I’ve come to realize I don’t necessarily need a happily ever after to enjoy erotica—though I want some hope for the future in my romances—but I certainly need a good setup. Sufficient foreplay, to set the stage. And it doesn’t have to be physical.

The best foreplay for me is good banter. I want a couple that can play off the other’s lines, build tension with their words before their bodies are added to the equation.

And if they piss each other off, while driving each other mad with desire? Ah, I’m in heaven. I want snark. I want wit. I want people giving as good as they get. I want enemies-turned-lovers.

That’s the kind of relationship I created in The Tenant, that has now been out for a year. To celebrate its birthday, I’m giving away three eBook copies to three people who comment on this entry.

And here’s a taste for you.

Closer started blasting full force, and Derek’s hangover made him feel like Nine Inch Nails were actually playing inside his head, kicking its walls from inside for good measure. He slid closer to his bedside table, grabbed the phone, and fumbled blindly for the off button. Mission accomplished, quiet was finally restored…for a couple of seconds.

Derek mumbled a curse under his breath when the first notes of his ringtone played again, this time right by his ear. Whoever was calling wouldn’t give up. He pressed the little green button with all the fury he usually reserved for fantasies that involved kicking Catherine on her ass after she came groveling for him to take her back.

“What?” he yelled into the receiver.

“I see you’re even politer over the phone than you are in person.” The female voice was irritated and condescending.

The tone more than the voice sounded familiar, yet Derek couldn’t identify the caller. “Who’s this?” His body had an instinctive reaction to the woman on the other end of the line, and it wasn’t a positive one. His fingers tensed on the receiver, his eyes squeezed shut, and the headache the song had birthed now threatened to make his skull explode.

“Amanda Murphy. Your landlady.”

Amanda? “Oh. Mandi.” No wonder he felt like punching something. “Morning, Sunshine. What’s got your panties in a bunch this fine day?” And why on earth did he have to pay for it?

“You. You’re the reason I’m not enjoying this fine afternoon, and I want you to fix that!”

Derek smirked against his pillow at the impatience lacing her words. Infuriating as she was, baiting her would be delightful. “I’m honored to be the one bunching your tidy-whities, but don’t you have a fiancé who’s supposed to take care of that?”

There was silence over the receiver for a couple of heartbeats, before she obviously caught on to what he’d said. “You…you…you insufferable ass—”

“Not that I don’t enjoy a little dirty talk in the morning, but again, is there a reason for this phone-call other than to get me hot and bothered?” He was neither hot nor bothered, to be honest. Miss Hissy-Fit didn’t do it for him; he liked his women darker, inside and out. He was, however, more amused than he’d been in a while.

He heard her take a long breath and let it out slowly. When she spoke again, she sounded a lot calmer—he might have believed she was completely composed, if he hadn’t heard her impatiently tapping her fingers. “Derek,” she said, “I’m sure you’re a rational person deep down. You do a great job of hiding it, but I’m sure you’re nicer than this. I mean, my mother and father seem to think you’re a kind, decent man, and I admit the way we met was awkward. I’ve been under a lot of pressure with the wedding, and I’m willing to apologize for being rude. If you could move out by Monday—”

He laughed. She was willing to apologize for being rude, if he was willing to go out of his way to accommodate her. That sounded so very much like the willingness Catherine had to unburden him of his restaurant. What was it with women wanting to take advantage of him? “That’s very magnanimous of you, Blondie, but I already told you I want things done the proper way. You send me the notice, and I’ll be out of your hair in sixty days.”

She sniffed indignantly. “Why are you trying to be difficult about this? There has to be another place you could crash until you find something more permanent. Don’t you have any friends?”

Bargaining really wasn’t her strong suit. “Don’t you? You seem like such an easy-going person. I bet people are swarming to offer you accommodation.”


In hopes of getting her fiancé to consummate their relationship before the wedding, Amanda convinces him they should check out the apartment her father gave her as a gift for their upcoming nuptials. Darkness and privacy are supposed to work in her favor, but there is one parameter she doesn’t know about: the apartment is not empty yet, and the current tenant has no plans of moving.

Derek has had a hell of a few months. His girlfriend turned out to be a cheater and then stole his restaurant. He’s not about to also give up the place he’s called home for three years—even if his hot but infuriating landlady threatens to move in by the end of the week.

When her own lease is up, Amanda is forced to make good on her threat. As if life isn’t already hard enough, her tenant-turned-roommate is as sexy as he is annoying, and her fiancé is caught with a half-naked woman.

Now she and Derek need to find a way to both survive their forced cohabitation. Soon, they discover sleeping with the enemy can be fun.