Saturday Snippet: Obligation by Lexi Lawton

Since time has gotten to where I could no longer do our Spotlight Author segment I decided to create a new segment, Saturday Snippets. Every Saturday we will be posting excerpts from books (with author permissions) so you can see who you may be missing out on.

Our first Saturday Snippet comes from Lexi Lawton.

A large hand covered hers, and she went to pull away when her gaze snagged on the one thing she’d been searching for all night—in the space between his thumb and forefinger was a small, black X. She nearly hooted with excitement.
“So, you’re one of the lucky chosen ones, huh?” She grabbed his hand before he could get away and ran her thumb over the X.
“Chosen, yes. Lucky? Guess that’s still waiting to be determined.” His voice was deep and silky smooth but also raspy like velvet.
Carissa had never heard such a sexy voice before. Slowly, she tore her gaze from his hand to look at the guy it belonged to, and she nearly stumbled backward. Icy blue-gray eyes framed by thick, long, black lashes studied her with interest. His full, plump lips were turned up at the corners, accentuating his high cheekbones.
“You looking for a third hand, or can I have mine back?” he asked, a teasing lilt to this tone.
Flames of embarrassment licked up Carissa’s neck and erupted on her face. “Sorry.” She quickly dropped his hand. “I was, um, just… air.” She mentally scolded herself and shook her head. “I was headed outside for some air.”
“Me too.” He opened the door and nodded for her to go first.
Swallowing the lump in her throat, she stepped out onto the porch. A group of people stood at one end, laughing and talking loudly, but the opposite end of the porch was empty. She made a beeline for the railing.
Her heart was racing, and even though a cool breeze blew across her skin, she was still much too hot. Resting her arms on the railing, she leaned against it and blew out a breath. A second later, the guy stood facing her, one arm propped on the railing. He didn’t speak right away, and neither did she.
What was she supposed to say? Hey, you’re super sexy. Can I take a picture of me kissing you? She rolled her eyes at how stupid that sounded. For all she knew, he’d already been found and kissed by one of the other pledges.
“You go to school here?” he asked.
“Yes. You?”
He nodded. “This your house?” He jutted his chin toward the side of the house.
“Not yet.” She turned so she was facing him, too, and reminded herself that this task was about talking to people, creating a meaningful connection, and keeping poised while in a stressful and awkward situation. She could totally do this.
“Not yet?” He raised a brow. “You’re a pledge?”
“Yep.” She held out her arms. “I’m one of the guests of honor at this party.”
“Well then, I guess I am lucky.” He winked, and a shiver shot down her back.
“Oh, I’m sure you are. I bet a lot of the other pledges have already kissed you.”
His grin was both wicked and playful. “They’ve certainly tried. But, see, I was told not to be easy, so…” He lifted one shoulder in a lazy shrug. That simple action should not be as hot as he made it seem.
“Wait.” Her lips twitched with a smile. “You’re telling me you’ve turned down some of the other pledges?” She’d seen her pledge class, and every single one of those girls were beautiful in different ways. What kind of guy would say no to any of them?
“Mm-hmm.” He ran his tongue over his bottom lip, and her gaze was drawn to his mouth. “What can I say? I’m not easy.”
She laughed. “No? Then why did you agree to pimp yourself out tonight?”
He tilted his head, his eyes dancing with delight. “Did you just call me a prostitute?”
“If the shoe fits…”
“Wow.” He laughed. “Well, I’m not easy, nor am I prostitute.”
“So you just like cheap thrills?”
He leaned closer, and while she knew she should move back, to keep as much distance between them as possible, she didn’t. She remained in place, riveted by his unique eye color, and, truth be told, she was dying to know what he’d say next.
“There’s nothing cheap about me, sweetheart.”
For the first time since they started talking, she detected the hint of a southern accent. And then, out of nowhere, she began to picture him in tight jeans, held on his hips with a belt, shirtless, black cowboy hat propped on his head… she snapped herself out of the daydream and refocused on him.
He was right that he wasn’t cheap. In fact, she’d guess his designer clothes probably cost more than hers. A gold rope chain hung around his neck, and a diamond-encrusted, white gold ring encircled his right ring finger. A Cartier watch adorned his wrist, and the only reason she knew that was because her father owned a Cartier watch, too.
She cleared her throat. “So, what does a girl have to do to get you to kiss her?” Her eyes widened with shock at her boldness.
He must’ve been taken aback, too, because he straightened as if she’d just slapped him. Crap. She hadn’t meant to be so blunt. He was the first—and only—guy she’d seen with the X. If she couldn’t get him to let her kiss him, she’d flunk the task.
“For starters, you have to talk to me,” he said, regaining his cool confidence.
“Isn’t that what I’ve been doing?” she asked, head tilted.
“No.” He laughed. “I mean, yeah, we’ve been talking, but I know nothing about you.” He eased back so he was once again leaning against the porch railing. “I’m not the kind of guy who just kisses strange women.”
“Right.” She nodded, totally not believing a word he said, but she’d play along. What else did she have to do? “Okay. What’s your name?”
“Bradley Moore.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Bradley. I’m Carissa Jordan.” She stuck out her hand.
Instead of shaking like she expected, he took her hand in his and caressed her knuckles with his thumb. Goose bumps spread up her arms, and she thanked God she had a jacket on so he couldn’t see the effect he had on her.
“Carissa,” he said as if trying out her name. “I like it.”
“Well, that’s a relief. I really didn’t want to have to go change my name.”
He let out a surprised laugh, and warmth spread through her. She was simultaneously chilled and hot, and she swore if her heart beat any harder or faster, she’d pass out right there at his feet.
“Do you go to school here?” she asked, desperate to take her attention away from the fact that he was still caressing the back of her hand.
“Yes. I’m a sophomore. Just transferred from Texas A and M.”
Her jaw dropped. “That’s a great school. Why did you leave?”
“I wanted something a little smaller and more personalized. And I’ve always wanted to see California.” He tugged gently on her hand, and she took a small step closer.
“Are you from Texas?”
“Yes, ma’am.” His southern drawl was more pronounced.
She stifled a groan. “I’m not old enough to be a ma’am.”
Bradley smiled, showing off twin dimples. How had she missed those before?
“What about you? Where are you from?” he asked, tugging her another step closer.
“I’m a born and bred California girl.”
That one sound sent a tremor of delight through her, and her eyes closed of their own volition. Thankfully, the porch was mostly dark. Maybe he didn’t see her swooning like a pre-teen with her first crush.
“Do you live on campus?” she asked, though she had no idea why.
“Why?” He smirked. “Are you trying to get me to invite you back to my place?”
“What?” She jerked back. “No, of course not. I was just—”
He laughed. “Easy, Carissa. I’m only teasing.”
God, the way he said her name… so smooth yet packed with promise. She took a deep breath, but she was positive nothing would calm her racing heart or cool her fiery hot flesh. She’d come outside to cool down and get some air, but all she’d managed to do was make herself hotter.
“I live off-campus with a few other guys,” he said.
“I live on campus with my best friend. Dory Hall.”
“Good to know.” His tone was full of amusement, though she couldn’t help but feel like he was actually filing away all this information about her.
She really needed to shut up before she said something she might regret. “Are you looking for a third hand, or can I have mine back?” She could barely throw his words back at him without giggling.
“I don’t know. If I let go, are you finally going to make your move and kiss me?”
Her ears rang, and her heart decided to suddenly stop before taking off like a spooked racehorse. “Am I allowed to?” she asked, needing a moment to compose herself. “You’re not going to tell me no like you have everyone else?”
“Do I look like I’m stupid?”
“I don’t know,” she said, pretending to seriously contemplate his question. “It is dark out here, so I can’t really see you all that well.”
“Alright, Little Miss Smartass,” he said with a laugh, “my offer expires in exactly three seconds.”
“Wait. Hold on. I need proof.” She fumbled to get her cell phone out of her black, crossbody purse. She opened the camera, turned it to selfie mode, then held it out as far as her arm would extend.
Carissa closed the distance between them and pressed her lips to his cheek. She sliced a look at her phone and snapped the picture. As soon as she did, he guided her arm down and around to rest on his back, keeping his hand over hers as if he were worried she’d pull away.
He slipped his free hand along the side of her neck and grazed his lips over hers. His movements were graceful and perfectly timed so that she didn’t have an opportunity to protest—not that she would have—but his every move, despite being confident and self-assured, was done in a way that let her know she was still in charge, that she could stop him if she wanted to.
But she didn’t want to.
Eliminating what little distance remained between them, their bodies pressed firmly together, she parted her lips on a sigh and welcomed his kiss. His groan was soft and quick, and then his tongue teased hers before he dipped inside to taste her. But he didn’t just taste her—he devoured her, his mouth hungry and insistent against hers. Yet, he still maintained control, never once going too far or too fast.
Her mind spun, and she operated on pure instinct, her hormones guiding her actions. The rational, logical part of her brain screamed at her to stop, to back away, to tell him she had a boyfriend. But every other inch of her body had taken on a mind of its own, and she was powerless to do anything but melt into his arms, to drown in his kiss.
He nipped at her bottom lip, and she damn near pouted when he broke the kiss. Her breaths came in sharp, short bursts, and her lips tingled. The taste of him was ingrained on her tongue, and she craved more. She unintentionally swayed forward.
“The next one is going to cost you,” he said, his voice husky.

Born and raised in Central New York, Lexi Lawton is an only child who found companionship in books. When she was old enough to put pen to paper, she began writing her own stories of love, suspense, and heartbreak. The Collins Brothers Series is her first publication—but it won’t be her last! She also writes young adult novels under the pen name Kara Leigh Miller.

Today, Lexi lives in Michigan with her husband, a herd of kids, and what could probably be considered a zoo of dogs, cats, and fish.

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