Erin gave me the idea for snippets when she did them for Just Like That last month. There are lots of excerpts around for Long Time Gone, which was released on Tuesday, so here are a bunch of shorter glimpses in hopes of giving you a sense of the book's flavor. Enjoy!
The woman raised her head, and Erik felt as if he’d been kicked in the gut.
Her eyes were huge, liquid brown. Like melted chocolate. Like coffee beans. Like Bambi.
Erik swiveled back to the table and grabbed his Dr. Pepper. Like Bambi? Jesus, Toleffson, get a grip.
Every once in a while, Ham Linklatter shot him a poisonous look from his desk at the front of the room. He didn’t bother Erik much, although he did provide occasional entertainment.
Linklatter was the dumbest human being he’d ever met, and that included the bank robber who’d written a note to the teller on a deposit slip that included his name and address. Linklatter brought new meaning to the word “dumb”.
And the dumbest thing Linklatter was currently doing was trying to sabotage Erik. He hadn’t yet stooped to leaving thumbtacks on his chair, but Erik figured it was only a matter of time. After five days with Erik as chief of police, Ham’s creativity was beginning to run low.
“You may be able to taste hints of blackberries,” Kit trilled. “I can taste cranberries, too. This wine would be great at Thanksgiving.”
Nice one. Cranberries were new. Morgan backed out of the tasting room quickly before she could be roped into pouring.
Once upon a time, she’d had scheduled appointments. Once upon a time, her work day had started at eight thirty and ended at five thirty. Once upon a time, she’d averaged more than six hours of sleep a night.
Ah, memories, memories.
He put his hand on her shoulder, reassuringly. At least he thought it was reassuring. A moment later, he wasn’t so sure. His hand rested on smooth bare skin, silky and warm. He smelled lavender and rose and hints of wine. And she was watching him with those eyes—rich, dark brown, like chocolate kisses.
All of a sudden, he felt a little dizzy. He leaned forward, almost without thinking. She rose slightly to meet him.
Her lips were soft, warm. He inhaled her sigh, tasting wine, then angled his mouth against hers. Her mouth opened beneath his lips, but he wasn’t going to do anything about it. This was just a quick kiss, an intro as it were. Nothing serious yet.
And then it was.
Morgan’s mouth opened wider and his tongue plunged deep, tasting, sensing. Warmth and smooth deep wetness. Without thinking, he raised his hand to her breast and felt the hard pebble of her nipple against his palm. Heat flashed again at his groin.
Somewhere his brain went on red alert. Danger, danger, Will Robinson. His body surged right ahead, hardening almost instantly. The warm weight of her breast filled one hand and he rubbed his palm against the other, her faint moan raising prickles on his scalp.
Morgan took a deep breath. “Look, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me. I mean I’m not…” She groped through her vocabulary trying to find a word that worked.
What exactly aren’t you, Morgan?
He was smiling at her, that same small lopsided grin he’d had in the Dew Drop. She wondered if he ever grinned completely.
“You’re not…” He arched an eyebrow.
Oh lordy, she was a moron. Loose. What are you, the Church Lady?
At least she’d answered her own question—Erik Toleffson was definitely grinning on both sides of his mouth now. “Loose?” His eyebrow arched again.
The rest of his question was drowned out by a vibrating roar from the parking lot, followed by a series of explosive pops. Moments later, a man who could only be the bike’s owner stepped in the door.
He was encased in black leather from shoulder to heel. His jacket was covered with shiny zippers. Erik wondered briefly if he’d had them chromed along with his bike. He wore a crisp black bandana knotted around his head and black aviator sunglasses that probably cost more than Erik’s entire uniform, including badge. Either he’d spent his childhood watching motorcycle movies, or he was one of the bigger idiots Erik had yet encountered in Texas, which was saying something.
Morgan’s smile seemed frozen. “Great, Chief. We’re having a terrific afternoon.”
“Yeah, only Ms. Barrett here won’t even have a drink with us. What fun is that?” One of the leathers turned around, propping his arms against the bar and attempting a sneer. In Erik’s opinion, his Brando impersonation left a lot to be desired.
“Ms. Barrett is obeying the law when she refrains from drinking on the job. Perhaps you weren’t aware of it.” Erik rested his hand on the top of his baton. Not that he’d use it. Not that he wasn’t tempted.
One of the leathers snickered again. “Oh we know all about the law. Fact is, Officer, you’re talking to three members of the bar right here.”
“Right,” another leather chimed in. “Members of the bar at the bar, as it were.”
“Interesting.” Erik let his mouth edge into a half-smile. “That should save time if I have to lock you up. You can just call each other.”
One of the leathers cleared his throat. “No need for threats, Officer. We’re here to have a good time, spend a little money. No harm done.”
Erik raised his gaze to Morgan. “Ms. Barrett?”
Morgan’s smile looked pasted on. “No harm done, Chief. I believe the gentlemen were going to buy some syrah. I’ll call Ms. Maldonado to help.”
Erik watched her shoulders slump as the leathers moved to the other side of the room to give Kit their wine order. “I could have handled it,” she muttered.
“You did handle it.” He shrugged. “I just added a little firepower. Jerks like that sometimes need a little prodding.”
Morgan raised her gaze to his. Her eyes looked more like good bourbon than chocolate today. “Thank you anyway. They’d been sitting there for thirty minutes. I was about to call Esteban.”
There was a burst of laughter from the leathers. One of them shook Kit’s limp hand. She didn’t look any more impressed than Morgan.
The Brando impersonator walked back across the room while the other two headed out the door. He gave Morgan a somewhat oily grin. “So…Ms. Barrett, is it? Would you care to join me for dinner tonight?”
Morgan’s mouth stretched in something that looked more like a rictus than a smile. “No. Sorry. Other plans.”
“Oh, well.” Brando reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card. “If you ever need a good lawyer or a good time in Plano, look me up.” He gave her a smoldering gaze that probably wowed all the ladies at the Friday happy hour.
Erik watched him saunter toward the door to join his friends. “That man is possibly the biggest asshole in the state of Texas. Maybe I should do everyone a favor and shoot him now.”
Erik sat cross-legged in Morgan’s bed, eating mango ice cream out of the carton. Morgan lay stretched beside him on her back, her head resting on her folded hands. He tried not to notice how that position raised her breasts and made her nipples look tantalizingly hard. She was watching him, those luminous brown eyes running quickly over his chest.
She looked hungry. He hoped it wasn’t just for food.
“Want a bite?” He extended his spoon, careful not to drip melted ice cream on her belly.
She grinned at him. “You mean ice cream?”
Erik felt a quick jolt of heat, blood running straight to his groin. The woman was pure aphrodisiac. “Unfair. You’re supposed to give me time to recover here.”
After what they’d been doing for the past hour, he’d half-expected her to drop into an exhausted nap. Hell, he should have needed a little rest too. Instead, he could already feel the arousal beginning again.
“How long does it take you to recover, Chief? Personally, I’m feeling fine.”
He squinted at her. “You look overheated to me.” He turned the spoon so that it dribbled a few drops of melted ice cream over her navel.
Morgan arched her back, squeaking. “Geez, that’s cold! At least you could have warned me.”
Erik placed the ice-cream carton on the bedside table next to the plate of cheese and fruit from the tasting room refrigerator. Handy thing, tasting rooms.
“Let me take care of that.” He leaned down, running his tongue into her navel. She tasted of cream, salt and woman, with hints of fruit. “Nice vintage you got here, ma’am.”
“Fair is fair.” She sounded slightly breathless. “I get to dribble some on you, too.”
He handed her the carton. “Go to it.”