Chapter One of Seducing Liselle — meet John

seducing-liselle

I don’t know about you, but I like to know what I’m getting into before I read a book. I love ebook samples because they give me an idea of the author’s writing style. I’m posting the first chapter of Seducing Liselle below so everyone can meet John—the hero who saves Liselle from the cold.

Description:

Liselle isn’t looking for a hero, especially not at the ripe old age of forty-three, but when John saves her from a blizzard, she can’t help falling just a little bit in love. He’s sexy, strong, and ex-military, with a sassy niece and four older sisters who clearly adore him.

Even so, looks alone aren’t enough to convince her that he can be trusted. After all, her brother and father tormented her for years—she knows better than to think a man can make her happy.

When John comes to her rescue, will she let old habits rule? Or will she let him heat her up and melt the fear in her heart?

________________

Chapter One:

John parked the truck, frowning as the rattle of the engine told him that something was going to cost him a lot of money, probably very soon. He hoped the noise it wasn’t the transmission, he’d replaced that five years ago, but you never knew with a truck this old. It used to belong to his Grandpa and he refused to give up on it. He couldn’t toss it away like so much scrap metal.

He got out and slammed the door shut, leaning against the cold metal as he tried to talk himself into going inside. His old wound throbbed and he looked at the sky. It was definitely going to snow tonight. He stretched, wincing as the scar on his shoulder gave a deep thrum of protest. He ignored it, like he always did, but what he couldn’t ignore was the sound of angry female voices piercing the frigid January air. He wasn’t sure what kind of trouble his niece had gotten into this time, but his four older sisters seemed pretty bent out of shape over it. He stared at the house, wondering when the hell this had become his life. Facing down a bunch of tribal leaders in Afghanistan hadn’t been this stressful, but then, a roomful of pissed-off females was more dangerous by far, particularly when you were related to them. He sighed as the door opened and a woman stepped outside. Time to man up and pretend he wasn’t scared of a group of women half his size.

“John! What are you doing, standing out there in the cold? Get your butt in here and tell Jean she’s being an idiot,” his sister Julie called from the porch. She was the closest to him in age, forty-three to his forty-one. He sighed again, this time loud enough for her to hear. When she glared at him, he bit back a grin. She was cute when she was irritated with him.

“What did your daughter do this time?” he asked.

Julie huffed. “Your niece got a tattoo. And I don’t know why Jean cares.”

John laughed. “Um, because she’s Jean?” He crunched across the leftover snow and bounded up the porch steps.

“She didn’t go batshit when you got your nipples pierced,” Julie said, indignantly. “I even showed her pictures!”

“I was overseas, where she couldn’t yell at me. And besides, I took them out again.” John scooped her up, amazed once again at how small his sister was compared to his six feet. Was she even over five feet tall? “Are you shrinking?”

“Oh, for God’s sake, no. I am not shrinking. I’m barefoot and you’re enormous.” She swatted at his head.

“It’s freezing out here and you don’t have any shoes on? You’re going to get frostbite.” John picked her up and clomped to the front door. “Get the screen, would you?”

“Put me down, you Neanderthal!” She yanked on his ear.

“Ow! Stop that.” He juggled his sister and the screen door, trying not to drop her.

“Put me down.” Her fingers headed for the ticklish spot behind his left arm.

“Shit, Julie, you fight dirty,” he groused, dropping her abruptly, but not before he managed to get in a tickle himself. She shrieked and he guffawed, foot jammed into the screen door, his sister digging her sharp fingers into his waist. “Cut it out, woman!” He grabbed her hands and leaned down to give her cheek a raspberry when the inner door abruptly opened. They both froze as a burst of warm air wafted over them. John sniffed. Mmm, pot roast.

“Are you two quite finished out here?” Janet asked. Of the five of them, she was the oldest, forty-nine years old and correspondingly mother-ish.

“Hi Janet,” he said feebly.

She rolled her eyes at him and hugged him. “Where have you been hiding? It’s been a whole week since I’ve seen you.”

He hugged her back, closing his eyes and letting himself just feel. Janet always managed to calm him down, even when he was at his most agitated. He credited her with helping him adjust to being back in the States when he’d gotten his medical discharge. “I was working, you know that.”

She squeezed him harder and let go. “You couldn’t spare one night to come to dinner?” She pulled him inside and jerked her head at her youngest sister. Julie meekly slunk inside, looking like she was sixteen instead of in her forties.

“I had to finish up the detail work on that house out near Hershey,” he protested. “Do you know how long it takes to do crown molding?”

She shook her head and shut the door, locking it against the cold. The foyer behind her was brightly lit and he let his eyes rove over the house he grew up in: wooden steps with the old bannister that he’d refinished last year, the pile of coats on the rack near the door. He smiled wryly, wondering how the hell his sisters and niece Beth managed to live together without killing each other. He’d go mad if he had to sleep in this house.

“Tell me again why you all live here? And where is everybody? I could’ve sworn I heard you fighting,” he said, just to be irritating.

Janet smacked him on the arm. “We live here because it’s easier to take care of one monster-sized house than four small ones, idiot. And I made them go to the kitchen before the roast burned. Arguing in the foyer is just stupid. And I didn’t hear you complaining about having to live here when you came home two years ago.”

He grimaced good-naturedly, remembering how comforting it had been to sleep in his childhood room when he’d been recovering from the injury that had led to his discharge. He couldn’t argue with that.

“Bionic Uncle John!” Beth came running into the foyer and threw herself into his arms. “Wanna see my tattoo?”

He hugged the sixteen-year old close, grinning at her nickname. She thought his shoulder implant was cool. He loved that she took what he regarded as a horrible, career-ending injury, and made him feel … well, not good about it, but maybe okay. He looked at the small design etched into her skin. “It’s very pretty,” he said, wondering what the hell it was supposed to be. It looked like words, kind of? Or maybe the tattoo artist slipped and this was the result. No wonder Jean was so torqued up about it.

“Oh please, you don’t even know what it is,” Beth complained. She pulled her arm back.

“Okay,” he said, trying to buy time. “What is it?” he asked sheepishly. He squinted. It didn’t help. “I like the color?” he tried, but she just rolled her eyes.

“It’s a Fus Ro Dah tattoo,” she said.

“Fus Ro Dah?” What the hell was that?

She rolled her eyes again and he wondered how she managed to avoid getting a headache when she did that. She rolled her eyes a lot.

“It’s a Skyrim meme. It’s a shout meaning ‘force’ and you can use it to kill dragons. Also, the vids on the internet are hilarious.”

“You got a video game meme inked on your body?” He blinked. “No wonder Jean is freaking out,” he muttered.

She huffed and dragged him down the hall. “She’s not freaking out over this, jeez.”

He followed his niece, hoping he’d managed to stomp off most of the snow on his boots. If he left puddles on the hardwood Jenn would kill him.

“That’s not what your mother told me,” he said, poking Beth in the head.

She batted at his hand. “Well, she’s clueless, like usual. Jean is freaking out because my Dad’s sister is coming by this afternoon to meet me. Apparently, she had no idea me and mom existed.”

He stopped short. Julie ran into him, muttering about stupid men under her breath. John didn’t know if she meant him or her late, unlamented husband, and he didn’t care. Janet stopped, too, eyeing Beth as if she’d just pulled out a live grenade and waved it around. He figured she must have tried to convince the girl to approach the subject more carefully, but well, Beth was young. Teenagers weren’t known for their tact.

“Your father has a sister?” He very carefully did not modify the ‘father’ part of his question with asshole, deadbeat, loser, but he wanted to. Oh, did he want to. But no, he was an adult and he had to set an example. “And she’s coming here?” he asked. His appetite had abruptly vanished despite the delectable smells coming from the kitchen.

“Um—” Beth looked away.

John clenched his hands and shoved them in his coat pockets. It wouldn’t do to let his niece know how pissed-off he was, still, after all this time. He gripped the fabric on the inside of his pockets so hard his fingers ached. He remembered shoving his fists into the asshole’s face, despite the crippling pain of his newly reconstructed shoulder. He remembered the satisfying sensation of the asshole’s nose breaking into several distinct pieces. He’d also kicked the bastard in the nuts and still didn’t feel the least bit sorry because he remembered the bruises all over his sister’s face. And the cut on Beth’s, the one that had finally made something inside him snap.

“Why?” he gritted out finally, glaring at the wall over Julie’s head. He noted that the finish on the stair bannister needed to be touched up.

Julie’s shoulders hunched. “She had no idea he had a kid.”

“So?” Why was that a reason for waltzing into their lives?

Janet sighed and put a hand on his arm. Brave woman.

“Apparently he’d done a number on her, too, when they were younger, before she moved clear across the country to get away from him and their father. She had no idea he had a daughter until he died last year and the authorities contacted her to take care of his stuff.”

“I still don’t understand why she’s coming here.” John shrugged off her hand and unzipped his coat. The guilt he thought he’d feel for putting the bastard in the ground still didn’t show up. God. If he didn’t give his hands something to do he was going to punch something and his sisters didn’t like it when he did that. He knew his reactions were all wrong for the situation, but sometimes he just couldn’t help it. Situations where the people he loved were threatened shoved him right back into combat mode. His instinct was to protect, and this made him feel like danger was headed their way.

Julie shrugged. “She called and asked. Said she was considering moving back to Pennsylvania for work, and wanted to meet her niece.” She took his coat from him and smoothed a hand over the fabric. “She sounds nice. She’s coming here to meet everyone. If you ask me, that takes guts.” She looked up at him, her sweet face suddenly drawn. “And that’s why we wanted you here.” She paused, took a deep breath. “In case something goes wrong.”

He stared at her for a moment, her brown eyes showing all the pain she’d suffered at the hands of that bastard and he sighed. He smoothed her hair over her forehead and she leaned into his hand.

“If I’d known he was hitting you, I would have come home sooner,” he said.

She shrugged. “He wasn’t, you know. Hitting me. He wasn’t even around until about a year before your accident.”

John growled. “He should have stayed the hell away from our family.”

She turned. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Talking doesn’t help. It never did.” She headed for the kitchen. Janet gave him a look and took off after her.

John closed his eyes and tried to count to ten, but before he got to five, Beth was there, tugging at his hand. “Come on. Aunt Jenn made your favorite stuff for dinner, Uncle John.” She smiled tremulously at him and he relaxed. He never could deny her a damn thing, and she knew it.

“Yeah, okay, squirt,” he said, just to see her expression go sour. She hated that nickname. John didn’t care. He loved his niece and his sisters beyond all reason. As he followed her into the warm kitchen, he supposed that was all right. Family was supposed to stick together.

© 2013 Marie E. Blossom

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