Thursday, October 26, 2006

Excerpt from Seducing Simon by Maya Banks

Excerpt from Seducing Simon

Maya Banks
http://www.mayabanks.com http://samhainpublishing.com/seducingsimon.shtml

Prize: One signed copy of Seducing Simon in print

Blurb and Excerpt:

One fateful night, Toni Langston seduces her best
friend, the guy she’s been in love with forever.
Two problems—he doesn’t remember a thing that happened and now she’s pregnant.

Toni Langston has been in love with Simon, her
best friend, for years. The night Simon breaks
up with his long time girlfriend, he and Toni
make love. Toni is devastated and humiliated
when, in the heat of the moment, he calls her by
his girlfriend’s name. The next morning, Simon
remembers nothing of the previous night and Toni
is only too relieved not to remind him.

Two months later, she discovers she’s
pregnant. She wants Simon to love her, apart
from any obligation he might feel because of the
baby. So she embarks on a quest to seduce her
best friend, to make him see her as more than a
little sister, to make him love her as much as
she loves him. It works. Maybe too well. Now
when things are perfect, she faces telling him of the secret she’s kept.


The living room erupted in cheers as the wide
receiver ran into the endzone. Toni Langston
watched as her brother and their two roommates,
A.J. Spinelli and Simon Andrews began high fiving.

“Toni, why don’t you come sit down. You’re
missing the game,” Matt called out to his sister.

She smiled and shook her head. “I’m fine right
where I am.” She continued to watch from her
perch on a barstool from the kitchen bar. The
kitchen opened up into the living room, and from
where she sat, she could just see over the three heads on the sofa.

The three were embroiled in the game as it wound
down to half-time. Matt lounged back in the sofa,
his brown hair, the exact color as hers, flopping
around his ears, screaming for a haircut. A.J.,
Mr. Greek God, the golden one, was busy stuffing
popcorn into his mouth. His sun-streaked blond
hair was spiked on top, hinting at the amount of
mousse that went into his styling. And Simon the
Serious sat forward on the sofa watching the TV
intently as play resumed. His dark hair, not
brown, but not quite black fell lazily across his
forehead. He turned and saw her watching, and
winked at her, his leaf-green eyes twinkling.

Sighing, she looked back down at the pad of paper
she was writing on and chewed her lip in
consternation. Beside the pad, was the rental
section of the classified ads. She fiddled with
the pen she’d circled a few ads with, her heart
not really into choosing which apartment suited her best.

The fact was she didn’t want to move out of the
home she’d shared with the guys for three years
at all, and she couldn’t really afford to. But she had to. And soon.

She shoved the paper under the nearby phone book
when the guys got up and headed into the kitchen.

“The Texans blew a fourteen point lead,” Simon
said in disgust as he walked toward the guys’ bathroom.

“Hey, Toni, you care if I use your bathroom?”
A.J. asked as he ambled over. “Simon’s got ours tied up.”

She shook her head, and he flashed her a sunny grin.

“Whatcha doing, sis?” Matt asked as he took
another beer from the fridge. “Want one?”

She controlled the urge to puke and waved him
off. He shrugged and popped his open, taking a long swig from it.

He came back over to stand by her and ruffled her
hair. “You’ve been quiet today. Not interested in
the game? You’re usually over there screaming
louder than anyone. Something bothering you?”

She took a deep breath, knowing she had to
confront him sooner or later, and she’d rather do
it when Simon and A.J weren’t staring at her as well. “I’m going to move out.”

He wouldn’t have reacted more violently if she’d
knocked him in the head. His brown eyes popped
open and his mouth dropped. He set his beer down
with a resounding thud. “You can’t be serious. What’s wrong? What happened?”

“Nothing’s wrong. Nothing’s happened,” she said
quietly. “It’s just time for me to get my own
place.” She immediately regretted bringing up the
topic. She’d expected resistance, but she hadn’t
bargained for Matt’s vehemence. “Can we talk about it later?”

He stared hard, studying her. “Something is up,”
he said, ignoring her request. “You aren’t
telling me everything. I thought you were happy
here. We decided together to let Simon and A.J
move in when mom and dad died and left us the
place. Do you regret doing it now?”

She closed her eyes. This was going to be more
difficult than she thought. “You know I love you
guys. I don’t regret letting them room with us,
but it’s time that I got my own place. Spread my
wings a bit. Time to prove I don’t need you guys
taking care of me all the time.”

“Is that what this is about? Do you think we’re
overbearing? Because I can talk to the guys. We can lay off.”

She smiled and laid a hand over his. “Yes, you’re
overbearing. You all are, and I love you for it.
This isn’t about you or the others. I just think
it’s time for me to get out on my own.”

“I don’t like it.” He crossed his arms over his
chest and set his lips in a firm line. “And you
aren’t telling me everything. I can see it in your eyes.”

“What’s this about you moving out?” Simon asked as he approached the bar.

Guiltily, she raised her eyes to see his
concerned expression. She flushed and wished the
floor could swallow her up about now. Of all
people, she hadn’t wanted him to know yet.

“She just told me she’s moving out,” Matt said in disbelief.

“Is that true?” Simon asked softly, boring into
her with his intense green eyes. Eyes that left
her feeling like she had no clothing on.

Another flush crept up her neck as she envisioned
him naked, over her body, her hands gliding over
his broad chest, and bulging arms.

She nodded, unable to speak or meet his gaze.


She fidgeted on the stool, twisting her fingers
in her long curls. “I think it’s time I got my own place.”

“You’ve said that already,” Matt replied. “In
fact, so far, that’s the only reason you’ve
given. Why is it so important that you have your own place?”

“Don’t badger her,” Simon reprimanded. “I’m sure
she has a good reason.” He turned back and looked
expectantly at her. “We’d just like to hear it.”

Think Toni, think. What could she say? Certainly
not the truth. World War III would pale in
comparison. She’d rather suffer through an entire
hour’s worth of lecturing from the three of them
rather than tell them why she had to move out.

Because of her own stupidity, her relationship
with the three people she cared most about was
going to be forfeit. They’d lived together for
three years. But they had been friends for a lot longer.

It seemed logical to invite Simon and A.J. to
move in when her parents had died. The four had
been inseparable ever since the guys were in high
school. The guys had gone on to become
firefighters and work in the small town of
Cypress Texas they’d all grown up in.

“Toni?” Simon’s voice filtered into her thoughts.

She peeked up at him to see his concerned expression concentrated on her.

Clearing her throat, she said, “I want to get my own place. Nothing personal.”

“I don’t see how we can’t take it personally,” he
began. “It seems as if you want to get away from
us. Have we done something to piss you off?”

With an inward groan, she buried her face in her
hands. “Surely, you didn’t think we’d live
together forever. I mean you guys will want to
get married and have a family. I’ll want the same.”


Her head came up at Simon’s uttered Oh.

“I think I see what this is about.”

“Well do enlighten me,” Matt complained. “Because I’m in the dark over here.”

“I think what Toni is trying to say is she’s
ready to start looking for a serious
relationship. Maybe get married and start a
family. I guess it’s pretty hard for her to do
that with us three breathing down the neck of any guy she brings home.”

“Is that true, Toni?” Matt asked.

“Uhm, well, yes, I suppose. I mean, I don’t plan
on getting married tomorrow, but I suppose I’ll
want to in the not so distant future.” Never mind
that she couldn’t have the one man she wanted.

Matt didn’t look convinced, but he didn’t say
anything more. Simon continued to study her until
she was ready to fidget completely off her seat.
Why did she get the impression he could see
straight through her flimsily muttered excuses?

“Is there anything we can do to help?” he asked in a soft voice.

“Uh, no, not really. Well, I suppose you could
help me move when the time comes.” She flashed
him her best smile in an attempt to squelch the nervousness she felt.

“You know we’ll help.”

“Yes, I know,” she whispered.

She heard A.J shuffle back into the kitchen, and
she turned in relief, thankful he was
interrupting the tension. Her heart sank when she
met with his expression. It was odd. He looked
like he’d just eaten her attempt at meatloaf.

He stared at her with a deer-in-the-headlights
look. Something akin to horror and confusion.

“What’s your problem, A.J.?” Matt called out.

He continued to stare at Toni as he walked slowly
over. He held his hand out, and Toni’s stomach
lurched, her heart jumping into her throat.

In his outstretched palm lay the EPT she’d taken
the day before. The two lines were faded, but
still very indicative of a positive result.

“What is this, Toni?” he finally asked.

Toni froze, but anger quickly surfaced in an
effort to cover her dismay. “What the hell were
you doing going through my trashcan?” She
snatched the stick from him and clenched it in her fist.

A.J. blinked in surprise. “I wasn’t digging in
it. I dropped my watch and had to fish it out. I
couldn’t help but see the test.”

Matt whose mouth was permanently rounded in an O
of shock finally snapped his jaw shut. “Holy
shit, Toni. Are you...are you pregnant?”

Simon took her hand in his much larger one and
gently pried the test from her fingers. Matt and
A.J. crowded around him as he examined it.

“What does two lines mean?” Matt demanded.

“It means she’s pregnant,” Simon said quietly, leveling a stare at Toni.

“Jesus! Why didn’t you tell us, Toni?” Matt asked.

“Is this why you’re moving out?” Simon asked,
lifting her chin with his fingers in a gentle
gesture that nearly had her in tears.

She nodded miserably.

“What the hell are you talking about?” A.J. demanded. “Who’s moving out?”

“No one is,” Matt growled.

“Who the hell knocked you up, Toni?” A.J asked.
“Tell me so I can go kick his ass.”

“Was it that geek who took you out a couple of months ago?” Matt asked.

Toni looked in bewilderment as the questions came
from all directions. Then she did the only thing
she knew would shut them up. She burst into tears.

Warm, strong arms wrapped around her and pulled
her against the solid wall of a well-muscled
chest. “You guys shut the hell up,” Simon
ordered. “You’re upsetting her. We won’t ever get
any answers if you continue to interrogate her.”

“Jesus, Matt, you made her cry,” A.J. said in disgust.

“Me? I wasn’t the one asking who knocked her up.”

“Quiet!” Simon roared.

Toni closed her eyes and inhaled the comforting
scent of Simon’s t-shirt. God, he was strong, and
everything that was wonderful about a man. She
said a silent prayer he wouldn’t let her go. Not just yet.

A gentle hand stroked her hair which caused her
tears to flow even harder. “Come here,
sweetheart,” Simon said, easing her off the stool
and toward the living room. He settled her on the
couch and enfolded her in his arms. “Now, suppose you tell us what’s going on.”

She hiccupped and looked down. Matt and A.J
crowded around the couch, looks of concern and
confusion marring their handsome faces.

“You don’t have to say who it is,” he prompted.

“The hell she doesn’t,” A.J. began.

Simon silenced him with a look and turned back to
Toni. “How about you start with why you want to
move out, and why you didn’t want to tell us.”

“I wanted to move out because I didn’t want you to know,” she murmured.

“Why not?”

She looked at him in astonishment. “Why, so you
could all badger me about who the father is? I’d
rather forget the whole thing if you don’t mind.”

His expression became hard. “Did he hurt you, Toni?”

She gulped. This was not a conversation she
wanted to be having. She glanced up at Matt and
A.J. who looked like they were ready to go out and commit murder.

“Look. I made a mistake. I’d really rather not discuss it.”

“Fair enough, but I don’t think it’s a good idea
to move out.” He cupped her chin and rubbed his
thumb over her cheek. “You need us more now than
ever. Moving into a place by yourself doesn’t
make sense. We’d all worry about you, and while
it may be annoying, we all want to take care of you.”

“Toni, I’m sorry I found the test. Well, I’m not
sorry I found it. I just wish you would have told us,” A.J. said.

“Have you been to the doctor yet?” Matt asked.

“No. I only found out yesterday.”

“How far along are you, do you know?” A.J. asked.

Oh she knew exactly how far along she was. But
she wasn’t about to tell them that or how she
knew. “I don’t know exactly, but I figure maybe
two months or so. Look guys, I’m not in the mood
to do this right now. I have a headache.”

“Take some Tylenol,” Matt advised. “Oh, wait, you
can’t. Or can you?” He suddenly slapped his hand
to his forehead. Shit! I offered you a beer while ago.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, she
laughed. “But I didn’t accept it, silly. Listen.
The best thing you can do for me is to chill out
and quit acting like I sprouted a third head.
This isn’t at all how I wanted this to go down.”

“No, you didn’t intend to tell us at all,” Simon spoke up beside her.

She turned her head to him, surprised to see a
hint of hurt in his eyes. “That isn’t true.”

“It’s what you said.”

“Yes, but I wanted time to adjust to things on my
own. Obviously I wouldn’t have been able to keep
it from you forever. I was just...scared.”

Once again she found herself enfolded in his
embrace. “We’ve looked out for you since you were
a little kid, Toni. We all care a lot about you. You don’t have to be afraid.”

“He’s right,” A.J. said with a nod.

“So what’s next?” Simon asked, stroking her hair comfortingly.

She sighed and pulled slightly away. “I suppose I
need to make an appointment to see the doctor.
Get a blood test. I mean there is a small possibility the first test is wrong.”

“Do you want one of us to go with you?” A.J. asked.

She smiled. “No, I think I can handle it. Besides
you guys start a twenty-four tomorrow.”

“But you’ll come by the station and let us know,” Simon prompted.

“Yes, if you want me to, that is.”

They all gave her a look that suggested she was crazy.

“Okay, okay. I’ll come by as soon as I get out of
the doctor’s office. That is if I can even get an appointment that soon.”

“Are you staying?” A.J. asked. His question hung
in the air and Simon and Matt looked intently at her.

“I don’t know,” she admitted. “I hadn’t thought beyond my initial panic.”

“You don’t need to worry about it now,” Simon
said firmly. Besides, if anyone moves, it will be
me and A.J. This is your house.”

“No!” she exclaimed. “I wouldn’t hear of it. I
mean you guys have been here forever.”

“We feel the same way about you moving,” A.J. said softly.

“Thanks,” she said warmly. “I love you guys.”

Simon squeezed her to him. She got up awkwardly,
and headed back to the kitchen. “You guys are
missing the second half. Go ahead and watch. I
think I am going to go lie down for awhile.”

“You okay?” Simon asked in concern.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just got a lot of thinking to
do.” She ignored the worry in their eyes and
walked to her bedroom, shutting the door behind her.

She leaned heavily on the door, her knees sagging
underneath her. What a complete mess. She had the
urge to dive under her covers and stay there for
a week. Yeah, sure, she couldn’t hide her
pregnancy forever, but she’d hoped to buy some
time to get her life in order before she told them about the baby.

Baby. She smoothed her hands over her still flat
stomach. Tears welled in her eyes. She loved it
already. Almost as much as she loved its father.
But telling Simon she loved him, much less that
he was the father of her baby, was out of the question.

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