Below I have included one of my favorite scenes from my new Blaze, ROCK SOLID — I have several favorite scenes in this book, but this one always makes me smile, as it did when I was writing it. I hope you enjoy!
Champion stock car driver Brody Palmer’s bad-boy reputation has forced him into early retirement. What no one knows is that his “retirement” is actually a publicity stunt. All Brody has to do is clean up his act and settle down. Unfortunately, every single woman with a pulse is now gunning to become the new Mrs. Palmer.
Hannah Morgan needs to shake things up, and Brody is the best way to do just that. So they strike a deal—a fake relationship…with all of the sexy strings included! Brody gets his improved image, and Hannah gets a whole lot more of Brody’s unpredictable wildness. Hot days, hotter nights—it’s the perfect plan! Provided, of course, they don’t do something to wreck it, like fall for each other…
He walked farther into the house and discovered her sitting on his sofa, quiet, staring at her laptop. There was a bottle of wine—half-finished—and an empty glass on the table next to her. When he came in, she just looked up at him.
“Oh, hi,” she said, her brow furrowed as she turned her attention back to the computer screen.
That was all.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“No. I’m boring.”
Brody didn’t know what he expected, but it wasn’t that. He assumed she’d be ticked off or concerned or whatever, but this threw him. So he went over and sat next to her, and saw on the screen, a page about…
“Why are you reading about alligator wrestling?”
“Because it’s exciting and dangerous. Meaning, all of the things I’m not. A decent photojournalist needs to take risks. So I found this place that teaches people to alligator wrestle, and it’s not far from here. Do you know about it?”
“Hold on a second. You mean you’re actually considering learning how to wrestle an alligator?” Brody’s tone was incredulous, but he couldn’t help it.
Wait. Photojournalist? Hannah was an accountant. Wasn’t she?
“How much wine did you have, Hannah?”
“Only a few glasses. See on the website, they take you through it step-by-step. Here’s a picture of a woman doing it, so it’s not just for men,” Hannah said, pointing.
Brody looked at the screen. “She’s twice your size—and a game warden, according to the caption, Hannah. Have you ever seen a real alligator?”
“No, but I have to do something, and soon. You can’t help me, and people aren’t going to look at my blog for pretty pictures of ocean waves or…hey, wait. Do people surf down here? There are sharks, right?”
Brody put up a hand, interrupting her. “Let’s back up a few steps. One, why do you think you’re boring? Two, why are you trying to commit suicide by wildlife? And, three, what’s this about being a photojournalist?”
She took a deep breath and poured some more wine. Brody suspected she’d had enough, but she was a big girl.
“I quit my job,” she said after a swallow, and then told him the whole story, showing him her blog and some pictures of oyster farmers and kids in a decrepit playground in Atlanta. She was pretty good, and he was about to compliment the pictures, but she slammed the laptop shut.
Brody was stunned at her ferocity. He was also somewhat ashamed of himself for having had no clue that Hannah was going through all of this. He was so busy focusing on his own issues that he’d assumed everything with her was status quo—which was how she always liked it.
But apparently there had been some big changes. That had to be why she had come here. Out on the road, on her own, she’d been looking for a friend, and instead he had… Brody rubbed his temples with his fingers, completely disgusted with his previous actions and how he’s spoken to her.
She was worried that he wasn’t okay, even though she was having her own professional crisis.
“I don’t know what else to do,” she said in frustration, standing, albeit unsteadily, as she walked over to his display case.
His grandparents had started the case, keeping everything he acquired since the time he was a kid, and Brody added to it after he bought the house. Some of the things he’d thought about donating to some fundraisers, but he found most of the items were too difficult to part with. They represented the life he loved. The one he hoped he hadn’t left behind him.
“You see? All of this? All the things you’ve done? You know how to live adventurously. I do not,” she said, sounding totally disgusted with herself.
Brody ran a hand through his hair, unsure what to say. He’d had a plan, but with Hannah three sheets to the wind and obviously in the middle of a personal crisis, all bets were off.
“Hannah, take it from me, you are not boring,” he said, trying to find some foothold in this weird situation. “You’re…exciting in your own way.”
As he heard the words come out, he regretted them instantly.
“No,” she argued. “I’m not. The only time I’ve ever done anything exciting was with you.”
She walked back over, standing a few feet in front of him, her eyes taking on a softer quality. “Do you remember how exciting some of it was, Brody? Like that time at the track, with all of those people around—”
Brody swallowed hard, remembering all too well. Vividly, in fact. How he’d kept the pretty sounds she made quiet with his mouth as his nimble fingers made her come behind the bleachers. It had been after a great qualifying race, and when he’d gotten out of the car, all he could think about was making his way to her and celebrating. They’d done that a lot, and it had been one of his best seasons.
“Why did you retire?” she asked bluntly.
“I knew it. You’re sick, aren’t you? How bad is it?”
Her eyes welled and her lip quivered and Brody stood, pulling her in close and wrapping his arms around her.
“No, honey, I’m not sick. I promise.”
“Yes. Except for my back, which is getting better every day, I’m healthy as can be.”
She pushed back, looking up into his face.
“Then why? And why are you here, so unhappy and not cleaning up?”
Brody shook his head, fighting a small smile at her focus on the mess. His cleaning lady had moved, and he wasn’t motivated to find another one. But that was unimportant.
“It’s complicated. Let’s focus on you right now.”
She made a noncommittal noise, her eyes dropping to his mouth. She licked her lips, and Brody had to hold back a groan.
He and Hannah had had some pretty good times now and then after they’d both finished a bottle of champagne, or the like, but this was entirely different. He wasn’t about to take advantage, though it was really tough to keep his head straight as her hand slipped down over the front of his pants, squeezing.
“Hannah, oh, um, hon. Let’s get you to bed.”
“Be adventurous with me again, Brody,” she said, pushing up on her toes to drag her tongue along his lower lip as she touched him in a way that made his head spin.
“Hannah, this isn’t a good, um, idea,” he managed, closing his eyes as she touched and kissed him as he walked her to the stairs.
“I’ll show you how good an idea it is,” she responded in a purr.
Brody helped her up the stairs, his body liking what she was up to way too much for his own good.. She was testing his control.
He deftly steered her into his room, and set her down on the bed.
“Aren’t you going to take my dress off?” she asked prettily.
Brody looked down at her, his entire body hard, wanting. Her hair was mussed, her lips parted in the most delicious way. The dress she mentioned was pushed up on her thighs, and Brody knew how soft she was underneath.
He walked over to the other side of the bed, lowering himself down, fully clothed.
“Come here, Hannah. We have time, there’s no rush,” he said.
He gathered her up next to him, torturous as the contact was, since he had no intention of giving her what she thought she wanted.
“You feel so good. I missed you,” she murmured against his chest, and Brody closed his eyes.
He didn’t say another word, but kissed her hair and stroked her shoulder, until her breathing evened and eventually, something he’d forgotten, she offered a soft Hannah snore.
Extracting himself quite gently, he pulled the sheet up over her and left, closing the door. He’d sleep —after a very cold shower—and hopefully by morning he could figure out what the heck he was going to do.
Romantic Times Review:
“ROCK SOLID (4) by Samantha Hunter: In order to improve his image, bad-boy stock car racer Brody Palmer is forced into an early temporary retirement by his biggest sponsor. When Hannah Morgan, the good girl he had an affair with a year ago, shows up looking for adventure, she gets a fake relationship with Brody. But as Brody’s reputation improves, thanks to Hannah, and publicity surrounding their relationship grows, things begin to feel real, causing a maelstrom of trouble for the “couple.” This well-fleshed out story works as both a stand-alone and as a fun continuation from the last time we saw Brody and Hannah. Their growth, personally and together, is admirable.”