A common question writers get asked is, “Do you listen to music while you write?” And the answer is, yes, quite a lot of us do. Some writers can’t listen to music with lyrics. Other writers have to listen to lyrics that remind them of their books. Some, myself included, like to put together playlists that serve as a kind of movie soundtrack to the scenes I’m writing. These are the top 5 songs I chose for the Boss series, and why:
1. “Will Do,” TV On The Radio. This song is specifically mentioned in a steamy scene at the W hotel. The first line of this song, “It might be impractical to seek out a new romance” caught my ear and I thought, “Well, that sums up this relationship perfectly, doesn’t it?”
2. “Leisure Suite” Feist. Sophie set the chorus of this song as Neil’s ringtone, due to the sexy, campy feel.
3. “Sail Away (Rae and Christian Remix),” David Gray. Some songs I put on the list just because they sounded so hot. This was one of those songs.
4. “Riversong,” A Fine Frenzy. I listened to this one over and over while writing a pivotal moment in Neil and Sophie’s relationship. The lyrics weren’t what touched me about this song so much as the tempo.
5. “I Feel Better,” Gotye. This could be Neil Elwood’s theme song with regards to Sophie. While the book is written in Sophie’s first-person point of view, it was important for me to remember what was going through Neil’s head, too, and this song helped remind me
1. “Fljótavík,” Sigur Ros. This song comforts Sophie in a rough time. The lyrics are so sad and hopeful at the same time. I used to cry listening to this and writing!
2. “Slow and Steady,” Of Monsters and Men. I tried to incorporate more Icelandic stuff into this book, since Neil spent his late childhood and teen years there. I like to imagine he would keep up on the music scene there. This song called such a strong image to my mind of both Sophie and Neil trying to hold things together for themselves externally while being unsure and overwhelmed inside.
3. “Overjoyed,” Bastille. A lot of th music I picked for this book had a little bit of melancholy to them. Love through fear and sadness is the theme of this book, and this song got that vibe across perfectly.
4. “Only You” Ellie Goulding. The Girlfriend isn’t all doom and gloom. It’s hard to shift from complex emotional content to scorching hot sex scenes and make it fit well. Since this song has both bases covered, I used it for a lot of inspiration.
5. “Learnalilgivinanlovin,” Gotye. When I think of this song, I think of Sophie and Emma trying to forge a kind of friendly relationship in an extremely weird situation. While the lyrics don’t necessarily fit perfectly, the theme sure does!
1. “Let Her Go,” Passenger. This is so, so Sophie and Holli’s song. Sometimes, we take the people we love most for granted. I hated writing about forty percent of this book because of that, but I love the way it ended. I’m the biggest fan of Sophie and Holli’s friendship.
2. “Elephant,” Tame Impala. The only reason this makes the list is because my husband and I were listening to it in the car and he said, “This seems like a song Neil would have on his iPod.” Damned if he wasn’t right!
3. “The Story,” Brandi Carlile. Family is the theme of The Bride. This song perfectly paints the emotions I was trying to get across. Shared history, if the good outweighs the bad, is what builds a family. I’m really proud of the little family growing together in this series. With a ton of kink at the core of the storyline, who would have thought?
4. “Birthday,” Katy Perry. I have a suspicion that Sophie danced around to this song many times in anticipation of Neil’s surprise birthday party.
5. “S-S-S-Single Bed,” F.O.X. It’s so fun to write about a couple who can be sexy, yet irreverent about sex at the same time. Playful music helps keep that attitude in perspective.
Working to music really helps the writing pass faster, but full disclosure? I sometimes spent more time finding songs than writing the book!
Genre: Erotic romance/BDSM
Date of Publication: August 2013
Number of pages: 353
Word Count: 120,000
Cover Artist: Jenny Trout
Sophie Scaife almost ran away once, trading her ticket to college for a ticket to Tokyo. But a delayed flight and a hot one-night stand with a stranger changed her mind, putting her firmly on track to a coveted position at a New York fashion magazine.
When the irresistible stranger from that one incredible night turns out to be her new boss - billionaire and publishing magnate Neil Elwood - Sophie can't resist the chance to rekindle the spark between them... and the opportunity to explore her submissive side with the most Dominant man she's ever known.
Neil is the only man who has ever understood Sophie's need to submit in the bedroom, and the only man who has ever satisfied those desires. When their scorching, no-strings-attached sexual relationship becomes something more, Sophie must choose between her career and heart... or risk losing them both.
Excerpt from The Boss
I couldn’t believe I was doing this. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening, after six years. After I had given up hope of ever having a sexual experience as satisfying as my night with Leif. Every muscle in my body tensed with anticipation. My breath caught in my chest as my fingers ventured down, under the black lace of my panties. I thought back to my white cotton underpants that night at the Crowne Plaza, and I giggled to myself. If anyone had told me back then that I’d be sex ambushing the man six years later, I wouldn’t have believed I would have the nerve.
I closed my eyes and stroked two fingers down my slit. My hips lifted. I’d been so eager for this moment, now it seemed like my skin was too sensitive to touch. I thought of what Neil would see when he walked in, and remembered the undisguised appreciation in his eyes while he’d watched our hands on my body.
My stomach fluttered with nervous butterflies. What if he was expecting the girl from six years ago, who’d only had sex with fumbling teenage boys? What if he got here and was turned off by my initiative? After all, he’d found my naiveté so endearing the last time we were together.
Oh shut up, I scolded myself. Would you really want to fuck a guy who only wanted you for your sexual inexperience? No, because that would be weird.
I’d made a salient point, I had to concede.
My fingertips circled my clit, and a shaky breath stuttered across my lips. My flesh felt hot and heavy under my hand, and I cupped myself, letting my fingers slip between the folds of my sex.
The door clicked open, and the weight of my desire became like an electric current. My lungs seized, my limbs quivered. I opened my eyes, a soft groan escaping me when I saw Neil there. He closed the door and dropped his messenger bag. His gaze met mine and held it as he walked toward me in his long black coat and leather gloves. I don’t know how I managed to maintain eye contact, but I did, and I had never felt so sexy in my entire life. Why had I ever doubted that this would please him?
His maddeningly neutral expression gave nothing away, but he couldn’t disguise the hunger in his eyes. Oh, he wanted me. He stood over me, looking down as I continued to move my hand beneath my panties.
“Take those off.” His voice was soft and deep, the tone firm. I was being commanded, not asked. A perverse thrill shot through me, and I shivered.
His eyes followed my hands as I slowly peeled the scrap of black lace down my thighs. He stepped closer and ran one gloved hand up my calf, raising goose bumps on my skin. I moaned at the cool touch of the leather, and he grasped my panties, jerking them down the rest of the way. I slipped my feet from them and watched him lift the lace to his nose.
“Oh god.” My exclamation tore out on a ragged breath, and I pressed my thighs together against the pounding ache in my cunt. I wanted him so badly I trembled, but I was afraid of what would happen when we actually touched. The longing, the desperate, clawing sexual need that had been missing from every encounter I’d had in the intervening six years crashed over me, turned my blood into liquid desire coursing to every throbbing cell in my body.
“Don’t stop,” he said, removing his gloves slowly, tugging one fingertip at a time. I spread my legs a little, and he ordered, “Wider.”
I heard my pulse in my ears as I parted my thighs further. Neil took off his coat and tossed it across the ottoman, on top of the gloves he’d already discarded. He moved to stand between my spread legs, looking down at me with his hands in his pockets. He was hard, his cock a visible ridge against his fly beneath his unbuttoned jacket.
I stroked myself, letting my fingers wander further, to dip inside before tracing upward again, coated in the evidence of my overwhelming desire. I smoothed the silky wetness over my clitoris, into the short, neatly trimmed strip of hair on my mound.
Wordlessly, Neil watched me rub my clit in slow circles. Being like this for him, my legs open, my pussy exposed and gleaming wet while he stood there fully dressed, turned the naughty factor up to eleven and then some. Just thinking about what I was doing spiked my arousal higher. I had done things with him that I’d never done with anyone else, and that knowledge made me feel oddly safe.
My thighs tensed, and I planted my black pumps firmly against the rug. My orgasm wound tight inside me, ready to spring and uncoil me from the inside out. A yelped, “Ah!” of frustration escaped me, and I lifted my hips from the sofa. I was going to come, I was so close, I was going to come while he watched me, without him ever touching me, and I was so goddamn close—
Genre: erotic romance/BDSM
Date of Publication: August 2013
Number of pages: 391
Word Count: 132,000
Cover Artist: Jenny Trout
Unemployed, blacklisted, and pregnant, Sophie Scaife’s life is totally upside down. Her relationship with publishing magnate Neil Elwood is on the rocks. Her best friend’s career is igniting. And Sophie is afraid she’ll make one of the toughest decisions of her life alone…
When a devastating diagnosis forces Neil to return to London, Sophie throws caution to the wind to follow her heart across the Atlantic. Keeping a scorching D/s affair as red-hot in sickness as it was in health is a challenge, even for two lovers as inventive as Sophie and Neil. But Sophie is more than willing to try anything her Sir commands, and their fantasies of control become a welcome refuge from the daily stress of illness.
While Neil’s wealth and privilege make adjusting to her new situation easier, Sophie finds herself rebuilding her life around an uncertain future. And while both of them face the changes between them head-on, they’re all too aware that their happiness may be fleeting—and Sophie could lose Neil forever.
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Excerpt from The Girlfriend
How do you tell the guy who just tried to break up with you that you’re pregnant with his baby?
When the doors opened on his floor and I stepped into the softly lit vestibule, Neil was there already, waiting for me.
When I saw him, my stomach dropped like I was in the backseat of a minivan going over a bad hill. He was pale, he looked tired, and the smile he gave me was worried and forced.
But he was still Neil, so handsome and tall, with his in-between-blonde-and-brown hair and his gorgeous green eyes. My heart flip-flopped, like it always did, since that first moment we’d met at LAX over six years ago.
“Hey,” I responded in a short, friendly monotone as we moved into the inner foyer. His apartment, which I had just begun to feel comfortable in before our near-breakup or breakup-in-progress, whatever was happening between us, suddenly seemed like a stranger’s home. I’d had a difficult enough time getting used to the fact that my boyfriend lived in a Fifth Avenue palace with checkered marble floors and a freaking home movie theatre. Now I felt like I had to be on my very best behavior.
Neil helped me with my coat. “You look very pretty,” he said softly.
I hadn’t changed out of the crème-colored cowl-necked sweater and soft old jeans I’d worn to the doctor’s office. I didn’t feel particularly pretty, but I murmured a thank you all the same. I noted his salmon button down. “It’s not pink, it’s salmon,” he had argued with me a few weeks ago, before we’d tumbled playfully into his bed.
I blinked back my tears at the memory. “You’re not so bad yourself. Did you go to work today?”
“No, I was just so tired of hospital gowns. I needed to get dressed or end up deeply depressed.” His laugh was short.
I wanted to touch him. I wanted him to touch me. I just wanted everything to be okay between us.
He led me to the kitchen, where Sue had laid out our neatly plated dinners. “Halibut, I hope you don’t mind.”
“It smells amazing.” It actually smelled awful, but I didn’t hold that against his housekeeper. It was the uninvited guest in my uterus. It made everything smell ten times stronger than usual. I looked around the kitchen. The counters were scrubbed clean, the light was off over the stove. I slid into one side of the breakfast nook. “Sue’s gone for the night?”
“I didn’t ask her to stay on past seven.” He went around the wide, marble-topped island and reached into the cooler beneath, coming up with a bottle of white wine.
“None for me, thanks,” I said, too quick. He gave me a strange look, and put the bottle away.
That was weird. He usually liked wine with dinner.
Oh god, he was probably staying sober to let me down gently when he broke things off for good. The wine was for me, to drown my sorrows, if necessary.
I completely lost my appetite.
“So...” He sat down across from me and unfolded his napkin. “It’s been a while since we’ve talked. Any developments in the job hunt?”
I knew what he was asking me. “I didn’t take the job with Gabriella.”
He nodded, and poured ice water into my glass from the carafe on the table. “Were her terms—”
“You know why I turned it down.” My hands clenched in my lap. I was more angry than I thought I would be. I’d been preparing for this moment, steeling myself against hurt and disappointment so that I could walk away with dignity. Instead, my emotional control snapped like a rubber band and I accused, “How dare you.”
“Sorry?” He looked like a man staring through the windshield of a car that was nanoseconds from hitting him.
“You did it again. You pushed me into making this huge decision, but you acted like you were somehow protecting me. You did it when you stole my plane tickets six years ago. Now you tell me that I have to take this job because it’s a wonderful opportunity, and you magnanimously declare that you’ll let me go if you have to.
“You didn’t even ask me what I wanted. You didn’t tell me what you wanted. It’s like you don’t care about the outcome, you just don’t want to feel responsible for it.”
“Magnanimous?” he repeated, outraged.
My hands were clenched to fists beneath the table. If we were going to break up, then we might as well raze this fucker, salt the earth, and poison the ground water. “If you didn’t want to be with me... then just break up with me. Don’t force me to make the choice for you.”
He was struggling to control his temper as he said, measured and controlled, “I wanted you to slow down and think about what you were doing, and where we were headed. You keep pushing me away—”
“I keep pushing you away?” I snorted derisively. “When I got to the hospital the other night, I was so worried about you. Then, you basically break up with me and try to make it seem like it was for my own good. For four days, I felt like I couldn’t call you or see how you were doing, while you were in the fucking hospital. I had to get updates from Deja, and all of those were total bullshit. Exhaustion? You don’t get exhausted.”
“On the contrary, I was quite exhausted,” he said quietly.
I looked up, and I knew he could see how furious I was from the way he slightly flinched when our eyes met. Good.
I reached into my pocket and fished out the ultrasound image. I placed it face down on the table and slid it toward him. “I needed you. I called you eleven times because I was freaked out and scared about this. And I came down to the hospital afraid something really horrible had happened to you, and I was thinking about all the stuff I would miss about you if you died. And what the hell was I going to do about this?”
He lifted the photo and turned it over. It took a moment for him to register what it was. I saw a surprising mixture of emotions in his expression, things I didn’t expect. I’d been prepared for angry, or scared. Maybe cold, or strained and polite. Instead, his eyebrows lifted and he blinked in momentary shock. The slightest smile twitched at the corner of his lips. He looked pleased, maybe even a little proud.
I clasped my hands together under the table to stop myself from trembling. The longer he looked at the photo, the more the color drained from his face. There it was. That was more like what I had expected.
He looked up, throat moving as he swallowed. His eyes met mine, and a sick feeling of dread curdled my stomach. Whatever he was going to say, I knew it was going to be bad. But it was so much worse than I had expected.
“I have cancer.”
Genre: erotic romance/BDSM
Date of Publication: March 2014
Number of pages: 415
Word Count: 140,000
Cover Artist: Jenny Trout
After a tumultuous year, Sophie Scaife’s relationship with her boyfriend and Dom, billionaire media mogul Neil Elwood, is hotter and happier than ever. His sizzling Dominant side pushes Sophie to new and challenging heights of submission and erotic exploration as she follows her Sir’s every whim. But with his daughter’s impending wedding and a milestone birthday turning Neil’s thoughts toward settling down, Sophie faces a much different future than she’d planned.
Caught in a conflict between her new wealth and her desire for independence, Sophie fears she’s becoming just another Fifth Avenue trophy wife. With her fashion journalism career over and her new effort as a writer uninspiring, Sophie has to work harder than ever to prove her intentions to Neil’s family and friends.
Sophie isn’t the only one struggling to adapt to her new lifestyle. When private jets and designer labels threaten her bond with Holli, Sophie finds herself walking a fine line between the world she now inhabits and the past—and people—she fears she’s left behind. After a shocking revelation divides her loyalties, Sophie is in danger of losing her best friend or fracturing the trust of the man she loves.
Excerpt from The Bride
“I have a game in mind,” he continued, sliding the pocket door closed. There was a little latch on it, and he flicked it down. “Are you interested?”
“Then get naked and get your ass on that table.”
“Yes, Sir!” As I readily complied with his order, he took something out of a seat pocket. A deck of cards. So, it really was a game.
“Is something funny?” he asked, a delicious hint of warning in his tone as he slid smoothly into his role as my Dom.
I shook my head. “No, Sir. Just anticipation.”
“If you enjoy anticipation, then you’ll very much enjoy this game.” He slid the cards from their box and shuffled them between his big hands. He waited until I was completely naked and sitting primly on the edge of the table, then he said, “Slide back, bring your knees up, and spread them. If you’d put your heels on the corners of the table, that would be ideal.”
“But then I’ll be wide open, Sir,” I teased, slowly pushing back and lifting my feet up to rest where he’d indicated. There was such a naughty thrill at being completely naked in a situation where people normally weren’t naked. I mean, I’d never seen anyone so exposed on an intercontinental flight before. Maybe I’d been on the wrong planes.
“While I explain the rules, I’d like you to stroke your clitoris. One finger only, no penetration,” he added sternly.
I slipped my middle finger into my mouth and held his gaze as I sucked it down to the knuckle. When I pulled it out, it shined with my saliva, and I reached between my legs to do as he’d instructed.
He pulled a card from the deck and held it up. It was a seven of clubs. “Clubs, denial.”
I took a shaky breath. We’d played games with my orgasms before. It was the best—and worst—activity.
He plucked another card from the center of the deck, glanced at it, put it back, and pulled another. Ace of spades. “Spades, ruined.”
Ruined orgasms were the worst. But they made every one that came after them so much more intense, because it took longer to get there.
“Sir?” I asked. “Do the number values on the cards have any bearing, or are we just going by the suits?”
He considered a moment. “Which would you prefer?”
I thought about how frustrating a ten of spades would be, and decided, “Let’s just go with the suits.”
“Numbers for another time, perhaps?” he suggested with a lascivious smirk. He pulled another card. “Diamonds—”
“Mean I can come?” The hot flush of arousal that pulsed between my legs intensified at the word.
“Mean I get to decide the action.” He stepped between my legs and traced the edge of the card from my ankle to my knee. “I’ll give you a command, and you’ll obey.”
“That sounds like just another day at the office,” I challenged him.
He moved the edge of the card down the slope of my thigh, over my hip and stomach, between my breasts, up to my throat. He dropped the card and gripped my jaw, the rough touch sending darts of desire through me. “Do you want a spanking?”
I lifted my leg and rubbed my toes across the front of his jeans. “Always.”
He grinned down at me and leaned in for a languid kiss. I savored his mouth on mine, darted my tongue along his lower lip. His beard pricked my chin, and I rubbed my cheek against his. He released my face and sank his fingers into the hair at my nape. I rolled my clit in slow circles while he kissed me, the shocks of desire there echoed by the delicious tingling in my lips and tongue. My leg caught between us as he pressed me down. When he pulled back, I flexed my foot, feeling the thickness of his erection through his jeans.
With a maddening half-smile, he picked the cards up again and shuffled them, then withdrew one. “Hearts mean you’re allowed to orgasm. Do you understand the rules of the game?”
I nodded, my breathing increasing in tempo to match my rising desire. “I understand, Sir.”
He put the cards down on the table between my legs and drew one from the top. A heart.
I thought he would be disappointed that his game had so quickly rewarded me. If he was, I saw no sign of it as he brushed my hand away from my mound and spread my labia to expose my engorged, throbbing clit. He pinched it between his thumb and forefinger, and dropped to his knees to give me a slow lick.
I groaned and leaned on my elbows, letting my head fall back. My hair hung loose, brushing my shoulders, and I sighed happily as Neil’s lips closed over me. He alternated rolling my clit between his fingers and lapping and sucking at it with his tongue. I squirmed against his mouth. After a year together, he knew everywhere I needed to be touched. He could get me off almost as fast as I could get myself off, which made sense, since he’d studied me doing it enough. I whimpered at the intensity that built without faltering, and, mindful that we weren’t alone on the plane, I breathed deeply through my nose to keep from moaning.
His facial hair chafed my thighs and labia in the best possible way. He slipped a finger into me, and I clutched on him, rocking my hips against his face. He found my g-spot like he’d grown up in the neighborhood, and my hands curled on the polished wood tabletop. My calves cramped and my knees hugged his head. I managed to subdue myself to a low groan as I climaxed.
He withdrew his finger, but kept the other hand busy on my over stimulated clit as I panted and tried to wriggle away. He took another card and held it up, and my brain registered that it was a spade even as I climbed toward a second orgasm, one I would be cruelly denied at the last possible second. Neil had ruining an orgasm down to a science. My pussy clenched, the sharp edge of pleasure twisting tighter and tighter, and just when I thought I would come, just when I desperately wanted it, he pulled his hand away.
“No, don’t!” I begged, but I didn’t say “red,” the word I used when I really wanted to stop, so he didn’t give in.
He laughed low and said, “Oh, Sophie. Begging for mercy? Have we met?”
About the Author:
Abigail Barnette is the erotic romance pseudonym of Jenny Trout, YAauthor, blogger, and funny person. Writing as Jennifer Armintrout, she made the USA Today bestseller list with Blood Ties Book One: The Turning. Her novel American Vampire was named one of the top ten horror novels of 2011 by Booklist Magazine Online. She is a proud Michigander, mother of two, and wife to the only person alive capable of spending extended periods of time with her without wanting to kill her.