Sunday, 26 April 2015

The end, the beginning

This is it, folks — the final glimpse into Tom Baker's thoughts before he steps into Kate Ramsey's life in The Science of Attraction and knocks her proverbial socks off. Last week we learned that he'd made it to Bonn in one piece, having waged a war with his brother and fought off the advances of an erstwhile lover. Now he's on his way to the lab to meet his new boss. Sparks will fly, have no doubt.

The whole novella can be read in one go by following the links, starting here. I'm also hoping to get it into all the regular outlets (as a freebie) soon.

In the meantime, enjoy the last bite-size piece of Tom before he slips into another story…

The Prelude to Attraction (Part 11)

I round the corner and stop short of the entrance to the institute, just to take it all in. The Germans really know what they’re doing with their architecture—this place is breathtaking. I cut through the car park and file into the building behind a group of people my age. They’re obviously from all over the place, all chattering away in a colorful jumble of pseudo-English.
There’s a leggy blonde girl near the front of the pack, and she shoots me a loaded stare before disappearing up the stairs. I feel like taking her aside and telling her that I’m spoken for, and the inanity of that idea almost makes me laugh out loud. Because who am I kidding? I haven’t even properly met the woman I’m supposedly saving myself for, and she may well fall very short of the pedestal I’m putting her on. Besides, it’s not like I haven’t kept up a steady diet of meaningless encounters in the last few months. There’s no reason a tall blonde German girl can’t help me maintain the tradition.
I turn my attention to the receptionist, who greets me in a thick accent and nods brusquely when I give her my name.
“Frau Dr Ramsey is expecting you,” she says, and sends me on my way.
I take the stairs to blow off the last trace of nerves coursing through my system, and round the corner into my new lab with as much confidence as I can muster.
I’m early, but what am I going to do— wait downstairs?
No. I walk in, and introduce myself to the first person I see: a timid-looking redhead sitting at a desk with a stack of articles and a laptop in front of her.
“Hi, I’m Tom,” I say. “I’m the new guy.”
The girl peers up at me and looks like she might want to vomit on my shoes. I step back instinctively, and consider asking her if she needs my help.
And that’s when I hear it. The rhythmic click of heels as she strides toward me.
I turn around, and fall for her all over again.
Her hair is a perfect mess, and she’s dressed like she has a team of tailors locked up at home, in a red top that shows off those fantastic arms, and a gray skirt that hugs her hips the way I want to. I almost ask her to turn around and walk away from me again, just so I can check out her ass in that skirt.
Somehow I manage to drag my eyes up to her face, and I’m more than happy to see a flicker of interest burning behind her professional facade. She looks like she’s been thrown just a little off balance, and the effect is intoxicating.
I want to throw her all the way off balance. In fact, I want to throw her down right here and now and get her good and naked. I’m silently willing Red to slink away somewhere, so I can get better acquainted with the beautiful Dr Ramsey. I bet I could have those clothes off in ten seconds flat. I briefly try to imagine what she might be wearing underneath them, but stop short, struck down with the clear and present threat of getting a boner on the first day of my new job.
She recovers herself just in time to pull up in front of me, and extends her hand, saying, “Kate Ramsey. Pleased to meet you.”
The accent itself is nearly my undoing. Her voice sounds like it was programmed for talking dirty, and I feel like anything and everything she ever says will run through an innuendo loop buried somewhere in my brain.
This is not a very good way of starting a professional relationship.
I gather all my best intentions and return her handshake, but the words that come out of my mouth next run dangerously close to how I’m actually feeling.
“Believe me, the pleasure is mine,” I say, and mentally kick myself for being such a sleaze.
I may as well have said, “Likewise, Dr Ramsey. By the way, have you met my cock? It’s currently your biggest fan.”
What a fucking creep.
But she’s all business as she rattles out something about the lab not being ready for my arrival. To be honest, I’m so lost in the gorgeous rhythm of her voice that I barely pay any attention at all. So when she stops talking, I fill in the silence with yet another ode to creepiness.
“That’s no problem, Kate,” I say, holding her gaze. “I’ll be happy wherever you put me.”
And at first I hate myself for not screening my thoughts before I voice them, but then her reaction has me feeling something else entirely. Her eyes glaze over a little and her beautiful mouth drops open a fraction, almost as if she’s gasping for air.
I like that look. I want more of it.
But all that can come later, I decide. Right now I want to find my equilibrium with her, and settle into this new trajectory that I’ve embarked on. I want to make my home here in this city, in this lab. And I want to kickstart all the amazing things I’ve envisioned myself accomplishing with this incredible woman.
Because something tells me my instincts are spot on here.
Something tells me this is our beginning.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Willkommen in Bonn

We're getting close to the end of The Prelude to Attraction now, and we're sneaking up toward the beginning of The Science of Attraction. In this week's excerpt, Tom has managed to overcome all the roadblocks that stood in his path to Kate, and he's finally arrived in Bonn. Let's find out how he got there…

The Prelude to Attraction (Part 10)
Months later, I’m walking through Bonn, on my way to the Schaeffer, when I stop for a moment and take stock of the fact that I’m actually here—I actually made it. And when I look back on it, getting here was almost too easy.
Kissing Rob’s skinny ass in Colorado was the hardest part. I laid out my plans for him on the first night in the bar of the hotel we were staying at, and then we continued the discussion during our daily hikes. By that stage, I’d drawn up a near-flawless blueprint of the work I wanted to do, and so I really just had to sell it to him. More importantly, I had the fellowship in the bag by then, which meant that filling him in on my plans was mostly about stroking his ego. It was pretty clear he was likely to have very little to do with the project once it got off the ground. And that was more than fine with me.
Admittedly, he’d been a little skeptical at first—no doubt viewing my proposed research as a threat to his precious time. But once I dropped Kate’s name into the mix, he saw almost immediately how a collaboration might work in his favor.
The best part was that I found I was more than capable of tolerating his bullshit. The only exception to this rule came up when he aired one or two comments about Kate that made me want to knee him in the groin.
“Dr Ramsey is certainly one of our finest,” he said, when I first floated the idea in the bar. “And she pulls in funding like no one else I know.”
He shot me a sleazy sidelong glance that made me feel dirty by association.
“Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a rack like that,” he said, and I flexed my fist by reflex.
Somehow, despite the fact that I’d yet to actually meet her, I was under the impression that no one but me was allowed to think—much less talk about—her rack like that. Psycho, right? Yeah.
The next bombshell came during our hike on the second day. This time Simon was along for the ride, which was a good thing really, or else I might have followed through on the reflex.
“Kate’s a feisty little thing though, Tom,” he said. “I feel like I should warn you in advance that she can be a handful.”
Simon forced a smile and nodded out of politeness. I didn’t bother to do the same.
“But then, she’s pretty enough to get away with it most of the time.”
This time Simon cleared his throat and looked away, a gesture that I’d learned was one of his coping mechanisms when things got uncomfortable. I took solace in the fact that he found Rob’s snide little remarks just as inappropriate as I did, and changed the subject as quickly as I could.
In the end though, it didn’t matter how mad Rob made me. He was a means to an end—and that’s exactly how I view him to this day.
It’s been eight months since I first laid eyes on the enigmatic Kate Ramsey, and since then I’ve been through hell and back on a mission to draft, perfect and defend my PhD thesis. I’ve studied her work back to front and back again, and honed my plans for the research I want to do in the next three years.
I still think it’s a bit weird that neither Rob nor Simon has ever suggested I speak directly with her, but to be honest I’ve barely had time to breathe in the last few months, much less navigate a lust-filled Skype interview with the object of my affections. It’s better this way. In all likelihood, Rob has forwarded my research proposal to her, and she’s already in the loop, armed with ideas for expanding and improving on my plans.
I arrived in Bonn a few days ago, and I’m still feeling the jet lag like you wouldn’t believe. But I have a ten o’clock appointment that I intend to keep. Rob e-mailed a couple of hours ago to let me know he’d be too busy to meet me this morning, and that Kate would be standing in. I read the message in the middle of my hotel room, still wet from the shower. And I literally fist-pumped in the nude—something that I won’t be repeating in a hurry, especially if anyone happens to be around to act as a witness.

Jump to Part 11.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Brother love

Welcome to the next episode in Tom Baker's recent history. So far, our hero has seen and swooned over the future love of his life, the beautiful Kate Ramsey. He's talked his adviser into helping him land a job in her lab. And he's taken care of a little roadblock in the form of over-enthusiastic booty call, Saskia. Now he just has to figure out how to deal with his brother, Nate, who is adamant Tom make the move back home to Austin.

The Prelude to Attraction (Part 9)
My brother is next on the list.
I still haven’t replied to his last text, but he hasn’t sent me any more, so I’m guessing he’s realized what a dick move it was. And I want to stay mad at him, especially as it will make it way easier to do what I’m about to do, but I just don’t have it in me. I love the guy. Even when he’s shoving my face in the dirt, or comparing me to our jackass dad.
I wait until the following evening and then head home, determined to suck it up and stand my ground.
But when I make it back to my apartment, my roommate Kevin is just putting the finishing touches on a batch of chili, so I crash his party and sit down to eat with him and his girlfriend Tara.
I tell them about Saskia, playing out the events of the previous night until Tara is doubled over laughing.
“I can’t believe she said that,” she says, shaking her head from side to side.
“She’s an actress,” I shrug, taking a swig of beer. “Everything has to be a little dramatic.”
I can’t believe you turned down another chance to hit that,” says Kevin, and Tara kicks him under the table.
“What?” he cries, playing at innocence. “I didn’t say I wanted to.”
She narrows her eyes at him and swings back to face me.
“So what about this other girl then?”
“What other girl?” I say. But denial is futile with Tara. She knows me too well.
“You know which girl, dumbass.”
I flick the top of my bottle, eyes cast down.
“The hottie from the conference,” she says, annoyed at having to spell it out. “We got a fucking photographic account of the sexy white dress and the luscious curves.”
And I can’t help it, I smirk despite myself.
“Don’t play coy with me, Baker,” she says.
I wait a beat, because I can. But then I look up and nod. “I think I’m going to go work for her,” I say.
The table erupts with a single coherent “Whoa!”
“You sly dog,” Kevin says. “You gonna get busy with the boss?”
It earns him another kick under the table, but I smile at him and raise an eyebrow.
“Sure as hell hope so. I think I might be in love.”
I say it for comic value more than anything. And he gets the joke, laughing out loud and reaching across the table for a high five. But Tara just watches me and nods. She sees right through my bullshit.
It’s late by the time I actually get around to calling Nate. I’m buzzed from the beer and still exhausted from the trip. But the phone nearly rings out before he answers it, so I have a minute to gather my wits. And by the time we’ve cycled through the small talk, I know what I need to say.
“How was the conference?” he asks, his tone cautious. He clearly knows how much he fucked up by pulling the emotional blackmail shit on me.
“Good,” I say. “Great. Really great.”
“Hey listen, Tom,” he starts, but I can’t let him finish that sentence. I can’t let him apologize before I lay my plans on him.
“I’m going to Germany,” I blurt out. It’s a half truth, I realize. But I want it to be true, so I don’t feel bad about lying.
“You’re what?” He’s still on the back foot, but he’s mounting for a fight, I can tell.
“To Bonn,” I say. “To the biology institute there. It’s one of the best in the world.”
“To Germany?” he asks, and I leave it answered. Because what else can I say?
There’s a pause on the other end of the line, and then a long, low sigh.
“That’s really fucking far away,” he says at last, but his tone is resigned, like he’s backing down.
“It’s not that far,” I say. “And it’s not forever.”
There’s another silence, and I have clench my fists to stop myself from filling it. Because I hate this tension. I’m three seconds away from telling him I’ll move back home.
But then he fills it for me.
“I guess I’ve just been feeling guilty about leaving Texas,” he says, exhaling hard and fast. “I guess I’m trying to put that on you.”
I’m lost for words for a second, unsure of whether he’s just messing with me. But he’s not, I realize. He’s actually going to let me go.
“Germany sounds like an amazing opportunity,” he says. “You should do it.”
I close my eyes and smile. This is really happening.
“Thanks Nate,” I breathe into the phone. “You’re the best.”

Jump to Part 10.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Psychoanalysis and melodrama

A quick hello from the other side of the world today. I'm on vacation and so pressed for time in my heavy schedule of doing very little. But I've definitely got enough time to post another missive from Tom Baker's brain.
And to remind you that:
1. The Music of Temptation is out now! Read all about Margot Duke's love affair with the the drool-worthy Jonathan Young.
2. The Science of Attraction is FREE on Amazon for another couple of days. FREE goddamnit! Go and download yourself a copy now.
In the meantime, you can read about how Tom first met Kate in The Prelude to Attraction. He's already addicted to the Ramsey brand, and now his adviser is on board with a cross-continental move. But first he has to deal with a rather persistent admirer... 

The Prelude to Attraction (Part 8)
I meet Saskia later that evening at a bar near her apartment. The place is a regular student haunt. It’s wall to wall with football paraphernalia, full of drunk undergrads feeling each other up.
Saskia’s already there when I arrive, leaning against the bar and sucking on a straw immersed in some sticky green concoction.
She takes one look at me and says, “You’ve changed. Something’s changed.”
I sidle up to the bar and nod. “I’ve just figured out what I want to do next year.”
I lean in and kiss her on the cheek, signaling the barman for a beer over her shoulder as I pull away again. 
“No, it’s not that,” she says, sizing me up.
Sometimes I hate psych majors. She narrows her eyes at me, then tilts her head and smiles.
“You’ve met someone,” she says, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. I’m meeting her here in some sort of capacity as her casual, soon-to-be-ex lover, and yet she seems totally relaxed about the idea that I might have met someone new. Suddenly I love psych majors.
But technically, she’s wrong, and I feel weird about owning up to my phantom crush on some woman who lives on the other side of the globe. It’s like saying, “I can’t be with you anymore because I’m in love with Scarlett Johansson.” Lay that one on the table and let her psychoanalyze the shit out of it.
Instead I lie to her.
“There’s no one else,” I say. “But I’ve decided I’m leaving Boston in the spring and I’ll have to work my ass off to make that happen.”
The barman plants a bottle on the bar in front of me and I nod my thanks, hand him some cash.
I turn back to find Saskia staring at me. There’s a silence that she refuses to fill, mostly because she’s still busy trying to figure me out.
“I don’t have time for distractions,” I add.
“No, that’s not it,” she says again. “This is definitely about a woman.”
She seems almost gleeful to have me all figured out—or at least half figured out. She sucks on her straw again, pursing cherry-red lips into a provocative little pout.
“What’s her name?” she says, glancing up at me through her eyelashes.
I look away and feign interest in a sign behind the bar.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
And I have to hand it to her. She spends half her life on the stage—she knows a bad actor when she sees one. She doesn’t call me on it though, and I love that. Instead she turns the crank on her own drama-queen side, playing at being put out.
“Whatever,” she sighs. “I can’t say I’m happy to have to give up my plaything.”
Her tone is whiny, which I get—it fits part. But it still makes me want to shake her, because we literally only spent a single night together. I’m no more her plaything than I am a complete stranger. She has to recognize the absurdity of her lament.
Something tells me that I’m better off staying tight-lipped though.
“I guess I don’t have much choice in the matter,” she says, still working the coquette angle.
I meet her eyes and press my lips together. Silence is still my best move.
 “So this is it, huh?” she says, and I realize with relief that she’s totally getting off on all the melodrama.
She steps in toward me, reaches up to swing an arm around my neck, and then kisses me deeply, fully, until I almost feel my resolve start to crumble. But her timing is perfect, and she pulls away right on cue, spinning out of my arms and stalking away from me. And all I’m left with is a face covered in lipstick, and a good few seconds to contemplate her swinging hips before they disappear out the door.

I think my days of having a phone full of Saskia Harding’s boobs have just come to an end.

Jump to Part 9.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Imaginary friends

I like to think I’d be friends with my main characters if they were real people. But sometimes I also like to imagine who they might befriend in other works of fiction. I’ll be reading a book, or watching a film, and wonder in passing whether Kate Ramsey or Margot Duke would fit into a fictional friendship group. Often it’ll make reading that much more fun to imagine my own characters in between the pages. So here’s my list of Kate’s make-believe BFFs: 

1. Max Stella, Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren 

Max and Kate go way back, I’m sure. He’s from Leeds and studied art at Cambridge, while she, a Londoner, was majoring biology at Oxford, but I feel like they must have crossed paths somewhere. I can see her holding her own in the pub after some university rugby match. Come to think of it, she probably would have made friends with Beautiful Bastard Bennett Ryan too.

2. Virginia Johnson, Masters of Sex 
Not strictly fictional, but a perfect match nonetheless. The only problem is that they’re a good half century out of sync. But there’s little doubt they would have been friends in a parallel universe. They’re both sexually liberated and scientifically successful—although Ginny definitely had a much harder time of it. In any case, they’d certainly have a lot to talk about. And no one knows how to navigate sex-in-the-lab better than Mrs Johnson.

3. Davis Milo, Playing With Her Heart by Lauren Blakely 
Kate lives and breathes her work, so it’s hard to imagine her having any time for the outside world, but I like to think that if Davis and Kate were to cross paths, she would soak up his intellect and passion for the theater like a sponge. I’m sure she’d have a crush on him too, were Jill and Tom not around to put that little flame out. 

4. Annie Walker, Bridesmaids 
Annie and Kate both know what it’s like to have casual relationships with obnoxious ageing bachelors. It suffices to say that cocktails would be consumed if these two inhabited the same world. 

5. Hermione Granger, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling 
As far as nerdy girls go, they don’t come much cooler than the inimitable Ms Granger. Kate would have been a few years behind Hermione had she attended Hogwarts, but I’m sure she would have been a source of inspiration. Their paths might have diverged a little after school (Kate is definitely not one to settle down with her high-school sweetheart) but they’re certainly on the same page. And Kate knows Kings Cross station like the back of her hand...

Don’t forget that The Science of Attraction is FREE for another few days! You can also read more of the Tom–Kate universe in The Prelude to Attraction, serialized on this blog.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Be tempted

Today marks the release of my second book, The Music of Temptation. For those of you familiar with my first, The Science of Attraction, you’ll recognize the protagonist in this one as Kate Ramsey’s student, Margot, who can arm wrestle with the best of them, and match you drink for drink when the occasion presents itself.

But this is Margot’s story, and you don’t need to know Kate’s to enjoy it.

Margot’s life traces a kind of double orbit around science and music, and she’s rarely unplugged from one her favorite albums as she traipses around the lab. So when the singer of a touring rock band captures her attention by showing an interest in her work, her twin obsessions become one.

I really loved writing this novel, and part of it had to do with the fact that it borrows quite heavily from my own history. Whereas Kate is the wildly successful scientist that I never quite became, Margot is the hard-working student who gets to enjoy living abroad for a while—soaking up a new and alien culture, a million miles from home.

My backstory definitely doesn’t feature the lovely Jonathan Young (although Mr Jacobs is quite the catch), but I’ve traveled far and wide for once-in-a-lifetime concerts—and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

It suffices to say that I love Margot and Jonathan to bits and pieces, and I hope you do too. Stay tuned to this blog for a sneak peek into Jonathan’s side of the story in the coming months.

And to celebrate the release, I’m making The Science of Attraction FREE for the next five days. Tell your friends. Everyone loves a freebie.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Hatching a plan

Time for another Tom Baker update. Last week, he figured out (somewhat belatedly) that following Kate Ramsey back to Germany might be a way of solving his problems. Now he's back in Boston, trying to figure out how to make all the pieces fall into place. The first step is getting his adviser Simon on board.

Read the whole story from the beginning here, or skip forward to find out what happens when his plans become a reality in The Science of Attraction.

The Prelude to Attraction (Part 7)

I walk into Simon’s office as soon as I get to the lab on Monday morning. I could easily waste time with pleasantries, but I don’t bother, for two reasons: first, I know he doesn’t need them, and second, I’m busting out of my skin to move this plan forward.
I’ve spent the last three days learning everything there is to know about Kate Ramsey, and if anything, I’m more sold on the idea than I was before. I’ve read every last one of her scientific papers and decided that the woman is almost smarter than she is beautiful. Which is, as we know, a fairly tall order.
“I know where I want to work next year,” I say, and Simon straightens his bowed posture to hear me out.
“Oh yeah?” he says. “Where?”
“The Schaeffer in Bonn,” I say. “Kate Ramsey spoke at the conference last week and she blew me away.” It’s the understatement of the year, but he doesn’t need to know that.
“Kate’s good,” he says, rolling the idea around in his mind. “That might be a good fit.”
And this is why I love Simon. This is how I know not to bother with the small talk preamble.
Any normal, red-blooded male would see straight through my ruse, and call me on wanting to work with the world’s hottest lady biologist. But for all Simon’s brilliance—the PhD in theoretical physics, the quick transition into award-winning biology research—he’s a little socially challenged.
It’s nothing major. He can hold a conversation, and he’s married with a couple of kids, so he obviously gets women to some degree. But his brain seems incapable of following the natural trajectory that starts out with a solitary thought about Kate Ramsey and ends somewhere in the gutter.
This is my litmus test, really, because Simon’s inability to pick up on all the untoward reasons I might want to work with Kate is precisely how I’m going to make sure that my dick is not leading me into career suicide. I’ve worked far too hard to throw it all away on a bad decision fueled by desire. I decided that much at the conference, just as soon as I’d moved out of Dr Ramsey’s tractor beam.
But my weekend reading has shifted the goal posts again. Because Kate really is good. And the work I’m writing up in my PhD thesis lends itself so naturally to the sort of research she does. Seeing the way Simon is putting all the pieces together in his head only confirms the feeling in my gut: this is meant to be.
“Yes, I think that could work,” he says finally. “And a couple of years in Europe can only mean good things for your CV.”
My CV and my sex drive, says a voice in my head. But I play it cool, and nod once in agreement.
“But I think you should aim to work with Rob Schaeffer rather than Kate,” he says. “They collaborate closely, so I’m sure he’ll pair the two of you together anyway. But having Rob’s name on your papers will be a kind of insurance policy.”
I find myself frowning at this, mostly because Rob’s a dick, and I don’t want anything to do with him. He visits our lab once or twice a year and lavishes a little of his genius on all of us. The effect is nauseating.
But Simon reads my response as confusion.
“Kate is very young,” he says, by way of explanation.
“She is?” I say, perking up. I can’t believe that my mammoth Ramsey readathon didn’t involve any actual internet stalking.
“Yes,” he says. “The youngest hire to date in Bonn. I don’t think she’s even hit thirty.”
And I’m almost embarrassed to say that I feel my cock twitch in response. Why, I’m not exactly sure. Maybe it’s because I’m realizing she’s just two or three years older than me, which might better my chances of getting her naked. Or maybe I’m just supremely turned on by her precocious success. Whatever the reason, I need to get out of my adviser’s office before he realizes I have a hard-on for my future boss.
Simon is clueless, but he’s not that clueless.
“OK, so I’ll write to Rob,” I say, backing up toward the door.
“Do that,” he says. “And remind him about our trip to Colorado. You two can chat while we hike.”

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Slow on the uptake

It's Sunday! Which means it's time to get down and dirty with Tom Baker again.

For the last few weeks, we've been following Tom as he makes his way across the country toward Kate Ramsey. In the last excerpt, his mind got a little wrapped up in all the ways he might better acquaint himself with Her Loveliness. He's still somewhat gutter-bound this week, but there are neurons firing beyond the sex part of his brain (that's a thing, right?) and a plan is about to be hatched.

And remember, you can skip the foreplay and jump right into reading about Kate and Tom in The Science of Attraction.

The Prelude to Attraction (Part 6)

“So we’re using the magnetic fields to manipulate beads embedded in the cytoskeleton,” she’s saying. “And I should probably stop here and give credit where credit is due.” Her smile is warm and kind of private, like she’s about to share something with us that makes her genuinely happy.
“Tek Chang is really the brains and brawn behind all these beautiful experiments,” she says. “He’s been in my lab for all of six months, and he’s already produced some fantastic results.”
She grins down into the audience and a guy halfway along my row responds with a little salute. I want to hate him, but it’s just not in me—he looks like a really nice guy. But that doesn’t chip any of the envy away. At this point, I would give an arm to trade places with him. He can take Harvard, and Simon, and my cushy scholarship. I’ll take her.
“He’s here at the conference if you’re interested in the details,” she says, resuming her talk and flipping slides. “You can find him at the poster session and buy him a beer.”
“Hell yes,” the dude says, in an even weirder accent. Kate flicks her gaze back down to him and treats him to a cute smirk and a wink, before snapping back to business.
And oh my fucking God, do I want that wink to be for me.
Now I’m imagining I’m the guy in her lab. And this time, when she finishes her talk, she comes down off the stage and collapses in the seat next to mine. She looks at me with an elated kind of exhaustion, high on nerves and science, and sighs happily. I lean over and bring my lips close to her ear, feeling her shudder slightly against my touch.
“That was amazing,” I say. “You were amazing.”
She responds with a little hum that resonates through my body.
I pull away, reluctantly, but she moves with me, turning her head in time so that when she utters her breathy, “Thanks,” our mouths are inches apart. I fix my gaze on her lips and she feels the pull, dropping her mouth open in a perfect little gasp. Her tongue is heavy against her bottom teeth and although I’m totally fucking preoccupied with her mouth, I’m aware that her chest is heaving with every breath.
Then I do it. I lean in and take what I want, kissing her deeply and fully. Her hands are on my face in an instant and she’s moaning into each stroke of my tongue. She shifts her weight onto me and pins me down with her thighs, straddling me as my hands move around to cup her perfect ass.
And I’m right back where I started.
Seriously, my brain goes from zero to a hundred in two seconds flat where this woman is concerned.
The place breaks out into applause and I snap out of my fog of lust to join in. Kate smiles appreciatively and then busies herself with her laptop. The chairman takes to the stage again and calls for questions from the audience. And now I’m kicking myself, because if I’d only stayed with it during her talk, I might have thought of something intelligent to ask her. Something to make her train those beautiful eyes on me. Instead, I spent the time thinking of all the many ways I could get all up in her. I am such a creep.
To be honest though, I would have had to fight to even have my question heard. The auditorium is freaking full of raised hands, and the chairman is making a dick of himself by trying to choose one out of the sea. He settles predictably on Harrison Wyatt, head of the old guard, who surely has something acerbic in store for my beautiful new obsession.
“It’s a really nice story, Kate,” he says, smarmy as hell. I hate that he’s using her first name, but I can tell that his tone is just an attempt to soften her up before the blow. He’s a sneaky fucker.
“But do you really think you’re going to get anything meaningful out of this preparation?” he sneers. “It’s a world away from living cells.”
Kate blinks. Half the audience blinks. I spent the entire time she was talking with my head between her legs and even I know that this is a stupid question.
“Oh I’m sorry, Harry,” she says, and I flinch again at their familiarity. “I should have made it more clear that these are living cells. We introduce the beads while the tissue is still alive.” She flicks back to the slide in her presentation that explained the preparation, and tries to make out that she hadn’t spelled it out the first time around.
Her response is so sweet, so self-effacing, that Wyatt comes away from his blunder with little more than a red face. But the whole audience is left with no delusions about who is boss.
She can be the boss of me anytime she wants, I think.
And that’s when it hits me. Which is ridiculous, really, given that I’ve been playing out boss–student fantasies for a good ten minutes. But there you have it—sometimes I’m slow on the uptake.
Here is what I realize: I need to figure out where I’m going next year. The Schaeffer Institute is one of the most prestigious places to do biology research in Europe. And the eponymous Schaeffer is my adviser’s BFF, so scoring a job there next spring would not be impossible, especially if I manage to win this fellowship.
I feel an odd kind of calm wash over me as I settle back in my seat. I’ve just killed two birds with one stone: I now know where I want to work after I finish my PhD, and I may even have a chance in hell of getting to know the woman that I’ve just fallen head over cock in lust with.
The only problem, I think, as Kate finally sashays off the stage and into the audience, is what the fuck I’m going to do about Nate, and my mom.
But then, just before she sits down next to her student, she looks along the row and catches my eye. I see her flick her gaze briefly down my body before dragging it back up to meet mine.
It’s yours, sweetheart, I want to tell her. It’s all yours.
I don’t, of course. But I smile, and she smiles back at me, and that’s when I know for sure that I don’t give a crap about Nate’s demands. I’m going to get my ass to Germany and find out if she’s as good as my libido seems to think she is.
I’d say the odds are on a yes.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

His every fantasy unveiled

Things are getting interesting now in The Prelude to Attraction. Last week, Tom had just caught sight of Kate Ramsey, and he was having trouble tempering his reaction. This week is no better. She's still up on stage at a conference, telling the world about her cell biology experiments — and he's in the audience, lapping it all up.

Don't forget that you can skip forward a few months and read all about Kate and Tom in The Science of Attraction.

And again, a word of warning: this excerpt contains some pretty graphic ideas about what Tom would like to be doing to our fair heroine. Close the tab now if you'd rather not partake of some racy Texan brainwaves…

The Prelude to Attraction (Part 5)

The next twenty minutes slide by in a kind of blur. There’s a near-constant British soundtrack to the whole thing, but it may as well be a montage as far as I’m concerned. The only thing I can concentrate on is the sway of her hips as she moves around the stage, the twitch of tricep when she points to one of her slides. I’m intoxicated by the gleam in her eyes, the way the corners of her lips pull up right before she nears a punch line. At one point, she fumbles an explanation, and throws her head forward as she laughs it off. I am fucking lost—seriously in need of some kind of help.
And then I sink deeper into the insta-crush. Way deeper. I imagine walking down the aisle and pulling myself up on stage. I see her expression change as I move toward her—startled at first, and then patently aroused. In my mind, I pull her to me and claim her mouth in a hot, wet kiss that has her gasping. Then I twist her around and push her up against the podium. She tugs her dress up while I unbutton my jeans, and then I’m hard against her, under her, in her—my hands reaching up to cup her tits as she gropes for my hips.
Her mic is still on and she’s moaning into it as I take her from behind, with breathy little whimpers that drive me wild. I step back and pull her hips with me. Her back arches as she drops down, still holding onto the sides of the podium, and I go deeper, harder, pulling up her up and onto me.
It’s a little too pornographic though, and seems off somehow, so I switch again and imagine myself kneeling in front of her as she gets on with her presentation. She knows I’m there, and wants it as much as I do. She steps her legs apart and I take that as my cue to lift her dress up and tug her panties down. I cup her ass with my hands and pull her into me, nuzzling into her for a moment before darting my tongue out to meet her arousal.
And of course she’s a pro, so she barely misses a beat in her presentation. She simply steadies herself by resting a hand on my head and rocking her hips against me. But then I start to feel her swell against my tongue, and her breathing becomes more labored, her rhythm a little sluggish. Her hips move faster, more urgently. And soon her fingers are knitted through my hair, both hands tugging me closer as she moves against me and finds her release all over my face.
I come to with a sick sense of sleaziness. This woman is obviously incredible, and all I can think about is how I can get up her skirt. Not cool.
Except that the energy that radiates out of her is so blatantly sexual, it’s hard to ignore. Yes, she’s all business, and it’s clear that she’s earned her stripes. But her excitement has a rawness to it—an edge—and I’m completely fucking captivated by it. I’m fairly sure that she’s the sexiest woman I’ve ever laid eyes on.
I let my mind wander again, and imagine her finishing her talk, and answering all the questions that will undoubtedly follow it. I imagine her stepping down off the stage, seeking me out in the crowd, and walking over to where I’m sitting.
In my fantasy, she fixes me with a stare, says, “Did you like that?” and then pivots around to place herself squarely in my lap. And I am not about to waste any time with that. My hands start near her knees and move north, sliding her dress over her thighs as she rolls her hips and grinds against me.
“I could see the way you were looking at me,” she whispers as she leans back and turns her head to kiss me. “It was such a turn on, I just couldn’t wait to get off that stage.”
I lift her ass off me for a second, work my dick out of jeans and guide her back onto it. Because it’s a fantasy, right? And these things happen seamlessly in fantasyland. She’s wet as fuck and it’s so hot. I’m astounded by my ability to conjure this shit up, and I wonder for a moment whether she’d actually be that wet in real life. Something tells me she would be.
I shift again in my seat and force myself to focus on her talk.

Jump to Part 6

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Hook, line, sinker

Okay, here it is: Tom Baker's first encounter with our feisty heroine. When we left Tom last week, he was fuming over a text message from his brother, Nate, and still trying to figure out what to do about his not-so-secret admirer, Saskia. But Kate Ramsey is standing right in front of him. And as soon as he looks up, you can bet that his life won't ever be the same again.

Don't forget that you can skip forward a few months and read all about Kate and Tom in The Science of Attraction.

One more thing: in this excerpt we're edging toward a little raciness. Consider this fair warning for the faint of heart! And for the rest of us, be patient — the real fun is yet to come...

The Prelude to Attraction (Part 4)
The next speaker is busy setting up and there’s the usual kind of background noise, as laptops are exchanged and plugged in. The microphone is still on as it’s passed between speakers and the newcomer breathes softly into it when the chairman fastens it into place.
“Oh, right— thanks,” she says, her voice hitching into half a giggle on the last word. I’m still staring at my brother’s message, but her voice hits a note that I feel in the tip of my dick.
So of course I look up.
And yeah, my body reacts predictably when I catch sight of the woman on stage.
She’s hot. There’s no two ways about it. Short, dark hair in an artful kind of mess. The sort of haircut that looks perfect straight out of bed, which is precisely where I’d like to be dragging her right about now. Smooth olive skin, and lips painted a luscious shade of red. No prizes for guessing what I’m thinking when I look at them.
My eyes trip down over her shoulders, down the lines of her dress. The white fabric glows against her skin and the thing looks like it was fucking stitched right onto her goddamn body. Over her tits, into her tiny waist, and down the curve of her hips.
She’s still talking to the chairman in a hushed tone, but the mic’s on so it carries through the room.
“No, absolutely,” she says, nodding her head. “I’m sorry.”
There’s something odd about her voice. Not odd, exactly—just different. She’s definitely not American, but it’s not that. Although the accent—English, I guess, but I’m crap with accents—carries an authority with it that amplifies her obvious self-confidence.
She’s been invited to speak in a session full of hotshots. She must be seriously kickass, and so her self-confidence is entirely unsurprising. But it’s the humor underneath it all that’s fucking with me. She’s laughing at herself as she fumbles around on stage in front of a hundred some people, and yet she’s being totally natural about it. It’s fair to say that I’m intrigued, and that Nate’s message is now the furthest thing from my mind.
The chairman calls for everyone’s attention again by clearing his throat and waving awkwardly.
We scientists are a rare breed, I chuckle to myself.
But none quite as rare as this woman in the spotlight, it would seem. The chairman is now running through a list of her accomplishments, and while I’m eager to learn everything about her, I’m even more rapt by how she’s responding to her own introduction. It’s almost like she’s blushing, but trying desperately to rise above it—to take the praise she’s earned and own it. There is something entirely refreshing about her particular combination of awesomeness and humility.
And the awesomeness, it seems, she has in spades.
“The fellowship Kate received as part of this doctoral thesis award took her to Stanford,” the chairman is saying, and I sit up in my seat, because although I work on the East Coast, at least we live on the same landmass. A part of me wants to punch myself in the face for already planning a bicoastal relationship with this woman I’ve known—or not known—for all of three minutes.
But it doesn’t matter anyway, because the chairman’s next sentence does it for me.
“But alas, her time in the States was short-lived, because she quickly got snapped up by the Schaeffer Institute in Germany, where she’s now the newest member of that rather spectacular faculty.”
It’s literally like a slap upside my head, which is fucking ridiculous, really. Because what the fuck? Why am I hurting over her moving to Europe before I’ve even spoken to her? Before I’ve even really heard her speak.
I am clearly some kind of super-creep.
But then she takes the floor, and I feel almost vindicated. Almost.
“I want to first thank the organizers for inviting me here,” she says. “This week has been absolutely fantastic, and I feel like I’m high on science.”
She looks down at her toes and bites her lip.
“Which I realize is an incredibly nerdy thing to say,” she continues, and the blush is real this time. I am destroyed, and I feel myself grinning like an idiot. Like I’m the one making her blush that way.
I briefly cycle through all the things I can imagine doing, to bring that color into her cheeks. My lips on her neck. On her chest. A hand between her thighs. My face between those thighs.
My cock makes another cameo, and now I’m shifting uncomfortably in my seat, because fuck, this woman has a half-hour slot, and I’m looking like I’m about ready to come in my pants before she even really gets started.
“I’m going to take a huge risk here today and tell you all about a project that is yet to be completed,” she says. Her voice slides over all those vowels like she’s riding a goddamn roller coaster and I’m hooked.
“And I know it’s a risk, I know it might go all wrong,” she says, pausing for effect, dragging her beautiful eyes around the room. “But the truth is, I’m just so bloody excited about this work, I can’t help but share it, even if it’s not fully baked.”
And just like that, I’m completely hard, and out of my mind for some chick I don’t even know.

Jump to Part 5

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Countdown to Temptation

There's just under a month to go before Margot's story The Music of Temptation is unleashed on the world at large, and I am starting to get more than a little excited.

I've just finished the storyboard on Pinterest, mapping out the lovers' travels with the prettiest of pictures. Hope you like it!

And the trailer for the book went live today. Please have a look and tell me what you think!