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Knockout--Out now from Ellora's Cave Romantica™ Publishing

Having the man of your dreams sweep you off your feet—that's what every girl dreams of, right? Join Nina as she finally gets up the nerve to tell her dream man how she feels.

BUY Print and e-book | Read Excerpt | Behind the Book

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behindthebook

This story is the only one I’ve ever written with a real person in mind. Oh, I’ve pilfered from real life before, using personality traits and quirks of friends to add dimension to a character, but the heroine in this story IS my friend Nina.  The hero is based on a real person too – this was her way of living out a fantasy. What happens to them is, of course, fiction, but I always see her face in my mind when I re-read this tale.

Oh, and the moment in the story where our heroine accidentally microwaves a fast food burger wrapped in foil? That actually happened.

excerpt

His gaze on her was so intent Nina was starting to feel like a bug under a microscope. “What?” she asked, rubbing her nose self-consciously. “Do I still have mascara running down my face or something?”

He chuckled and she had to brace herself with a hand on the counter when her knees turned to water. “No, nothing like that. It’s just—you seem familiar to me. Have we met before?”

Nina was glad she wasn’t taking a drink when he’d asked—she’d have choked on it. Never in a million years would she have guessed he’d recognize her. There were always so many bimbos around him whenever he played, she’d have bet her diamond earrings there was no way he’d have been able to pick her out of a crowd.

“Um, I don’t think so,” she managed, and took a fortifying sip of wine.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “There’s something about your eyes… I really think I’ve seen you somewhere before.”

She made some non-committal sound and drank more wine. She wasn’t about to refresh his memory, having no desire to remind him of the shy, overweight girl who used to gaze at him like an adoring puppy.

“Hmm.” He narrowed his eyes at her then seemed to shrug. “Maybe it’s just wishful thinking.”

She blinked, confused. “What do you mean?”

“Well, it would have been nice to have a connection,” he said. “Other than you just running into me in the rain.”

She chuckled weakly. “I still can’t believe I did that.”

"I’m glad you did,” he said, still looking at her with a knee-knocking intensity. “Otherwise, we might not have met. And that,” he said, picking up the bottle to top off her wine, “would have been a shame.”

Nina cleared her throat, watching the wine in her glass rise up to tease the brim. “Are you trying to get me drunk?”

“If you think it’d help,” he said, and winked again before he turned to the groceries.

Nina felt a bubble of wild laughter rise up in her chest. “Help with what?” she asked, and he turned back at the teasing lilt in her voice.

His left eyebrow quirked up in a way that had her knees knocking again. She was always a sucker for a good one-eyebrow look. “With the seducing, of course.”

“Oh.” She laughed, a girlish sound that was foreign to her own ears. “You don’t need wine for that.”

Nina thought she’d swallow her own tongue when he turned to face her fully.

“Is that so?” he murmured.

“Pretty much,” she sighed, shivering in anticipation as he moved towards her. “You had me at ‘oh shit’.”

He chuckled again, coming to a stop in front of her. He was so close, his feet were practically on top of hers and she could feel the heat of him through their clothes. “You’re funny. And you’re cute and sexy and adorable.” He reached out and put his hands on her shoulders, and even though the hoodie covered her skin, she shuddered in reaction.

“Tony?”

“Hmm?”

It was now or never and she’d hate herself if she didn’t say it. Nina took a deep breath. “Were you planning on kissing me anytime soon?”

He was standing so close, looking right at her, so she saw the lust flare bright and hot in his eyes at her words. “As a matter-of-fact,” he murmured, and lowered his head to hers.