~ ~ ~ ~ Purchase This Book ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ On This Page ~ ~ ~ ~
- Theme Song
- Deleted Scene
~ ~ ~ ~ Reviews ~ ~ ~ ~
“Dirty Little Secrets by Ella Sheridan is an erotic gem. It is well-written, flows at a nice pace and is chock-full of pure desire.”
– Harlequin Junkie
“There was plenty of drama, suspense, smut factor, and of course just regular romance that will keep you turning the pages! My one complaint is that I wished the story was longer!”
– Crystal’s Many Reviews
“This is my first book by Ella Sheridan and I can honestly say, I was blown away… Everything about this book clicked. It was perfect.”
– Nice Ladies Naughty Books
“This story completely captured me from the very beginning and kept my attention until the very end. Cailin has a naughty side that no one but Alex ever got to experience, and once he got a taste, he did not want to give her up. I can honestly say that the relationship between those two was something out of my fantasies.”
– Long and Short Reviews
~ ~ ~ ~ Excerpt ~ ~ ~ ~
A pause in the cacophony was followed by the sultry sound of a sax filtering across the dance floor. Cailin stopped to catch her breath at the sound. She hadn’t been completely alone as she danced; several men had approached, partnered her for a few minutes, then left, leaving her available for another dance, another partner. She’d thought she would feel awkward dancing with strangers, but she didn’t. She enjoyed it. And she didn’t feel like a slut, either.
As the timbre of the music worked its way into her bones, she let her body move, sway, absorb the pleasure of sense and sound. When broad, heavy palms landed on her rocking hips, she startled. She whipped her head around, only to meet the darkest, sexiest brown eyes she’d ever seen. They blazed with emotion in a face that put Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and every other Sexiest Man Alive to absolute shame. Her mouth opened in a soft “oh” as she stared.
God, he was beautiful.
And then he smiled. It was soft, secretive, sexy. Steaming. Her legs wobbled beneath her, but his grip kept her upright. Then his body made contact with hers—full-body contact, her back, point by point, met by the muscled heat of his chest, stomach, thighs. A gasp escaped as his pelvis brushed the base of her spine and an unmistakably rigid bulge made itself known. The next moment, she was lost in the intensity of his touch.
Her head turned to the side, Cailin tried to smile, but nerves and something else had wicked the moisture from her lips. He moved against her, his hips more agile than Patrick Swayze’s in Dirty Dancing, and nuzzled his sharp nose against the cheek closest to him.
Her head reeled, her tongue tied itself in a firm knot, and she wished the solid floor beneath her would do her a favor and swallow her whole. Fast. “Hi.”
And then she gave herself up to the music. Talking was impossible, but moving wasn’t. And it felt delicious. She melted into the firm body supporting her, countered the sway of his hips, and fell in love with a man she’d spoken only one word to. Of course, she only loved him for his body. Nothing could compare. Nothing could ever feel as good as he felt against her. His arms circled her waist, his hands flat on the soft curve of her stomach. She wanted them on her breasts. On her mound. Between her legs. The music made love to her, one beat at a time, and he partnered it perfectly until her brain couldn’t think, couldn’t tell where she ended and he began. Didn’t want to. All she wanted was for this moment to last forever.
Which, of course, it couldn’t.
At the music’s final note, the man turned her in his arms, his tight grip pulling her into his body until her front was as firm against him as her back had been. She looked up—and up. Her head tilted back farther than she’d imagined it would have to in order to meet those chocolate eyes. He had to be at least six-four, much taller than Sean—
No, she wouldn’t think about Sean tonight. In the fantasy world she’d created, Sean no longer existed. He belonged to tomorrow and reality. Now was for sweet heat and the fantasy lover staring down at her.
“I’m Alex,” he said. His voice was a mix of gravel and velvet, the sound clenching her womb. Cailin blushed as a rush of hot moisture coated her inner thighs.
Alex tucked his head down to hear her, and at her name, he turned, eye to eye, his wide pupils mesmerizing her. Time stopped. Sound receded. And then he wet his bottom lip with a slick pink tongue. “Nice to meet you, Cailin.”
That seductive smile flashed again, so close she could touch it, taste it, before he straightened. The press of the heavy wall of his chest into her sensitive breasts brought a moan to her lips, one she abruptly cut off as soon as she realized what she’d done. Jeez, Cailin. Get it together. But he didn’t seem to mind. In fact his eyes heated further, and he rubbed lightly against her. In the back of her mind was the thought that if anyone else had pulled that move, she would have to remove his balls with her knee, but with Alex, it felt right. She didn’t know why. It just did.
Music swelled again, and Alex took control, moving her against him, the subtle rubbing of their bodies the most sensual foreplay she’d ever experienced. She knew in that moment that she would have sex with this man. If he wanted her—and the erection still going strong between them said he did—she would have him. She wouldn’t lose this opportunity. Guess she’d found her courage…in his arms.
The minutes passed with no regard to how much she wanted them to pause. As the next song came to an end, she realized they were close to the edge of the dance floor. Alex stepped aside, took her hand in his, and led her toward what looked like a dark hallway heading off to one side. Cailin balked, some unwanted feminine instinct waking her to reality and danger, but Alex soothed her. “Offices. The owner’s a friend of mine. I thought we could talk someplace quieter.”
Turning for a last look at the crowded dance floor, she followed him down the long hall, berating herself for the stupidity of the move but unable—or unwilling—to say no. Something deep down in her soul, some gut feeling she thought she’d lost when her marriage fell to pieces, trusted this man. Maybe it was the way he seemed to read her mind, to know what she needed before she did. The way he anticipated every move, as if even a breath didn’t escape his notice. She’d never felt like the center of a man’s entire concentration. She wanted more, wanted to bask in the intensity of Alex’s attention.
And the occasional employee passing them assured her they weren’t completely alone. If she screamed, someone would hear. Wouldn’t they?
A wide, heavy door marked, appropriately enough, OFFICE waited at the end of the passageway. Alex knocked, and a dark-haired man with classic playboy looks opened the door. The surprise on his face eased more of her worry. So this wasn’t a regular occurrence; thank God, even if she did want to sink through the floor in embarrassment.
“Damien, could I—”
“No problem.” The man didn’t ask for an explanation, and his cheeky grin said he didn’t need any. “Just lock up when you leave.” He nodded politely at Cailin before turning to walk back the way they’d come.
Alex gave a rueful snort and dragged her inside. The minute the door clicked shut, he had her backed against its unforgiving surface.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered roughly. “I need—”
Cailin kissed him before he could finish.
~ ~ ~ ~ Dirty Little Secret Theme Song ~ ~ ~ ~
*For every book I write, I create a playlist of songs to help me when I need inspiration, when I need to get further into a scene or into the head of a character. Usually one of these songs floats to the surface as embodying the theme of the book, not just for one character but for most of them. That's where the book theme song idea came from. Enjoy!
~ ~ ~ ~ Dirty Little Secret Playlist ~ ~ ~ ~
Apologize — One Republic (Cailin)
Let It Go — Goo Goo Dolls
Iris — Goo Goo Dolls
All That You Are — Goo Goo Dolls
Collide — Howie Day
Come On Get Higher — Matt Nathanson
Breathe — Ryan Star
Closer to the Edge — 30 Seconds to Mars
Love Remains the Same — Gavin Rossdale
Waking Up — One Republic
Good Life — One Republic
All That I’m Asking For — Lifehouse
Let It Go -- Cavo
~ ~ ~ ~ Deleted Scene ~ ~ ~ ~
*This scene was the first written for Dirty Little Secret. I cut it before submission, but it remains in my heart the kernel of Cailin's character throughout the rest of the book. It's the day she told her husband she wanted a divorce.
“You selfish bitch!”
Cailin Gray flinched, then braced herself, taking a deep breath before turning to confront her husband. She kept her face expressionless, no hint of her pounding heart and shaky insides showing. Stay calm. Breathe.
“How the hell could you do this to me?” Sean thrust a heavy sheaf of papers in her face, but Cailin stepped back, forcing herself to respond quietly, carefully.
“It was time.”
“Time? That’s all you’ve got to say? Five years! Five years of marriage and you—”
She squared shoulders that had begun to tremble. “We both know it’s over, Sean.” I just finally decided to do something about it. It sounded callous; maybe it was. Guilt, fear, despair—she had her own cornucopia of emotions to deal with. She’d known dealing with Sean’s would be hard, but imagining it and actually doing it, facing her husband after he found out she’d filed for a divorce, were two totally different things altogether. Her muscles ached with the need to flee, but she held herself rigid, even her breath shallow.
Sean choked on a hollow laugh, and Cailin’s heart squeezed. She’d thought she loved him once. Thought he loved her. They’d married right out of college. He was the only man she’d ever made love to. But she’d become nothing more than a fixture in the background of his life. How could a woman keep her marriage going when she had to beg her husband for attention, affection, time…and he still wouldn’t give it?
She nodded toward the papers. “Everything is spelled out pretty clearly. I haven’t asked for anything more than my share. There are no kids—”
“And whose fault is that?”
The words whipped across her heart and left her bleeding. Her infertility wasn’t the problem. He’s just looking for something to hurt you with, you know that. Instead of responding to the pain, lashing out with her own accusations, she continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “And since I work, there’s no need for alimony. We just have the house and money to split.”
She dared to step closer, that old longing to fix things welling inside her, even knowing it was impossible. Her heart jumped into her throat when he threw up a hand to stop her. Logically she knew Sean wouldn’t hit her, but somewhere in the back of her mind, she’d wondered if all the anger that had built up over the last few years might be unleashed at this moment. Was that why she’d waited so long? Or had she simply not wanted to seem like a coward? In their smallish community smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, divorce was a four-letter word that got you ostracized. “This is the decision you made,” her pastor had told her once. And he’d been right. She had made the decision to marry Sean.
And now she had made the decision to leave. It hurt too much to stay. If that made her a coward, so be it.
Sean’s hot breath hit her cheek as he leaned toward her, his fury a palpable presence between them. “I don’t give a damn about the money. Why are you doing this?”
“I’ve told you why. We’ve been over and over it.” A bitter laugh escaped, when she didn’t want to be bitter. God, I’m so tired of dealing with this. But it didn’t matter, and it wouldn’t be over for a long time, legally or emotionally. She had to accept that he didn’t love her, not the way she needed to be loved. She’d finally acknowledged that she needed more. “We’ve been in counseling off and on since we got married, Sean. How much more is there to say?”
His voice dropped, though anger continued to thread through it. “I’m sorry, okay? I’ll try to do better. I will.”
“You said that six months ago, and three months before that. I need more than words.”
“But I mean it. You can’t… What more can I do than apologize? I’m your husband, for Christ’s sake.” His eyes turned pleading. “You have to forgive me.”
Again. It didn’t matter how many times as long as she did it when he wanted it. And it was that attitude that had killed her ability to forgive. She was his wife, not his doormat.
Sean ran a frustrated hand through his thick brown hair. “Is this the sex thing again? Is that it? You’re going to humiliate yourself in front of everyone ’cause you don’t think you get enough sex?”
Cailin tightened her control to the breaking point before she could roll her eyes. Sean hadn’t touched her in almost a year; that certainly qualified as more than “not enough sex.” But it wasn’t even the lack of sex that hurt. Her husband didn’t touch her at all. No hugs. No kisses good-bye. No sitting next to her on the couch to watch TV. They didn’t brush against each other when they passed in a doorway. He didn’t even turn over in his sleep and cuddle up to her body to keep warm. She’d spent more nights staring at his back than she could count, until the pain tore her apart inside and she couldn’t bear to sleep in the same bed. She’d taken to the couch last week. Sean hadn’t seemed to notice.
And he won’t notice now. It’s pointless to argue.
Refusing to acknowledge his question, knowing she had to leave—now, before she totally lost it—she said softly, “Everything you need to know is in the papers. Read them and get back to me.” Then she grabbed her purse and walked out.
When she returned to the house four hours later, thinking he’d have cooled off by then, her key wouldn’t open the lock on the front door. Sean wouldn’t answer the doorbell, though his car was in the drive. She shouldn’t have been surprised, shouldn’t have been hurt. This was her fault, after all. If she’d just left well enough alone, maybe it would have gotten better. That’s what she’d told herself for five long years, what friends and family had told her. It didn’t matter how hard the woman in the back of her mind, the one begging for someone to love her, need her, screamed that it wasn’t so. Cailin was the only one who could hear her. The only one who wanted to hear her. No one else knew the pain she felt every time she realized she was more alone than she’d ever been in her life, and her husband was right beside her. Or maybe other people did know and they put up with it.
She had, for a while. But not anymore. The decision was made.
She wanted a life. She wanted to be happy. And yes, she wanted a man who loved her as she was, flaws and all, and showed it. Who acknowledged her existence and more. Was that really too much to ask?
After calling Bonnie Loveless, her friend and now lawyer, Cailin spent the night in a hotel, returning home the next day with a local police officer—luckily not one she knew, though his distaste at getting involved was obvious—Bonnie, and a moving crew. Since Sean was at work, she was able to get in with the key the officer had retrieved earlier and move her things easily enough. Much of it she left behind, not wanting to deal with the memories. Let him have them. Maybe someday his eyes would open and he’d realize what he’d lost. She doubted it, but hey, a girl could hope.