(Lightning Crashes #1)
Publication date: March 23rd 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Broke and widowed, Rachel Ferrer has already lost so much that when her tarot reading roommate pulls The Tower card, Rachel isn’t phased. What are upheaval and chaos when the worst had already happened? When Rachel’s late husband’s childhood best friend, Nicolas, reappears in her life and brings a handsome friend along with him, Rachel forgets the cards. She takes a chance on Blake even though she can’t stop thinking about Nicolas. It isn’t settling if the person you want is married, right?
Nicolas Rivera has always been a man of faith. His marriage and his job at the church have been his pillars, but when the foundations of both begin to crumble, doubt and a forbidden attraction tempt him to seek comfort in the one woman he shouldn’t go anywhere near.
Nicolas and Rachel have been on the periphery of each other’s lives for years, but as circumstances push them together, lightning crackles between them. WIll they be able to resist the electricity or will they get burned by Temptation?
Temptation is the first volume of The Lightning Crashes Duet. Volume one is a slow-burn forbidden romance that ends on a cliffhanger. Volume 2, Absolution, will be available April 20th, 2021, complete with all the happily ever afters.
“Gabe hated smoking.”
The voice came from her left, encroaching on the tiniest little bit of peace Rachel had had in days. She knew who she would find when she opened her eyes. He was the other reason she was outside. He and his friends had been in the restaurant, in their usual front-side booth for almost two hours, and the entire time she’d felt watched. She hadn’t been able to decide whether it was Nicolas or Blake who was staring at her. Maybe it was both of them. Shiny Guy had found every excuse he could to approach the bar, even asking her if she happened to be in charge of reservations. She’d barely kept from laughing in his face. The idea of managing the busy restaurant’s events on top of everything else nearly made her head explode.
Rachel opened her eyes and raised her head without adjusting her posture and took another drag from her cigarette blowing the smoke in his direction before she said, “Oh, so we’re talking about how you knew my husband now?”
He ducked his head and sat down on the nearest bench, about ten feet away. Good. He should keep his distance. “I never wanted to put you on the spot. I’m sure it can be a difficult subject.”
Rachel narrowed her eyes at him. “Or you didn’t want to be held accountable for not being there when he was sick. Or after.”
Nicolas sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees, his palms open. “We went down two different paths. I stayed here. Stayed with the church. Gabe . . .” Nicolas trailed off as if he expected Rachel to fill in the blanks as to what it was that Gabe had done. What he’d studied, the profession he’d chosen, the beliefs he’d adopted after he’d left evangelicalism behind. Rachel didn’t give him anything, and eventually Nicolas said, “Well, he moved on.”
Rachel snorted. “And left us all behind.”
“Is that how you see it?” Nicolas asked.
“It’s not really any of your business, actually.” She ducked down and grabbed her tomato juice before her stomach caved in on itself. “Was there something you needed?”
Nicolas cocked his head to the side and clasped his fingers. “I’m not a threat, Rachel.”
She knew her skepticism shone across her face, as bright as a lighthouse beacon warning sailors of cliffs, but she couldn’t help it. Everything about this man spelled trouble. Maybe he wasn’t aware of it. He definitely didn’t understand how broken she was. Or of the way she longed to use him and discard him. It was dark and lurid, the pull she felt toward him, and something Rachel would never give in to. There was no pretending her husband was back, not even for a second, even if the temptation had kept her awake more than one night this week.
“Our children are friends. You’re volunteering at the church. I’m a regular customer of yours. We could be friends.”
“I’m thankful that Oscar has a friend like Asher,” she said, watching as triumph lit his eyes. She allowed herself a twitch of a smile before she slammed the door on that. “But I don’t have time to indulge your guilt for not being a better friend to Gabe while he was here. If you’ll excuse me.”
Rachel snubbed the cigarette out on the ground and stood to flee. Only Nicolas was by her side before she could take her second step, his fingers closing on her elbow—not with any force, but enough of a touch to stop her in her tracks. Enough for her to feel the heat of him. Enough for the potential energy to crackle between them like lightning.
Time stood still even as Rachel could feel the Earth rotate around them. Rachel could predict the ecstasy of his hands on her body, the taste of sweat on his skin as she licked up his neck. The tangy flavor of herself on his lips as he kissed her. The press of his fingertips into her hips as he positioned her in his lap and the delicious completion as his cock slid inside her.
The heat of it could burn her alive if the guilt didn’t get to her first.
When she could move again, Rachel met Nicolas’s eyes and recognized the yearning. The desire. And the guilt. All there, a reflection of everything she’d just imagined, sparking in the way he was looking at her.
But Rachel couldn’t stay to hear anymore. She shook off his hold and stepped out of his reach. “I can’t,” she said and fled back inside before she could do something stupid like beg a married man to kiss her.
Marla Holt believes in second chances, romance, and the radical notion that everyone deserves a happily every after. She’s living her own fairy tale, writing contemporary romance novels in her Kansas farmhouse with her husband, three boys, three cats, and flock of imaginary sheep. Follow her at marlaholt.com or on Instagram as @marlaholtauthor