New Romance Novel by Laura Branchflower

New Romance Novels 2018! I’m currently working on three. Here is a sneak peek at the first…

Main characters:

Hero: Lucas Roe — NFL QB, 30 years old

Heroine: Carrie Chambers — HR Assistant Director at Washington, DC hotel, 24 years old

Chapter One

Carrie ran her hand down the length of her thigh, a coconut scent filling the air as she applied suntan lotion for the third time since arriving at the beach two hours earlier. She wasn’t going to chance burning in the strong Florida sun.

A shadow spread over her. A man had paused a few feet from her lounge chair, his large hands splayed on his hips as he stared out at the ocean. Carrie’s eyes rested momentarily on one of his hands, taking in his long fingers and wide palm before traveling up his well-toned arm to his muscled shoulder. He had obviously just arrived. It was her third day at the resort and he wasn’t someone you could overlook. He was at least six-foot-four with broad shoulders and an athletic body. The muscles in his upper back rippled as he adjusted his hands on his hips. His skin looked impossibly smooth. She took in a deep breath. It was the first time since it ended with Kevin that she took note of another man. Kevin. She wasn’t supposed to think about Kevin.

The high-pitched sound of female laughter accompanied two women in string bikinis walking up from the water, their attention focused on the man beside Carrie. She watched them blatantly stare at him, amazed at how obvious they were in their interest.

One of the women pulled back her shoulders, jutting her large breasts out as they came within feet of him. Carrie rolled her eyes. Behavior like the woman’s was why good-looking men had huge egos. She was basically offering herself to him.

He didn’t take the bait, continuing to stare forward as they passed within inches of him. When he didn’t turn to get a glimpse of the women from behind, Carrie’s curiosity about the stranger increased. There was no way Kevin would have resisted a look at their asses. She mentally chastised herself for again thinking of Kevin.

A cabana boy stopped beside the man, pointing off to their left as he told him where the rest of his party was located. “Thank you.” His deep voice fit him. “Would you mind putting this on my chair?” He held out his room key and sunglasses. “I want to take a swim.”

As soon as the cabana boy left, Carrie assumed the man would walk towards the water. Instead he began to prepare his body for his impending swim, tilting his head from one side to the other as he stretched out his neck and then shaking out his arms. She quietly lifted her cellphone from the table beside her chair, pulling up the camera before pointing it in his direction and resting it on her stomach. Words wouldn’t do him justice. She had to show Jodie what she was missing.

It was apparent from his profile with his etched jaw and straight nose that he was handsome, but she wasn’t prepared for how handsome until he turned his head. Her heart skipped when his eyes met hers, a bolt of awareness coursing through her.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to block your view,” he said.

“No, it’s fine.” Her voice sounded breathless.

His gaze fell to her cell phone. Before she could react he had closed the distance between them and snatched it from her hands.

“Wha—what are you doing? That’s my phone,” she stammered, coming to her feet. “You can’t just take that.”

“I’m taking back what’s mine,” he said shortly. He was looking down at her phone as he spoke his thumb tapping the display.

“How would you like me to take a video of you without your permission?”

“I wasn’t…” she trailed off, her face heating.

“You weren’t what?” He lifted his gaze. “Taking a video of me?” He raised his eyebrows.

Her mouth went dry as she met his cool gaze. Even in a bathing suit, he was the most intimidating person she’d ever encountered. She dropped her eyes, completely mortified. He had caught her recording him. “I’m sorry. I—“

“Save it.” He tossed her phone onto her lounge chair.

“I—“

“You were caught,” he interrupted, his lips turned down. “The only thing you’re sorry about is that you no longer have the video to show your friends or whatever the hell you planned to do with it.”

She opened her mouth, but couldn’t find words. His arrogance was shocking.

“Don’t you think I deserve a private life? Next time you want a video of someone, ask for permission.”

Carrie was still processing the most embarrassing moments of her life when Jodie dropped down beside her half an hour later. “What have I missed?”

“Nothing,” she lied, not prepared to verbalize her humiliation.

“Do you want to get in the water?”

“No!” Carrie burst out. “I mean. I don’t feel like it.” There was no way she was going to chance bumping into him.

“Okay.” Jodie pulled her hair up into a messy bun as she looked around. “Have you seen any football players? Someone on the elevator said a group of them checked in last night. They took part in some charity event yesterday.”

Carrie’s gaze shifted to the ocean, her heart rate accelerating as the man from earlier emerged from the surf. “Do you think he’s one?”

“Oh my God!” Jodie gripped Carrie’s arm. “That’s Lucas Roe!”

“No it’s not!” Carrie gasped, but even as the words left her lips she knew it was true. Lucas Roe was one of the most celebrated quarterbacks in the NFL. Not only was he also featured in half a dozen commercials, he also played for the Washington Kings, her hometown team. “I’m such an idiot.” She dropped her head back against the lounger.

“He’s coming right towards us,” Jodie whispered.

Carrie picked up her novel, opened it to a random page and held it in front of her face. She couldn’t bear to face him again.

“Mr. Roe?” The excited voice of a young boy had Carrie peaking over the top of her book. “My dad asked me to ask you for your autograph.” The boy glanced back at his father who was several yards away.

“We really admire you,” the man said. “You’re a pleasure to watch. Our favorite by far.”

“Thank you,” Lucas said in a tone much friendlier than the one he’d used on her earlier. He took the pen and paper the boy held out, asking him for his name, before signing his autograph.

“Thank you, Mr. Roe,” the boy gushed before running off with the paper clutched in his hand.

“You’re our favorite, too,” Jodie called out causing Carrie’s stomach to clench. “We’re huge fans. May I have your autograph too? You could sign my stomach or…wherever,” she teased in a husky voice that only came out for men.

Carrie laid the open book over her face. She prayed he would ignore Jodie like he’d ignored the two string bikinis earlier. When she felt a shadow descend over her body, she knew he was within feet of them.

“You have better manners than your friend,” he said.

“Better manners than my friend?” Jodie’s eyes narrowed in confusion.

He nodded towards Carrie. “She tried to take a video of me earlier.”

“What?” Jodie laughed aloud. Her gaze swung to Carrie. “You took a video of him?”

“I didn’t know who he was,” Carrie mumbled from beneath her book.

“Then why were you taking a video?” he asked.

Carrie felt a new wave of heat flood her cheeks. She needed a drink. “It was an accident,” she lied.

“Right,” he said dryly. “Because cellphones hold themselves up and start videotaping.”

“Why did you take a video of him?” Jodie asked. “She seriously didn’t recognize you,” she told Lucas. “I had to tell her who you were.”

Carrie closed her eyes beneath the book. She was going to kill Jodie. “Do you mind leaving, Mr. Roe? You’re blocking my sun.”

“Is your cellphone full of videos of random men?” he asked.

“No!” Carrie abruptly sat up, letting the book fall to her lap as she glared up at him, no longer concerned with what he thought of her. “You were standing right in front of me stretching and you have a nice body, so I was going to send it to her.” She nodded towards Jodie. “To show her what she was missing—that’s it. If I had known you were such a cocky asshole, I never would have done it.”

Instead of barking something back at her, like she expected, he observed her in silence for several seconds, the corners of his lips twisting in an obvious attempt to keep from smiling. “Someone has a temper.”

“Fuck you.” Carrie plopped back on her lounger and picked up her book. “I hate athletes.”

“Her ex is a professional hockey player,” Jodie supplied.

“Jodie!” Carrie hissed, frowning at her. “Stop talking about me like I’m not here.”

“What did he do?” Lucas asked as if she hadn’t spoken.

“Serial cheater,” Jodie answered.

“He wasn’t a serial…” Carrie trailed off. Why was she defending Kevin? And why was she discussing this at all. She closed the book, picked up her cellphone and came to her feet. “How about respecting my privacy,” she bit out not quite meeting Lucas’s eyes. He may have been an asshole, but that didn’t stop her from feeling attracted to him.

“Carrie don’t leave,” Jodie began, “I—“

“I’ll see you later,” Carrie interrupted before slipping past Lucas.

She made it less than five yards before a warm hand clasped her upper arm. “Don’t leave on my account.”

“I’m not.” She continued to stare forward, her entire arm tingling from his touch.

“I’m sorry for earlier. I thought you knew who I was.”

“It’s fine. You were right. I shouldn’t have taken the video. If you don’t mind…” She pulled her arm from his grasp.

He stepped in front of her, blocking her path. “Have lunch with me.”

She looked at him then, which was a mistake. As soon as their eyes met, she felt an undeniable connection.

“Come on.” He smiled, revealing his perfect white teeth. “I’m not an asshole. I promise.”

“You were a complete asshole to me half an hour ago. Remember?” She raised her eyebrows.

“That’s just the persona I take on when someone’s invading my privacy. It wasn’t real.”

Her heart did a funny flutter when he smiled again. “I don’t do athletes,” she said summoning up her last strands of resolve.

“I’m only asking to buy you lunch.” The desire flashing in his eyes promised much more than a meal. “I probably wouldn’t let you do me so soon after meeting anyway.”

The innuendo behind his words had her pulse jumping. She needed distance. There was no way she was going to be able to resist this man. “You remind me of someone I want to forget. Excuse me.”

“How could you say no to lunch with Lucas Roe?” Jodie asked when she entered their suite an hour later to find Carrie stretched on top of one of two beds. “He’s Lucas Roe, Carrie. He’s probably worth fifty million dollars.”

“And he’s a professional athlete who didn’t show me the slightest interest until I told him he was an asshole. I’m just a conquest to him. He isn’t used to women that don’t fall at his feet.”

“So what? It was just lunch. Don’t you want to be able to tell people you shared a meal with Lucas Roe? Lucas Roe, Carrie. Lucas Roe asked you out.”

“Why do you keep saying his name?” Carrie asked.

“Because,” Jodie began stretching out on the bed beside her, “I don’t think you realize how big this is.”

“Are you forgetting why we came here?” Carrie asked.

“No, of course not. But he’s—“

“Lucas Roe,” Carrie finished. “Another self-absorbed athlete.” Her heart ached at the thought of Kevin. “Considering I was supposed to be marrying one this weekend, do you really think it’s a good idea for me to go out with another one?”

“You can’t just group them together because they’re athletes,” Jodie said. “I just spent almost a half hour talking to him. He was remarkably normal.”

“Then why don’t you go out with him?” She tossed her forearm over her eyes.

“Because he didn’t ask me. He’s interested in you.”

“Please stop. He reminded me of Kevin.” She didn’t want to think about Kevin. The whole reason they’d taken a last minute vacation was to distract her from thinking about Kevin.

“He was nothing like Kevin. He’s taller and leaner. Kevin’s more stocky and—”

“Not physically,” Carrie interrupted. “There was something about his eyes. I felt like he could pull me in—just like Kevin did.”

“You’re overthinking this,” Jodie insisted. “It was just lunch.”

“I’d sleep with him,” Carrie said. “I know I would.” She’d been fantasizing about it for the past hour.

“That’s not a bad thing.” Jodie propped herself up on her elbow and stared down at her. “You’re twenty-four and you’ve only slept with one guy. For all you know Kevin was terrible in bed.”

“He wasn’t terrible.” If he’d been terrible, she wouldn’t be craving the physical intimacy they’d shared. “And stop saying things to make me think about him. You’re being a terrible friend right now.”

“No, I’m telling you things you need to hear. You gave him six years of your life. Don’t give him another minute.”

“It’s only been four months,” Carrie said. Four months since he’d broken her heart. She cursed softly when a tear slipped from the corner of her eye. “God, I can’t believe I can still produce tears for him.” She brushed her knuckles over her cheek. Until that moment, she’d gone two weeks without crying, the longest period since he’d left her.

When they returned to the beach in the late afternoon to enjoy cocktails while the sun went down, there was no sign of Lucas Roe. There was also no sign of him in the resort’s open-air restaurant where they had a late dinner, or at the only on-property night club where they danced until well after midnight. Carrie outwardly showed no reaction to his absence, never mentioning him to Jodie or commenting when Jodie mused about where he might be, but inside she felt the stab of disappointment. She was attracted to him and his attention had been a welcome stroke to her battered ego.

“Lucas left the resort last night,” Jodie told Carrie the following afternoon. She had just returned from the beachside bar, a Mai Tai in each hand. “Apparently the word got out that he was here and everyone started clamoring for pictures and autographs. He checked out before dinner.”

He was gone. Carrie’s internal debate over whether or not to let him take her out was now a moot point. She would probably regret not going for the rest of her life. “I guess that’s the price of fame.”

“He rented a villa on Key Biscayne. We’re going there tonight.”

“What?” Carrie pushed herself up on her elbows. “What do you mean we’re going there?”

Jodie took a sip of her Mai Tai before continuing. “Justin Stagers and Buddy Thomas are at the bar,” she said naming two all pro offensive linemen. “They just invited me to his villa. Told me to bring my friend.”

“I can’t just show up there,” Carrie said. “He’s going to think I’m interested in him.”

“You are interested in him. You’ve been checking out every person that’s come to the beach today, hoping they’re him.”

“I have not!” Carrie said indignantly.

Jodie laughed. “You’ve turned around so many times; your neck is probably going to be sore tomorrow.”

“You’re unbelievable.”

“What’s unbelievable is that you don’t see how ridiculously transparent you are. You may be able to lie to yourself, but you’re not lying to me.”

“You’re so annoying,” Carrie grumbled.

“I’m your best friend. I have to be annoying sometimes. But seriously, thinking about Lucas Roe is a good thing. Much better than thinking about—“

“Don’t say his name,” Carrie interrupted. Jodie was right. She’d been so distracted by thoughts of Lucas Roe, she’d barely thought of Kevin all day.

“Sorry.”

“He probably has a girlfriend?”

“You should know. Does he?”

“How would I know?” Carrie frowned. “I barely spoke to him. You’re the one who talked to him for half an hour.”

“But you were the one cyberstalking him this morning,” Jodie said smugly.

Carrie had spent a half hour on her computer that morning learning everything she could about Lucas Roe. She’d thought Jodie was asleep, but clearly she’d been wrong. “He dated Leanne Reiner for two years,” Carrie admitted referring to a country singer. “He’s also dated a couple of super models. Surprise. Surprise.”

“So he’s not with anyone now?”

“It didn’t say, but he could be.” Kevin dated Natasha for months before it made the news. Carrie swallowed down the bitterness in her throat at the thought of Kevin and his Russian model.

“Don’t,” Jodie began rubbing Carrie’s arm. “Don’t let your thoughts go there.”

Carrie took a long sip from her straw and then another, pushing the images from her mind. “I hate him.” As she uttered the words, she knew they weren’t true. She could never hate Kevin. She’d loved him for too long.

“You’re coming out with me tonight. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a distraction. You don’t need to think past tonight. Just like the psychologist told you—take it one day at a time.”

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23 comments on “New Romance Novel by Laura Branchflower
  1. Sonya says:

    Another one that I would not be able to put down! Can’t wait to find out what happens!

  2. Bianca says:

    When will this come out? Can’t wait! Excited for this

  3. Vivien Franks says:

    Interesting! Waiting patiently for date of release.

    • Laura says:

      Thank you! This book took a bit more research than I expected — trying to understand the schedule/lifestyle of a professional athlete.

  4. Terry says:

    Wow! Excited to read this. Do you have a release date already ?

    • Laura says:

      Thank you! Unfortunately and fortunately, I’ve had to push my release date to the summer. It was supposed to be this month, but I woke up one morning with a story for Nick Prossi (Tony’s brother) in my head. When that happened, I switched gears a bit. I’ll finish Nick’s story and then go back to the QB. When that’s done, I’ll finish my sequel to A White Picket Fence, which I’ve also started. My plan is to have all three complete in 2018!

  5. Tracie Howard says:

    Excited about all three. Can’t wait to encounter more of Phil and Lina’s story and have answers to unanswered questions!

  6. Ann says:

    I have read all 3 of your books and just loved them. Can’t wait for your new ones to be released. So happy to find out that White Picket Fence gets a sequel!!! Yey.

    • Laura says:

      Thank you so much for the feedback! I’m really looking forward to writing the sequel to White Picket Fence. I’ve actually already written the first chapter!

  7. Liza says:

    When do you think you might have a new book I’m starving for one of your stories 😳Elizabeth

    • Laura says:

      Thank you Liza!
      I am working on three books at the same time. I didn’t plan to write them this way, but sometimes this is the way it happens for me. I hope to have two out by the end of the summer and then the third closer to the end of the year. Thanks for reaching out!

  8. Janet says:

    Where have you been all my life?! I read A Sense of Belonging by chance and one clicked purchased your other 2 books a day after. Your writing is insane! I have read all 3 in 3 days and let me tell you that usually never happens with teenagers in my house. I am so excited to hear you are writing a sequel to White Picket Fence!!! Will we get Phil’s POV? Pretty please??!! As much as I loved Tony and Joseph, I couldn’t get Phil out of my head because of the level of his betrayal to Lina. I could understand the cheating and Lina’s forgiveness but I just couldn’t reconcile that Phil took the mistress to their vacation home knowing it was Lina’s favorite place. Lord, the birthday “present” incident made my heart pound. Also, why oh why did he initiate all the rendezvous even 2 in the same day and why interact with her on Saturdays by doing things outside the bedroom? Throughout the book I keep asking myself if he was obsessed with Kim and found myself rereading certain parts and dissecting them to calm my heart! I just REALLY need to understand him so I can believe that he truly loves and wants only Lina and why he made these choices. I want to forgive him too !! Thank you so much Laura for your unforgettable books.

  9. Tracie says:

    Ditto Janet! I would love the answers to those questions, and more about his son. When Phil is talking to Logan about his birth and how they bonded, where was Phil when Kim gave birth? Hope Lina lets Phil know that his relationship with Kim has to be transparent to her. Will Lina and Logan openly accept Phil’s son? I hope Phil has the same disdain for Kim and her actions as he had for Lina the day he left. I know you want disappoint Laura. You are an awesome writer and your books are amazing and memorable!!!!! Thank you

    • Laura says:

      Thanks Tracie!
      Good point — where was Phil during Liam’s (I’ve named him) birth? He wasn’t there. I need to make sure I mention that in the sequel. Phil doesn’t like Kim — he blames her (justifiably or not) for almost destroying his marriage. I’m not too far in the sequel but both Lina and Logan are having trouble accepting Logan. As Janet requested in another comment — the sequel will have Phil’s POV. This Hunter family has a lot of issues to work through. Thanks for your kind words! Laura

  10. Janet says:

    OMG, I haven’t been this excited about a sequel since discovering Nora Roberts close to 40 yrs ago and more recently 50 Shades of Grey! I am so relieved to hear Phil hates (my word) Kim and he wasn’t present for Liam’s birth. Tracie, I also read a comment Laura made to a goodreads review that Phil will sell/ sold the vacation condo. Ok, I will have to stop stalking this blog and let the author get back to her work but I hope we can believe it was Kim the evil witch who pursued Phil relentlessly and instigated/coerced him into doing things we read about. I The villain in this book is one of the best I’ve ever read even though we were only introduced to her once.

    • Laura says:

      LOL Thank you! That’s high praise! I really enjoy reading the comments because it sparks ideas in my mind. I know as the author how much Phil loves Lina but he clearly hasn’t done enough to redeem himself yet. And I have a feeling Kim is going to be a HUGE thorn in their side.

  11. Tracie says:

    Laura, I’m so glad you gave the baby a name. Phil and Lina continually say “my son or his son”. I see that causing a problem if Liam doesn’t become a team effort. Janet I’m sure Laura is going to give us one heck of a back story between Phil and Kim. Our villain won’t like Lina taking Phil back, it is going to be awesome. So don’t quit stalking the blog,I’m not!! We could miss something….LOL

  12. Barrett says:

    Oh wow! So happy to hear we will get Phil’s POV. I’m dying to find out what was going on in Phil’s head as he was with the OW. I agree with Tracie and Janet -you are a gifted storyteller. I became an instant fan with this book which I couldn’t put down. IMHO, saying “I’m sorry” repeatedly isn’t an answer and also saying he regrets his mistake because he was weak didn’t give me an insight as to why the affair lasted four months. It felt too long and hit hard to the reader because he loves Lina and they are soulmates. Janet, I agree with you regarding the villain. She was so scary and truly hateful ! Can’t wait to see more of her. LOL. Like Tracie I don’t want to miss any updates Laura has to give us now tha the sequel
    Is in the works. Thank you!!

    • Laura says:

      Thank you! The affair was a major betrayal — no question. I don’t think Lina would have had the strength to leave him (even temporarily) if he hadn’t crossed so many lines. You’re right — I’m sorry isn’t good enough. I will definitely answer your questions in the sequel.

  13. Tracie says:

    I knew Kim was going to come back strong. I really hope Lina has shored herself up and will fight back. Laura might as well dress Lina in a striped shirt(referee) and hang a whistle around her neck.She will be the hub where Liam is concerned. Once she opens her heart to him everyone else will follow. Logan probably feels accepting Liam is a betrayal to Lina. I also think Phil’s mom (Susan) might feel the same way. Phil will squirm thinking every time Lina sees Liam it will remind her of his betrayal. I hope Phil fights for Lina, the way Tony fought for Casey!!!! Can’t wait…..

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