Friday, July 16, 2010

Life's A Beach by Sierra Dafoe


Life's a Beach by Sierra  Dafoe

Read an excerpt

Life's a Beach

by Sierra Dafoe
cover art by Angela Knight
ISBN: 978-1-60521-468-9
Genre(s): Guilty Pleasures (Contemporary)
Theme(s): Ménage, Bisexual and More
Series: Myrtle Beach Memoirs
Length: Novella

Life's a Beach

by Sierra Dafoe

Life's a bitch, so far as beautiful biochemist Lily McKinney is concerned. You work hard, and then you die. And even if you do find a man to fall in love with, he breaks your heart. Now she's determined to discover the biochemical causes of that sticky, confusing emotion called love -- so she can make sure she never has to feel it again.
But when she's shipped off unwillingly to Myrtle Beach for three weeks' vacation, Lily learns she knows even less about life -- and love -- than she thought, as the carnal attentions of two handsome strangers teach her that not even the world's greatest scientists can unravel the mysteries of the human heart.
Life's a Beach
Sierra Dafoe
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Sierra Dafoe

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"Damn it, Hal! Where are my test tubes? What the hell did you do with my test tubes?"
Hal Broder, head of the post-graduate research lab at MIT, sighed as Lily McKinney entered his office with all the tact and decorum of a tornado. "Hi, Lily," he said tiredly. "Don't bother to knock or anything."
She was bristling. God, he hated it when she bristled. At five foot nine, that was a lot of woman to bristle.
Luckily, if she had any womanly charms (a subject hotly debated by her students), they were reduced to nonexistence by her white lab coat. Which was a good thing -- she was distracting enough as it was. Not that he'd ever tried going out with her or anything; well, not beyond a few tentative feelers when she'd first joined the faculty, feelers which Lily McKinney had seemed incapable of perceiving.
At first he'd thought she was being purposefully dense to spare his pride. It had taken the Mike Murphy incident for him to realize otherwise -- an incident for which they were all, faculty and students alike, still paying the consequences.
Hal sighed again. "Lily, I didn't do anything with your test tubes. They're right in the culture cabinet where you left them."
"No, they're --"
"Did you try looking?"
Lily's head jerked up, her eyes blazing behind the horn-rimmed glasses she always wore. The heavy frames did nothing to hide the creamy smoothness of her skin, any more than the tight bun she sported could hide the luster of her chestnut hair.
There were a few tendrils straggling loose from that bun today, he noticed -- not a good sign. If she was frantic enough to neglect her rigidly regimented appearance, it meant Lily was very close to snapping.
Too close for comfort. Standing, Hal modulated his voice to a soothing murmur. "They've probably gotten shoved behind some grad student's thesis work. Come on. Let's go check."
Placing a hand on the small of her back, he steered her out into the brightly lit lab. The muscles beneath Lily's lab coat were taut as steel cables.
Going to the cabinet, he opened the door, revealing the neat ranks of test tubes lined up in their plastic holders, each clearly labeled Prof. McKinney Trial 4, Batch 11. "There. See? All right and tight, Lily."
She slumped, her shoulders sagging. "God, Hal. I'm sorry. I feel like an ass."
Hal wondered briefly if he could get away with putting his arm around her again, and decided he didn't dare. "Don't worry about it. We all get frazzled sometimes."
Lily ran a hand along the side of her head, sweeping the errant tendrils back into their restraining bun. Hal watched them go with a pang of regret. It was probably a good thing Lily had absolutely no clue how stunning she was -- she'd truly be a menace if she did.
And Lily McKinney was a handful enough as it was, thank you.
He contented himself with closing the cabinet door again, gently. "Look, Lily, I know you're still upset about Mike --"
"I am not upset," she interrupted, completely oblivious as to how the leaping of her jaw muscles belied her statement.
For the third time in as many minutes, Hal sighed. "All right, distracted. Is that a better word?"
Lily acceded to its usage with a small, sharp nod, her gaze fixed stubbornly on some point over his left shoulder. "What's your point, Hal?"
"My point is that maybe you could use some time off. Take a vacation. Unwind a little. Relax."
Her gaze jerked back to his face in horrified disbelief. "Time off? Now? I can't, Hal -- I'm about to make a breakthrough. I can feel it."
Well, if you can, it's about the only thing you do feel. Wisely, he kept that thought to himself. "Look, nine months out of the year we're flat out, working sixty-hour weeks --"
"Yeah, life's a bitch, ain't it, Hal?" Her lovely lips curved in a disdainful sneer.
"For God's sake, Lily, it's July! Half the faculty is on the Cape -- and the other half is swilling wine somewhere in Europe. You haven't taken a vacation in two years."
Lily muttered something under her breath. Hal rather thought it had been Maybe there's a reason for that.
Yeah, he knew the reason. It even had a name. And, luckily, a job at a different campus, thanks to Hal's quick intervention. For which Mike should probably be genuflecting in eternal gratitude, he thought wryly. However unpleasant being transferred might have been, Hal was certain it was infinitely preferable to being murdered.
Not that the bastard wouldn't have deserved it. Hal had been half-tempted to kill him himself.
If only there was some way to get Lily over this funk...
Hal stopped short as an idea occurred to him. It was a little risky -- but only a little. At worst it might offend her. At best, it might snap her out of the rut she'd been in.
Either way, it'll certainly shake up her routine. Squelching a grin, he said, "Look, I can't order you to take time off -- but I can bar you from the lab. And unless you agree to three weeks of R and R, I'll do exactly that."
The look she shot him this time was one of stark rebellion.
"I mean it, Lily. You need a break, and you're going to take one. I even have the perfect place for you." Taking her arm, he steered her back into his office. Shuffling through his Rolodex, he found the card. "Here."
She looked at it briefly, and flicked it back across the desk. "South Carolina? Yeah, I don't think so."
But Hal was already reaching for the phone. "I have some friends there. They're out of town for the month. Nice little place on the beach, a pool... Yeah, Alec?" He turned his attention to the phone as Alec answered. In his mind's eye, he pictured the towering young botanist he'd met two years ago at a conference, and the grin he'd been trying to suppress escaped his control.
At fifty-three, Hal was smart enough to know he couldn't handle a firebrand like Lily. But he was hardly the only man in the world now, was he?
"Alec, listen, I've got a favor to ask." Belatedly, he realized Lily was still standing there, shooting daggers at him from behind her horn-rimmed glasses. He waved a hand at her, shooing her toward the door. "Go on, Lily. Go down for a few weeks. Relax. Get a tan."

Copyright 2010 Changeling Press, LLC

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