Title: Give Me Strength (Give Me #2)
Author: Kate McCarthy
Genre: Romantic Suspense 18+
Publication Date: September 16, 2013
Cover Designed By: Cover Design: Okay Creations
Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.
Quinn Salisbury doesn't think she's cut out for this whole living thing. Even as a young girl she struggled. Just when she thinks she's found a way to leave her violent past behind her, the only thing that's kept her going is ripped away, leaving her damaged and heartbroken.
Four years later, she is slowly rebuilding her life and lands a job as an assistant band manager to Jamieson, the hot new Australian act climbing their way to the top of the charts. There she meets Travis Valentine, the charismatic older brother of her boss, Mac.
From his commanding charm to his confidence and passion, Travis is everything Quinn believes is too good for her, and despite her apprehension, she finds their attraction undeniable and intense.
When her past resurfaces, it complicates their relationship. Instead of reaching out for help, Quinn pushes Travis away, until a staggering secret is revealed that leaves her fighting for her very life.
Torn between running and opening her heart to the man determined to have her, can Quinn find the strength within herself to fight for her future?
Hands in his pockets, Travis shrugged and walked towards me. “Have I given you enough space yet?”
“Yeah.” Leaning his hip casually against the table, he reached out and brushed a lock of hair from my face.
“Space for uh, what?”
“Us. I don’t know if you’re ready for what this is between us, but I can’t seem to make myself leave you alone.”
I shook my head slightly. “I don’t…”
Travis cupped my cheeks in his hands and leaned in. “You’re so guarded and wary, Quinn. I can understand why, but maybe space is not what you need.”
“What do I need?” I breathed, my heart thundering in my chest.
He pressed a sweet kiss on my mouth and against my lips whispered, “Me.”
Pulling back, his hands remained, his eyes taking in every inch of my face as though committing it to memory.
I ducked my head from his gaze.
“Don’t,” he said gruffly. “You’re so beautiful.”
“Travis,” I whispered, both warmth and confusion warring within me. Confusion won. Why did he think I was so special? I had nothing to offer except a sordid, violent past and a broken future. I was timid, unsure of myself, and emotionally unstable. The sleek, flashy women I’d seen at the Florence Bar were a much better fit for him than I was.
I took a step back and his hands fell away.
“I wish I could see what you seem to because I’m nothing like those beautiful girls you were with at that bar. What’s here,” I waved a hand at my face, “doesn’t matter because that’s not what I see. I see what’s in here...” I thumped a hand against my chest “...and what’s in here is ugly, and I live with it every day.”
“Is that what you think?” He shook his head at me, swallowing hard. “Quinn,” he said hoarsely. “I watched you. From the moment you walked in that bar, I saw you. Amongst all the shallow and the fake, you looked like spring, and then you got close and I was right because you smelled like jasmine. When you turned around to leave I thought I was wrong because why did someone as sweet as spring think that life wasn’t meant for her? There was no light in your eyes, and somehow, even though I barely knew you, it left an ache in my chest. How could I let you walk away?”
“You heard me say that?”
“That life wasn’t meant for you?”
I nodded and closed my eyes.
He sighed heavily and reaching out, trailed his fingers through the wild curls of my hair. “Life is hard, Quinn, and the hardest part is being yourself in a world of people trying to make you someone you’re not. I saw you standing apart from everything that was the same, and that was beautiful, not sad. When I was holding you and inside of you, I watched your eyes come alive, and fuck spring because you were hotter than summer, and I want to see that again.” His voice was low and as I opened my eyes and met his, he brushed his thumb across my lips. “I want to see you smile, and I want to touch you again and feel you burn brighter than the sun while I’m doing it.”
My heart swelled until I thought it would beat its way out of my chest. I reached up and covered his hand with my own.
I stood there, maybe breathing—I couldn’t be sure—but wanting to tell him that no one had ever said anything so beautiful to me in all my life. That no one had ever looked at me the way he was doing right now—as though nothing else existed but me.
My lips parted as I tried to find the words, and at the invitation, his mouth slammed down on mine. I moaned at the wild force as he thrust his tongue in my mouth, arms winding tightly around me until I was sure I’d never breathe again and didn’t care to. Travis lifted me and turned, backing towards the couch until he was sitting down, my legs straddling him. He groaned as my tongue rubbed against his, greedily wanting more and fearing it would never be enough. My hands slid up the hard ridges of his chest, reaching his neck and twining through his hair until he broke the kiss, breathing heavy as he shifted his lips to my neck, his tongue licking a path downwards as my body burned.
“Oh God,” I moaned breathlessly, my back arching.
“Want you so much,” he muttered, slipping his hands beneath my tight shirt, frantically pushing my bra out of the way until warm naked skin filled his palms.
Someone’s phone rang. We both ignored it. Instead, Travis returned his lips to mine, his hips grinding into me along with his tongue.
The phone kept ringing.
“Shit,” he muttered, and it stopped as he pulled away.
It was good that he did because there was no way I could. He could have ripped off my pants and filled me right then and there, and I would have been his. That was not good. Anyone could have walked in. In fact, we were both supposed to be working.
I informed him of that very fact and he chuckled. “Maybe you are, but we have enough security out there that I’m not really needed. I’m just here for you.”
Travis cocked a brow. “You’re a full time security job yourself.”
My mouth fell open. “I am not.”
His eyes dropped to my lips. “Careful doing that. It seems to get you in trouble.”
I scrambled off his lap, brushing at my hair and tugging my bra back into place. Nodding at the table where my iPad and pen sat, I said, “I need to do…some stuff.”
Travis stood and my cheeks heated at the obvious bulge he was adjusting in his pants.
I tried not to look. “Maybe you shouldn’t go out there with uh, that.”
He winked. “That is not gonna go down if I stay in here. I’ll leave you to your stuff, but tomorrow night you’re all mine. I’ll pick you up at six.”
“You mean like a…date?”
Travis gave me a short nod.
I’ve never been on a date before. Even with Ethan, most of our time together had been spent at his house, at the beach, or at school.
His eyes widened and I cringed. “Did I just say that out loud?”
“Uh huh.” He reached the door and opened it, letting the wild beat of music pump through. “Don’t worry. I’ll be sure to make it good for you,” he said with a wink and shut the door behind him.
I shivered and practised deep breathing for several moments. Minutes later, the door flew open and Mac strode through. She eyeballed the walls of the dressing room with exaggerated fashion. “If these four walls could talk, I bet they’d have a lot to say, but unfortunately they can’t.” She shook her head in mock sadness before narrowing those knowing eyes on me. “So spill.”
“How do you even know?”
“Because my brother came back all tight lipped, but his eyes were telling me a different story.”
“Oh? What story was that?”
“The same story they told when he was twelve and got the cadet go-kart he’d been hounding our parents about since he was eight.”
I averted my eyes because if she saw all that in his, imagine what she saw in mine?
“No! No, don’t put me on hold—” Mac huffed. “Goddamn effing asstards,” she muttered under her breath.
I looked over the length of my desk at Mac. She was sitting opposite me at her own. Her lips were flattened and her knuckles white gripping the phone. It only took two weeks to get used to her feisty, take charge attitude, maybe because she reminded me a little of Lucy. Lucy could be a lioness, but apparently it was only me that brought out that particular quality. When Mac put her foot down the other day, forcing Evie to change a particular pair of shoes for an upcoming interview, Evie had bitched that Mac was like the blonde equivalent of Ellen Ripley from Alien. Right now, I could see it clear as day.
“Mac.” Her eyes, narrowed with frustration, found mine. “Transfer the call to me and put the phone down.”
She exhaled through flared nostrils and nodded slowly, putting the phone down.
An annoyed voice came through the line when I picked it up. “Mac? Look, the best I can do is next week and that—”
“Robin,” I said and forced a smile. I was told in a training session a while back that when you’re on the phone and you smile, it carries through into your voice. “It’s Quinn here, Mac’s assistant. We spoke last week?”
“Oh, hi, Quinn.”
“Look, I know you’re under the pump, and it’s completely our fault for not confirming you received approval for the T-shirt artwork sooner.” Mac glared at me for taking the blame. The artwork was approved long before I came on the scene, but apparently Robin had missed that. “We have a huge show this weekend, and we really need these shirts ready by then. If you can arrange to have them delivered by Friday, I’ll send out a couple of tickets to the show and give Jettison Records some of your business cards.”
I heard an indrawn breath and papers being shuffled madly echoed down the line. Robin cleared her throat. “You know, Quinn, I think I might just manage that. Leave it with me and I’ll ring you to confirm the delivery details.”
I finished up the call and looked at Mac’s expectant face. “T-shirts will be here by Friday.”
“Yes!” Mac fist pumped the air. She jumped up and grabbed me from my chair. I was twirled in an impromptu waltz that left me both giggly and dizzy. “I love having you here, but that bitch doesn’t deserve tickets.”
“I agree, but it’s a small price to pay.”
Mac twirled me around one last time, and I smacked my hip into the side of the desk. “Oh shit, Quinn. You okay?”
I chuckled. One hand peeled up my shirt and the other pulled the top of my pants down, exposing a fair amount of skin in order to inspect the damage. “See? Nothing but a small red mark.”
“Working hard I see?”
My heart kicked wildly at the deep voice from the doorway, and my eyes found Travis. He was wearing a pair of grey and black pinstripe dress pants and a collared navy shirt with the sleeves rolled up, exposing his tanned, sinewy forearms. His jaw was tight as his eyes focused on my exposed hip in a way that left me breathless. I snapped my clothes back in place, and his eyes flew up to mine.
“Damn straight we are,” Mac answered for the both of us. “Quinn is kicking asstard ass.”
“Nothing to it, Mac,” I murmured, tearing my eyes from his and resuming my seat at my desk. My hands hovered over the keyboard, and my eyes fixed to the computer screen in an effort to convey that his presence had no effect on me at all.
You might be fooling them, but you’re not fooling yourself.
La, la, la, I told the irritating voice in my head.
I turned my head at Mac’s question. “Huh?”
“Did you just say ‘la la la’?”
Travis cleared his throat and I turned back to the computer and began tapping at the keyboard as though my life depended on it. What I typed, I couldn’t be sure—hieroglyphics maybe.
“What are you up to, Travis?” Mac asked.
The corner of my eye told me he was now leaning casually up against the doorframe as though my presence was but a minor blip on his day. I huffed silently and tapped a bit more.
“I have a meeting with Quinn about the security for the show this weekend.”
My fingers froze over the keyboard, and, yes, they even shook a little.
“No,” I told the computer screen with feigned authority. “My diary right here says I’m meeting with Jared.”
I resumed my busy schedule of ignoring Travis and typing my hieroglyphics.
“Well,” came his drawl. “Change of plans. You’ve got me now.”
How did he manage to make that sound like sex? His words licked every inch of my skin, making me want him instantly. How unfair that I was so seemingly happy on my little drought crusade but one night with him and now sex was the recurring star of my world. My face flamed as I stared at the keyboard, the letters out of focus.
I blinked back into focus and found Travis in the doorway. My heart lifted at the sight of him. “Travis?”
“You’ve been staring at the wall for over a minute.” He frowned. “What happened to your face?”
“I fell,” I told the desk after averting my eyes.
Travis came and stood in my space. He crouched down and cupped my face, examining the injury. “When?”
“Is that important?” I could feel his breath on my face, and I wanted him so much. Sheer agony speared through me, and I closed my eyes against the force. His touch on my forehead was gentle, and I jerked my head back. “It’s just a graze. What are you doing here?”
Travis sighed, and it was weighted with so many unsaid words that I knew he didn’t know where to start. “You know why I’m here.”
Of course I knew.
“Don’t stand so close,” I said firmly but he must have heard something else coming out of my mouth because he didn’t move.
“Quinn,” he breathed, and the depth of emotion in that single word tugged at my heart. “I can’t let you do this.”
Travis held my eyes, but I couldn’t reply because suddenly his lips were on mine. My mouth opened underneath the onslaught, moaning at the taste of him. He lifted me off the chair, and I hung on as he spun me around and pushed me up against the desk.
“Stop,” I choked out when his mouth left mine to nibble on my ear.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” I moaned as his teeth bit into my skin. “No.”
God help me, but I couldn’t push him away. I wasn’t strong enough and he was relentless. His hands were all over me, pushing under clothes and grabbing at bare skin. I slid my own underneath his shirt, tugging on the waistband of his jeans to drag him closer. His mouth returned to mine and my hand came around his neck, holding him there so he wouldn’t take it away.
“Oh that shit is not cool. So not cool.” Mac’s voice registered through the fog, and I pulled back, rubbing my lips together.
Travis took a step back, his hair mussed, and cleared his throat. “We were just ah…sorting the security detail for the Melbourne trip.”
I sat up, straightening my shirt, my entire body heating with embarrassment when I saw Jared smirking at both of us from over Mac’s shoulder.
“That’s Jared’s department, yet here you are, all over it like a rash. I’m not fooled. I can bet by the way you had Quinn spread out all over that desk she isn’t fooled either.”
Jared folded his arms and raised a brow. “Nice one, Trav.”
Mac spun around with wide eyes and pointed in his face. “One word, Jared. Bedroom. Not the pantry, not the couch, not the shower. Bedroom.”
He held up his hands. “No idea what you’re talking about,” he muttered and disappeared.
“Hurry up and finish your fumigating because I’m tired of you and your shitty food in my house!” she yelled after him.
“It’s Sunday,” she growled and slammed the coffee in her hand on the desk as she sat down, “but you’re here so let’s get this shit done, and then you both can get down to other business.” She pursed her lips but I could see the curve in them as though satisfied that whatever happened last night was now over.
I swallowed and looked at Travis. Soon it would be.
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About the Author
Kate McCarthy grew up in a small town outside of Port Macquarie, Australia. Raised in a house just a short walk to the beach, Kate enjoyed the peaceful, relaxed atmosphere and friendships that come from being raised in a friendly, small town area.
She now resides in Brisbane, Australia, a city in the state of Queensland where she works as an accountant, along with a sideline wedding cake business and her writing.
She is married with two children, has two dogs and house in the suburbs, and a pile of friends and family dotted all over the country that help keep her sane.
When she’s not busy running after naughty kids, filthy dogs, crunching numbers, piping buttercream and writing books, you can find her curled up in bed in the early hours of the morning reading new books and re-reading old favourites. Her favourite books are the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward in which she longs to eventually join the brotherhood and change her name to Phierce Mutha.
Giveaway begins September 17, 2013, and ends at 12:00 AM on September 30, 2013.
- $100 Amazon Gift Card
- 2 signed paperbacks (one international & one for residents in Australia)
- 10 ebooks of Give Me Strength