FEATURE: Kristina Beck

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A Jersey girl herself, Kristina was born and raised in New Jersey, USA, for thirty years. She later moved to Germany and has lived there for over twelve years with her German husband and three children. She lives in the farthest southwest tip of Germany, surrounded by beautiful vineyards and a perfect view of the Black Forest. She is an avid reader of different genres, but romance always takes precedence. Her hobbies include writing, reading, fitness, wine tasting, and forever trying to improve her German-language skills.

Excerpt from Lives Collide (Collide, Book 1)

“What are you waiting for? Go inside.” Alexa pushes me forward.

“I’m going. Impatient much?”

She pushes me to the side and goes through the entrance first. I follow. I hate to walk into a place where I don’t know anyone. Alexa runs off, leaving me alone. I try to act casual and walk around the bar.

I freeze and do a double take. There she is, standing by a table in the corner. There’s a lamp over the table reflecting specks of light on her skin. She shines like a diamond. The last two times I was with her, I thought she was pretty. Her black dress hugs her at all the right places. Her hair is up with little curls coming down, which exposes her neck and back. Her shoes show off her slender legs. The first word that comes to my mind is stunning. My body goes on immediate high alert.

She laughs at something with one of her friends. Her heart-shaped face lights up the room when she smiles. Her friend looks in my direction. She whispers something in Lisa’s ear, and Lisa glances my way. Our eyes lock, as if by some magnetic pull. A lump forms in my throat when I see her glistening blue eyes and giant smile. The man who ends up stealing her heart and waking up to her smile every morning will be a very lucky man. Her ex-boyfriend Bryant was a jackass. Maybe he didn’t make her smile.

I pull my lead feet off the hardwood floor to walk over to her. She meets me half way. “Happy birthday, Lisa.” I lean in and give her a kiss on the cheek. My lips linger longer than they should. They tingled when they touched her feather-soft, warm cheek.

“Thanks, James. I’m so glad you came.”

My eyes trace her face. “You look beautiful.”

She fiddles with her earring. “Well, isn’t that a nice thing to say. Thank you. I almost didn’t recognize you. Short hair and cleanly shaven. We have never seen each other in normal clothes.” Her eyes scan my body. With a slight grin, she says, “You look really good in jeans. But I also liked the stubble on your face. You look sexy either way.” She giggles as she traces her fingers along my jawline and then drops her hand to her side. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” Her face turns an instant shade of crimson as she looks down.

I will pretend her comment or her touch didn’t surprise me. “I’m sorry I’m late. I blame my sister. It took her forever to get ready. We’re here now, so that’s all that counts.” I wink. “I’m sorry I didn’t get you a present.”

She rubs my arm gently. “No worries. You joining us tonight is all I wanted for my birthday.” I can see, by the way her eyes shine and how she nervously touches her neck, she is being honest.

“Where’s your sister?” She looks over my shoulder.

“She’s around here somewhere. She’ll make her appearance in due time, I’m sure. She left me as soon as we walked into the bar.

“Speaking of sisters, did your sister come?”

“Yes, she did. She’s the one I was talking to when I saw you. Let me get her over here so I can introduce you. She knows about you.” Lisa looks behind her. “Tina, come over here.” She yells and waves her over to us.

Her sister picks up two martinis and walks over to us. She hands Lisa one.

“James, this is my sister, Tina.”

She shakes my hand, looking me over with wide-open eyes. “Lisa, you said he’s good-looking, but he’s a lot more than that. Look at your eyes, James. Wow!”

Lisa nudges her and whispers something in her ear. Tina grins.

“I saw you when I was talking to Lisa, and right away I knew it was you. I saw those eyes of yours.”

Lisa nudges her again.

“It was nice to meet you, James. I need some water. We can get to know each other later.” She downs her martini and walks away.

“Sorry about Tina. She already had two martinis, which is more than she usually drinks. She’s usually the mother hen.”

“It’s no problem. I have a sister too. I’m used to it. Your sister looks nothing like you. Brunette with brown eyes, and tall. She looks similar to the actress Anne Hathaway. What a contrast. I would have thought she was your friend, not your sister.”

“That’s not the first time someone says she looks like her. Everyone says I’m a replica of my mother. She had the big blue eyes and petite figure. I was blessed with them.”

She used the word “had.” Did her mother die? I remember she said she’s been through some tragic experiences herself.

“Tina looks just like my dad. He’s tall, dark, and handsome.”

I look over her shoulder at her friends. Their eyes are darting back and forth from me to Lisa. What’s their problem? Something tells me she didn’t tell them I was coming tonight. Interesting.

I grab Lisa’s hand and stroll up to them, with her behind me. “Hi, everyone. I’m James. Lisa invited me here tonight to celebrate her birthday with you all. I hope that’s okay, since it looks like it’s an all girls’ party,” I say, a little too sugarcoated as I let go of Lisa’s hand. I’m not sure why I started to hold it in the first place.

Everyone gawks at us, not saying a word. I put my hand on her open back and lean in and whisper, “I’m going to get a drink. Do you want something? I can see your friends want to interrogate you.” I get a view of her neck and smell a trace of vanilla. I wish I could give her a birthday kiss right underneath her collarbone. I gently trace my fingers along her skin.

She shivers in response. As she takes a sip of her martini, I notice her hands are shaking. I smile to myself.

She leans her head toward me and looks up. “Don’t worry. I’ll only say nice things about you. Well, in reality, I don’t know a lot about you, so I can’t say much. I’m kind of enjoying the reaction you’re getting. They are completely surprised, wondering who this gorgeous guy is and where I have been hiding him.” She looks in the direction of her friends. “Why don’t you get yourself a drink? Can you please get me a glass of water? I want to pace myself tonight. I still have this one I need to finish.”

I nod and walk away, knowing I’m the one who’s shaking now.

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