Flip the Beat is about to be unleashed, Romance Readers! Feast your eyes on this exclusive look into the first chapter of this fun, sexy novella, releasing July 10th. Enjoy!
Molly sucked in a breath as the man trailed hot, openmouthed kisses along the length of her neck. He pressed her against the sofa, his hand supporting the small of her back. His hard length nudged the apex of her thighs. She spread her legs, and his cock pressed against her. He’d moved in last week and had come from his apartment downstairs a half hour ago—what had he asked for again? But one thing had led to another, and she was now in her bra and panties.
“This is crazy. I barely know you,” she whispered.
He lifted his muscular chest off her. Strands of dark blond hair fell into his striking face. He had a smooth, angular jawline, a perfect nose, and full, sensual lips. He hovered naked above her, his clothes discarded on the floor. His hazel eyes met hers with concern.
“I know. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help it when I kissed you. You’re so beautiful, Molly.” He traced his finger down her cheek. “I can stop if you want. But you need to tell me now.”
Molly blinked. She knew she should end it. She didn’t make hasty, irrational decisions, and this one would be a doozy. But since she’d met him the other day, her body came alive each time she passed him in the hallway. No one affected her like Evan, and she wanted him. Bad. If it was going to happen, she needed to give in to it. She slid her arms around his shoulders and hooked her ankle around the back of his calf. “No, I don’t want you to stop. I just… I need to tell you something.”
He took her hand and kissed the top of it reassuringly. “Okay.”
“Evan.” She pulled his head down and whispered in his ear, “I’m a virgin.”
“Ivers, you’re on.”
Professor Sullivan’s pleasant English accent pulled Molly from her reverie. She’d tried not to dwell on her breakup with Sean last night. She made her way through the auditorium aisle and kept her eyes glued to the podium. As she passed Professor Sullivan, who headed her thesis committee, she once again regretted all the times she should’ve made a move. Time had passed, though; he had a girlfriend, and Molly was due to get her master’s in anthropology, with a minor in art history, and move to Paris. Sixty-two days, four hours, and thirty-nine minutes, but who’s counting?
She could easily stay in Detroit and use her degree in a cushy job downtown. But she’d much prefer to dig new roots and work as an intern in the research department of the Musée d’Orsay. Her French wasn’t perfect but passable enough. The internship was a two-month stint in Paris—unpaid, but the opportunity of a lifetime. If Molly decided to come back to Detroit after it was over, her apartment and job were secured.
She got comfortable behind the podium and dived into her presentation on “Negotiations of Gender, Identity, and Social Space in Modern America and Its Evolution through the Decades.” She drifted off mentally somewhere between her introduction with Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and women’s role in the American Revolution before waking up a bit. She tucked her brown hair behind her ear and spent the next forty-five minutes with her gaze on Professor Sullivan. He made it kind of hard not to. Professor Nicholas Sullivan fit the epitome of her ideal man. He was tall and athletic, had wavy dark hair, dreamy, unguarded blue eyes, and a sexy English accent. He was also completely unavailable.
Professor Sullivan led cultural awareness classes that pertained to her degree, but for her entire graduate career, Molly enrolled in his English lit classes. She neither needed them nor had any interest in them, but she’d gone so far as to make it an added minor under her scholarship, just so she could be in his classroom. Yeah, she’d been with Sean, but their relationship was always predictable and stable. The boon in unrequited love for your professor was that you could still carry on your obsession ages after the fact. Professor Sullivan interjected questions throughout her defense, which she countered with ease. She could intellectually match him at any given time of the day, but getting his real attention took a miracle.
Professor Sullivan listened with rapt attention and seemed pleased with her delivery. Molly released a big breath at the close of her defense, happy to be done—though a bit forlorn her time with Prince Charming was coming to an end.
* * * *
Finished with her thesis defense, Molly arrived at the Detroit Historical Museum, where she worked odd hours as a collections and exhibitions archivist. She restored artifacts and prepared special exhibits during different seasons. The job had helped her get the internship at the Musée d’Orsay. She found an inherent mysticism in her work with precious artifacts. Revealing what secrets they hid had become its own reward. When she was young, she’d first visited the museum on a school field trip. She’d been struck by the mystery of preserved objects from thousands of years ago. That had led to her obsession with the Egyptian period.
Molly treated an ancient Chinese clay tea set for a few hours until she was interrupted by a text from Nell, her best friend, asking her to meet at their favorite local club for a drink at seven after her shift.
And now here she was, in the parking lot of the club, giving Nell a hug. She was a pretty girl with smooth, dusky-brown skin, intelligent eyes, and long dark hair. They’d hit it off when they first met and had been roommates for most of their college careers. They had each other’s backs on a constant basis. In preparation for her move to Paris, Molly had looked into roommate ads online near the Musée d’Orsay but hadn’t committed to any of them yet. She’d be lucky to find a roomie half as wonderful as Nell.
The club appeared to be in full swing, the blare of the speakers loud over the crowded entrance line by the doors. The band onstage let loose and rocked out, the large drum with the moniker SERIOUSLY EVAN illuminated by stage lights and computer graphics.
She spotted the familiar dark-blond lead singer, who kept his gaze trained on them when they walked in and headed for a booth. He nodded in recognition and flashed a killer smile at her from behind the mic.
Ah, Evan Castle—the man who’d taken her virginity one fateful night six months ago. The awkwardness had ebbed away between them now. Well, so it seemed. Every time their eyes connected across a roomful of people, her body came alive with the memory. How in the world could she forget? His tongue, his fingers, his teeth—there wasn’t an inch of her he hadn’t explored or mapped out, long before they’d actually had sex. By the time it came down to it, she’d grown so aroused, her first time had hardly hurt.
They’d been neighbors and friends since then. He occupied the apartment right below her and Nell. He sang in his band three times a week and tutored in French to help pay his bills. He was twenty-six and due to graduate alongside them with a master’s in public relations. Okay, and a minor in sexiness. She couldn’t deny he was obviously eye candy at six-foot-three with a rock-star haircut and a ripped body to drive a woman wild. And the man could sing.
He seemed to have a soft spot for her ever since they met. He’d complimented her light blue eyes and heart-shaped face, which she inherited from her mother. He treated her with a reverent kind of tenderness each time their paths crossed, which made their interactions less uncomfortable than they ought to have been. Of course, they’d always been in the company of others since that night they’d slept together, so who knew?
She and Evan skirted around flirtation when they first met and continued to do so, a charged sexual energy between them. She’d been attracted to other men in the past, but he had a certain magnetism which awakened her and pushed a sexual button inside, made her come alive. Laid back, he exuded loads of confidence and charisma. He’d come to borrow a cup of sugar—the irony was not lost on her—on a night when Nell had left town.
She’d shown him a book about ancient Egypt, and somehow they’d wound up tangled on the couch. They’d kissed and climbed all over each other, and the making out led to an unforgettable night of hot, passionate sex in which he’d shown and taught her more than she’d ever been curious about. When she’d admitted she’d never had sex before and he’d asked her why she’d wanted to give him such a precious gift, she’d told him, “It feels right with you.” And it did. She hadn’t expected it, but his cock was the perfect size for her, long and thick, and he knew how to work her with the right amount of pressure and ease. He seemed made for her.
As a child, before her mother passed away from breast cancer, she’d believed in the beauty of fairy tales, and in finding someone like Evan. However, one problem offset the magic. After the butterflies and the passionate intimacy, after the laughter and tenderness in the afterglow, it was clear he wasn’t Mr. Right.
They’d awoken in her bed the next morning and gone downstairs to Evan’s apartment, hand in hand, to allow him to change before they went out for croissants and coffee. There had been a delightful vibe between them the entire time. But then she’d watched in disbelief as a herd of his groupies piled around his door before he’d hardly had a chance to open it, and latched on to him like a flock of birds to a tree. Some praised his performance from the night before while others asked him to speak in French. As the day wore on and Molly spent more time with Evan, the groupies always found an excuse to be close by, to linger in the hallway, and would even knock on his door to offer sweet baked goods.
She couldn’t handle the intrusiveness and broke it off with him less than twenty-four hours later. Sean soon came into her life, and the rest was history. It left her bitter. Sean couldn’t compare to the passion she’d shared with Evan no matter what he did.
Molly sighed. She’d be lucky to find anyone again who would.
Evan was a nice guy beneath it all and a good friend, though, and they got on well. He often came to their apartment to borrow some ingredients, do handyman work, or to chat. They occasionally invited him to a few games and outings, but it had been a while since their last one. His throng of faithful followers or a random girl always accompanied him. Molly didn’t know who he slept with or how many, but she wasn’t interested in being just a number.
Given her knowledge of his sexual appetite and ability to satisfy a woman in the best of ways, she wouldn’t put it past him to have banged them all. But deep down, she didn’t care to know, didn’t want to. It was none of her business, and their night together existed as a special place in her memory. They kept it a secret between them. She never told Nell. And Evan, bless him, seemed content to honor that.
She and Nell sipped their drinks and watched Evan’s full lips wail into the mic while he played his guitar. His tight jeans hugged his well-formed ass, and he rocked out. A herd of young women held a vigil in front of the stage and moved provocatively in time to the music in their off-the-shoulder tops and miniskirts. They shot smitten eyes at him as they sashayed to the rhythm of the beat and vied for his attention. But his focus never strayed from Molly, as he sang his heart out about undying devotion to the one he loved. Oh, the irony.
She turned her head to avoid the weight of his gaze and grinned at Nell. “Jeez, he’s such a man whore. Look at him.”
“I know. Crazy there actually lurks a brain beneath those buns of steel, hmm? Oh, while we’re on the subject of buns.” Nell turned to Molly. “I have to ask you a favor.”
Molly arched an eyebrow. “Nell, we’ve discussed this before, and I told you I’m not into that. But if I were, you’d be the first woman I’d try anything with.”
“Bite me, Ivers.” Nell laughed. “No, there’s this guy I’m trying to meet. I need your help.”
“Random hopeful candidate number three hundred and thirty-seven. I’ll log him into the database and get him an orientation pamphlet.”
“Stop it.” Nell snorted. “I see him on campus a lot; he’s a dance instructor, hot-blooded Latino, and really fine. He’s got this unbelievable South American accent. I signed up to take his salsa class, but I don’t want to go it alone in case he has a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend, come to think of it. Know what I mean?”
“Gotcha. Might be awkward?” Molly offered.
“Exactly. So, will you come?”
Molly sighed and pulled out her phone. Yet another errand to cram into her tight schedule, but for Nell she’d walk on hot coals. “Of course I will. You need moral support when you’re in hot pursuit. When is it?”
“Wednesday nights at seven.” Well, wonders never ceased. Tonight was Tuesday. Leave it to Nell to ask at the last minute, unless, of course, she’d planned ahead. Wednesday nights were the only nights Molly didn’t have school or work. She reluctantly agreed and painfully pictured what it would be like to dance salsa. She’d look like a moron. But Nell had become what Anne Shirley would denote as a “kindred spirit” over the years, so how could she say no?
“Sure. Why the hell not?” Molly put away her phone, took a sip of her drink, and glanced at the stage. “They sound really good tonight.”
Nell nodded. “Have you heard their cover version of ‘American Woman’? It’s pretty awesome. Boy’s got a set of pipes on him.”
“I haven’t heard it yet, but they do sound on point tonight.”
“You rock,” Nell called out as Seriously Evan finished their number.
“Thanks, guys.” Evan’s smooth voice came over the mic while the guitar music died. “We’re gonna take a quick break, but we’ll be back in ten, so stick around.” He hopped off the low stage to scattered applause and whistles. Molly schooled the smirk on her face as he sidled past the flirting girls and made his way toward their table.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the Wonder Twins. TWT, Inc.”
He slid into the empty space beside Molly in the booth. She exchanged an amused look with Nell. He’d christened them with the moniker upon moving in. They were never Nell and Molly, but Fischer and Ivers, TWT. Their eye color, skin, and facial features couldn’t be more different, but they were both the same height, petite-figured, and had wide, generous mouths and lots of hair.
“So, where’s the right-wing Republican boyfriend tonight?” he asked. He stretched his arm over the back of Molly’s seat in a casual way. His forefinger grazed the edge of her earlobe, and a pleasant shiver ran through her. “I thought you two were attached at the hip.”
Molly went silent and looked at her drink. Great, here it came.
“They broke up,” Nell chipped in.
Molly gave her a look of mock gratitude from across the table as Evan turned to her in surprise. His sexy hazel eyes searched hers. She waited for a classic Evan Castle comment, but the solemnity in his expression told her he wouldn’t give any.
He whistled low. “Sorry, Ivers, that sucks. You guys were together for a while.”
She hid her cringe as she took another sip of her drink. “Yeah…” Gulp, gulp, uncomfortable silence.
The drummer in Evan’s band called over to him, and Evan told him he’d be right there. He rapped his knuckles on the table and flashed them both a flirty smile.
“Well, Ivers,” he said as he slid out of the booth. “You’ll have a lot of attention to deal with, being back in the jungle with the rest of us primates. Do me a favor, eh, and don’t forget to put a bag over your head when you go out from now on, or you’ll have every guy in the room at your feet and beating down your door. Then I’ll never be able to talk to you.” He gave her a cheeky wink and walked off.
Molly turned crimson. Nell mouthed, Wow, as she put her palm over her heart, and her jaw dropped open. They watched him walk off.
“What a compliment and a half. I did wonder why you two never got together. He always looks at you like he’s about to walk you against a wall and have at you.”
“What? No, he looks at all the girls like that. He’s just sweet and being a total flirt.” Molly waved it off, but her heartbeat accelerated as she remembered when he had, indeed, taken her against a wall on the night they’d spent together—that had been round three. He’d gone slow at first, sensitive and aware of her newness to sex, but soon her thighs had been locked around his perfect ass and he’d deliciously pounded into her. Molly shook her head and took a sip of her drink. No, she wouldn’t read more into it. Of course, she’d love to entertain the notion he still carried a torch for her, but with Evan, she knew better. He wasn’t a settle-with-one-woman sort of guy, and it put her off.
Still… She watched him talk to his drummer. He glanced over his shoulder and caught her eye. She turned back to Nell and took a quick sip and did her best to act nonchalant. “So, what’s the name of this dance machismo you’re on the hunt to get together with?”
“Jorge. And I don’t want to ‘get together’ with him. I plan to see what he’s like in bed, make some well-informed assessments, and we’ll go from there.”
“Count me in, partner.”
* * * *
Twenty-one hours later. What the hell was she doing? Molly climbed the stairs to the dance studio in cute workout clothes, amused. She tried to keep up with Nell, who moved with a purpose as if she were on her way to see the maharishi with water jugs balanced on a pole over her shoulders.
This guy better be worth it.
The pulse of the sensual salsa beat filled the halls from the open double doors as they entered the large dance studio. Several different couples moved in synchronization to the exotic rhythm.
The instructor stopped the music and turned around. “No, no, no, listen up. I have a dream.”
Well, damn. Nell hadn’t exaggerated. His colorful, rich accent made Antonio Banderas sound like Pee-Wee Herman. His parents were either very good-looking people, or the man had been sculpted by angels.
Nell nudged Molly. “I have a dream too. It involves his ass out of those black pants, and right where I can squeeze it,” she whispered.
Molly stifled a laugh, tapped Nell’s arm with the back of her hand, and mouthed, Stop it.
Nell looked pleased.
Jorge motioned around. “Everyone, change partners. Right now.” The dancers looked at one another awkwardly. “It wasn’t an invitation, people. Switch. I’ll count to ten, and if I see anyone with a partner of the same race, no lessons for a week. You look like couples out of The Lawrence Welk Show. You keep this up, and I’ll have Tyrone tap-dance with a handkerchief and scat in a second. Let’s go. Vámonos, vámonos.” The couples moved around until they were all of mixed ethnicity and size.
“Excellent,” Jorge said.
He paced by them and shot Nell a charged look. Nell ducked her head. Molly smiled. He definitely wanted Nell.
Jorge focused on his dance group as he walked through them. “Now, like Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream. My dream is to see beautiful cultures come together. I want to see Donny Osmond doing the wild salsa with Beyoncé. I want to see Jay-Z dance the cha-cha with Melissa McCarthy. ¿Los entiendes?” A few chuckles scattered around the room, accompanied by nods. “Maravilloso.” He hit a button on the MP3 player in the corner, and the music resumed. “Now dance.”
Jorge slunk toward Molly and Nell. His sinewy muscles and tight glutes emitted rampant sexual energy. Nell’s attraction to him from beside her permeated the air with desire.
“Your names?” he asked, and it came out Jour names?
“Molly Ivers, and this is Nell Fischer,” she replied to save Nell from stammering.
“I am Jorge,” he announced with flare.
“Jorge…?” Molly waited for a last name. He stood there with blatant masculinity as he sized them up. He walked slowly around them, a hunter circling his prey.
Nell leaned toward Molly. “It’s simply Jorge, like Madonna. One word. Just Jorge.” She purred with a rolled “r.” “Hey, Molls, you don’t think he’s gay, do you?”
Molly watched uncertainly as Jorge pulled a jerky movement with his butt to the music. He swiveled his hips around with his hands in the air and halted with his pelvis raised. She cleared her throat. “Um, if he’s not, he’s one hell of a secure guy. Either way, you have my blessing.”
They watched Jorge dance flawlessly around the floor with a random female dancer, and Molly knew Nell would nail him.
Jorge introduced Molly and Nell to the class, and Molly did her best to keep up as she danced, amused. Nell flirted, but she had a good head on her shoulders and didn’t choose men lightly, so this must be about more than the sex.
Molly laughed as they made their way to the parking lot after class. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you this far gone over someone.”
“Girl, I’m not that far gone. I’m…intrigued.”
“What about you, anyway? How are you doing since the breakup?”
Molly shrugged as they made their way to Nell’s car. “It’s fine. I feel better as a single person. I’m used to Sean and his texts about random, stupid things or general political ranting. It’s nice not to be bombarded with them, truth be told. Come with me out to the club tonight?”
Nell looked at her skeptically as they got in and she turned on the car. “Should I put out an announcement that the resident bookworm who’d rather waste time with book boyfriends, cheap crackers, and spray-on cheese has asked to go to the club tonight? Girl, who are you, and what have you done with my best friend?”
Molly shrugged. “I need to let loose, okay? Graduation’s around the corner, I’m free of Sean, and I just finished my thesis defense. I’d say I’ve earned a little break.”
“And I’d say damn skippy,” Nell said as she backed out of the stall.
* * * *
They made their way into the club a few minutes later. A mix of some popular songs played, and the bass thumped.
Molly stepped out onto the dance floor and gyrated to the beat in the throng of people, happy to get lost in the music for a little while. She’d earned it, for crying out loud. She moved along to the track and enjoyed the freedom. Then everything changed. She spotted the last person she’d expect to see there—Professor Sullivan, with his girlfriend. But she wasn’t just his girlfriend. She was one of those girlfriends—the hot, slender blonde siren in the red dress. The sexy woman had the sinewy moves of a leopard. She tilted her head to the side as she laughed up at him, and he seemed enchanted with her. Great.
Nell danced with a cute guy a few feet away from her, oblivious to her dilemma. Molly walked to the edge of the dance floor and paused behind a thin stair rail that led to the upstairs bar. She stayed concealed as she watched her professor and his partner dance. Nicholas Sullivan exemplified what her sexual fantasies—the ones Evan didn’t star in—were made of: intelligent, British, gorgeous, and the kind of man who would serve her omelets in bed, take her to the ballet, and marry her. But blue-blooded men didn’t go for intelligent women like her. They wanted supermodels and hot-as-hell trophy wives to showcase around.
“You’re Molly, right?” A low female voice spoke in her ear.
Molly turned around. A pretty Asian woman stood there in a sleek black suit. She looked nice but seemed out of place for a night at the club. More professional-looking. Molly blinked. “Yes, I’m Molly. Can I help you?”
“No, but perhaps I can help you.” The woman held a clean, professional business card in front of her face. Molly read:
His website and contact information were listed at the bottom.
Molly snorted. “What makes you think I need a life coach?”
The woman held up a hand. “Let me explain. Jean-Luc doesn’t take random clientele. He’s had his eye on you for quite some time, Molly. He saw you speak at the Feminism Awareness Conference a year ago, and he has his own reasons for wanting to help. He’s offering his services to you completely free of charge because he’s impressed with you.” The woman tapped the edge of the card and pointed it at Molly. “If you have the desire to improve your public persona, or if you feel undervalued in the slightest, he can help change how people perceive you. He doesn’t offer his services free to anyone, Miss Ivers. Call him, and see for yourself.”
Molly regarded the card as she might a dangerous poison before tentatively reaching out and taking it. Really? A life coach?
The woman stared over Molly’s shoulder, and she turned to see Professor Sullivan and his gorgeous girlfriend had moved a little closer to the stairs.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?” The woman gestured to Professor Sullivan’s girlfriend, who threw her golden locks back as she laughed. “She’s got it all, the looks, the manners, him. He won’t give you the time of day, will he? Jean-Luc can help. He’s made miracles happen to women just like you, who truly deserve it.”
Molly scoffed and turned to her. “Listen, lady. I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t know me. What are you, his assistant?”
The woman smiled. “Not exactly. Call me a sort of scout. He specifically sent me to find you.”
Molly carefully weighed the woman’s words. A life coach? She held on to the card long after the woman disappeared. The irony was, she had her act together a lot better than most twenty-four-year-old women her age. The idea of being recruited to change her appearance to snag a man seemed not only hilarious, but sad. To be fair, the woman did say it pertained more to helping her improve her public persona. Still… She watched as the buxom blonde across the room draped her arms around Nicholas’s shoulders. The blonde pressed her breasts against his chest as they swayed to the club mix. His hand traveled to her ass, and Molly saw red. She put the card in her purse.
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