Valentine’s Day Bonus Scene~Cole & Bri

First Valentine's DAy-2

Bri

I rush down the hall that leads to my apartment. My heels click against the outdoor tiles and I grab the wall, careful not to slip. I take a deep breath and release the tension. Chill, bri. Cole will be here any minute to pick me up and there’s no way I’ll be ready on time. Joke on me for trying to be early for once.

The keys rattle as I unlock the door. I’ll jump in the shower, curl my hair into waves, and wear the outfit I picked out last night. I can be ready in thirty minutes, I lie to myself when I check the time on my phone.

Dixie’s barking reminds me of my other responsibility. New plan, I let her out in the patio while I jump quickly in the shower.

I push through the door and straight for Dixie’s cage, stopping in my tracks. I tilt my head. Those flowers weren’t there this morning. I admire the red, velvety petals in the clear vase. I spy the small, white envelope leaning against it and grab it before opening the cage and letting Dixie out into the patio. Smiling, I tear open the envelope and pull out the card.

Babe, 

I used to think this was a silly holiday, but having you in my life I’ll take any excuse to be with you. These roses are just a preview at what I have planned for tonight. I love you, Bri. I’m a lucky bastard, and I’ll never take you and what we have for granted. I’m running outta space here, love, but know I could go on and on about how I feel. 

love, 

Cole

I sigh and smile, hugging the card to me. I never thought I’d be here. A lone tear slips down my cheek. These days my tears are happy tears, and Cole is to thank for that. Spotting Dixie by the door, I let her in and walk into my room, Dixie hot on my heels.

“What the…” I grip my chest, my heart racing at the speed of light.

A quiet chuckle greets me. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Fuckin-A.” I breathe out. The chuckles get louder as the man I love walks toward me. I stare at his suit, top buttons of his dress shirt undone, and a smile that lights up the dark room.

“Hey, babe.” Cole wraps an arm around my waist and pulls me to him, his lips brushing mine. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“What are you doing here?” My arms find their way around his neck.

“I wanted to surprise you.”

I smirk. “Surprised I was. Thank you for the flowers.” I lean in and kiss him. Cole breaks away with a laugh.

“Looks like the other girl wants a little lovin’ too.” He bends down to pet Dixie, who is insistent on someone paying attention to her. After a few scratches behind her ear, she shuffles away, leaving Cole to myself again.

“You look handsome.” I run my hands over his shoulders and down the lapels of his suit.

“It’s all for you.” I stare into his blue eyes, immense love filling my heart. I’m so lucky. That thought weighs with meaning.

“I’ll be ready quickly.” I move to grab my things for the shower, but Cole pulls me close to him.

“No rush, babe. Dance with me first.”

“Don’t we have reservations at seven?”

“Don’t worry about that.” He holds a small remote before placing it back in his pocket. The opening of my song begins to play and my eyes crinkle with my smile.

“Let’s dance,” he repeats, wrapping an arm around my waist and holding my hand with his other one.

“Did you know this is my favorite song?” I look into his eyes.

“I’m glad it is. I mean every word as much today as the day I wrote it.” His lips touch mine.

“I love you, Cole Burkely.”

“Love you too, Bri.”

I move my arm tighter around the back of his neck, bringing him closer to me. Once upon not too long ago I never thought I’d find love again, but this stubborn and kind man didn’t give up on me. He granted me a second chance I never knew existed.

Swaying to the music, I listen as Cole’s soft voice sings into my ear.

We’ve got our lives to make this work 

And I’m counting on forever to give you the world

Gonna give you the world, girl

Your broken pieces make me whole

So let me be the one to show

How we fit together

With the final strum of a guitar, the song ends, but we continue to move together. Silence can’t break us apart in the darkened bedroom. My head on his should as the beating of his heart moves my body.

“I canceled our reservations,” Cole speaks.

“Why?” I look up at him.

“Change of plans. Trust me,” he winks.

“But you’re all dressed up.”

“I already told you the outfit is for your enjoyment.”

“You do look sexy,” I waggle my eyebrows.

Laughing, Cole slaps my behind. “Take a shower and get ready. I’ll feed Dixie.”

With a final kiss, Cole leaves my room so I can get ready. I choose to still wear the same red dress I had picked out last night and my heels.

“You look stunning.” Cole stands from my couch and looks at me. “Beautiful,” he whispers as he runs his fingers down my arm and clasps my hand. He lifts my arm to spin me around. “You’re all mine.”

“That I am. So you like the dress?” I look down at the off-the-shoulder, form-fitting dress.

“I love it, although you look beautiful in anything.”

“You say that ‘cause you love me.”

“I say that ‘cause it’s the truth. Ready?”

I nod and follow him, deciding to leave his surprise just that, a surprise.

I squint my eyes when we pull into his driveway. His smirk tells me he has something up his sleeve, but I’m not sure why we’re coming to his place.

“Trust me,” Cole leans to me and kisses my bare shoulder. “Too bad you’re going to have to cover yourself up with a coat.”

“I’ll take it off when we’re inside,” I wink.

Out of the car, I hold his hand and walk toward the front door only to be tugged by the arm.

“This way.”

What did he do? I furrow my eyebrows and smile.

As we walk in to the patio I see a ton of twinkling lights hanging over his deck.

“This is beautiful,” I gasp.

“I know how much you miss having a yard.”

“Thank you, babe.”

The closer we walk to the deck, the more I see of the space. White roses mixed with peonies are placed on the table in a square vase. The flickering flames of candles are spread throughout the railing and table.

“I know it’s cold, but I’m hoping the space heaters keep you warm. If not, I have no problem holding you all night and warming you up.”

“This is perfect.” I turn to look at him. “You can keep me warm.” His thoughtfulness knows no limits. My yard was my favorite thing of my old home, and the apartment doesn’t allow for that luxury, but this is spectacular.

“I ordered dinner. Are you sure you’re okay eating out here?”

“More than okay,” I smile.

“Great. Take a seat.” He holds my chair for me. And serves two glasses of red wine. “I’ll be right back with dinner.”

While Cole is inside, I inhale the breathtaking view. The scent of roses fills my nose as the flames dance in the evening breeze.

“Here you go.” Cole places a plate in front of me.

“Mmm… That smells delicious.” I look at the dish.

“Chicken Masala with mashed potatoes.”

“Yum.”

“You haven’t drank wine?”

“I was waiting for you.” I hold my glass up, Cole mimicking me. “To my best guy for this very special night and for all the special days.”

“Nah, tonight is all for you. You deserve it.”

I smile and sip the wine before we begin eating.

“I have a surprise for you.” Cole says as he comes back outside after clearing the table.

“Oh, a blanket.” I stand and allow him to wrap me in it. By the end of dinner, my legs were trembling but I refused to go inside. Cole takes a seat and pulls me onto his lap.

“This isn’t your surprise.” He holds a gift bag out to me.

“I thought we weren’t gifting anything,”

“We weren’t.”

“Cheater,” I quip.

He shrugs. “Open it.”

I peek into the bag, the lavender tissue paper covering my gift. Removing it, I see white cotton and curiosity spikes as I pull out the soft material and open it. I chuckle as soon as I realize what it is.

“That’s for you to wear at our next concert,” Cole winks. I look at the tee shirt that reads, I’m with the drummer.

“I love it,” I lean in and kiss him.

“There’s more.” Cole juts his chin toward the bag. I look inside the gift bag again and find a small box. I hold the soft, black velvet and open the lid to find a delicate gold necklace with a small music note.

“I love it, Cole.”

“I’m glad.” He squeezes my waist. “I wanted you to have something that made you think about me.”

I cup his cheek. “I always think about you. I don’t need a necklace to remind me who you are in my life. There is no doubt in my mind or heart that you are the man I love. I know our beginning wasn’t how you would have wanted, but I’m living each day to prove to you that you are the man I want in my life.”

Visions of Josh come to mind. I’ve learned to live without him while honoring his place in my heart. I’ve also learned to live in the present, with Cole. My daybreak.

“Everything about us was perfect. I never find the right words to tell you how lucky I feel, and how blessed I am to have you in my life. To be on the receiving end of your love. You’ve given me this,” he places his hand over my heart. “That’s the best gift I could’ve ever received.”

I cuddle into him and kiss his chest. “Who knows where I’d be right now without you.” I keep my chin on his chest and look into his eyes. “Thank you. Thank you for tonight and for being the man you are.”

Cole tightens his arms around me and hums with the twinkling lights and the warm blanket now covering the both of us. I inhale the man who loves me wholeheartedly and thank the stars above for bringing him into my life.

*Copyright 2018, Fabiola Francisco 

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Dear Porn, You’re Not Romance

Porn: Man sees woman, undresses her (with hands, not eyes), and they instantly engage in sexual acts. No names, no story behind their meeting or relationship. It’s raw and dirty. (I think this is how it works, I haven’t exactly watched porn. Did I just admit that to the internet?)

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The stigma associated with romance novels (and their writers) is a continuous clash between those who know the difference and those who think they know the difference. Many people truly don’t know the difference. So I’m here today, as part of the hundreds of people who have already discussed this topic, to hopefully clarify some misconceptions about romance novels.

Romance, noun: a (1) : a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric love and adventure, or the supernatural (2) : a prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious (3) : a love story especially in the form of a novel

b : a class of such literature

I grabbed this definition from Merriam-Webster. As you can read, romance is a love tale that involves events, chivalry, adventure, etc. in the process of finding that person who you want to spend your life with. Romance is about the happily ever after, not just the happy ending. (wink, wink)

We all hope to find that special someone in real life. I know I do. The person you can laugh and cry with. The person to hold you tightly, and the person you push away when you’re angry. It’s all part of romance. Like any true love story (real or fiction), sexuality is a part of it. Say what?! I know, I know; how dare I speak of such things in public? But that’s just it. We live in a world where we are fighting to become more open and accepting of the truth we live, and having sex is normal.

I understand it’s been a taboo topic in the past. I know romance novels have been looked down on with snooty noses as not good enough literature, allowing people to look away instead of being educated on the topic. The thing is that everyone desires to be wanted. Everyone desires to have a connection with another person. That is what romance is about—the bond between two humans, who find in each other a connection that allows them to grow and move forward together.

It isn’t all about the sex. That’s porn. They’re very different. Porn wants to excite the viewer/reader quickly to get the job done (again—wink, wink). Romance is about the journey—the tale of coming together, overcoming struggles, and living your life with another person.

Now, let me tell you how our society works. Sex sells. A lot. So when we bring in marketing (for romance or anything else), sex is a big factor. Considering romance novels, most times, do include some kind of sexual activity, teasers and excerpts may be geared towards that because it hooks readers. It does raise emotion, entices them, and makes them want more. We’re human after all.

Just because something has a sex-geared advertisement doesn’t constitute it as porn. Let’s take a perfume commercial for example (oh, those can be hot!). A lot of perfume commercials entice the viewer with a good-looking man, a woman in lingerie, or a couple engaging in a steamy kiss. Does that mean the perfume company sells porn? What it does is sell the product. It hooks consumers. That’s their ultimate goal.

Nicholas Sparks has sex in his novels. Does that make him a writer of porn? You have sex in your life with your partner. Are you a porn star? (Role playing idea?)

When I first started writing romance, I was hesitant to answer people’s questions about the genre I wrote. I would think to myself, Oh God, they’re going to know I write sex in my stories. Yet, I love writing romance. I love writing about the bond between people, their struggles (this is my favorite—it shows their true character), and having balance in life. So little by little, I became more comfortable telling people who knew me before I was a published author that I wrote romance. (My mom was the hardest. Like, Mom, I wrote sex into my story. I still remember the day I told her I wrote a book, and it was explicit. Kill me now! She’s probably reading this. Hey, Mom!) I had that stigma attached to me until I said, fuck it, and owned it. Now, I giggle when people mix up the true romance meaning with that of porn. I don’t get offended; I get it.

I strive on making my stories about more than just the romance. I add topics that sometimes are difficult to read about, and other times I add humor and good nature. It’s a balance, or I’ll sink into this dark oblivion of heavy emotions. Regardless of the tone of my novels, I want to get a message across, so when people think I write porn it defeats the purpose of trying to convey this meaningful message. It also confirms that sex sells, because if what you remember most about my novels is the teaser you saw about some heavy kissing, then I’ve left a memorable (whether it was my intention or not) hook in you. Now to reel you in and catch your full attention. (Horrible fishing symbolism—I promise I can write better symbolism than that.)

I get that society, as sex-driven as it is, also scolds people for being so open about their sexuality. Again, many people don’t know the difference, come across a teaser about a man running his hands down a woman’s bare hip before cupping her behind, and think the story is sex-driven. There is so much more to romance novels, and I hope that each of us that know about it can continue to educate people on the difference because it is such a wonderful genre to get lost in.

We watch romance movies and don’t think twice about questioning if we will be watching porn. We eagerly schedule a girls’ night to watch the latest Rom-Com whilst drinking a glass of wine, yet doubt the morality of romance novels.

I ask that you don’t let the label of what people think the romance genre is to limit you from reading some fantastic literature. I have read novels that have stayed with me for years. Romance novels are real, raw, sweet, and flirty. They encompass so much life. As humans, we want to feel intimacy with another person. Romance is that. It’s the story of intimacy, trust, and opening our hearts.

With the way the world is nowadays, I’m glad I have a Kindle full of romance novels to show me hope. To prove to me love still exists, because if we, as writers, can come up with stories about love, then love must still be alive, right?

Ultimately, that’s what romance is about. It’s about love, the journey to get there, the strength it takes to overcome loss when love goes awry, and the power of relationships (friendships and more).

I’ll raise my glass to all of you romance readers and writers, for believing in love. I’ll raise it to all of you who are not familiar with it and hope you’ll indulge a bit in this beautiful community. While I’m at it, let’s be open to all types of romances and love stories. Romeo and Juliet is a classic tragedy that still remains very much alive in our world, and they ended up dead. (Spoiler alert)

In all seriousness though, I do hope we can come to an understanding about the essence of romance. I hope this helped to better understand the difference between romance and plain ole sex in a written form. May we all live a life full of love, intimacy, trust, and strength, like my favorite heroes, and not shy away from a topic that is human nature.

XO,

Fab

Writing for the soul

Writing has always been my therapy. Since a teenager, I found a way to release what I was experiencing in a healthy manner. My early writing was emotional and cold. Angry. It helped me reflect and grow. It helped me heal.

I’m getting ready to release a new book. It breaks my norm. It breaks the pattern I’ve used so far in my other books. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s so much more me than anything I’ve published. Have I mentioned that’s scary?

I sometimes get caught up in pleasing the people. Pleasing my audience. I write for me. I need to remember that. Now, that’s not to get confused with lack of gratitude or indifference towards my readers. I love you all (and I don’t use those words loosely). But what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t stay true to myself? If I didn’t give you, the reader, my very best. If I didn’t give you my truth. I would go against everything I stand for.

As I prepare to hit publish, I have doubted sharing this book. It’s easier to keep it to myself. Use it for my own healing and keep it in my own safe box. But then I think that maybe just one of you will read it and connect. Maybe it will help you or you’ll grasp the lesson. Maybe not, and that’s cool.

I’ve considered changing this story, but I wouldn’t stay true to myself. I promised myself I’d be unapologetically me, and publishing Red Lights, Black Hearts as it is is part of that plan.

I write for the love of evoking emotions. I write for you and for me. If I make it easy, there’s no challenge. I love challenges. I feed off of them. I ask that you go into this book with an open mind and heart. Savor the words and emotions. Allow them to seep into your soul and give Samantha a chance. More than anything, I hope you grow and shine like the moon.

xoxo,

Fab

Fab Cowboy Recommendations! Jake and Gabe by Susan Fisher-Davis

I know, I know.. I’ve been MIA. I apologize for that. Between writing and getting ready for the release of Resisting You, I’ve been busy. I have however squeezed in time to read some great books! Everyone knows I love a hot cowboy, so what better than a series full of cowboys?! NOTHING! You make be telling yourselves.. Can she stop babbling and tell me about these cowboys already?! Okay, here it goes!

I connected with Susan Fisher-Davis via social media and kept reading snippets of her books and seeing her covers. HOT is all I can say. So I one-clicked Jake (the 1st in the Men of Clifton Montana Series). I FELL IN LOVE. Seriously. I wanted to keep Jake all to myself. Then there’s Gabe, Jake’s brother, (book 2 in the series). I had to one-click him too. Again, I wanted him all for myself. Wyatt is the third brother (his book comes out in the summer and I cannot wait!).

So, while I’ve been writing and working hard on releasing and getting new books, I’ve been sleeping with cowboys that make me swoon big time.

Let me start with Jake. Here are my thoughts about it:

This book was an amazing read. Fast paced and sexy, I was captivated from the beginning. I love cowboys, so I knew I just had to meet Jake and he did not disappoint.

Fisher does a fantastic job creating scenes, emotions, and even suspense. I loved how Becca and Jake’s relationship developed. Their attraction was palpable from the beginning, and it was fun to read how their stubbornness tried to prevent anything from happening between them.

Once they gave in to their true feelings, these two were a hot couple perfect for each other. Jake’s protectiveness and care for Becca when danger presents itself was heartwarming.

The secondary characters were amazing as well, and those Stone brothers are hot. I loved how they’re all involved and developed throughout the story. Excited to continue reading this series and learning more about the characters.
This book is a definite must read! Now can I move to Montana and find myself a cowboy??

So like I said, after I finished Jake I hd a huge book hangover (I may have been moping a bit but don’t tell anyone I said that). I thought, who better to help me move one than Jake’s sexy middle brother? Enter Gabe.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for these Stone brothers. Gabe and Emma’s story is full of love, doubt, and hope. Susan brings us another hot and swoon-worthy book boyfriend in Gabe and I loved it! Although their relationship started kind of backwards, you quickly see that Gabe and Emma are so meant to be together. You have humor mixed with heart warming situations that make you wish you had a hot cowboy by your side.

I truly loved reading as their love blossomed and Emma’s confidence built throughout the story. This was a fun read with mystery and some suspense. Overall, this is a fabulous read with a hot hero and a sassy, sometimes timid heroine.

So it’s only natural that I’m impatiently waiting on Wyatt. The Stone brothers are sexy and protective. You can’t help but fall in love. Of course, Susan doesn’t stop the series at just them. Brody will also have a book coming out soon. He’s not a Stone brother, but when you read Gabe you’ll learn more about Brody and I’m excited to read his story!

I have found a new one-click author I truly enjoy reading and I’m looking forward to reading her other series, Bad Boys of Dry River, Wyoming. The first book is Lucas, and of course, it’s another cowboy series I’m sure won’t disappoint. Make sure to grab your copies today!

Jake book coverGabe cover         Lucas book cover

Check out Susan’s Amazon page for all the info! http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Fisher-Davis/e/B00MS8OH24/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Check out her website for updates on her upcoming books and her current releases! Excerpts and all! http://susanfisherdavisauthor.weebly.com