The Last Man on Earth
Buy from MBaM!
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April 2008
"...a sweet, hilarious tale that...makes me want to look this author up and read more." ~Scooper
"...captivating... I look forward to reading more of her work." ~5 Cupids from Cupids Library Review
Read an Excerpt
It seemed now to come from underground, from beneath the house, from Hell itself as far as she knew. It managed in sound what a skunk did with scent; it permeated the air, soaking through the old wood of the farmhouse, filling the living room with a lost, mournful melody. She dropped the spatula, shivering on the spot, unable to move. It was the wind, she assured herself as it died away; the howling of that awful wind through the ice-petrified trees.
"Get a grip, girl," she scolded herself, retrieving the utensil. "Where's your backbone?"
And then it began again, soaring up from the dark recesses of the netherworld, and her backbone trembled, turned to ice and spurred her into action.
She raced up the stairs, taking two to three at a time. She thought of screaming for him, but all of her oxygen was being used for running and terror, pumping from her lungs in horrendous gasps.
She couldn't spare the time to scream, and she was sure her legs would get her there faster than the speed of sound.
Iris tripped on the landing, disintegrating into a mound of heaving heart and spasmodic limbs as she fell. There were three more steps to take to the second floor, and a few more to the bathroom. Clutching at the railing, she tried to pull herself up.
There was no strength left in her.
Taking a deep, shuddering breath, she opened her mouth.
She heard the pounding of his legs, and he was standing above her within seconds. "Iris!" He ringed the corner, landing beside her, his powerful hands supporting her. "Iris, what is it?"
She could not move. Could not speak.
But if she'd thought that strange, haunting sound had unnerved her, he had done it one better.
"Baby, did you fall? Hurt yourself?"
In a matter of a few shattering seconds, he had stunned her into silence and changed the flavor of their friendship forever.
He had come to her rescue, without hesitation, without thinking.
And without clothes.
"Iris? What happened?"
"Huh?" Happened? Had something else happened? She had no idea what he was talking about. She'd completely forgotten what had frightened her so. He had driven it completely out of her mind.
He was kneeling beside her, a mass of wet sinews and muscle, his chest still frothy with soap.
And he looked like a god.
Hadn't she known him forever? Hadn't she seen him without his shirt dozens of times, swimming, cutting grass, relaxing here at his home in the brutal heat of summer? How had she failed to notice that his skin was like smooth, scrumptious caramel, his searing eyes fringed with thick black lashes-and there, between his legs…
Good God! Where had he been hiding that all these years?
"Sweetheart? You okay?"
She couldn't stop staring at him. At it. His body wouldn't let her. The hair on his chest narrowed and tapered, forming a near-perfect arrow, directing her attention just there.
No wonder the man wore baggy pants!
"Come on, little one, talk to me. What? Klingon attack? See a mouse? Grease splatter? Did you hurt yourself?"
In the flash of time it had taken him to round the corner, he had changed to her. He had changed her.
She licked her lips, trying to speak. "There was a noise, Russ. A weird sort of wailing noise coming from…well, it sounded like it was coming from under the house."
"A noise?" He blinked. "From the basement?"
The basement? Of course. She should have thought. It was a little difficult to do at the moment, of course, with his strong arms wrapped protectively around her and the clean scent of him assaulting her senses. "Yeah. That's possible, I guess. I'm not imagining things, Russ. There's somebody-or something-down there. I know what I heard."
He glanced away, squeezing her arm. "Okay. Wait here."
She watched him walk away. The view from the rear was just as impressive. Now, there was a taut, seriously sexy butt. Something a girl could really latch on to at just the right time…
"Iris. Come on."
"Huh?" She had zoned out again.
Russell had slipped back into his jeans and was gently leading her down the stairs. "I want you to wait down here. Stay by the fire. Don't move until I get back."
He deposited her in the living room and left as she quickly removed the overcooked sausages from the flames, shaking her head in disbelief. What the hell was wrong with her? The world as they knew it could be gone, there might be a monster in the basement, and all she could think about was the sight of her best friend's equipment?
Hadn't she known that there was something lurking below his waistband? Hadn't she seen him in cutoffs, bathing suits, gym trunks? It was the celibacy, she assured herself, that was making her act this way. Her sex life had always been fairly humdrum, but apparently that year of doing without was coming back to haunt her.
And he was partly to blame, too. If he hadn't rounded that corner flashing all that naked muscle, she never would have thought of him that way.
What kind of hero doesn't stop to dress before responding to a scream?
She paced before the fireplace, worrying, until she heard him return, clicking off the flashlight he'd carried with him. He shook his head sadly, his damp feet barely managing to shuffle across the floor.
"I'm sorry, Iris. I'm sorry it has to be this way. I always liked you," he muttered.
"Liked me?" There was something stiff about the way he moved, something dead about his eyes as he lurched closer and closer to her. This was not Russ. Dear God, something had happened to him in that basement. "Liked me?"
"I did. For a long time. But now you know. Now it can't be helped. Now you've heard the sound of The Hatchlings. Now you know where we hid the pods. So, I'm afraid I'll have to kill you…"
She pitched the spatula straight at him, fuming as he ducked. "This is not the time to play, you sadist!"
"Sorry," he laughed. "I couldn't resist." He relaxed into familiarity. "The idea of something sneaking around the basement-there's nothing there, honey. Trust me. Nothing breeding, nothing lying in wait." He padded over to the refrigerator, opening the door just enough to peer inside. "But I'll admit you had me going there. Like beer in your eggs?"
"Beer? For breakfast?" Iris stuck out her tongue. "I'll pass."
"Just as well. Don't see any. Thought I had a few cans."
"Russell. I heard-"
"One of the windows has a tiny break. I suppose that, if the wind was blowing in just the right direction, and if the chip in the window was directly in line with one of the air vents, and if a certain imaginative young lady was already scared by recent events…" He balled her hand up in his and gently kissed it. "Feel better? All right if I go rinse off now?"
He was still bare from the waist up, stashing all that good stuff into those wonderfully deceptive pants. She nearly laughed as an insane impulse struck her. He had no idea. If the soap on his chest had been flavored, she would've licked it off for him.
Iris frowned, loosening her hand from his grip. "Get dressed. You'll catch your death. I'll finish breakfast."
Russell pulled several deep breaths into his diaphragm, trying to relax the tension in his body.
She was killing him. Unintentionally, slowly, agonizingly, she was killing him. He'd have blue balls for sure before the day was over.
He'd awakened with her hand on his crotch. Since he was drowsy at first, it seemed to him one of many dreams he'd had of her. And even after he'd come fully awake, fully aroused, he hadn't moved, hadn't touched her.
He gave himself an "A+" for resisting that one.
But then he'd imagined her upstairs in his bathroom, sponging that long, lean body clean, and was forced to conceal his hard reaction when she'd hugged him from behind.
And she was wearing his shirt. He'd very carefully selected a black tee, fully aware that she was braless and the white ones might be too sheer, too revealing. Curse his luck, it didn't matter. The loose shirt skimmed just the tips of her breasts, emphasizing those prominent, nut-like nipples that he was dying to squeeze, to taste.
And worst of all-when she'd screamed for him, needed him, he'd completely forgotten his own damn clothes. Whoever heard of a buck-naked hero coming to the rescue? And when she'd sat there, staring at him, unconsciously licking those lips, those full, wonderful lips, he thought for sure he'd become fully erect right there in her face and scare the living daylights out of her once and for all.
Angrily shoving his foot into his shoe, he silently cursed his awkward way with words. She was a beautiful woman. She'd want compliments and romance, want someone to tell her how desirable she was-not just shove champagne down her throat and hope for a moment of weakness.
Why couldn't the power go off before the television belched out that last, cryptic sentence? She was so preoccupied with fearing the apocalypse, she couldn't give him a second thought.
Damn, damn, damn, dammit-why couldn't doomsday have waited another forty-eight hours or so?