Sometimes starting over means facing your greatest fears…
Miranda Lyons is adept at pretending to be someone else, someone without a past. She’s able to forget for chunks of time that she comes from a very wealthy, notorious family. She’s given up most of the party-girl vices from her old life, including sex. Until Nathan Cross barges into her life…
To all appearances, Nathan Cross is a simple man–devoted to family and friends, committed to his work. But nothing is simple about Nate’s feelings for Miranda. Fascination quickly blooms into outright lust, and not just for her body. He wants all of her, even the parts she hides from the world. But Miranda’s secrets threaten to drive away the one man capable of both helping her come to terms with her past and supporting a future with a love that’s all about truth.
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
“So, what do you think of the guy on the dance floor?”
Miranda laughed. “You’re joking.” There were a few guys sprinkled in with the feast of females. The one who was trying every dance move since 1980 in the hopes of getting noticed by the college girls was even entertaining. “Do you hate me?”
Max leaned on the bar table and laughed. “Just checking. He’s so totally your husband.”
So they fell into the game that they played when Max did manage to drag her out. “Nope, definitely not him. The guy hanging over the edge at the upper bar is totally my dream date.”
Max ducked his head and laughed. “Good God, his shirt doesn’t even cover his gut.”
“I’m tellin’ ya. He’s already broken in. No expectations.” She finished her glass and found another at her elbow. Too amused to question it, she took a sip. Her eyes stalled a few times at the bar. A simple cotton button-down shirt clung to a pair of impressive shoulders, but it was the forearms she kept staring at. Muscles flexed lightly as he cupped a mug of dark beer. He was tall and lean, tanned lightly—not the leathery, raisin skin of some of the surfers, but just right.
The two men he was with were attractive in their own right. The shorter one looked like a misplaced puppy the way his head kept snapping around as if he just missed something, and the lanky one held a bored expression that spoke too much of the men she’d run with in her L.A. days. The tats that twisted around his forearms and biceps gave her a moment’s pause. Ink was, and always would be, sexy.
She and Max laughed over half a dozen men in the room, from the hang-ten set to the slick, suited-up kind trying to look cool instead of desperate. Something started to hum deep inside her as the DJ’s beat pushed at her. She’d avoided the club scene since she’d landed in San Francisco nearly four years ago.
Restless, part of her wanted to go out on the dance floor and show the wannabes how to tease and lure, how to own the men and leave them wanting. Power was as addicting as any drug sold on the market, and she’d tried it all. In Los Angeles, there was an undertone of slick danger that was missing here.
A shimmer of memory tugged at impulses she’d buried under work and a life that included people who actually cared about her. Impulses that kept dragging her eyes back to Mr. Forearms. At the moment, his battered jeans, tight across the thighs, were the highlight of her current perusal.
“And how did I not notice him?”
“Who?” Miranda averted her gaze, focusing on anything but him.
“The one you’re staring at.” Max leaned in, draping an arm around her shoulder.
“You’re imagining things. I was looking at Mr. Blue-tipped Mohawk.” She forced herself to relax and pushed her reactions down where they belonged.
“He was next to a blonde, right?”
“Right.” She sipped her wine.
“Wrong, the mohawk guy is on the other end of the bar. You’re totally looking at tall, dark and rumpled in the middle of the bar with his married friend and…brother, I think. He’s straight and,” Max’s grin widened to a full-fledged smile, “he’s totally checking you out.”
Miranda’s heart kicked.
Go, take—he’s waiting for you.
Her fingers tightened on the stem of her glass. “He’s looking at the hot little co-ed at the next table.”
“No, he’s looking at the hot redhead sitting next to me.” He moved closer. “Yup, he just shot the death ray at me. Should I kiss you so he’ll come over here and punch me out?” Max brushed his lips along her cheek.
The roll of heat gathered at the base of her spine and surged up. Not because of Max, but that there was someone watching, someone wanting her. That he was a mile of delicious was a bonus. Overwhelming and dangerous, the edges of want licked at her, reminding her how good it felt to lure a man in. Once upon a time she’d been the most desirable woman in the room. Not because she was the most beautiful, but because she was powerful. One word from her could kill an A-list position.
“I bet his shoulders get even bigger when he’s all macho—”
She lifted her shoulders to get him to stop breathing on her neck and let the ghosts of her past roll off at the same time. “Get off me, Max.”
Good-natured as ever, he didn’t pick up on her personal demon that was dying for freedom. Of course, why would he? For Max this was all in good fun. He didn’t know what she’d been.
“Go over there and ask him to dance.”
“Hell no.” Miranda gulped down the last of her wine. Too bad the hunger wasn’t as easy to get rid of. “Hour’s up, time to go.”
“Oh no.” Max closed his hand over hers. “We can go after you go ask the surfer to dance.”
“He’s not tan enough to be a surfer,” she muttered.
“Aha! You have been looking at him!”
“Max,” she whispered the warning, praying that he’d catch on. Max in focus was as lethal as his camera. “Keep your voice down.”
“I’m just going to get louder,” he said in a voice just under a shout. “God, look at those shoulders and that messy, delicious mop of dark hair. Imagine all of that on your pillow the next morning? Regrets are a lot easier to swallow when they’re pretty.”
The burn bloomed and the hum returned. Imagining him tangled in her sheets was a little too easy. “No. He’s attractive, but I’m not picturing him naked.” She wished for another hit of wine as Mr. Forearms drilled his hand into his pocket, tugging his jeans low enough that she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the hint of pale skin and trail of dark hair that disappeared into the well-worn denim leaving a notched V at his hip His shirttails raised a little as he lifted his beer to his lips.
She swallowed with him, imagining the dark brew heavy on her tongue. Just one lick of his skin. Just one hit of that foamy taste.
The whisper of want pulsed like the beat piping through the walls and the floor.
“Go on. We’re not leaving until you talk to him.”
“You seem to forget you can’t order me around, Max.” She tore her gaze away from Mr. Forearms and focused on her friend. “I’m your boss.”
“Until close of business, you’re my boss. Right now?” He shoved her forward. “Now, I’m the kick in the ass you need. Just a dance, Miranda. You don’t even have to tell him your name.”
That’s right, MJ, just a dance.
She closed her eyes against the voice sneaking out through the haze of too much wine and way too many neglected hormones. It had been so long since she’d had a man touch her. And dancing was the safest sex on the earth. She could call the shots and at worst he’d bitch to his friend that he’d danced with a tease.
“After I dance with him, we’re out of here and you don’t get to guilt me into going out for at least six months.”
The self-satisfied smirk nearly got slapped off, but then she’d hear him whine for each one of those six months.
Just one dance.
She headed toward Mr. Forearms, lifting her chin and rolling her hips as she got closer to him. He’d put his beer down. His dark brows snapped together over eyes that were a clear and perfect gray. She hooked her fingers around the wrist of the hand buried in his pocket and drew him away from the bar. “Dance with me.”
The familiar thrill of control and awareness made her fingertips tingle within his large palm. His friend made a few off-color remarks, but as soon as she got in Mr. Forearms’ space nothing else mattered. The beat swallowed her—owned her.
He didn’t speak and that was perfect. She drew him into the middle of the dance floor as the music swelled into a tribal beat showcasing a woman with a watery voice that dripped sex. The click of his jaw only heightened her buzz. His mouth was soft and full, such a contrast to the ridge of his brow and sharp angles of his cheekbones.
She shook her head. “No names.”
His frown deepened, and again she was okay with that. He had a purpose. She turned, backing into him until the heat of his body and the music drowned out caution. She wasn’t sure if the whispery voice and extended mix was helping her or hindering her until his hands gripped her hips, easing her back against his jeans. Big. All she could focus on was how big and warm he felt.
His fingertips tightened over the silk of her skirt, digging until he caught the sway of her hips. She raised her arms, brushed his shoulders with the backs of her hands, at once overwhelmed and at ease with him so close to her. He was lean and muscled under the layers of cotton and denim. Her shoulders rested against his chest and the licks of awareness were definitely not one-sided.
The air shimmered with the moment, the beat and the perfect alignment of bodies. His hair was thick and soft against his neck, just long enough to twist her fingers into. All it would take was one tug to pull him down closer, but she resisted.
Instinct and memory heightened the moment, lengthened the tease. Delicious as the Latin undertones of the song and the light, breathy voice that promised fantasy and a world of pleasure, they moved as one.
She drew his hand up her hip and over her belly where her tunic lifted. His hand was rough and calloused, spanning her entire torso. Gentle but not hesitant, his fingertips possessed the expanse of skin. The rumble of a moan transferred through her back and chased the ball of lust up and out of its box.
His thigh slid between hers and she undulated against him as the song changed and the beat increased. Her thighs dripped with sweat and her own excitement. Blood surged until the music climbed inside the empty spaces. Her breath came faster as he drew her back until there was no space between them. He leaned down into her, his cheek pressed against her temple. The citrus scent of him wrapped around her.
The music drove them harder. The room drifted away as he moved her hair aside and his breath hit just behind her ear. Her nipples ached for a touch. Him, her, it didn’t matter.
Thick and silky, his hair sifted through her fingers as she pulled him even lower. She undulated against him, feeling his jeans tighten and the head of his cock pressed into her lower spine. When his lips brushed her neck, she reacted instantly.
She spun around, grabbing the front of his shirt tight enough that the buttons dug into her palm. Her knuckles grazed over a ribbed white tank pulled snug over a chest that was anything but soft. His stormy gaze met hers a moment before he invaded her space, lining them up for a kiss.
That’s it, take. Swallow him whole. He’ll like it.
He hovered, looking for permission. Every part of her wanted to lift up into that first meeting of mouths. The mindless pleasure she’d find in him was there for the taking. Her panties passed damp and went right into drenched the moment he’d touched her.
And that’s why she stopped.
The song cooperated with her. She peeled her fingers off his shirt, smoothing it down even as temptation urged her to flick each button open instead.
The long-ago voice was insistent and scared her enough that she could barely breathe. “Thanks for the dance,” she said with a throaty purr. No. Her lungs burned and the sensual haze dissipated. She didn’t sound like that. MJ’s sex kitten voice had no business in her life. His eyes widened as she took another step back.
He reached for her hand, but she turned away. His voice barely registered over the Lady Gaga song that turned the dance floor into a jumble of bodies. Praying her knees really weren’t made of water, she didn’t even bother to look toward Max as she left the bar. Instead she focused on sucking in cool air and quickly crossing the street toward Max’s car.
Taryn Elliott’s debut novel, UNCROSS YOUR HEART, isn’t a debut book at all. Yes, it’s the first book she’s published, but she’s been writing for a very long time and it shows in every word. She has a lyrical, decadent voice, and she seduces you before you even realize you’ve been sucked into her world. Miranda’s one of those characters you want to shake a few times, but that makes her journey oh so worthwhile. And Nate’s the type of guy you wish you knew in real life. In carnal ways, especially! They’re delicious together, but Taryn definitely makes them earn their HEA. She weaves in the tears with the same effortlessness she brings the laughter and the smex, and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next!
Cari Quinn, USA Today Bestselling Author
A FANTASTIC debut novel from an author who shows remarkable talent – I simply could not get enough! Give Uncross Your Heart a shot if you love emotionally gripping and sensual contemporary romances.
Rated : FANTASTIC READ by Maldivian Book Reviewer’s Realm of Romance
Uncross Your Heart is the debut novel by Taryn Elliott. Let me just say that she has come out with a BANG!! I absolutely loved this book. The flow of the story was perfect. The characters were so easy to connect with. The plot line was unique and intriguing. It really just had everything that I look for in a great book.
With a lot of twists and turns, snarky family and friends, and some good intentions gone wrong this story kept me glued to my eReader. If this author’s first attempt at a novel is this good I can’t wait to read what she comes out with next.