Day two of the Countdown to the No Kiss Blogfest!
This excerpt is from Leaving Carolina, the new novel from Tamara Leigh from Multnomah. Some background for the story is that Piper, the narrator, has wandered into some poison ivy and Axel is providing her with some lotion that is supposed to help, if you get it on early enough. Also, Axel was wounded in battle and he lost a leg and wears a prosthesis. This is after their first kiss. Afterward he discovered that she was seeing someone else, someone she is no longer dating.
[Axel] steps forward and extends the bottle of lotion. “If the rash appears, wash again. If nothing else, it should lessen the severity.”
“Thank you.” Our fingers brush as I accept the bottle, and attraction hums through me. Did he feel that? I glance at him in time to catch the curve of his mouth before it flattens and his brow pinches. […]
I snatch my hand back, only to wonder where to put it. As the options are limited, I clasp it with the other around the bottle, but it feels awkward. No wonder my clients groan and complain about the tasks I breezily set for them. It takes a tremendous amount of preparation and practice, both of which I’m lacking.
“What I didn’t say was that I hardly notice it anymore.”
Disbelief crosses Axel’s face, and I’m reminded of his fiancee’s inability to reconcile herself to his loss of a limb. “It makes a lot of women uncomfortable.”
“Not me,” I say with an eagerness that surprises—and embarrasses—me. “I mean, yes, it came as a shock, as I had no idea your limp was anything more than that, but it isn’t off-putting. In fact, I think you’re…” This is not the direction I should be going.
Oh Well. “You’re attractive, even with that whole”—I wave a hand at his lower face—“mustache-goatee-ponytail thing you have going on.”
His skepticism remains in effect, though I do detect amusement.
“I mean it.”
“Under the circumstances, you shouldn’t.” He smiles. “You are taken.”
Reminded of the last time attraction drew me to him when Grant and I were still “on,” so to speak,” I feel an urgent need to update him. “Actually, it’s basically over between me and… the man I was dating.”
Axel tilts his head. “Should I say I’m sorry?”
I almost laugh. “Would you mean it?”
“It depends on how heartbroken you are.”
Why am I not? I was practically engaged. Or was I? “I’m recovering fine.”
He glances at my mouth, which suddenly feels dry. And in need of kissing. Not good.
I hold up the lotion, “Thank you again.”
Without giving him time to respond, I hurry around the side of the cottage. (294-6)
Leigh, Tamara. Leaving Carolina. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2009. (294-6)