Please welcome author Xio Axelrod to the blog today.
In celebration of her latest romance release, Starlight, Xio is sponsoring a giveaway! Learn more about Starlight below and enter to win a Kindle Fire!
by Xio Axelrod
Stars of the hit TV show, We the People, Sam Newman and Val Saunders have been burning up the small screen. Their chemistry is the topic of water cooler conversations everywhere. But their talent and success isn’t all that has people buzzing. Rumors of an off-screen love affair have begun to circulate. The married man and the young ingénue.
But they’re just friends. Good friends. Friends that harbor feelings that neither are ready to acknowledge? Perhaps. The lines between fantasy and reality have blurred…a bit…but no lines have been crossed. Not really. So let the rumors fly. Accusations are easy enough to deny, since they’re only friends. Right?
“Hi,” she breathed.
“Hi.” His voice, so close to her, awakened the butterflies that had been sleeping in her stomach.
As they stared at each other, Val felt them slip behind some invisible veil that separated them from everyone else. Sam looked tired but amazing. Val wanted to touch him, hug him, but she remained rooted to the floor. She couldn’t even muster the strength to look away from his searching gaze. There was such relief in his face and something else. Need.
“Everyone looks fabulous!” Adam’s voice jogged her out of her trance. She turned toward him as he pulled out his phone. He gathered everyone together and took a few group photos, then some individual ones. “Sam and Val, you guys look like you shopped from the same closet,” he laughed, eyeing them both. “I want to get one of you two alone.” He looked around as if deciding upon the proper light and location.
“This won’t do, let’s try over there.” He ushered the pair around a corner, pulling them both along. Val glanced at Sam and he laughed, equally confused. Once they were out of sight of the others, Adam spun on them.
“Listen.” He peered around the corner as if to make sure no one was in earshot. “I don’t know what’s going on between you two, and it’s really none of my business, but if you don’t want to crank up the rumor mill to, like, nine hundred, I suggest you keep those across-a-crowded-room gazes to a minimum.”
“What?” Val began to protest while Sam just stood there looking shocked and confused.
“I’m not judging, babydoll. I love you both to pieces. I’m just saying.” He checked again to see if the coast was clear. “Keep a lid on it until you’re alone. Like, right now.” He winked at them and walked away.
Sam started after him but Adam had disappeared around the corner. He turned back to Val and shrugged. She was still confused but relieved to have a few moments alone with him.
“What was that?“
“I don’t know, he’s-“
“…talking about. I wasn’t-“
“I know! Me neither.”
They laughed, shyness creeping over them as they fell silent again. Val shivered when Sam reached up to brush a rogue tendril of hair out of her face.
“You look…” He seemed to be struggling for words and she blushed.
“Thank you.” She smiled up at him. “So do you.”
Val brushed an imaginary piece of fluff from his lapel and he caught her hand. He brought it to his mouth and brushed his lips across her knuckles. That, plus the intensity with which he was looking at her, turned her knees to Jell-O. The pair stayed that way for what could have been an hour though it was less than a minute. Finally, he let go of her hand and it floated down to her side. Val worried she might float away altogether, so great was her relief at seeing him again.
“Are you chilly?”
Val shook her head.
And she was, quivering like a drop of rain on the tip of a leaf. He smiled and ran his eyes over her features before his gaze roamed downward, slowly following the neckline of her dress. Sam looked back up at her from under hooded eyes. She could almost see the heat of his desire radiating from them. It made it difficult for her to remember her own name.
“I know we need to talk,” he interrupted. “But…is it okay if I hug you?”
Yes! Yes, please, she wanted to say. Instead, she gave him a feeble nod. Sam took a step forward and wrapped her in his arms. Slowly, as if giving her time to change her mind. Val somehow knew his heart would break if she refused. He seemed to need to touch her as much as she needed to feel him.
He held her gingerly as she dissolved into him and closed her eyes, resisting the urge to tighten her embrace. His hand slid up from her waist and he let out a sharp breath of surprise as his fingers met her bare skin. The deep V of the front of her dress had a twin in the back that he evidently hadn’t seen. His fingertips danced up her spine and a shudder passed through her and into him. She leaned back and met his eyes. They were molten. Hungry.
Val raised a trembling hand to his cheek and he leaned into it. A move so familiar, so soothing, that she sighed.
“I missed you.” Her voice was a whisper.
“You have no idea.” His eyes drank her in.
She smiled. “I have some idea.”
About Xio Axelrod
Xio Axelrod is an award-winning author of love stories, contemporary romance and (what she likes to call) strange, twisted tales. She also writes erotica and women’s fiction. Xio grew up in the music industry and began recording at a young age. When she isn’t writing stories, she can be found in the studio, writing songs, or performing on international stages (under a different, not-so-secret name of course). She lives in Philadelphia with one full-time husband and one part-time cat.
Laurel Cremant is an opinionated author and reader of romance with a wicked sense of humor. RNIC was smart (or crazy) to bring her on as a blogger. In 2016 she took over the management of this site and relishes her new title of “Overlord of Awesome”