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06 February 2012

One Breathless Moment...

*Your hostess for this Clash is Raquel Byrnes.

I love a good romance. Especially that fleeting second when the space between the hero and heroine electrifies with possibility, hope, and the faintest breath of apprehension. All the choices and obstacles that they faced to get to this point all culminate in one amazing moment...

Inspirational romance is all about the journey toward a happily ever after. The promise of forever love hanging in the balance as we walk through amazing adventure, heart-wrenching adversity, and joyous realizations of the Lord's hand on the hearts of two people.

It is my privilege to host The Almost Kiss Clash and I can't wait share the two awesome excerpts we have in store for you below!

So jump right in and peruse these wonderful peeks into two great stories and cast your vote for your favorite Almost Kiss.

Excerpt A

He stopped in front of a closed door I’d always presumed to be a closet and pulled out a key. “I figured if we used this, fewer would see us going upstairs together.”

The tiny elevator looked no larger than a side-by-side fridge. Were we supposed to fit in there? Did Marc think this was better than being seen taking the stairs together?

He pulled back the accordion-like gate and gestured for me to enter first. I stepped in and pressed my back against the far wall. He eased in and shut the gate. “You got enough room back there?”

I wanted to say we had room to spare, but since one short step forward would send me into his broad back, I’d be fibbing. Already the scent of his aftershave was sending my heart into overdrive. I so didn’t want those stomach flutters again. Not when we were told to behave, and certainly not when we were about to investigate the room where Mr. Galvez met his untimely end.

“I’m okay.” I hoped my voice sounded nonchalant.

He pressed the green button, and the car jerked upward. At the rate we were going, it’d be Christmas when we got to the second floor.
The car shuddered and stopped, and so did the overhead fan.
Marc whacked the button. “This happens once in a while. There’s a little trick. If I could only remember it.” He fiddled with a switch.

The air tightened around me, and a bead of perspiration trickled down my back. Why did it feel like the claustrophobic box had no oxygen? Marc banged his palm on the up button, then the down.
“Marc, I hope you have a Plan B.”

He wiggled around to face me, his peppermint breath tickling my nose. “It always starts again when the reset switch is toggled. No plan B or C.” He rested his hands on my shoulders. Not out of affection. He needed to put them somewhere besides in the air.
I let out a nervous giggle. “It’s kinda warm in here.”

Marc tipped my chin up with his index finger. “April, you’re sweating.” He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed my forehead. I had nowhere to look but into his eyes and, once there, I couldn’t pull my gaze away. Good thing I didn’t want to. His eyes went to my mouth and he leaned closer. I lifted my chin in anticipation. So much for the boss’s orders.

He brought his mouth closer, and the tiny elevator started to spin. Then everything went black.

Excerpt B

She followed his movement, swallowing. "Please get rid of it?" The thought of someone else commanding her made her chest constrict. His expression softened slightly, and Nessa continued. "I can't escape; you know that. What if another bandit found it?"

"I won't be so careless again. And they saw what happened to Bayrd. No one will dare to come after you now."

She felt a chill, thinking of the man who had been breathing a half hour ago. The man who had nearly-- And all because of the lamp. "So what if it fell overboard and washed up somewhere? I'm still bound to it, right?"

He nodded. "Mother expects you in the lamp, and I can't have you running away."

"I'm trapped on this ship! Do you think I can swim to shore?" Nessa's heart beat faster. "Please."

He paused and she held her breath. "Well," he said at length, "I think I could undo the spell that binds you to it. Though you'd have to do something for me."

Nessa's eyes widened and she flushed. She opened her mouth to protest but the words lodged in her throat.

He took the lamp from his pocket and rubbed it. When his eyes met hers, the longing she saw there stole her breath. "Kiss me," he whispered. The softly-spoken command sent her body into motion. Even if she wanted to protest, she couldn't. She slid off the bed and stood until she nearly brushed up against him. Nessa went up on the balls of her feet, her shoulders shaking. She thought she saw worry in his eyes. Just as her lips were about to touch his, he added, "On the cheek if you'd rather."

Relief flooded her. She turned her head, letting her lips brush his cheek. The contact lasted a mere second before she stumbled back, her cheeks flushing. He wasn't the same as Bayrd, at least. She could still make out the longing in his eyes, but he wouldn't force anything on her. She offered a shy smile.

He rubbed the lamp a second time, eyes twinkling. "Kiss me again. And don't take the easy way out this time." He puckered his lips.

Nessa's heart throbbed. If she hadn't been so frightened, she would have smiled at the expression on his face. Her hands clutched the fabric of her dress and she wondered if he'd be gentle. Closing her eyes, she waited for the pressing urge to comply with his request. When nothing forced her on, she opened her eyes and pulled away. A wave of disappointment surprised her as a smirk played across his lips. Her mouth went dry and she stepped back, flushing. "It's broken."
"I figured," he said, shrugging. "I bound you to the lamp with a little spell, but it's one wish per person. And with no more wishes left, you're free, right?" After a moment, he chuckled. "Though I was hoping you didn't know that."

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Item Reviewed: One Breathless Moment... Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Raquel Byrnes