Title: The Rebound Effect
Author: Linda Griffin
Genre: Romantic Suspense
In the small town of Cougar, struggling single mother and veterinary assistant Teresa Lansing is still bruised from a failed relationship when Frank McAllister sweeps her off her feet.
Frank is a big city SWAT officer who moved to Cougar only four months ago. He’s handsome, charming, forceful, very sexy, and a bit mysterious. He had his eye on Teresa even before they met and is pushing for a serious relationship right away.
Teresa finds his intense courtship flattering, and the sex is fabulous, but she doesn’t want her deaf six-year-old son to be hurt again. Her former fiancé cheated on her when he got drunk after being unjustly fired, but he loves her and her son, and the whirlwind romance is complicated by his efforts to win Teresa back. And then there’s the matter of the bodies buried at Big Devil Creek…
“Thank you,” she said. He moved his chair closer and put his arm around her.
The food was wonderful, the burgers big and juicy, the chili piping hot. The sun and salt air had made them hungry, and they relished every bite. They ate slowly, talking comfortably as they watched the last remnants of sunlight fade. When they were finished, Frank put his hand on the back of Teresa’s neck and kneaded gently.
“You’re still thinking about Aiden,” he said. “You’re a little tense.”
“No, I’m not,” she said, but not very convincingly.
“Tell you what,” he said. “Lie on your stomach on the bed, and I’ll give you the super-special, world-famous McAllister massage.”
She laughed, but she got up and lay on her bed. He switched off the lamp between the beds, softening the light in the room. He sat on the edge of the bed and started slowly, rubbing her neck and running his fingers through her hair. After a minute he moved so he was straddling her and dug the fingers of both hands into her scalp, her neck, and her shoulders. It was wonderful, sending shivers of pleasure through her. She had had massage therapy once after a pulled muscle, and this was very much the same, at least at first. The therapist had played soft music in the background, but here the constant, soothing sound of the ocean relaxed her more than any music would.
His hands moved down her bare back. They were warm and comforting. Her scalp tingled, and her muscles relaxed under his fingers. She lay with her cheek on her folded arms and let herself drift a little. His hands slid under the waistband of her shorts and massaged deeply. Teresa sighed with pleasure. He moved farther down, stroking her legs. “This is great,” she said gratefully. “I should do you now.”
“Don’t worry about me,” he said softly. “This is only about you. I want you to relax. I want you to trust me.” He continued, taking first one foot and then the other in both hands for an all-over massage. It was the best part yet, and she murmured with pleasure.
“Turn over,” he said. She did. He smiled into her eyes, and after a moment she had to look away. “Relax,” he said. She closed her eyes, and he took her face in his hands and caressed it, gently at first and then more firmly, continuing the massage. The therapist had never done this side of her. It was delicious. His hands moved on to her throat and her bare shoulders. His fingers slid under the halter strap and down to the neckline. Because of the bare back she wasn’t wearing a bra. This was another line she should draw—therapists didn’t cross it—but she didn’t say anything.
From the beginning this had been more sensuous than sexual, but now it was getting more personal by the minute. His hands were on her breasts, at first through the fabric and then underneath, stroking and cradling. She was neither frightened nor aroused, but he was very definitely making her feel something strong and deep. She held her breath, and he said, “Relax,” again. He finally moved on, his hands warm on her bare midriff and her belly, down inside her shorts. Teresa moaned softly.
Draw a line, she told herself, but she didn’t stop him. She was being manipulated, but she liked what he was doing. He moved on to her upper thighs, deeply kneading muscles that were a little tired from the beach, and on down her legs, with briefer attention to her feet this time, and back up the insides of her calves and thighs. One hand slipped between her legs. It was both an unpressured, natural continuation of the ritual and very deeply arousing.
She opened her eyes and looked into his. “This is supposed to relax me?” she asked.
“Yes.” His hands were still now.
“This is supposed to make me trust you?” The thing was, she really wanted to trust him.
“Yes. Are you relaxed? Are you ready to go to sleep? Do you want me to kiss you good night and get in the other bed?”
She wanted to say yes, and she thought he would accept it, but she didn’t. When she didn’t answer, he took her face in his hands again and kissed her, not for goodnight, but deeply, intensely, and for a long time. Damn, he was good! “I love you,” he said.
“It’s too soon,” she protested, but in the moment, still tingling from the massage, with the sound of the surf under everything, she felt something very like love. She had never been so ready for anything in her life. I can’t be bought, she thought, but it seems I can be seduced.
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What makes this book a must-read and/or what inspired you to write this story:
“If a romantic suspense is on anyone’s wish list, The Rebound Effect should be on that list.”—InD’tale Magazine. The initial trigger was a response that was not made to an apology. Teresa responded instead, and although it is now in chapter 2, it was the first line I wrote.
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I was born and raised in San Diego, California and received a BA in English from SDSU and an MLS from UCLA. I retired from a position as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on my writing. My stories have been published in numerous journals, and the Wild Rose Press published Seventeen Days (2018) and The Rebound Effect (2019). In addition to the three R’s—reading, writing, and romance—I enjoy movies, Scrabble, and travel.
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