Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Valentine #7 - Jace Riga. My Hero.

What is the name of today's Valentine?

How old is he when we meet him?

In his twenties.

What stands out most about him?

Physically, you can't miss him. He's an amputee who still likes to live on the edge, riding motorcycles, getting tattoos and chasing every dream he believes he can catch. He's also got these intense green eyes that see right through to the heart of you.

Nice guy or douche?

Jace is the best of the best, and not just because he was a soldier who lost his leg on the battlefield. He's a hero of the heart. He believes in faithfulness. He's got honor. When he says something, you can take it right to the fucking bank. The things he went through could have hardened him, but instead they made him wiser, more centered, than he already was. Like all my best guys, he doesn't see women as a collection of parts that have to be arranged in a certain way to earn his interest. He looks deeper than the superficial. On Everything. He values the whole picture. On everyone. He's the closest to perfect I could ever hope to get.

Favorite moment with him?

There are so many, but one that stands out is when he takes off his artificial leg. It's such a poignant moment where he's the most vulnerable he could possibly be. He's about to show his biggest "imperfection" to someone he genuinely cares about, someone who is so insecure that she doesn't feel like she can ever deserve him because she's not perfect. In bearing his soul, he hopes to convince her to do likewise. It's a moment of absolute trust. Sex, sh'mex, it's one of the most intimate scenes I've written.

That night I didn’t give anyone else a chance to keep Jace company during his midnight swim. I was at the pool by eleven-thirty, where I sat with my feet dangling in the water as I waited.

Jace seemed startled to find me there as he walked over to one of the lounge chairs. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” he said offhand as he dumped his towel onto the chair.

“I’ve wanted to come down for a while,” I admitted. “Every midnight for two weeks,” I added softly.

The look in his eyes was intense as he sat on the chair. “Why didn’t you?”

“They told me this was your time. I didn’t want to impose.”

He chuckled. “I thought they were just uncomfortable.”

I shook my head. “They love you, Jace. They never wanted you to feel embarrassed.”

“I’m not,” he stated simply. His eyes never left my face as he proceeded to remove his artificial leg. I watched as he removed the prosthetic, and the supporting garments underneath, such as the sheath and the socks. When he stood, he didn’t waver. He hopped easily over to the edge and dove into the deep end.

I watched as he swam over to me, only breaking surface to pull himself up in front of me. “Come in with me,” he suggested softly.

I shook my head. “I don’t have a swimsuit.”

His hands ran up my bare legs to the edges of my shorts. “So?” Our eyes met and locked. He couldn’t really be asking what I thought he was asking. Before I had any chance at all to argue, he grabbed my arms and pulled me into the water.

“Jace!” I squealed as I toppled into the cold pool.

He wore a self-satisfied smirk. “Refreshing, isn’t it?”

Playfully I splashed him, and then swam away before he could retaliate. He was quick on my heels. He lifted me up and dunked me again.

“Of course you know,” I retorted, “this means war.”

I swam after him and then lifted him up to dunk him. We chased each other, splashed each other and played together for long, blissful, uninterrupted minutes. When we finally had to catch our breath, we swam lazily over to the shallow end by the steps. He propped himself up on one arm.

“That’s so much more fun when there’s someone else here,” he said with a crooked smile.

I nodded. Even though I wasn’t planning on getting in the pool, it had been way more fun than I imagined.

“There’s still one problem, though,” he said as he studied me thoughtfully.

My breath caught. “What’s that?”

“You’ve seen what I normally don’t show the world. I think it’s only fair that you show me something, too.” His eyes traveled across my face and down to the wet shirt clinging to me like a second skin.

“You’ve seen it all,” I tried to argue as I crossed my arms in front of myself.

“No, I haven’t,” he insisted as he pulled my arms to my side. “But I’d like to,” he added as his eyes engulfed me, searching for all there was to see. “Show me, Jordi. Don’t be afraid.”

There were tears in my eyes as I searched his for any hint of insincerity. “Jace…”

His eyes darkened as he lowered his head towards mine. His lips playfully toyed with mine until I couldn’t help but respond. He deepened the kiss almost immediately as my lips finally parted. I groaned as I slipped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer.

His hands ran up my back and into my hair. He lifted me easily as he swung me over his lap. I braced myself on the cement behind him. I could feel him strain for my body. “Show me, Jordi,” he said again.

“Someone will see,” I protested but he shook his head.

“No one comes down here, remember? Not once, in all these weeks. We’re all alone,” he promised. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment for months. Don’t make me wait anymore,” he begged as his hands slid up my arms.

My voice was small, like a squeak. “You don’t know what you’re asking.”

“Yes, I do,” he said. “That’s why I am asking it. Show me,” he commanded again.

What do you love about him?

Gestures above.

What do you hate about him?

I can't hate on Jake. I simply can't. He has my heart. I guess the only thing I can hate is that he isn't real.

If you went on a date, where would you go?

Hopefully a boat on a lake on a movie lot, where he'll sing to me.

Who inspired him?

He must be a remnant of a past life or something. He was already in there somewhere.

Who might play him in a movie?

Okay, so... don't laugh but my physical prototype for Jace was a young John Stamos.

But since John is a *tad* older than the Jace character, I had to go find another dark-haired, green-eyed guy. I think he will do nicely...

Do you have a special song that reminds you of him?

Oh yeah. This is their song, one they perform on stage together. She's on stage, singing, yearning for her hero, and then somewhere you can hear the rumble of thunder as a motorcycle circles her. Finally at the big moment at the end, he bursts through a flaming ring to skid to a stop beside her.


Any "Easter Eggs" planted with this book boyfriend?

I can't even talk about it. This was a very personal story, and affects me in much the same way Kate's storyline on This is Us does. It's a kick in the gut. I literally tossed the computer away from me at one point because it just hurt too much to wear this particular skin. Her fears are the same. Her insecurities are the same. Sadly, several of her biggest enemies are the same. Jordi's trainer tells her at one point, "You're a joke and you always will be." Once upon a time that was said to me, verbatim.

Jordi and I share a lot in common, but she's a lot braver than I was.

Where can we find him?

You get to know Jace in FIERCE, which is free today only. The saga continues in UNSTOPPABLE and concludes in EPIC. But the story isn't done. Like Graham and Vanni before him, he showed up in a number of titles, listed below:


He's even in my biker Wyndryder saga, which will be republishing hopefully sometime this year.

When I need a hero... I know just who to call.

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