Excerpts

Happy Birthday Baby!

“Lana, wait.” I heard Joe’s voice and picked up my step, which was hard to do on gravel while wearing heels. He caught up with me in no time, gently taking hold of my arm and drawing me to a halt. “Are you okay?”

I knew we were looking at each other, but it was too dark to see his expression. “Yes. I just need some light to call a cab.”

“You’ve changed your mind about coming home with me?”

“I’m sure you can find a replacement,” I said, thinking about the waitress inside.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” he asked angrily. “What did that asshole tell you?”

“Enough to know you won’t be lonely. I only hope my friends didn’t pay you too much to sleep with me.” The hand on my arm tightened, revealing either I’d hit a nerve, or he was growing angrier. “I’m okay with it, Joe, really. I should have known a man like you would have to be paid for a little, ah, extra special attention.”

“A man like me?” His tone was low and gravelly, and I didn’t need any light to know he was clenching his teeth. “Well, let’s go then. I want to make sure I give you their money’s worth.”

Surprisingly, I wasn’t frightened of Joe. He brought out other emotions in me. So when he began pulling me behind him I didn’t protest. He was just too damned sexy, and arousal still hummed through my body. I knew that with his talents he’d have me eating out of his hand in seconds. He was a tall man, his steps much wider than mine, and it was inevitable that I’d stumble. When I did, he caught me, and pulled me up into his arms without breaking stride.

“This isn’t necessary.” A thrill shot through me in spite of my mild protest. I couldn’t recall the last time a man carried me.

He just grunted. When we reached his car, he dropped me to my feet at the passenger’s side door. I barely had time to notice it was a Corvette before he crushed me against the door and kissed me roughly. Caught totally by surprise, at first, I stiffened, but within seconds, I melted against him like ice cream on a hot sidewalk. Oh my God, the man knew how to kiss! When he reined in his aggressive attack, his mouth turned soft and coaxing, dragging me into a realm of endless erotic possibilities.

I moaned beneath his mouth and opened my lips, inviting his tongue inside. As we explored each other’s mouths, I was aware his hands had moved from my shoulders down my back to my hips. My body started to move in a writhing, sensuous dance against his, letting him know that I was turned on. The movement of his cock against my lower belly sent my senses spinning out of control. I fought the urge to reach down and touch him. As if guessing what was going through my mind, he reached for my hand and brought it to his zipper. The length and hardness of his shaft caused a stream of volcanic heat to flow through my blood, and that’s how I felt, as if I were going to erupt.

I began to tremble with hunger. I rubbed and caressed his cock, wishing that we were naked and at a place where we could give in to the overwhelming lust governing my emotions. Joe’s deep groan encouraged me to continue touching him, which I did with brazen abandon.

“I can’t wait to get inside your cunt,” he rasped, kissing and biting my neck. His hands found their way to my ass, where he caressed and palmed it, pulling me even closer against him. “If I didn’t think we’d be interrupted I’d fuck you right here, right now.”


Scent of a Wolf's Mate

Serena left the bedroom quietly, unsure of what she was going to find. Deciding to follow the aroma, she made her way to a kitchen equipped with every modern appliance you could imagine. Standing at the stove in low hanging pajama bottoms was a man. He was flipping bacon. Didn’t he know it was dangerous to cook without a shirt on?

She stood in the entranceway, slightly afraid and very confused. He was a big man. His dark hair was thick and wild, stopping at the top of his shoulders, shoulders that were wide and muscular. The muscles rippled in his back as he moved, and she could see his well-developed biceps and forearms.

A breeze rushed in through the open window over the sink. Serena watched the curtains dance wildly. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply when the cool mountain air reached where she was standing. Wisps of hair moved about her face, and something else carried on the wind, something that spiked her awareness, flowing together with the scent of pines and wild lavender, and him, an untamed and basic entity that reached into her soul.

“I know you’re there,” he said without turning around. “Don’t come any closer.”

Well, that’s not very friendly. Serena didn’t know what to do at that point. She clutched his robe tighter against her. Without warning he turned, pinning his dark eyes on her. His rugged face was set as though in anger. “I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed your robe. I couldn’t find my clothes.” She tried not to let her gaze wander, but there was no way she could ignore his hard, defined Pecs and six-pack abs. The man was powerfully built and sinfully sexy.

His gaze moved over her. Serena took note of the tic moving in his tense jaw, and she tried to imagine what she’d done to upset him. What did he expect that she would walk out there in her birthday suit?

“That’s okay,” he finally spoke.

“Where am I?”

“Do you remember anything about last night?”

“Some of it. I was running and tripped on something. The last thing I remember is a wolf pinning me down. Did you kill it?”

“I took care of it.” His tone was short and to the point.

“There was another wolf—”

“I took care of him, too.” He moved to the sink, put the plug in, and turned on the water, then turned back to face her.

“What?” She was confused. “But how? I, I…” She didn’t know what to say. “I never saw you.” She hadn’t seen anyone. “I guess I owe you my life, then.” Serena offered him a smile, hoping to erase the unfriendly look on his face. “My name is Serena.” She stepped further into the kitchen and held out her hand.

He just stared at it for a long moment as if it were a snake, and then finally said his name. “Connor.”



Pulled Over - Serve and Submit Series - Book 1

The cop pulled his cruiser behind Sunny, and surprised her by switching off the siren and the engine. She watched him in her mirror, noticing that he was talking on his radio. He was probably calling in her tag. She pressed her lips, wishing she hadn’t let her tag expire, but it was too late to do anything about it now. Movement drew her attention once more to her review mirror. She watched as the door opened and he stepped out.

Ohmygod! The man was hot! He was easily six feet four of solid muscle poured into a navy blue police uniform. The sight of all that defined muscle and the tightness of the material over his zipper area drew a response from Sunny’s body she wasn’t prepared for. He looked like he was strong enough to take on an army or at the very least a girl with curves, which she had plenty of. She caught her breath as he slowly walked up to her truck.

Before he reached her door, she opened a couple more buttons on her blouse and parted the material so he would have a better view of her large breasts. She was proud of their fullness, even if she was a little ashamed that she was using them as a means to possibly talk him out of giving her a ticket. Sunny imagined a cop as impressive as him had tits and ass thrown in his face all the time.

She glanced in her side view mirror, and ran her tongue over her full lips. Then she fluffed her long blonde hair. By the time the cop reached her door her nipples were tingling and as hard as pebbles, but it was worse than that. She had to squeeze her thighs together to appease the mild buzzing in her clit.

“Ma’am,” he said as he stopped by her opened window. His voice was deep, and a little gravely, running over Sunny like warm, thick honey.

“Hi, officer.” She glanced at his nametag. “Officer Steele.” Sunny offered him a warm smile. “Was I doing something wrong?”

He waited a few seconds. “Could you please remove your sunglasses, ma’am.”

Her mouth dropped with surprise. “Why would I want to do that? Are they against the law?”

“No, ma’am. But I’d like to see your eyes when I’m talking to you.”

Oh. Sunny had to wonder what he would do if she refused. “What if I said no, officer?” She knew she was playing with fire. She couldn’t see his eyes either, but his mouth was tight and his jaw was set. Her response obviously annoyed him. Deciding she’d never get out of a ticket by aggravating him, she gave in and removed her glasses slowly.

His slow grin might be sexy as hell, but only pissed Sunny off because he was using his authority to control her. Still, she kept her composure. She looked up at him and batted her baby blues enticingly. “Better?” she asked coyly.


Officer Steele ignored her attempt at flirtation. “Do you know why I pulled you over?” he asked in a no nonsense tone.

“My expired tag?” Sunny chewed on her bottom lip, wishing she could see where his eyes were focused. She took a deep breath, knowing it would push her breasts up and out. She’d bet a hundred dollars his gaze was glued to her cleavage.

“That and you have a taillight out.”

“What?” Sunny didn’t know about the taillight. “Which one?”

“Passenger side,” he said, “Can I please see your driver’s license?”

Sunny reached for her small purse on the seat next to her. She dug around the contents, pulling out several things that got in the way, until she finally located her license in a side pocket. “I’ve changed a little since this was taken.”

Sunny had always been a curvaceous woman, which her almost six-foot frame carried well, but the license she’d handed the cop was about six years old. She’d had shorter, darker hair back then.

Officer Steele remained quiet, turned and walked back to his cruiser. Sunny released a heavy sigh, watching his sexy gait take him back to his car. Her gaze lingered on his ass. Lord, he has a nice body! She made the mistake of envisioning what she’d like to do to him but it only made her hotter. Before she knew it her hand was gliding down her body to the spot between her legs. It hadn’t been that long since she’d had sex, just that morning, but she was tingling and wanted a cock inside her so badly that she was suddenly wondering how she could get Officer Steele to comply.

Her purse was still on her lap. She spied a small roll on perfume bottle and quickly applied some to her cleavage, and her wrists. Something told her this cop went by the book and she would have to apply herself a little harder to get what she wanted. She made sure to fluff her blouse right before he reached her window, knowing he’d get a whiff of her perfume.

“Here’s your license, ma’am.”

Sunny took it from him and then watched as he reached for the pen and pad in his upper pocket. She swallowed hard, realizing what he was about to do. Desperation forced her to do something slutty. “God, it’s so darn hot today!” She pulled her blouse away from her sticky skin. With his height advantage, she knew he’d get a good view of two forty double D’s barely stuffed into a lacy bra.

His mouth twitched, as if he was trying to contain another grin. He flipped the pad opened, and clicked his pen as he got ready to write.

“Officer!” Sunny said in a rushed tone to get his attention. She knew once he started writing it would be all over. “Please don’t give me a ticket.”

He hesitated. “And why not?” He cocked his head to the side, and waited.


The Mating Ritual

When Toni finally came to, she had no way of knowing how long she’d been out. As she slowly regained consciousness, she became aware that she was in some kind of cave, lying on something that felt soft and furry. At first she thought it was a dead animal. She jumped to her feet and moved away from it, only to find that it was just an animal hide. Picking it up, she examined it before wrapping it around her cold body.

She glanced around the cave, wondering how she’d got there, and then her memory returned. Where was he? That a man had dragged her in there she had no doubts. She could tell the cave went further back, she could see the flickering shadows against the walls indicating some kind of lighting, but she wasn’t about to go exploring. The loud sound of moving water reminded her that she was still near the river. She turned toward the mouth of the cave, walked to the edge, and glanced down. As far as she could tell, it was the only way out of there.
If she had jumped the night before she would have killed herself. Nothing but boulders and large rocks lined the steep incline down to the river. Something off to the side drew her attention, and she gasped, recognizing one of the men that had been after her. There was no question that he was dead. His twisted, broken body was lying just inches from the river, his bloody face and glazed, lifeless eyes were staring up at her. She shivered with repulsion and searched around for his friend, until remembering that she’d heard the sound of a splash. 

Her gaze shifted across the water to the other side, wondering if he’d crossed the river or had been swept away with the current. Even if he had managed to swim across he wouldn’t have been able to climb up the embankment. More likely than not he’d been washed down the river and had drowned. At least she didn’t have to worry about the men anymore. Once she returned to the cabin she’d call Detective Todd and tell her what happened, and with a little luck, the local police were already searching for her.

Toni didn’t realize how close she was to the edge until she felt the heel of her foot begin to slip. She screamed when the reality that she was falling rushed over her. Once again a muscular arm came out of nowhere and encircled her waist. Then, with surprising ease, she was hauled against a huge male body. She knew it was male because he was naked, and there was no denying the feeling of a large, flaccid cock against her backside.

She glanced down, thanking God his arm wasn’t as hairy as she’d been expecting, but still screamed and tried to wiggle free. He was much too strong for her. He kept her tight against him, grunting when she dug her nails into his flesh. He pulled her away from the cave entrance and tossed her against the cave wall. She hit it forcefully, crying out, and clutched the fur as it started to slip down.

Toni swung around and stared at the man in shock. One thing she knew for certain, he wasn’t Bigfoot, but he was big, possibly seven feet tall. And he was definitely human, his features were rugged and strong and not totally unpleasant. He had long brownish hair that appeared streaked with blond, his brown eyes conveyed intelligence and something else that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. His naked body revealed that he was well muscled, from his thick neck, defined biceps, pectorals, and sculptured abs. His thighs were as solid as small tree trunks, and his flaccid cock was surprisingly thick and long. The light dusting of hair that covered his body was like any other man, allowing Toni to see his scars and other imperfections. As he stood there staring at her he made her feel something wild and primitive. He was magnificent.

Ohmygod! Was he part of the wild people that the locals spoke of, the ones who lived in the mountains? Did they really exist? Toni felt her heart begin to race with growing fear. His gaze moved over her in much the same way that she had examined him, and it was then that she recognized that it was interest in his eyes.

She clutched the animal hide tighter to her breast. His mouth quirked in the semblance of a grin, which, under normal circumstances would have calmed her nerves somewhat. But these were not normal circumstances, and when he moved she gasped, and leaned as far as she could against the cold stone behind her. The closer he got, the smaller she felt. Toni had to look a long way up to meet his eyes.

“What… who are you?” She didn’t even know if he understood or spoke English.

“My clan calls me Cormac. I brought you here.”

His clan? His gaze continued to roam over Toni, slowly, as though he could see right through the fur that she held in front of her. She cringed when he reached forward and grabbed a handful of her long, brown hair, bringing it up to his nose. She pulled it away from him. His response was a grunt, and a tightening of his mouth. It was clear that he didn’t like what she’d done. She swallowed hard, recognizing that he could probably kill her with one blow. The sheer size of him was intimidating. A flashback of the night before reminded Toni what he was capable of.

“My name is Toni.” She didn’t know why she felt the need to introduce herself, except that he’d saved her life, and maybe if she were friendly to him he would help her. She wondered how she was going to find her way back home. One thing she did know, she couldn’t stand there all day and do nothing.

“Well, it was nice meeting you.” It seemed a silly thing to say but he wasn’t very talkative, and Toni had no reason to think she couldn’t leave.

She pushed herself away from the wall with the intention of going further into the cave. There had to be another entrance because where they were now, the only way out was straight down. Toni only took two steps before she felt his hand in her hair, and she was jerked backwards against his solid form. She cried out, her hand automatically going to where his was clutching at her hair.



Burning Hunger - book #3 of the Evans brothers trilogy

“What time will you pick me up in the morning?”

Chaz had been watching the cascade of thick hair tumbling down around her face when her words finally seemed to register. His gaze met hers. Then a slow smile made the corners of his sexy lower lip turn up. Damn, she wanted to bite that lip, and then draw it into her mouth and suck on it until they were both a little breathless.

“I’m not going anywhere tonight.” His words were clipped and final, and he backed it up by crossing his arms over his massive chest.

“I can turn on my alarm. I’ll be safe,” Val insisted. The thought of Chaz spending the night was as exciting as it was frightening.

He shook his head. “No good, remember what your father said? I’m your shadow.”

“I only have one bedroom,” she lied. Well, it wasn’t exactly a lie. Her guest bedroom had turned into a huge walk-in closet a long time ago. There was a bed in there somewhere.

Chaz’s gaze moved to the couch. “Won’t be the first time I’ve had to sleep on the sofa.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Val slapped her hands on her hips, unaware that the action pulled her blouse tight across her breasts.

“Yes, ma’am.” She began to tingle all over from the sensual look melting the chocolate of his eyes. “Unless you have a better idea.”

Yeah, you can always sleep on top of me. Val quickly banished from her mind the erotic thought of a naked Chaz keeping her warm. She thought about the dildo under her pillow. It would definitely come in handy that night. She’d have to keep it on low so he wouldn’t hear it from the sofa.

“Sorry,” Val said. “A pillow and a couple of blankets are all you’re gonna get from me.” She turned and went to her bedroom, closing the door behind her. Her victory of getting in the last word was short lived, though. When she turned to glance at the clock she found that it wasn’t anywhere near bedtime.




BISHOP'S ANGEL

“The police are on the way, ma’am. Where is the intruder now?” the operator asked.

Angel listened for a moment. “He’s still in the kitchen.”

“Is the intruder male?”

“No, no!” Angel said, and then quickly lowered her voice when she realized she’d spoken too loud. “I don’t know if it’s a woman or a man.” She’d been too afraid to look when she had the chance. Movement coming from the kitchen told her the intruder was still there, but for how long? She was crouched at the end of the couch, too afraid to turn around, frightened that at any moment she would be discovered. “Please hurry!”

“They’re on their way. Stay calm and—”

“I think he’s in the room with me!” Angel’s eyes rounded with fear when she sensed someone moving up behind her.

“Ma’am stay on—”

Angel knew the intruder was behind her now. She stood up, whipped around and slammed her phone into the side of his head with a piercing scream. All she could make out was a tall, dark outline.

“What the fuck—” a male voice boomed.

Angel let out another scream and slammed her hands against a massive chest, shoving him away from her as hard as she could. Her only thought was making it back upstairs to the safety of her room until the police arrived, but the second her palms landed on the man’s rock-hard chest she knew she was in trouble. He stumbled back but she had a feeling it was due more to her catching him by surprise than the force of her push.

She scooted around him but suddenly his hands were on her, and for a moment they struggled against each other. Angel was hyped up on adrenaline and a strong sense of survival, and she used her nails and teeth on the naked arms and powerful hands trying to subdue her. It gained her enough freedom to make it to the stairs but halfway up she found her ankle being grabbed, she fell, and then she was pinned beneath a heavy weight.

“No!” she cried out, struggling wildly against him. But she was no match for his superior strength and the honed muscles she felt beneath her hands. In no time his hands had wrapped around her wrists, and she was pinned against the stairs.

“Who the hell are you?” he demanded, his face too close to hers.

“Who the hell are you?” Angel demanded right back, twisting beneath him. It was then she felt cool air in places that she shouldn’t, reminding her that all she had on was a thin night-shirt and a pair of bikini panties. Judging by the super hard pecks she felt pressed against her breasts, her shirt had come undone, too. An insane thought crossed her mind, why he wasn’t wearing a shirt. She wiggled wildly, unintentionally scraping her nipples across his flesh.

“Stop before you get hurt!” he growled. In an effort to subdue her he pressed his body against hers.

“Then get off me!” Angel hissed, arching her body in an effort to throw him off her. His muscled thighs and powerful legs flexed against hers, easily holding hers still.

“Not until you tell me who you are,” he grated in a rough voice.

His warm breath slapped her in the face. “I live here,” Angel said without hesitation, glaring up into his shadowed face. She was aware there was no way he could see her because it was too dark.

“The hell you do.”

How did he know that? “The police are on their way so I suggest you let me up and get out of here.” Her energy was beginning to wane. He was too strong and big, and the longer they remained like that, the more she began to feel uncomfortable with their intimate proximity.

“Good. Then we can get to the bottom of this.”

That wasn’t the kind of response an intruder would make if he were caught in someone else’s house. Maybe he was delusional or something. Angel decided to switch tactics. “These stairs are hurting me,” she said weakly.

Things grew still between them and she sensed his silent contemplation, as if he were wondering if he should believe her. She whimpered a little for good measure.

“Okay, I’m going to let you up, but don’t try anything stupid,” he warned.

The second he released her and lifted off her body, Angel got to her feet and dashed the rest of the way up the stairs.

“Son of a bitch!” he cursed behind her.

Angel slammed and locked her bedroom door in his face. She didn’t know what she hoped to accomplish, except to get away from him until the police arrived. What was taking them so long? She ran to one of the windows and opened it. Maybe she could push out a screen and—

Without warning her bedroom door was kicked in. She screamed and made a beeline for her connecting bathroom.

“Oh, no, you don’t.”

A muscular arm wrapped around Angel’s waist and she was lifted off her feet. “Let me go!” She wiggled and kicked, very much aware that her butt was against a very intimate part of his body. Burning heat replaced the fear flowing through her blood because his cock wasn’t as flaccid as it should have been.

“Look,” he slammed her down onto the bed and for the second time she found herself pinned beneath his superior strength. “Before this goes any further I think we need to talk.”

“You can talk to the police,” she panted, twisting beneath him.

“I intend to,” he said without hesitation. There was a confidence in his tone that surprised her.

Without warning he reached up and turned on the reading light at the head of the bed. How did he know that was there? Meeting eyes the color of blue topaz, everything in Angel froze, including her breath. Oh God, I know those eyes! She didn’t know the man personally, but she knew of him from the pictures on the fireplace mantle downstairs. He was Diana’s older brother, and Navy SEAL Bishop Strong. Suddenly everything made perfect sense.

After six years, he’d finally come home!



SURRENDER TO DESIRE - book #2 of the Evans brothers trilogy


“Hello?”

Blade grinned at the impatience in the woman’s tone. “Yes, ma’am?”

“I’m not up here because I want to be.” She flashed him a smile.

“Just why are you up there?”

“Your cow chased me up here.”

“Satan?” Blade snickered. “Satan is a bull, ma’am. And the only thing he chases around here are the females he’s about to mount.” Her skirt moved with the breeze, teasing him with glimpses of her shapely legs. He was hoping to catch another look at the silk between her thighs. “Do you need help getting down?”

Her gaze shot to Satan, while her teeth chewed on the corner of her bottom lip. “If you don’t mind.”

“Just drop down and I’ll catch you.” He could sense her hesitation.

“I’m no lightweight,” she said after a while.

Blade paused, thinking about how to answer that. Women tended to be sensitive about their weight. As far as he was concerned there wasn’t a thing wrong with a woman who had a little meat on her. And from what he could see, there was definitely nothing wrong with her.

“Yes ma’am.” He kept his tone neutral. “I think I can handle it.”

“What about your cow, ah, bull?”

Blade followed the direction of her gaze to where Satan had wandered off. “Satan is the reason I’m out here. He escaped from his pen. You’re lucky he did. We only use this pasture during the winter months.”

“At least something is working out in my favor today.” She smiled down at him. “Get ready because here I come.”

Blade watched her take a careful step onto a lower branch, holding her skirt against her legs. He gripped Calypso tightly between his thighs to keep him steady. When she ran out of branches he raised his arms. The next thing he knew she dropped down right onto his lap. He caught her against him, and for a moment he was being smothered by her sweet flesh, exposed when her skirt got caught up on his hat. Several mind numbing thoughts registered at once, her subtle fragrance of something wild and tantalizing, the satiny softness of her skin, the arousing little gasp that passed through her lips.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!”



YIELD TO ME


An uneasy feeling enveloped Sophie as she unhurriedly made her way around the room, not for the first time peering over her shoulder as though expecting to see someone there. Not paranoid by nature, she was certain someone was following her, and watching her. It wouldn’t be the first time in her twenty-eight years. As the daughter of a senator, she’d grown up in the spotlight, accustomed to being followed by reporters, and at times, bodyguards. However, it had grown worse since her engagement to millionaire Jonathan Lord had been made public. An engagement she would have kept private had it not been for his colossal ego.

Pausing, she examined an oil painting that made her immediately think of confetti. Splashes of bright color that, to her way of thinking, any child of five could have done without much effort. The outrageous price tag of four thousand dollars on it caused her to shake her head with disbelief, until remembering where she was. And who might be watching.

There were photographers about. If one of them managed to snap a picture of her at the wrong moment, that definitely would not be the kind of reaction Jonathan would expect to see on the front page in the morning paper. Furthermore, when he was displeased about something, he let it be known. Keeping up appearances was very important to him, ranking right up there with landing a wealthy senator’s daughter.

Sophie had learned early on that he tended to look at the smallest infraction as an embarrassment and personal attack on him. Even going as far as accusing her of going out of her way to embarrass him in public once, when all she’d done was show up after their engagement announcement not wearing the much-publicized ring. Without being obvious, she cast a glance down at the cold, meaningless stone, hating what it represented. A smile designed to hide her true feelings turned the corners of her mouth up but did nothing to diminish the sadness in her heart when she thought about her situation.

Forcing herself to move on, she ignored the prickling sensation at the back of her neck, resisting the impulse to look behind her a second time. Her imagination was working overtime, that was all. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves, reaching for a glass of sparkling champagne. She didn’t drink but maybe a small sip would soothe her nerves. Glancing up as she put her lips to the rim of the glass, she noticed him.

She froze, the man’s dark, compelling presence all but taking her breath away. More handsome than any man had a right to be, he stood well above any other in the room. He didn’t look like the black suit and tie type, yet it fit his broad-shouldered frame nicely, as though tailored specifically for him. He carried himself with ease, revealing a boredom she was used to seeing on the men who moved in her circle. Yet she sensed hiding beneath the surface was an alert predator, primed for action. There was a healthy outdoorsy look about him. His dark skin tone indicated whatever he did for a living wasn’t behind a door in an air-conditioned building somewhere, sitting at a desk.

He gave her the distinct impression he didn’t particularly want to be there. She took another sip of her drink, striving not to be obvious as she kept her gaze trained on him, taking in his jet-black hair. It looked as if he’d been running his hands through it all evening. Feminine interest had her wondering if it was as thick and silky as it appeared. She wondered if he was alone. A quick glance around the room revealed no one else who came close to measuring up to the raw magnetism he portrayed.

A male in his prime.

He brought his glass to his lips, glancing about the room over the rim until his gaze came back to her. Their eyes met and held, causing Sophie to catch her breath again. Her heart skipped a beat. A delicious heat uncurled deep inside her body making her pulse leap excitedly; a sensation she hadn’t experienced in a long time. And never with Jonathan.

Thank goodness she was skilled in the art of keeping her composure even under the most difficult of circumstances, praying no one observing her noticed the faint outward changes she couldn’t control. She didn’t need to glance into a mirror to know the heat filling her cheeks left them a rosy hue, branding her. Perhaps she could blame it on the champagne.

“ Darling, you’re drinking.” Cool, masculine lips briefly touched the exposed skin at Sophie’s collarbone. A shiver escaped her before she could stop it. She hoped Jonathan thought it was a quiver of desire and not the revulsion she actually felt whenever he touched her.

It wasn’t as though he were unattractive. On the contrary, Jonathan was extremely good-looking. A real life Ken doll with stylish blonde hair and sharp blue eyes. Yet it was the monster behind those boyish good looks and southern charm that scared her. From the beginning, she’d heard rumors about how he’d attained his wealth. Stories laced with unfavorable content, and now she had firsthand knowledge of how devious he could be when he wanted something.

“ You look ravishing tonight,” he drawled close to her ear, purposely letting his lips brush against her again. To make matters worse, his hands smoothed up her bare arms to her shoulders, caressing her openly as he went.

Sophie realized she’d have to get over her aversion to Jonathan soon enough. Once they were married, she’d hardly be able to keep him from her bed. As he seemed determined to stake his claim in an unusual public display of affection, she lowered her eyelids, effectively hiding her dislike from the others in the room.

“ Darling? Is something wrong?”

Sophie knew he was waiting for a response, but when she raised her head, it was the dark compelling stare of a stranger who captured and held her gaze.


INSTANT ATTRACTION

Ma’am? Ma’am? What the hell was I thinking? He’d finally got to meet his sexy next-door neighbour and he’d spoken to her like she was some old lady. Only Thomas knew it was because he’d got up close and personal with Julie and the instant attraction had gone straight to his cock. It was something that had never happened to him before. It had taken everything in him to keep his eyes off those perky round breasts and his mind off kissing her full lips until he was drunk on her. 


Okay, he had glanced at her breasts a couple of times. He couldn’t help it. Her T-shirt was plastered to them so that she looked naked. And those sweet little brown nipples were so hard, teasing him. All he could think of was what they would feel like on his tongue. How he’d kept her from noticing his hard-on was a miracle. She hadn’t seemed shy, yet there was something sweetly innocent about her. 

Fuck! He was getting hard all over again, thinking about her standing beneath the spray in her shower, the foamy water sliding down her honey-brown curves. Only he was with her. Soaping her up, running the sponge over her breasts and between her thighs. Lathering up that pretty pussy and rinsing it clean before he had a taste. Hell, he wanted to feast on all of her. And he would. 

He shook his head to try to clear the sexual fog that he’d been in since meeting her. He opened the fridge, and reached for a beer. Then pulled the tab and took a long swig. The storm had stopped and he’d taken a quick shower before eating dinner. He’d turn in soon. He went to the window facing Julie’s house and peered out, noticing the lights were on in her bedroom. And the window was open. 

He started to turn away, until she came into full view of the window. What was she doing? Thomas got his answer when she began to shimmy out of her shorts. He sucked in his breath when he caught a glimpse of her lacy G-string. Jesus! His body was encased with instant heat. When her hands went to the hem of her T-shirt he all but held his breath. In slow motion, Julie lifted her shirt, exposing inch by inch of satiny skin until her breasts were bare. 


A PERFECT FIT - book #1 to the Evans brothers trilogy


“Miss Lambert?” Another knock sounded. There was obvious concern and panic in the speaker’s tone.

Beau kept his burning gaze on her, and reached blindly for the doorknob. He opened it a tad. “Miss Lambert is okay.” He closed the door without looking at the person on the other side.

Handsome stud or not, Marissa decided to get right to the point. “Nothing against you, but you’re fired.” She tried to ignore the tiny scar at the corner of his sensual mouth.

“I don’t work for you. You can’t fire me.” He cocked a brow. “Even if you can take care of yourself.” His sexy drawl clearly said he didn’t think so.

Marissa pressed her lips together. “You caught me by surprise.” All of him caught her by surprise. He had the whole package right down to his muddy cowboy boots. He was a true Texan, and nothing close to her unflattering description to Kirk.

He laughed. “You think the killer is going to announce himself?”

Damn him! “Well, maybe I can’t fire you, but after what you just did, I can call your boss and demand another bodyguard.” Marissa slapped her hands on her full hips.

Why is he laughing again?

“My brothers and I own Evan’s Security and I’m afraid they’re all on assignments right now.”

Good God, there was more like him?

“I’m afraid I’m stuck with you.”

Marissa was preoccupied with the way his sensuous mouth formed the words, until what he said reached her on a conscious level. He was stuck with her? Her gaze returned to his. There was amusement swimming in his chocolate eyes. Rich, decadent chocolate that she could drown in if she wasn’t careful. Her lips twitched in response. She liked a man with a sense of humor, even directed at her.

Beau Evans was a big, well-proportioned man, and the way he filled out a pair of jeans revealed his powerful, muscular thighs. Marissa couldn’t help her wandering gaze as it moved down his body, then back up again. She gauged his height to be somewhere around six feet five. Not too many men made her feel small, but this one did.

“So, where’s the hat, cowboy?”

“In my truck.”

It figured he’d have a truck. Didn’t all macho Texans?

“What did you mean earlier when you said, ‘I have a lot to learn?’”

“I’ll show you after you put some clothes on.”

After years of modeling, Marissa was used to being in various states of undress around people. It came with the business, and she was very comfortable in her own skin. The minute she’d entered her dressing room she’d kicked off her heels and removed the sheer thigh length shirt.

“I am wearing clothes.”

If eyes could strip, she’d be naked right now. “If you insist, ma’am.”

His gaze dropped to her breasts, which Marissa knew were all but spilling out of the tight corset. Then she remembered the hard-on pressed against her during their struggles. Had she known then what she knew now, she might have had a little fun with him. The thought of his dick sliding into her cock-starved pussy caused her nipples to tighten into painful peaks of arousal. Then incredibly, her clit began to tingle.

Damn! This was new. She’d never reacted sexually to a man this fast before, and especially to a stranger. But looking at Beau, Marissa knew immediately that he was different. Instant attraction? She shrugged inwardly. It was possible. Or so her sister insisted. Dani had met and married Rob after only knowing him a week. And they’d been together eight years and three kids now.

By the time Beau met her eyes there was a warm lazy look in his that told Marissa he liked what he was looking at, too. A lot. A fact backed up by the still present bulge behind his zipper. The fact that he wanted her fueled her desire out of bounds. It also gave her a naughty idea. How strong was this Texan’s will power? It was crazy, but she suddenly had the overwhelming urge to test him.

“Well, before I can get dressed, I have to undress.” Normally Marissa would have called for an assistant. She sashayed up to Beau. “I need help, cowboy. Can you please unlace me so I can get out of this thing?” She presented her back to him, then lifted her hair out of the way and waited, holding her breath. She had to admit, the thought of his eyes roaming over her body made her hot.

There was the slightest of hesitations before she heard his low drawl, “Yes ma’am.”



UP IN FLAMES 

“How bad do you have it?”

His breath was warm against her face. Rachel swallowed. “I can overcome it most of the time, if I think of something else. But knowing that I can’t get out right this minute is the problem. I can’t breathe.” 

 “Yes you can. Just breathe in deep through your nose and release it slowly through your mouth.” He pulled the glasses off her face and tossed them away. “You’re tense. Try to relax.” His strong hands began to massage Rachel’s shoulders. 

She closed her eyes and tried to do what he suggested, then shook her head no and said fiercely, “I can’t breathe. There’s no air.” 

“Think of something else.” 

She felt his hands move from her shoulders to the buttons at her blazer. She could tell he was unbuttoning it, and the next thing Rachel knew he was slipping it off her shoulders. 

“It might help loosening up some of your clothing.” 

Rachel felt a scorching blast of heat envelop her when James’ hands began to pull her silk blouse out of the waistband of her skirt. When his knuckles brushed her skin at the top of her blouse, she realized he was undoing more buttons at her breast. Her eyes bolted open, and her hands encircled his wrists. His movements stopped. 

“What are you doing Mr. White?” she whispered. 

“Helping you, I thought.” There was amusement swimming in his eyes. 

“By undressing me?” Under normal circumstances she would be thrilled but she was still stressed over her situation. 

“You can relax, Miss Masters. Your virtue is safe with me.” 

 “I’m not a virgin.” Why had she said that? Rachel wanted the floor to open up and swallow her. 

 His soft laughter filled the elevator. “Well in that case, maybe you’re not safe with me.” He nudged her hands away and continued what he was doing. His gaze followed his hands while he unbuttoned her blouse, and when he was done he raised his eyes to hers. 

She detected a slight difference in his breathing, and his features hardened with what she wanted to believe was growing desire. 



HOT SPOT 

Sammy opened a bright red cooler, grabbed a bottle of water, and continued toward  the edge of the lake. She scanned the area, seeing some familiar faces, some not so familiar. Pat and his new wife were relaxing on inner tubes, holding hands to keep from drifting apart no doubt. At least one of them was getting some. She was actually glad her ex was happy. Taking a drink of water, she turned and froze.

John O’Malley was standing in the open doorway of his cabin, his tall body braced by one arm against the jamb, while he took a sip from a brown bottle. As he lowered the bottle their eyes met, and the crooked smile Sammy remembered slowly spread across his rugged features. The years had been good to him. There didn’t seem to be an ounce of spare flesh anywhere on his forty-four-year-old frame, but there was gray in his black hair, which was shorter than she remembered.

She smiled at that. It was hard to believe it had been almost twenty years since she’d seen him last. He was far removed from the lanky, cocky teenage boy with long hair and a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. And he was probably thinking something similar about her. Back then, Sammy had been short and a tad heavier than she would have liked. And she’d lacked the self-confidence to accept that a boy like him
could really be interested in her.

She realized she was staring at him. God, I hope I’m not drooling! He looked simply delicious, and a heat began spreading over Sammy at this awareness. What was he thinking? He had yet to take his brown eyes off her.

He finally acknowledged her with a slight nod of his head, and Sammy was undecided on whether to ignore him or approach him. After all, he was family. But, in spite of the changes in his appearance over the years, he still reeked of a dangerous attraction that spelled trouble. On the other hand, they were adults now and she was suddenly curious beyond belief to know what he had been up to since the last time they saw one another. Had he remarried? Did he have children? What did he do for a living?

Before she knew what she was going to say, she found herself walking in his direction.“Well, well, well. If it isn’t good-little-girl Samantha O’Malley.”

John called her Samantha because he knew she didn’t like her name.“Well, well, well. If it isn’t bad-boy Johnny O’Malley. And you know I don’t like Samantha.”

“Sam.” He took another sip of his beer.

He knew she didn’t like that any better, but she decided to ignore it. “Come home for the reunion?” She stopped at the bottom of the steps and smiled up at him. She caught a whiff of something mild and pleasant, manly. “I’m surprised.”

He shrugged. “Figured it was time.”His gaze slid over Sammy like warm chocolate, making her squirm inside.“You’ve changed.”

Oh my God! The same exact thing he’d said in her dream the night before. “I’ve lost a pound or two.” More like forty.

“You look damn good.” He took a swig of his beer. “Guess the single life agrees with you.”

Is that his way of finding out if I’m still single? “Doesn’t it with everyone?”

Without warning, the dream came back to her. Damn! A furnace ignited within her and she was sure fire replaced the blood in her veins. Her nipples tingled, which wasn’t a good sign because it usually meant they were turning hard. It was all she could do not to cross her legs to squash the sudden tingling there, too.

“It sure does with me.” He finished his beer and tossed the bottle into a trash can next to the cabin.



PASSIONATE ENCOUNTERS 

Mike sat down without resistance. She moved in close, and raised her hand to put the compress she’d made over his eye.

Hell, he thought, a concussion was the least of what he had. He took a long, deep breath, hoping it was enough to calm down his racing heart and his very male reaction to her closeness. Her subtle fragrance reached him on a sensual level, and only added fuel to the fire.

“Me too.” Mike clenched teeth. Didn’t she realize she’d moved between his thighs? When she brushed up against him he released a low groan, and closed his fists to keep from grabbing her.

Sweat broke out on his brow. There was nowhere for him to retreat. He assumed Emma finally realized her mistake when she suddenly reared back with a knowing look in her eyes. She took a breath that sounded like a gasp of pleasure, and he watched her pupils dilate. He knew then and there she was as affected by his nearness as he was hers.

With a weak smile on her trembling lips, she attempted to step back. Just when Mike figured things couldn’t get any worse, her sneaker got caught on a rough edge of uneven ground and she stumbled backwards, her arms flailing wildly as she lost her balance.

It happened so fast there was no time for thought. He moved rapidly and clamped his thighs together, entrapping her between his legs. His actions had dire consequences though. She bumped against a spot most women aimed for when they were being attacked. And he was hard as a rock.

“Oh!” Her pretty eyes grew round, her soft lips parted.

Mike sucked in his breath, but it wasn’t because he was in any pain. He squeezed his eyes shut, and exhaled a groan as lust surged through him like a rocket blasting off for the moon. The feel of Emma’s soft body against his groin produced the kind of rush he hadn’t experienced since high school. Hell, he couldn’t recall the last time he’d experienced it.

Son of a bitch! His hands went to her hips to push her away. But the slight resistance of her body caught him off guard. His gaze zeroed in on hers. For a second her features seemed twisted in desire. Eyes closed, she was panting for breath, nostrils flaring. Then it was gone and he was left wondering if he’d imagined it.

Her smoky eyes opened to him. He threw caution to the wind, and kept her close to his pounding cock. She was soft and pliable beneath his hold, and seemed to sway slightly. The slightest sigh escaped her. The slightest movement of her hips brought her even closer against him.

Sweet Jesus! Her acceptance of the intimate situation sent him over the edge. With a low groan Mike transferred one of his hands to the back of Emma’s head. He grabbed a handful of her ponytail and before he realized what he was doing he pulled her face down toward his.

“Damn, lady, I need a taste.”

He didn’t give her a chance to respond. Besides, she wasn’t showing any sign of resistance so Mike intended to take full advantage. One kiss, that’s all he wanted. A sample to appease his fierce desire for her. At least until they had time for something more satisfying.

He slammed his mouth down on hers. Lust getting the better of him. Mike knew it was madness that gripped him, and that he should stop. Only once he inhaled the sweetness of Emma’s breath, and tasted the warmth of her mouth nothing else mattered.

With a deep moan Emma’s hands fell to his shoulders as though she needed help in staying on her feet. Then she was rubbing against Mike’s cock like a hungry feline, opening her mouth to his searching tongue. Before he knew it the sounds of their passion was drowning out everything else.

If things continued on the course they were heading he was going to embarrass himself and not just in front of her but the whole damn team. He was shaking by the time he found the strength to release her.

She quickly stepped back. Her cheeks were rosy and her eyes glittered like polished gem stones. Her mouth was swollen, and her breast rose and fell rapidly with each breath.

Mike could see in her eyes that she was slightly confused. Perhaps even amazed at the hot kiss they’d just shared. And it was obvious she was at a loss for words.


Passionate Encounters is the new and improved, highly sexed up version of Cupid's Arrow. Cupid's Arrow was released in 2006 and was on the publisher's best seller's list for two consecutive months. 


THE MERCENARY WAY 

“Is Stan─”

“Sshh!” he warned briskly, his gaze returning to hers. “Now isn’t the time for conversation, angel.”
Sarah pressed her lips. She didn’t like being told to be quiet. She dropped her eyes before his steady gaze, beginning to feel self-conscious of their intimate situation. Clint was too sexy and in spite of his gruff ways, she was attracted to him. Sarah recalled the eagerness of her response when he’d had his fingers inside her. She was hungry for that particular feeling again but now was hardly the place or the time.

“You can get off me now,” she spoke quietly, pushing against his shoulders. “They’re going away.”

Clint didn’t budge. “They may have lowered someone to the ground to continue the search,” he reasoned. “Be quiet.”

Sarah listened to the sound of the chopper diminish as it moved further away and raised her eyes to the top of the trees above them where the sky was visible. And where Clint’s gaze was focused. She couldn’t help noticing how thick and muscular his arched neck was. The veins were evident beneath his whiskered jaw.

“You can still get off me,” she insisted, wincing at the weakness in her tone. He glanced down at her. Their gazes met and held. Sarah tried to gauge what he was thinking. After an awkward moment of silence, Sarah looked away, but not before she acknowledged the flame of awareness in Clint’s pupils. His body grew taut.

She caught her breath when his cock turned hard and demanding against her. With little between them, it was easy to determine Clint wasn’t lacking there. And the knowledge turned Sarah hotter. It seemed the danger of being captured was over but another more primal danger threatened her.

She knew she was playing with fire but couldn’t stop herself from acknowledging Clint’s hard-on in the most obvious way. Parting her legs, she arched into the hard shaft, being rewarded when he sucked in his breath.

“You know if I was a smart man I’d roll off, start walking and not look back.”

Sarah stiffened. Then why didn’t he? When Clint didn’t move right away, Sarah closed her eyes so she wouldn’t have to look at him. His closeness was unnerving, catching her off guard when she realized how much she liked his weight against her. However, closing her eyes turned out to be a bigger mistake when all it did was enhance the charged atmosphere between them.

Her ears picked up the low drone of the helicopter as it was all but out of ear shot, but her senses were acutely aware of Clint. His breath was against her face, hot and intimate, his heart beating against her chest keeping rhythm with another more vital part of his body. When he began to grind his aroused cock against her, she began to respond to the situation against her will.

Suddenly, she felt alive. Her breasts became ultra-sensitive, swelling against his chest as her nipples hardened into tight little nubs. In her mind’s eye, Sarah could see his mouth on her, licking and tugging on them until she was breathless and on fire. As her breathing became shallow, she closed her legs to the liquid heat pooling there, denying its existence along with the hard shaft she’d unknowingly trapped there.

Oh God! What is happening to me? An explosive rush swept through her blood. She kept her eyes closed, desperate to ignore the changes in her body, trying to ignore that it was a man like Clint— callous, raw, and totally unlovable—who was turning her on to such a feverish pitch. She struggled to bring her breathing under control, embarrassed when a soft whimper broke the silence.

“Open your eyes,” he demanded in a voice hoarse with desire.

“No.” The way Sarah figured it, if she didn’t look at him, nothing would happen. He couldn’t possible know she was so turned on she was burning up with it.

“I’m going to kiss you."

It sounded like a threat. Her eyes flew open. “No!” The firmness she tried to inject into her tone came out weak and throaty, revealing her condition. The savage expression on his face frightened her but not nearly as much as the untamed wildfire racing through her body. His body began to move against her, his hardness fitting perfectly in the damp crevice between her legs. The ache in the lower half of her body became a tangible, almost painful, reminder that she hadn’t had a cock in there in a long time. Too long.

“No? Are you sure about that, angel?”

“Yes,” she gasped, mesmerized by the smoldering look in his eyes. “I don’t think it’s wise to complicate things.” Not to mention she was scared out of her wits that she’d enjoy it. And she wasn’t forgetting the fact he’d already fingered her. She’d never hear the end of it.

“One little kiss doesn’t have to complicate anything,” he returned with a wolfish grin.

He was actually teasing her—or was he testing her? “We both know that’s not all you have on your mind,” she pointed out.

“No, but maybe a good fuck will curb that mean mouth of yours."

Right now? That insinuated they might have time for a good fuck, later.

*The Mercenary Way was previously released as Against the Odds, with another publisher. This version contains more content and has been considerably sexed up.


WICKED DESIRE

He threatened more than her peace of mind. Maggie was feeling things she hadn’t felt in a long time, yearnings long buried. She wanted to get closer to Matt if that were possible. Her fingers began to twitch beneath his hand, her palm smoothing against his flesh in an innocent caress. She shifted her leg cautiously, catching his indrawn hiss when her flesh glided across his penis.

She wanted to feel more of him, so much more. Fire erupted inside her. She broke free of his gentle restraint and let the caress take her where it would, where he would let it. Knowing she would only get singed if he didn’t feel the same way.

In a lightning fast move Matt surprised her by grabbing her wrist and flipping her over. He moved over her body, pinning her on the bed. She gasped with surprise, powerless to move against the steely fingers encircling her wrist. The blood coursed through her veins like a spinning tidal pool, leaving her breathless at the intensity. Their eyes locked, their breaths becoming one. His expression was fierce, his eyes blazing down at her. He looked savage, like a hungry animal close to the end of his control.

"Do you know what you’re inviting?" His voice was hoarse with obvious need, almost angry. His nostrils flared with every breath he took. His gaze dropped to her lips, and Maggie parted them, running her tongue over them in anticipation of his kiss. "I won't be gentle, Maggie. I haven’t been with a woman in a long time."

It came out like a threat. Did he want to hear her say no? His gaze lowered to her breasts, and then before she could grasp his intentions his mouth was there, loving her through the thin satin of her gown.

His hands glided down her sides to her hips, then around to her bottom. Fingers sank deeply into the soft mounds before he pulled her tightly against him and ground his erection against her. Maggie moaned with growing hunger, the tingle becoming a pulsing throb of desire.

"Can you take it rough?"

His comment inflamed Maggie. She made an attempt to respond, but the only sound that came out was a pitiful whimper. She wanted him to kiss her, wanted to feel that firm, masculine mouth on hers as he devoured her lips. But she sensed he was using every ounce of strength he possessed to hold on to his control. There was no disguising the state of arousal he was in. Could she push him over the edge?

Did she want to?

The answer was yes.


IT'S ALL IN THE JEANS

Libby swallowed nervously. If he rejected her now she’d leave the park and never return. However, what she saw on Logan’s expression wasn’t rejection. As he took his fill looking at her, she let her eyes roam down to the prominent bulge in his pants. My…it was a wonder it didn’t burst right through his zipper!

Without realizing what she was doing she reached forward and touched him to see if it was as hard as it appeared, sliding a naughty fingertip down the pulsing length. He was made of steel. And she couldn’t wait to have him inside her.

He sucked in his breath, his penis jumping strongly beneath her finger. His heavy lidded gaze slid down Libby’s exposed body in a slow, heated caress that made her heart pound and her pulse race. She felt her breasts swelling for attention, her nipples tingling almost painfully with excitement. Lord, it was a wonder she remained on her feet she was so turned on. And all they’d done was kiss so far.

What was Logan waiting for? Libby was all but asking him to make love to her. Didn’t he recognize the signs? Surely he wasn’t a virgin!

"Ah, Logan?" she questioned after a moment, curious as to why he hadn’t made his move yet when she expected him to sweep her into his arms and ravish her. His eyes swung lazily up to hers, the question in them apparent. "Ah, you’ve been with a woman before, haven’t you?" Her finger continued to toy with his erection. "Because if you haven’t, I can show you what to do with this."

The crooked grin spreading slowly across his face was sexy as sin, and Libby felt the heat of embarrassment crawl up her neck and span across her cheeks when she realized her mistake. All at once the wolfish look in his eyes was backed up with a predatory gleam, and his intentions became very clear.

He was about to make a meal of her.

"I thought I told you Libby, I like it slow and easy." His words reminded her of what he’d said that night at the bar. Before she was prepared he wrapped an arm around her waist and hauled her up against him. She was the one catching her breath now, feeling the ridge of his desire against her. "And looking is the best part," he finished in a voice of smooth velvet.


THE COWBOY 

"I want to talk to you."

"Really? And here I thought you stopped to kiss me." What was she saying? Baiting a man like Chase was dangerous.

There was a long pause. Something flickered in Chase’s eyes. His expression gave nothing away, though. Lacey began to feel nervous again, though for a different reason than the one back at the house.

"The cowboy way, ma’am?" His tone was soft, dangerous, carrying the subtle threat of an unspoken promise.

Lacey swallowed nervously. The cowboy way? That was twice he’d used that expression. She wondered what it meant. An explosion of heat uncurled inside her belly, as her imagination ran rampant. Of the two of them locked in a hot, passionate embrace. No longer was Chase’s mouth firm and unyielding, but soft and sensuous. His eyes darkened with smoldering intent. Yet instincts warned Lacey that Chase was just as dangerous now as he had been a moment ago, in anger. She tried to jerk the reins from his hands, suddenly afraid she was about to find out what the cowboy way was.

"Let go." Misty moved nervously beneath her, obviously sensing her growing panic.

In the blink of an eye his expression changed. "Not until you listen to what I have to say."

"You can’t bully me, Chase." The wind blew at her loose hair, and she reached up impatiently to wipe it out of her eyes. "I won’t let you."

He reared back his head and laughed at her comment. "And how do you propose to stop me? I could do anything I want to you right now and you wouldn’t be able to stop me."

Lacey tightened her lips in frustration, even while the thought of what that something could be caused a tingle of excitement to zing through her. As his hard mouth curved upwards in a crooked smile that was sexy as sin, she wished she could wipe that arrogant expression off his rugged face. He was so sure of himself. The look in his eyes told her to go ahead and try. Well, she’d taken self defense lessons a few years back and wasn’t as helpless as he thought.

"Then maybe you should have warned me about you, this morning!" She jerked on the reins again, harder this time. When he wouldn’t release them Lacey reached out and slapped him across the cheek. She caught her breath, realizing a man like Chase might strike back. He didn’t look the type to turn the other cheek, or ignore a challenge. Their eyes clashed in silent battle.

Then without warning he reached forward and pulled her from her horse and into his arms. His gaze dropped to her mouth before returning to her eyes. "I think you need to be taught a lesson."

"No!"

"Yes!" He hissed. He crushed her to him and slammed his mouth down on hers, locking any protest deep in her throat.

Lacey struggled but it didn’t seem to matter to Chase. He over powered her easily, while managing to control his stallion’s nervous movements with ease and expertise. Lacey brought her hands up and pushed against his massive, rock hard chest. But it was like trying to move a mountain. She whimpered beneath his attack, becoming aware of things she didn’t want to notice.

She began to slip towards the ground and ceased her movements, bringing her arms up to cling to Chase’s neck. It brought Lacey closer to him. He growled, forcing her mouth open until he could slip his tongue inside. Unwillingly, she began to melt under his rough kiss, returning the thrust of his tongue against hers. A sharp need of desire uncurled inside her belly, turning her blood hot. She was afraid of not being strong enough to deny him if he should seek more than a kiss.

Lacey had never been handled so ruthlessly by any man before, no one had dared. And while she balked at his arrogance, she couldn’t deny the feelings he roused. The thrill of his mouth on hers, the feel of his whiskers against her tender skin and the taste of something sweet on his breath heightened her arousal. Her nostrils flared, greedily taking in the masculine scent of sweat, leather and horse.

Most of all his arousal.

Lacey’s breasts swelled against his chest, her nipples hardened into painful knots. When his hands traveled down her arms he left a trail of tingles behind. But when his hand closed over her breast, Lacey knew real desire, and fear. For her betraying flesh swelled even more into his caress. She shivered violently and moaned as his thumb flicked across her nipple, and arched her back before she realized what she was doing.

Without warning Chase broke away, promptly ending the sizzling moment between them. Lacey’s lungs screamed for air, and it gave her little pleasure to see Chase was just as out of breath. His expression frightened her a little. Dark like polished stone, his eyes were glazed over with heated passion, his nostrils flaring like a wild animal. Lacey could feel his heart beating in rhythm with her own.

She tried to turn away from his all too seeing eyes but there was nowhere to go. His horse moved beneath them, but Chase kept him under control with the steady pressure of his solid thighs and knees. Realizing her arms were still locked around his neck, Lacey slowly broke her hold and lowered them, humiliated and angry.

"You’re a bastard," she said softly, taking a deep breath and trembling with her emotions.

"You asked for it," Chase rasped indifferently, his breathing almost under control again. His smoldering look went over Lacey’s hot face, a satisfied gleam with what he saw filling his eyes.


ALL THE RIGHT MOVES

Marshall reached for his wineglass before sitting back on his stool. For the hundredth time in an hour, his eyes went to the beauty mark on Annie's face. The reason the small flaw captivated him was because it was so close to temptation, and he suspected a taste of heaven. He had a burning desire to kiss her and find out if her lips were as smooth and soft as they appeared.

More than that, he wanted to taste her, in more ways than one. His cock twitched with the thought of what it would be like to wrap his tongue around hers. Earlier, in the bedroom, it had been a struggle not to throw himself down on her and give in to the situation building between them. She'd looked damn appealing on his water bed, glaring up at him with indignant fire in her eyes.

He was willing to bet the fire in her eyes would intensify when it was replaced with passion. The innocence she eluded wasn't a ruse, but a thin layer protecting the woman he sensed was hidden beneath the surface. When was the last time he'd met a woman like her?

"That was good, Detective." Annie's compliment broke the silence. She pushed her empty plate aside and dropped her napkin over it before reaching for her glass of wine. "Either you've never been married, or you've been divorced a long time." She narrowed her eyes at him over her glass.

"Fishing, Doc?" Marshall grinned, pouring more wine into his glass. A tiny smile played upon her lips, making him wonder what she was thinking.

"What now, Detective?" She ran her pinky along the edge of her glass, dipping it slightly into the liquid before bringing it to her mouth.

In spite the sophistication that cloaked Annie, she looked extremely vulnerable at that moment. Her action under normal circumstances would have been a natural prelude to an intimate moment between them-like a kiss. But he knew she wasn't aware of the alluring quality of her movements. She didn't seem the type to purposely tease a man using seductive coyness. In fact, she seemed a thousand miles away.

The shower had done her good. She looked refreshed and sexy as hell in faded cut-off jeans that left her shapely, slender legs bare all the way to the tops of her suntanned thighs. A sleeveless top completed her casual look, something thin and airy that tied beneath her breasts, emphasizing their perky shape.

And I'd thought there wasn't enough there to fill my hands?

A tingle of awareness surged through his blood, warming him more than any wine. The throbbing erection behind his zipper demanded he do something about it.

He hadn't denied her comments about being horny. Hell, she'd hit the nail right on the head, but she was the one making him that way, turning him inside out. When Michelle had kissed him and pressed her body against his, he'd felt nothing. Not a twinge of the old passion had resurfaced.

All Annie had to do to turn him hard was be in the same room with him, like now. He wondered what her reaction would be if she knew how she was affecting him. If she knew how much he wanted to strip her naked and slide into her welcoming body.

*Previously released with New Concepts Publishing. With 20,000 words of new content including a new last chapter, if you enjoyed the ebook than you'll love the print version of this sizzling, suspenseful romance!


TALK DIRTY TO ME 

Lilly drove her little car around the airport at least twice before finding her way to Southwest arrivals. Parking wasn't allowed so she could only hope Blake was waiting for her somewhere outside. She drove slow, searching through the crowd on the sidewalk for him. Desire churned in her stomach.

And then she saw him.

Her body reacted instantly, thinking about him was one thing but seeing him in the flesh was even more powerful. Awareness exploded through her body, as she remembered all the times and places they'd had hot, naughty sex. How Blake had taken her to paradise a thousand times. Her panties became soaked as she clenched her legs together hoping to ease the need that was becoming unbearable. A pleasant prickling in her full breasts caused her to raise her arm and brush it over them to try to ease some of the ache.

Blake hadn't changed at all. He was still the sexiest man on earth. As she sat there staring at him she felt her breathing become erratic and her heart rate pick up speed.

Blake was six feet tall, and lean. Yet his black polo shirt revealed he wasn't lacking on muscle power. The gray slacks he was wearing gave evidence to the strength in his thighs and stretched across the prominent outline of his cock. He looked dangerous. He was dangerous, only in a way that had always drawn her in. His dark hair was shorter than he used to wear it, military cut. Lilly couldn't see his eyes for the dark sunglasses covering them, for which she was thankful. Blake had the kind of eyes that could look right through someone, into their very soul.

He's just a man, he's just a man, Lilly repeated to herself. Flesh and blood and as mortal as she was. He had emotions, he could be hurt. He had needs. Her cheeks grew hot when she thought of their last night together, and how they'd made love like two wild animals trying to consume one another. Then he'd left the next morning for an assignment on an oil rig in the North Sea. And she'd tried to convince herself that she hated him ever since.

Now she knew how futile that had been.


BREATHLESS SURRENDER 

Reid entered the room quietly. His gaze immediately zeroed in on Alexis. He swore beneath his breath and thanked god she hadn't been there long. She was hanging by her arms in the center of the room, feet dangling inches from the concrete floor. Blindfolded, gagged and almost naked. They'd stripped her, leaving on only her red lacy bikini panties. He knew she was wearing a matching bra, too, the kind that emphasized her full breasts by pushing them over the top. The first time he'd laid eyes on her he'd been able to examine their perfection. Now her jet-black hair, long and thick, hid her breasts from his view.

His gaze skimmed over the room, taking note of the two-way mirror covering the wall, giving whoever was on the other side a bird's eye view of everything that went on. He clenched his teeth-he knew what they expected him to do. This was a test to see if he made the cut and could be trusted. One of several, he'd been informed. And Reid knew he'd have to see it through to the end.

Or he and Alexis would both die.

Except for the bed, which he was supposed to make use of, there was no furniture in the room. Walking quietly toward Alexis, Reid let his gaze roam over her lovely shape from the top of her bent head down to her painted toes. How many months have I imagined her without her clothes on? Nothing escaped his scrutiny. From what he could see, she was flawless, her skin like a sun-kissed peach. Healthy, with a natural sheen, toned where it needed to be, soft where it mattered. There was no movement to indicate she was alive until he saw the slightest stirring of her belly when she breathed.

Reid walked slowly around her. His gaze explored the enticing swell of her ass, the graceful curve of her hips and small waist. Damn... the sight of her is arousing. He felt something hot twist in his gut and his cock began to swell. He hadn't expected it to be this easy, not with an audience. But then this was Alexis, and he'd been aching for her. His mission was simple and crude. He was supposed to fuck her and, he feared, kill her. He couldn't afford to fail and see six months of hard work go down the drain. Not when the end was so close.

It was a stupid initiation, but he was dealing with a freak, Juan Rodriguez. A weirdo who got his kicks playing games with other people's lives to suit himself. The only way Rodriguez felt he could trust anyone new in his organization was to make them perform an act they found reprehensible, to prove they were as unscrupulous and evil as he was.

Reid came to a halt in front of Alexis, standing for a moment and just staring at her. She gave no sign that she knew he was there. But instinct told him that she did. Reid gave her credit. She had to be terrified, yet she remained quiet. No screaming out or pleading for release, no twisting at the rope binding her wrists in an effort to break the restraint. The only sign of her turmoil was the tear tracks lining her cheeks.

Resisting the urge to look at the two-way mirror again, his gaze dropped down her body slowly, feeding the need uncurling and growing in his belly. He'd never had to perform with an audience before. Could he do it? The need to see more of Alexis prompted him to reach forward. He answered his own question when he pushed her hair back to expose her luscious breasts. The shape of her full, sensuous body was hot enough to bring him to full arousal.


SOMEONE TO LOVE ME 

He pivoted toward the door, and was just about to step up the first step when he heard Charlie release a shriek of anger or frustration or both. He grinned, until he realized she was right behind him.
"What won't work? Trying to prove that you're human?"

She cut Luke off at the porch, moving around and in front of him before he could stop her. She walked up the steps backwards. "What buttons do I have to push, huh mountain man?"

Her words moved over Luke like warm honey. He tried to swallow but everything about Charlie assailed his senses all at once—the twinkle in her eyes, her spirit, the rosy glow on her pretty cheeks, and that sensuous mouth. Most of all that wild hair, which seemed to have a life of its own.

Luke pictured what she would look like naked, with it draped all about her. Like some medieval maiden waiting to be conquered by her lord. Covering just what it needed to cover to wet a man's appetite and keep him hungry for more. He sucked in great gulps of crisp mountain air and warm woman. Arousal slammed him in the gut like a fist. She was too close and exhilarating.

His cock was hard as stone and hungry.

"Well?" Her tone was low and husky. Their gazes clung.

"I can see it in your eyes, mountain man. You want to let go. Do it Luke. It feels good."

She had the gall to wet her lips and smile. As far as Luke was concerned she'd just crossed the line. He dropped his line of fish, grabbed Charlie by the shoulders, slammed her up against the cabin door, and pinned her there with his hard body. He heard the breath leave her lungs with a loud whoosh, watched her pupils dilate with emotion. He wanted to believe it was fear, but his gut told him Charlie didn't frighten easily.
As he closed in she tilted her head, meeting the anger in his eyes. She didn't back down one inch. The need to taste her was so strong that it frightened Luke. But not enough into letting her go.

"Is this what you want, Charlie? Is this the kind of reaction you're looking for?"

Anger raced through Luke's blood that she'd pushed him into touching her. Something he didn't want to do. The feel of her small, vibrant body against his was weakening his resolve to remain indifferent. His lips thinned as he lowered his face closer.

"Are you happy now?"

"It's a start," she said foolishly, those incredible eyes of hers filling with a glint of satisfaction, and something else. Victory? "Doesn't it feel good letting your emotions go for a change?"

Luke didn't like the calm in her voice, the confidence that she knew what she was doing. He wanted her as torn up inside as he was. He wanted her hot.

"You have no idea what you're inviting, Charlie."

He had no idea he was going to kiss Charlie until he was doing it. With a hungry groan he slanted his mouth over hers, quickly cutting off any smart remark he sensed was forthcoming. He didn't care that he was stealing the breath from her, or that he'd forced his tongue inside her mouth to battle her sweetly responsive one. Sensations he hadn't felt in a long time exploded through his body with the force of a cyclone. It made him hungry and afraid at the same time.

He knew once he'd touched her he would be hard pressed to let her go. Since the moment they'd met he'd reacted to her like a man to a woman. Everything seemed to be leading up to this moment of madness, in spite of trying his damnedest to deny those feelings and keep his distance. But damn her, she'd made it exceedingly difficult. Well, he hoped she was happy now because he was giving her the human reaction her goading demanded. The sounds of a satisfied purr rumbled low in her throat, giving him the answer to his thoughts. Making Luke realize the situation could easily turn dangerous, and much more intimate, between them.

Her response caused sharp arousal to uncoil from deep inside his gut, shaking him with its intensity. His senses were suddenly alive and throbbing with stimulation, the blood in his veins turning to molten lava. He could feel the heat of Charlie through their clothes, sensed the need flowing through her blood was just as urgent as his. Her soft whimpers became hungry moans, rendering him powerless to stop from grinding his cock against her. Only he knew relief wouldn't come until he was buried deep inside her pussy.

His hand fell to the zipper on her jacket. He pulled it down until he could part the material and cover her breast with his hand. The soft fullness seemed to swell even more in his palm. She cried out beneath his mouth. He ignored it. Every fiber of his being demanded he take what she seemed willing to give, but when she arched into his intimate act, Luke ended the kiss abruptly. Because, if he didn't find the will power to stop now he wouldn't.

Out of breath, he rested his forehead against hers for a moment, struggling for control. Charlie was panting too, her breath intermingling with his, their hearts pounding wildly against each other as one. It took super human strength not to take her there, standing against the door with all of Mother Nature looking on. Luke wondered if she'd shut up about wanting to see a human response out of him then.

"Do you want me to fuck you right here and now?" His tone held a mixture of desire and self-loathing. "Or are you satisfied?"


HER HANDS-ON MAN 

"I'll take care of Miss Taylor for you."

Ivy swung around with a gasp, her gaze clashing with the steely blue gaze that went with the deep sexy voice. That gaze moved down her body and back up again before she could take a steadying breath. That the owner was related to John Remington was apparent. A bigger, younger, handsomer version without the gray in his long black hair. His rugged expression was set in a way that Ivy remembered only too well. Jake Remington was still angry as hell at her.

"Thanks, son. Handle it however you see fit. I've got more important matters to attend to right now."

He turned and walked briskly away, leaving Ivy to face the devil alone. "This matter is between your father and my family."

"He filled me in on what happened. And as half owner of the company, I think I'm within my rights to make any decisions with regard to this matter. Besides, I'm interested to hear how you intend to bail your brother out of this one."

Ivy felt sick inside. That Jake hated her was apparent, no matter that his gaze moved over her with interest, lingering briefly on her breasts. It was obvious that he still found her attractive, but what was between them was in the past. Although facing him now was bringing it back at an alarming speed. She felt heat envelop her body and knew it probably colored her cheeks. She could barely meet Jake's quiet gaze.

Can I trust him not to take out his anger with me on my brother? As quick as the thought came to her, Ivy knew the answer. If he took it out on anyone, it would be her. "He's my only family. I'll do whatever it takes."

For the first time Ivy saw emotion flicker in his eyes. If she didn't know better she'd swear it was humor.
"Really?" This time when Jake's gaze moved over Ivy her nipples hardened into peaks of awareness. She resisted the urge to run her arm over her breasts to ease the tingle.

Damn him! He'd always had the power to make her body betray her in the most obvious way, letting him know she wanted him, no matter where they were. When they'd been together it had usually led to hot and heavy sex. Now it was the worst betrayal. She watched one brow lift arrogantly.

"Is that why you're dressed the way you are? Were you prepared to pitch that same remark to my father?"

It didn't take Ivy long to realize what Jake meant. There was nothing wrong with her silk blouse, short skirt and stilettos. This was how she usually dressed for a day of work at McCaffey's Jewelry Store. But the way his gaze was running over her, he made her feel as if she were dressed like a hooker or something.

She reacted before she could think, raising her hand to respond to his obvious insult. Too late, she saw his sensuous mouth turn up in a smile.

He stopped her hand in midair. "Easy, sweetheart. There's already one person in your family heading for jail." His comment took the fire right out of Ivy. She relaxed her arm, although Jake didn't release his hold. "That's better. I think we should finish this inside."

It was obvious he meant his father's office. Ivy cast a glance at the receptionist, who quickly averted her gaze and pretended to be looking at something on her desktop. Ivy wanted to get the hell out of there. Being alone with Jake wasn't a good idea. So why am I letting him drag me inside? She'd always been weak where he was concerned. She wasn't fooled into thinking anything had changed in three months. The man was too damn sexy. And the worn jeans, boots and work shirt only emphasized his rugged appeal.

It was too late to dig in her heels. Before she knew it they were in the office and Jake was closing the door. Her heart skipped a beat when he reached behind him and locked it, never taking his gaze off her. Something in his eyes and the sudden tautness of his body brought back the memory of the last time they'd been together. Big mistake.

The memory of that night opened the floodgates of emotion. Ivy stepped back nervously, gasping when she came up against the desk. She felt her heart beating out of control. A quiver of intense awareness in her belly released damp heat between her legs. The last time Jake had looked at her like he was now, they'd been naked and fucking like there was no tomorrow. He stepped forward and her eyes widened. "Why are you so nervous, Ivy?"

She cleared her throat. "I'm not afraid of you, Jake." He couldn't hurt her anymore. Could he?

A humorless chuckle passed through his lips. "Have I ever hurt you?"

Not physically. But a few months ago he'd broken her heart. A pain so raw she never wanted to go through it again. Ivy was determined not to rehash the past and decided to get right to the point. She took a calming breath. "I'm here on Wally's behalf."

"So talk."

"He's young, Jake. We've all made mistakes when we were his age. He deserves a second chance. He came to me the moment he realized he'd made a big mistake and asked me to help him make it right."

"Why isn't he here pleading his case? He's a man now. When are you going to start letting him run his own life and grow up?"

"You don't understand."

"I understand, remember? The last time he got into trouble I heard it all. Has it changed?"
"He's sorry he borrowed that money!"

Jake snorted. "Borrowed?" Ivy watched him move around the desk and sit. "I don't want to hear any more. I'm not interested. All I want to hear now is how you're going to make it right." He paused before raising his brow and adding, "Twenty-thousand-dollars right."

Twenty thousand dollars! Oh god, it was worse than she thought. Wally had led her to believe it was significantly less. She took a deep breath, wishing she had the answer. She'd come here with the intention of offering a six-month payment plan but it would take years to pay back that kind of money.

"There must be something I can do."

She didn't like the way Jake leaned back and studied her. When he linked his hands behind his head, she couldn't take her gaze off his muscular biceps and the width of his chest. Then he brought his booted feet up and crossed them on top of the desk. Ivy's gaze followed the length of his legs and powerful thighs up to the front of his dusty jeans. There was no disguising the growing bulge behind his zipper.

Fire erupted through her. She'd never stopped loving him or wanting him. And she wanted him now. She'd been addicted to him since the moment they'd met four years ago. I wonder what he'd do if I walked around the desk and unzipped his pants. In the old days she would have had the nerve. "Well?"

His deep voice dragged Ivy back to the present and Wally. Her wayward brother was counting on her one last time. Because she'd made it clear this was it. The next time he screwed up he was on his own. Jake was right. He was a man now.

"Maybe we can work out some kind of a…ah, payment plan?" She chewed on the inside of her lip, realizing how weak and pitiful she sounded.

"I have a better idea, Ivy. Seeing you again has only reminded me of what I've been missing. With interest, a payment plan will take years. How about one weekend?"

One weekend? "I don't understand. You know I can't come up with that kind of money in one weekend."
Laughing, Jake slammed his feet to the floor and leaned forward. "Come on, honey, you're not stupid. But just in case you can't read between the lines, let me clarify. I want one weekend."

Her brows furrowed. "One weekend of what?"

There was a long pause. "Of you."

He can't be serious! "What?"

"One weekend of you, as many times as I want, wherever I want, in any position I want. One weekend of fucking you will erase the debt Wally owes our company."


THE PROMISE 

Just as she stepped off the bottom step, she heard a noise at the front door. She hesitated, unsure what to do. Who could be visiting at this hour? Just when she expected to hear a knock, she heard something else instead. A key was being inserted into the lock, and right before her startled eyes, she watched the knob turn and the door open. Her gaze landed on a pair of army boots and slowly traveled upward, taking in the muscular body in military fatigues. Her mouth dropped open in shock.

Ohmygod! Ryan had come home!

He appeared just as startled as she was. Halting in the threshold as their eyes meet, his rugged expression carved in granite. Only his eyes, those piercing blue orbs, showed any sign of life, if you could call it that. Shannon had a feeling that Ryan Hayes didn't reveal any emotions that weren't hardened by years of combat. For a moment, she thought he wasn't going to speak and half expected him to back out and leave.

"Do you mind if I come in?" His deep voice was just as Shannon remembered. "It's damn cold out here."
For the first time she realized she was blocking his way. Swallowing, she stepped back enough for him to enter and close the door behind him. He dropped a large army bag on the floor by his feet, and shook off the snow onto the floor mat. All the while keeping his eyes trained on Shannon, as though she were the enemy. She took a nervous step further into the foyer, directly into the soft glow of the lamp that had been left on in the living room.

Ryan looked just like he did the last time she saw him. Big and tall, cloaked in that attitude of quiet strength he seemed to possess. His black hair cut in military fashion and suited his strong, square boned face. Though sporting a tiny scar over his left eyebrow and another, bigger one halfway down his left cheek he was still a handsome man. He eluded danger in practically every move he made, every glance. His eyes dropped, running over Shannon rapidly, making her painfully aware of her disheveled state.

She refused to reach up and smooth her hair back, knowing that it would do no good. The tiniest quirk on his full, sensuous mouth revealed he found her condition amusing. Quickly, his lips thinned almost menacingly when his gaze narrowed on her breasts. It was then that Shannon reached up and pulled her ruined blouse together where the buttons had come off. She finally found her voice.

"Welcome home, Ryan."

"Where is everyone?" His tone seemed hard, gruff, more commanding than inquiring. He slipped off his jacket and hung it on a peg on the back of the door, and then bent to slip off his boots.

"Mom went to bed with a headache. Sheila must be putting the kids to bed. The rest won't get here until tomorrow night." Shannon couldn't help but notice the quick glance he shot her way when she called his mother mom. She watched quietly as he set his boots against the wall and stood, towering over her again.

"It's just as well. I'm tired as hell and want to turn in early myself. But first, I want to find something to eat. I'm starved." Closing the distance between them, Ryan halted when he reached Shannon. "Is that okay?"

Shannon felt a telltale heat rush up to her cheeks when she realized she was watching Ryan's mouth form the words. What the heck was wrong with her? Jet lag, that's what. She gave her head a little shake. She must be more tired than she thought. As his words became clear, it dawned on her that she was once again blocking his way.

"Oh! I'm, ah sorry." Instead of moving to let him pass, she turned and began to walk in the direction of the kitchen. "I'll be glad to fix you something to eat."

"Thanks, but that won't be necessary." He was right on her heels.

"That's okay." Shannon pushed the kitchen door open and flipped on the light switch on the wall next to it. "Sheila put a plate for me in the oven and if I know her, she left enough for two. I don't mind sharing." Not waiting for Ryan to acknowledge her, Shannon took the potholders from the counter by the stove, opened the oven door and retrieved the plate. "Just as I thought."

She turned and showed him the full plate of corn beef hash. But the expression on Ryan's face almost made her drop it. Sweat had broken out on his forehead and he'd turned pale, his lips were thin as a muscle twitched in his jaw that had hardened in an effort to hold back that he was in obvious pain. Intense pain. He was clutching the island counter in the middle of the kitchen as if it alone was holding him upright. "Ryan!" Shannon set the plate down and rushed to his side. "What is it? What's wrong?"

He held a hand up in a silent warning for her to back off. She stopped immediately and waited for another sign from him, afraid he was having some kind of attack. After a few more seconds, he sucked in several deep breaths and released them slowly. It was clear by his expression that he hated showing her even that one small weakness. It was very clear that he didn't intend talking about it. Shannon knew the moment the pain left his body when his expression relaxed.

"You said something about sharing your dinner?" He pulled out one of the barstools from around the island and sank down onto it. Shannon hesitated for a moment, fighting the urge to question him. Something was terribly wrong, she just knew it, but she didn't know Ryan well enough to feel she had the right to ask him anything personal. The look in his cold eyes warned her she'd be shot down before she managed to speak the first word. Forcing a smile she was far from feeling, she turned to get a second plate.

"I'll thank you not to mention what just occurred to my family," Ryan surprised her by saying while her back was turned to him.

"If that's what you want," Shannon responded, opening a cupboard door. She glanced with surprise at where the plates were usually stacked. Glasses had replaced them. Marsha had obviously done some rearranging since the last time Shannon had been there. She opened up several other doors before finding the plates, stacked on the second shelf. Standing on tip toe she strained to reach them.

"Here, let me help you."

"Oh!" Feeling Ryan brush up against her, Shannon spun around before she could think. Suddenly, it wasn't her backside feeling his hardened muscles. Since he was in the process of reaching over her head for a plate, they were now flush against each other. Her breasts flattened against his hard chest, the lower halves of their bodies were shockingly aligned, and their thighs were touching. Mouths within inches of each other, their breath mingled. It was crazy but Shannon was sure she felt their hearts beating in rhythm. She began to tingle everywhere and held her breath.

Their gazes met and held and Ryan became motionless, his arm still above her head reaching for the plate. It struck Shannon that she was seeing the dangerous side of him, the soldier sizing up the situation and preparing for action. Only in this case, what would that be? She refused to let her mind go there.