A Picnic – From “The Protectors”

Today, author Carolyn Wren is sharing a picnic scene from The Hostage, Book 4 in her “Protectors” series.  

First, a little background on the story.

Carolyn explains:

Our hero, James ‘North’ Northam is attempting to find out the identity of the woman who rescued him from a deadly hostage situation.  Is Meg, the schoolteacher, really the highly skilled covert operative who risked her life for his?

In this picnic scene he is trying to find out her secrets.  Meg is equally determined to keep them.

Enjoy!

Lying in the surprisingly comfortable bed in the early hours, and after formulating various scenarios in his head, North decided on something simple. Food.

He stepped in front of her as she exited the school the following afternoon, a large wicker basket in his hand. “I have a picnic basket.”

“That’s nice. I hope you enjoy it.” Meg stepped sideways to pass him.

He countered, blocking her path again. “It has enough for two.”

“Then I hope you’re hungry.” She took another step to her left.

North countered. “I’m asking you to join me, Meg.”

“Thank you, I have a lesson plan to write.” She made to take another step in the opposite direction, obviously hoping he’d take the hint.

Mrs. Jenkins appeared behind her. The headmistress was clearly unashamed by her eavesdropping. “That’s fine, Meg. There isn’t any rush. You should go along, have some fun. You spend way too much time on school work.”

North had the distinct feeling Meg wanted to roll her eyes and couldn’t, because he was watching her. He resisted the urge to grin.

“Gee, if you put it that way, I don’t see how I can possibly refuse,” she replied, her voice the personification of cheerful.

North offered her his arm. She refused with a shake of her head.

“You’ll have to drive,” he reminded her, “unless you want Martin to sit in the car and wait. I figured you’d have a better idea of the area, know of somewhere nice to go.”

Meg looked down at the basket he held. “Two people you say? That’s big enough to feed an entire family, for a week.”

“What can I say? I’m very hungry.”

“I wasn’t aware Mrs. Harrison’s grocery store had branched out into gourmet hampers?”

“It hasn’t. I have a very efficient London express courier company on standby.”

“Does everything always fall into place when you snap your fingers?”

He tilted his head and regarded her steadily. “Apparently not, but I keep hoping,”

* * * *

Meg drove them to a local park. At her instructions, North carried the basket to a giant oak tree. A stream tinkled and gurgled over rocks nearby. This was her place, a place she liked to sit and ponder, to unwind after an assignment. However, North didn’t need to know that.

He cleared an area of twigs and other fragments of nature and laid down the large woolen blanket. The food was beautiful, of course, succulent chicken, crisp salads, fresh fruit and a variety of gourmet accompaniments. North poured her a glass of white wine.

“Unseasonably warm weather,” he said, handing her the long stemmed glass with an innocent look.

“Exceptionally so,” she replied, not trusting him for a moment.

“Lovely here though, under the tree. Nice shade.”

“Yes, trees are shady,” Meg suppressed a grin. He’s up to something.

“How long have you lived in the village?”

Here we go, the interrogation begins. “A while now.”

“Have you always been a teacher?” North took a sip of his wine, his expression open and curious.

“No, but I’ve been doing it for a few years.” He watched her, not saying anything. It seemed like a safe subject, so she continued. “Children are so important.  I know it sounds cliché‚ I feel like they really are the future. It’s imperative they be nurtured and taught. The world isn’t always a safe place. When they’re with me, I try to make them feel like it is. School is a place to learn and grow, where everything should be perfect, the future an endless world of knowledge to explore.”

She stopped talking. North’s gaze had become intense. Meg wondered if it was such a safe subject after all. “What about you? Have you always wanted to be a multi-millionaire company director?”

His lips twitched at her obvious deflection. “It’s a job, a well-paid one. It has its good and bad points. Some parts offer more satisfaction than others. I like the chase. The drive. The perks.”

“Perks like Anika Sorrenson?” As soon as the words left her mouth, she cursed herself.

He raised his brows. “Have you been researching me, Meg?”

She had researched him, from a professional point of view. She’d needed all the information she could get after he’d been taken and had done an exhaustive, mostly illegal search into his life. Anika Sorrenson, an ice blonde actress had turned up as his most recent lover. Meg had quickly discarded her as a suspect as the woman didn’t seem to have any real power or any grudges concerning North.

“You were both in the newspapers a lot,” she said, explaining her knowledge. “I like the celebrity pages.”

He shrugged. “It was more of a business arrangement than anything. Anika approached me, said she wanted to break into bigger movie roles. To do that in today’s media hungry world you need to get noticed. She didn’t want scandal. So she decided three months on my arm would accomplish her goal nicely. She proposed a deal. I accepted.”

“Payment for services rendered?” Meg asked.

“If you like.”

“Not your usual type of deal.” Meg was curious, despite herself.

“It stirred my interest at a time last year when business was annoying and life was a little stressful.”

“So she got three months in your home?”

“Never in my home. A tabloid rumor, unfounded. She did spend three months in my bed, a mutually satisfying side venture to the agreement.” He looked over at Meg.

She met his leveled gaze, giving him no reaction.

Putting his glass aside, he laid down on the blanket. When he stretched out, his long body spilled over the ends. Raising his arms, he folded them behind his head and closed his eyes, the epitome of male relaxation.

“Anika is a lovely girl. We got on remarkably well. Despite what you may be thinking, I would never have entered into such an agreement otherwise. She’s smart and highly intelligent. I feel she should be looking for a more productive career. I offered to put her through college at my cost, no strings attached. She had it in her blood though. Nothing would satisfy her, except acting.”

“She turned down your offer of an education?”

“She did. Anika’s very stubborn. She’s dating a director now. He should be able to help her with her dream. I sincerely wish her all the best.”

He’s one of the good guys. Ruthless, undoubtedly. But honest and upfront, with good morals and judgment. A life worth saving.

She followed his lead, laying down on the soft blanket and stretching out. It was large enough to provide enough space between them for her to be comfortable. The sun flickered through the leaves above, making her squint. Meg closed her eyes.

Sleep had been elusive lately. The last assignment had taken its toll, mentally as well as physically. She loathed having to admit it. Dreams plagued her in the darkness of the night, fractured, disturbing images, and memories. Meg forced herself to breathe deeply. Lying in the late afternoon with the sun and the bubbling stream nearby was relaxing. North had apparently given up on his interrogation for the time being.  She surrendered to the peace. The tension in her muscles began to relax.

The screech of an angry bird startled her. Meg woke, instantly and completely, without moving, just as she always did. God, she needed more sleep if she could just nod off at a moment’s notice like that, here in the open where anyone could penetrate her defenses. Glancing to her left, she saw North sitting up, staring into the distance.

The light moved through the trees, casting shadows over his face and body, almost like the first time she’d seen him. Then he had been dirty and unshaven, gaunt, injured, and exhausted.

He had a strong profile, a square jaw, and high cheekbones. His hair and lashes were as dark as his eyes, an arresting and handsome face. He’d put back what little weight his incarceration had stolen from him and looked strong and healthy.

Meg hadn’t seen any hospital reports. Her assignment had finished the second she’d handed him over to the transportation team. He looked well, despite his eye injury she still regretted. Is that why she’d agreed to coffee yesterday? Plagued by guilt over an injury she hadn’t known about? He’d been beaten long before she arrived. There was nothing she could have done. Still, it troubled her. Meg wanted to ask after other injuries. Of course, that was ridiculous. It would blow her cover. Physically, he’d made a full recovery. Meg felt sure the mental scars remained. Was that why he’d set out to find her?

She continued her perusal. Powerful shoulders, broad back, strong arms. He had one knee drawn up, and his arm rested on it. His other arm was by his side, and his hand was…holding hers. His larger fingers curled around hers like a form of protection. She tugged them free. To his credit he didn’t try to stop her.

“You haven’t been sleeping at night?” He turned to face her.

“It was just a little nap. I’m not used to drinking wine during the day.”

“Is it physical pain or do you have dreams?”

Damn the man was perceptive. “It’s nothing for you to worry about.”

“Meg, talk to me. Sometimes talking helps.”

“I have nothing to talk about. I keep telling you, it’s all in your head.”

“You have shadows under your eyes.”

“Are you always this complimentary with women you have picnics with?”

“I’m sorry I held your hand. It’s just that you watched over me while I slept, kept me safe from harm. I was simply returning the favor.”

He watched for a reaction. She gave him none, perhaps because his frank statement had surprised her into silence. A good man, a life worth saving.

Sighing, he rose to his feet. He leaned down and offered his hand. She ignored it and stood without his help.

“You’re much more stubborn than Anika,” he said, lips curving.

“Perhaps, we both think you get your way all too often. Come on. Let’s get you home. I have a lesson plan to write.”

 ~ ~ ~ ~

 More from Carolyn:

I was born in England. My parents loved to travel as my dad spent many years in the navy. By the time I reached the age of 12 we had traveled pretty much around the world on cruise ships.

This sounds fun and exciting unless like me you can get sea sick sitting in a bathtub. Lets just say boats do not feature highly in my books.

I still love to travel, but I use planes. All of my life I have written stories in my head. I would rewrite and add characters to TV shows, edit and change novels I was reading, invent scenarios and scenes to amuse myself on long journeys. But strangely I never wrote any of them down. About three years ago I woke up with a scene so clear in my head I knew I had to put it down on paper. Now, what should I do with this one page of prose? I know, I will email it to some friends. The friends approved, in fact they asked what book it was from. I shyly admitted it was my own work and the reaction was immediate…please write the next bit! I did and I have not stopped writing since.

~ ~ ~ ~

Check out Carolyn’s other books in The Protectors Series:

The Diplomat’s Daughter, The Actress, The Scientist, and The Widower’s Child.

Curl Up with a Good Book…and the One You Love

Reading is usually thought of as a solitary activity. Sure, back in our grade-school days, we sat around in groups and pretended to listen as one classmate after another read aloud, and then we blushed and stammered a bit when it was our turn.  But ever since we got out of school, we’ve done our reading alone.  Who knows, maybe it has something to do with those unpleasant school room memories.

Reading together is actually a very enjoyable past-time for people to share, especially when they’re in love, and even more when they’re reading about love. Curling up together with a good book can bring you and your partner closer — not only in a very real physical sense as you snuggle together and turn the pages, but in an emotional sense, as well.

There are a few things to keep in mind to make the experience as satisfying as possible.

COMFORT COUNTS

If either of you is uncomfortable, reading pleasure — and comprehension — is going to go downhill fast.  Prop up the pillows, adjust the lighting, make sure the room temperature is right, and that ceiling fans aren’t whipping the pages around.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME

Don’t rush through reading. Choose a time when you can relax and not worry about where you have to be later or all the things on a long to-do list. It doesn’t matter if you spend fifteen minutes or several hours reading together. What does matter is that you can fully enjoy the experience.

TUNE OUT DISTRACTIONS

Maybe a little music in the background is all right, but usually nothing works better for reading than quiet. Remember those blue-haired librarians who always shushed you? They did it for a reason.  Please do keep the television off, and shut off your cellphones, too.  Candles and incense might sound like good ideas, but they can easily become distractions. You can’t concentrate on reading — or your partner — if you’re worried about setting the curtains on fire, or if your eyes are watering from too much sweet-smelling smoke.

TAKE A CASUAL ATTITUDE

Nothing can spoil the fun of reading more than feeling that it’s mandatory. It’s not, you know. Reading together is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Neither of you should feel pressured or anxious. Some people read better than others. Some people just don’t enjoy reading aloud.  It’s fine if you do the reading and your partner listens. It’s fine the other way around, too. It’s even all right if neither of you reads aloud. In fact, you don’t even have to be reading from the same book or magazine.  Being together and sharing the activity is what makes it special. If you’re reading from separate books, newspapers, or magazines, take a moment now and then to share things that catch your interest.

DISCUSS WHAT YOU’RE READING

Talk about it. Ask questions. Express opinions. If you find a subject that catches your attention, build on that interest and seek out more books on the topic. Of course, if you start reading a book and quickly discover that one of you has lost interest or, if you’re reading non-fiction and one of you has strong negative feelings about the author’s premise, put the book aside and find something you can both enjoy.  The key word is discuss, not debate. Above all, don’t argue.

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS…OR MORE

Reading isn’t always about words. Remember the picture books you enjoyed as a child? Adults can enjoy picture books, too, and no, I’m not talking about THOSE kinds of pictures. You know what I mean. I’m talking about picture books that take you to faraway places, or ones that offer new things to learn. Always wanted to visit Paris? Find a travel book, curl up together on a rainy morning, and wander the Champs-Elysees together. Or if art is your thing, check out a book of masterpieces and turn the pages slowly. These are the sort of books that are often called “coffee table” works, but they’re great for bedside tables, too. Even a cookbook makes for great reading. Pick out recipes you’d both like to try.

WHERE TO BEGIN?

Where you start is up to you, but some subjects are more suited for romantic bedtime reading than others.  Here are a few topics to consider:

Books on Love and Marriage

You’ll find lots of books written for couples, both for newlyweds and those who’ve been together for a lifetime. There are books for wives, books for husbands, and books to address specific problems.  Here are a few you might want to check out:

A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

The Secret of Happily Married Men

What a Husband Needs From His Wife

10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage

Books on Sexuality

For more intimate reading, you might want to explore massage techniques, or learn about Tantra. With the right book, reading can become a pleasurable “hands-on” experience.

Tantra for Erotic Empowerment: The Key to Enriching Your Sexual Life

The Essence of Tantric Sexuality

A Little Bit Kinky: A Couple’s Guide to Rediscovering the Thrill of Sex

A Celebration of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy

The Art of Sensual Massage

Joke Books

What’s even more fun than reading in bed? Well, besides THAT.  How about reading and laughing in bed? Especially if you do your reading in the evening after a long, hard day, you might enjoy tickling each other’s funny bones with a good book of jokes.

Adult Only Joke Book

Dave Barry is Not Making This Up

The Mancode Exposed

Advice for a Happy Marriage: From Miss Dietz’s 3rd Grade Class

A Perfectly Funny Marriage

Picture Books

You’ll find lots of delightful picture book to explore, depending on your interests. Check out books on art, photography, travel, nature and wildlife, foods, cars, motorcycles, seashells…the list of possibilities is endless.

Paris in Color

Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary

The Sculptures of Picasso

The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy  Sunday Book

Wildlife: The Nature Paintings of Carl Brenders

The suggestions given here are only a few of the many, many possibilities for fun, relaxing, and romantic reading. In addition to non-fiction titles, try reading fiction, choosing from popular titles, romance, or erotica.

Or how about the classics? Poetry? Scriptures? There’s a huge world of books waiting to be read. So, indulge, enjoy, and share the experience with the one you love.

A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS ON FICTION

  • Fiction, like film, is subjective. Choose titles that appeal to both of you.
  • If you do your reading late at night, select “quiet” stories that will leave you in a restful, peaceful state of mind.
  • Don’t spoil a story for your partner. You might have the ending figured out early on, but keep it to yourself, OK?

Reading: Share it with the one you love.

Romantic Excerpt: Another Picnic to Enjoy

Today’s romantic excerpt comes from author Christine Tetreault. It’s a great picnic scene from The Billionaire Playboy, the second book in her “The Sherbrookes of Newport” series.

The Billionaire Playboy

 

Sinking to her knees Charlie waited. Behind her she felt Jake loosen the knot in the bandana. When the cloth dropped she blinked a few times as her eyes grew accustomed to the bright sunshine. Then she really looked around. Spread out in front of her was a red and white checkered table cloth with a huge wicker basket in the middle. Two champagne flutes stood in front of the basket with a bottle of champagne on ice right next to them.

 

“Surprise!” he said dropping down to his knees next to her.

 

A picnic, she thought, unable to say anything around the lump in her throat. He’d brought her on an old-fashioned picnic. “You remembered,” she whispered, her voice almost impossible to hear over the waves. “I can’t believe you remembered.”

 

Jake popped open the champagne bottle and poured her a glass. “Playboys have terrific memories. Didn’t you know that?” he asked as he handed her a glass.

 

Charlie took a sip from her glass. The bubbles tickled her throat and she savored the taste. She generally preferred beer when she drank, but this champagne was the smoothest she’d ever tasted. “I didn’t know that, but I’ll keep it in mind for the future.”

 

“If you ever have any other questions about us, don’t hesitate to ask.” Jake smiled at her as he began to pull food from the picnic basket.

 

Oh, she had questions all right. She just chose not to ask them. Some questions were better off not asked. “I’ll remember that too,” she promised accepting the dinner plate he held out.

 

All the food spread out in front of her looked good but she still held back. “It all looks great. I’m not sure what to try first.”

 

Jake reached for a cherry tomato stuffed with what looked like fresh mozzarella cheese and basil. “I suggest you start with one of these. I stole one earlier and they’re delicious.”  After placing it on her plate he reached for another. “I tried some of the focaccia too.”

 

“Why am I not surprised?”  Charlie popped the tomato in her mouth and chewed. Jake was right, it was delicious.

 

A better picnic never existed, at least Charlie believed so. Everything about their beach picnic, from the food to the location, was perfect. And the company wasn’t half bad either, she thought looking over at Jake. Though she felt ready to burst from all the food she’d eaten, he sat munching on yet another brownie. Not that she blamed him. If she had any more room left she’d indulge in one more herself. Perhaps if any remained later she’d have one, although watching Jake eat, that possibility seemed unlikely.

 

Straightening her legs out, she leaned back and rested on her elbows. The hot beach sand warmed her bare legs and Charlie wiggled her toes underneath it. She almost never made it to the beach, but whenever she did she was reminded how much she liked it. Today even more so thanks to the company. Just being on the beach seemed to help wash away the stress of everyday life.

 

“You look deep in thought over there. How many pennies will it cost for them?” Jake’s question signaled that he’d finished his most recent brownie.

 

“I’ll consider this one on the house since you went to all this work,” Charlie answered pointing to the remnants of their picnic. “I was thinking about how much I like the beach. I always seem to forget that till I get back to one.”

 

“Then I’m glad I picked it for our picnic.”  Jake leaned over and dropped a kiss on her cheek. “I hope you enjoyed it.”

 

Words didn’t normally fail her. Actually she couldn’t think of a time when she hadn’t been able to express her opinion with ease. Right now, however, the right words escaped her. In silence Charlie watched the waves hit the beach and recede again. “I’ll never forget it.”  The huge knot in her throat almost chocked off the last part of her sentence much to her frustration. She considered herself a calm cool woman, not someone ruled by emotions. This afternoon though she felt like just the opposite.

 

“Just want I wanted to hear.”

 

She knew by his tone that he was smiling and turned to confirm her belief. Even though she expected it, the hundred-watt smile spreading across his face set her pulse racing. Damn, she should be used to that smile by now. What was wrong with her?

 

“You do know that no beach picnic is complete without a walk along the water?” Jake replaced the empty containers into the basket.

 

“Oh, really?  So there are written rules for these types of things?”

 

Jake’s eyebrow went up. “Of course. There’s a whole rule book.”  His tone contained just the right amount of arrogance and playfulness. “And after a walk the couple must retreat to the nearest bedroom. It’s all spelled out in the book.”

 

She couldn’t help but shake her head. Jake Sherbrooke made her laugh more than anyone else she knew. “Let’s go then. I don’t want to get caught breaking the rules.”

 

Charlie let Jake help her to her feet and together they started down the beach along the shoreline. For a little while they walked in silence, but she didn’t mind. In some ways she actually liked it. The lack of conversation let her focus on the sound of the crashing waves and the way the cool ocean breeze felt against her skin.

 

“Are you going to apply for that position at the hospital in Williamsburg?” Jake asked breaking the comfortable silence between them.

 

The week before, a former colleague who knew Charlie was considering retiring from the Navy had given her a heads-up about an opening at Memorial Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia.

 

“I sent in all the paperwork yesterday. I don’t know how long it will take to hear something.”

 

Jake stopped walking and put his arm around her waist. “Does that mean you’ve decided to leave the Navy?”

 

~~~~

 

Christina  Tetreault started writing at the age of ten and never stopped. When she’s not chasing her three young children or two dogs around, she is working or her writing or reading a romance novel.  Currently she is working on Book 4 in the Sherbrookes of Newport series, The Billionaire’s Best Friend.

 

You can visit her website — Christina Tetreault — or follow her on Facebook to learn more about her characters and to track her progress on the series.

 

She loves to hear from readers.

~~~~

 

Check out other romantic excerpts on The Picnic Page

 

More links to enjoy:

 

 

 

From: Forever Love — A Short, Sweet, Sexy Excerpt

In my continuing series of picnic scenes this summer, I’m pleased to share this scene, courtesy of romance author Melissa Keir. Enjoy!

Forever Love

From:   Forever Love by Melissa Keir

Seducing a man was outside my range of experience. I’d had only a few simple lovers feeling that my virginity was more of a hindrance than a blessing. After arranging for Dad to have dinner with T.J.’s mom, I ran to the local grocery for the ingredients to my famous chicken piccata. Packing my picnic basket with everything we might need from food to beer, I hoped tonight would be perfect even while I deliberated if I’d be able to go through with my plan.

With the basket in my hands and a smile on my face, I jumped into T.J.’s truck when he arrived after dusk.

“Where to pretty lady?”

“Let’s go back to where it started. Let’s go to the beach.”

Watching his face throughout the drive thrilled me with the excitement I had over finally acknowledging my feelings. Longing to run my fingers over his jaw and lips, I sat on my hands in order to keep from reaching for him.

“Why are you looking like the cat that swallowed the canary?”

“I had a long talk with Dad. He enjoyed your visit and the dinner with your mom at the VFW. I haven’t seen his spirits that high since I returned to Amherst. That’s because of you. Thanks.”

“I always liked your dad. He was cool even with playing all mean and all. I’d have loved to spent time fishing or hunting with him. My own dad was gone a lot so we weren’t close. I felt like I could be that way with your dad.”

“I didn’t realize. But I’m glad you and Dad get along. He seems to have eyes for your mom.”

“Eww. Stop that! No pictures of parents and sex.”

I laughed at the look on his face. “So you don’t want to be brother and sister?”

“No, I have other plans for you and your basket! It was nice to be asked to dinner. I can smell your famous chicken. I haven’t had it in ages. No one makes it like you do.”

“I have cherry pie for dessert too.”

Another of his full smiles crossed his face as he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

“Hey, eyes on the road. We’re almost there.” The banter comfortable was between us. Knowing he was the one for me, my nervousness evaporated.

The beach parking lot was relatively empty because of the recent chill to Ohio’s weather. T.J. walked over to my door and opened it for me, pulling the basket into his hands.

“Let me help with this. Do you remember when we used to come here on the weekends and sit watching the sun set? We’d talk about our dreams.”

Turning toward T.J. and pulling the basket from his hands, I set it on the ground before looking him in the eye. “Yes. Those were my favorite times—sharing my plans with you for my life. I’ve thought of you but never took the chance of thinking we could go back to what we had. However, Amherst is my home again and you’ve earned that second chance.”

I pulled his body close to mine and devoured his lips, breathing nor the chicken was important. So stepping away from T.J. was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I want to take my time with him, with this. I needed to cool down.

“Catch me.” Running with the basket was harder than I realized. T.J. quickly caught up to me on the soft Erie sand.

“You’re mine.” He growled before lowering me to the sand, kissing me with passion.

~ ~ ~ ~

You can visit Melissa on the web here:

Sexy Between the Covers

Other books by Melissa include Beach Desires, and A Christmas Accident, both part of the Wilder series, as well as Second Time’s the Charm, Three’s a Crowd, and more.

For more romantic excerpts from your favorite authors, click here:

The Picnic Page

Romance Novel Excerpt – A Different Kind of Picnic

Today’s romantic excerpt is a little different…an indoor picnic.  It’s from Mark Love’s novel, Vanishing Act. Enjoy!

 

 I stood in the doorway to our bedroom and watched him. Even asleep, Malone could affect me like no other man I’d ever known. Not that there were that many. He stirred and reached across the bed for me, instinctively seeking that physical contact. I leaned against the doorway and sipped from the mug of tea I was holding in both hands.

“Hey, Jamie,” he said, his voice a bit raspy. Malone stretched beneath the quilts.

“Brunch is ready, Vasily. But first you need to shave and shower.”

“I was hoping to spend a very lazy day with you, Jamie.”

I could feel my eyes twinkle with delight. “That’s exactly what I had in mind too, Vasily. But first you must shave and shower.”  I set the mug on the dresser and leaned over, rewarding him with a long, lingering kiss. When he tried to pull me down on top of him, I stepped back and pointed toward the bathroom.

Grudgingly, Malone slipped out of bed and headed for the shower. When I heard the water running, I returned to the living room and urged myself to be patient.

A little while later, Malone stood before me. He was wearing a thick terry cloth robe that reached almost to his knees. And I knew that was all he was wearing.

“Jamie, what did you do with my clothes?”

Innocently I batted my lashes at him. “What clothes, Vasily?”

“All the clothes from the closet and the dresser that belong to me are gone. The only thing in the bath or the bedroom is this robe.”

I moved from the rocker to stand before him. “Today, Vasily, you will not need clothes. We have a sumptuous feast awaiting us. It is a winter version of a picnic. There is a nest of blankets and pillows to sprawl upon in front of a roaring fire and soft music playing on the stereo. And if you get chilled, I promise to keep you very, very warm.”

Malone’s gaze shifted from me to the array on the coffee table. There was a plate of shrimp, a bowl of hummus, crackers and chunks of dark rye bread, several different types of cheese and dips, a platter of fresh fruit and two steaming mugs of hot and sour soup. Then he looked briefly at the fire. Gradually he turned his gaze back to me. I was wearing a black satin robe and some of Malone’s favorite perfume and nothing else.

“Welcome to a lazy day, Vasily.”

He drew me into his arms and we slowly sank to the nest of pillows. He didn’t say a word, just slowly began kissing me. As he worked his way down my neck, I felt his fingers slowly untie the sash on my robe.

“I’ll give you back your clothes tomorrow, Malone,” I managed to gasp.

He paused and leaned back to look at me. “Suddenly clothes don’t seem very important, Jay.”

 ~ ~ ~ ~

For more from Mark Love, visit him online at:

Write Now

For more “picnic” excerpts from your favorite romance authors, check out

The Picnic Page

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An Afternoon Picnic – Romance Novel Excerpt

Our weather’s been lovely here in the midwest over the last few days…perfect for a picnic. We took advantage of the beautiful afternoon on Sunday to enjoy a picnic lunch beneath the trees. Now, I’m pleased to share another little romantic picnic excerpt with you. This excerpt comes from one of my historical romance novels, Irresistible.

Irresistible by Christina Cole

Rise Childers was once an aspiring artist with dreams of attending art school. Financial hardships destroyed her dreams, and her sister’s death extinguished Rise’s ability to see beauty in the world. In hopes of re-igniting Rise’s passion for art, an affluent friend has given her the opportunity to spend a summer at the luxurious Lindenhurst resort in upstate New York. There, she’s met the resort’s handsome owner, Samuel Mills.

After her own wardrobe was ruined, Samuel has taken Rise to the dressmaker’s shop to purchase a few new gowns. Now, in hopes of pleasing the usually-gloomy Miss Childers, he’s come up with a little surprise for her. Enjoy!

~ ~ ~ ~

When she emerged from the shop and walked toward the carriage, Samuel hurried to her. In the late morning sunlight, she seemed to glow with a rich, vibrant warmth. His heartbeat quickened.

“We’re not leaving yet,” he told her, reaching to take her hand in his.

“Why not?”

Another frown. He countered it with an eager smile.

“I told you earlier I had a surprise.” And earlier, he’d told himself he was done with it. But he’d been wrong, he realized now. And maybe, just maybe, what he had planned would bring a smile to Rise’s enchanting face. “We’re going to take a little stroll, have a picnic lunch, and see the sights.” With regret, he released her hand and returned to the carriage. From the boot, he took out a plaid blanket and the basket of food and wine his chef had prepared. “Come along. I think you’ll enjoy this, Rise.”

Holding the blanket against his chest, he slipped the basket over one arm, then took Rise’s hand and led her toward a narrow wooded trail.

“It’s incredible,” Rise whispered as they moved into a clearing. The vantage point provided a breath-taking view of the Shawangunk Mountains. A crystal-clear waterfall tumbled down the mountainside, and colorful rainbows danced in the pool of water beneath it.

As Samuel watched, Rise stood before him, stretching her hands out as though to touch the beauty, to grasp it, and hold it. Her fingers moved, and an odd, almost pained expression came to her face.

It was not the smile he’d wanted.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

“I wish…oh, if only…” She turned to face him. “I want so much to capture this scene! Do you have any pencils with you? Anything I could use for drawing paper?”

Samuel sensed her excitement, and he hated to crush it. He shook his head. “I’m sorry, I don’t.” His heart pounded with anticipation. “We could come back another time,” he offered. “Would you like that?”

“Oh, yes, please! I have my pastels back at the resort, and a sketch book. I’ve just been so afraid to try drawing again.” She turned to him, then quickly came to help as he spread out the blanket. But her frown returned when Samuel pulled out the bottle of wine.

“You’re not supposed to have any alcohol,” she reminded him sternly. “You agreed to try my suggestions.”

“Not even on a special occasion?”

“Is this a special occasion?” she asked in reply, sitting down beside him.

“Very special.”

“Oh?” Rise looked off toward the waterfall again and nodded. A slight smile touched her lips. “Yes, I think you’re right. At least, this is a very special place. Still, rules are rules, and I don’t think you should indulge.”

He uncorked the wine, poured a single glass, and handed it to Rise.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a glass of wine,” he said. “It’s one of the best from the Lindenhurst’s cellars. Please, don’t disappoint me by refusing.”

She accepted the wine and sipped at it. “This is what you meant about letting go and enjoying life, I suppose. Maybe you’re right.” When Samuel handed her a plate of grapes and cheese, she smiled again. “I’m sorry for my outburst earlier. And I want you to know, I am very grateful to you for the new gowns.”

Samuel moved slightly closer. “It was the least I could do.”

They chatted about inconsequential matters while they enjoyed the delicious picnic meal his chef had prepared. Several times Samuel refilled Rise’s wineglass. A delicate flush rose to her cheeks. She seemed more at ease than he’d ever seen her.

“I should apologize,” she told him, boldly patting his hand. “I really don’t mean to be so gloomy, and I certainly don’t want you to think me an ingrate. I’m just not sure how to act, to tell the truth. About the new gowns, I mean. I’ve never really had anything new.”

“The dress you’re wearing…”

“Isn’t really mine,” she quickly explained. “My friend, Lorraine, gave it to me. She knows I can’t afford fancy gowns, so she’s kind enough to give me her hand-me-downs. Not that I need them, really. I don’t have any place to wear fancy gowns.”

Samuel moved closer still.

“I’m always a season behind in fashion, too, but the gowns Lorraine gives me are so elegant and beautiful, I don’t really mind. Sometimes I go to my wardrobe, open the door, and stand there looking at all the gowns she’s given me. Such exquisite colors. Such soft fabrics. One of the gowns is even trimmed in Belgian lace. It’s almost enough to make me dream.” She hiccoughed, then clasped a hand over her mouth. “Of course, there’s little point in dreaming.” The smile faded from her face.

“Why shouldn’t you dream?”

“I’ve had enough disappointments in my life,” she answered. “Why invite more?”

“Maybe you should dare to dream. I’m being serious,” he added. “This isn’t just idle talk. People need dreams, Rise. We all need something to strive for, something to bring out the best in us.”

“I had dreams once.”

“Tell me more,” Samuel urged. Perhaps if he knew more about Rise, and the things she desired, he could find the way to make her happy. Maybe he could make her smile.

“I wanted to go to art school.” She lowered her gaze. “My father always encouraged me, you see. He thought I had talent.”

“What do you think?”

“I don’t know,” she said, sipping another glass of wine. “I’ve always loved drawing and painting, but after my father passed away, there wasn’t any point in dreaming. Mama and I couldn’t afford the cost of art school.” She lifted her chin. “What are your dreams, Samuel?”

“My dreams?” He hadn’t expected to be put on the spot that way. It was disconcerting. Samuel shrugged. “To make the Lindenhurst the most popular resort in the valley. To see the world. To someday find the right woman.” Why had he even bothered to mention that? He shook his head. “Enough about me. This conversation is about you. You’re the one who’s so afraid of life you won’t dare to dream.”

“I don’t see the point in setting myself up for failure, that’s all.” She sipped her wine again and turned toward him. “Consider your dreams, Samuel. A nice resort? Well, you have that. To see the world?” She gave him a weak smile. “All that takes is a bit of time and money, and you obviously have a surplus of both. As for finding the right woman, your real problem seems to be turning down the wrong ones. I’m sure you have no shortage of romantic prospects. I mean, a man with your—” She stopped, her cheeks scarlet.

“A man with my money. That’s what you were going to say, right?”

“Actually, no, that’s not what I was going to say. A man with your good looks.” She sucked in her breath, sitting stiffly. “There, I said it. I gave myself permission to speak my mind, and I’ve embarrassed myself something awful. Now, are you satisfied?”

Satisfied? Not by a long shot. I won’t be satisfied until I’ve tasted those delectable lips of yours and…

“Samuel? Are you all right?”

So lost was he in thoughts of kissing Rise, he could think of nothing else, had no idea what she was saying to him. He kept staring, his hunger growing.

“What? Yes, I’m fine, thank you.”

“I suppose we should go now.” She turned and began to gather up their things.

“All right, but I’d like very much to bring you here again. With your sketch book,” he added.

Her mouth dropped. “Would you really do that for me?”

“We can go to the resort, get your sketch book, and be back here within the hour.”

“Do you mean it?”

When he nodded, Rise beamed. “Oh, Samuel! I can’t tell you how much I’d enjoy that!” She jumped to her feet. “One of the reasons Lorraine invited me to come with her was in hopes that I might start painting again. I—” She lowered her gaze. “I haven’t been able to paint since my sister died. I just felt that something within me had died, too.”

“And now?”

Rise gestured toward the distant waterfall. “I feel alive again.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

Samuel watched the rise and fall of her breasts and yearned to take her into his arms. With much effort, he resisted the urge, choosing instead to delight in merely watching her, seeing genuine joy and happiness in her eyes for the first time.

He had done this. He had given her this happiness.

His heart swelled with pride, and he could hardly wait to return here with Rise, to watch her sketch the scene, and maybe…

Actual tingles coursed through his body at thoughts of what might possibly happen between them. He imagined the two of them lying together in the soft grasses.

Holding hands. Kissing. Touching.

“Let’s hurry,” he suggested, grabbing the blanket and basket. “The sooner we get to Lindenhurst, the sooner we can come back here.”

~~~~

I hope you’ve enjoyed this excerpt from Irresistible.

Other excerpts for your summer-reading pleasure:

From Jean Joachin: Now and Forever 3 – Blind Love

From Whitney K-E: What Happens in Ireland

Still More to Enjoy:

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Picnic – Excerpt from “What Happens in Ireland”

 Today’s picnic excerpt comes from “down under” author Whitney Keevers-Eastman, better know as Whitney K-E. She’s sharing a sexy picnic scene from her romance novelWhat Happens In Ireland.

~~~~

What Happens in Ireland

Those green eyes are eating me alive.

Looking up at the sky above, Kate thought about what she wanted right now.

Instantly, a sensual image of Jack ravishing her in the middle of the field, his naked back bared to the sun, the muscles there straining beneath her fingertips, the unforgettable tattoo that entwined his arm glistening black, filled her mind.

But trouble would be the only result of such a request.

And so, she had to think: What was the next best thing to Jack O’Reilly’s magnificent body at her fingertips?

An unexpected yawn escaped her. “A coffee would be nice actually.”

The sparkle in Jack’s eyes brightened.

Surely not.

Winking at her, he turned to rummage through the saddle bags. Stilled by her disbelief, Kate found her eyes drawn to his jean clad buttocks.

Now there’s a slice of heaven.

Jack turned, his hands hidden behind his back. Admittedly, it had taken her a few seconds to concentrate on his face with the image of his perfect arse still on her mind, but at last, she managed.

“Would ye like to take a guess as to what is hidden behind me back, lass?” he asked.

Kate stood there speechless, her muddled brain not quite registering what he said.

Damn distracting man.

“Please tell me it’s a flask of coffee?”

“And if it is?” Jack’s gaze fell to her lips.

They tingled with awareness.

“A woman is not very agreeable when she’s denied coffee, Jack,” she warned him sternly.

Jack laughed at her threat. “Are ye implyin’ that ye might go through with yer past threat to turn me into a eunuch, if I don’t give ye yer sweet poison?”

“Don’t tempt me.”

His grin grew wicked. “But I live to tempt. And ye like it just as much as I do.”

“Is this Jack or his arrogance speaking?” Kate retorted, hoping to God that she was successful in keeping her desire buried six-feet under an iron façade.

“Who do ye want me to be?” Jack rumbled, his voice low and seductive.

Her cheeks burned. “Don’t do that!”

Jack frowned. “Do what?”

“Use your voice like that.” Marching past him, she headed for the picnic blanket.

“Use it like what?”

Irish accents are going to be the death of me…

When she turned suddenly to face him, the burly Irishman almost ploughed into her.

“Use it in that sexy—”

“Sexy, ye say?”

Desire burned in Jack’s gaze. Desire aimed in her direction.

“No.” She swallowed the lump in her throat. Electricity crackled in the air between them.

If she wasn’t careful all hell was going to break loose. And if it did, she wouldn’t be calling it hell for long.

“Yes, ye did.” Jack took a step closer.

“No, I didn’t,” she choked, stumbling back just as she stumbled over her words.

“Don’t lie to me, Katie.” Her pulse leapt at his use of her nickname. “I can always tell when ye lie to me.”

“How?”

“Yer lips,” he whispered, his hand catching hers. She stopped and Jack bent his head down to hers. His hot breath teased her lips. “Ye purse them and avoid me eyes. That and other thin’s.”

Kate thought she might collapse, her body had grown so weak.

“You’re just saying that because you can’t handle the fact that I’m not attracted to you.” Her heartbeat was deafening, pounding fiercely in her ears.

“There ye go again.”

Of course she was lying. Look at her! She was a melting pool of wanton desire. A blind man could see as much.

“I know ye find me attractive, Kate,” he said, his hand sliding down her side. “Just as I find ye.”

Kate took a forced step out of his reach. Jack followed.

“If I were to give ye yer sweet coffee,” he continued, his sculpted arms crossing over his muscle-packed chest. “Would ye admit the truth?”

Her gaze shifted to the flask in his hand. “What if I’m telling the truth?”

“Then you’d have to lie.”

Good Lord, the man’s lethal.

Sitting down, Jack began to search the saddlebags. Producing a pair of mugs, he held them out for her inspection. Setting them on the ground, he filled each with the heavenly brew. As if nature itself was in Jack’s favor, a gust of wind swept through the valley and wafted the scent of caffeine straight up her nose.

Right now, she’d do almost anything for a cup of coffee. Admitting the truth was hardly going to kill her.

Sighing, she marched over to him. Sitting beside him, she huffed indignantly and stared at her feet. “I surrender.” Peeping at Jack from behind the curtain created by her hair, Kate finally gave in to the hilarity of the situation. She smiled.

It’s official. Smiling is contagious.

~ ~ ~ ~

Want to know What Happens in Ireland?

You can find Whitney’s novel  at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookstrand, All Romance E-Book, Secret Cravings Publishing, and Smashwords.