She wrapped her arms tighter around him, making him lose track of the simple steps he’d been counting in his head.
He tried to recover but ended up stepping on her foot instead. “Sorry. I guess I’m still learning.”
“Have you always been such a slow learner?” she teased.
He’d play along. “You sure it doesn’t have something to do with the talent of my teacher?”
Charlie’s eyes sparkled then narrowed. “What are you trying to imply? I’ll have you know your teacher is a two-time two-stepping Texas teen champ.”
Beck chuckled. “I bet you can’t say that ten times fast.”
“Two-time two-stepping Texas teen champ. Two-time two-stepping Texas—”
He laughed and covered her mouth with his hand. Her lips moved against his palm, soft and fluttery like a butterfly’s kiss. He leaned close to her ear, nestling his nose in her hair. “I was just joking.”
She nipped at his palm, sending a charge rocketing through him. “Don’t make bets you don’t intend to pay.”
A dangerous burn flared low in his gut. “Hey, watch it there, champ.”
“Or what?” Rolling her eyes, Charlie added a little extra twist in her step.
He exhaled his next words, trying to squelch the fire she’d sparked inside. “Or else.”
She spun out and around then resettled herself against his chest. “I’m shaking in my boots. Or else? That’s all you’ve got? I’m utterly terrified.”
“Are you mocking me?” Damn if she didn’t get under his skin. The sass, the smiles, the way her cute Texas twang taunted and teased him.
“What if I am?” She drew her head back and met his gaze, her mouth curved up in a grin. Their feet stopped moving, and they stood frozen, in the middle of the dance floor, the other couples swirling around them. Her arms went around his neck, and he tightened the circle of his arms around her waist. Their hips snapped together, drawn with a magnetic force. His skin crawled with anticipation, every nerve ending crackling, waiting. His eyes searched hers for encouragement. Yes? No? Did she want him to kiss her? Would it be another mistake?
“A part of me wants to kiss you right now, Charlie.”
Her fingers toyed with the hair at the nape of his neck. “Just a part of you?”
“A big part,” he admitted.
“I’m not familiar with all of your parts yet, Manhattan. What kind of part are we talking about here?” She glanced up at him through lowered lashes.
He knew he was about to cross a line. Ironically enough, it was a line he’d put into play. The line that was supposed to keep things on a professional level. He lowered his head, his mouth inches from hers. “Do you want me to?”
She drew in a sharp breath. “What do you think?”
He was close enough to feel the slow exhale on his chin. “I don’t know what to think when I’m around you. You rattle my brain, make my head hurt.”
“You’re right.” He pulled back. “We shouldn’t.”
The confusion in her eyes didn’t match the way her hands gripped him tighter. “I didn’t mean don’t kiss me. I meant don’t think about it so hard.” Then she tilted her head up and met his lips with hers.
Excerpt from ALL-AMERICAN COWBOY
An Interview With Dylann Crush
Dylann Crush’s debut contemporary romance, ALL-AMERICAN COWBOY, was published on July 3rd, 2018 by Sourcebooks.
Question - Please describe what the book is about.
Dylann Crush - ALL-AMERICAN COWBOY is a fish-out-of-water story about a New Yorker who inherits the oldest honkytonk in Texas from his grandfather who he's never met. The only thing standing in his way of cashing in is the requirement that he stay in Holiday, Texas and manage the honkytonk until the Founders Day parade. If he can survive the town, the sassy cowgirl who's managing the honkytonk, and Baby Back, the resident pig mascot, he might just have it made. Or... he might fall in love.
Q - Where did you get the idea?
DC - I grew up in Texas and have always loved country music so when my editor asked me if I'd be interested in pitching a contemporary western romance, I was all in.
Q - What’s the story behind the title
DC - My publisher suggested the title. I originally called the book BIG CITY COWBOY but they felt ALL-AMERICAN COWBOY was a better fit.
Q - No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
DC - One of my favorite scenes involves a pig beauty pageant. These swines provide some stiff competition for each other and I really enjoyed bringing it to life on the page.
Q - Tell us about your favorite character.
DC - My favorite character would have to be Baby Back, the pig mascot of the Rambling Rose. She's got her own bio in the front of my book and I think she's going to be the readers' favorite.
Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
DC - If I could spend a whole day with one of my characters, I'd probably choose Charlie. We could go shopping for boots together, sit on the porch and sip some spiked sweet tea and then maybe she'd take me out on a trail ride on the Walker family ranch.
Q - Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imagination?
DC - I think there's definitely a little bit of people I know in my characters although none of them are directly based on anyone in particular.
Q - How long did you take to write this book?
DC - It took me about four months to write the book. Once my editor approved the project, the first draft went pretty fast. I turned it in at the end of April in 2017. I had to wait quite a while for my first round of edits since my release date was so far away. The entire process from signing the contract until publication of this first book will be about eighteen months.
Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?
DC - Since I grew up in Texas I didn't have to do a ton of research -- honkytonks, cowboys and country music are my jam! But I did enjoy a quick girls' weekend with my sister to Gruene, Texas, home of the famous Gruene Hall. The honkytonk in ALL-AMERICAN COWBOY, the Rambling Rose, was inspired by places like Gruene Hall.
Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
DC - I think I added more than I deleted. Once I received edits back from my editor she wanted me to add a few scenes.
Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?
DC - I'm a pantser who is desperately trying to find a plotting process that works for me. I like to know where I'm going and usually figure out the big scenes first. But I don't like knowing how I'm going to get there and enjoy surprising myself along the way.
Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
DC - I love being surprised by my characters. I may think I know where a scene is going but then someone I wasn't expecting shows up on the page and the scene takes a sharp turn, usually for the better.
Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
DC - For me the first round of edits are the hardest. That's when I'm trying to get my 85,000 words ready to send in to my editor. Trying to step back and look at the story in a big picture way can be difficult because I'm so close to it.
Q - Can you share your writing routine?
DC - I like to write in my office while listening to a playlist I've created for the book I'm working on. Morning is my most productive writing time although I wish I did better writing at night since my mornings are often filled with Mom duties.
Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
DC - I wouldn't say I've had writer's block but I've definitely been stuck before. It's usually because I'm trying to force the plot. To get around it I'll brainstorm with a writer friend or take a walk. My best ideas come when I'm not trying.
Q - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
DC - If I could go back I'd tell myself to start writing sooner. I have such limited time now that when I think back to how frivolous I was with my free time then, it makes me wish I had it back!
Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
DC - Ha! I have five unpublished manuscripts, although that includes Cowboy Christmas Jubilee which will be coming out in November. As for half-finished books... too many to count. When inspiration strikes I'll jot down notes or even "plot" a whole novel. I have scenes and pieces of books all over the place.
Q - Do you have any writing quirks?
DC - Not that I'm aware of. Although, I have been known to devour entire bags of peanut butter M&Ms while I write. And I can't write well with others. I've tried to write at coffee shops with writer friends and I find it incredibly difficult to concentrate when someone's sitting across the table from me. I want to talk instead. :)
Q - Tell us about yourself.
DC - I'm a Texas gal at heart who now calls Minne-snow-tah home. My hubby and I have three kiddos, two dogs and a pretty chill cat. I work part-time as a freelance marketing geek for a couple of local businesses so I'm always on social media. When I'm not working or writing or momming, I can be found trying not to kill things in my garden or watching "Hart of Dixie" on Netflix.
Q - How did you get into writing?
DC - I don't remember ever not being into writing. Before I even knew how to make my letters I was making up stories. Some people, like my parents, might have called them lies, but I was just practicing my fiction skills.
Q - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
DC - I like to take the dogs to the dog park, work on knitting my intimidating supply of yarn into something special, and spend time with family and friends.
Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?
DC - I've been known to jot down a poem or journal type entry on occasion. As part of my job I write blog posts, bios and marketing content for a few businesses.
Q - Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
DC - Oh gosh. Most people don't know that I took a spontaneous road trip to Memphis (about 25 hours roundtrip) with one of my girlfriends for a weekend in search of a velvet Elvis. We didn't find one but we toured Graceland, sang the blues on Beale Street with Blind Mississippi Morris and met the Peabody ducks.
Q - Which book influenced you the most?
DC - I'm not sure there's one book that influenced me, but I've been inspired to write rom-com from reading Kristan Higgins, Jennifer Crusie and Alice Clayton. The way they blend humor and heat has entertained me for years and I'm glad to be following in their footsteps.
Q - What are you working on right now?
DC - Right now I'm working on the third book in the Holiday, Texas series. It's about Presley Walker, one of Charlie's brothers. It's due to my editor at the end of the month. I also have plans to self-publish a series of funny small-town contemporary romances in 2019.
Q - What’s your favorite writing advice?
DC - Hands down, my favorite advice is... "Finish the damn book." It's difficult to be a writer if you don't have anything written.
Q - The book you’re currently reading
DC - I'm currently reading a pre-published cozy mystery from one of my critique partners, the fabulous Jody Holford.
Q - What do you miss most about Texas?
DC - The food! Every time I go home I overindulge on swirl margaritas, fajitas and chicken enchiladas. There's also nothing quite as beautiful as a field of bluebonnets or a Texas sky full of stars.
Q - Who's your favorite country singer?
DC - That's a tough one. Are we talking classic country, contemporary or all-time favorite? I will say that my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Sam Hunt play the Minnesota State Fair last summer. And I've got a special place in my heart for Carrie Underwood. Her song "See You Again" inspired the first book in my self-pubbed series that's coming out next year.
Dylann Crush's Biography
Dylann Crush writes contemporary romance with sizzle and sass. A romantic at heart, she loves her heroines spunky and her heroes super sexy. When she’s not dreaming up steamy storylines, she can be found sipping a margarita and searching for the best Tex-Mex food in Minnesota. Although she grew up in Texas, she currently lives in a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul with her unflappable husband, three energetic kids, a clumsy Great Dane, a rescue mutt and a very chill cat. She loves to connect with readers, other authors and fans of tequila. You can find her at www.dylanncrush.com.
Links to Dylann Crush