I’m so thrilled that the e-book and paperback versions of my new novel, Constant Craving, will be released in a few days! This is a steamy, second-chance romance about a man and a woman who met in college, loved fiercely, then broke up. More than a decade later, they’re together again – or are they? Early readers call the book, angsty, emotional and hot.
You can pre-order Constant Craving at all e-book platforms. To select your preferred format, go to the book’s page on Pronoun.
Here’s the first chapter, which I wrote almost three years ago.
THE DISTANT PAST
Tengo hambre de tus ojos, de tu boca, de tus besos…
Those were the first words I heard Rafael say.
I hunger for your eyes, your mouth, your kisses …
On a warm October day, he stood at the front of the University of Miami classroom, reciting a poem in both Spanish and English. It was the second week of school, and he’d transferred into Public Speaking 101. He’d missed a few classes already and because of that, everyone noticed him on the day he read aloud.
All the girls couldn’t stop looking at him. Neither could I.
I was nineteen years old.
Rafael was tall and wore faded jeans and a plain black T-shirt. The dark stubble on his face, combined with his black eyebrows, dark eyelashes, and short black hair, made him look like the devil’s best student. A flashing red hazard to my heart.
As he spoke, Rafael stared. At me. I was sitting in the second row. His eyes were so filled with possessive desire that I longed to kneel at his feet and beg him to do anything he wanted with my body and soul.
When he finished speaking, Rafael watched me, his mouth open in a half-smile, one that held the promise of pleasure.
I was breathless. Hypnotized.
“Thank you, Mr. Menendez. Ms. Lavoie, you’re next,” the professor called out, startling me enough that I hurriedly gathered my papers. One fell to the floor, and I scrambled to retrieve it, scooping it up with shaking fingers.
Stepping to the front of the room, I passed Rafael as he took his seat. I swallowed hard when our eyes met for a quick second. My mouth was uncomfortably moist, and I folded my arms. I was aware of how my vintage, black-and-rose-printed Betsey Johnson slip dress and black flip-flops rubbed against my skin and would’ve liked to strip everything off. Rafael’s gaze made me feel naked. Made me want to be naked. With him.
“Please tell us the title of the poem you’re reading,” said the professor.
“I’ve selected ‘Sonnet Seventeen,’ by Neruda,” I replied in a thin voice, staring at the ground.
“Uncross your arms. And you’re going to have to speak louder. Remember, this is a public speaking class, not a public whispering class.”
The few students who bothered to pay attention laughed, and I raised my eyes toward Rafael. He slouched low in his chair, his long legs sprawling and taking up space in the front row. His lips curved upward and built into a sensual smile. I tucked my wavy hair behind my ear.
With a deep breath, I began.
Rafael consumed me with long, slow glances as I recited the poem. His lips parted, and I caught sight of his tongue in the corner of his mouth. By the time I reached the second sentence, I smiled. A secret, just for him. It was as if we were the only two people in the room.
When class ended, I hurried outside into the white-bright Florida sun, shivering with restless longing. A hand gently grabbed my wrist, and the fine hair on my nape trembled.
“Justine?” he asked, his voice gentle and flecked with a slight Spanish accent.
At that point I had only kissed a few guys, maybe gone a little further. I was pretty shy back then. And I stayed away from guys who looked like Rafael, mostly because I assumed they wouldn’t be interested in a girl like me.
“Where are you from?” My small wrist looked so fragile in his big hand.
Rafael’s grin revealed dimples under the stubble.
“So, Justine from St. Augustine,” he said, rhyming and stealing my heart. “What are you doing this weekend? Are you going to that party everyone’s talking about, the Fantasy Fiesta costume party? Isn’t that a stupid name? Are you dressing up?”
I laughed, temporarily mute. My best friend Diana had told me about the party and was urging me to go. I’d said no, thinking that yeah, it was a pretty stupid name.
But if Rafael would be there, maybe I would go. My skin flared with heat, as if I had spent a day at the beach in August. His eyes were the most unusual color, almost copper, and they glinted in the sun.
“I don’t have plans,” I murmured.
Another grin, this one wicked. I had never seen such long eyelashes on a man.
“Do you know what you should be for Fantasy Fiesta?”
I shook my head again, and he stared at me for a smoldering beat.
Release Date: Nov. 1, 2017