I crush hard on romance novel heroes and I know you do too. Which is why I’m inviting special guest authors and their heroes to select and answer two questions for us. The questions come from a list I designed to dip into what really lies underneath all that strapping, heroic yumminess. Today’s guest author is a dear friend of mine and Washington DC Romance Writing sister, Miss Mackenzie Lucas! Please give a warm welcome to Mackenzie and her sexy rock star hero, Josh. I wonder what Josh is willing to share…
Josh: My last spontaneous action was to walk away from my manager and travel to Serenity Island alone to write the album I needed to write. Once there, a whole string of crazy bad-ass spontaneity ensued. You’ll have to read my story to find out.
I plan to do just that and bravo to you. That was a very gutsy decision and one that I’m sure paid off with some really good music. You’re awfully cute, by the way. 😉
Question Two: What is your favorite song and why?
Josh: It’s the song I wrote called “Bridges” in honor of my grandfather Saul Cohen. He’s a great musician in his own right and I never felt I could measure up to the old man until I came to Serenity and found the heart of my music.
Awwwww, just don’t mind all the sighing you might be hearing right now.
Okay friends, I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to let this one go! You know I’m a sucker for a rock star and I know you are too! Oh Mr. Nicodemus, be a sweetheart and answer just a few more … pretty please?
Yay, he’s sticking around!!
Question: When is the last time you missed the chance to say something to someone and what kept you from saying it?
Josh: I went most of my adult life–from the time I was 18 until just recently–missing out on saying lots to my grandfather. First and foremost was I love you and I forgive you. But we’ve come through that rough patch. The old man lives in my upstairs apartment now. Can’t get rid of the old dog.
Question: What do you smell like and what word would you use to describe a nice smelling woman?
Josh: (He’s raising a shoulder with one side of his mouth lifted in a sexy grin.) Mind you, I’ve never noticed myself, but I’ve been told I smell like a woodsy forest after a fresh rain. Lifts hand. I kid you not. Swear to God, that’s what she said. (He’s winking!) J.D. smells like Heaven. Like fresh apricots and warm sugary cobbler.
Question: What is something you’ve learned from a child?
Josh: J.D.’s involved with a theater program that performs for a PIC-U Wings program on the island, a pediatric intensive care unit for kids with cancer. I cannot tell you what these kids have taught me about the human spirit, resilience, and what it really means to live.
So. Much. Love. For. You. Right. Now.
Question: What are the top two things on your mind when you’re out with someone special?
Josh: That someone special is J.D., aka Jordan Drake. She’s a former child actress. And my biggest primary worry while we’re out is her protection. She was a tad wild in her teen years. So the paparazzi won’t leave her alone. My main goal in life is to give that woman some peace of mind and a whole lot of pleasure. I think I do both pretty well.
Your winks will literally be the death of those of us hanging on your every word! Stop it! Okay, don’t stop it. It’s really adorable.
Question: Can you tell when someone is nervous around you and what makes you nervous?
Josh: I’m a rock star. Not a whole hell of a lot makes me nervous. I was performing on stage by the age of three. But, yeah, I can tell when someone is nervous around me. I do my best to put them at ease. Comment on something that’s important to them, draw them out. I understand what it’s like to want others to know who you really are, down deep. People matter. And I like to take an interest.
Last Question: What’s the last thing you dressed up as?
Josh: I’m not a dress-up kinda guy. I’m more a take it off man. (Oh my goodness, ladies…that laugh of his!) But J.D. makes me wear clothes outside of the house.
Okay, Mr. Nicodemus. I think we’ve all gone to our happy places now. You’ve done your good deed for the day. Le sigh.
In Every Heart Sings, a contemporary romance, rock star Josh Nicodemus finds his true voice and true love when he helps former actress Jordan Drake break out of the self-imposed prison she’s created for herself in Serenity and at The Down Dog Café.
A whole island of quirky characters comes together to meddle, forcing Josh and Jordan to admit their love for each other and help expose the injustice done to Jordan’s sixteen-year-old nephew, who is more than a little music crazy and a huge fan-boy of Josh Nicodemus.
Who wants to make some beautiful music with Josh? He’s waiting for you here at this fine e-retailer:
Sidewinder was at the piano, all was right in Serenity.
She’d met The Piano Man, as the residents called Sidewinder, the day she bought the old café. The realtor had joked that he came with the place. He required one meal a day and all the coffee he could drink.
He’d become a permanent fixture at The Down Dog Café.
Jordan closed her eyes and swayed to the music, letting it touch and move her to its intrinsic beat.
Someone cleared a throat across the room.
Jordan’s eyes shot open. Tony? Shit. No. A man, a hot, hunky man stood inside the café door watching her in her short cut-off shorts that dipped low on her belly and her favorite too-tight UCLA T-shirt. Not that she would have dressed any different. Hell, she didn’t dress up for anyone any more. Not for a long, long time. Not since her last red carpet event at the age of sixteen. A lifetime ago.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
The man wore aviators. Dark jeans and a light blue T-shirt stretched across his solid chest. A lightweight black jacket emphasized his broad shoulders. His dark hair looked tousled and a little curly. Light stubble darkened his strong jaw and chin. His full, sensual lips were a dusky rose color; they spread into a wide smile over even white teeth. A deep dimple creased his left cheek and made her belly flip-flop in an odd, fluttery way.
“I certainly hope so,” he said. His rich, deep voice had a rough, raspy edge that sent heat arrowing through her body straight to her core. If that voice could be trapped in a bottle, someone would make millions from it. They could exchange it for gold, maybe solve world hunger, or find a cure for cancer. It was that powerful. His voice was pure auditory sex. Slow, syrupy, and sensual. “I saw the For Sale sign in the window. You know who owns this place? I’m interested in buying it.”
She cleared her throat to try to dislodge the dryness. “Yeah. Sure do. It’s me.”
“Cool.” He pulled his aviators off and she stared straight into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. God. He was drop-dead gorgeous. And Jordan had seen some gorgeous men in her lifetime. “What are you asking for it?” he said.
She took a moment to assess the stranger. He could model Calvin Klein underwear. Wow. She got dizzy just thinking about it. Then, she realized she’d been holding her breath, instead of breathing.
Clearly he was a tourist, but not a run-of-the-mill tourist. This guy had money. He wore an expensive Rolex watch and Berluti shoes that went for eighteen-hundred dollars a pair.
Yeah, this guy had money.
Jordan knew what she and Ivy, the island realtor, had discussed as a good asking price for the property based on the condition of the building. One hundred-fifty thousand dollars.
Tony and Grace needed help, plus she could pad her banking account to last her a good long while if she doubled the price. She didn’t want to be too greedy.
What did she have to lose?
She held her breath a moment and made a snap decision.
“Three hundred thousand. Cash.”
Sidewinder whistled behind them. “Girl . . . I hope you know what you’re doing.”
“Quiet, old man,” Jordan barked at him. “And the old man comes with the place. You can’t throw him out.”
The guy smiled. “Deal.” He extended his hand. “I’m Josh, by the way.”
“You look familiar, do I know you?”
“Nah. I have one of those faces,” she lied.
“Huh.” He shrugged and let it go. “Let me know what bank and name to wire the money to.”
“Seriously? You’re for real? You’re buying the café on the spot.”
“Hell, yeah.” He grinned at her. “I consider it an investment in my future.”
“You haven’t even looked around. You have no clue about the condition of this place. That’s just not a good business decision. There’s a commercial kitchen in back, if you want to keep the café running as a restaurant. There’s a full apartment upstairs. All the plumbing is in order. The roof is good for another ten years.”
“Sounds great. I’ll take it. I’d like to move into the apartment upstairs now if it’s vacant.”
“Ah, yeah. No one lives there. I keep it clean. It comes fully furnished. The furniture is old, but in good shape.”
He walked to the window and pulled down the For Sale sign and handed it to her. He punched a number into his cell phone and spoke to someone. “Wire three hundred thousand dollars to the . . .” He looked at Jordan. “What’s the name of your bank?”
“Yes, wire three hundred large to Atlantic Mutual in Serenity, North Carolina, to . . .” He raised an inquiring eyebrow, waiting for her name.
Jordan studied the floor, jammed her hands in her back pockets, then took a deep breath. What were the chances he’d recognize her name after her being away from Hollywood for over ten years? He looked to be in his early-thirties.
Maybe he’d recognize her name. Maybe not.
But if she didn’t tell him her name, she’d never get a deal like this again. Shit, shit, shit. She didn’t know this guy. Didn’t know if she could or should trust him. He could be a player.
“Jordan Drake,” she whispered, rubbing her hands on the bar rag she pulled off of her shoulder.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear you.” He angled his head. “I thought you said Jordan Drake?” Dawning awareness made his eyes go big. “Holy shit. You are Jordan Drake.”
She nodded. “Yeah.” So much for anonymity. She narrowed her eyes at him. “But that’s confidential information.” She pointed a finger at him. “And I swear, if you sell that information to the gossip rags, or bring the paps charging here, I will find a way to eviscerate you. Got it, buddy? Deal or no deal. Your silence and whoever you have on the other end of that telephone line must guarantee that this will not leak out. Got it? It’s my only condition for the sale.”
“Yes, sorry, Joe. Wire the money to Jordan Drake. And that’s confidential information. No one needs to know. No, not even Ben. Got it? I’ll call him with my whereabouts later tonight.”
He disconnected the phone. “Done.” He reached out and shook her hand. His long, strong fingers gripped her palm.
Jordan’s fingers tingled, an electrical pulse surged up her arm. They both looked at their joined hands.
Wow. He’d felt it, too.
She pulled back hastily and braced her hands on her hips. “What are you? A rock star?”
His mouth dropped open and his eyes widened. He blinked. Then he smiled. “Well, yeah, kinda. Hi. Sorry. I didn’t introduce myself properly. I’m Josh Nicodemus, front man for the band Nicodemus.”
Shit, shit, shit. She couldn’t breathe. Her chest squeezed. Not because she was star-struck. Jordan didn’t get star-struck, not even when she’d met George Clooney or Val Kilmer. No, this was an oh-fuck-what-have-I-done panic attack. She didn’t need this. Didn’t need a celebrity here. In her café. Bringing unwanted attention to Serenity. To her. Shit, shit, shit. Everything she’d worked so hard to build could all be ripped away by this one man.
Jordan high-tailed it back to the lunch counter. She wiped the countertop compulsively, not meeting Josh’s eyes. He walked up to the counter, placed his large, sexy hands over hers to stop their movement. “It’s okay. I promise. I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to write my new album. It does me no good to bring unwanted attention my way, or yours.”
She stared into his eyes so blue she could see the bottom of the Caribbean there. But in those depths, she saw truth. One thing she’d learned over the years was who to trust and who was out for her good. It’s why she’d gotten what was left of her money away from her parents at sixteen, why she’d removed her career from their mismanagement and taken back her life. She’d known. And that kind of knowledge and understanding conditions you to see truth and falsehood. This man told her the truth.
“Okay.” She sighed. “The apartment is yours. I’ll keep a set of the keys until I know the money clears the bank tomorrow. And, if you didn’t know, the police station is just down the block. I’ll be talking to Sherriff Daniels before I head home.”
He grinned at her, his thumb rubbing the back of her hand. “I’d expect nothing less.” He seemed to realize his hands were stroking hers. He pulled them back quickly. “I noticed there aren’t many restaurants on the street. This one and a diner on the corner.”
“Yep. That’s it. The diner covers the overnight and breakfast crowd. We cover lunch and dinner. There’s a bar around the corner, since I don’t actually sell alcohol here. My sober coach would frown on it.”
Josh nodded. “I probably need to keep the café running. I don’t want to put a strain on the locals.” He rubbed his neck. “Do you know a good manager who might be able to run this place for me? I’m not really interested in managing it twenty-four-seven.”
“I could manage the café for you for a while. See how it goes.”
“That’d be nice.” He cleared his throat. Their conversation trailed off—that awkward pause of two people surprised by an immediate chemistry.
Jordan noticed Sidewinder had stopped playing about the time Josh pulled the For Sale sign from the window. Now, he closed the cover on the keyboard and stood. He clicked his way toward the door.
“Where are you going, old man?” she asked.
“Gotta hit the pharmacy and the grocery,” he said, all hurried like, his shuffle a smidge quicker than normal.
“Damn you. You’re worse than an old gossiping woman.”
Sidewinder hooted and placed the fedora back on his head before he pulled the door open. “When you got the scoop, you got the scoop. See you tomorrow, J.D. Nice to meet you Nicodemus.” He smiled real big, as pleased as a child with a triple scoop ice cream cone, and pushed through the front door.
Mackenzie Lucas writes sexy contemporary, paranormal, and erotic romance novels and novellas. No matter if her characters are wielding magic or not, they’re sure to face trials by fire, fight unspeakable villainy, and confront their own fears and flaws all in the pursuit of true love. When she’s not pursuing her writing career, Mackenzie can be found reading, because long before she was a writer, she was a voracious romance reader. Some things never change.
Mackenzie is represented by Macintosh & Otis Literary Agency. She holds a MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and a BA in Literature from Dickinson College. She’s president of Washington Romance Writers. And she’s published with Soul Mate Publishing as well as Indie published. Some of her titles include: Essence, Courting Cinderella, To Have & To Hold, and From This Day Forward. The Dom of My Heart, an erotic romance novella just released in Hot Encounters, an anthology by Soul Mate Publishing, on February 26, 2015, and Every Heart Sings, a single title contemporary romance, released by Soul Mate on March 4, 2015.
Connect with Mackenzie Here:
I hope your socks are thoroughly rocked! Friends, thank you so much for stopping by and reading today’s post. Be sure and come back to see which heroes will be stopping by in the coming weeks and months. Have a great weekend, everyone, xoxoxo. And don’t forget, if you’re gonna crush, crush hard!!