SHAKEN AND STIRRED
Those SEXY O'Sullivans Mini-Series
Harlequin Blaze
March 2008
ISBN 0373793863

available at

Amazon or Barnes & Noble

As a student and part-time bartender in Manhattan, Tessa Hart has found that a succession of roomies and cramped apartments are necessary evils in her life. Until she's out on the street and Gabe O'Sullivan, her mentor, boss and certified babe-magnet, steps in.

Any other woman would die to share his apartment—not to mention his bed—but Tessa's determined that they should stay just friends. The fiercely independent mixologist has to prove to their skeptical coworkers at Prime—the O'Sullivans' hot Manhattan bar—that the arrangement is strictly hands-off! But Tessa has trouble adhering to her own "no touching" rule when the actual sharing of close quarters day and night leaves her shaken and stirred….

“SHAKEN & STIRRED makes one laugh out loud, warms the heart and it's a liquid high from start to finish.” ---Tracey West from The Road to Romance

“...this one is a winner for me. Straight from the beginning and all the way through.” ---Jane from DearAuthor.Com (A)

“This book is funny, real, and marvelously well done, with an exasperating heroine I still cheered for, Nora-Roberts-esque male characters ( A WHOLE SET OF THREE OMG YESSSSSS), and a setting that I know, love, and enjoy when it’s done well. Well played, Ms. O’Reilly. Well played.” ---Sarah from SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com (A-)

I have a secret fondness for bars and bartenders, and this book is my tribute to them. Gabe is everything I think the perfect bartender should be, and Tessa would be me, if I had decided against college and then suddenly realized that I had no idea how to survive on my own. The apartment facts are fairly true to the New York market, although I’m not real estate agent, but I do know that it’s nutso-crazy. Only in New York do people get so loopy about an apartment. I talked to my neighbor about my heroine when I first started writing it, and she told me it sounded just like one of her co-workers. Honest. :)


 
   

The party was on the thirty-seventh floor, hosted by one Jonathan Wilder, who worked in advertising sales and seemed to know the world. The apartment was packed and loud, and he could see Tessa’s eyes light up like a slot machine when she entered.

Trouble, and he spotted it right off the bat. Gabe knew Tessa. He knew that tilt in her chin, that kick in her walk. When she got like that at the bar, a drink would end up right over some asshole’s head.

Those sort of safe and familiar thoughts pulled him back into a place where his Johnson didn’t hurt quite so much, and where that skirt didn’t look quite so…easy.

Okay, he’d play bouncer tonight. He knew that role. He’d watch her back – not her ass, only her back, and keep her out of trouble.

However, tonight trouble was her middle name. She launched into a tequila shot contest with Stevie Tagglioli, and Gabe waited, thinking she was going to splash some tequila all over Stevie, but she didn’t. She kept drinking, and touching, and drinking, and there was more touching. Eventually Gabe insinuated himself between the two, accidentally elbowing Stevie in the gut.

“Hey, Steve? Meet my new roommate, Tessa Hart.”

“We’re not involved,” said Tessa, downing another shot.

Gabe laughed. “She’s such a tease. Come on, babe. Let’s move along while you can still walk.”

Little Stevie was enthralled, spending more time staring at the thin silk of her shirt, rather than her face. Prick.

Tessa’s fingers bit into Gabe’s arm. “Leave me alone,” she hissed.

“You’re in a mood, and I don’t know why, and you don’t have to tell me why because you want your space, but if you do something that you’ll regret with somebody in this building that you’re going to see every day, then you’re going to experience history’s longest hangover.”

She pulled him aside, her eyes lit with some weird fire, ready to combust. “I’m merely trying to have some fun. Isn’t that what you said? It’ll be fun? I think that’s an exact quote. Well maybe I want to have some fun.”

She was mad at him?

Gabe swore and let go of her arm like it burned. He couldn’t reason with her, he wasn’t going to try. “Fine. Your life. Your mistake.”

And so it went on. Gabe watched from the sidelines, glaring when the females approached him. Tessa was the only one that drew his eyes. She drank shots, she flirted with every single male in the room, not one man left unflirted with, except for Gabe, of course, because she was shooting him death-stares every few minutes. He stood, waiting for the crash, but that would be a long time coming because truly, there were few people that could drink Gabe under the table, but Tessa was one. She had the tolerance of a t-rex. In fact, when faced with the mighty beast, she’d probably drink Godzilla under the table, too.

So he watched her, silently seething, seeing a completely new side to this woman. She’d pulled her hair back, exposing those killer cheekbones, and a long, slender neck, and she’d put on red lipstick. Hooker red lipstick, which of course, looked like sex. Goddamn.

He didn’t want to notice the full, red glistening lips, didn’t want to notice how long her legs were in heels, didn’t want to notice how her nipples stood at attention under the flimsy silk, but she’d been right earlier.

It was hell. His mood got more foul, his cock grew more pained, and when she started dancing on the coffee table, Gabe was pretty much at the end of his rope.

“We’re going, now,” he said, watching her hips sway, like a hypnotizing cobra, twisting, begging him to follow.

“Go home, Gabe,” she said, arms raising up over her head. A goddess reaching for the heavens, which only ticked him off even more, because dammit, he did not think poetry.

“Without you? No. This isn’t like you, Tess.”

That stopped the sway of her hips. Thank you, God.

“How do you know? Do you know the real me?”

“Yes,” he answered, lifting her down. His hands lingered for a moment too long, but she didn’t notice.

“Maybe I’ve changed.”

“Not over the period of four hours.” He grabbed her hand and pulled. She pulled back.

“I want to stay with Stevie.”

And that was it. Gabe didn’t care anymore. Stevie was the world’s biggest jerk and loser and once he got his fangs into Tessa, he wouldn’t let go. Gabe picked up Tessa and threw her over his shoulder. She’d be furious, but she’d thank him in the morning.

The nasty jab between the shoulder blades indicated otherwise, but Gabe didn’t even blink. He was willing to earn a purple heart for this one.

“Sorry. We had a bad fight. Go on, ignore us. Get some more of that spinach dip. It’s really good,” Gabe said encouragingly, shouldering his way through the crowd with Tessa beating on his back.

She didn’t seem to remember that Gabe was used to dealing with drunk and disorderlies, but then Gabe didn’t usually cup their ass in such a familiar manner, either.

“Put me down, Gabe O’Sullivan.”

“When I get you home, Miss Hart, and not before.”

He almost let her down in the elevator, but she tried to run, so he hefted her back on his shoulder. God, the woman needed to gain weight.

“Gabe, I really hate you for this.”

“In the morning, if you still hate me -- which is a big if -- I’ll apologize. You’ll probably be thanking me, and I’ll let you grovel in gratitude for awhile, but right now, you’ve had too much to drink—”

“I’m not drunk.”

“Then it’s even worse, Tess. Are you going to tell me what happened?”

“No.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

The doors opened, and she slid down his body, slow and seductive, before heading down the hall. She probably didn’t mean it to be that way, but his cock jumped just the same. Tessa shot him a look, not an invitation, but coy and aware.

She knew.

So maybe it was time to stop playing games. Gabe trapped her outside his door, her lean body tight against his. He could feel every inch of her. The fluttering pulse, the tight nipples, the soft hips. She drew in a breath, soft and shaky, and the air burned. His hands itched to go lower, to explore and discover this new and marvelously arousing Tessa. But Gabe was still hanging on to the last edges of his control. His body wasn’t happy, but his body would get over it.

“Inside. Now,” he said, unlocking his apartment. This time she didn’t argue, and went inside, but he knew from the tight set of her shoulders that she wasn’t happy, either.

Once in the apartment, he shut the door with a bang, and ran a frustrated hand through his hair.

“It’s late,” he said, because he needed to be alone. Needed to have her out of his sight. He needed to reclaim the image of Tessa from before. Hopefully, it was still there, embedded somewhere deep in his brain.

“I’m not a kid,” she answered, pushing her hair back from her face, and God help him, gawky and angular had turned exotic.

“Then stop acting like one,” he snapped, not leaving her alone like he had planned.

“You’re not my father,” she pointed out, hands on hips – lean hips that he could still feel against his chest.

“I’m your friend, your boss, and currently your roommate,” he answered, mainly to remind himself of those key facts.

She walked toward the dining room table, away from the sensible safety of her bedroom. His gaze locked on her hips, tracking the sway with lethal intent. Stupidly he followed after her.

“Some friend, Gabe. I bet you wouldn’t do this if Cain was hitting on some woman.”

“No, Cain outweighs me by fifty pounds.” Humor, another excellent way to diffuse tense situations. He could feel the sweat on his brow, the rapid pulse vibrating under his skin. He stood frozen, needing her to break into a grin, or whap him on the arm.

But the room fell eerily quiet, and he waited, watching the rise and fall of her breasts, not moving, just waiting.

Eventually she moved, her breath coming out in a rush and she came towards him, jamming a finger into his chest, which was completely the wrong thing to do. Completely. She shouldn’t touch him. Not now.

“Do you want to know what’s bothering me? I haven’t had sex in four years. Tonight, I wanted to have sex.”

Four years? His already pained heart stopped completely, before kicking in again. He shouldn’t have been happy about this bit of information, but his cock was.

Oh, it was thrilled.

“You want to have sex? Good. I want to have sex, too. We’ll have sex. Together.” It wasn’t the most sterling moment in his life, but as the words came out, he didn’t regret them. He wanted Tessa, he wanted to touch her, taste her, sink deep into her.

And Miss Frisky-Pants with the need to hit on every man in his building, looked him dead in the eye and said, “No.” The word was carefully enunciated, clearly spoken, with no room for misunderstanding, but Gabe was four years past no. He moved closer, skin brushing against skin. He could smell her perfume mixed with her desire, and it burned inside him.

“What’s wrong, Tessa? I’m not good enough?”

She put a hand to his chest to push him back, but the touch was soft and so tempting. “Don’t do this.”

“Do what?”

“Don’t get all stupid on me now, Gabe.”

He pressed into her and her body pressed back.

“Don’t come any closer,” she warned.

He didn’t listen. He backed her completely into the table. There was always a moment in a poker game when the bluff becomes a need, when rational logic exits the brain, and all that’s left is the game itself.

Her mouth was inches away. Full and waiting….

“If you kiss me, I’m going to scream,” she whispered.

He took her mouth with a hunger that he had never known before. Her mouth was so soft, so perfect. And oh, the taste of her. There was the bite of lime, the mint of toothpaste, and her. His tongue thrust into her mouth, and he felt her fingers sink into his arms, his shoulders.

“I’m sorry, Tessa,” he said, and it was the last rational thing out of his mouth.

» available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

top