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Carved In Stone
SERIES: Art Of Love Series, Book 1
GENRE: Romantic Comedy, Romantic Woman’s Fiction
ENDING: HEA (They’re a couple and live Happily Ever After)
WORD COUNT: 75,000 to 99,999 (large book)
HERO’S AGE: Over 50
HEROINE’S AGE: 40-49
HEAT LEVEL: Very Sexy (Let Me Show Exactly What I Want)
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: Some (The occasional “F” bomb, lots of smack talk, some explicit sex)
They say you marry a person and not a family, but tell that to a Larson bride.
A year has passed since his ex-wife remarried. Now Will Larson’s adult sons have decided he needs their help to start dating again. His growing desperation to date retiring high school art teacher, Jessica Daniels, makes Will think suffering their help might be worth it.
He admires Jessica for her courageous art and for how she has dealt with the trauma of her life. Jessica assures Will she is incapable of lasting love, but he refuses to believe it’s true. Will is sure the only part of Jessica truly damaged by her past is her heart.
The skilled sculptor carves masterpieces from stone but soon discovers that he has a lot left to learn about the art of love.
READ AN EXCERPT
Jessica took her plate to Will’s booth, put it on the table, and then left again without speaking. She couldn’t help noticing that Will did nothing but grin.
She walked around the café refilling drinks, talking to people she knew, and then finally brought a glass of tea to the booth when she returned to Will.
Digging into her chicken salad, she didn’t talk much until it was half done.
“Research?” she asked, using her chin to indicate the book open at his elbow.
“Studying a new technique,” Will said, swinging the book to where she could see.
“Can’t really read without my glasses,” Jessica said. “I’ll have to take your word for it.”
“It’s basically just a new way to use the same tools. It keeps it fresh for me to see what new sculptors are doing,” Will said, turning the book back toward him.
“Where did you study?” Jessica asked, going back to her food.
“Completely self-taught. I didn’t study art in college. I studied social sciences,” Will said easily.
That had her dropping her fork to the plate. “Your talent is all natural? You never took a lesson?”
“No, but I had an art teacher inspect the first carving I did,” Will said, remembering. “It was my senior year in college. I carved my first statue, which was the size of a twelve-year-old boy, and it took me all semester. I wasn’t an art student but had talked the art chair at UK into letting me work on it at the campus art studio. Then I let them critique it. They were harsh but advised me to skip the lessons and just pursue it on my own. Latent talent or something, I think they said.”
“How old were you?” Jessica asked. “And I agree with University of Kentucky art department.”
“Twenty-one,” Will said. “I’m fifty-three now. How old are you?”
“Old enough not to have to admit my age,” Jessica answered on a laugh. “Okay. That’s not fair, is it? Not quite as old as you but in the same ballpark—how’s that?”
Will smiled. “Do you ever date men your age or older? Or are they all as young as the math teacher?”
Jessica narrowed her gaze. “Adam is thirty-nine and a little too old to be considered a boy-toy. I dated a man who was sixty-eight not too long ago. He was very nice but still mourning his wife who had just died. I date when I’m interested in someone.”
“Are you interested in the math teacher?” Will asked, wanting and needing to hear her say no.
“Adam is an interesting man,” Jessica said, hedging.
“Yes, I’m sure he is, but are you still dating him?” Will asked, hoping to get a direct answer to at least one of his questions.
“How did we move from talking about your art to discussing my social life?” Jessica asked, ignoring Will’s question.
“It needed to be discussed. I’m a firm believer in monogamy and I don’t share well,” Will told her, taking the final bite of his sandwich.
Jessica shrugged. “And this concerns me how?”
“Are you interested in me? And don’t lie,” Will ordered, his voice carrying the same authority that had worked with teachers and students for years. “I’d rather just hear the truth than your flirtatious redirects.”
“All right, here’s the truth. I think you’re also an interesting man, but I’m not interested in dating you,” Jessica said, choosing her words carefully. But then she had to look away because saying it as Will held her gaze had been a lot harder than she thought it would be and had felt more wrong than she’d anticipated.
Will studied her downcast eyes and the way she now couldn’t look at him. Why in the hell was Jessica lying? Maybe she was still mad at him. “Okay. No dating. I get it. How about a ride instead?” Obviously surprised by his answer and the question, Will was happy to see Jessica’s head snap back up.
“Your bike was very nice, but once was enough. Thanks anyway,” Jessica said, raising her gaze to Will’s, hoping he took the hint.
Will grinned at her. “I wasn’t talking about my bike,” he said softly, his tone quiet, serious, and firm. “The bike helmet wasn’t all I bought that first day because of you.”
When Jessica tried to escape from the booth, she knocked her still full glass of iced tea over on the table. She made an honest grab to stop it from tipping completely over, but the glass and ice cubes all rolled away from her. Liquid caught the edges of his book but mostly swept across the surface to the other side dripping onto Will and the seat.
Laughing, Will slid out of the booth before the tea completely drowned his lap. There was some tea on the front of his jeans, but he didn’t mind because Jessica’s face was completely red as she fearfully stared at his crotch.
“If you think that’s a substitute for a cold shower, it’s going to take a whole lot more than just one glass of iced tea to negate the effect you have on me.”
He was thoroughly enjoying the fact that his wicked pronouncement brought on more blushing from Jessica and several giggles from the table of older ladies hanging on his every word.
“It was an accident,” Jessica said, backing away from the table another step.
Will stepped closer and erased the distance Jessica was obviously trying to put between them. “What are you so afraid of finding out? You already know more of my secrets than any other woman.”
“Not true,” Jessica denied. “I’m not interested in your secrets, anyway.”
“That’s another lie,” Will said quietly, his eyes darkening. “You want to know what I did to my sons when they lied to me? I let them suffer the consequences of their actions.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jessica said, all but yelling in panic at the determined look on Will’s face. She did not know his secrets. She knew nothing except how angry he could get and that he could kiss nicely when he wanted.
“Yes—you do. You looked into my creative soul and put your hand right over the core of it,” he said. “Your long, stroking fingers have inspired many fantasies for me ever since.”
Will picked up Jessica’s hand, brought it to his mouth and kissed her wrist, then he moved up her arm to the crease of her elbow. While there he ran his tongue lightly from elbow to wrist. When Jessica drew in a surprised breath, Will backed her against the edge of the booth and kissed her the way he’d been dying to do. He moved his lips smoothly across hers until he felt them open to him, and then he plunged a hard, excited tongue into her mouth.
Will felt her acceptance of his kiss and him in every cell.
Gone was her resistance, but to make absolutely sure Jessica understood how it was, he ground his pelvis against hers for a moment. Then he backed off before he got too physical again, which after her response was now a distinct possibility.
Even if he hadn’t embarrassed her the other day on their date, he for sure had just now in a restaurant full of staring people. Her pink face proved it. He was a little bit embarrassed himself, but his enjoyment of kissing Jessica senseless counteracted a lot of his discomfort. Probably one of the greatest joys of being a man, Will mused, grinning at Jessica’s dazed expression.
“Too bad you’re not interested in me, Jessica Daniels,” he said, stepping away from her warm body. “I’m sure interested in you.”
Will pulled a twenty, and the condom he’d been carrying since he met her, from his pocket. He threw the twenty on the table in one of the few dry places left, and then reached out and tucked the condom into Jessica’s apron pocket. “Here’s your tip. Maybe it will fit the math teacher, but I doubt it.”
MEET DONNA MCDONALD
Donna McDonald published her first romance novel in March of 2011. Fifty plus novels later, she admits to living her own happily ever after as a full-time author.
Her work spans several genres, such as contemporary romance, paranormal, and science fiction. Humor is the most common element across all her writing.
Addicted to making readers laugh, she includes a good dose of romantic comedy in every book.