him hard on the lips.
‘You have no idea what you’ve done,’ she said. Her gaze locked with his. She fell still, caught in the storm that raged in his eyes. Her heart tumbled over a few beats when she saw the naked vulnerability shining in his eyes. He blinked and the storm was gone, but his arms slid around her waist.
‘If this is the result, I’d really like to know what I’ve done so I can do it again and again and again.’
She touched his cheek and kissed him again. ‘You’ve freed me.’
The forest quietened around them. He held her a little closer. She suddenly realised where she was and what she was doing. Kissing Daniel. Being held by Daniel’s strong arms. In the arms of the man who’d freed her from the grip of fear, of grief . . . all the negativity that had engulfed her world and that had held her captive for the past two years. This man from the wilderness had done more for her in three days than years of therapy and grief counselling.
‘And how have I done that?’ He ran a rough finger lightly down her cheek.
She didn’t want to analyse it. She simply wanted to feel. Feel more of lightness, the freedom and joy of coming back to the world. Having grief finally lose its fight to dominate her soul. She drew his head down to hers and touched her lips to his. ‘By simply being you,’ she breathed.
His hands moved lower down her back, drawing her flush against his body. A flare of awareness settled low in her belly. She reached up and put her hands on both his cheeks and kissed him full and deep. Closing her eyes, she fell headlong into the glorious touch and taste of Daniel.
* * *
In our busy, busy world, it's hard to get away from it all like Daniel and Madison have done in the Tasmanian wilderness. If you wanted to get some solitude, where would you go? Leave a comment to go into the draw to win an e-copy of Wild For You.
Wild for You is on pre-order now and will be available for download tomorrow. I'm just a little excited!
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Barb DeLeo's The Wedding Wager will be posted!
Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver