Super Short

#SuperShort

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I know that today isn’t Friday. Don’t worry, I haven’t hit my head and mixed up the days. But I wrote a Valentine’s Day story about two characters you know by now, and it seemed silly not to post it on actual V-day. Right?

So without further ado, here’s the story about Lenny and JJ’s Valentine’s Day. And as you hopefully know by know, Lenny and JJ first showed up in my holiday story The Christmas Day Date. We’ve also met them another time, on New Year’s Eve.

I hope you enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day everyone…if you celebrate it. Happy Wednesday if you don’t! 🙂

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The Valentine’s Day Date

I stared at myself in the mirror. I looked so different and yet the same. My hair was slicked back from my face, gathered in a neat bun at the back of my head, and my stubble was more closely shaved than usual. My eyelid was as droopy as ever, but for once I didn’t care about that. Instead, I focused on what I wore.

A suit.

I, Lenny Painter, wore a suit.

I’d found it in a second-hand store the other day and been attracted to it immediately. It was in great shape and of excellent quality, but because it was outdated—the seventies called and wanted their fashion back—it hadn’t set me back more than twenty bucks. It was charcoal gray with low-slung, bellbottom pants and a tight-fitting coat. Underneath, I wore a light blue shirt, and if the color had reminded me of JJ’s eyes when I’d seen it in the store, I was the only one who knew.

Technically the suit should have been a disaster on me. But somehow it worked wonders for my body; it made the slight pout of my stomach disappear and clung to all the right places. My legs looked like they went on for miles, and more than once I’d turned my back to the mirror, stood on my toes, and admired the way my ass looked in the pants. I had a hard time believing it could look that tight and…hot.

I looked…good enough…for the evening. I hoped JJ would think so, too.

My phone beeped as I walked out of the bathroom.

Have a great night. Remember what I’ve taught you and you’ll be fine. I’ll bring my phone everywhere until you give me the all clear. The message was followed by a winky-face emoji.

A smile broke out on my face. Ella. How the fuck had I been so lucky to meet her that day in early January when I’d gone to my first AA meeting? When she’d stood to talk, wearing a patch over her left eye, and had introduced herself with her best pirate imitation, the entire room had burst out laughing. The eye thing had made me feel weirdly connected to her and after working up my courage by drinking three cups of the crappy coffee they served, I’d approached her.

We’d hit it off like a house on fire, and at first, I’d been surprised. But I figured sometimes even a washed-up ex-drunk like me had to be lucky and for once fate had picked the right moment for me.

K. Can’t thank u enough, I wrote back before stuffing the phone into my pocket. Stopping at the front door for a second before heading out, I took a deep breath and held it in my lungs. I counted to thirty before letting it out again, straightened my shoulders, and just like that, I was ready.

I locked the door behind me and took a couple quick steps across the hall. Without hesitation, I knocked but didn’t have to wait before the door flew open and revealed a worried-looking JJ.

His hand flew to his throat as he saw me and he dragged his gaze up and down my body, leaving tingles in its wake. I fingered the hem of my jacket, trying my hardest not to fidget as the seconds dragged out into what felt like hours, and doubt niggled in the back of my mind.

“Wow, Lenny,” he whispered. Finally. “You look…” He didn’t finish what he was gonna say. Instead, he stepped into my space, cupped my cheeks with careful fingers, and looked straight into my eyes. “Wow,” he repeated. Then he leaned in and stole my breath with a scorching kiss.

His lips were soft yet demanding against mine. His fingers danced along my jaw as he scraped his fingernails in my stubble. The worry disappeared out of my head as his tongue begged to be let into my mouth. I opened willingly to him and couldn’t help humming into his mouth. I grabbed his hip and squeezed as warmth spread in my tummy and my pants grew tight.

A whimper escaped me when he ended the kiss, but he didn’t move away. His breath tickled my cheek and he pressed his pelvis against me. I gulped down the air as his hardness pressed against mine.

“You look stunning,” he whispered.

“Yeah?”

“Oh, yes.” He ran his hand down my arm and wove his fingers with mine. Then he took a step back. “What’s going on? Why are we dressed up?” he asked.

“I…” I squeezed his hand and cleared my throat. I’d calmed down enough to register what he was wearing and forgot whatever it was I was going to say as.

I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His pinstriped suit, light gray shirt, and lavender tie made him look more gorgeous than ever. He was pink around his lips as if my stubble had rasped his sensitive skin, and the sight made my dick press harder against my zipper. Shit. He’d be sexy in an oil-stained coverall, but like this, he was magnificent.

Swallowing hard, I leaned in and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “I’m takin’ you out on a date,” I said.

“Out?” he squeaked.

His surprise wasn’t unexpected. We’d spent lots of time together these last weeks, but all of it had been in either of our apartments. Mostly in his home, where we’d cooked, cuddled on the couch in front of a movie, or made love for hours and hours. We’d never gone anywhere outside our building together. That was changing tonight. “Yeah,” I answered simply.

“Okay.” His eyes were full of questions, but as usual, he didn’t ask them. Instead, he grabbed his keys and followed me to my car. Patient. Wating for me to be ready to tell him at my own speed. He really was fucking perfect.

Except for early in the morning before coffee. He was a terrible grump before coffee.

We drove in silence, but I could feel his eyes on me the entire ride. He rested his hand on my thigh and drew small circles with his fingers. Occasionally, he squeezed. At a traffic light, I put my hand over his as we waited for it to turn green. That simple touch made my entire body buzz with electricity.

When I pulled up in front of the restaurant—Nonna Giulia’s because his favorite food was Italian—he gasped and opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the valet.

He didn’t say a word until I’d handed over the keys and we were alone. “What are we doing here?” he asked in a faint voice full of worry.

“Havin’ dinner.” I smiled at him, hoping it looked confident. I felt confident. Sort of. If my dry mouth didn’t count.

“But…” He stepped closer and spoke close to my ear as if he wanted to make sure no one could hear what he said. “They serve…alcohol here.”

I brushed a speck of dust from his lapel and made sure his tie was straight. “I know.”

“But…how?”

I stopped fiddling and took his hands in mine. Looked him straight in the eye. “I want to take you out on a real date. Like normal people do on Valentine’s day. I wanna be someone you can be proud of.” My voice quavered, but I kept going. “I have Ella on speed dial and she’d only let me go if I promised to call her if the shit hits the fan.” I squeezed his hands quickly before I let them go and fished out my phone. After pulling up Ella’s message I gave it to him so he could read it.

His gaze flitted between my phone and my face before he stuffed it back into my pocket. “I’d be perfectly fine to have our date at home.” He tugged on my hand as if he wanted to lead me away from the restaurant. “Please, let’s go home.” He pulled harder.

“Julius.” My pleading tone stilled his movements and I slid my hand around his neck. Standing so close our noses almost touched, I spoke in a hushed voice. “You have no idea how much I appreciate you lookin’ out for me.” My other hand found its way under his jacket and I rested it on his slim waist. “How fuckin’ lucky I feel that you wanna be with me. You mean so much to me. I don’t wanna be a stupid coward and risk losin’ you. I need to get over my issues…and not just for you, but…for me?”

I hoped he’d get it. Heck, I don’t even know if I did, but Ella had drilled into my thick skull that I needed to do this for myself and not for someone else. My talk of how gorgeous my boyfriend was hadn’t swayed her one bit.

He nodded and a cautious smile spread on his narrow face. We stood so close I could see a smudge on his glasses. A happy sparkle in his eyes. “I have conditions,” he said.

“Name them.”

He held up an index finger. “One. I don’t drink.”

I chuckled. “Only you would set rules for yourself.”

His smile widened. “Shut up.” He smacked a kiss on my lips. “Number two.” He held up another finger and his face grew serious. “You tell me the second you feel anxious and we’re out of here.”

I pulled back my hand from his waist and rubbed my droopy eyelid. Of course, he’d understood completely. How could I have thought otherwise? “Yeah, okay.” Tears burned in my throat and I had to swallow to keep them from erupting. “Anything else?”

He pulled me close, flush to his body, until we touched from chest to knees. “One more thing.”

“Anything, Julius. I’d do anythin’ for you.”

“I want a kiss before dinner.”

I happily obliged.

Book Recommendations, Promise Me We'll Be Okay, Sale

Cover reveal and Valentine’s Day Sale!

Today is Valentine’s Day. We don’t celebrate, me and the husband, because we’re quite romantic on a daily basis…even after close to 25 years together. It might not be very traditional, but that’s the way I like it. Anyone can buy a bunch of roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolate and be considered romantic, but I much prefer my husband’s particular brand of romance. He knows me. He sees me. And he does and says things he knows I’ll appreciate. And that’s why he’s the love of my life.

Ah well. Enough mushiness. I have two important things for you today: one cover reveal and one V-day sale. But let’s start with my number one priority:

Cover reveal for Promise Me We’ll Be Okay!!

It will be released on March 3rd and I’m super excited to show you the cover because I love it so much. Promise Me is a second-chance romance that exist in the same universe as Cinnamon Eyes, so there might be a couple characters that’s familiar if you’ve read it.

Ready? Drumroll, please 🙂

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What do you do when your past comes knocking?

Six hundred and ninety-five days. That’s how long it’s been since Jude’s fiancé broke off their engagement. With the help of his brother, Jude glued the broken pieces of his heart back together, but when his ex shows up on his doorstep late one evening, Jude fears it will fall apart again.

Two years ago, Vincent made a terrible mistake. He left the love of his life for stupid, ill-advised reasons. It took a traumatic event to bring what was truly important in his life into focus. Older and wiser, he’s now ready to do whatever it takes to win Jude back.

Their chemistry is as explosive as ever, but will they be able to work through the real issues? Can trust once broken be rebuilt?

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Isn’t it pretty?? *happy sigh* And wanna know something else that’s amazing? You can now pre-order it, and if you do it today you will get 30% off because JMS Books have a Valentine’s Day sale!! Yay for booksales.

Here’s the pre-order link for Promise Me We’ll Be Okay at JMS Books. What are you waiting for, run over there and clickety-click!! If you haven’t read Cinnamon Eyes and wanna catch up before reading my new book, here’s the link to that.

Eh, you know what? Here’s a super handy link to my author page at JMS Books so you can check them all out if you’re interested! 🙂

Promise Me We’ll Be Okay | Nell Iris Author Page at JMS

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All the other e-books at JMS Books are also 30% off, of course, so after I’m done writing this post, I’m heading over there to do some shopping. I think you should, too. If you need suggestions, here are a few great books I warmly recommend:

Closets Are for Clothes by Addison Albright. Won’t be released until February 24th, but I was fortunate enough to beta read it, so I know it’s awesome.

Hero Worship by Kris T. Bethke. And when you’ve read the book, I strongly suggest you head over to her webpage and download the five #FlashFiction stories, because you will want to read more about Alex and Matt, I promise.

Officer Charming and the Prince Who Wooed Him by Sarah Hadley Brook, because who can resist that title? (And the book is awesome too!) Seriously, Sarah is so creative when it comes to naming books I’m a little bit jealous 🙂

Regency Rogues Box Set by Ruby Moone, because who doesn’t wanna read four books about Regency Rogues?? I know I do!! 🙂

Angel Wings and Bullets by E.F. Mulder. Unexpectedly delightful, and by that I mean I hadn’t heard of the author before I found this gem.

All About the Cowboy Box Set by J.D. Walker. Granted, I haven’t read this particular box set, but I’ve been on a J.D. Walker reading spree lately and need to refill my dwindling supply of short, romantic stories 🙂

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Happy shopping everyone!!