Today, our very own Deelylah Mullin (aka Vampbard), is at That’s What I’m Talking About celebrating her new release, Distilled (A Love Brothers Anthology, December 15, 2016, BeerWench Enterprises, LLC). She’s brought a very special Christmas treat: an all-new, exclusive, slice-of-life short from her Distilled world! Please give Dee some big love!
Exclusive for That’s What I’m Talking About
Roni sat on the modern couch with newborn Alexa in her arms. As she gazed at the miracle she held, she reflected on the journey she’d taken with Kurtis to get there. So many little things—continuing her anorexia treatment, becoming healthy with Kurtis—worked out, against the odds, to create the most valuable Christmas gift.
Bathed in the golden lights from the evergreen standing in the corner, she knew she was on the right path in her life, and she shared it with the one person that made her complete.
“Hey. We almost ready for bed?” Kurtis whispered.
Roni nodded. “I think so. She’s nursed again, and seems content.”
“Let’s get you two upstairs, then. Maybe we can get her down for the night and Santa can visit.” He extended his hand, and Roni gripped it, pulling herself to standing.
“You know she won’t remember this year, right?” She peered at him, taking in his playful expression.
“I know. I’m also wondering whether someone else wants to find out whether she’s on the Naughty or Nice list.” He grabbed her ass firmly.
Roni chuckled. “I see how you are. Let’s try to get her to sleep in her own room, first. Then, we can consider exploring lists.”
“Excellent idea, Mrs. Clements.”
Kurtis took Roni’s free hand and led her to the wrought iron, spiral staircase tucked in the corner of the condo, following behind her as they began their ascent. He said it was because the stairs were awkward with such precious cargo, but Roni was sure he just wanted to look at her ass.
While they knew they needed more space before long, they were both content staying in town a while longer. By this time next year, Alexa will be crawling… or maybe walking. Their time there was drawing to a close, but was reluctant to broach the subject. They’d already weathered so many life-changing events.
They entered the spare room they’d converted into a nursery and she shifted Alexa in her arms, preparing to put the two-month-old in the bassinet they’d set up for her near the changing table against the wall. A gliding rocking chair sat in a corner with a hand-crocheted afghan tossed over the back. They’d received several from their friends in Lucasville at the huge baby shower Suzannah had planned at the distillery, which had turned into an event destination.
Kurtis kissed her shoulder and wrapped his arm around her middle as they watched their daughter wiggle for a moment or two before she fell into an easy sleep.
They crept silently from the room. Roni held her breath, hoping the babe wouldn’t wake before slumping against the wall in the hallway.
She was tired. Exhausted. She never realized how time-consuming taking care of a little person was. She’d heard talk, and well-intentioned women had told her to get as much rest as she could before the eagerly-anticipated arrival, but she hadn’t believed them.
Kurtis wrapped his arms around her, palming the baby pooch she still carried. She moved his hand up her abdomen, closer to her breasts.
He moved it back down.
Roni sighed. “I’m still struggling with the weight gain and getting used to my new body.”
“I know. I still find you sexy as hell, though.” He pulled her hair away from the side of her neck and kissed behind her ear.
“I’m glad you do, but I don’t know how sexy I feel.”
“Let me show you how sexy you are.”
She wanted Kurtis. While they’d been cleared to resume marital relations two weeks prior, they hadn’t ventured into that area quite yet.
That’s not to say they hadn’t messed around, though. Roni knew they’d eventually get back to where they were—she just didn’t know if she was ready quite yet.
The whole feeling fat thing was messing with her mojo.
She felt his arousal as he pulled her backside even tighter into him.
And dammit, if that didn’t do things to her libido.
I just need to let it happen—I’ll feel better after the first time.
“You play Santa and get the gifts under the tree, and I’ll take a shower.” She sniffed her armpit. “I think I might have showered yesterday, but I can’t remember.”
Kurtis spun her around to face him. “You don’t have to raise our daughter by yourself. I’m here. Let me help.” His eyes searched her face.
“I don’t see the sense in us both being awake in the middle of the night, though. I mean, you have to go to work and I just sit around cuddling her all day. I’m pretty sure you get the raw end of the deal, here.”
He nodded. “I’m home—all day, every day—for the next week. Let’s find a new normal. You need your rest, too.”
“But she’s nursing and I don’t want to give her a bottle and—”
He placed his index finger on her lips. “No arguments. You’re exhausted. There’s this haunted look in your eyes—like you’re afraid to screw up. Why is that?”
Her palm rubbed against the scars beneath the long-sleeved T-shirt he wore and she stared at her hand.
“You’re afraid you’re going to have to parent alone. That’s it, isn’t it?” He tilted her chin up until their eyes met.
Roni’s vision began to blur over with welling tears. I refuse to admit it, but he’s right.
Kurtis shook his head. “My heart is fine. You went with me to my yearly cardiologist appointment before Alexa was born, baby. Everything was normal, and I’m healthy as a horse. No restrictions.”
She nodded. “I know. I-I just get really scared.” Her voice was barely a whisper.
“Have you talked about it with your therapist?”
Shaking her head, she said, “No, but I suppose I should. Before it turns into something bigger.”
“Maybe you need to do that, and we need to do a couples’ session. It really helped when you felt I was coddling you too much about your eating disorder.”
“It did. I think that’s a good idea.”
“So, when’s your next appointment?” Kurtis raised a brow.
Shit. He knows. “I haven’t scheduled one. I’ll call after the holidays.”
He chuckled. “Didn’t think so. And, so you know, I really think you should be seen before the first of the year. I love you, and I want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. You’re perfect just the way you are. I wouldn’t change a thing about you.” He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. “Except maybe getting you more rest.”
“That’d be nice.” She curled into the safety of his arms. “I’d really, really like a shower. Uninterrupted. Without having to worry if I can hear the baby monitor over the water.”
“I’ll listen for her while I put the gifts under the tree, and meet you in bed when I’m done downstairs.” He kissed her—a soft, lingering brush of lips that sparked a coil of need in her belly.
“I’ll definitely meet you there, Mr. Clements.” She relaxed as a smile stretched across her lips.
“There it is.” He cupped her cheeks between his palms. “I’ve missed that cheeky grin of yours.”
“You’ll find out exactly what is cheeky about my grin after I take a long, relaxing shower.”
Kurtis rushed down the stairs after he shooed Veronica into the en suite, turning the taps on the custom shower so the water could heat for her.
He adjusted himself after watching his wife—the mother of his beautiful daughter—shed the yoga pants and oversized sweatshirt she wore. She’s been wearing the same clothes for two days. He knew he needed to put aside his desire for her and focus on making sure she felt as sexy as she was to him.
Pulling the wrapped gifts from the hall closet, Kurtis quickly arranged them under the tree. While Alexa was barely two months old, he knew Veronica wanted her first Christmas to look like a damn Hallmark card. She’d shopped before the baby’s arrival, and he suspected Veronica was on a first-name basis with both the Fed Ex and UPS drivers.
He surveyed the tree, piled with gifts for himself, Alexa, and Veronica. Kurtis had been having things delivered to the distillery where Suzannah them for him. After pulling out his phone, he snapped a picture of the perfect image before him.
He hoped it pleased Veronica. He’d do anything to make her happy.
And then, it hit him.
He scurried around to collect every candle he could locate, found the long lighter they used, and headed up the spiral staircase.
Glad when he heard the water still running, he arranged the candles and started lighting them.
The shower had stopped, and he checked the time. Alexa had been asleep for maybe an hour, which meant they had perhaps two hours before she woke again. Maybe.
Kurtis stripped down to his boxer briefs, slid between the smooth cotton sheets, and faced the bathroom. He adjusted his position against the pillows, trying to look casual.
The door opened and steam rolled out of the bathroom. Veronica appeared, wrapped in a plush robe, towel-drying her mass of flame red curls.
“It’s amazing—” She froze as she looked around the room.
“No expectations. I just wanted our space to be as beautiful for you as you are to me. And I figured out there’s nothing I can do to make that happen, but I tried.” His voice sounded almost choked to his own ears as he watched her expression change from utterly stunned to warm and happy.
“I was worried about falling asleep when we made love for the first time, I’ve been so tired. Suddenly, I’m not so tired anymore.”
That devilish grin returned and she dropped the towel as she approached the bed. Her hands went to the tie at her waist, and she unfastened the robe to let it slide off her shoulders.
Kurtis flipped back the covers, inviting her into their bed. As she snuggled her body against his, he sighed and relaxed.
Veronica sat up. “Is the monitor—”
“Yes, it’s on and turned up. If you listen carefully, you can hear her breathing.”
Veronica stilled, concentrating. Then, she melted into Kurtis’ arms again.
He kissed her forehead. “Merry Christmas, Veronica. Thank you for giving me the best present in the world.”
She looked into his eyes. “What’s that? You didn’t peek at any—”
He silenced her with another kiss. “No, I didn’t peek. You gave me yourself, your trust, and our daughter. That’s more than any man could ever ask for. I just hope I can prove to you I’m worthy of that gift.”
She kissed him again, and nestled against his chest. “You’re more than worthy. I can’t imagine a more perfect husband or father.”
They were quiet for a few minutes, and Kurtis stroked her back absently.
Her breathing became deeper, and the tension in her muscles drained away.
Kurtis held her as she slept.
At Clementine Distillery, bourbon isn’t the only new development.
When Roni Diarmuid took a position at Clementine Distillery, she planned on developing the best craft bourbon money could buy. She never factored in having a tall, suave, and devastatingly handsome boss, Kurtis Clements, who would make her panties melt.
Fortunately, the company doesn’t have a no fraternization rule.
When the universe seems to be against Roni and Kurtis’ romance—and the success of Clementine Distillery—accidents happen, things go awry, and all hell breaks loose. Will Roni and Kurtis—and Clementine—survive the accidents and sabotage, or will they fold?
CELEBRATE with the Love Brothers this holiday season!
Join 16 best-selling, award winning authors as they bring their own unique stories to this critically acclaimed, Amazon best-selling, family saga-style romance series by Liz Crowe.
Everything from breweries, wineries, distilleries and race car drivers, to EMTs, Olympic athletes, cops, and serious second chances—PLUS a brand new Love Brothers story from Liz herself—can be found in this amazing collection of novellas from some of your favorite romance story-tellers.
Available December 15, 2016 everywhere ebooks are sold, the CELEBRATE Anthology is the perfect holiday romance reading treat—and is only around for a limited time.
Don’t miss your chance to feel the holiday love—Love Brothers style!
Deelylah Mullin has been penning tales since she could hold a pen. Er, crayon. After a wonderful experience in Fourth Grade Writers’ Club, she continued to pursue creative endeavors. Throughout her academic career, creative writing was always a focus. As well as music. There’s gotta be a reason she got a bachelor’s degree in music, right?
While she has always written, her stories have evolved over time. When she was young, she was inspired by Madeline L’Engle and moved on to Stephen King and Robin Cook. Today, her stories are full of romance and a happily-ever-after. Even if they may be slightly weird, creepy, or sappy sweet along the way.
Deelylah has found her own happily-ever-after with Mr. VampBard. He’s truly her knight in shining armor. Between them, they have six children—who are pretty much all grown up. She even has a son-in-law and a grandkitty…with the promise of a daughter-in-law and a grandson on the horizon.
Deelylah has been professionally editing since 2012.
Distilled is her third published novella.
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