Hi Vallory. Thanks for inviting my hero Jax from my latest book Persuasion Skills over to chill. He’s always eager to talk about his lady Pepper. Pepper and Jax are best friends and business partners. Their road to love was a long one, based on years of friendship. Jax is my favorite type of hero—a smart schemer. He has no problem using both his brain, charm and persuasion skills to get what he wants, oh boy does he want Pepper!
Me: Okay let’s get started. She’s sitting in front of the TV what is on the screen?
Jax: Sense and Sensibility. My girl has a strange obsession with Alan Rickman. I’d be jealous if I didn’t know I could out smart him any day.
Me: Hmmm. I keep forgetting that I gave you a hefty sense of arrogance. Okay moving on, you go out to eat and have a drink what does Pepper order?
Jax: Passion fruit mojito. Pepper’s family is from the Caribbean and her drink of choice is always a mojito.
Me: Okay here’s an easy one, what’s her eye color?
Jax: She’s got the warmest brown eyes I’ve ever seen. One look and you want to give her everything she asks for…well except her car keys, and an escape route…
Me: What is something you do that she wishes you wouldn’t?
Jax: Well… (Shifting uncomfortably) I can be a little bit of an…overzealous planner. Some people might consider it scheming, but I think they don’t understand the importance of a good plan.
Me: Yeah that might be the understatement of the year. Did she play any sports when she was younger?
Jax: Hey, you’re the one wrote the book. Or are you going to blame that girl Muse again. Anyway, Pep doesTae kwon do. She took lessons when she was a kid and let me just say, she didn’t let a single skill go to waste! If there’s anyone I’d want next to me in a bar fight it would be her. Actually, she would probably be the one who started the fight (rubbing his chin). I could probably stop and finish my drink and watch the carnage she’s sure to cause.
Me: Yeah she is a bit of a bad ass. Okay how about another easy question. What could she spend hours doing?
Jax: Arguing. Pepper loves a good argument and I have to admit she looks damned good when she’s doing it. Her breathing gets all hitched, and does it amazing things to her cleavage. Arguing with Pep is a great form of foreplay.
Me: I have a feeling that Pepper may take exception to your response. What is one unique talent she has?
Jax: Driving me crazy. She’s amazing at it. I think she goes out of her way to think of ways to mess with me. She’s evil and I love it.
Me: Okay, where did you two meet?
Jax: In college. I helped you out of a kind of …delicate situation.
Me: Alright last question (grinning). Who wears the pants in the relationship?
Jax: I plead the fifth on this one. What are you trying to do? Set me up? We both love control, but if it were up to me neither one of us would be wearing pants most of the time anyway.
Persuasion Skills, An Excerpt
Marching into the main room, she confronted her friend-come-raving-lunatic.
“Forget Misery. You’re in definite Psycho territory here!”
A tint of red darkened his cheeks. At least he had the decency to blush. His show of embarrassment gave her hope that there was still a chance to reason with him.
“I know it looks bad”
“Looks bad? Looks bad? Jesus, Jax, you bought a closet full of clothes!”
“I didn’t want you to get cold. You’re such a Miami girl.”
“And my shampoo?”
“I wanted you to feel at home.”
“And the drawer filled with lingerie?”
He grinned at her. Stupid, sexy dimples.
“Okay, that one was more for me than you, but you can’t blame a guy for being hopeful.”
She stared at him and tried to take deep, calming breaths.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
“What exactly is your grand plan here? What are we supposed to accomplish trapped up on this mountain?”
He planted his arms across his chest and gave her a long, unreadable look.
“We live here for one week, like a real married couple,” he said finally.
She opened her mouth to retort, but he cut her off.
“Consider this a trial run. If at the end of the seven days, you’re not convinced we’ll be amazing together, I’ll let you walk away, and I’ll drop the whole thing.”
“I can’t just not go back to Miami, I have work—”
“I called your assistant this morning. She’s cleared your schedule for the next week.”
“All think you’re on a much-needed and overdue vacation. They say ‘Hi,’ by the way.”
Her left eyelid trembled. Was it possible to develop a chronic tick in a matter of minutes?
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
“And how exactly is a real couple supposed to live?”
“We do the things any other vacationing couple would do. We spend time with each other, go on walks, have romantic dinners.” He sent her a heavy lidded gaze. “We sleep together,” he said huskily.
Her body heated at his words, and her mouth went dry at the thought of being in a bed with him again. She let her gaze drift to his crotch and bit back a moan. He was most definitely aroused.
As if sensing her gaze, she could swear she saw his cock thump against his zipper.
She drew her gaze away from the hypnotic view as he made his way towards her with long, smooth steps.
“I’m not having sex with you again,” she said shakily. “That’s what got us into this mess to begin with. If we hadn’t slept together in the first place, you wouldn’t be proposing marriage right now.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” He placed a hand on her lower back and drew her into his warmth.
The look in his eyes had her catching her breath. Crazy Jax she could handle. Aroused Jax was a whole other story.
He leaned down and nuzzled her throat with his nose before whispering in her ear.
“The sex only helps prove my point, but I’ll make you a deal.”
Her stomach quivered at the feel of his lips at the flesh of her ear. She cleared her throat before responding.
“Does it involve you coming to your senses?”
The rumble of his chuckle vibrated up his chest and against her sensitive nipples as one of his hands smoothed down her back and squeezed her ass.
“No, but it should put you at ease.”
His meandering hand was making it hard for her to concentrate. All she could do was snort in reply, silently begging her hips not to give in and rub against him.
“For the next seven days, we get to pet each other as much as we want, fondle and taste to our heart’s content, but I won’t fuck you, Pep,” he said while nibbling at the soft skin of her throat.
It took a minute for her lust-addled brain to process his statement.
“But you said—”
He lifted his head and placed a soft, too-short kiss on her lips before stepping away.
“I said we’ll sleep together. Before we have sex again, I want you fully willing to be my wife and nothing less,” he said, a serious expression flattening his lips.
She searched his eyes, but his gaze didn’t waver. She grasped at the last life-line she could find.
“I don’t think I can be what you need, Jax.”
“And what exactly do you think I need?”
“I’m not exactly a submissive kind of woman,” she said.
She frowned as he snorted at her statement.
“I’m serious, Jax. I don’t think I can be the type of woman you seem to want. Our night together was good—”
“Amazing,” he said firmly. “It was amazing.”
“Whatever, fine amazing,” she said, not wanting to go down that road at the moment. “But I’m not wired to be bossed around and told what to do. You want a submissive woman, and I’m just not that.”
He shook his head sadly at her. It hurt to see his look of disappointment, but it was what she expected. She wouldn’t take her words back because they were the truth. As much as she enjoyed him dominating her in bed she knew that the bedroom was as far as she would allow it.
“Pep, if I wanted a submissive woman, we wouldn’t even be here right now.”
“Do I want to tie you down and fuck you senseless? Hell yeah. I can’t wait to see you bound and spread-eagled for me again.”
He reached up and cupped her heated cheeks, tilting her face up to meet his gaze.
“And I can’t wait to see your nipples in pretty little clamps, tight and hard just begging to be sucked.”
Her breathing was way past erratic, but she couldn’t look away from his heated gaze.
“But that’s where it ends. It stays with sex. I like your kick-ass attitude, Pep. I don’t want a woman who isn’t willing to argue and fight. What I prefer in the bedroom doesn’t extend to the rest of our relationship.”
Her heart sank as she saw her chances of surviving the next week with her heart unscathed deteriorate in a pile of ash.
“I don’t want to change who you are, Pep. I just want to prove that we work together. Give this week a chance,” he said.
A heavy sigh worked its way past the lump in her throat.
“You’ve got yourself a deal, Mr. Grey,” she told him.
It almost hurt to see his answering smile of relief.
“Well, Mrs. Grey, I think it’s time for lunch. How ’bout I fix you a grilled cheese sandwich and then we head out for a walk?” He pulled her back in for a hug.
She laid her head on his chest and breathed in his scent. She had a fleeting thought that traipsing around in the woods with him sounded like fun. Apparently, insanity was contagious.
“Yeah, sure. Why the hell not?”
Persuasion Skills by Laurel Cremant
In the aftermath of a major health scare, Pepper Holts makes the relief-inspired decision to seize the day. Unfortunately, most of her “seizing” involves a bit of merlot and her best friend’s pants! After a shared night of passion she realizes that her feelings for Jax are a lot more complicated than she ever thought.
Jax has finally realized that his allergy to marriage has nothing to do with the institution itself, and everything to do with the women in his bed—or more specifically, the one woman not in his bed. Her reaction to their one night together has him scrambling to regroup. So he does what he knows best—he disappears, and he thinks. The plan?—convince Pepper into staying with him at a secluded cabin for one week. One week of pretending to be a happily married couple to show her how great they could be together.
ABOUT LAUREL CREMANT
Laurel is a romance author, who like most writers loves to read. Her first love (pun intended) has always been romance. From the sappy YA romance novel to the more risqué erotica novels, Laurel is a sucker for a good love story.
Laurel writes paranormal and contemporary romance and is a self proclaimed, out of the closet nerd. She admits that she can’t seem to avoid adding a bit of “nerdology” or “geek-dom” to all of her books. Living in Miami, she also admits that she can’t seem to avoid giving her heroines gorgeous shoes, “In Miami, we worship everything strappy, open toed and just plain hot!”
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