Friday, July 11, 2014
Excerpt: No Apologies by Sybil Bartel @SybilBartel
Hard-edged rocker Graham Allen has it all. He's flush with cash from playing bass in a band by night and restoring classic cars by day. And there are plenty of women willing to share his bed for a night, complication-free. Perfect, because if there's anything he learned from his past, it was to never get attached—to anything. So when bartender Carly Sullivan flashes her innocent smile, Graham isn't prepared for what happens next.
Never fall in love
Two rules, that's all Graham has—never apologize and never fall in love. He knows Carly is everything he should avoid. Cheerful and sweet, she has "relationship" written all over her. But Graham can't stay away from her probing questions and concerned blue eyes.
When Graham discovers Carly is hiding a crushing secret, he's prepared to risk it all. Until in one single moment, everything changes and Graham's past threatens to collide with his future. His life is crumbling down around him, and soon no apology in the world can save him.
He should've known to walk away.
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“You have a beautiful smile. Seeing it makes my day.” I grinned at her, nudging her knee with mine.
All of a sudden her face dropped and she looked away.
Shit. “I’m not gonna lie to you, Hummingbird,” I said gently. I didn’t want to scare her but I couldn’t pretend, not with her.
“Why do you call me Hummingbird?” she asked quietly.
I tightened a bolt before I answered. “Because you’re beautiful like a hummingbird. You hover in my thoughts and every time I come near, you fly away scared.”
“When you call me that, it sounds like a term of endearment. It makes me think you like me.”
I stopped what I was doing to look at her. “It is. I do.”
She turned away.
I grasped her chin and brought her face back to mine. I needed to see her eyes but when she looked up, all I saw was the wounded bird from last night. It killed me not to pull her into my arms but I needed her to know I would respect her boundaries. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
“You already did,” she barely breathed.
Jesus. That cut. Really cut. I dropped my hand. “I’m not going to apologize for last night.” It was a shit move to say it again but she had to understand where I was coming from.
“I’m not asking you to,” she said quickly.
“Then what do you want with me?” I sounded like I was accusing her of something, and maybe I was.
“You asked me here today.” The hurt in her voice was palatable.
Okay. Fuck. Inhale, count to ten. No lies, no lies… “Look, I have about as much experience in friendship with a woman as I do with pink shit or flowers. I don’t do this. I’ve never done this. I’m flattered you chose to share your past with me and I will be respectful of that, always, but your expectations of what else I’m capable of should be close to none.” I stared at her, hoping she understood me.
“Why do you put yourself down?”
“Don’t,” I warned. She wasn’t going to turn this around. I wouldn’t let her.
“Don’t what? Care about you? Want you to think you’re capable of more than just sharing small pieces of yourself?”
Anger began to seep in. “You don’t know me,” I said low and threateningly.
“I want to know you. I’ve wanted to know you since the first time I saw you play. I look at you and I see…” She stopped and stared at me like she needed permission.
Fists clenched, heart pounding, I wanted to know what she saw. God, I wanted to know. And I didn’t. Air trapped in my lungs, I hated that she had the upper hand right now. Damn it. Only one way out, I inclined my head.
Looking away, she inhaled and held it. Then in a rush, she brought her eyes back to mine, exhaled and spoke. “I see something like me.”
About the Author
I now live in Southern Florida and while I don’t get to read as much as I like, I still bury my toes in the sand. If I’m not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in my backyard, you can find me spending time with my handsomely tattooed husband, my brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…
Here are ten things you really want to know about me.
I grew up a faculty brat. I can swear like a sailor. I love men in uniform. I hate being told what to do. I can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks me out. My favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—I can’t decide. I have a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on me for driving directions, ever. And I have a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell my husband
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