When I was writing After Midnight—Black Phoenix book 1—I honestly had no intention of creating a series. I had one story in my head, one where in the midst of wrapping up the hero and heroine’s happily-ever-after with a bright red bow, I would also give secondary character Dominic Price his. Then he walked onto the page and instantly stole my heart. I knew immediately he would need his own book. He was blunt, didn’t believe in lying and often said whatever he was thinking. He was funny—I’m a sucker for a man who makes me laugh—but also…wounded. There was a sadness to him. A deep sadness tied to a woman he loved desperately, but had walked away from: Rebecca Dahlman. I had to explore this—had to—and so Midnight Heat was born.
Writing Dominic’s story wasn’t easy. At times I was an interviewer asking questions of him, then rewording them when he wouldn’t give me an answer. At times a psychologist, studying his mind and behavior, digging for the reasoning behind his actions. Dom was afraid to trust me with his backstory, just as he was afraid to trust Rebecca, but eventually, I got it out of him. Then, I had to figure a way to help him win Rebecca back. In the end, he didn’t need my help after all.
Rebecca pulled into her driveway to find Dominic leaning against the post of the front porch. It’d been a lousy week and the last thing she needed, the last possible thing she could deal with right now, was him. Yet here he was. Looking as sinfully gorgeous as ever.
His long black hair was messy, like he’d been running his fingers through it. Her own twitched with the need to bury her hands in his hair and pull him to her. Pull him in tight, setting aside everything that stood between them. Trusting this time would be different.
For a long moment the temptation was so great she couldn’t breathe. She walked past him, used her key to unlock the door but didn’t open it. Exhaustion pulled at her, made her limbs heavy and her eyes burn. The double shift she’d just come off had been difficult, made more so by the arrival of Mr. Masters – the little boy’s father. He hadn’t said anything, just stood against a light pole outside the emergency entrance. In a fashion eerily similar to the way Dominic stood now.
It had taken her the entire drive home to shake off the trickle of alarm from between her shoulder blades.
Unable to summon the most basic of manners, she sighed. “Not tonight, Dom.” Tonight she felt far too exposed and vulnerable. “Honestly, I don’t have the strength for another go around with you.”
He looked her over slowly, studying her without a word. She knew what she looked like, had seen her reflection in the mirror after getting cleaned up at the hospital. Dark circles of fatigue beneath bloodshot eyes, her naturally pale skin more drawn than normal. She couldn’t hold her tongue when she was tired. No doubt he’d use that to his advantage.
“Are you okay?”
The fact that he asked, after everything they’d said to each other, nearly brought tears to her eyes. No. “Yes.”
He was quiet a moment, then blew out a breath. “I was hoping to have that talk you wanted, but I can see tonight’s not the night.”
She allowed herself to relax a bit. “It’s really not.”
“Just so you know, I’ll go home tonight, but I’m not going away.”
“What does that mean?”
Dominic gazed deep into her eyes. “I want a second chance, Rebecca.” His tone was a dark promise that curled around her and had her pulse kicking hard. “A chance to show you how much I’ve changed. To be what you want me to be; a lover and a friend.”
Heart in her throat she could only whisper. “For how long?”
“As long as you’ll have me.”
She closed her eyes and swallowed back the ache, the longing. Yes, cried her heart. Oh please, yes. Her head refused to believe. “Dom,” she murmured.
He didn’t speak. Nor did he walk away. Instead, he stepped closer. So close his breath brushed her temple, his body heat warmed her. She opened her eyes, tipped her head up to see into his. He stood close enough to touch her, only he didn’t. “Your best friend’s name is Karmen.”
Confusion scattered her thoughts. “How?”
“You’re wrong. I met her once – the same night I met you. She’s Latina, pretty but…I barely remember her.” His eyes darkened to mirror the night sky. “I was too blinded by you.”
“Dominic.” She lifted a hand and settled it in the center of his chest, feeling the hard muscle as well as the heat—traced her fingers over one pec and his body tightened.
Still, he didn’t touch her.
“You listen to classical music all the time. So much it used to drive me bonkers. But only if you’re happy. When you’re sad, you listen to the blues.”
Or his. She’d grown quite fond of Black Phoenix’s music over the years.
“I don’t recall what make or model your car was, just that it was a bit dodgy and smelled like cheese.” His chuckle vibrated up her arm.
God, how was she supposed to resist this? He was giving her everything she’d demanded of him the other night. All the answers she’d accused him of not caring enough to have. Rebecca leaned in, pressing closer, absorbing his scent, his proximity, and still his arms remained at his sides. He wasn’t going to make it easy on her. Anything that might happen, everything was being left up to her.
“I had a kink in my ass for a week after that first night.” His gaze fell to hers as she laughed. “I would do anything to make you laugh.” His voice was low, raw, as he reverently touched her cheek. “I would do anything to make sure I never make you cry again. I don’t want to be what makes you cry, Rebecca. Not anymore.”
Her body wouldn’t stop shaking. “Dominic.”
“I miss you so much. I miss us. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t regret walking away from you.”
It was too much to take in at once. Rebecca couldn’t move, and her vocal cords seemed to be temporarily useless. She ended up just standing there, as her heart took a hard leap against her ribs and hope blossomed.
Thanks for reading!