Contemporary romance by Rayne Forrest
Available now at New Concepts Publishing
A wrong number leads Chere Palmer to the biggest surprise of her life – Luke Fisher. Trusting Luke isn’t easy as his past catches up with him and one confession leads to several. Chere has to decide - walk away now or spend her life Loving Luke.
Climbing into the Mustang, Luke dropped the seat back and settled in to call the tow truck and maybe snap a nap until it arrived. At least he could run the engine and create a cool breeze with the air conditioning system and avoid the humid night air, not to mention outwitting the mosquitoes. He picked up his cell phone and keyed in the number on his roadside assistance card and waited for someone to answer.
A silky smooth voice with just the barest whisper of the South greeted him. He rattled off his name and roadside assistance insurance number and waited for her to ask all the usual questions for filling out her forms. There was silence on the other end of the connection.
“Did you get all that?” he asked her. Her reply startled him.
“I’m sure you think you’re funny, but you’re not. Don’t call this number again.”
The connection went dead with a click. What the fuck?
He dialed the number again and the same voice answered, only a little less pleasant this time. Well, he was feeling a bit less pleasant, too. He paid a lot of money for roadside service and he expected to get it when he called for it. He was too tired, too hot and sweaty waiting for the car’s air conditioning to get up to speed, to tolerate games.
“Listen, whoever you are, I need roadside assistance. Just stop playing your little game and send the tow truck. You got that?”
“Me? I’m playing games? Listen, bucko, I don’t know who you think you’re calling, but I’m not a tow truck driver and you’re bloody well on your own.” The connection broke.
He looked at his phone, dismayed. Could he just have one thing go his way between now and dawn? He hit the redial. When she answered this time, she was hopping mad.
“Now you listen to me you smarmy son-of-a-bitch. You call me again and I’ll have the cops on you so fast you won’t know what the hell happened to you. Do you hear me?”
Well. Maybe he’d better try to be very nice and see where it got him. He felt more human since the air conditioning finally blew cool air at him.
“Ma’am, I hear you. I need a tow truck and I dialed the number on my roadside assistance card. I’m really sorry to be bothering you if you’re not the agency listed.”
Nothing but complete silence. Had she disconnected again? “Hello?”
“Mister, are you telling me the truth?” Some of the anger left her voice.
“Lady, I don’t have energy to be jerking your chain and I wouldn’t lie unless there was a sub-machine gun pointed at my head. I need a tow truck.” He gave her the name of his insurance company. “Are you someplace you could maybe look up that number for me?”
He looked over at the only other car left on the lot, parked under a bright pole light. A pretty woman with long dark hair sat behind the wheel talking on a cell phone. She turned her head just enough that he saw most of her face.
“I’m sorry but I don’t have a phonebook in my purse. Call information, why don’t you?”
His mouth dropped open. He snapped it closed.
“Ma’am, I’m sitting in the parking lot of O’Malley’s with a flat tire --”
The woman in the other car jumped then turned to face him fully. Even across twelve dark parking spaces he saw the surprise on her face. He got out of his car and walked around to the passenger side and pointed at his front tire.
“See? It’s really flat.”
“Um, I see that.”
Luke hopped up on the hood of his car and waved at her. “Hi. I’m Luke.”
She raised her hand and wiggled her fingers at him. “Hi. I’m Chere.”
For more on Loving Luke, please visit www.rayneforrest.com/LovingLuke.html
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On her way home Jane pulled in at the same gas station where she’d stopped earlier in the week. The same kind looking old man was behind the counter and waved to her before turning on the pump. Her heart fluttered just thinking about Luis and she dropped her keys again as she walked past the pump.
By the time she bent to pick them up Luis’s long fingered hand covered hers.
“Allow me, mon cher,” he said softly.
“Thank you,” she said breathlessly.
He looked even better than she remembered. His long dark hair was pulled back tightly and he was wearing another pair of black leather pants. This time his shirt was the same deep blue of his eyes and his long coat also looked like leather. His perfect skin seemed to glow underneath the dim lights.
Jane could barely take her eyes off of him long enough to go inside and pay. When she walked back past him his sensuous lips curved into a smile. As lovely as his smile was, it unnerved her, so she quickened her paced and tried to ignore the way her stomach muscles twitched when he was close to her.
Jane paused longer than she should have before saying, “I don’t even know you.”
“Yes, you do,” he sighed. Then seeing the lack of recognition and fear in her eyes he added playfully, “We met a few nights ago. I’m Luis, remember? The man who’s not going to mug you, but would love to take you dancing.”
She laughed, and it did Luis’s heart good. It had been a long time since he’d heard that sound. He smiled his appreciation, and his smile warmed her in spite of the cold night wind. Jane had never asked a man to go home with her, let alone a complete stranger. But she came damn close to doing just that.
“Were you just hanging around here, hoping I’d show up?” she teased.
“No,” he laughed. “I ran out of gas just up the road, and I was returning Nelson’s can.”
As he said this he pointed to a small gas can he’d left beside the door. The old man inside, who must have been Nelson, waved his thanks and took the can back inside.
“But don’t think I wouldn’t have if I’d known I would see you tonight.”
“Alright, Luis I’ll go dancing with you, but on one condition.”
“What is that, ma chéri?”
“Tell me your last name.”
“Luis Phillippe,” he said as he bowed to kiss the hand he still held. “At your service. But you have yet to tell me your name.” He smiled seductively.
She watched with rapt fascination as his sultry lips got closer and closer to the back of her hand. They were cool to the touch, but sent fire through her veins. Jane had removed her gloves after work, but Luis didn’t seem to notice the scrapes across her knuckles.
“Jane Masters,” she panted.
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Even through the coat and uniform underneath, she could feel the hard wall of muscle. Daniel’s good hand moved inside her cloak, up to her breasts and cupped them gently.
Papa was still occupied over at the wagon while the slave catchers slept on, still snoring loudly. The wind whistled through the trees, sounding cold and lonely.
“Charlie.” Daniel’s quiet voice rumbled in her ear. “I need to ask you…what are you doing out here…you and your father…in the middle of the night? Were you helping runaway slaves like they said? Did you hide them in the coffins?”
How would he react when she told him the truth? Would he keep their secret, or did he believe the black people should be kept as property, as slaves? This was a subject she had never discussed with him.
Reaching up a hand, she pulled his head down so she could speak to him without being over heard. “In all truthfulness,” she whispered, “yes, Papa and I were assisting our guests to move to their next destination.”
“What does that mean? You are speaking in riddles.”
“It means, yes. The answer to your question is ‘yes.’” His ear was so close to her lips she couldn’t help but take a little nibble of his lobe. He chuckled softly and then fell silent.
“Charlie.” Daniel’s breath created a fog in the cold, crisp air. He faced her, his face serious in the flickering light of the fire. Reaching out with his right hand, he grasped her upper arm and gave her a tiny shake. “You can’t do that anymore. It is far too dangerous, and it is illegal. You’ve seen what can happen. The slave hunters don’t treat abolitionists kindly. They don’t hesitate to use force, even against women. You and your father are very lucky they didn’t hang you on the spot!”
“Shhh,” she warned, “you’ll wake them up!”
He shook his head, “I understand, but you and your father can’t change the Southern way of life. The plantation owners depend on slave labor. Although I can’t abide the idea of enslaving other human beings, I can’t tolerate the idea that y-you…” His voice broke and he stopped, taking a steadying breath. “That you could be in danger.”
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SET UP: The mysterious Frenchman, Ron Tayvail, has agreed to tell Brandon how Matthew and deMonde met, but only if Brandon agrees to be Ron's lover for a week.
“I knew it!”
He pinched my thigh. “Tais-toi, who is telling this? To continue, they met at a private party where deMonde was performing. It was for a select group of people from the bourgeoisie, invited back for a more intimate gathering after a sumptuous debut for the eldest daughter of a prosperous businessman who had delusions of grandeur.”
“I thought only upper class and nobility had debuts for their daugh -- Shit! That hurt.”
“I told you, the man had delusions of grandeur. Besides, he was fishing for a husband for the girl. Along with the wealthiest, most prominent families, any unattached males between the ages of twenty and forty with money or a title -- better yet, with money and a title -- were invited back to the villa for fancy desserts, drinks, cigars, and music. The few with titles came because they owed the man money for unpaid bills and loans. The man had promised concessions to anyone who would attend the soirees. The others came to criticize everything about the event, from the food to the entertainment.
“DeMonde was to sing, offering a selection of lieder and chanson, presumably to encourage a relaxed, and perhaps romantic mood, in the guests. Unfortunately, the eldest daughter decided that deMonde was to be her quarry for the evening.” Ron took a breath. I felt him shrug. “Perhaps it was the novelty of capturing a male from a lower class and an entertainer as well. Who knows? But she followed after him until he lost her within the immaculately manicured grounds. The evening was cloudy, the grass was damp, and deMonde relied upon her lack of desire to get her shoes muddy to aid in his escape. He found his way to a charming gazebo equipped with its own miniature chandelier, the lit candles providing enough light to see that it was already occupied.
“A young man lounged carelessly on the cushioned bench, a thin cigar between his sensual lips. Smoke swirled from its tip, and the heady aroma wafted toward deMonde. DeMonde turned to go, but the young man called out to him to join him.”
I halted Ron’s story. “Hardesty.”
“Who else?” This time, he didn’t pinch me.
“The closer he came to the gazebo, the clearer the man’s feature’s became. He was so…blond, so young, perhaps five years younger than deMonde. He looked like an angel to deMonde.”
I started. To me, Ron looked like an angel. A fallen angel, true, and one with a magnificent dick. If I remembered correctly, though, angels had no sex organs.
“Are you paying attention? I thought you wanted to know how they met?”
I collected my thoughts and focused on his words. “Go on.”
He shifted until his cock was wedged in the cleft between my buttocks, nipped me on the shoulder, and growled in my ear. “If you are not attentive, I will not continue, and I will leave this bed. Comprendre?”
I nodded, the threat of his leaving finally regaining my concentration.
“To go on. Matthew offered deMonde one of the cheroots he had in his case. After brief introductions were exchanged, they fell silent, then burst simultaneously into speech, and then into sweet, shared laughter.
“Matthew said to deMonde, ‘I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your singing. I’ve never been much for this type of music -- my sister, Susan, calls me a barbarian -- but, when I heard your voice…’ He hesitated and deMonde encouraged him to share his thoughts.
“The American blushed, enchanting deMonde with his shyness, then took a deep breath and spoke.
“He told deMonde, ‘When I heard you sing, I thought that this was how Orpheus sounded when he tried to regain Eurydice from Hades.’
“DeMonde’s heart stopped beating, and he fell in love.”
I interrupted him again. “How can you know this much? How could you know such intimate details?”
I felt Ron’s lips form a smile against my back as he shifted to press his mouth against me. “I have deMonde’s diary…and Matthew’s.”
I pulled away from him, turning to face him. “Look me in the eye and tell me you’re not lying.”
“I am not lying.”
“Where are they? What condition are they in? How did you wind up with them? When can I read them?”
He laughed. “They are here in the house, in excellent condition, they were left in my care, and you cannot read them.”
“Why the fuck not?”
He shuttered his eyes, and his hand touched my penis and stroked it like it was his pet, like he owned it. Then his fingers gripped my cock like a vise, getting tighter and tighter. He opened his eyes, and in the darkened room, they seemed to glow. I blinked, and they were back to normal. His voice froze my blood.
“We have a deal, remember? If you were to read the diaries, what need would you have of me? You would take them and try to leave.” He ground out the next words. “And I would not let you. I would have to prevent you.” He relaxed his grip, then stroked me once more. “I don’t want to hurt you, Brandon. I swore to you I wouldn’t. Please, let me tell you their story in my own words.”
Emma’s steps slowed as she neared the end of the hallway afraid of what she’d see when she finally stepped into the living room. Visions of Mike laying naked on a bear skin rug, or in this case the multicolored throw on the back of the couch, waiting for her before the fire caused her pulse to race and breath to catch. However, nothing prepared her for the sight that greeted her when she peeked around the corner.
“Oh my…”she gasped behind her hand, making her presence known.
Mike stood up and swung around, his hands slapping on his hips, which only caused the purple flowered robe he was wearing to part all the way down his magnificent chest. Emma’s mouth went dry at all that exposed masculine flesh.
“Is something funny?” he asked in mock anger, the look in his flashing eyes daring her to laugh at him.
It was too much to take in all at once. Emma’s startled gaze began with Mike’s neck, taking in the width of his broad shoulders before traveling down the well-defined muscles of his sculptured chest and abdomen. A crisp blanket of hair covered his torso, narrowing all the way to his lean hips before disappearing behind a large pink rose
Oh my! Not bad for a forty year old man. Was he completely naked beneath her robe? Her cheeks grew uncomfortably warm, her imagination working overtime. But to keep him from noticing her preoccupation with what was hiding behind that enormous flower she skimmed down the rest of his body, taking in his muscular thighs and long legs.
Lord, even his feet were beautiful.
“Well?” she breathed softly, clearly confused at what he wanted. Had he asked her something?
“I asked you if you think something’s funny,” he repeated.
“No-no!” she quickly said, biting her lip to keep from laughing. However the urge was so powerful that Emma knew the only way she was going to conquer it was not look at him at all. Her eyes danced around the room, touching on everything but him.
“Good. Because if you laughed I’d be forced to do something about it.”
His challenging tone caused her eyes to swing back his way. “That’s not fair, detective.” It wasn’t her fault he was wearing her robe. Troy must have taken his with him the last time he was there. Her lips quivered as she returned his stare, before she finally gave in and burst out laughing. “I’m sorry, Mike! I can’t help it!”
“I warned you…”
“What are you going to do?” As he advanced she retreated, holding her arms out as though to ward him off. “It’s not every day I get to see a big, tough, detective wearing my satin robe.” She backed into a chair and quickly skirted around it. “The color brings out the purple around your eye,” she teased.
Mike made a grab for her, she squealed and just managed to dash out from beneath his hand. Laughing, she headed for the kitchen, not realizing she’d backed herself into a corner until it was too late. She swung around to back track but he was there effectively blocking her escape.
Now he was the one grinning, his electric eyes alive and pinned on her wolfishly. “You’re in trouble now, sweetheart.” He advanced slowly, in no hurry to catch his quarry. Like a cat playing with a mouse.
“You can’t pull off tough in a floral robe,” she chuckled, standing her ground. “What about lunch?
Aren’t you hungry?” She glanced pointedly at the picnic basket, backing up until she couldn’t go any further. The next thing she knew she was up against the kitchen sink.
Mike placed his hands on either side of her against the counter, leaning in close, making her stomach do flip-flops. “Looks like you’re trapped. I bet you’re sorry you laughed at me now.”
Emma was still laughing. Her hands fell on his shoulders and she leaned away from him as much as the counter would allow. But that only caused the lower half of their bodies to collide. Gasping loudly, her smile quickly disappeared. She tried to swallow, all too aware of his hard flesh pushing against her. Her eyes flared with renewed desire.
“You’re not laughing now,” Mike observed, leaning into her.
Neither was he. “This isn’t a laughing matter,” she returned huskily, her gaze falling on his sensuous mouth. She took a deep breath, raising her eyes to his once more, drowning in the sensuality stamped on his face. “I’m ready to accept whatever punishment you deem necessary. I clearly deserve it.”
A husky laugh rushed past Mike’s lips, running over her senses until she melted against him. No longer was she straining to get away. He was going to kiss her again, she sensed it. She wanted it. Although she was half afraid of where it would lead. Mike was a healthy male, after awhile he was bound to want more than kisses and occasional caresses.
Realization that she wanted more rushed over Emma in dizzying waves. She began to breathe heavily, her breasts swelling with aching arousal, tingling against his hard chest. For once she was glad she’d left her bra off, relishing in the feel of the soft cashmere against her ultra sensitive flesh.
He lowered his head, closing the distance between them with purpose in his darkening eyes.
“This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you,” he said outrageously, continuing slowly. “But someone has to do it. And it’s not as if I didn’t warn you.”
“I’ll suffer in silence then.”
“It’s only a kiss.” His mouth abruptly cut off Emma’s smile of mischief and any smart remarks forthcoming.
Her soft moan of surrender was immediate, producing a low response of pleasure from Mike. They moved at the same time, his arms slid around her waist, pulling her more firmly against him, her arms encircled his strong neck as she welcomed his tight embrace. Their mouths moved against each other in a sensual attack that escalated when their lips parted to allow a more thorough exploration that included warm breath and velvet tongues. Wet heat.
Did he say only a kiss?
Emma’s mouth burned with fire. It was a kiss like none before. The meshing of two hungry souls until they became one. Both moved willfully against each other, taking their time down the path of promised rapture, each seeking a pleasure beyond the reality. Sounds of mutual desire filled the room, drowning out the low beat of a country western ballad on the radio.
She cried out with protest when he suddenly tore his mouth from hers, but it was only to follow the line of her jaw and glide down the side of her neck, teasing and tantalizing her skin as he moved leisurely along. Testing her eagerness while revealing his own.
“I don’t know if I can take much more of your particular brand of punishment,” she gasped as ripples of pleasure traveled over her. She turned her neck so he could have better access. His teeth raked over her with barely controlled desire, producing another wild shiver.
“I want you.” She hadn’t meant to say it out loud and it created an instantaneous response from Mike. He jerked back, his startled gaze locking onto hers. His expression was dark with desire, nostrils flaring with need and making Emma think of a wild, hungry animal. His body was hard and demanding.
She saw the indecision in his eyes, sensing he was fighting with himself not to let things go any further. Yet even as he warred with emotions trapped inside, his body revealed his weakness by thrusting against her. All at once his hands dropped to her hips, holding her tightly before abandoning them to glide up her sides and cup her aching breasts.
“Oh!” Emma’s arms came down from around Mike’s neck and she flattened her hands against the counter top behind her, thrusting her breasts more fully into his caressing palms. “That feels so good,” she whispered weakly.
“You like that?”
“Yes!” Emma cried out. She would have fallen if she hadn’t clenched her hands into the robe he was wearing, laughing softly when the feel of satin in her fists reminded her it was her robe.
“I’ve never made a woman laugh while making love to her, it’s a good thing I don’t offend easily.”
Emma’s throaty laugh sounded deep and sensual. “Believe me, it’s not your technique, detective.” Her hands released the death grip she had on the robe, slipping inside to touch his bare chest. “I can’t get what you look like in my robe out of my head.” She lightly raked her nails across his nipples, getting the response she wanted when his big body shuddered.
Mike pulled back, his eyes smoldering with desire. “Then maybe it’s time to take it off.”
Always dream deeper ~ http://kzsnow.blogspot.com/
Now available from Ellora's Cave:
Playing with passion comes naturally to Jessamyn Kozak—if, that is, she’s holding a cello. Mozart might move her, but the middle-aged men she’s been dating? Not. The tide turns, and surges, when Jessa agrees to be a one-time guest instructor at a night school class for amateur musicians and meets a gorgeous harmonica player twelve years her junior.
Bronson McCullough is a custom auto-body painter who has no problem expressing himself sexually. But, for the sake of his job and his personal life, he does feel a need to unleash the passion in his soul. He’s tired of being merely an expert technician, both at work and in bed.
* * * * *
I got out of the booth, debating with myself whether or not to mention phone numbers, future meetings, any of that connection stuff. But Bron suddenly seemed preoccupied. My doubts mounted. As we left the diner, though, he further explained why he had to hustle back to his shop. I could tell he wasn’t lying.
"I’m doing a job for a really demanding client right now. Rich and demanding. He wants a whole safari mural painted on his Hummer but he wants it done in a specific style. I’ll probably put in more time figuring out that style than I will doing the painting."
"Good luck," I said, standing at my driver’s door. "And…thanks."
"No, thank you. Your sex analogy really helped me understand what Olmstead’s class is all about. Or should be. I think I finally know what my ultimate goal is."
"I’m glad it makes more sense now." So maybe clarification was all he’d been after. He still hadn’t expressed an interest in contacting me. Confused and disillusioned, I turned toward my car.
Bron’s hands curled around my upper arms, coaxing me into facing him again. "A lot of things are beginning to make sense," he murmured.
His hands slid up the back of my neck into my pinned-up hair. His thumbs lightly caressed my temples and the upper arcs of my ears. He lowered his eyelids and his face moved closer.
And then I felt his lips. Their cushiony heat pressed against my welcoming mouth. He moved them as if he were speaking to me, quietly yet insistently. I didn’t need persuasion, though. I craved him. The voltage of his kiss sent arousal shimmying through my body, a sensation so pervasive I felt it in my toes. When I sought his tongue, he immediately offered it. The kiss became more fervid. Did Bron want to possess me and was I giving him what he was seeking? I didn’t know. I just wanted to drown in the sensuality of this unexpected embrace. Bron’s mouth was exquisite.
His hands glided down my back as his lips glided across my face to my throat. I felt the plank of his firm body settle against every soft mound of mine—breasts, belly, thighs—rubbing them almost imperceptibly, persuading me further. I could feel his cock hardening against my stomach. Ever so slightly, he moved his hips against mine. My breath caught. My insides already pulsed with the heralds of orgasm. It wouldn’t take much more to make me come.
"May I see you again?" Bron whispered, still kissing my neck, my face. The tip of his tongue made moist inscriptions on the whorls of my ear. His breath slid across my skin.
"Another stupid question," I managed to gasp.
I felt his subdued laughter through the wall of his chest. I wanted to rip off his shirt and my blouse and feel the vibrations against my nipples, feel his laughter and his heartbeat and the hills of muscle encased in smooth, smooth skin.
We eased away from each other, our respiration quick and heavy . . .
Copyright (c) 2008 K. Z. Snow
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First, from Total e-Bound Publishing: Worth the Risk, Book Two in the Unexpected Love Series. This one has been revamped and made hotter than ever, so check it out!
Sarah Stevens isn't looking for romance when Sam Buchanan leases her loft. But that all changes when their mutual attraction finds them together, half naked, after only one day.
After this momentary lapse, they agree to back off and move forward at a slower, more reasonable pace. Sam's slow dance of seduction is torturous and thrilling for Sarah, who's been alone since losing her husband eight years ago.
With a teenager in the house, sneaking around is titillating but also risky, forcing Sarah to re-examine her priorities and decide if the pleasure Sam brings is Worth the Risk.
This book has been released previously. It has been revised and re-edited for release with Total-e-bound.
More information or purchase here
Next, from Phaze: Jamie Hill's
A lusty first date jump starts a passionate, all-consuming love affair for Catlin McCall. She's captivated by handsome Steve Naughton, and he's head over heels crazy about her. They quickly become engaged and begin planning their life together.
His two children settle into their lives comfortably, but when a figure from the past reemerges, he poses a serious threat to the new life they're attempting to build. Can their fragile, hasty relationship survive old transgressions? Or will it shatter as quickly as it was formed?More information or purchase here
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Under the table, Sarah’s toes found the cuff of Randy’s pants and inched their way up his calf, the coarse hair tickling her foot. His eyes widened, his eyebrows arched and the standard restaurant candle-in-a-jar caught the hazel flecks in his otherwise brown eyes. He brushed a lock of hair from his forehead, but it flopped back the way it always did.
She smiled at the hovering waiter, placed her hand over her empty coffee cup and shook her head. “No more, Tony. Thanks.”
Tony refilled Randy’s coffee cup and whisked away his empty pie plate. Randy’s eyes returned to Sarah, moving between her dessert and her face. He smiled, but she could sense his impatience. She continued her torment by dipping her spoon into the chocolate mousse in front of her. Slowly, carefully, she filled the spoon with the rich delight.
His call had surprised her yesterday, when he announced he’d be coming back from
She poised the mousse-laden spoon in front of her mouth, parting her lips a fraction. With her other hand, she fingered the pearl button at her neck.
“It’s warm in here, isn’t it?” One button, then a second, slipped through its hole. Randy leaned forward.
“You’re killing me,” he whispered.
Her tongue wrapped around the mousse. Her eyes closed. She sighed.
“You’re going to finish that, aren’t you?” he asked, resignation in his tone.
Without opening her eyes, she said, “Every bite.”
He blew out a long, slow breath.
She met his gaze and smiled at his obvious annoyance. “It’s chocolate. Some things shouldn’t be rushed.”
She slid her foot out from inside the restriction of his slacks and worked it up his thigh. He reached for his glass and swigged gulps of water. When her toes met his lap, he choked. Coughing, eyes watering, he reached down and encountered her waiting foot. Still choking, he clutched it closer to his groin and she felt his hardness. She lowered her eyes to her mousse and took another bite, swirling her tongue around her lips.
Tony appeared and refilled Randy’s water glass. “Are you all right, Detective Detweiler?”
Randy nodded and waved him off, gesturing for the check. Sarah covered her mouth with her napkin, trying to erase her grin.
“So, tell me all about your violent-crime work,” she said. “Not much call for that in
He wiped his mouth and set the napkin beside his plate. “To tell you the truth, Sarah Tucker, I’m thinking about all the gruesome pictures, which is the only thing keeping me from embarrassing the hell out of myself right here.”
Heat burned in his eyes. Her nipples pebbled behind the lace of her bra and moisture pooled between her legs. She scraped the remnants of the mousse from her dish, the clicks of metal against glass barely audible over the blood pounding in her ears. She wanted him. Now.
Tony returned and dropped the check on the table, not meeting Randy’s eyes. “Whenever you’re ready, Detective.” He pivoted on his heel and left.
“All finished,” Sarah said, smiling. “You want to go, or have more coffee?”
In response, Randy dumped some bills on the table, angled himself out of the booth and extended his hand. She fumbled, trying to get her foot back into one of the sensible pumps she’d worn to complete her stodgy look. Grasping his fingers, she scooted across the vinyl bench. He gave her the leverage she needed and she rubbed against him as she stood.
He stroked her hand. “After you.” His aftershave wafted to her nostrils, counteracting the myriad cooking aromas.
He quickened his pace. By the time they hit the porch surrounding the rustic restaurant, he half-dragged her down the steps and elongated his stride across the unpaved parking lot. Earth and pine scents mingled, still unable to compete with his special scent. Spice and Randy. A lethal combination.
“Hey,” she said with a laugh. “You in a hurry? I’m not six-six, remember? Short legs.”
In response, he simply scooped her up and covered the rest of the distance to his pickup. “If I hurry now, maybe I’ll be able to take it slow when it counts. Damn, woman, I’ve missed you.”
“Me, or the sex?” she said.
He paused, as if he wasn’t sure. “You,” he said at last. “You, you, you.”
“Oh, so you don’t want the sex?”
He unlocked the doors to his truck and worked the passenger door open, then lowered her onto the seat. “You’re going out of your way to torment me, aren’t you?”
She ran her tongue across her lips. “Maybe.”
“No maybes about it.” He wrapped his arms around her, buried his face in her hair. She reached around him, his wool sweater rough against her cheek.
“I missed you, too.” She raised her face and parted her lips. “Welcome home.”
He leaned into the cab, meeting her mouth with his own. He cradled her face in his hands and she surrendered to the warmth of his kiss. She ran her fingers through his hair, sending tingles all the way to her toes. Tongues teased and danced with promises of more to come. He tasted of apples and cinnamon, of coffee and Randy. A vague impression of couples passing, of headlights coming and going, of car doors opening and closing hovered at the edge of her consciousness. A whistled catcall broke through the final barrier.
“Guess we should go,” she said. “I’ve got a few surprises for you at my apartment.”
“My place is closer,” he murmured between kisses.When his cell phone rang, he swore.
Would he ever see Charlie or his family again? So many men had died in this damnable war and, if the battles didn’t kill them, living in this huge hellhole surely would.
“Daniel!” a female voice called urgently. “Daniel Reid, is that you? Dear God!”
Tearing his eyes away from the spectacle of fear looming out across the river, he turned wearily to see who had called his name.
Standing a few yards away was a group of fashionably dressed young ladies, looking like beautiful bright butterflies. They huddled together clutching each other’s arms, staring at the dirty, tattered Confederate prisoners chained together. Their hands were full of packages they had obviously purchased at the little shops clustered near the wharf.
“Stay back, ladies!” one of the Yankee guards called, “You don’t want to get their vermin on you!”
A golden-haired girl shook off her companions and stepped closer.
“Nora!” Daniel cried hoarsely.
She took a few hesitant steps toward him.
“No, don’t go over there, Nora! They’re filthy beasts!” another girl called anxiously.
Turning, Nora cried, “But Mary, it’s my brother!” With that she overcame her fear and ran to him, tears running down her smooth, rosy cheeks and her yellow dress billowing about her ankles.
“Stop!” the guard yelled, his footsteps pounding on the wooden planks. He stepped in front of Daniel, blocking Nora’s path.
She halted, one hand on her heart. “What have they done to you, Daniel? Where are you going? Why are you not doctoring in the hospital?” she sobbed, reaching toward him with her other hand outstretched.
It was no wonder Nora was shocked. He was a mess. The blows to his face had cut his lip and cheekbone and blackened one eye. A seam had split on one of his jacket sleeves, and he had a large tear in the knee of his filthy trousers. Three weeks of beard covered the lower part of his face, hiding more bruises.
The shackles wouldn’t let him move his arms to hold his little sister, even if she could reach him.
“I’m all right, Nora,” he lied. “They’re sending me to prison, honey. Will you get word to Mother and Father…and my wife?”
“Get moving, you stinking Reb!”
The Yankee shoved him in the back with the rifle as the line began to move. Stumbling, chains rattling all around him, the line of prisoners shuffled toward the boat with Nora walking beside him.
“What will happen to you?”
Daniel’s heart broke to hear the sorrow and desperation in her voice. “I don’t know, Nora. Tell them I love them. Tell Charlie for me! I will always love her!”
The Countess if finally out at Samhain. If you've managed to miss all my promo, here's the blurb to give you a taste of what the story is about.
Countess Meredith du Chevalier, a widow with a reputation for being sexually adventurous, is intrigued when she is approached by a gentleman who wishes her to “make a man” of his son. Sensing a passionate man beneath Christopher Whitby’s reserved exterior, Meredith takes on the challenge, inviting the botanist to her country home to revitalize her abandoned greenhouse.
Chris finds people to be a chaotic, animalistic species, and has chosen to devote his life to the study of plants. One kiss from the vivacious countess, however, and his inner animal is aroused. But lust is only a fraction of what he feels for the vulnerable woman hiding behind a brittle façade. He resolves to coax her to grow until her petals unfurl in a glorious bloom.
To her surprise, Meredith finds Chris brings much more to life than just fallow soil. But just as their love begins to thrive, he learns about the secret arrangement. Meredith must risk her heart for the most dangerous lesson of all—love.
See the book trailer at my site: http://bonniedee.com.
Early reviews are in:
All About Romance--Desert Isle Keeper, Reviewer Abi Bishop:
"Meredith and Chris’s relationship, based as it is on lust and sexual awakening, demanded a focus on the physical that would have become repetitive if not for the unique quality to each of their meetings, and Dee’s almost poetic attention to detail. In addition, the scenes weren’t there so we readers could get our jollies. Character and relationship development was happening there. I’m serious."
Mrs. Giggles, 84
Ooh, now this is a story to stoke your inner cougar ...The role-reversal does some most amusing wonders for this story, I must say, because I find myself tickled at times as to how these characters can play so beautifully into the roles normally reserved for the opposite sex.
Karen Scott's blog, Reviewer Azteclady:
"A welcome change from the usual run of romantic stories is that the hero is both the socially awkward and the inexperienced one in the relationship. It’s true that this doesn’t last very long, for one of the things that attracts Meredith to Christopher is the fact that behind his bookishness hides a strong and passionate personality. During their first lovemaking, Christopher’s reactions are lovely rendered. He is insecure and scared, surprised, amazed, moved, grateful. I could very well see him there."
Excerpt (first kiss):
The onslaught of sensations, the racing pulse, ragged breathing, prickling skin, heightened senses and burgeoning heat in his cock took Chris completely by surprise. It wasn’t as though he’d never felt any of these things. He was an adult male with a man’s lust and yearning when he caught sight of a pretty face, deep cleavage or a flash of ankle, but he’d never felt such a tumult of emotion all at once. All because Countess du Chevalier had touched his lips and peered into his very thoughts with her wise gray eyes.
He couldn’t be imagining this, could he? Perhaps he’d fallen asleep during the professor’s lecture and was dreaming this erotic encounter. But the solidity of the cool stone bench beneath his trousers and the warmth of the lady’s hand in his assured him the moment was very real.
Once seated on the bench, she turned her body toward his and again reached to stroke the side of his face. Her fingers were cool and soft as silk, and his eyes closed part way in response to her touch. She slid her hand around the back of his neck and encouraged him to lean toward her. It was actually happening—a kiss, something he’d fantasized but had pushed to the back of his mind because it didn’t fit into his plans for a life devoted to academic study.
Tilting his head slightly, he closed his eyes completely as her face loomed closer. Sightless, his mouth found and covered hers. Their lips pressed together and he couldn’t suppress the quiet moan that rose in his throat. Her lips were soft and yielding. He pressed hard against them. A kiss. His first kiss—embarrassing to admit at age twenty-five, but there’d been no opportunity before now. He wouldn’t steal favors from a housemaid as some men did, and young ladies didn’t bestow kisses until an engagement ring was offered. The one chance he’d had to experience mindless pleasure was with a prostitute, a gift from his father that Chris simply couldn’t accept.
Ah, but he would indulge now with a woman he barely knew. A friend of his mother’s no less. What kind of woman was the countess that she bestowed kisses on strange men on a whim? Christopher stopped thinking and focused on the moment, the feel of her waist beneath his hand as he slipped it around her, the yielding softness of her mouth beneath his and the mounting pressure in his cock as it strained against his breeches.
The countess pressed a hand against his chest and pulled away. Chris wanted to reach for her blindly and pull her back again. He nearly whined at the interruption, but instead opened his eyes to look into her face. “I-I’m sorry. I was wrong to…”
“No. Sh.” She covered his lips with her finger, then stroked them with her fingertip.
“Not that. I want to show you a little something about kissing.
“Oh.” He resisted the impulse to suck her finger right into his mouth and waited while she slid the tip back and forth across his lips until they tingled.
“When you kiss a woman, you must think of her lips as a flower, a bud which you’re seducing into opening for you. Light, delicate strokes of the tongue, soft pressure of the lips are the keys to making that flower bloom. Understand?”
Her analogy was wrong. There was nothing a person could do to make a flower open. It happened when it was time. But he understood her meaning and blushed, realizing his technique had been off. Mashing his mouth hard against hers clearly hadn’t been satisfying for her. He nodded.
Her shining eyes continued to gaze into his and her hypnotic finger to stroke his parted lips and dip just barely between them. He dared to touch it with the tip of his tongue and a ripple of something passed over the countess’s eyes. She made a small sound.
“Yes. Keep your lips relaxed, moist but not wet, and tease mine into opening for you. Then we shall see what will follow.” Her thick, dark lashes swept her cheeks in lush fans as her eyes closed and her face lifted toward his.
Chris took his time. He touched her face as she had his, stroking her soft cheek and jaw, caressing her mouth until her pink lips parted. Then he rested his hand on her throat and felt the pulse beating in it like butterfly wings. He slid his hand around her neck and let it rest under the base of her skull, supporting her. The hairs at her nape tickled the back of his hand. He inclined his head and kissed her again.
This time he followed her instruction, feeding at her lips as a hummingbird sips nectar. Closing his mouth over her pouting lower lip, he pulled on it lightly. He pressed little nibbling kisses to the corners of her mouth and then slipped his tongue over the seam of her lips. They opened as she gave a small gasp of pleasure. His tongue slipped inside the heat and moisture of her mouth and encountered her tongue, slippery and sinuous. The percolating heat in his belly flared to an inferno from this simple touch. A raging beast was awakened, which Chris recognized as the primitive animal inside every man. He ached to devour her, to kiss her until she couldn’t breathe, to throw her down on the ground and ravish her.
His soft, exploratory kiss grew harder and more demanding. His tongue swept inside her mouth, tasting her and filling her just as his cock ached to fill her body. The powerful intensity of animal emotion was overwhelming. His penis throbbed with each beat of his heart and he was afraid it would explode into his drawers. With a low groan, he released her waist and the back of her neck, gripped her shoulders and pushed her away.
Gasping, he gazed into her suddenly wide-open eyes. “We must stop now.” He rose abruptly from the bench, stumbling backward and treading on a sample of Floribunda segunda before quickly stepping away from it.
“This is too…” He trailed off, not knowing how to express his thoughts. Too powerful. Too intense and real. Too dangerous.
She smiled up at him. “Christopher, don’t be alarmed. I’m a widow. In our society, widows may take their pleasure where they wish, as long as they’re discreet.”
He waved a hand at the bower of trees and flowers around them. “This is hardly discreet. We’re in the Royal Botanical Gardens.”
The countess stood, and he took another step back. “Would you feel more comfortable elsewhere?” she asked. “We could go to my house.”
“I…” Good Christ! The woman was stunning, regal, elegant, beautiful, and asking him to come to her home. Her invitation left little to the imagination. What could possibly hold him back? Any man would jump at the chance to share the Countess du Chevalier’s bed. “I must go now.” His voice was a hoarse mutter.
Without another word, he turned and walked away, buttoning his jacket over the bulge in his breeches. A torrent of emotions, which he tried to tame into submission, raged through him. Science and reason had always been the guiding forces of his life. Animal impulses were for uneducated, unthinking louts. There must be more to life than satisfying base lust with bestial coupling; otherwise the whole of society might as well run about in animal skins cooking shanks of meat over open fires.
Besides, if he once gave into passion, Chris didn’t know if he’d ever be able to return to the person he’d been before. And if he wasn’t that man, the quiet, reserved man who studied and raised plants, then who was he?
Jada Green is shocked when a vehicle appears from out of nowhere, smashing in the side of her new compact car. She's even more surprised to find the driver is a cute, enticing blonde woman. Thrown together for one night, Jada resists the idea of casual sex until a hot dream has her changing her mind.
Wendi Smith has neither insurance, nor the money to pay for the damage she caused. She's prepared to walk away and let Jada deal with everything, until her heart gets the best of her. When there's a carnal collision, can love triumph over money?
Amanda from Dark Angel Reviews gives Carnal Collision a Recommended Read and says, "CARNAL COLLISION is a carnal delight! Jamie Hill just rocks my world with her stories... If you're looking for a heartfelt erotic romance, CARNAL COLLISION is the story for you!"
The car came out of nowhere, smashing into the passenger side of her new, two-door compact with a sickening crunch. Jada Green's head whacked the visor before her airbag deployed, slamming her back. While her vehicle spun in a complete circle, she clutched the steering wheel, alternating curses with prayers until it finally came to a stop.
Dazed, Jada suddenly wondered if she'd remembered to mail her mother's birthday gift. Strange thoughts filtered through her mind. She winced. Focus! A quick inventory established that while she appeared to be fine, the right side of her car had crumpled inward to half its size.
"Lady! Are you okay?" A grey-haired man with a frantic expression pounded on her window. "Stay right there! I called for an ambulance."
"That's not necessary. I'm fine." A round, red splotch fell on her skirt. Mystified, she touched her forehead. Pulling back her caramel coloured fingers, she saw they were bloody. Jada glanced in the rear-view mirror and found a gaping cut above her right eyebrow. Gulping, she nodded at the man. "Thank you."
"I didn't see you!" A woman's pale, tear-streaked face appeared in front of the cracked windshield. "I swear I didn't. Are you all right? Oh god, you're bleeding!"
The man opened her door and offered a folded white handkerchief. "Hold this against your head. Apply pressure."
"Thanks." She did as he instructed and tried to get her bearings. Everything seemed surreal-- faces crowded around her, everyone talking at once. Time stood still. Peeling back the handkerchief, she looked in the mirror again. The gash continued to bleed profusely. She pressed the bloody cloth back to her head quickly.
"You shouldn't move in case you have other injuries," he told her. "An ambulance is on the way."
"I really think I'm fine." She did a mental check of the rest of her body, everything seemed intact. "I just want to go home." It'd been a long day in the beauty salon. One late customer had set her back twenty minutes, and she'd scrambled to make up for it all afternoon. She looked forward to a pint of rocky road ice cream followed by a leisurely soak in the tub, and possibly a little vibrator action. She'd been horny all day. Unfortunately, the accident didn't quell her need, though she suspected her plans might have to wait.
The wail of a siren in the distance grew louder. "Let the paramedics check you out," he insisted. "You might need stitches."
She didn't argue. The man had calmed and taken charge of the situation, obviously pleased to have something to do. The blonde-haired woman sobbing next to him was another story.
Copyright (C) 2008 Jamie Hill