ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Claiming Carlos
Series: Book #2 of Sanchez Sisters Series
Author: Rachelle Ayala
Genre: Fiction / Romance / Contemporary
Length: 332 pages
Publisher: Amiga Books (October 22, 2014)
Book #2 of Sanchez Sisters Series
Choco Sanchez is stuck in a rut. She’s never hit a softball and has been friends forever with Carlos Lopez, the head cook at her family’s Filipino restaurant. When flashy restaurant consultant Johnny Dee hits her with a pitch, she falls head over heels and gets a makeover.
Carlos Lopez is not about to lose one for the home team. Johnny launches a full scale change on the menu, and Carlos sends him straight into the dumpster. Claiming Choco’s heart proves more difficult. But never underestimate a man who can cook hot, spicy, and steamy, and we ain’t talking just food.
Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope. Rachelle is the founder of an online writing group, Romance in a Month, an active member of the California Writer’s Club, Fremont Chapter, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has won awards in multicultural and historical romance.Connect with the Author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5753921.Rachelle_Ayala EXCERPTS
[Kissing a Friend]
Oh, no. Not happening again. No way. We’re friends, best buds, and he’s supposed to court Julia, that’s what his mother wants him to do. I can’t. I want to. No, this is crazy.
My mouth touches his soft lips and I close my eyes, the better to pretend it’s not happening. Mmmm … He tilts my head gently to angle in closer as his other hand caresses the small of my back.
He doesn’t smush my mouth against his, but gently tugs my lower lip. I settle into his kiss. It’s lazy, easy-going, not demanding, friendly. Only, his fingers curling into my hair isn’t mild, no, and neither are the tiny moans he makes at the back of his throat, or the spear rising hard against my belly. Yikes! What am I doing?
We’re lying on a sandy trail in a nature preserve near dusk. Coyotes could be lurking in the sage bushes, and mountain lions prowling the dry riverbeds. Oh, but his lips taste spicy, and oh, so enticing. A slow burn roils between my legs. He’s so freaking sexy for being a chef. But I didn’t sign up to be his kissing partner. I mean, I could use the practice. I seriously suck at kissing. Oops, my teeth just bumped his. That’s what I get for biting my lips when I should be sucking, or smacking, or nibbling, or whatever it is professional kissers do.
“Explain this.” He kisses beneath my ear, his lips caressing the sensitive spot behind my jaw. He lets go of my neck and his hand wanders down to my waist.
The music pounds out front, and my body relaxes into the heat surrounding me. I close my eyes and inhale his scent. Nothing makes sense. But I can’t think, not when his lips are nibbling my neck and his fingers trailing sparks from my waist to the area between my legs.
I’m helpless in his embrace, and when his fleshy lips tickle the corner of my mouth, I tilt my head toward him. Sparks of excitement pulse in my chest.
Don’t think, Choco. Let it go, for now. It won’t be long. Seize this moment.
I take the last breath of my life and lock onto his lips, tugging his hand to my breasts, willing my recurring dream into reality. I’m trapped in a shiny, deluxe restaurant kitchen with a celebrity chef. He dips his tongue into chocolate whiskey pots de crème and licks the line between my lips. I eagerly sweep the taste from his mouth into mine, sucking the tangy, bittersweet aroma from his breath.
I can’t get enough of it. He’s so much of a man, so hard, strong, edgy, rough. And he’s not complaining, he’s moaning, hands and fingers busy over my stretchy red-hot slut dress.
[Love to Hate Miranda]
“Stop.” Miranda waves a spatula and blocks our way. “No members of the wait staff allowed in the kitchen.”
“I need another order of vegan spring rolls. No meat!” Sarah yells.
“She stole my gluten-free bangus.” Susie pushes her way past Miranda, who bounces against the door to the cold room, opening it.
“Out, out of the kitchen.” Miranda sticks a finger in Susie’s chest. Big mistake.
Susie’s nostrils flare and her piercings dance. “Out of my way.”
With a hefty push, she shoves Miranda who stumbles back into the cold room. Her arms windmilling, she falls in between the sides of raw pork belly hanging up to dry.
“Ai ya!” Miranda slaps at the pork bellies and pulls on a trussed whole duck for balance, right when a wooden tray of balut, fertilized duck eggs with the intact embryo, falls and splatters over her. The slime and partially formed embryos ooze down her hair and face.
Everyone except Johnny bursts out laughing. I whip out my cell phone and snap as many pictures as I can before Johnny blocks my view to help his mother.
Out of nowhere, Carlos appears, and he gives Johnny a kick on the back of his tight leopard printed butt, sending him sprawling against the skewered suckling pigs. They tumble like dominoes, knocking Johnny on top of his balut-covered mother.
Carlos picks up a tray of the Vietnamese style transparently wrapped no-fry spring rolls and flings the contents into the cold room all over Johnny and Miranda. “Vegan spring rolls is off the menu.”
[Sexy game of Miniature Golf]
I stick to par on that hole. Ha, ha. These miniature golf courses have many trick holes. There’s one where the ball has to go over a bridge, and of course there are all the curbs to bounce off. But the worst are the mounds. Carlos sucks at those.
Livy, meantime, maxes out at six shots each hole. “My club’s crooked. Can we trade?”
“I don’t see anything wrong,” I say.
Carlos takes her club and balances it. “Ah, you see here? It’s curved and off balanced. Here Livy, have my club.”
Oh no he doesn’t. Then he’ll have an excuse why he lost. Besides, the clubs were handed out by height.
“Livy, take mine. His is too long for you.”
“Whatever.” She grabs it.
After she’s out of earshot, Carlos whispers, “My club’s definitely too long for you.”
“You wish.” I tally the scores, my cheeks burning. “You’re still five strokes behind.”
He bends toward me and waggles his eyebrows. “I’ll make up those strokes tonight. Where would you like them?”
“You nasty boy.” I wait until he lines up for his putt before pretending to trip and bump into him. “You’re not even up to par. Tsk, tsk, tsk. You sure you can keep up with me?”
“I know how you like me driving into your hole.” He winks and swats the ball. It rolls into the hole, and he does a golfer’s fist pump. “As for keeping up with you? I can go all night.”
“I don’t know about that. You’re going into the water trap.” I line up the ball near the windmill.
“If it gushes like you, I’ll gladly take the plunge.” He bumps my hip and my ball hops and skips into the running water.
“Why you!” I gingerly climb over the fence and duck under the bridge.
“Ha, you’re all wet.” He helps me climb back. “Just the way I like it.”
“Shhh … Livy,” I hiss, but fortunately she’s staring at her smartphone.
The next one is a right angle shot. If I can hit that diagonal perfect, it’s a straight shot into the hole. I line up my shoulders, square my hips, and wait for Carlos to jeer. I fake up, about to swing.
“Wait, wait.” He claps his hands right beside my ear. “Your ball still wet? You better compensate for the drag.”
“I think your club’s all wet.” I quickly take a swing and whack the ball hard. It flies straight at the diagonal, then rolls down the green toward the hole. The carpet is uneven, dang. I didn’t account for it, but it goes closer and plop. It lands in the hole.
“Whoo!” I raise my club in the air and jump up and down. “A hole in one. Ha, ha, you’ll never catch me now. Loser cooks.”
He puts his finger down his throat, gagging. “The way you cook, I better lose.”
“You guys are silly.” Livy yawns, bored with our antics.
“Let’s see how silly you are when you fall in love,” Carlos says. He gives her a noogie and she screams, “Ewww. Love is yucky.”
I screw up the next two holes. Did Carlos say he was silly because he’s in love? The thought it could be me is so delicious, I quiver, the same way I do when a dessert is super sweet and cold.