Liz Talley's A TOUCH OF SCARLET
Scarlet Rose glanced in the rearview mirror at the lights flashing behind her. Damn. Who got pulled over for going 75 mph in a 65-mph zone? Wasn’t there a ten-mile cushion or something? Obviously not in Texas.
The cop was taking his time emerging from the depths of the silver cruiser, so Scarlet gave her lips another swipe of the Elizabeth Arden ruby-red lip gloss resting in the cup holder. After all, her lips were her greatest weapon. Overly large and plump, they had their own fan page on Facebook. She’d always thought the attention given to them a little absurd, but if she had to use them to get out of a ticket, then she would.
After all, who in his right mind would give the vampy Veronica Collins a speeding ticket? Her luxurious red locks, gleaming white teeth and kick-ass curves clad in the trademark catsuit inspired kinky fantasies for those who followed the new drama Deep Shadows, which had debuted six months ago to a rabid fan following. Currently, Scarlet was on hiatus, so she looked nothing like the naughty vampire Veronica. Just plain ol’ Scarlet Rose in faded jeans and a ponytail.
But she did have those lips.
She slumped against the leather seat and watched in her side mirror as the cruiser’s door opened and a police officer climbed out.
He was tall with a military haircut and wore mirrored sunglasses. Good body. Stiff demeanor. She had a fifty-fifty chance of getting out of this one.
Her director’s voice popped into her head.
Veronica will smile at the officer, feigning innocence. Camera One, narrow to capture the gleam in Veronica’s eyes as she knowingly plays with the unsuspecting cop.
Scarlet turned and delivered a smile. “Hello there, officer. Is there a problem?”
She pulled the end of her ponytail forward so it brushed her bared collarbone while curling her shoulders forward, smooshing her boobs so the cop had a nice vista of flesh to contemplate. She couldn’t tell if it worked or not. His gaze could have been on her girls…or on the steering wheel. Damned mirrored sunglasses.
“Yes, we have a problem,” he said, his voice nice and melodious, like an announcer on a game show. It was definitely cultured. No Podunk, Texas accent. He wasn’t from Oak Stand. “You were doing seventy-eight in a sixty-five zone, and you have a brake light out.”
She smiled again before giving him a flirtatious shrug. “Surely I wasn’t going that fast?”
His jaw tightened. It was a nice jaw. Cleanly shaven and tanned. He had a good mouth, too. Straight lips with a slightly sensuous curve to the bottom lip. It was the kind of mouth a girl wanted to nibble into a smile. Total challenge.
But he didn’t smile. “Surely you were.”
“Sorry. Look, I’m trying to get to my sister’s house before she runs off with some horrible, horrible guy. No one is answering the phone, and I’m worried, you know? I guess I should have had my mind on the road, but—”
“That doesn’t explain the brake light,” he said.
Scarlet tamped down the annoyance at being interrupted. Syrupy sweetness worked on hard-asses like this. At least it usually did. “I bought this car three weeks ago and had everything inspected. The light must have burned out without my knowledge. I’ll get it replaced tomorrow. Promise.”
He didn’t move a muscle. She could tell he stared hard at her, even though there was mirrored glass between his gaze and hers. Seconds ticked by. Had she worked it hard enough to get out of a ticket?
“Are you asking me to overlook a violation?”
Oops. Maybe not. “Of course not. No.”
“Because that’s what it sounds like.”
Scarlet tossed her flirting ploy aside and straightened. “I don’t always agree with the laws you enforce, but I would never ask you to compromise yourself.”
She gave him the schoolmarm stare she’d perfected in her off-off Broadway debut of Mrs. Tingle’s Jingles. He didn’t wiggle the way he was supposed to. He merely stood, straighter and taller.
“Just give me the ticket so I can get on with my day. I’ve got a wedding to stop.”
At this, the officer’s mouth drew into a line. No more semimocking curve. “What wedding?”
Scarlet gave him a New Yorker smile—kind of a smart-ass smirk. “Now, that, Officer—” she looked at his nameplate “—Hinton, is none of your business, is it?”
Officer Adam Hinton jabbed a finger toward the city-limit sign that sat behind her black BMW convertible. “This is my town. Everything in it is my business.”
Scarlet pulled on the viperous persona of Veronica as easily as she shrugged into a jacket. “Now, that’s where I’m thinking you’re wrong, Officer Hinton.”
Don’t make me bite you, dude.
She loved Veronica, the alter ego she sometimes donned merely because the vampire queen could control everything about her world. So what if it were pretend? Playing the dangerous, sultry vampire allowed her to feel powerful. She showed him her teeth for good measure. It was a hard smile, sans fangs, designed to put him in his place.
“Can I have your license and registration please?”
Okay. So she had no effect on him. Fine. He probably squeaked when he walked. Even his damn badge was perfectly lined up adjacent to the button on his uniform shirt. He probably flossed three times a day and took a multivitamin. Jogged the same path, ate the same foods and cut his lawn with methodical precision.
She tugged her wallet from the oversize purse, flipped it open and pulled out the license she’d obtained last month. Her very first driver’s license procured specially for the trip to Texas. As a New Yorker, she’d never learned to drive. Subways and cabs had worked fine.
She handed her license over without a smile. “Here you go.”
“Registration?” he asked, taking the hard plastic license from her hand.
She leaned over, popped open the glove box and rooted around. Stefan had said he left everything she’d need in there. A string of condoms slithered to the floorboard along with a pack of cigarettes, a package of Zingers and a small airport bottle of rum. Nice. Her roommate had a weird-ass sense of humor. Finally she located a zippered owner’s manual and found the registration inside, along with a proof of insurance. The insurance card had her name on it. Stefan must have placed it inside for her. Okay, she’d let him live.
“Here. Everything should be inside.” She jabbed the manual at the police officer. Then she dismissed him, flipping down the visor mirror and checking her bangs, for no other reason than it pleased her to shut him out.
The sun pressed on her shoulders. The end of August was hotter than hell in East Texas, but it was her first road trip so she’d kept the top down most of the way along the East Coast and hadn’t put it up on her trek across the South. She’d stopped to see an old friend in Atlanta, putting her behind schedule in getting to Oak Stand. She’d gotten even with the city-limit sign when Officer Tight Ass had pulled her over.
She was tired, too warm and not feeling friendly at all. Texas hadn’t been on her list of vacation destinations, but saving her sister, Rayne, from the ridiculous fascination she had for Brent Hamilton topped lounging on the beach in France. Well, almost topped it.
Scarlet’s bangs looked fine, so she snapped the mirror shut and tried to look bored as the lean cop scribbled stuff onto his little notepad.
“Have you been drinking this afternoon?” His voice seemed monotone. Automated.
Crap. The stupid minibottle of rum.
“Of course not.”
“Would you mind stepping from your car, ma’am?”
“Actually, I would mind. Why do you need me to get out of the car if you’re merely giving me a speeding ticket?” She studied the teal polish on her fingernails. It was very divalike behavior—something she never did. But at this point, she knew it aggravated Officer Hinton. So it felt good.
“Out of the car,” he said, swinging the door open. “Step around to the back of the vehicle, place your hands on the trunk and wait. Please.”
He’d nearly choked on the last word. She’d ticked the cop off. Might not have been the smartest move, but that was Scarlet’s modus operandi—react, then regret. A car passed by on the highway, and she caught a glimpse of a curious driver. She waved.
“What an excellent way to make an entrance,” she said, climbing from the car. She was glad she’d left her flip-flops at her friend’s house, because the mile-high wedges she wore boosted her five-foot-eight frame by four inches and made her feel more powerful. It brought her eye level with the cop, who watched as she unfurled from the car.
Her tank top had tiny jewels embedded around the low neck and hugged her torso all the way down to the tight, ripped jeans. Aside from her plump lips, her body was her trademark. Scarlet had kicking curves that looked so good in a bodysuit they’d given her the part of Veronica before she even read for it. Not really. They’d made her read to make sure she could act. But still, she felt as if she’d been born for the role of Collinstown’s audacious vampire.
Her director’s voice came back.
Stroll to the rear of the car. Make sure it’s a do-me walk. Then place your hands on the trunk, feet apart, and arch your back. Slowly smile at your prey.
Scarlet stretched like a cat, then moved into position. She purposely stood far away so the pose she struck looked seductive. She didn’t know why she did it, other than she got perverse satisfaction in needling Officer Hinton. It was rapidly becoming her new favorite game to play.
Piss Off Hinton. Coming to stores near you. Oops, I dropped my license in the vodka. Is that a nightstick in your pocket or are you happy to see me? Make Officer Hinton crack, and you can win all the marbles!
He cleared his throat, snapping her out of the board-game commercial playing in her head. “Is this all the alcohol you have in the car?”
“Yes. And I have to say, your detective skills are lacking. That little bottle hasn’t been opened yet.”
Officer Hinton stared at her a good two minutes before approaching. “I’m doing my job, ma’am. Now, I’m going to briefly pat you down, Miss Rose.”
“No dinner first?” she said as she stared at the back of her bucket seat and pretended she got pulled over and frisked all the time. No big deal that a cop was about to run his hands all over her on the side of the road. She braced herself for his touch.
His hands moved beneath her arms, over her ribs, down her waist and hips to her thighs. Quickly, his hand slid inside her knee and moved down to her calves. It was quick, methodical and professional. No reason for any match to be struck. Nevertheless, Scarlet felt strange. Little pulses erupted in her belly. It shocked her. She hadn’t felt even a nudge of sexual interest since John. It made her want to get away from this small-town cop. Made her want to hide her emotions. Protect herself. Pretend she felt nothing.
The whole thing was crazy.
LOST WITH LIZ From the time she learned to read to the present, Liz has always had a fascination with books. As a child she remembers reading Little Golden Books instead of napping. And, oh, the first time she read a romance –The Thornbirds– she was hooked. She ate up the SuperRomances on the shelves of her aunt’s used bookstore, borrowed her grandmother’s Boons and Mills Medical Romances (loved those nurses’ caps) and snuck her dad’s westerns so she could read the “romantic parts” (which lasted about a page). She inhales books, no doubt about it.
Of course, it never occurred to her to write one until her college roommate said, “You read so many of those things, why don’t you write one?” The idea stuck and several years ago she did it! So now she’s an author with four manuscripts under her belt and a release on the way! So instead of just reading those SuperRomances, she’s writing them.
Liz serves as President of NOLA Stars, loves strawberries, fishing, retail therapy (especially at Target), and she’s a Virgo. Liz married her high school sweetheart and has two smart, beautiful boys. When not writing contemporary romances and still editing her historicals, she is usually found working in the flowerbeds or doing laundry.
THE STARS OF A TOUCH OF SCARLET agreed to sit down with Angi in an exclusive interview.
ANGI: How often to you get lost in a story?
ADAM HINTON: Not often. I’m more focused on the reality of life, and I find there is enough drama in the living.
SCARLET ROSE: It’s an elemental process to an actress. Part of acting is becoming the character you portray. So I don’t get lost in a story, I become immersed in it. The story becomes me and I am the story.
ANGI: What’s the first book you remember reading?
ADAM HINTON: Think it was the Hardy Boys, but I’m not sure.
SCARLET ROSE: My sister Rayne read to me all the time since it was rare to have a television in whatever commune or tent we lived in. I particularly loved Anne of Green Gables.
ANGI: What’s your favorite “love” word?
ADAM HINTON: Do I have to answer this?
SCARLET ROSE: Of course, you do. He likes to say things like “you make me feel naughty” or “your skin feels like satin.” He’s romantic when no one is looking. I often whisper sweet nothings…well, not nothings. More like sweet somethings into his ear.”
ANGI: Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?
ADAM HINTON: Once an officer in my squad on the Houston PD took a bullet from a man robbing a liquor store just to give his partner a clear shot at the dude. This dirtbag had already killed the store owner and had his gun trained on the wife. I couldn’t decide if my colleague was brave or stupid, but he saved that woman’s life.
SCARLET ROSE: Well, I lived in NYC for five years, so there were tons of opportunities to meet first responders. And several months ago, Adam pulled a woman out of a burning car and saved her life, so he counts as a real-life hero. Oh, and I went to a party with the guy who played Spider Man, but that’s not really real-life, is it?
ANGI: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
ADAM HINTON: Do I have to answer this?
SCARLET ROSE: He likes Snow White.
ADAM HINTON: (snort) and you know this how?
SCARLET ROSE: Because of the way you kissed me when I passed out. Remember? It was in that kiss I knew you loved me.
ANGI: What’s your favorite cartoon character?
ADAM HINTON: Seriously? Um…Elmer Fudd?
SCARLET ROSE: Definitely Jessica Rabbit
ANGI: What turns you off like nothing else?
ADAM HINTON: Being close-minded. Being deceptive. Breaking rules to suit yourself. Not driving-
SCARLET ROSE: the speed limit. Yes, I know that well. But you secretly like going fast. You secretly get turned on by going fast, furious and hard.
ADAM HINTON: That sounds dirty, Scarlet, and if you don’t stop telling my secrets, I’m going to destroy your glamorous image by telling them how you pick at your toe nails.
SCARLET ROSE: I do not! Well, only when the polish is chipped.
ANGI: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
ADAM HINTON: Who got released? And why would I play music?
SCARLET ROSE: We’re released. Our love story? Hello? That’s why we’re here today. Um, we’d probably go with the Top Gun soundtrack. He sings “You Lost That Loving Feeling” all the time in the shower.
ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
ADAM HINTON: I read reports at my desk. Sometimes I read poetry by William Carlos Williams and a few gumshoe detective books, but not too often. Scarlet keeps me busy.
SCARLET ROSE: Why, yes, I do. I read magazines, but I also like good Chick Lit. I read about 15 minutes a night before I go to bed.
ANGI: What sound or noise do you love?
SCARLET ROSE: I like the sound of the ocean, belly laughs, the way Adam snores. It’s kind of a chuff like a dog.
ADAM HINTON: I snore? Like a dog?
SCARLET ROSE: It’s cute.
ANGI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
ADAM HINTON: The Ten Commandments
SCARLET ROSE: Really? Moses? For me, Gone with the Wind, of course.
ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: A TOUCH OF SCARLET is your last book in the Oak Stand series…who’s your favorite hero and what’s next?
LIZ HAS GOTTA ANSWER: Out of all my books on the shelf, I like Brent Hamilton from A Taste of Texas the best, mostly because he has repressed who he is to fit everyone’s image and it makes him truly unhappy. Inside he’s this sensitive, artistic soul, but everyone sees him and thinks man whore. I loved unwrapping that man.
Next, is a three book series set in my home state of Louisiana involving the delicious Dufrene brothers. Nate’s story Waters Run Deep comes out in May 2012, with his brothers, Abram and Darby to follow in July and September. A little Louisiana spice and some men who look nice equal happy readers…I hope.
LIZ WILL GIVE AWAY a copy of A Touch of Scarlet…or any other book from her backlist to someone leaving a comment today.
Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address. Those leaving comments through Sunday at noon CST following this post will be eligible for the drawing.
GOT A QUESTION YOU’D LIKE TO ASK YOUR FANS? Well, since we’re talking about heroes, who has been your favorite hero of all time – from any book?
DON'T MISS any of Liz Talley's SuperRomances or her first appearance on GLIAS: Get Lost in A LITTLE TEXAS.
CONTACT LIZ at email@example.com OR find her blogging with the 2009 Golden Heart finalists or on Everybody Needs a Little Romance. Keep up with all of Liz's releases on her website or follow her on Facebook.
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USA Today Bestseller Angi Morgan is an 11th generation Texan who plots ways to engage her readers with complex story lines, in actual Texas locations. She shares her research and photos on her daily blog: A Picture A Day.
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