This is yet another popular series that I have not gotten around to reading. Ms Jones has this posted on her Facebook page so you can click here to hop on over there and see what's going on with the Inside Out Series getting turned into a TV series. It looks like television will be getting better soon. Jones also has a story featured in a holiday compilation that is due to be released on October 28th.
Now here's an excerpt from If I Were You (Book 1) just in case you are like me and haven't read the series yet this may help to spur you into picking it up.
I am still standing in the middle of Chris Merit’s display, in stunned disbelief, when something snaps inside me. I am hot and confused and feeling like the world is spinning around me. I’ve spent money I don’t have on the ticket for the night, but I can’t get out of this gallery fast enough. I run for the door, not literally, but I might as well be. This heat I feel is unexplainable, considering the gallery is chilly, and I need air desperately. I need to think. I need to figure out what is going on inside me, because it is nothing I know as familiar.
Exiting to the street, I welcome the cool night air washing over me. I turn quickly to my left and intend to head for my car, when the strap of my purse catches and snags on the brick of the building and somehow it snaps open. The contents spill to the ground. With exasperation, I squat, trying to retrieve my items. This is so my life and there is a tiny part of me comforted by my familiar clumsiness, by something that feels like me. I mean, who else, can manage to catch their purse on a wall of all things?
“Need some help?”
My gaze shoots upward to find Chris Merit at eye level and for a rare moment in time, I can’t find the words to ramble with my nerves. While I’d felt comfortable with him inside the gallery, I am dumbstruck now that I know who he is. He is brilliant. He is also incredibly good looking, and squatting down on the ground with me, which somehow feels wrong. This night has me feeling as if I am in the twilight zone. There is no other explanation for how bizarre it is.
“I...ah...no,” I manage. “Thank you. I got it. It’s a little purse. Doesn’t hold much.” I scoop up my lipstick and a tiny wallet, and slide them back inside the bag, before pushing to my feet.
He grabs my keys and stands, towering over my five feet four inches by a good foot. I hadn’t realized how tall he was when he’d been sitting beside me at the Ricco event, or how earthy and deliciously male he smells, but the wind lifts and the scent tickles my nose. He is different from Mark, not so sophisticated and debonair, more raw, and yes, like his scent, earthy.
He gives me another one of those devastating smiles he’d used on me in the gallery and dangles my keys in the air.
“You might need these to go wherever you’re going so fast.”
“Thank you,” I say and accept them. His fingers brush mine and electricity charges up my arm, across my chest, and steals my breath. My eyes meet his, and I see awareness in the deep green depths of his stare. Only, I’m not sure if it’s the same kind of awareness I feel. Maybe, it’s simply that I hide my feelings horribly and he now knows I’m reacting to him, and it amuses him.
“You’re leaving early,” he comments, his hands going to his hips, which pushes back his blazer enough for me to see the stretch of his black t-shirt across his impressive chest. I approve, as I’m sure the rest of the female population does as well.
“Yes,” I say and jerk my attention to his face, to a full mouth that has me a bit breathless, but then everything has me breathless tonight, it seems. ”I need to get home.”
“Why don’t I walk you to your car?”
He wants to walk me to my car. I’m not sure why he would want to do that. He doesn’t even know me. Is it possible that he felt that same electricity I did, or do I amuse him and he wants to continue the entertainment? Mark did say he has a strange sense of humor. “Why didn’t you tell me who you are?” I blurt, not liking the idea of being a joke.
His lips quirk. “Because then you would have told me you loved my work even if you hated it.”
My brows dip. I’m not sure how I feel about that. “That’s sneaky.”
“It spared you the awkwardness of pretending to like my work.”
“There wouldn’t have been any awkwardness. I like your work.”
“And I like that you like my work,” he approves, a warm glow in his eyes. “So...shall I walk you to your car?”
My escape has been further waylaid, but I’m not sure that is a bad thing anymore. “Okay,” I squeak, appalled at my lack of voice. There is a reason I don’t date much. I’m horrible at it. I get shy and I pick the wrong men, who use both of those very things against me. Dominant, controlling men, who seem to turn me on in the bedroom, and off in real life. It’s genetic. I’m quite certain that had I a sister, she would have been just as foolish about men as myself and as my mother had been. And while Chris, at first impression, doesn’t strike me as arrogant or controlling, his failure to tell me who he was earlier in the evening was in fact a way of controlling my reaction. Not that I think he is interested in me. I’m over-analyzing and I know it. Chris Merit could have his choice of women, and in fact, probably has. He doesn’t need to add little ol’ me to the list.
“You know my name,” he says, pulling me from my reverie.
“It’s only fair I know yours.”
“Sara. Sara McMillan.”
“Nice to meet you, Sara.”
“I should be the one saying that to you,” I say. ”I wasn’t joking when I said I love your art. I studied your work in college.
“Now you’re making me feel old.”
“Hardly,” I say. “You started painting when you were a teen.”
He cast me a sideways look. “You weren’t joking when you said you studied my work.”
“And what do you do now?”
I feel a little punch to my gut. “School teacher.”
“No,” I say. “High school English.”
“So why study art?”
“Because I love art.”
“Yet you’re an English teacher?”
“What’s wrong with being an English teacher?” I ask, unable to curb the defensiveness in my tone.
He stops walking and turns to me. “Nothing is wrong with it at all, except that I don’t think that’s what you want to do.”
“You don’t know me enough to say that. You don’t know me at all.”
“I know the excitement I saw in your eyes when you were in the gallery.”
“I don’t deny that.” A gust of wind rushes over us and goosebumps lift on my skin, I don’t want to be scrutinized. This man sees too much. “We should walk.”
He shrugs out of his jacket and before I know what’s happening, it’s wrapped around my shoulders and that earthy raw scent of his is surrounding me. I’m wearing Chris Merit’s coat and I am dumbstruck all over again. His hands are on the lapels and he is staring down at me. My gaze catches on the brilliant colorful tattoo that covers every inch of his right arm. I’ve never been with a man with tattoos, and never thought I liked them, but I find myself wondering where else he might have them.
“I saw you talking to Mark,” he says. “Did you buy something tonight?”
“I wish,” I say with a snort, and my embarrassment at the unladylike sound that comes too naturally only drives home reality to me. We are from two different worlds, this man and I. His is one of dreams fulfilled and mine is one of impossible dreams. “I doubt I could afford one of your brushes, let alone a completed piece.”
His eyes narrow. “You shouldn’t walk away from something that intrigues you.” His voice is a soft rasp of sandpaper that still manages to be velvet on my nerve endings.
Suddenly, I’m not sure we are talking about art and my throat is dry. I swallow hard and though I hadn’t decided I was really going through with it, I blurt, “I’m taking a summer job at the gallery.”
His light blond brow arches. “Are you now?”
“Yes.” I know it is the truth as I say the word. I know I’ve already decided I am going to take the job. “I’m filling in for Rebecca until her return.” I search his face for a reaction, but I see none. He is unreadable--or am I just too affected by his nearness to see one?
His hands are still on the lapels and he doesn’t move for a long moment. I don’t want him to move. I want him to...I don’t know...but then again, yes I do. I want him to kiss me. It’s a silly, fantastical moment, no doubt brought on by the journals, that has me blushing. I cut my gaze, feeling as if the heat in his will scorch me inside out. I motion to my car, shocked to realize it’s only one parking meter down. “That’s me.”
Slowly, his hands loosen on my--or rather his--jacket. I immediately walk to my car, willing myself not to dump my purse again. I click the locks open and I stop by the curb before opening my door. I turn to find him close, so very wonderfully close. And that scent of his is driving me wild, pooling heat low in my belly.
“Thanks for the walk and the jacket.” I shrug out of it.
He reaches for the jacket and takes it, and I hope he will touch me, and fear that he will, at the same moment. I am so out of control and confused.
His eyes burn hot like green fire before he softly says, “It’s been my pleasure...Sara.” And then he just turns and starts walking, without another word.