There’s nothing like meeting a date’s family to spice up a meal. While some members are on best behavior, siblings often add to the tension by provoking their brother or sister.
In Seeing Red, Quentin hasn’t brought Emma around to meet his family because of his lousy track record with women. He already knows he’s crazy about her. If his family likes her, he might ask her to marry him and Lord knows he doesn’t want to do that, not with four failed engagements hanging around his neck. So, when his step-sister Lucy invites Emma to the Sunday family meal, Quentin is … well, you’ll see.
Here’s an excerpt from SEEING RED:
Emma parked her Saturn behind a white Toyota on the city street. The address Lucy had given her was in a quiet Baltimore neighborhood with immaculate lawns. The huge two-story house would make a perfect bed and breakfast, she mused.
With confidence, she strode to the door and rang the bell. Quentin would be so thrilled that she could afford to hire his company now. She couldn’t wait to tell him the good news.
A brawny fellow with Quentin’s chin opened the door. He swooped her into a big bear hug. “You’re my birthday present, right?”
She shrieked in alarm. “Put me down. I’m Emma Heartly, Lucy’s friend. I’m expected.”
His luminous brown eyes twinkled at her. “I know exactly who you are, but I couldn’t help myself once I saw you. No wonder my big brother is going crazy. You are one hot-looking babe.”
She laughingly tried to bat away his arm, which seemed to have become glued to her shoulder. “I’m no babe. And yes, I am also a friend of Quentin’s.”
“What’s that perfume you’re wearing? I’ve never smelled anything so good in all my life.”
She angled her head up at him to see if he was pulling her leg. From his rapturous expression, he seemed truly enchanted with her appearance. “Uh, I have no idea. My sisters dressed me. One of them spritzed me on my way out the door.”
“Who is it, John? Are you and Harrison boxing in the foyer again?” a female voice called from another room.
“Nope. It isn’t Harrison, Jeanie. It’s a knock-out redhead.”
Emma cringed inwardly. Oh dear. Had her sisters made her look like a fashion model? She’d wanted to surprise Quentin, but from the way his brother reacted, the surprise was on her. She reached for the doorknob. “I can’t do this. I’m a fraud, John. Please give my regrets to Lucy. I need to go home.”
He planted a beefy hand on her shoulder, turning her around. “Now, now. There’s no reason to bolt. My family will skin me alive for scaring you off. Come on in.”
With that, he maneuvered her deliberately into the family room. She reached deep for courage. Why had she ever thought a surprise would be a good idea? She didn’t like surprises. Quentin wouldn’t like this one either.
A wall of faces surrounded her. Quentin’s stepmother, Dottie, wore a red scarf. Jeanie had a sparkling engagement ring. Alf looked like a young James Dean with his black attire. Tabby was the bubbly blonde.
Where was Quentin?
Her heart pounded in her throat. She searched the room for exits.
“Come sit by me,” Lucy said, patting the sofa next to her.
“No, wait.” John slung an arm over her shoulder. “Do you like baseball?”
“I’ve heard of the sport.” Her statement loosened a torrent of information on the subject of baseball. She squirmed under the weight of his arm. Her brain struggled with RBIs and at-bats.
Quentin strolled in, and all conversations ceased. His gaze connected with Emma’s. His forward momentum halted.
Expectation vibrated through the air. Her skin tingled. The silence lengthened. She’d surprised him all right.
She’d rendered him mute.
That thought brought her a small measure of joy. Mister know-it-all didn’t know everything. She smiled brightly. “Hello, Quentin.”
He glided across the room, knocking John’s arm off her shoulder in one swift move. “What are you doing here?”
His entire family burst into laughter. She frowned at his relatives. “Lucy invited me. Would you rather I leave?”
He caught her hand. “You’re not leaving here dressed like that. Who did this to you?”
She tried to take a step back, but there was nowhere to go. “Good grief. You’re embarrassing me. Now your whole family thinks something’s wrong with the real me.”
He scowled. “Anyone who is rude to Emma will answer to me.”
John leaned lazily against the wall. “I’ve never seen you like this, big brother.”
“You were right.” Lucy gave her a hug. “Quentin is snarly around you. No wonder he kept you to himself. I can’t wait to watch you make him behave.”
Lucy had lost her mind. Emma couldn’t make Quentin do anything. She couldn’t even make the lump in her throat go away. “I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have come here.”
“Don’t go,” Quentin said in a deep rumbling voice.
This full length sweet romance is available for 99 cents at online sites.
Wishing everyone a most blessed Christmas and a happy new year!
author of romance and mystery
OTHER TITLES: House of Lies, No Second Chance, Muddy Waters, In for a Penny, On the Nickel. COMING SOON: Death, Island Style and Murder in the Buff
Want more of Seeing Red? Another excerpt at www.maggietoussaint.com and reviews.