In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share the first kiss scene that I like best in all my work. It’s from Phoenix Rising, which I just sold to Samhain Publishing and will be out October 11th. (see how I snuck that sale in there…)

Alec is a firestarter and telekinetic. Beth is not. But they still turn each other on. :)

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He buckled on the body armor and walked over to her, so that they were only a few feet apart. He towered over her, even more than Lansing, but she didn’t feel the least afraid of him, not since their first meeting. He wouldn’t hurt her. Despite his work as a soldier, there was no meanness in him. She rubbed her arm, remembering Lansing’s anger. Alec wasn’t like him at all.

“I like doing this,” Alec said. “I make a difference. It’s what I’m trained for.”

“Yes, I know. But you never had a say in any of that training. You’ve told me that.”

“Fighting the bad guys is family tradition,” he said, straightening. “Lansing’s too old now, so it’s my turn. It happens all the time. Daz has the same deal, on both the American and the Filipino sides of his family.”

“Daz didn’t grow up isolated in this place.”

“Yeah, well, Daz didn’t have to worry about accidentally burning down the schoolyard as a kid. I did.” He shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest. “Are you seriously trying to talk me out of going tonight? C’mon.”

“I’m trying to get you to reconsider what you’ve been forced into doing for your entire life. There’s a whole world out there you haven’t seen.”

She walked over to the coffee table, reached down, and brushed her fingertips over the gun. Her hand trembled. The gun looked like the same kind that her kidnappers had used, years ago. If he stayed with the Resource, Alec might become like those men, using any ends to justify the means.

“Hey! What’s with the nerves? Where’s my competent, no-nonsense counselor?”

The gun rose from the coffee table, floating in air. She turned and followed its flight. He snatched the gun out of midair with a smile and holstered it.

“See?” he said. “I control the guns, not the other way around.”

“And who controls you?”

“I know someone in this room who’s trying to control me. What’s wrong, Beth?” He walked to her and lifted her chin with two fingers, his dark eyes crinkling around the edges.

“This is not a life you chose, this is a life that’s been imposed on you, from birth.”

“And?” His fingertips moved along her jaw, in a soft caress. I should move away. It feels too good. But he’s listening.

“I’m scared. About this mission, about your being locked up inside the Resource forever.” Deathly afraid, so afraid her stomach felt like a heavy lump of coal. “There’s so much you don’t know about the Resource and about Lansing, so much you don’t understand. And you need to know it before it kills you.”

“Hey, I know that Lansing can be a bastard. And that he’s overprotective and controlling. I’m working on it. But it doesn’t change the fact that this is my job.” Alec leaned closer to her face. “We can talk about that another time.”

“Do you really think there’s going to be another time?” Her voice rose, almost panicked now. She wasn’t getting through. “What if you get hurt tonight?”

“Look, this cell might have a dirty bomb, they need to be stopped, and I’m the one who can do it. I have to do this, right now.”

“Just that simple?”

“Yep. I walk away, people get hurt. I do my job, people are saved. That’s the deal, that’s my life. You analyze things too much.” He cupped her face in her hand. “But if it took this mission to find out you care, then good.”

She shuddered. Wrong, wrong, she shouldn’t let him touch her like this. Yet it felt like he touched her somewhere far deeper than her skin. A shiver, like the one from their first meeting, traveled from her neck to her toes, setting her nerves jangling. “This is wrong.”

“The mission isn’t wrong,” he said, misunderstanding her. “Easy.” His face was less than an inch from her lips and his breath fell on her cheek. Her skin felt inflamed, sensitive to the slightest movement of his hands.

He kissed her.

His lips were softer than she had expected, tender, not at all like his casual, even macho, confidence. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him against her, intensifying it, even as her mind screamed in protest. This is not what I came for!

Her body became enveloped in that strange energy, alive as never before. It was like the kiss had a second level, one which her body responded to instinctively, creating a living connection between them. He drew her lips apart with his tongue, still tender, still allowing her the chance to back away. But she opened her mouth to him instead, her whole body consumed with wanting to touch him, her face flushed with desire. She grabbed the buckles of his body armor for balance, her equilibrium lost along with her reason.

He crushed her against him, no longer tender, a bruising kiss demanding conquest. She allowed him full control, despite the buckles digging into her shoulder. He lifted her completely off her feet and brought her up to his eye level.

“Beth,” he breathed, brushing his lips against her neck before moving back to her mouth.

Her mind whirled, too lost to remember that she should stop him. She wanted him too much. The air heated up, warming them. The papers on the coffee table began to smoke.