I’ve been a busy bee over here. While my editors have RECRUITED in their hands, I’ve been spending time with Maggie and Ran from my upcoming new adult contemporary novel, DEMANDING RANSOM. Because I’m terrible at keeping things to myself and because I’m dying for you all to fall in love with them as much as I have already, here’s a rough draft sneak peek to tide you over until it debuts this spring! Enjoy!

DEMANDING RANSOM — due out spring 2013

“Wake up.” I poke Ran’s shoulder with the tip of my ballpoint pen. He doesn’t flinch; his heavy breathing doesn’t falter. “Wake up.” I poke him again, and still no movement, not even the fluttering of his eyelids. Nothing. It’s like he’s in a coma on my bed and has been for the past three hours.

I’ve been able to finish up a significant portion of my essay, enough that I feel comfortable taking the rest of the evening off to go out to dinner with Ran. Comfortable might not be the right word, because nothing about Ran makes me comfortable. Uneasy, anxious, and lightheaded are much better descriptions.

He’s still soundly asleep, so I stick him with the pen and my stomach rumbles a low, hollow growl. Though the thought of dinner makes me nauseous with apprehension, the need to satiate this hunger for food makes going out with Ran feel like a necessity. So that’s what I plan to do. Go out with him because the alternative is starving to death. I think it’s my only option. These are my survival instincts taking over, nothing more.

I push the pen against his bare arm again, lining it up with the ink that’s permanently etched there already, and he’s still totally dead to the world. Opening up the desk drawer, I slide out a pair of scissors, keep them closed, and press them into the flesh on his bicep as I hiss, “Ran, wake up!

His eyes instantly surge open and it takes him a hesitant moment before his surroundings come into focus and can make any sense to him. Then he looks down at the scissors in my hand. I’m not sure how that image can make any sense at all. “What the hell, Maggie?” Ran bolts upright. “What were you planning to do to me with those?”

“I was just trying to wake you up. The pen didn’t work.” I lower my gaze to the floor, only realizing how stupid I sound once the words tumble from my lips.

“And a calm, comforting hand on the shoulder accompanied by a sweet, ‘Time to wake up, Ran,’ wouldn’t do? Instead I get Maggie Scissorhands as my wakeup call?”

“I didn’t want to touch you,” I breathe, yanking on the drawer to stow away my scissors and pen, wanting to pull out the tape dispenser in order to seal my mouth shut. Why do I feel the need to disclose any of this to him?

“I don’t have cooties, Maggie.” Without warning, Ran’s hand seizes mine and he presses my palm onto his chest. It’s firm, like he’s paid skillful attention to this specific part of his body at the gym to make it this way. “See, no cooties.” His confident smile would be enough to make me woozy, but the tapping of his heart pulsing just under my fingertips makes my ears flood with a dizzying rush and my head spins in circles.

“I’m not so sure. I don’t know that I’d be infected right away.” I tug my hand back and twist my fingers in my lap. “I think cooties have a least a 24-hour incubation period.”

“You have nothing to worry about, Maggie.” Ran rakes his fingers through his dark hair, rustling it back into a tousled, bedhead styling. “I was immunized against cooties when I was five. You can’t catch them from me.” He swings his legs over the edge of the bed and his feet hit the floor. Suddenly we’re knee to knee: Ran sitting on my bed and me in my desk chair. “But there’s something you can catch.”

“What’s that?” My lips quiver when I speak. I bite down hard to scold them, drawing up the smallest amount of blood.

“Me,” he says confidently. “I’ve been told in the past I’m quite a catch.”

“And who would have fed you this lie?” I challenge, because he makes it so easy.

“Pretty much every single—and some not-so-single—woman I’ve transported to the hospital.”

“So is that what you do? Drug your female patients to get them to fall hopelessly in love with you?” I ask, not entirely certain that this assertion is as off the wall as it sounds.

“Are you saying that you’re hopelessly in love with me, Maggie?”

“Are you admitting to drugging me?”

“Touché.” Ran winks and gives me that unfair, devilish grin he’s totally perfected. “So, what do you feel like for dinner?”