Monday, December 30, 2013

New Release: Daring the Wild Sparks by Ren Alexander


Daring the Wild Sparks by Ren Alexander

In the follow up to "Chasing the Wild Sparks", Hadley Beckett's quest for wedded bliss Perseveres...

What would you do if the love of your life is closer than ever to making your dreams come true?

Riding high in her relationship with her sportscaster/local daredevil boyfriend, Finn Wilder, Hadley Beckett makes plans concerning her future with Finn. Big plans.

Spending time with Finn at his parents’ house for Easter, Hadley can’t wait to share some of her ideas with him, hoping he will go along. She knows she has an uphill climb ahead of her, but she’s optimistic that after what they recently went through, Finn will be receptive to what she has to say.

Infamously anti-marriage, Finn promised Hadley he’d consider taking her to the altar if she gives him more time. Diving headfirst and with encouragement from her best friend Morgan, Hadley devises a backup plan if Finn can’t make a decision soon.  However, her other close friend, Rod, disagrees with Morgan’s advice, partly to just oppose her in spite, but also having actual valid points of his own. Feeling conflicted, Hadley takes both of their suggestions and blends them together, formulating her own way to handle Finn.

On the other hand, unbeknownst to Hadley, Finn has plans of his own as well.

Hadley is determined to succeed, yet is she unwittingly destined to fail?

Friday morning, I stop at the jewelry store to pick up Finn’s Easter gift. It’s perfect.
My trip is four hours, so I get on the road by 9:23, and I make it to the city limit of Dover in just under four hours. Not bad.
I pull over for gas and double check my directions to make sure I didn’t take the wrong exit. I really need to get a GPS, as Finn perpetually harps on me about. I take time to reread the description of his mom’s house. He said it’s the huge, pink brick house at the end of the cul-de-sac. Jack had designed it for Julie as his wedding present to her. Maybe someday he can design one for Finn and me. That would be pretty cool.
Julie married Jack when Finn was a sophomore in high school, so they’ve been together a while. Finn had told me his mom and her second husband, Steve, divorced when Simone was two I was hoping to see Jack this weekend. He reminds me of my dad in some ways, the beard, glasses, good sense of humor and a nice hugger. I guess I’ll have to catch him next time.
I find the street and instantly notice the mansion at the end of the road. I guess it’s not a mansion, but it is gigantic. A dentist and an architect can live in a big house like that, I suppose. I could never afford anything like that, even with Finn’s salary combined with mine. He doesn’t make as much as Rod imagines he does.
The house is set back on an enormous lot all by itself and, attractively, all the houses leading up to Julie’s are each a different color of brick. The driveway is one of those half-circle deals with a four-car garage off to the side and I have no idea where to park. I tentatively pull into the driveway and park next to the black car. When I shut my car off, I notice the car next to me is a Mustang. Definitely Finn’s rental.
Smiling, I roll my eyes and open my door, stretching and readjusting my ponytail. I then run my hands over my gray T-shirt and my black nylon pants in a frail attempt to look more presentable. I should’ve put something nicer on, but this was comfortable to drive in. I can change before dinner.
I bend to pop my trunk and walk to the rear of my car, still trying to fix my clothes. As I do so, I nearly walk into a blue T-shirt. Startled, I look up and Finn’s lips are on mine. How does he do that? His lips feel so good and so hungry. He hauls me closer and wraps his arms around my waist. I raise my arms up to his neck and draw him even closer yet.
He moves his lips to my cheek, brushing them against my skin, and then over to my ear. “I’ve missed you so much, baby. I’m so glad you’re here.”
I angle my head so I can see his face, my gaze falling to his jubilant, full lips. I’ve missed his sexy smile. I tease, “I can see that.” I giggle and kiss his stubbly cheek, which isn’t as prickly as it was a few days ago. “You shaved.”
“Becks, I had to. I don’t want a full beard.” He kisses me again and my hands slip down to his chest; my fingers scratching over his shirt. Too soon, he pulls away and bites his lip. “Let’s get your things inside.”
I lift a couple bags as he picks up my suitcase.  I ask, “Where’s everyone at?”
 “Well, Ricky is downstairs in the rec room watching a movie. Chrissie is visiting friends and Simone is in her room. Mom is talking on the phone in her room.”
“And what were you doing? Watching the movie with Ricky?”
“I was, but I couldn’t sit still and it was annoying him, so I came upstairs and sat in the living room.”
“What are you so anxious about?”
“You. I couldn’t wait for you to get here. I even sat by that window.” He nods his head to the big, picture window. “I was watching for you.”
Giggling, I ask, “Like a little doggy waiting for its owner to come home? Aww.”
He looks down at me, smiling. “You know you own me, Becks. I’ve told you countless times. I’m yours.”
I grin and he abruptly stops, bending to kiss me; making me smile even more.
We walk through the front door and Finn goes upstairs with my suitcase. Watching him go, I notice he’s also wearing nylon pants like me. I take delight in the thought of us thinking alike. Before I can follow him, I hear footsteps to my right and I look over as Finn’s mom enters the foyer.
“There’s my girl!” she exclaims happily. I smile at Julie Stansborough. Roundish and bubbly, her short, dark blonde hair resembles glints of Finn’s golden hair in the late afternoon sun. Her deep brown eyes are another thing she bestowed upon my boyfriend. Julie is so pretty. Out of the four kids, Finn is the one who got his good looks from her.
I set my makeup and shower bags down on the chair next to me before I walk into her outstretched arms. Squeezing me tightly, she asks, “How have you been, sweetie? I’ve missed you!”
I hug her and then try to step back, but she refuses to let go of me, another trait Finn inherited from her. Laughing, I say, “I’ve missed you, too!”
She sways us in our hug. “Not as much as I’ve missed you. I don’t see nearly enough of you. I just can’t get enough of my beautiful Hadley.”
“We have something in common,” Finn declares from behind me. Julie says something to Finn, but I don’t hear what she said to him. She then lets go of me and Finn circles his arms around my waist, towing me into his chest.
Julie claps. “Look how adorable you two are! I love it! I need to get my camera. Hold on!” She ducks into the living room and Finn instantly spins me around, leaning down to kiss me. My hands automatically go up to his enchanting hair, pulling him closer. I hear his soft groan reverberating through our kiss.
Suddenly hearing the sound of a camera, I jump back, but Finn keeps his hold on me.
“Gotcha!” she squeals. “That one is going to be so cute! I’m going to frame it and put it up in the living room!”
“Mom,” Finn complains, pulling me close to him again.
“Shut up, Finn. You have no say whatsoever, my dear boy.”
“I’ve noticed.”
She spiritedly says, “I’ll send you two copies, so you can frame it, too. I want more pictures of you both. Come on. Hadley, stand in front of Finn and he can put his arms around you like he had them before.”
I scowl and anxiously pull at my ponytail. “I look horrendous.”
Julie frowns and Finn tightens his arms around me, his cologne drifting over me and sparking my desire for him even more. “Finn, tell Hadley how beautiful she is. She’ll believe you.”
“No she won’t.” From over my head, Finn must’ve mouthed something to his mother because she rolls her eyes and looks the other way. Leaning down to my ear, he whispers, “You’re turning me on. That’s how gorgeous you are.” My eyes widen as he slides his hands down to my hips and subtly presses my lower back into him, his breathing stuttering in my ear. Wow. Kind of awkward with his mother in front of us. He’s not full-blown aroused, but he’s definitely getting there by rubbing up against me.
He raises his head. “Okay. I think we’re ready. Let’s get this over with.” He winds his arms up around my waist and rests his chin against my temple; feeling his smile, which makes me grin, too.
Julie takes our picture and laughs. “That was perfect! You’re so lucky to have such a pretty girlfriend. Not only that, Hadley is beautiful on the inside. Don’t you ever forget that, Finn Robert,” she advises sternly. I remember him telling me his mom hates Finnigan. I love his name.
“I know this, Mom,” he grumbles like a teen being told to clean his room.
“What do you know? I doubt it’s anything that will change the world,” Simone mocks as she sips down the stairs, her straight, light blonde hair bouncing around her shoulders.
“Go back into your cage, Sims.”
“Make me, Wilderness. Hadley! It’s been forever! I swear the last time I saw you was when you broke your wrist while I was in Richmond visiting my bro.”
Finn loosens his grip on me. “No. That was three years ago. You’ve seen her since then.”
“You don’t ever bring her around,” Simone states as she hugs me. “I’m kidding. We did see each other at the birthday parties Mom threw for each of you.”
Nodding at Julie’s enthusiasm for celebrating our birthdays, I agree, “Yes, I know.”
Simone releases me. “It just doesn’t seem like we see you a whole lot.” Suddenly, she clasps her hands and bounces. “That’s about to change, though! I’m transferring to the U. of VA next semester. I’ll get to see you more often!”
“That’s so cool! Are you going to move in with your brother?”
Making a face, she nods to her brother. “That loser? He’ll lower my IQ; make me get straight B’s instead of A’s. No thanks! I’m going to stay at a dorm for now until maybe I can get my own apartment.”
Julie asks, “Where’s Ricky? Still watching a movie?”
Finn replies, “Yep. He probably fell asleep, though.”
Simone impishly grins with a gleam in her eye. “I’ll go down and wake him up.”
Sliding his fingers between mine, he retorts, “No, because you only want to try to scare him. I’m telling you, Ricky Tesco isalways on alert. It’s part of his nature. You can’t scare the guy.”
Simone shrugs. “Whatever. I’m going to go downstairs and watch a movie with him. You guys coming?”
Julie says, “Dinner isn’t until later, so go do whatever. I have to get some things done. Hadley did you want to come with me to the grocery store?”
Finn irritably answers, “No, she doesn’t. She just got here.”
Simone hops over and reaches up to pinch his cheek. “How adorable! Look how grouchy you are, big bro! Does that mean what I think it does?”
Before Julie can turn to leave the room, she points at Simone and scolds, “Don’t tease your brother.”
I give Julie an apologetic smile. “I’ll just stay here and watch a movie, if that’s okay.”
Smiling in return, she says, “I thought you’d say that.” She spins around. “Alright. Behave, Simone.”
She shouts after her, “I think you need to tell your son that! He has that look in his eyes!”
Finn turns his head and stares her down incredulously. “What look?”
She pokes his chest and he glances down to her hand. “You are up to something, Finn Wilder. I know it.”
Looking back up, he retorts with a frown, “And so are you, Simone Garrison. I am positive.” He squeezes my hand. “Let’s go.” Simone sticks her tongue out at him as he pulls me into the living room. He opens the door to the basement, holding my hand behind him. The walls are filled to the limit with pictures of Chrishelle, Leighton, Finn, Simone, and Jack’s son, Beau, at various ages. Simone was born when Finn was 13 and Beau is six years younger than Finn. Finn told me that Beau mostly lived with Jack’s ex-wife. When he was around Beau, he said they got along without any problems.
I abruptly stop on the steps, yanking Finn to a stop, to stare at a picture of him in high school. Of course, he was such a hottie then, too. Damn. I would’ve drooled after him then, no doubt.
“What?” he asks.
In a senior picture, he’s leaning against a muscle car—not sure what kind it is. It’s blue is all I can tell. His hair is tousled and he has ripped jeans on with a button up, short sleeve shirt, unbuttoned three down from the top. His head is tilted, his thumb in his pocket and he’s smirking at the camera. He looks nearly the same, except he had shaggier hair and no stubble back then. Now, he has more muscles. Probably from all of his crazy dares.
Still mesmerized by the picture, I say, “I wish I would’ve known you. Went to school with you.” I furtively glance at him and he charmingly smiles, moving his fingers against mine.
“Me, too, baby. We would’ve been the Class Couple our senior year.”
I doubtfully grin. “Really? You think so?”
He readily nods. “Definitely.”
“Weren’t you half of a class couple your senior year?”
He peers up at the picture. “No. I didn’t really date anyone to be part of a couple.”
Looking at the picture with him, I quietly mutter, “You wouldn’t have dated me then, either. You were a baseball jock. You probably wouldn’t have even given me the time of day. I was a  nobody.”
Dragging my gaze away from the picture, I hesitantly look at him and his penetrating eyes are already on me. He shakes his head. “I would’ve seen you and that would’ve been it for me. I would’ve fallen in love with you then, too. Not a single doubt in my mind.” I smile and roll my eyes, but he doesn’t smile or look away from me. “Total truth, Becks. I’m the same person as I was back in high school. I know what I would’ve wanted.” He pauses as he twists our fingers together before saying, “I would’ve wanted you.”
Astounded by his spontaneous admission, I stare at him, not knowing what to say to that.
He turns and walks me down the four steps to the first landing, but then brusquely pivots, looking up the stairs past me. He whispers, “Baby, we were meant to be, no matter when we would’ve met.” I smile at him and I feel my love for him growing by leaps and bounds. Leaning down, he sweetly kisses me. “We’ll only be down here for a little while. I want to show you my dare.”
“I can’t wait.” I whisper back with an eager smile.
“I can’t, either. We’ll watch it, visit with Ricky, if you want, and then we’ll go up to my room.”
“You’re going to show me your room?” I coyly ask, biting my lip to stop me from grinning like a jackass.
“Along with something else,” he whispers and kisses me, his free hand moving to my butt and pushing me closer to him. I reach up and drag my fingers over his chest. Tersely, he grabs my hand and brings it to his mouth, kissing it.
Giving me another quick kiss, he tugs me down the rest of the stairs. We walk past the gleaming black bar with black and silver stools, and through a large doorway that leads to the family room with cream carpeting and black leather furniture. I think of Rod’s stupid comment about Tonya and quietly giggle.
Ricky looks over at us as he drinks a beer, his habitually unkempt black hair shooting up in all directions. “Hadley, what’s up? So glad you’re finally here. Wilder was driving me fucking nuts waiting for you.”
I look up at Finn, who rolls his eyes at his best friend. Not taking my eyes off of Finn, I ask Ricky, “He was?”
“Yeah. He was checking his phone and watch every five seconds, pacing, and couldn’t sit still. I made him go upstairs. He’s so damned pussy-whipped.” I grin at Finn’s darting eyes and general uneasiness at Ricky revealing his weakness.
“Shut up.” Finn walks over to grab his laptop off of the sprawling bar. Ricky laughs and takes another swig of his beer.
“What are you guys doing?” Simone asks, coming down the stairs and walking behind the bar to open the refrigerator.
Finn replies, “I’m showing Hadley my Dare of the Week.”Hadley! I unexpectedly beam.
“I want to see!” Simone squeals and bounds over to us on the couch. She sets her pop can on the coffee table and plunks down next to me. “Don’t you want to see it, Ricky?” she asks.
“Nope. I witnessed the dare firsthand. I stopped over to check it out before my shift started.” He stretches his arms over his head and yawns. “So, it’s old news.” He turns back to his movie and drinks his beer.
Finn pulls up the video and he situates the computer down on the coffee table. He settles against the couch and puts his arm around me. His fingers start tapping against my shoulder and I look over to his face. He oddly looks nervous. I look back to the computer as the video starts. Finn smiles at the camera.
I’m already loving this.
“Hey, everyone. I’m here with my good friend, Ronin, who’s going to help me out with this week’s dare. How are you doing, buddy?”
“Great, Finn. I’m eager to get this started.”
“Same here. This week’s dare comes from someone who means the world to me. My girlfriend, Hadley, who is my absolute heart and soul. We’ve been together for three years now and they’ve been the best years of my life…so far. She dared me to show her how much I love her. Well, challenge accepted, Hadley.”
I glance up at Finn and he looks down at me before I return my attention to the screen. He balls his fingers into a fist over my shoulder. This had to have been hard for him to confess all of this on the Air. Is that his dare? That would be enough. I love it."