In Screwdrivered by Alice Clayton, Viv Franklin is like many of us — an independent, hardworking woman who simultaneously happens to be waiting on her knight in shining armor. We're sharing two enticing excerpts — a clean one and a steamier, NSFW version — from the novel here. Here's a little about the book:
"Readers back for a third round of the bestselling Cocktail series will enjoy a madcap romantic comedy about bodice ripping and chest heaving, fiery passion and love everlasting. Plus a dash of paperwork filing and horseshi—wait, what?"
Clark continued to call me while I was back east, not every night and not always at the same time. But late enough and with enough regularity that I went to bed each night wondering whether Nighttime Clark would be making an appearance. And more often than not, he did.
"Wait a minute, just wait a damn minute. Chess team? Please tell me you're joking," I said during one phone call. I was lying in my bed, eating Sour Patch Kids and asking Clark about his high school days. A few nights ago we'd started chatting about grade school, progressed on to everyone's least-favorite and most awkward junior high years, and had finally made it to high school.
"Chess team was serious business. Do you know how great that looks on a transcript? Colleges eat that shit up." He laughed and sipped his Scotch. Three hours ahead of him I wasn't indulging at the same time he was, but it did make for a more relaxing conversation. And for a looser Clark.
"Wow. I don't think I've ever heard you curse before, Mr. Barrow."
"I'm sure I have," he said.
"Nope, pretty sure you haven't. Although I've gotten a few willy-nillys and a holy mackerel and—"
"I've never said holy mackerel and you know it," he interrupted me, and I laughed.
"Oh yes you have; it was when I was going to throw away the moth-eaten blanket that was on the back of the couch in the living room. You launched into this tirade about how it was an authentic Adirondack woolen blanket, extremely rare for California, as they were typically found in upstate New York, from the old camps where wealthy families would go to escape the heat of Manhattan and Philadelphia and Boston at the turn of the last century, and that we couldn't possibly throw it away. That it would be akin to trashing Americana as we know it," I said, snorting a little at the end.
There was a long pause.
"You have a stunning memory, Vivian," he finally said, a hint of humor in his voice. I'd been worried I'd hurt his feelings.
"Sometimes I do, I suppose. About some things."
I switched positions on the bed, getting more comfortable. "So, chess team, huh? Tell me more about that."
"What did you just do? You sound different," he said.
"I just turned around in bed, I had my feet up against the wall before."
"Mm-hmm," he breathed.
Nighttime Clark. I grinned into the darkness. "I'm lying the right way," I said, my voice lifting a little at the end.
"I wasn't aware there was a right way to lie in bed, Vivian," he said, his voice deepening, going all warm honey.
"Depends on the bed, I suppose," I teased.
"Depends on the body, I'd suppose," he teased right back, and just like that, my skin pebbled. "Tell me all about the right way," he said, with more of the warm gooey.
Officially? I was lying on my back with my head on the pillow, my legs under the blanket. But unofficially?
"I'm stretched out on my back, arms over my head, my legs barely tucked under the comforter since it's so hot in here tonight. I've got one hand twisted in my hair, and my other hand is holding . . . you."
I closed my eyes, held my breath, and waited.
Clark. Groaned. Deep.
I woke with a start, covered in sweat, so completely turned on that I could barely stand even the touch of the sheets on my skin. I kicked them toward the bottom.
I'd had such a vivid dream, which started the same way it always did. Standing in the doorway, a man approaching me from behind, not sure he was there until I could hear his footsteps on the wood floor. My skin buzzed, feeling how very near this man, this dark lover was, standing now just behind me.
He pressed his nose just below my ear, making me arch into what I hoped was him, but was only empty air. But he was still there, his lips now grazing the same skin, whispering into my ear my name. "Vivian. Sweet, sweet Vivian," he said, a voice so very deep. Deep, like I was longing for him to be inside of me, filling me up with hot, frantic love.
"How long have you been waiting for me? Mmm, your skin is intoxicating. I wonder if your taste will be as sweet as your scent? He murmured, now letting me feel the entirety of his body, molding me to him. Hard, so very hard, and not just the planes of his chest and the iron of his thighs. He was hard for me. Against me, and hopefully soon, finally inside me. I struggled to turn, to see, to touch, but as always he held me facing away.
Yet tonight he went further than he had before, his strong hands tearing the silken gown from my heated skin and letting his palms roam freely across my bare body. Still held hostage against his body, caged in by his powerful arms, I soon found myself pressed against the wall, his hands placing mine above my head, pulling my hips out, making me ready for him.
But not for his impressive erection. No, not yet. My dark lover teased and taunted my breasts, lightly pulling at my tender flesh, letting his fingertips bring my nipples to a hardened peak, swirling and dancing across the sensitive tips.
"Do you have any idea what you do to me?" he asked, then dragged his tongue across my nape. I could feel his soft hair as it followed the path his mouth was taking, down down down. Across my shoulder blades, dipping into the hollow between each vertebrae, then finally coming to rest in the small of my back, his teeth gently nipping at the dimple just above my bottom.
His hands? They'd left my breasts, which were full and infinitely heavy as I arched my back, seeking his attention once more. But his hands were on a southern trajectory, and as they began to explore my innermost secrets, my moans and groans begged him to take me, to push me past this threshold that began to border on pain, the need to be inhabited by him was so great.
"Not so fast, Vivian. You've no idea how much I've wanted this," he whispered, parting me. And then suddenly his heated breath was no longer at my back. The insides of my thighs were tickled by his silky hair, and my knees threatened to give way. I looked down as his hands gently but insistently urged my legs farther apart . . . and then, his kisses. Oh, his kisses!
Starting on the backs of my knees, they began to ascend the backs of my thighs, moving steadily inward. His face was still concealed, still hidden. And then?
He put his mouth on me. Glorious. Rapturous. Erotic. Inescapably wanton.
My world stopped—and then started up again, as though anew. As I kept my hands on the wall for support, my cries of passion tumbled toward him. Only a shock of hair was visible in the low light as he buried his mouth between my thighs. I shook and shivered, and as my eyes began to close, I forced them open. I had to see him.
"Vivian," that dark voice rolled through me. "You taste as decadent as I dreamed you would." And just as he began to lift his head and open his eyes—
"Dammit!" I screamed, punching the pillow.
I didn't sleep again that night.
So when Friday dawn arrived? I was one cranky Viv.