Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DARE by Kacey Hammell

DARE by Kacey Hammell

Legal secretary, Olivia Warner enjoys being single and, aside from her closest gal pals, usually keeps to herself. But the night of her thirty-fourth birthday, she and her friends spend a fun-filled evening at a local bar where her friends dare her to approach a man, and spend the night with him. Olivia's not one to turn down a dare, especially from her old college pals. She only hopes the man in question is in for some good conversation, because that's all she'll give him.
 
Darren "Dare" Shalvis has given up on women. He's tired of being chased for his money, good looks, and prowess in bed. He prefers to meet a woman who, for once, wants nothing more from him than mere conversation. If only the woman asking him to spend the night with her wasn't his favorite legal secretary.

Accepting a dare has never been so tempting...
 
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Excerpt:

She gave a small laugh and lifted the glass for a drink.

Dare watched her lips as she drank. He wondered what they’d taste like. It was something he’d considered many times lately.

He was drawn to her, but unsure he’d ever act on it.

Her whole demeanor said ‘hands off.’ And he wasn’t sure he was ready for the challenge.
“Tell me about it.”

“I’ll cut right to the chase.” As he turned on the stool, their knees brushed. Neither moved.
He thought he saw her eyes lit up. Perhaps Ms. Warner wasn’t as immune as he thought.
“My friends brought me here tonight for my birthday.”

“Happy birthday.”

She smiled. “Thank you. The jury’s still out whether it’s happy or not. My friends decided that as a present they’d get me a man.” She blushed and reached for her drink.

“Go on.” Intriguing.

She set down her glass and continued, “They dared me. Dared me to find myself a man and spend the night with him.”

Women…who understood them? He’d only ever participated in dares when he was younger. He didn’t think anyone took them seriously anymore.

“And you need my help, how?” Dare’s heart rate accelerated. She wasn’t asking him to…
She stared up at him, her gaze steady. “I need you to spend the night with me.”

If he hadn’t heard it with his own ears, he wouldn’t have believed it. This night was the strangest he’d had in a long time. It was as if he’d been offered a million dollars on a silver platter.

Of course, he wanted to spend the night with her. He’d fantasized about it many times. He just wasn’t clear on what exactly she was asking. He didn’t want any misunderstandings. “Are you asking me to spend the night with you to…” Dare cleared his throat. “…be with you?”

“Oh! No, yes, I mean no. Dammit, I’ve screwed this up.”

“Relax.” He put a hand on her knee. “It’s okay. Let’s try this—do you want me to have sex with you?”

Olivia groaned. Dare love that sound, and heat filled his groin.

“No. Not to have sex. God, this is mortifying.” Olivia placed her hand over his where it still rested on her knee. “Just to spend the night together—a movie, hang out, whatever—until eight a.m., when the dare is over.”

Dare laughed. She talked so fast he could hardly keep up. He’d never seen her so animated before. He liked her flustered and breathless…a lot. He wondered if she looked and sounded like that during sex.

He couldn’t go that route. Not now.

“Okay, so let me get this straight. You want us to spend the night together—with no sex—until morning? All because of a dare? Why didn’t you just say no?”

“I can’t. In college, the five of us made a pact—in blood, for God’s sake—that we’d always be friends and never back down from a dare. Trust me, right now, I wish I’d never made it.”
He chuckled. “Yes, I can imagine how you feel.”

“I’m so tired after the day we had. This was the last thing I needed tonight.”

“Yeah, when I stopped by the office today you seemed a bit irritated.”

She sighed and ran her fingers over his hand. Dare was surprised how comfortable it felt to have their knees and hands touch. He didn’t think Olivia was even aware she caressed his hands…or wreaked havoc on his libido. If her innocent touches could send him into overdrive, he wondered what would happen if she put all she had into it.

“It was the day from hell. I just wanted to meet the girls for a few drinks, then head home to soak the day away.”

Dare grit his teeth and tried not to think of Olivia in a bathtub—water floating around her body, relaxed, languid. The image could send him over the edge.

“Well, you’re in luck. I’m your man for the night.”

Olivia smiled and her eyes danced. “Thank you. I really appreciate it. The last thing I wanted to do was have to pick up some random guy. I’m so glad you were here.”

Pleased he could help her, Dare grinned. He realized he wanted to anything to put that carefree smile on her face.

“So.” He took a sip of his beer. “What do you want to do?”

She scowled. “Well, we could go back to my place. I have a spare room that you can crash in if you want.”

Surprised, Dare took in her flushed face. “Are you sure?”

She nodded. “Yeah. We don’t exactly have to stay up all night. It’s still spending the night together, right?”

He chuckled. “Yeah, in a manner of speaking. Your friends weren’t specific.”

A smug smile crossed Olivia’s face. “No they weren’t. Which is a testament to how much they thought this through. I would have made a list of do’s and don’ts.”

They both laughed. Olivia had a naughty streak and he liked it. Liked it—and her—very much. A night with Olivia Warner wasn’t what he’d expected.

Sure, he’d thought of her in his bed often, writhing and moaning with passion, but he never thought fantasy would become a reality. He couldn’t let the opportunity go.

His buddies didn’t call him Dare for no reason. He could never resist a challenge.

He placed both hands on her shoulders, drew her gaze from her glass, and put his cards on the table.

“What if we have an agreement?”

She frowned. “What do you mean?”

“For us to spend the night together, we should have some ground rules.”

“Ground rules?”

“I will spend the night with you. More than eager to do so, except one thing.”

“What’s that?” she whispered. He barely heard her but saw her lips move.

He wanted to taste them, desperately.

“I don’t want to sleep in any spare room.”

“You don’t?” She gawked at him.

Her expression was comical but Dare didn’t feel like laughing.

“No. I want to spend the night in your room.” Dare had her full attention. She stared at him, eyes wide. “In your bed.”

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

RUN THE RISK by Lori Foster

RUN THE RISK by Lori Foster

Love Undercover Book One

When Detective Logan Riske goes undercover to find Pepper Yates, a potential link to his best friend's unsolved murder, he vows to gain her cooperation by any means necessary. But the elusive beauty is more suspicious - and in far more danger - than he expected. And the last thing Logan needs is to start caring for her...

Pepper has spent years dodging the corrupt club owner who will stop at nothing to keep her silenced. She can trust no one, not even the handsome new "construction worker" who's moved in next door. The heat between them is undeniable. But will surrendering to passion bring her the safety she so desires - or will her feelings for Logan draw them both into a killer's crosshairs?


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~Excerpt~

“Let me leave you my number. Anything comes up, or if anyone bothers you –”

You’re bothering me.”

His gaze zeroed in on her mouth. “That’s why you’re flushed?”

Oh God. More heat rushed to her skin’s surface. “Really, Mr. Stark –”

“Logan,” he corrected softly. “Say it for me. Just once. Then I’ll go.”

He wanted to… seduce her?

So it appeared. And worse, he succeeded just by presence alone. “Logan,” she agreed through stiff lips. “I need to go.” Before I do something stupid – like invite you in.Or kiss you.

Or drag you down to the floor and

He pulled a card from his pocket. “My number. Seriously. Any problem at all – or if you just want to visit – give me a call, okay?”

“All right.” Not on your life. “Thank you.”

As if he knew her thoughts, he gave a warm laugh and stepped out of the doorway. “See you later, Sue.”

Not if I see you first. “Goodbye, Logan.” She started to close the door.

And he said, “Now that wasn’t so painful, was it?”

She clicked the door shut in his face, then dropped against it.

Painful? Not exactly.

Stirring? She felt like a blender on high speed, all her emotions, all her dormant desires, churning together in a frenzy.

It had been too long – like forever – and she was too deprived to be around a specimen like him without imagining the impossible. She needed to find a way to avoid him, but she’d have to do it without causing suspicion. And there was the rub.

Avoiding him was suspicious.

Pepper turned so that it was her shoulders against her door. Head down, eyes closed, she struggled to come up with a plan.

Maybe, she reasoned to herself, she was going about this all wrong. Any woman would be flattered by Mr. Stark’s attention.

A woman like her, especially so.

Slowly, she lifted her head. Did she have a good reason to engage him in conversation? To get to know him better?

She pressed her hands to her cheeks and fought off a smile.

Yes, that’s what she would do. She would stop deflecting him, and instead – she’d shyly reciprocate. If that didn’t scare him off once and for all, she didn’t know what would.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

SEX & THE SINGLE THERAPIST

SEX AND THE SINGLE THERAPIST by Marcia James

A Dr. Ally Skye, Sex Therapist, Mystery
A crime of passion… To clear an innocent friend, Las Vegas sex therapist Dr. Ally Skye launches her own investigation into a patient’s murder. The last thing she expects is to find herself trading heated words and hot kisses with a sexy cop. Can this free-spirited amateur sleuth and her posse of Vegas insiders solve the crime before the killer targets her?

A sexy complication… Cynical homicide detective Zack Crawford has the murder of a tom-catting cad to solve and a grieving widow to investigate. The last thing he needs is the interference of a red-hot sex therapist who haunts his dreams. Ally is trouble, and he’s determined not to risk his bachelor freedom for any woman. Besides, given her job, would she grade his performance in bed?

A dynamic duo… In their search for the truth, Zack and Ally form an uneasy and sexually charged alliance. Murderers, extortionists and psychos are no match for these reluctant partners. Crime-solving was never this sexy or this fun!

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SEX AND THE SINGLE THERAPIST
By Marcia James

Chapter One
“Mr. Baumgardner, can you explain to your wife your reluctance to fulfill her jungle fantasy?” Dr. Ally Skye prodded.

With a mulish scowl, the man faced his spouse of fifty years and gave it a shot. “I’m eighty-two. Tarzan, I’m not.”

“That’s what this is about?” the diminutive Mrs. Baumgardner snapped, her voice shrill against the pan flute CD playing on the sound system. “You’d feel silly in a loin cloth?”

Yes! Ally mentally cheered the silver-haired woman for grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns. The couple’s third sex-counseling session was nearing an end, and finally her geriatric clients had reached the root of their current bedroom problems.

“I’ve got a pot belly.” Mr. Baumgardner gripped the arms of the mauve leather chair. “I’d look like a fool dressed up like the King of the Jungle.”

Ally leaned back in her own armchair and made a note on her pad, using a form of shorthand she’d developed for unobtrusively documenting her sessions. Only she’d be able to translate her notes as "Husband has realistic body image but is selectively self-conscious. Dressed in plaid pants with purple “I crapped out in Vegas” T-shirt but won’t wear costume for wife.

His wife radiated indignation. “You don’t care about that pot belly when you want your willy whistled.”

Ally intervened. “Let’s approach this from a different angle. Mr. Baumgardner, do you enjoy sexual relations with your wife?”

The balding man squirmed. “Yeah.”

She glanced at Mrs. Baumgardner, who sat ramrod straight with her arms crossed chest-high over her floral dress. “How does your wife ensure your lovemaking is satisfying?”

“Well...” The man blushed, the tips of his hair-sprouting ears turning red. “We have a standing date on Saturday nights to, you know, make whoopee.”

“What does she do for you in bed?” Ally doodled on her pad so the embarrassed man could talk without meeting her eyes.

Other efforts to aid client relaxation included the homey feel of her office—with its serene pastel colors, leafy plants and tranquil, feng shui layout—as well as her choice of a soothing blue, linen pants suit. She’d canned her table-top fountain, however, when its running water had triggered a diuretic response in some clients.

“If her arthritis isn’t acting up,” Mr. Baumgardner explained, “she uses her hands for, uh, foreplay.”

“Uh-huh,” Ally encouraged, as she sketched a leopard-skin-clad he-man in the margin of her notepad.

“And sometimes she’ll take out her dentures and...” He covered his discomfort with a cough.

Ally raised her eyes to his. “So, your wife removes her dentures to what? Enhance your fellatio pleasure? Don’t many people feel unattractive, even silly without their false teeth?”

Mr. Baumgardner, a retired CPA, could still put two and two together. “Yeah. Okay, I get it.”

“Good,” Ally praised. “You know, sex is richer when both partners make an effort. And an openness to new experiences is positive, especially in the bedroom.”

He turned to his wife. “You really want the jungle thing?”

She nodded, a pleased smile transforming her wrinkled face.

“And you won’t laugh at me?” he asked.

“I won’t. I promise.” Mrs. Baumgardner crossed her heart.

Ally checked the wall clock. Two minutes left. She selected a business card from a holder on the nearby table and held it out. “This costume shop on Flamingo has the best selection in Vegas. They carry clothes and props for almost any fantasy.”

Mrs. Baumgardner slipped the card into her bingo-motif purse and looked at her watch. “Thank you, dear. Since our time’s up, we’ll just head over there right now.”

Sighing, her husband stood and followed her out of the office. The Baumgardners took the back exit, which allowed people to leave without running into the next clients.

It was a good system. When the back door closed, a light flashed on her office manager Gladys’s desk signaling the end of a session. Then Gladys would give her ten minutes before sending in her next appointment.

Ally smiled, jotting notes in the Baumgardners’ file. The old couple was making strides. There was no reason they couldn’t enjoy as varied a love life as her younger clients.

Given Las Vegas’ mega-growth as a retirement city, she was seeing more elderly people. Of course, Viagra had stimulated—in more ways than one—her influx of aged therapy-seekers. Often, a re-activated sex life brought a new set of problems.

The front entrance of her office cracked open, and Gladys poked her head in. Her perfect French twist sprouted wisps of hair as though the middle-aged woman had run her manicured hands over it. Gladys’ silk scarf was askew, and she’d nibbled off her lipstick. In the five years since Ally had established the practice, her unflappable office manager had never been shaken.

Ally stood, dropping the file on her side table.

“There’s a cop out here.” Gladys hissed the words in a stage whisper before Ally could speak. “There’s been a—”

The woman squeaked as a wide, tanned hand grasped the edge of the door above her head and shoved it fully open. A long-limbed, broad-shouldered man stepped around Gladys and closed the door in her face.

The grim man strode forward, impatience shimmering off him in waves. Holy guacamole, as her mother used to say. Beneath her clamoring fight-or-flight instinct, Ally recognized a thoroughly female reaction to his overt maleness...a sexual awareness that buzzed like a low-voltage current.

Lean but muscular, he wore a short-sleeved shirt revealing powerful, sun-darkened arms. His untucked, orange-and-turquoise Hawaiian shirt hung over dusty jeans that molded to his thighs. And there was a bump under his shirt tail. A belt holster?

A desert tan gave the cop the look of an Old West lawman despite his vibrant shirt. His hair, unruly and the color of espresso, brushed his collar. The room’s diffused lighting glinted off gold highlights probably threaded through his dark mane by Nevada’s relentless sunshine.

Fine lines emphasized the man’s vibrant cobalt eyes and full, sensual mouth. Laugh lines? Only if he occasionally offered the world something besides this scowl. The cop’s serious demeanor, though, fit the sharp planes of his handsome face. He halted in front of her, and Ally fought the knee-jerk urge to retreat.

“Detective Zack Crawford, Las Vegas Metro Police Department.” His gruff introduction wasn’t accompanied by an offer to shake hands. The man’s gaze drifted over her, insolently assessing, before his eyes returned to her face. “I need to ask you some questions.”

Ally met his cool stare, tilting her head to adjust to the good half-foot differential in their heights. Hmmmmm. One tall drink of water. Too bad his manners sucked. He was deliberately crowding her personal space, probably attempting to make her nervous. Well, she didn’t intimidate easily. “Could I see some identification?” This was her office, and she was in control here.

He rolled his eyes before producing his shield from a back pocket. Ally didn’t need her grad school body language courses to spot the exasperation in his posture and expression.

Unable to resist needling him, she plucked the shield from his fingers and studied it for several long seconds. Then, returning it to him, she extended her hand and completed their introductions. “I’m Dr. Ally Skye.”

Crawford took her hand, gave it a single shake and dropped it. During the brief contact, she felt the warm, rough texture of his calloused fingers and awarded him points for giving her a firm but not vise-like squeeze. He might be impatient and aggressive, but he’d taken care not to crunch her knuckles.

Ally motioned to her client chairs. Crawford slid a hip onto the arm of the nearest one, ensuring he would hover over her if she settled onto the seat of her chair.

So that’s your game. She almost grinned, enjoying their non-verbal jockeying for dominance. It was easy to spot a control freak when you had a few of those tendencies yourself. Unwilling to sit submissively below his level, she perched on the arm of her therapist chair, glad she’d chosen to wear the linen pants suit and not a dress that morning.

His lips tightened. Oh, he’d noticed the power play but didn’t comment. Instead, he took a notebook out of his shirt pocket and flipped it open. “I’m here about a patient.”

The disdain he'd layered on the last word was crystal clear, and Ally sighed. As a sex therapist, she was accustomed to unenlightened people denigrating her work. “I can’t discuss my clients.”

His eyes narrowed in a look that probably made criminals cower. “Don’t pull that confidentiality bullshit, Doctor Skye. I know what services a surrogate performs.”

Ally ground her teeth. He assumed she was a sex surrogate, which many considered synonymous with “call girl.” No wonder he thought he could push her into discussing her clients. The “Doctor” before her name wasn’t an honorary title or a correspondence school degree, but he hadn’t noticed her diplomas on the far wall above her desk.

“Detective Crawford,” she mimicked his derisive tone while chiding herself for letting him push her buttons. “I’m a licensed therapist, not a sex surrogate. And my clients are entitled to the same confidentiality as those of any doctor.”

He leaned toward her, his musky scent sending an olfactory jolt to her brain’s lust center. Ally shallowed her breathing in self-defense.

“This is a homicide investigation,” he announced. “Tug Shaffer’s been murdered, and we’re questioning his wife.”

His words staggered her, and the room tilted for a crazy second. She’d seen Pam and Tug for their weekly session two days before. Now, Tug was dead? It had to be a mistake.

She fought to wrap her mind around the news, not caring that Crawford was observing her stunned state. Tug had been a wife-cheating, selfish SOB with plenty of enemies, but dead? Pam, who’d loved her husband despite it all, must be devastated.

Pam was a close friend, and Ally—never one to strictly follow the rules—had risked her license to help her through her marital crisis. A therapist shouldn’t treat someone she knows, but Pam’s distress had wrenched at Ally’s heart. And now this...

Ally gathered her wits and confronted the detective. “What do you mean, you’re ‘questioning his wife?’ You think Pam murdered Tug?”

Crawford made a show of checking his watch. “We haven’t charged anyone—”

“Pam’s the nicest person I know,” she interrupted, his verbal dodge confirming her guess. “She wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“If I had a poker chip for every time I’ve heard that,” he muttered.

Ally shook her head. Pam was a gentle soul, who’d never do anything violent. She helped out at a no-kill animal shelter, volunteered in the Big Sisters program and taught sewing skills gratis through an inner city vocational school. She was also the person who’d cheerfully handed out Ally’s business card to everyone she knew to help build her therapy practice.

Damn, there had to be a way to break through this cop’s skepticism. “Listen, I’ve known her close to five years, and she loved Tug. Pam’s in the yoga class I teach Saturday mornings.”

Crawford sighed, sounding world-weary and unconvinced. Ally searched her memories for something to persuade him he’d picked the wrong suspect.

Pam, a costumer who dressed Vegas performers, had married her carpenter husband only months after they’d met on the same cabaret show. Despite Tug’s roving eye, the marriage had lasted ten years. That was practically Golden-Anniversary status in Sin City. But their relationship had deteriorated lately, and Ally had agreed after much soul-searching to counsel the couple.

“Before her lawyer clammed her up, Pam Shaffer admitted they were seeing you,” Crawford said. “I need to know what problems they discussed here.”

Ally pushed for details. “How did Tug die?”

The detective blew out a frustrated breath, shoving his fingers through his shaggy hair. “A pair of shears to the heart. They were part of the wife’s costume-making kit.”

“What?” Ally shot to her feet, indignation leaving a metallic taste in her mouth. “You suspect Pam because the murderer used her shears?”

“Her fingerprints were all over—” He clamped his jaw shut, looking more like a Mafia enforcer than one of Vegas’ finest. “I’m not discussing an open investigation. You’ve got people waiting out there.” He hooked a thumb toward the office’s front entrance. “And I’m due in court on another case, so just tell me why the Shaffers were seeing you.”

Her mind raced as she considered the evidence. “Of course, her fingerprints were on the weapon. She owns it.”

“Everybody’s a friggin’ detective,” Crawford grumbled as he put away his notebook. “Let me guess. You’re a fan of CSI?”

Ally suggested the obvious. “Couldn’t someone wearing gloves have used the shears?”

“Sure, and it’s possible one of the ten thousand Elvis impersonators in town really is ‘the King,’ but I wouldn’t bet on it.” Crawford stared at his boots as if counting to ten before continuing with blatantly forced patience. “Look, if you’re a cop show junkie, you know the first forty-eight hours of an investigation are vital. So, just answer my questions.”

She stood studying him, their faces level since he still sat on the chair arm. Sure, he was an overworked Alpha male doing a thankless job. But, hell’s bells, the man was building a case against her innocent friend—a woman who’d been there for her in the past. Ally wouldn’t provide the tools to help him.

“I will not break doctor-client confidentiality.” She enunciated each word. “If you want to know about their sessions, ask Pam.”

“I told you, she’s not talking.”

“Then maybe you should spend your time tracking down the real killer,” she snapped.

“This is ridiculous.” Crawford poked a thick index finger at her. “If your friend’s innocent, what’s the harm in answering my questions? I’ll get a court order for their file,” he threatened. “You’re just wasting everyone’s time.”

Damn bully. As her temper spiked, Ally struggled to hold onto her cool counselor’s persona. It was a short fight. Surrendering to the impulsive nature that had landed her in hot water her whole life, she took aim at the man’s ego.

“Let me give you some free advice, Detective. Dominant posturing may excite some women, but studies show it loses its appeal in the long run. If you’ve had complaints from your sex partners about your attitude or anything else, I’d be glad to make you an appointment for therapy.”

Anger sparked in his indigo eyes, and he slowly stood to tower over her again. Erotic awareness skittered down her spine. Issuing what was basically a sensual dare to this powerful male was as foolish as poking a stick at a rattler.

“Doctor Skye...” His voice was low and intimate, as his feral smile kicked her heartbeat into high gear. “I’ve never had any complaints in the bedroom, in the shower, on the kitchen counter or against the wall.”

Jeez, could he be more arrogant? But the mental images his words painted increased the caffeine-like rush flooding her blood stream. Okay. He turned her on. But as comfortable as she was with her sensuality, Ally was discriminating in her bedmates. Her tastes ran to funny, sensitive men, the direct opposite of this combative cop.

“In fact,” he continued in the same seductive baritone, “my sex partners, when they aren’t too exhausted to speak, have nothing but praise for my performance.”

Ally’s mouth went dry. Then enlightenment struck like a box to the ears. Crawford was trying to intimidate her with his virility since his physical presence hadn’t done the trick. Well, this wouldn’t be any more successful than his last tactic.

Thanks to her free-love-advocating, New Age parents, Ally found few sexual practices between consenting adults distasteful, much less scandalous. And this man thought he could embarrass her with his “wild sexcapades?” Ally laughed. Sure, it was her way of releasing the sensual steam created by imagining athletic couplings with Crawford. Still, her amusement had the added bonus of wiping the smirk off his face.

She was laughing at him...a full, earthy, sexy-as-hell laugh. Zack glared at the source of his frustration, unused to being comic relief. He needed his cop’s edge to coerce suspects and witnesses. But this therapist, whose head barely reached his chin, wasn’t afraid of him.

“I was raised in a California commune,” Dr. Skye explained in her throaty voice. Still chuckling, she rubbed tears from the corners of her vivid green eyes. “You’ll have to do better than a list of common lovemaking spots to shock me.”

“There’s nothing common about my—” The ring of his cell phone cut him off mid-defense, thank God. What the hell was it about this woman that made him act like such a macho jerk?

Granted, he might have a small chip on his shoulder about sex industry workers, since his now-ex-wife had been busted on a phone sex scam. And working Vice prior to his Homicide promotion could have affected his opinion of even legal sex businesses—like therapists who counseled bedroom losers.

Still... Zack frowned. His aggressive reaction to Dr. Skye was over-the-top, even given his current time-crunch. If she’d just stop complicating his request for information...

Pulling the phone from his pocket, he answered, “Crawford.”

As he listened to his partner crow about finding neighbors willing to testify to the Shaffers’ violent arguments, Zack watched the sex therapist stride to her corner desk. The rear view of the good doctor was just as fine as the front.

Her shiny red hair was twisted up in a neat knot at the back of her head, leaving the slim line of her neck visible. He’d give odds her pale, smooth skin was sensitive, maybe even ticklish along her jaw and behind her delicate ears. Damn, he wanted to find out.

Dr. Skye reached her oak desk and slipped onto the chair, her movements flowing like those of a dancer he’d once dated. He squelched thoughts of slender, flexible limbs so he could concentrate on the call.

“Harry.” Zack cut off his partner. “Did these witnesses say the Shaffers argued the night of the murder?”

“Yeah, a real blow-up. Lots of screaming, glass breaking.”

“Did they see Mrs. Shaffer leave the house like she said she did?” Zack continued.

Across the room, the tempting therapist made a show of reading the papers on her blotter. She shuffled the same pages from one stack to the other and back again, obviously eavesdropping. Busted. Despite the pressure for him to obtain the Shaffer file, then get the hell over to the courthouse, Zack smiled at her small deception.

“The neighbors are a pair of busy-body sisters, but they spent an hour watching Survivor,” his partner explained, “so they aren’t sure if the wife left. And they were asleep by the time Mrs. Shaffer says she returned and found the body.”

“Okay.” Zack checked his watch. “I’m headed to court from here, but let’s meet back at the station at six. It looks like I’ll need a warrant for the Shaffers’ therapy file.”

As his partner ended the call, Dr. Skye met Zack’s stare. Her stubborn chin lifted, and she didn’t blink or look away.

Slipping the phone into his pocket, he stepped forward just as she stood and rounded the desk. Hell. He’d hoped to trap her in her chair, giving himself the psychological edge. They must teach therapists the same behavioral role-playing exercises he’d had at the police academy.

She held up her hand, traffic-cop-style. “Don’t waste your breath. I’m not turning over my files. What happens in this room is confidential—between client and doctor.”

“Dr. Skye, if I have to slog through red tape to get a warrant, there’s no guarantee I can keep your name from the media.” It was hardball, but with the clock ticking, Zack couldn’t afford to be nice. “Do you want it known your counseling failed? That your patient ended up stabbing her husband instead of planning a second honeymoon?”

“I’m not worried about negative press.” Standing battle-ready at the edge of his personal space, she folded her arms below her bust and seemed to stiffen her spine even further.

Her breasts looked round and full pressing against the thin fabric of her light blue jacket. Zack tore his eyes away from the tempting sight. Unfortunately, she was so close he could smell her perfume, and the mouthwatering mix of vanilla and cinnamon churned him up. How could a fresh-baked-cookies scent be so sexy?

“Besides,” Dr. Skye continued, “it’s the police who’ll look bad once Pam is cleared.”

“I think you absorbed too much sunshine on that commune,” he shot back, glancing again at the wall clock. He’d be lucky to make it to the courthouse on time, even if he used his siren. “God save me from optimists. This is a slam-dunk case, but I still want that file.”

“We don’t always get what we want, Detective.”

For several seconds, her words hung in the air, stimulating thoughts of the many things he’d like to get from and do with the seductive doctor. The grating sound of a buzzer shattered the moment. She reached across her desk, her blue pants molding to her backside.

While he admired the view, she pressed a button on her speakerphone. “Yes, Gladys?”

“Should I reschedule your next clients?” a disembodied voice asked. “Or do you want them to wait?”

“Please have them wait. I believe the detective was just leaving,” Dr. Skye instructed with a triumphant smile.

As she straightened, he let his gaze travel slowly northward to meet her eyes. And she noticed his appraisal, alright. A flush reddened her cheeks as she frowned. It was gratifying to see her confidence slip a notch.

“Yeah, I’m leaving, but I’ll be back soon,” Zack warned. “You’re just delaying the inevitable.”

He stalked to the door, a strategic retreat in his battle to get the file. Despite dreading the paperwork to generate the warrant, Zack already anticipated his next skirmish with the gutsy therapist. Let Dr. Skye believe she’d won the war. He’d be better armed next time. And Zack wouldn’t accept anything less than her total surrender.


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A WOLFISH TANGLE by Sandra Sookoo

A WOLFISH TANGLE by Sandra Sookoo

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
While the War Between the States grips America, Franklin Garrett fights his own battle. A wolf shifter, he successfully manages Rutledge Estates, but he's a failure at romance. When an old family foes resurfaces and threatens his idyllic life, he sends his cousin Grey and his wife Lyndal away for their safety. Unfortunately, a different sort of peril lands right on his doorstep, stirring his protectiveness and sense of duty.

Caroline Harrison's brother is detained in Camp Morton, a Union war prison in Indianapolis. Led by intuition, she arrives at Rutledge Estates, where she's promptly kissed by an inebriated Franklin. Her personal desires collide with her devotion to her family and her personal promises, yet Southern charm will see her through. Though she's had enough of arrogant men, she needs his help to spring her brother.

When the man who decimated the Rutledge wolf pack shows up, both Franklin and Caroline must figure out what's more important in life—family or love?


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~Excerpt~
 
October 20, 1863

Indianapolis, Indiana

"Unfortunately, my dear Mr. Garrett, our courtship is at an end. We just don’t suit after all."

The matter-of-fact announcement from Miss Hattie Terrance caused Franklin’s gut to clench. He lost his appetite to finish the remainder of his supper. "I beg your pardon?" He dabbed at lips with a snowy linen napkin and then laid it over his lap. All around him, the dining room of the Carlisle Hotel buzzed with genteel activity. From the low ebb of conversation to the flicker of candlelight on the tables to the faint ring of silverware against bone china, the scene gave off a romantic air, one that apparently was lost on Hattie. He slid his wire-rimmed spectacles up the bridge his nose to better regard his female dining companion. "We don’t suit?"

"Not in the least." Her easy smile, the one that used to put him at ease, now displaced his enjoyment of the evening with a heavy sense of foreboding.

"Perhaps you should explain. When did you come to this decision?"

She efficiently cut into her chicken breast, balanced the knife on the edge of her china plate, and then transferred the fork to her left hand. "Precisely at the moment you kissed me when you collected me for dinner this evening. It was the last straw, after all."

"The last straw?" Yet when he’d done so, she’d simpered and returned his kiss without a word. Troubling indeed. "Why would my kiss tonight be any different than the other embraces I’ve given you?" He took a sip from his water goblet and set it aside with a frown. He and Hattie had been more or less courting for the better part of two months, having become friends during his cousin Grey’s ill-fated house party, and they had been in each other’s company since. He’d assumed they’d been compatible. She’d never complained before.

But then, women were fickle creatures.

Hattie tucked a stray tendril of blonde hair into the bun it had escaped from. "That is exactly the problem." She slipped the bite of chicken into her mouth, chewed, and swallowed before continuing. "Your embraces are uninspired, Franklin. Your kisses lack zest or heat. In short, you’ve become predictable, and that is a disappointing turn of events."

"My dear, this is hardly a conversation to have over dinner, let alone surrounded by the general populace." A slow burn of indignation crept up the back of his neck. "And even if it were, why didn’t you bring the problem to my attention earlier?" Despite the high impropriety of the conversation, his curiosity wouldn’t be denied.

"I believe I did. You simply refused to listen."

"I would have remembered such an announcement." For the first time in his life, he had no idea what to do with his hands or where to look while in her company. How did a man behave when presented with such a dismal assessment of his romantic prowess?

With a sigh, she gently laid her fork on her near-empty plate. "For the past week, I’ve tried to direct your amorous attention to the various places on my person I like to be touched, but you have a backward notion in your head that women aspire to gentleness and respect while kissing or performing other tasks. At times, this isn’t so."

"I’m afraid I don’t understand."
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

THE LAST MAN by Cheryl Dragon

THE LAST MAN by Cheryl Dragon

A 1Night Stand Story

Jeffery Ellison and Monica Collins face off daily in Atlanta's family court system. Both want the best for their clients but they rarely agree. The sparks are obvious to everyone else, but Monica has been disappointed by men too many times. Jeff knows pushing her will only hurt the respect and trust they've built.

A match with 1NS sounds like just the thing. The pair is off to Vegas for a legal conference and to enjoy their one night stands.

Jeff does his best to spend time with her outside of work but he can't be sure she's his for the night. All he can do is hope that Madame Eve agrees with his heart and Monica will let her guard down long enough to see their passionate potential.

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~Excerpt~

He stared at Monica as she dozed. Being with her felt so easy when she wasn’t fighting things. She kept a wall around her when it came to men and rarely dated. That wall wasn’t the same as her professional veneer, but unlike most men looking for fun, he saw through both. They both had a soft spot for the kids. The idea of her as a mother turned him on, if the children were his. No other woman triggered those images in his mind.

She shifted in her sleep, and her head rested on his shoulder. The spark of protective male hormones mixed with raw sexual desire made it hard not to kiss her. Instead, he inhaled her scent while trying not to wake her. Their flight cruised along perfectly until the pilot announced their descent. Her eyes snapped open and she sat up straight. “Sorry. You should’ve woken me.”

“Why? You obviously needed some sleep.” And he’d liked the feeling of her so close.

Her eyes locked with his as the plane began the dip toward Sin City. Reflexively, she grabbed his hand and closed her eyes. He squeezed back reassuringly. He hated the hassle of travel but she really didn’t like it. She stayed frozen until the plane stopped at the gate.

“I hate flying. Why can’t they do this in Atlanta?” She let go of him and rolled the tension from her neck.

“Maybe next year it’ll be within driving distance.”

He helped her with her carry-ons and led the way to the cab stand. The bells and chimes of slot machines filled the air. She took everything in as he glanced at his phone. No calls.

“You offered to be my tour guide. So what’s the plan?” she asked with a hint of flirtation.

“Check in at the hotel. Then we can grab some lunch and start the fun. The buffet in the hotel sounds amazing. I’m starved.” Madame Eve had made the reservations and nothing less than the top of the line would do. Hopefully he wasn’t misreading Monica’s friendlier inclination to him.

She nodded. “Me, too. I couldn’t eat before the flight. Buffet sounds good.”

He smiled and looked around as they stood in line for a cab. She seemed content allowing him to handle things. They could easily be a married couple for all anyone else knew. It felt right and he hoped she sensed it, too. Some women needed to compete or show they didn’t need a man. Monica had her own style of strength and while she was quiet, he loved that she never tried to hide her femininity.

“So where are we going after lunch?” she asked.

He leaned in and whispered, “It’s a surprise.”

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

THE FIRE INSIDE by Virginia Cavanaugh

THE FIRE INSIDE by Virginia Cavanaugh

Werewolves be damned. Tyra Smith chose to leave behind her nature to protect her heart after the wrenching loss of her pack. She wants nothing to do with another wolf. Never again wants to feel the deep pain of loss. At least until a sexy-as-sin wolf named Konrad shows up, saving her from the roaming paws of another.

The sparks of lust ignite a desire that burns with hellish intensity, making Tyra crave something she’d vowed to forsake. The ability to resist wanes. Is it a true mate bond that pulls her to Konrad or just the heat cycle she’s entering? Only time can tell.

When a real threat from another pack presents itself, Tyra must move into Konrad’s den for her physical protection. But as things heat up between them, who will protect her heart?

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By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.

An Excerpt From: THE FIRE INSIDE
Copyright © VIRGINIA CAVANAUGH, 2012
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Chapter One

Tyra Smith flipped the switch on the back wall, extinguishing the lights in the parking lot of Harry’s Bar. She stepped outside and the warm humid air surrounded her, causing a fine sheen of moisture to cling to her skin. Missouri summer nights weren’t for everyone, but she’d grown accustomed to them over the years.

She closed the door behind her and quickly used her keys to lock the deadbolt. With a relieved sigh, she turned and started toward her car. The night had been rough and filled with way too many bad drunks for her taste. Usually it didn’t bother her, but tonight she seemed to be more on edge; little things that she normally would’ve ignored had caused her to grind her teeth and snap at the unruly patrons. But the shift had ended, and all she could think about now was the hot bath that waited at home. With purpose, she rounded the corner of the bar and headed for the east side parking lot. The darkness surrounding her posed no problem in finding her way. Thanks to genetics, she could see everything just fine, including the strange man sniffing around her car.

Her pace slowed as she took in his scent. Musk mixed with various scents from the earth along with the unmistakable smell of wolf. The muscles in her neck and shoulders stiffened as her irritation level kicked up a notch. She knew what he was selling, and she damn sure wasn’t buying. She’d made the choice long ago to stay away from other wolves and packs. Nightmares from the invasion of her father’s pack still plagued her at times. The attack had left her an orphan at a young age, forcing her to spend most of her childhood in wolf form in order to survive. No. She didn’t want anything to do with that life that had only brought her loss and pain. She much preferred being a lone wolf. Her stride lengthened as she marched toward him, her black high-heeled boots tapping a staccato rhythm against the asphalt.

She watched as he turned toward her, an eerie smile lifting the corners of his thin lips. His blond hair spilled over his shoulders. Well-muscled arms were crossed in front of his T-shirt-clad chest. His ice-blue gaze raked over her, leaving her chilled despite the muggy night air. Tall, light and creepy. The vibe he gave off had her inner alarms chiming. The sooner she could get rid of him, the better. “Go away.”

“Bad night? I bet I could make it better.”

She snorted. “My money’s on you making it worse. Oh look, I won.” She pushed past him and inserted her key into the door lock of her POS car. She’d learned to speak smartass well after dealing with drunken humans for the last few years, and after a night like tonight, her temper had a hair trigger. Before she could retract her key, he touched her shoulder, which had her spinning back in his direction, ready to attack, her purse hitting the pavement with a thud.

He held his hands up and took a step back. “Relax. I wasn’t going to harm you.”

The fine hairs on the back of her neck rose, sending a tingling sensation down her spine. “I’ll rip your hand off if you touch me again.” He could keep his reassurances, because she could scent them for the lies they were. But she had no choice. She had to appear confident in her abilities to protect herself or this meeting could go really bad. She bared her teeth in his direction and he smiled back at her.

“Feisty. I like that in a female. It makes certain aspects of the relationship more…exciting.”

Bile rose in her throat. “Go the hell away. I don’t want anything to do with you.” Something told her this asshole was going to make her go wolf. Her pulse jumped, beating with hard thuds inside her head. She hated going wolf. After all those years in the wild, she only shifted at the full moon, and only then because she didn’t have a choice. She wasn’t even sure she’d be able to handle a shift. Why the hell did this asshole have to be here? This neighborhood was mostly inhabited and frequented by humans.

He smiled again. “My name’s Xabier.”

A low growl rumbled her chest. “I don’t give a shit what your name is. Go away.” Her nervousness increased as a chilly sensation coursed through her flesh.

“You’re not even going to give me a chance?”

“No.”

“How do you know I’m not your mate?”

She didn’t know much about how the whole mate thing worked. She’d been too young, but she knew her parents were mates. And the way they were around each other had been a beautiful thing. She didn’t feel anything remotely beautiful about the wolf in front of her. In fact, something seemed weirdly familiar about him, but her mind wouldn’t nail it down. “You’re not my mate.”

He took a step toward her. “You can’t be certain about that. You know, sometimes it takes a few rounds of being together before the mate bond snaps into place.”

No, she didn’t know that. Nor would she sleep with this creep to find out. “We’ll never know then.”
“Oh come on. I can scent you. You’re about to go into heat.” He sucked in a breath through his nose. “Your smell is intoxicating.”

“I am not! And even if I was, I wouldn’t sleep with you.” She kept her gaze on him, not trusting him for a second not to turn hostile. A feral growl came from him a fraction of a second before he pounced, snatching her arm with enough force to rip the sleeve of her shirt. She half shifted, claws erupting from her hand as she swiped at his face and pushed him back.

His hand came up, covering the slashes that oozed crimson on his cheek. “You little bitch. I guess I’m going to have to teach you some manners.”

Brushing aside the panic that rose inside, she crouched, ready to defend herself as he made a move to come at her again. But he stopped short as a deep rumbling growl came from behind her. The scent of another male wolf entered her nose. His scent different, more spice than musk. But there was something else. Something she couldn’t put a name to, but it smelled wonderful.

“I don’t believe the lady wants your dirty paws on her, Xabier,” the deep voice called out.

Xabier stood tall and defiant. “Mind your own business, Konrad. There isn’t any mark on her. This bitch doesn’t belong to you.”

“I’m not a bitch, asshole,” she ground out between clenched teeth.

“Whether or not she belongs to me isn’t in question. She told you to back off. And if you don’t, then you’ll be dealing with me,” Konrad said.

She wanted to turn and look at the newcomer, but at present she decided Xabier was the greater threat.

Xabier gave an evil laugh. “Is this where I’m supposed to run away scared?”

Booted feet thumped against the parking lot, the sound echoing loudly in the still air before coming to a stop beside her. Out of the corner of her eye she could see black jeans and black boots from her crouched position. A slight turn of her head and she would be able to look at him, but she didn’t dare take her eyes off Xabier.

“I know you think you’re protected because I’ve entered into negotiations with your alpha, but I assure you, I mean exactly what I say,” Konrad said.

Xabier cast a look of revulsion at her before turning his gaze back to the man who stood a few paces away from her. “There’s no need for us to fight. You can have the nasty bitch.”

A growl erupted from her throat as well as from the wolf beside her. Xabier locked his gaze on her once again and continued to stare at her as he walked backward toward the other side of the parking lot. His gaze felt like a cold caress that turned her stomach and had her swallowing to suppress her gag reflex. When he arrived at the edge, he turned and ran off into the night. A sigh escaped her lips before she rose to her full height and turned to look at her saving grace.

“Are you injured?”

Somehow she kept her jaw from dropping as she stared up at him. His dark hair was cut short, a slight wave to it. A lock had fallen across his forehead, making her want to reach up and push it back into place. Dark brows arched over amber-colored eyes that were surrounded by long, dark lashes. His bottom lip was slightly fuller than his top. She took in a breath to answer his question and that wonderful smell filled her nose again. “No. I…don’t think I’m hurt.”

She tore her gaze away from him to look down at her arm. “Damn it,” she mumbled as she surveyed the tattered remains of her green sleeve. “I really liked this shirt.” She had only bought it a week ago. Her jaw tightened as she ground her teeth. The budget she lived on wouldn’t allow her to replace it until next month. Her gaze went to the tree line where Xabier had disappeared. She wished she could mar the other side of his face.

“What’s your name?”

That deep voice rolled over her and she turned her head to stare at him. “Tyra.”

“Hmm. Tyra is a very nice name. I’m Konrad.”

“Konrad.” She watched as the corners of his lips tipped up. His smile didn’t hold the coldness Xabier’s had. Instead, it seemed to chase away the chill she’d felt earlier. “Thanks for helping me out. I don’t usually encounter many wolves in this area.”

“No, I don’t suppose you do. This area is mostly inhabited by humans. But we had a meeting not even a mile away from here, because it was neutral territory. Xabier left the meeting first. He must have scented you.”

“Oh.” Her gaze dropped to his chest. The black T-shirt he wore hugged his large pecs and biceps, ending at his lean waist. She found herself wondering what it would feel like to touch him—to push her hands under the fabric of his shirt and caress all that hardness. Desire coiled low in her belly. She heard his quick intake of breath. Her head snapped up as she heard the half growl, half moan he released. Her gaze locked with his, the amber of his eyes glowing with a rich intensity. That wondrous smell hung thick in the air around her. She wanted to bathe in it. Lust unlike anything she’d ever experienced gripped her. She stared at his mouth, wondering what his lips would feel like against her own.

He inhaled another breath and released it with a possessive rumbling voice. “Mate.”

The word washed over her like a bucket of ice water and had her blinking rapidly before taking a step back. “Oh, no. No. We aren’t starting this again.” She bent and picked up her purse from the ground where she’d dropped it earlier, trying hard to shake off the needy feeling he’d created in her. She sucked in a deep breath. Never in her life had she had such a lust-filled reaction to someone. He stepped toward her and she found herself staring at his pelvis. It wasn’t hard to miss the thick, hard ridge beneath the material of his pants. Her eyelids slammed shut as she rose quickly and turned, gripping the keys that still protruded from the door lock.

“Who’s your alpha?”

She ignored his question as she twisted the key and then pulled it out. Eyes open, she watched his reflection on the window. Sexy as hell was an understatement. She could feel his gaze move over her like a light caress, warming her body degree by degree. Her fingers curled under the door handle and pulled, opening the car door. A tan arm, dusted with dark hair, barred the entrance. She turned around and met his gaze, her frustration level rising. “Do you mind?”

“I need to speak to your alpha.”

“No. You don’t. You need to move your arm so I can leave.” The sooner she got away from him the better. His heated gaze roamed over her face and she found herself breathing shallowly.

“What have I done to anger you, mate?”

“That. That’s what you did. I’m not your mate.”

He leaned in close and ran his nose up her neck, inhaling a deep breath. “Yes, you are,” he whispered next to her ear.

Her eyelids lowered to half mast as her body trembled. The warm, rich texture of his voice did things to her insides. Her core pulsed as she noticed wetness gathering at her lower lips. No. She couldn’t let him get to her. She inched back, creating a small space between them. “Get out of my way.” This couldn’t be happening. She didn’t want this. She wanted a human life, damn it. Or at least as close as she could get to one.

“I know you feel it too. I can scent your desire the same as you can scent mine.”

“No, that’s not it.” Denial blasted through her.

He crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Then what do you think it is?”

“I’m fixing to go into heat.” Her cheeks burned. She couldn’t believe those words just came out of her mouth. At twenty-four she’d never been in heat before, and really didn’t have any clue if she was about to be or not. But at this point she would take whatever excuse said this feeling he created inside her would only be temporary.

He smiled, revealing straight white teeth, his canines slightly longer and pointier than normal human teeth. “I know.”

The fact that he seemed to think he knew more about her own body than she did irked her. “See. So you admit it. I’m just horny. So…yeah. Now I’ll be on my way.” She stepped past him and got into the car. Her hand closed around the handle on the door panel, but when she pulled on it, the door didn’t budge.

“Who’s your alpha?”

She ground her teeth, staring out the windshield at the rolling hills and trees. Stubborn wolf. “He’s unavailable.” Which wasn’t entirely untrue, considering her father was dead. But she wasn’t about to let this overbearing man know she was a lone wolf without protection. When he didn’t make a move to release her door or speak, she looked up at him. His eyes moved over her, as if he were studying her. “What?”

The muscles in his face relaxed and he released the door.

She pulled it shut, not taking any time to think about what had him changing his mind. It took only a second to have the key in the ignition and turned over. The engine roared to life. She backed out of her parking spot and moved the gear shift into drive. Before releasing the brake, she glanced out her window at Konrad. He stared back at her with a hungry look. The desire she’d felt earlier began to return. She tore her gaze from him, took her foot off the brake and hit the gas.

There couldn’t be any regrets. She’d chosen to live a normal life, and he didn’t fit into it.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by Gaston Leroux and Wendi Zwaduk

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by Gaston Leroux and Wendi Zwaduk
 
A Clandestine Classic
 
A chance sighting at the Opera, fated love, and three lives in turmoil.

One man pledges to own her, while another wants her heart. The Opera sets the stage for romance and intrigue. In the catacombs below the building lives a man rife with sorrow and passion. The Phantom. But he’s not content to live alone. He wants to possess the one woman who can set him free.

His Christine.

Viscount Raoul de Chagny doesn’t believe the rumours of a Ghost living below the Opera. He only has eyes for Christine, his childhood friend and first love. Together they embark on a sensual journey of discovery and fiery desire.

But she can only have one man. Will love raise her up or tear their world apart?

 
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Copyright © Gaston Leroux and Wendi Zwaduk, 2012
All Rights Reserved, Total-E-Ntwined Limited, T/A Total-E-Bound.

Excerpt From: The Phantom of the Opera

"Let me warm you." Christine smiled and tugged another blanket across his body. "You shouldn’t have followed me," she whispered.

"Christine." He wrestled his hand free of the cotton blanket. "I wanted nothing bad to come of you."

"Nothing bad happened. But you-you could catch your death in that cold."

Raoul managed to sit up. He reached for her. Christine perched on the edge of the bed and smoothed her palm along his cheek. "You’re still so chilled."

"My heart is full of emotions only for you." He turned his face into her touch. "Only you."

"Me?" She tipped her head. "You must forget about me."

"I cannot." He threaded his fingers into her hair, drawing her close. "I have the most indecent thoughts when I’m near you." He spoke against her lips. "I can’t help but want to ruin you, only to keep you in my arms a bit longer."

The most beautiful shade of red spread across her cheeks and slipped down the column of her neck. She glanced at the door, then shot from her spot on the bed. Christine twisted the lock and pressed herself against the door.

"What kind of indecent thoughts?" she whispered.

"To lash you to my bed with your body bared to me. I want to take you over and over, hearing you cry out my name. To watch you give me pleasure with your submission to me."

"I’m not educated in the way to love a man." Her chest heaved with each breath. "Will you teach me? I want to be yours, if for only a short time. I want you to show me how much you love me. Teach me?"

"Yes, my love." He held out his hand to her. Christine twisted her fingers with his and eased onto his lap. Her eyes widened.

"What are you asking of me?"

"Your submission. Allow me to direct you as if I were the composer of one of your songs. Do you trust me?" Raoul smoothed a lock of her hair between his fingers. She smelled of flowers, a most intoxicating scent. Although she trembled in his arms, she met him for a kiss. Christine whimpered. Damn the blanket and the layers of fabric between them. He longed to feel her body next to his. He parted her robe and shoved the garment from her shoulders, leaving her in her nightgown. He swiped his tongue along her bottom lip and palmed her breast.

"Raoul," she gasped, but didn’t swat him away. "I trust you."

"Let me make you feel the magic."

Christine stared at him a moment. "What do you want me to do?"

"Give me what I want. Can you do that?" He unbuttoned the top button on her nightgown.

"Show me the depths of your soul."

"I can." She whipped her nightgown up over her head, exposing her body to him. Her rosy nipples peaked and the flush spread across her entire chest.

Raoul shrugged out of his nightshirt and tugged her back onto his lap. Skin to skin, mouth to mouth, he lost himself in her sweetness. His desire to conquer her took over. Christine slid her hands up his chest and twined them behind his head.

"Do you still wish to learn? This will not be what you expect."

"I do."

He sat back on his heels and hazarded a glance to the door to reassure himself it was locked.

"Raoul?"

"I do not wish to be interrupted." He grabbed the chair at the small table and dragged it to the couch. "Sit."

Christine hesitated, then moved from his lap to the edge of the bed. Raoul eased her onto her back. He crawled between her thighs. "I will pull out so I don’t leave my seed inside you, but I cannot guarantee this won’t hurt."

She nodded, but didn’t look particularly agreeable. He braced himself on his knees and one hand. With his free hand, he stroked her cheek. "I will make you feel precious when I’m done."

"I’m yours."

His heart leapt. She’d never be his, not truly, but to be his for the night he’d accept. He reached between his legs and stroked his length. The touch of his hand on his skin always made him hard. He gritted his teeth and forced himself to stop. This was about her pleasure. He moved down her body and kissed from her breasts to the apex of her thighs. He wanted to linger all over her, but kept on his journey to her sweet vagina.

"Oh." She gasped and reached for him. Raoul nuzzled the pale curls surrounding her cunt. Her scent wrapped around him. Powers be, he’d never get her out of his mind. He spread her pussy lips and suckled on the tight nubbin.

She cried out and dug her fingers into his shoulders. He smiled and licked her clitoris. He blew across the shiny skin, happy when she quivered. Raoul speared one finger into her channel.

 
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