I’m so excited about release day on July 1st, I can hardly contain myself. Best Friend to Doctor Right allowed me to write some of my favorite characters to date, and invent a Caribbean island reminiscent of my own home, Jamaica.
Friends-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes, but somehow I’d never gotten around to writing a story centered around it. Mina and Kiah allowed me to tap in to some very personal experiences and memories, as well as writing about some other aspects of life that I love. Like family bonds, and the value of being accepted exactly as you are, without expectations or qualification. I experienced that, as an immigrant, in Canada, and will always be appreciative of it, because it didn’t necessarily need to happen that way. (Looking at you, Amy Ruttan, and my other Canadian friends!)
I hope you all enjoy the excerpt, and the book itself. It’s my favorite, and I’m so happy that it’s almost time for my book baby to fly into the world!
There were footsteps in the hallway leading from the kitchen, and when Kiah came into the dining room, both Mina and Charm turned to look at him.
“What are you two up to in here?” he asked, giving them an exaggeratedly suspicious glance.
Totally deadpan, Charm responded, “Plotting to take over the world.”
“Well,” he shot back as Mina sputtered into laughter. “I’m sorry to interrupt the planning session, but it’s time for you to start getting ready for bed. All your homework done?”
“Yes,” Charm said. “I didn’t have a lot. Just some math problems, and they were easy-peasy.”
“Lemon-squeezy?” Kiah tacked on, making it a question.
“You know it,” she replied, pushing back her chair and getting up. “Mrs. Hastings is talking about letting me do some advanced work for the rest of the year. I brought home a note about it but told her she’d have to wait for you to get back before she got an answer.”
“I’ll take a look at it tomorrow,” Kiah said, snagging Charm as she was going by and pulling her in for a hug.
Even though Charm said, “Uncle,” in a disgusted tone, Mina saw how she rested her head against Kiah’s chest and smiled when he planted a kiss on the top of her head.
“Have your shower, and then you can read for half an hour before it’s lights out, okay?”
“It’s still early,” Charm said, ducking out of the hug and heading for her room. “If I hurry up and bathe, can I read for an hour?”
“Bathe properly, and then forty-five minutes.”
“Deal,” came her answer from down the hall.
Kiah gazed after her for a moment, and then turned his smile on Mina. Something about the tender set of his lips melted her heart, and she smiled back.
“If I don’t keep an eye on her, she’d stay up all night reading,” he said, holding out his hand to Mina. “Let’s go sit outside for a while. There’s a nice breeze tonight.”
Instinctively she took that outstretched hand, and then everything froze, just for an instant.
Something shifted inside as an indescribable sensation crashed through her, causing a jolt of adrenaline, sharpening her consciousness so that she saw Kiah as though for the first time. Became aware of his beauty anew, just as she had so long ago when she’d watched him walk past her desk on the first day he’d come to school.
And as though to emphasize the strangeness of it all, she caught a hint of his scent, warm and woodsy, as familiar to her as her own, and yet suddenly different, too. Not that it had changed, but it was somehow interpreted in a new way, so that her pulse began to pound and warmth flooded her belly.
“Mina?” Kiah’s gaze sharpened, became probing. “You all right?”
The words shocked her out of whatever the heck she’d been going through, and she blinked, as though awaking from a dream.
“What? Yes, I’m fine,” she replied, getting to her feet, firmly shaking off the last vestiges of her strange mental hiatus, although they wanted to cling, like cobwebs. “Just woolgathering for a second. Lead the way.”
Kiah didn’t move immediately, just held her hand, his fingers firm and strong around hers. “You sure?”
“Of course I’m sure. Come on. I could use a little cool breeze just about now.”
And that was no word of a lie. In fact, she’d go so far as to say she could use a cold shower. The lingering effects of whatever she’d just gone through felt suspiciously like arousal.
But that was impossible.
“You Canadians and your inability to enjoy whatever the weather is. You constantly complain about it being too hot, or too cold, or too wet, or whatever.”
His teasing words were exactly what she needed and led to a spirited argument about his expecting her to not feel the heat when coming out of the winter’s cold. But even while they were going back and forth with each other, she felt his gaze on her and knew something had irrevocably changed.
Now she needed to figure out what it was.