Heartbeat by Mary Winter
erotic contemporary novella, natural healing themes
full length novel (50,000 words)
Cover Art by Winterheart design
Reba Dailey thought she had everything she wanted…until a heart attack brought her face-to-face with death. Now, no longer able to continue her high-power job as an advertising executive, she’s forced to discover what she truly wants out of life.
Todd Thorpe knows all about the laws of attraction and how to create energy to heal. He owns Healing Hands, a natural healing center, where he helps people make the most of their life. People like Reba Dailey. One heated kiss four years ago told him they’d be explosive together. And he’s hungered for her ever since.
Now she’s returned, and everything is a matter of a heart. With each steamy encounter, she's discovering the joy of her new life, and with each heartbeat, she's falling more and more in love.
This is a re-release of the book previously titled Au Naturel.
Leaning forward, Todd braced his hand on the wall next to her head. His thick, dark green cable-knit sweater looked festive, and brought out the color of his eyes. His woolen dress slacks were tailored to his muscled legs and a hint of pine-scented aftershave teased her nostrils.
“Finally, I have you alone.”
“I guess you do.” Think Reba, damn it. As soon as the inane words left her mouth, she wished like hell Todd didn’t scramble her synapses. She was a suave marketing executive whose expertise was well known. Hell, her latest campaign had resulted in a half million dollars in sales of ice cream in the heart of an Iowa winter. Surely she could come up with a better reply than that. She set her wine glass down on a tray held by a passing waiter.
“Tired of running away from me?” Reaching out, he fingered a strand of her hair that had come free from her upswept hairdo. He stroked it, his gaze never once leaving her face.
“Isn’t the chase part of the fun?” she countered.
Todd laughed. The throaty notes rolled across the room like the jingling of sleigh bells. “I suppose it is.” He swept his fingers along the curve of her jaw to follow the length of her throat. “Of course, now that I’ve caught you, the question is, what am I going to do with you?” He gave a pointed look overhead.
Reba followed his gaze. Her stomach did a crazy flip-flop as she saw the plastic sprig of mistletoe hanging above them. She licked her lips, anticipating what was to come, and when she lowered her gaze to Todd’s, she found him staring at her with such hunger it nearly took her breath away.
In her thirty-two years she’d never been kissed under the mistletoe, never allowed herself time for such things. As if in slow-motion she watched Todd’s mouth lower to hers. His right hand rested on her hip. He drew her closer to him as his lips brushed against hers. A tentative touch, little more than a brush of flesh and air. His mouth hovered over hers for a fraction of a second, long enough for her to flatten her palm against his chest and curl her fingers into his sweater.
Todd deepened the kiss. His tongue swept the seam of her mouth and her lips parted beneath his. Finally, after half-glances and fantasy-filled nights, she had his rock-hard body pressing against hers. She tightened her fingers in his sweater. Swaying toward him, she battled the urge to reach around and cup his ass, see if it was as hard as the rest of him. It had to be. Dimly, she remembered Hope saying he ran, and it showed in his body.
Karma. Instant attraction. Reba never would have used those words to describe anything in her life, but kissing Todd felt like coming home. She toyed with him, sweeping her tongue along the length of his then drawing it deeper into her mouth. A hungry moan bubbled from her chest.
Todd swallowed it.
The need for air parted them. Sometime during the kiss the Burl had stopped crooning, leaving a pop rendition of holiday favorites blaring on the stereo. Reba forced air into her lungs. Blinking, she looked at Todd to find him as visibly shaken as she. If just one kiss could do that, what would happen if she grabbed his arm and hauled him into Hope’s spare bedroom?
Todd looked down at her fingers against his chest.
Heat rose to her cheeks, turning her face as pink as the sparkly zinfandel her friend liked to serve. Slowly, almost hesitant to lose contact, she dropped her hands to her side.
The clock chimed ten.
Her company party! With a shake of her head, she ducked beneath Todd’s arm. “I’m sorry. I’ve got to go. I promised my company I’d hit their party too, and I’m late!” She bustled across the room to make hasty goodbyes to her friend. She’d promised to spend a few hours here and then head over, fashionably late, to her company party. She didn't think she'd be this late, though she'd planned to tell them she'd been working on a last-minute campaign to cover her lapse. With the senior executives looking to fill a vacancy, Reba knew she wanted to do everything within her power to put herself into the higher position. Working extra hours during the holiday should add some extra shine to her star.
As she hurried to do the door, she glanced over her shoulder. Todd still stood by the hallway, his hands balled into fists at his sides. Regret tinged with anger filled his gaze. Reba didn’t blame him, and she promised herself she’d make it up to him.
“I’m sorry.” She mouthed the words at him, hoping he saw them from across the room. After a kiss like that, she had no doubts Todd would wait for her. Mentally, she added him to her “to do” list, right after ensuring her promotion with her advertising firm. Yeah, she’d be back for Todd. And when she did, they’d pick up where they’d left off. It was an appointment she wouldn’t miss.