Saturday, 29 June 2013

Guest blog: Antje Hergt - 'Darinel: Dragon Hunter'

Prince Darinel is traveling–for what feels like forever. Expelled from his father’s kingdom, he just wants to find a new home. When a shadow lures him to a wealthy kingdom, he stays to discover more about the darkness, but the citizens are tight-lipped.

Their king welcomes the foreign Prince hoping that he will solve his two problems: the dragon and his strong-willed daughter. Coming from a warrior kingdom, Darinel despises violence, but charmed by Princess Tuskja’s dare, he sets out to confront the beast. Instead of finding a fierce dragon, he finds a friend. The dragon’s malicious humor and his love of fairy tales entangle Darinel in a summer of adventures, while danger stirs in the East, the Dark Prince. Being refused by the Princess and humiliated by the dragon, this proud prince seeks revenge.

In compliance with the king’s decree, Darinel is torn between his friendship with the dragon and his love for Princess Tuskja, whom he can only marry if he kills his friend. Before he can make a decision, the kingdom is under attack. Now it is up to the dragon to either help his friend or respect his wish to not interfere.


“A very human viewpoint,” the voice agreed. “But it brings so much trouble.”
“Exactly. I just didn’t fit in my father’s plans and... Well, I kind of got kicked out.”
“After I told my father, I was leaving,” Darinel explained, his hands moving to support his words. “I wanted to spare him the embarrassment so I packed my things and told everybody I was going on an adventure.”
“And that’s why you are here now?” the voice inquired, amused.
“Nah!” the prince said with a smirk. “I just wanted to leave with a believable explanation, so my father wouldn’t lose face for having a firstborn who doesn’t want to fight...and to make room for my little brother.”
“Lose his face? Like it would fall off?” the voice asked, confused.
The prince laughed. “Man, what rock have you been living under?”
“Why? What’s so wrong with living under a rock?” The voice sounded hurt.
The prince bit his lip to stop the laughter building up in his chest, but failed miserably. Laughing, he replied, “It’s just an expression. Haven’t you heard it before?”
“Not that I recall,” the voice said, sulking. “And I pride myself on knowing quite a few phrases.”
The prince sat up straight.
“I’m sorry. It is a common phrase where I’m from and it stands for ‘to be embarrassed by someone’s actions.’ But it also means to lose respect and honour.”
“Oh, I see. So, by admitting that you hate fighting, you would be a disappointment to your father and he would be embarrassed by you. Am I correct?” inquired the voice, eager.
The prince winced. “Yeah, you could put it like that.”
“Ha! I learned something new today!” the voice said, excited.
The prince smiled. “Glad to be of help.”
“So, what’s that got to do with your little brother?” the voice asked.
“Well, I’m the first born and so would inherit my father’s kingdom. My little brother would have been the one to leave and find his own place.” Darinel intertwined his long fingers. “But he belongs there and is madly in love with the daughter of one of the knights.” He smiled at remembering his brother’s astonished face.
“With me still being unmarried, they weren’t allowed to wed either. You know, stupid rules royalty have to live by,” he added, flinging his hands in the air. “So I decided to go. This way he can marry and stay in my father’s kingdom.”
“Quite a noble sacrifice.” The voice sounded impressed.
“Oh no...” The prince smiled, embarrassed. “It’s not a big deal.”
“Of course it is!” the voice boomed, and a few rocks splashed into the creek. “You gave up everything for your brother.”
The prince shook his head. “Isn’t that what any big brother would do?”
“I don’t know.”
The voice remained silent for a moment and Darinel watched the stream as it rushed by.
“So why are you here then?”
A grin flashed over the prince’s face. “Princess Tuskja dared me.”
“Did she now?” The voice sounded amused. “Knowing her, I can picture that.”
“You are acquainted with the princess?” He looked up, surprised.
“Well, just from her roaming around,” the voice admitted. “She has quite an inquisitive mind. She explored my mountains for a while.”
The prince nodded. “Yeah, sounds like her.”
“But then her father found out and locked her up in the castle.”
 Darinel shaded his eyes, but still couldn’t make out where the voice was coming from.
“I heard rumours about that. Anyway, all I wanted to do is settle here.”
“So what happened?” the voice asked.
“I went to the king to ask his permission to stay,” the prince said, “which he granted. But then he threw in this assignment of killing the dragon and getting his daughter in reward.”
“Yep, that’s the deal,” the prince said. “I thanked the king and pointed out I was only interested in settling down, not marrying. That’s when the princess dared me.”
“Yeah.” He sighed. “I could not let that pass, could I? She ridiculed me in front of the whole court. So I packed my horse and came up here.”
“That’s tough,” the voice replied sympathetically.
“Yes, it is. But anyway, it’s way too hot to fight today. And I’d rather make friends than enemies. So, won’t you come out now and sit with me?” the prince offered a second time.
Silence fell over the little valley, where the creek bubbled quietly. He feared the voice had left when a loud rustle like sails in the breeze filled the air. The sun disappeared as the wind picked up. Little dust roses curled skyward and showered him with debris. He leaned into the rock as the dragon landed in front of him. With great care, the beast folded its wings, curling his tail around him. Darinel’s eyes widened with admiration. Tall as three horses stacked on top of each other and wide as a house, the dragon towered over him. His dark green scales reflected the sunlight so intensely he had to shade his eyes. Impressive claws scraped the ground as the dragon tilted his head and golden eyes studied him with keen interest.
He smiled as he observed the dragon in return. For a moment, neither of them spoke and Darinel had the feeling the beast was as curious about him as he was about it. Slowly, it lowered his triangle-shaped head to take a good sniff at him, revealing its horned eye ridges. Darinel held his breath, but strangely he didn’t feel scared, more intrigued. The dragon didn’t look mean. Its golden eyes radiated warmth and longing more than fierceness and malice. It was intelligent with a wicked sense of humour. He liked that.
“You knew it was me all along?” the dragon asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
The prince tilted his head, so he could see the dragon better and smiled. “Who else would be out here with a dangerous dragon lurking around in the mountains?”

Author Bio:

Born and raised in Germany, Antje Hergt came to explore the Canadian Rockies in Canmore, Alberta in 2003. Taking part in the Writing-with-Style Program at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2007 encouraged her to follow her passion: writing for children. Darinel Dragonhunter is her first novel, which was inspired by her deep love for classic children literature and fairy tales. Her thrill for science fiction/fantasy movies and television shows had an outlet in various genre short stories. She is a member of the Alberta Writer’s Guild and graduated from the Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen with a degree in Modern Languages.
Currently, Antje still lives in Canmore with her snoring cat, Sally, and gets inspired by the magic of the Rocky Mountains. If she is not in Canmore, you can find her in Germany.

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Guest post - 'Dreamer' Jane Susann MacCarter

When homely college student Stella Denton and nerdy professor Harry Vale find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time during a convenience store hold-up, the result turns deadly. A ricocheted bullet enters Stella’s brain, causing her to sink into a coma.

But Stella is actually more ‘alive’ than doctors realize. Though outwardly unresponsive, she’s actually ‘awakening’ in Jarmo, an Eden-like paradise that actually existed 9000 years ago in pre-Mesopotamia.

In this alternate world, the New Stella is beautiful and desirable, while the hunky chief of the tribe turns out to be a notched-up version of her Anthro professor, Harry Vale. Stella flourishes in Jarmo, where Harry teaches her the finer points of romance and passion.

But is Jarmo and all its delights truly an alternative reality? Or is it just a dream, and Stella the Dreamer? Is her beloved Jarmo (as well as New Harry) nonexistent, just a figment of her severely injured brain?

When Stella emerges suddenly from the coma, she must make an irrevocable choice between two lives… one of which may not really exist—and the choosing of which might lead to her obliteration.

A ‘New Adult’ contemporary romance, DREAMER explores the nature of Reality and Love, showing us that neither are absolutes. And that Reality is what you make it—as is Love.

Buy in paperback or Kindle versions.


Wedding two of a double wedding is about to commence:

      From a different stone bowl this time, Betta anoints both groom and bride with three blue stripes on each cheek.  She then paints the tied wrist band with blue pigment, too.  “You are now husband and wife,” Betta announces solemnly, but she can’t help smiling.  Everyone else is whooping and cheering at the young bride and groom (who must have less than 28 years between them, I decide) as they wave goodbye to the guests and close the door behind them.
      Harry squeezes my hand, looks at me a little anxiously, and takes a deep breath.  “Ready?”
Oh shit, SHIT; we’re next.  Suddenly it’s showtime, and I’m really nervous.  No backing out now.  My breath starts coming in short gulps and gasps.  I feel like I’m on stage before thousands of people, blinded among the footlights, glazed with panic.
The crowd quiets suddenly.  They know that the opening act has successfully concluded, and the Main Attraction is about to start.
I’m shaking visibly when Grandmama, Betta, and the three other wise women—ones I don’t yet know by name—bind my right wrist to Harry’s left one with a slender, leather cord.  It’s tied with plenty of slack, but I can see it’s not meant to come apart. 
As Betta dips the fingers of one hand into a pot of red pigment, she intones, “May the Great Mother bring blood to your marriage bed, symbolizing the fertile soil in which the Chieftain’s seed will be planted.”  She dabs the center of our Jarmo symbols with red paint, directly above and below the cross bar of the H.
Despite my trembling, I find myself wishing fiercely for a mirror… for any reflective surface at all, which in prehistoric Jarmo just isn’t to be had.  How I would love to just see myself with face paint.  Just once!   To marvel at the color and flickering lights, the wildness of it all.
The singing, cheering, rhythmic clapping, and constant joking is now higher-pitched, stronger, and louder even than it was for Maidie and Timon.   Everyone is pretty wasted from beer, wine, and barbecue.  Many are unsteady on their feet, but still experiencing a fever pitch of vicarious sexual pleasure.  Even the little children dance about, shoving one another and giggling, enjoying the antics of their elders.
Harry opens the door to our own house—now as dear and familiar to me as if I’d lived there always.   With the arm that is tied loosely to mine, Harry clasps my hand and leads me inside.  As he closes the door, the singing and cheering grow louder still.
Oh shit… dear God…  Harry already knows I’ve not had a husband before.  But does he know that I’m still a virgin?  Does he hope that I’m still a virgin?  I’d better say something.  Quick… 
My hands and feet are clammy and freezing on this warm spring night.  I’m not sure if my legs will hold me up for much longer.   The singing, laughing, and chanting outside the door grows louder.  It’s starting to give me the willies.  Won’t they—please, please—just get too tired, or drunk, and go away? 
In desperation I rattle on: “Harry, you know…” 
I slow my words and try for a semblance of calm.    “You… may know… that I’ve never done anything like this before.  I mean, of course I… know how this whole thing works.  It’s just that I don’t know how to… please you…because I haven’t…”
“Of course you’ll please me,” Harry says softly.  “You please me right now.”  I know he’s trying to set me at ease.  “I wouldn’t be doing any of this right now if you didn’t… please me.”
He takes my two hands in his and looks into my eyes.  We’re in deep shadows.  The fire pit’s flame is low.  “You please me just by… being.  You don’t have to do anything at all.”    He squeezes my hands, then releases one to add a couple chunks of wood to the fire.  The fire flares up cheerfully; its shadow dance against the wall somehow reassures me.  But still I can’t stop trembling.
Harry looks at me uncertainly, assessing the situation.  “Come here,”  he finally whispers, gathering me close with his right arm; being tied to my right wrist temporarily hampers his left arm.  We allow the tied arms to hang down and clasp our hands.
He just holds me, rocking from side to side just the tiniest bit.  And holds me and holds me, stroking my hair, whispering,  “Shh…” for the longest time.
“Come,” he says, gently leading me toward our bed.  I can see the firelight’s erratic yet comforting gleam.  Outside, the music and laughter continue, fueled by alcohol and the lateness of the hour.
 “It’s all right,” he tells me, and slowly I start to believe him.  “Just remember, it’s all right… it’s all right.  You can do no wrong here… there’s nothing you have to do at all… just relax… and trust me.  Once I start knowing you intimately, I’ll take care of the rest.”
I do feel I can trust him, but all that singing is making me nuts.  Like a tea kettle coming to full boil.  Soon I’ll start whistling, or shrieking, or something—ready to blow my top…
He pulls me down gently so that we’re kneeling, then lying, on the bed.
The music, cheering, and chanting grows higher and louder—it makes me want to scream… Harry notices, but he just holds me closer to him with his right arm.
“The singing… I can’t bear it anymore…”   I’m close to panic.
“Shh…. Hush now….  All you have to do is look into my eyes… and keep looking until the sound grows dim.”  
I comply with his request.  And his magic starts to work.  His eyes are so beautiful:  such a light, clear blue, ringed by smudgy shadows.  Up close, I see how shockingly good-looking he is, how comfortable he seems in his own body, how at peace with his world and his place within it.  He keeps looking into my eyes, as if to mesmerize me.
It’s working.  I exhale.  Slowly but deeply.
“No matter what happens, just keep looking into my eyes.  I won’t do anything that you don’t want me to do.  Just… float upon the music… and dream.”
Then slowly, ever so slowly, his free hand starts caressing me.  First my neck and shoulders.  Then ever-so-gradually down to my backside, slowly massaging each cheek (the closer cheek more intensively than the other, again because of the tied wrists).
Float upon the music…  It’s true, it works… The music outside seems more muted and faraway, no longer annoying, no longer distinct.  I keep floating.
Harry’s caressing hand is now around my waist, moving up to my breasts, still covered by the homespun shift.  It’s true what they say about one’s wedding day… I’m thinking that I do have Something Old: my old brain, which remembers both worlds equally… Something New: a new life in a new world… Something Borrowed: this lovely, vintage wedding dress with the snail shells… now I only need something blue.
“Do you realize now how beautiful you are?”  Harry speaks suddenly, softly, in my ear.  I emit a tiny whimper, my last vestige of apprehension.
“Star Girl, it’s all right.”  Harry softly insists.   “Now and forevermore.  You do trust me, yes?”
I nod, wordlessly.  He plants a very gentle kiss then draws back, still looking into my eyes.
“Then keep looking at me, until…    well, until you can’t anymore.  And by that time, everything will be all right.  Do you believe me?” 
I nod.  “Do you trust me?”   Again, I nod yes.
I look at him in trust and keep on looking…  looking… floating on the music and blocking out the raucous noise outside our door. 
Harry’s blue eyes hold mine in a place where there is no time.

Then I feel his hand moving between us, gently pulling up my shift, and then he’s touching me between my legs. 

Five random facts about the author:

Although constitutionally wimpy when measured against folks more Cool and Adventuresome than I, nevertheless I’ve managed to come through some hairy times pretty much unscathed. Like that time in Idaho when the mountain lion jumped on me. Or when 750,000 Mexican free-tailed bats ejected droplets of pee on me as they surged from the mouth of the cave my husband and I were exploring. Then there was that instance, snorkeling with my husband and friends in an underground 'cenote' in the Yucatan, when the single overhead light went out (shudder). And how could I forget that time in New Mexico with the furious bull moose (I haven’t yet and never will…) Thank goodness for my marvelous husband, daughter, and son (and now grandkids, too) who keep me grounded, safe, and sane (mostly)… and who urge me to incorporate these wild detours into my writing. Making the switch from writing nonfiction to romantic fiction is proving to be a whirlwind ride for me… still in progress, still brimming with new possibility!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Guest blog: John Rosenman - 'Kingdom of the Jax'

Accompanied by Yaneta, his beautiful alien bride, Turtan travels across the stars to Cross Imperial Station.  The Jax, Overseers of the universe, have given him an amazing navigational device which can enable the Cross to quickly defeat their seemingly invincible enemy, the Cen, and end their five-thousand-year-old war.   

But will the Emperor welcome him to the station or order the execution of both him and his wife?  Turtan is, after all, endlessly resourceful and may learn the emperors’ terrible secret and act of betrayal concealed these past five hundred years.  Even if spared, Yaneta is still a member of the enemy and may be killed instantly. 

To succeed in his mission, Turtan faces an almost impossible task, one requiring not only luck but the full range of all the skills he has acquired in four thousand years as an elite agent. 

It is his greatest challenge ever.

Buy from MuseItUp, or Amazon UK .


“Kit, what’s the quickest way out?” he asked.                                          

She pointed to the right. “This way,” she said as they left the tunnel. She turned to the settlers behind them. “Stay alert,” she called. “Watch the children.”   

No casualties so far. Turtan held his laser ready, wondering if he’d need it. So far the Radiants had been fifty times more efficient than when he’d fought Assan. They shot out, killed the enemy, and returned to him. An endless, inexhaustible supply of ammunition.

Caves and tunnels, crannies and dead ends, and hidden nooks built to ambush—deadly confusion was what this place was made of. It was an intricate warren of mind-warping turns and corridors which seemed to go somewhere and often didn’t. He sensed the flights of stairs he’d entered this puzzle place by were above and to his left, but despite the indispensable compass he carried in his head, he wasn’t sure he could find them readily. Maybe he couldn’t find them at all.

          They climbed toward the surface, sometimes gradually, sometimes mounting steep grades. As they moved from room to cave and slipped down tunnels between them, Turtan acquired increased respect for the pioneers who’d anticipated the Cen’s arrival and spent nearly three quarters of a century digging this maze in preparation. It must have been hard. It must have been a tedious, hellish, soul-draining challenge. He hated to think of the number of times their determination must have flagged, and they’d wanted to lie down and quit. Yet against all odds, they’d persevered, and their prolonged survival since had been made possible in the crucible of this grand and courageous project.

          Had there been a master architect or designer? Someone who sat down in advance and drew a blueprint of this labyrinth? Somehow, he hardly thought so. At any rate, such a visionary could hardly have anticipated the divinely beautiful cave waiting at the bottom in payment for their efforts.

          There were no beautiful caves here though. Kit led them to a dark cramped hole where they had to walk hunched over and to a slightly larger one smelling like an armpit. Something in the dim air made his eyes sting. They passed through it into a narrow tunnel and turned left onto a slight incline.

          Several Cen soldiers leaped out from hiding and opened fire. As settlers fell around him, Turtan returned their fire with his laser. His real attack, though, was through his eyes, where the Radiants zeroed in and launched forth with deadly effect. Half a dozen Cen stiffened abruptly and did a dance of agonized delight, fighting to control their weapons as they aimed them away from their enemy and toward each other. Rapturous screams rent the air as they died one by one.

          When the enemy lay still, Turtan glanced around. They’d lost as many men as the Cen. Sky and the kids, thank God, were still alive.
          “You love her more than me, don’t you?” Kit asked.

          You picked a swell time to bring this subject up, he thought. Look, you’re a sweet girl, but I just met you. Besides, I love Yani. I will always love Yani. He decided not to answer.

          “It’s all right,” she said. Ignoring the dead bodies, she raised her eyes toward the world above. “It’s her I have to worry about.”            

          As it turned out, they all had a much bigger concern. Turtan heard an explosive rustle of movement in caves far below and behind him.

Kit cupped her mouth with both hands. “Bats!” she hissed to nearby settlers.

The communal code word was passed down the line. Tense faces swung to each other. Turtan saw Albert hold Sky closer.

A moment later, he heard bat wings beat the air and furiously take flight, accompanied by high-pitched squeaks. Hundreds, thousands of bats, probably flying around and around before escaping through an air vent into the sky. Seconds later, the earth began to rumble deep in its bowels as if straining to give birth. It continued for a minute then died out. No reprieve, though! Soon the walls of the mine creaked and shivered, vibrating underfoot. Turtan glanced at Kit whose lips formed their common fear.
Earthquake! Cave-in!
Now the whole mine shook and trembled. Rock dust sifted down, glinting in the air and scratching his eyes. He had a vision of boulders crashing down on their heads, crushing them to pieces, of God’s Jewel Box collapsing in a Satanic shambles.
A rock half as large as his head bounced off the side of his boot. He bit back the pain, hearing other fragments fall. One settler gasped as a rock struck his chest. He was lucky. A few meters away, a black shard larger than a man crashed to the floor.   
Turtan waited for the quaking to subside. It didn’t. Several settlers lost their footing and fell. Like the born mine dwellers they were, not a single settler looked afraid. 
          A stone spear split from the wall to his left and shot directly at his eyes. He ducked, barely saving his sight.

“Let’s get away from here!” he shouted. With Kit’s help, he led the settlers back to an open tunnel, hoping it would be safer.

“Has this ever happened before?” he asked Kit, aware Cen soldiers might be nearby.

 “Six months after I was born. Nine of us were killed, including my grandpa. Some enemy, too.” She panted. “God’s Jewel Box wasn’t even touched. It was a miracle.”

What a pity. Maybe this time, the quake will smack everybody, human and Cen alike, and end this stupid subterranean war. He imagined himself lying dead with Kit in his arms, his quest ended forever.

John, a retired English professor, has published 300 stories in Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road, Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber's Aliens, Galaxy, The Age of Wonders, etc. He’s also published twenty books, including SF novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars and Speaker of the Shakk (Mundania Press), and Alien Dreams and A Senseless Act of Beauty (Crossroad Press).  

MuseItUp Publishing released three SF novels: Dark Wizard; Dax Rigby, War Correspondent; Inspector of the Cross.  Kingdom of the Jax, a sequel to Inspector of the Cross, has just been published in May 2013.  MuseItUp has also published The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes (winner of Preditors and Editors Annual Readers Poll), More Stately Mansions, and the dark erotic thrillers Steam Heat and Wet Dreams.  

Two of John’s major themes are the endless mind-stretching wonders of the universe and the limitless possibilities of transformation—sexual, cosmic, and otherwise.  

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Guest blog. Helena Fairfax: 'The Silk Romance'

Author Bio:

Helena Fairfax was born in Uganda and came to England as a child.  She’s grown used to the cold now and that’s just as well, because nowadays she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, right next door to windswept Brontë country.  She has an affectionate, if half-crazed, rescue dog and together they tramp the moors every dayone of them wishing she were Emily Brontë, the other vainly chasing pheasants.   When she’s not out on the moors you’ll find Helena either creating romantic heroes and heroines of her own or else with her nose firmly buried in a book, enjoying someone else’s stories.  Her patient husband and her brilliant children support her in her daydreams and are the loves of her life.

You can find Helena here on her blog:, on her Facebook page, or on Twitter @helenafairfax


Jean-Luc Olivier is a courageous racing driver, a hero to millions, with the world before him. Sophie Challoner is a penniless student, whose face is unknown beyond her own rundown estate in London. The night they spend together in Paris seems to Sophie like a fairytale—a Cinderella story without the happy ending. She knows she has no part in Jean-Luc’s future. She made her dying mother a promise to take care of her father and brother in London. One night of happiness is all Sophie allows herself. She runs away from Jean-Luc and returns to England to keep her promise.

Safely back home with her father and brother, and immersed in her college work, Sophie tries her best to forget their encounter, but she reckons without Jean-Luc. He is determined to find out why she left him, and intrigued to discover the real Sophie. He engineers a student placement Sophie can’t refuse, and so, unwillingly, she finds herself back in France, working for Jean-Luc in the silk mill he now owns.

Thrown together for a few short weeks in Lyon, the romantic city of silk, their mutual love begins to grow. But it seems the fates are conspiring against Sophie’s happiness. Jean-Luc has secrets of his own. Then, when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choice—stay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep the sacred promise she made her mother.


“Sophie,” he began again huskily.  “Sophie, this is not what I want.”
“Isn’t it?” In that moment, a hollowness rushed to fill her, so that she could barely bring herself to speak.  She turned her own face away in bewilderment.  Outside the window, the black waters of the river Rhône could be seen as they crossed the bridge, orange lights bobbing and rippling on its surface.  She let her curtain of hair swing forward to hide the misery in her expression and pressed her forehead unseeing to the glass.  She felt Jean-Luc move to take her hand, his fingers gentle now, the strength in them subdued. 
“This mustn’t end the way it did before,” he said gently. “We need to know each other better.  I don’t want you to run away again.”
Sophie said nothing.  For a few moments, there was a deep, ominous silence.  The timeless silence that falls before the surge of a tidal wave, before the swell reaches its peak to come crashing down blindly on the rocks. 
Then an unstoppable anger surged through her.  She whirled her head round. “You think we need to get to know each other better?” 
Jean-Luc reached one hand up to touch her face, taken aback by what he saw there, but she jerked back.
“What does that mean?  I don’t know you at all,” she cried.  “All I know is, everything you set your heart on, you get.  First of all, you railroad me into coming to work for you. Then when I get here, you talk me into going out with you, and you ask me all about myself, and you say nothing about you.  And you insist on bringing up that night when I’m trying to forget all about it.  And then I want you to kiss me, and you tell me you’re not going to kiss me, like what I have to say doesn’t mean anything!”
The rush of jumbled words left Sophie panting for breath, her face up close to Jean-Luc’s in anger.  He began to speak, but she broke in before the words could leave his mouth.
“I’m glad I left you in that hotel room, because you deserved it.”  She jabbed one finger at his chest in violent confirmation.  “And I’m sorry I apologised before because, actually, I’m not sorry.” 
Her final sentence spilled out incoherently, but she was beyond caring.  For a few moments, the only sound in the astonished silence was her rapid breathing as she forced for mastery of herself.  She sank back again into her own corner, still not beaten.
“You’re completely single-minded,” she added bitterly.  “And if it’s any consolation, I’ve never known anyone like you.” 
Her anger was stoked still further by Jean-Luc’s reaction.  In the half-light of the car, the street lamps lit up his face one after another in a regular pattern.
“Are you smiling?” she asked incredulously.
 “I’m sorry I made you angry,” he said gently.  “When I want something, I don’t always see what’s in my way.”
“No, I’ve noticed.  You’re like a dog with a bone!”
“A dog with a bone?” he repeated, and now the smile on his face was unmistakeable.  “Is that a dog with no flies on him?”
“Oh, you’re impossible.”  Sophie snatched her hand out of his grasp and turned her face towards the window. 

Also available from Barnes and Noble and other major e-tailers.