A door waited in front of him. A plain wooden door, scuffed by time. Behind it, he was sure he would find her. His mate. His. Finally. Alerac shoved open the door. A young blond woman whirled, her pale blue eyes widening. He paused a moment, staring at her. He…knew her. He’d seen her before— A slow smile curved her full lips. “I hoped I’d see you tonight, La Mort.” The hair on his nape rose. Something was wrong. Very, very wrong. He could sense it, could sense— She raised her hand. Her fingers were curled around the butt of a gun. Horror filled him. No, this couldn’t be happening. She was his mate, all of his senses told him she was the one woman destined to be his for all time. She couldn’t do this, couldn’t— She pulled the trigger. A white-hot lance of pain burned through his chest. He fell to the floor, and a thick, drugging heaviness swept over him. Was this death? The woman walked toward him, her high heels clicking softly on the concrete floor. “Don’t worry, wolf. I don’t plan to kill you…yet.” Wolf. She knew, he realized, as the room began to dim, she knew what he was. He struggled to keep his eyes open, struggled see her, to speak. “Y-you’re going t-to pay for th-this, cherie.” Mate or no, he would see her punished. Her lips curved into a cold, hard smile. “No, wolf, it will be you who pays.” He tried to reach for her, but he couldn’t move. Darkness swept over him, and he saw no more.
* * * Madison Langley stared down at the prone man on the floor. Her heart was racing, her palms soaked with sweat. She’d done it. She’d actually done it. Fumbling, she managed to jerk her cell phone out of her back pocket. Her fingers trembled as she punched in the number. A man answered on the second ring. “Did you get him?” Her gaze was still on Alerac. Still on the strong, unmoving figure. “Yeah, I got him.” “Good.” A pause, then, “Two of my men are waiting behind the bar. They’ll help you move La Mort. When he’s secured, call me back.” “Right.” She ended the call and crouched beside Alerac. Her hand lifted, hesitated over his body. A strange desire to touch him filled her. To touch that blond mane of hair. To feel his strong flesh beneath her fingers. Her hand fisted. What in the hell was wrong with her? He was a monster. Her teeth clenched and she jerked away from him. Alerac La Mort was a murdering bastard. And soon, very soon, he would get exactly what he deserved.
GOOD VIBRATIONS by Kate St. James Excerpt
"Hey, stop that! This isn't a playground." Lexi O'Brien whipped out from behind the cash counter of Grin & Bare It. Only five minutes until closing on a Friday night and she had to be saddled with a couple of college-aged gorillas playing Toss the Condoms dangerously close to the massage oil display.
The taller kid leered at her. "Sure, it is, hot thing. Want to play with us?" He lobbed the giant box of Mint to Please You condoms at his guffawing friend. They both reeked of beer.
Lexi jammed a hand on her hip. "No, I do not want to play with you. I want you to stop. Now. Before I call the cops."
No other customers lingered in the small adult novelty shop, but Lexi wasn't afraid of these drunk kids. The short one swayed, and the blond guy's eyes crossed whenever he caught the condoms. A well-placed kick to Shorty's crotch and a blast of pepper spray at Blondie would send them both crying home to their mamas.
"Aw, I could make it worth it your while." Blondie winked.
"That I sincerely doubt." Shooting them a pointed look, Lexi grabbed the phone off the counter and tugged her spray from a front jeans pocket. "I said now."
Blondie flung up his hands. "Okay, okay."
The short goon flipped him the condoms. The carton whacked Blondie's chest and careened to the floor. The huge box split, dozens of mint green packets scattering.
Blondie stared down at them. "Whoops."
Lexi rolled her eyes. "Now get out of here."
The kid's gaze rose—then he grinned. "You asked for it, sweet stuff." He snatched a bottle of massage oil from the display and hurled it at her. "Catch!"
"Shit!" Lexi slammed down the phone and lunged for the flying bottle. Her hand gripping the pepper spray collided with a display shelf, and pain shot through her wrist as the safety glass crashed to the floor. Several vibrators bounced on the linoleum. Two or three began humming.
"You assholes!" Lexi shook her aching fist at the kids.
They raced to the exit, hooting and hollering.
"Come back here and clean this up!"
"Can't! Gotta go get pizza!"
Agh. Lexi plunked the pepper spray on the counter, then pushed her hair out of her face and surveyed the damage. The bottle of massage oil had landed on a stack of rude and funny T-shirts, but the shattered display case would take ages to tidy.
She blew out a breath. Damn her deviant Aunt Beth for escaping the sub-zero Calgary winter weather by fleeing to Mexico at the last minute and asking Lexi to watch over Grin & Bare It. Managing her outrageous aunt's store was not her idea of a good time, but the city was enjoying an unprecedented boom, rendering it almost impossible to retain employees continually on the lookout for something better. Besides, Beth had been a friend to her for years, so she'd wanted to repay her.
Gingerly, she lowered to one knee and brushed aside the safety glass chunks clustered around three buzzing vibrators: one a light flesh tone, another vibrant purple, and a massage wand of white plastic.
She fished out the flesh-colored unit and turned it off, then reached for the purple Hum-Ding-Her. Two more weeks. In two weeks, Aunt Beth would return and Lexi would be outta this den of debauchery. She didn't mind selling the joke stuff or sensual massage and aromatherapy items, but talking up the sex toys to a certain element of customer always made her feel smarmy.
As she switched off the purple Hum-Ding-Her, the shop door tinkled. Damn it, she should have locked up first.
"Sorry about the mess." She remained focused on her task, placing the purple vibrator beside the flesh-colored dick-stick before cautiously extracting the massage wand from the safety glass debris. "Feel free to browse, and I'll be with you in a minute."
"Thanks, but it looks like you could use some help."
That voice. Lexi froze with the massage wand vibrating in her hand. Warmth suffused her panties, and her nipples perked to attention. There was no mistaking the deep, husky timbre and sensual, naughty undertones that had supercharged her fantasies throughout the long winter.
It's him. Her favorite customer—and drop-dead gorgeous dream lay.
The one downside to leaving her aunt's employ was the thought of never seeing him again. Gage. Even his name inspired erotic images in her sex-starved mind. Gage... Cage... shackles... handcuffs.
Fuzzy leopard-print ones.
Yup, it worked for her.
Nerves fluttering, she glanced up as he crouched beside her. His gray trousers stretched at the knees... and groin, outlining an impressive bulge.
Blushing, she flicked her gaze to his smiling midnight blue eyes with sooty lashes thick and long enough to leave a girl crying in envy—especially a mascara-dependant redhead like Lexi. Whisker stubble emphasized his sensual lips and strong jaw. And his ebony hair, worn neatly trimmed but luxuriously textured, hinted at natural curl if he grew it any longer.
High school biology might be a distant memory, but Lexi figured there was no way in hell their kids would have straight hair. Not with her corkscrews contributing to the gene pool.
Her throat tightened. Their kids? Right. Next stop: business school.
But if she were ready for the picket fence and a couple of rug rats, a guy as attractive and nice as Gage Templeton would top her candidate list.
She returned his friendly smile. "Thanks, but I don't need any help. I'm nearly done."
His deep, rich chuckle tunneled from her chest to her toes. "You've barely started."
He didn't stand, so neither did Lexi. She liked having him a scant whisper away, their knees nearly bumping and his musky aftershave teasing her nostrils. His large hand covered hers, and the vibrations from the massage wand spread up her arm, soothing her sore wrist.
"Let me help you. What happened here, anyway?"
"Uh..." Heat pooled between her legs. Lordy, for nearly five months now she'd dreamed of Gage Templeton touching her, fondling her...fucking her. However, aside from a few accidental hand-grazes when they'd visited the bistro around the corner for one of her rare coffee breaks, he hadn't come close.
But then, why would he? A sales rep for a Toronto telecommunications firm, he visited Alberta maybe once a month, staying overnight in Calgary and then Edmonton further north. Considering the vast quantities of condoms and massage oils he bought whenever he dropped into the store, the man possessed one wild sex life and no doubt a woman or two or twenty in every port. With such an extensive harem at his disposal, why would he want an everyday Jane like Lexi in his bed?
"College kids broke the display case," she said. "They were fooling around and got carried away."
He glanced around the disheveled store. "You should report them to the cops. This is nuts."
"I will." No, she wouldn't. Not anymore. In a strange way, she owed the two buffoons. If not for their antics, she would have closed shop before Gage arrived.
And missed her last chance to see him.
His blue gaze drifted to her hand, his big thumb grazing her scraped wrist. "You're hurt," he murmured, concern deepening his tone.
The massage wand continued buzzing. She shrugged, oh-so-nonchalantly. Hopefully harem-like. "A little."
"Do you have ice? It would help prevent swelling."
She shook her head. "There's a mini-fridge in back, but no ice trays."
He smiled. "We should turn this off."
Good luck. Her nipples might never retract again. But of course he meant the massage wand.
"Okay." She didn't move.
Another low chuckle issued from him. "I'll buy some ice around the corner. In the meantime, find a chair and relax. I'll deal with the mess while you tend to your hand."
She'd rather he doctored her, and she'd tidy the place later. "Thanks, Gage, but you don't have to go to all that trouble."
His thumb brushed her wrist. "I want to."
Her pulse skittered like a hummingbird's on speed. "Um, but you dropped in to...buy something, right?" Like another three dozen condoms. "There must be somewhere you need to go." And someone you plan to pleasure all night. Sadly, not me.
"No place." One corner of his mouth crept up. "I came to see you."
Nodding, he slipped the jiggling massage wand from her hand. "I'm in town until Tuesday. It's not often I stay more than one night, as you know." He turned off the unit and set it aside with the others. "I was hoping you'd show me the sights...unless you're seeing someone."
She grinned. "Are you kidding? With the double shifts I've been working this winter, the only guy I'm dating these days is Juan Valdez." And that was how it would remain. Thirty months of planned celibacy while she took her MBA loomed before her. Maintaining her grades would demand all her attention.
However, with Aunt Beth coming home and Gage unlikely to return for a month, the opportunity to grab some harmless bone-jumping time presented itself. She could harem it up with Gage Templeton this weekend and then never see him again.
Her heart tweaked at the finality of that last thought, but she bumped the sadness away.
"I'm on tomorrow until five, but I don't work Sunday or Monday."
"Great. We'll start with dinner tomorrow night. My treat."
She sucked in a breath. Courage. Tell him what you want.
"All right," she murmured. "But dessert is me."
He laughed. "You mean dessert's on you."
Pulse hammering, she tried a coy smile. "Is me...on me...your choice. However, if on me is how you want to go, might I suggest raspberries and thick, rich cream?"
His gaze widened in surprise...and pleasure. The emotions warred on his face before disbelief all too quickly arrived and walloped them both.
Grinning, he shook his head. "You're quite something, Lexi. A jokester, like your aunt. You had me going for a second there." He patted her knee.
A blush singed her neck. She declared her desire to increase his Calgary harem, and he gave her a freaking knee-pat?
She forced a laugh. "I did good, huh?"
He studied her. "You sure did." He rose and adjusted the collar of his black leather jacket. "Now rest that hand, and I'll find some ice."
Lexi focused on his perfect butt as he left the store. Then she dropped her head into her hands and groaned. Her one chance in months to indulge her hidden wild side—and she'd blown it.
Damn it, she needed a sex fix, and the only guy who could satisfy her craving was Gage.
VIRGIN OF THE AMAZON by Mia Varano Excerpt
“What about me? What do they want with me?” He laughed. “I don’t think you have to worry. How old are you?” What did that have to do with the price of bananas? “Twenty-six.” “Much too old. You’re safe.” She clenched her jaw so hard it hurt. Twenty-six hardly qualified her for the early-bird special. “Safe from what?” His blue eyes glinted with humor. “Their shaman had a vision that if he mated with a woman with pale skin and golden hair, the tribe would be safe from outsiders.” Her stomach flip-flopped. “Mated?” “There’d be a marriage ceremony first, but even though you have the right coloring, you won’t do at all.” She didn’t want to be some shaman’s wife, but he didn’t have to be so insulting. Narrowing her eyes, she ground out, “Why is that?” Coop winked again. “The shaman needs a virgin.”
The schoolmarm’s creamy white skin turned a shade whiter. Bloody ‘ell, she couldn’t hear the word “virgin” without fainting? He thought these American birds were made of stronger stuff. She even resembled one of the women made famous in the Amazon with her tall stature and lush figure. Those knee-length khaki walking shorts had to go though, along with that white blouse buttoned up to her chin and that vest. A vest! Did she realize how hot it could get out here? Only the sweat soaking her blouse revealed she had a body under all those clothes. From the little he saw, the shaman would be only too pleased to explore that body. He wouldn’t be the only one. Lucky for her a twenty-six year old American wouldn’t fit the bill. Coop had a mutually beneficial deal going on with the shaman, but if the shaman wanted to deflower a pale-skinned virgin, Coop couldn’t do much to stop him. At least not too much. “Here, sit down.” He offered her a gourd of water from his bowl. “There’s no need to worry.” Her hand trembled as she took the gourd from his. That martial light died out of her bottle-green eyes, and her lower lip quivered, making her seem more vulnerable than the stiff, blond icicle who ushered a chill into his tent. He rubbed her arm, his fingers lingering on her smooth skin. “We’ll have you back on the trail to your camp in no time, but I’d appreciate it if you kept quiet about your encounter here.” She gulped the water, dipped her fingertips in the remaining drops, and dabbed her temples. A smile curved her mouth. She’d been so busy pursing her lips in disapproval he hadn’t noticed how ripe they were before. “What do you hope to accomplish here, Mr. Coop?” Mr. Coop? He sat here naked, except for his loincloth, and he’d only pulled that on when he heard the commotion outside, and she acted like they were taking tea at bloody Buckingham Palace. “Just call me Coop.” “That still doesn’t answer my question.” The ice age returned and the lips thinned out again. Maybe her husband wouldn’t be too thrilled at her return after all. “It’s not every day a man can be king. I’m enjoying the ride while it lasts.” Frowning, she shook her head. “I think it’s silly, and it could be dangerous.” He snatched the gourd from her. “I’m not the one who wandered away from my tour group in the middle of the rainforest. Won’t your husband be sending out a search party?” She grew still and clasped her hands between her knees. “I don’t have a husband.” “Boyfriend?” Her face softened again, and her long lashes swept down. “No.” “You’re not with one of those lesbian tour groups, are you?” She jumped up, knocking the gourd out of his hands. “I’m traveling by myself. Nobody knows I’m here. I doubt the tour group even realizes I’m missing because I joined the group for this tour only. I’m all alone.” He held up his hands to defend against her rapid fire words. Must be a sore point, but relief swept through him that this tasty package didn’t do women. “All right. What’s your name anyway?” “Anna Winter.” That figured. Placing his hands on her shoulders, he guided her back to her seat, and then retrieved the gourd and filled it again. “Have some more water, Anna Winter.” She sipped slowly, the color stealing back into her cheeks. English women were supposed to have the peaches and cream skin, but Anna’s could rival the complexion of all the Englishwomen on the whole bloody island. Her tongue darted out to catch a drop of water glistening at the corner of her mouth. “I’m sorry. This whole situation is unreal. I just want to get back to the camp.” Getting ready for the hard part, he took a deep breath. “We’ll get you back to your camp. Just as soon as the inspection is over.” The tongue stopped, and he relaxed because if he had to watch it sweeping across her full bottom lip one more time, his loincloth would resemble this tent he called home. Her golden brows shot up. “Inspection?” He pushed up from the floor and busied himself with the tent flaps. The other ones. “Remember, I told you the shaman needs a virgin?” “Yes.” Her voice sounded very far away, so he peered over his shoulder. She clasped her hands between her knees again. She did a lot of clasping. “It’s a small matter, really. He just needs to make sure.” He felt such a coward, so he swung around to stand in front of her. Bad move. Her eyes were slits, resembling some creature out here in the jungle. “Sure of what?” He crouched in front of her, his loincloth swinging to the floor. “He needs to make sure you’re a virgin. Or not, in this case.” She swayed toward him, and he caught her in his arms inhaling her floral scent. Despite her austere appearance, she smelled and felt like pure woman. “It’s not as bad as it sounds, Anna. He doesn’t perform the inspection himself. The women do.” He began to enjoy the feel of her soft body against his when her head shot up from his shoulder. “The women?” “His other wives.” A wail started somewhere deep in her throat, and he clamped his hand over her mouth before it could explode in the tent. “Shhh. It won’t be so bad. Think of it as a gynecological exam. Once they determine you’re, ummm, not intact, you’ll be on your merry way.” Her eyes formed two huge circles above his hand, and he dragged his thumb across her lips before caressing her cheek. “There won’t be any men present, and I’m sure they’ll allow you to leave the rest of your clothes on.” She knocked his hand away. “You’re insane. I’m not submitting to any exam. This is the twenty-first century.” Why did she keep bringing up the bloody century? He shook his head. “Not here.” She rose from the stool and thrust her shoulders back. Did she realize one of the buttons on her blouse had popped off, revealing the lacy edge of her bra? He didn’t need to point that out. “Aren’t you King Coop? Tell them I’m not a virgin and have them take me back to the camp. I won’t tell a soul about this crazy place. I’d rather forget it.” Anna obviously knew how to order people around. Maybe a few weeks in this Amazon hideaway would do her some good, bring her down from her high horse. Unlike the men in her world, the men in this community possessed all the power. And he was the cock of the walk. “It’s not that easy, Anna.” “Yes it is. Tell them.” “The shaman won’t be satisfied until he gets an official report from his wives. Relax. Once that report comes back stamped ‘impure,’ you’re history.” All her bravado seemed to seep from her body as she sank to the stool and bowed her head. “There’s only one problem.” He crossed his arms to keep from stroking her golden hair. He’d like to see it loosened from that restrictive braid. In fact, everything about her screamed hands-off. Why did she hide under all those clothes and that superior attitude? “Your modesty? I told you; think of it as a gynecological exam. Surely even you’ve had one of those.” She snapped, “Of course, I have.” Yeah, probably in a darkened room wearing a burlap sack. “Then what’s the problem?” Her gaze met his for a fleeting moment before she dropped it. “I am a virgin.” setstats
WET DREAMS by Larissa Ione EXCERPT
Chapter 1 Brent Logan had always wondered what being shot felt like. He’d expected pain. He’d expected blood. What he hadn’t expected was the burning impact of the bullet, or the way it knocked him off his feet and sent him sprawling. He hit the dock on his left hip and rolled into a ball, clutching his calf. “Fuck,” he gritted out. “Sonofabitch.” Sweat beaded on his forehead as he sucked panting breaths through his clenched teeth. Warm, sticky blood oozed between his fingers. Shit. He didn’t have time for pain. Not when nearly a dozen arms-dealing scumbags chased him like a pack of starving wolves after a wounded deer. Stifling a groan, he pushed to his feet and prayed his leg wouldn’t buckle. The injury and sudden pain-induced nausea made standing difficult enough, but now the roll and pitch of the floating dock threatened to knock him on his ass again. Wiping his hands on his jeans, he limped along the vast network of boat slips. He ducked between sailboats, catamarans and fishing boats, keeping low as he peered into the night at the outbuildings lining the shore. Lamps bathed sections of the marina in light, but elsewhere, he could make out the shadowy outlines of six men moving rapidly toward him, guns drawn. Cursing the fact that he’d handed over his own pistol at the arms trade, he slipped between two massive yachts. A shot rang out, and a bullet punched a hole in the side of one of the boats, close enough that its wake blew a hot breeze across Brent’s ear. Double shit. Dying wasn’t on his to-do list tonight. Ignoring the stinging pain in his leg, he picked up his pace, weighing his escape options. Here in the southern California marina, he had few. He could stop, face off with the men chasing him, and get a bullet through the brain. If he was lucky. He could jump in the water and drown. Or he could hide on any of the hundred moored boats and hope the local cops showed up before the bad guys found him. Not much of a choice, after all. He crouched low alongside a sailboat, his injured calf muscle twitching in agonizing protest. Ahead, a boat with the words “Wet Dream” painted on its stern bobbed in the choppy water, partially hidden by what was probably an expensive-ass yacht, but open enough on one side to allow for a good view of the scumbags. Right now he needed a miracle, but a wet dream would have to do. Marina Summers’ body tingled. Her breath came in gasps. Her blood thudded through her veins as she raced toward an orgasm that had started in her dreams and followed her to her current state of semi-awareness. Ephemeral, erotic images floated through her mind as the rocking of the boat lured her back toward slumber, but her body’s need and the very real feel of her sweaty sheets kept her hanging on the precipice of consciousness. She had no idea if she’d had a partner in the sensual dream, but she knew she didn’t have one in her bed. With a sigh she wasn’t sure reflected disappointment or relief, she slipped her hands under her T-shirt and slid them over abdominal muscles that were rigid and hard from years of heavy lifting but not a single sit-up. She caressed upward, until the flat of her palms skimmed her pebbled nipples, and her soft moan joined the slap of waves hitting her hull. Cupping her breasts, she stroked her thumbs over the rounded swells, sending a swirl of warmth curling through her veins. The heat felt good, and she sought more, dragging her hands lower, over her belly, beneath the waistband of her sweat shorts, and between her legs, where her silky moisture told her how ready she was for release. How long had it been? Too long, if her body sought relief in her sleep. She worked a finger back and forth between her dewy folds, and then circled her entrance before dipping two fingers into her core. Her slick walls pulsed around her knuckles as she drew her fingers in and out, but it wasn’t enough. In her mind she conjured a man, a dark-haired, dangerous man to replace her fingers with his tongue. A whimper escaped her as his hot mouth opened against her, teasing, probing, licking. She was close, so close. Tossing her head and arching her hips, she pressed her thumb against her throbbing clit, not sure if she wanted to delay or expedite the sweet conclusion. The sounds of her panting breaths competed with the pounding of her pulse for dominance in her ears, and the gunshot tried to intrude, but… Gunshot? No, no, no. She put the sound out of her mind and went back to her dream man. The one who plunged his tongue deep into her pussy to stroke her from the inside out, making her writhe and moan. The one who sucked her clit between his lips as his fingers— Another shot. Closer. What the hell? Who would fire a weapon inside a marina, especially at this time of night? Not that it hadn’t happened before. There had been the time party-goers on a yacht decided to shoot skeet at two A.M. Then there was the dumbass who got his jollies by shooting seagulls the night his wife left him… Damn it! She was going to kill whatever idiot had interrupted her jollies. Cursing, she swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her bare feet hit the deck with a thump, and for a split second she considered putting on slippers, and maybe a robe over her shorts and cropped T-shirt, but the sound of a thud followed by the sudden violent rocking of her boat changed her mind. If some drunken fool had smacked her boat, she’d make chum of him. She hurried out of her aft stateroom into the small salon living area and stubbed her big toe on the base of the dining table. “Ow! Shit.” Hopping on her uninjured foot while holding the other, she glanced out of the windows, but all nearby vessels were moored. So what had struck her boat? She grabbed her cell phone off the table, then dropped her foot and half-limped, half-hopped to the exit to the welldeck. A cool, rain-scented breeze washed over her face when she cracked open the door. Heart pounding with both uneasiness and unspent sexual energy, she swung the door wider and stepped cautiously over the threshold. She peered into the cloudy night, refusing to jump at the shadows splayed across the fiberglass deck she’d just installed. At first glance, everything seemed normal. Silence hung over the marina. Her boat creaked as it rocked in its slip. Her new fighting chair and bait tank glinted beneath the dock’s lights. A strange man crouched in the shadows next to the door. Holy shit. Her heart shot to her throat, trapping her scream. He lunged. His hand clamped down on her mouth, and his other hand grasped her around the shoulders to drag her roughly into a kneel beside him. “Be quiet,” he whispered in a faint European accent she couldn’t identify, his lips moving against her cheek. “It’s all right.” All right? How was anything about this situation be all right? She wished she could turn just enough to see his face, wished she could peer into his eyes and get a good look at what she was up against, but so far the only thing she knew about this Eurotrash was that his size dwarfed her, his strength humbled her, and his stubbly jaw scraped like sandpaper against her skin. Oh, and he smelled good, like spice and leather, with a hint of something not so good, something familiar but elusive. So he wasn’t a fisherman, a strung-out junkie, or a drunk on a binge. Who the hell was he, and what was he doing on her boat? Not that it mattered, because the guy had picked the wrong woman to screw with. The greater part of twenty-six years spent in wharf-side pubs and on commercial fishing boats in the company of rough, macho fishermen had landed her in worse situations than this, and she’d always come out on top. She fingered her phone and forced her muscles to relax, waited for him to think she wouldn’t resist. For a long moment he held her tight, his own body rigid as though he were listening for something. The pulse in his palm bounded against her mouth, and then it slowed, and he loosened his grip. She breathed deeply, relaxed more. “Good girl,” he murmured, drawing back slightly. Seizing the opportunity, she twisted, drove her shoulder into his ribs, knocking him flat on the deck. His low curse ended on a grunt when she kneed his leg as she scrambled past. She dove for the side of the boat tied to the dock. She had to get away from this nut. The nut had other ideas. As she reached for the rail, he tackled her, slamming her onto her belly so hard that the breath whooshed from her lungs. He clapped his hand over her mouth, and his heavy body pinned her so she couldn’t move. Beneath her hip, her fingers twisted around broken bits of plastic. Her phone. Damn him. “Look, lady,” he panted into her ear, “I’m a federal agent. You need to be really, really quiet, okay?” Did he expect her to take him at his word? He could be a serial killer for all she knew. “Fuck you,” she mumbled against his hand. “Babe, any other day I might take you up on that offer, but now’s not the time.” Funny guy. She could be funnier. Wrenching her neck upward for leverage, she sank her teeth into his hand. His harsh intake of breath told her she’d hurt him, but he didn’t flinch. “Let go.” If her lips hadn’t been mashed into his palm, she’d have smiled. Instead, she bit down harder into the flesh she’d pinched between her teeth. He hissed in pain, and then suddenly she was the one sucking air when he jammed a finger into the pressure point behind her jaw. She released his hand, and he let up on the pressure point. The pain melted away, replaced by a wicked throbbing sensation. “Thank you,” he said, as if she’d passed him the salt and pepper at the dining table. “There’s a gang of heavily armed men searching the marina. Men dying to shoot me and feed me to the sharks.” He paused. “Are there sharks?” “Jump in and find out, asshole.” “That’s not a very nice way to talk to a law enforcement official.” “How—” She tossed her head until he loosened his grip on her mouth so she could speak properly. “How do I know they aren’t the cops and you aren’t the bad guy?” “Because if I was a bad guy, I’d have already killed you to shut you up.” Oh, yeah. He was a riot. A really heavy riot. She wriggled beneath him, trying to shake off some of his weight, and maybe the elbow he’d jammed into her ribs. The nut who might or might not be a federal agent finally took the hint and eased off of her. With one arm around her waist, he pulled her up to her hands and knees. She breathed a sigh as her lungs fully inflated with air again, and then she groaned when she looked down at the broken remnants of her phone. “Did I hurt you?” He kept a hand on the small of her back as he sat on his heels beside her. No doubt he wanted to be ready to slam her to the deck again if she tried to run. “Your concern is touching,” she snapped, keeping her voice low like he had. If he was being truthful, she’d rather not attract the attention of gun-wielding criminals. She brushed her hair out of her eyes and turned to him. Oh. Oh, my. This wasn’t your average thug. From his tight jeans to his white silk shirt and black leather jacket, he was all class. And from the neck up, he was all hunk. In fact, he might have been the very man she’d conjured into her fantasy. His face, though mostly shadowed, appeared bronzed, the sharp angles and hard planes glistening with perspiration. His eyes… she thought they might be brown, but definitely dark, same as his hair he’d slicked back into a ponytail at the base of his muscular neck. A small gold hoop glinted on the lobe of one perfectly shaped ear. Normally she didn’t go for men with long hair and earrings, but the contrast of foreign accent mixed with American speech, and rebel bad boy with classy rich dude fascinated her too much to dislike. Not that she’d go for him in any circumstance. He was either a criminal, a federal agent, or Eurotrash, maybe all three, and none of those appealed to her. No way. “Come here,” he whispered, inching through patchy light and shadow toward the side of the boat, where he peeked over the rail. “Take a look.” Reluctantly, she crawled beside him. Her stomach bottomed out at the inky outlines of men using dark recesses to creep along the docks and sneak aboard moored boats. Funny how she couldn’t see their faces, but the guns in their hands stood out like neon signs. Oh, God, she didn’t need this. Not now, not when so much was at stake—a new life, a new business. A new business which was scheduled to open tomorrow with her first set of customers. “Get off my boat,” she whispered. “I can’t. They’ll see me.” “Then get into the water. You can hide under the docks.” He shook his head. “Not an option.” “It’s your best option.” His jaw clenched, and his lips pressed into a thin, hard line. For the first time, she noticed the strained lines bracketing his mouth. He was either in pain or seriously stressed. Of course, if he hadn’t been stressed in this situation, she’d have had to wonder about him. “I can’t swim,” he ground out. “Nice try.” “I’m serious. I can’t even dogpaddle. Just being on this rustbucket is making me nervous.” Rustbucket? “I’ll have you know, I’ve had this boat completely restored and overhauled. She’s hardly a rustbucket. And if you don’t like her, get off. Oh, wait. Wasn’t that what I just told you to do?” “Look, lady—” “Marina.” He gave her a double-take, and she waited for the inevitable jokes, but he just shook his head. “Look, Marina, I need your help.” He cast a quick glance over the rail, and she sensed more than saw his body go rigid. “Shit.” “What?” “It’s what’s about to hit the fan.”
CAGED WOLF by Cynthia Eden Alerac La Morte has been drugged, kidnapped, and taken to some hole in the wall far from civilization. To make matters worse, Alerac realizes that his captor, Madison Langley, is actually…his destined mate. Madison hates his kind--she blames Weres for the death of her father, and she wants vengeance. But when captor is turned captive, will Alerac be able to convince her that he's not the monster she thinks, that wolves are true, and when they mate...it's forever?
To My Readers: In the 1760s, a strange, wolf-like beast prowled the French countryside. According to some accounts, this creature killed dozens of people… and many of the locals began to think that a werewolf was hunting at night. History now calls this creature the Beast of Gevaudan.
I’ve always been interested in the Gevaudan story. So when I decided to try my own hand at writing werewolf stories, I created heroes (Weres) who hailed from France, the birthplace of the legendary beast. Of course, my Weres aren’t blood-thirsty monsters. They’re strong, loyal, brave men… who just happen to be able to transform into wolves. I hope you enjoy Caged Wolf (my third Were story for Red Sage). (Previous titles: Bite of the Wolf in Secrets, Volume 15, and The Wolf’s Mate in Secrets, Volume 18.)
GOOD VIBRATIONS by Kate St. James Can one wild weekend really make up for two and a half years of planned celibacy? Lexi O'Brien has vowed to swear off sex while she attends grad school, so when her favorite out-of-town customer asks her out as she's about to give notice at her job, she decides to indulge in an erotic fling. Little does she realize that Gage Templeton is moving home, to her city, and has no intention of settling for a short-term affair. To My Readers: When I sat down to write my first erotic novella, I decided to have some fun and let my muse run wild with a title inspired by a scene from another of my stories and only a hazy idea of my hero and heroine in mind. What a thrill it was to experience Lexi and Gage taking over, surprising me with the depth of their feelings for one another, which turned out to have been present all along but required the sizzling abandon of one intense weekend to unearth. Lexi has no idea what she’s getting into when she sets her sights on seducing Gage before sentencing herself to two years of celibacy while she attends grad school. And he has no intention of letting her go now that he’s got her where he’s wanted her for months—in his bed and in his heart.
My thanks to Wenda Dottridge and Sue Chiswell for offering vivid descriptions of the Calgary Zoo, and my gratitude to my good friend Mary J. Forbes and her husband, RCMP Assistant Commissioner (ret.) Gary Forbes, for answering my endless questions about law enforcement. All errors are mine. I dedicate this story to Steve, whose wild weekend visits improved my GPA.
VIRGIN OF THE AMAZON by Mia Varano Virgin librarian, Anna Winter, gets lost on her Amazon vacation and stumbles upon a tribe whose shaman just happens to be looking for a pale-skinned virgin to deflower. Coop Daventry, a British adventurer and the tribe’s self-styled chief, has a plan to save Anna from the shaman’s bed. But which man poses a greater threat to Anna’s virginity—the shaman or Coop himself?
To My Readers: Do you remember your first time? You can bet Anna Winter will never forget hers with a mysterious British adventurer amid the hot, steamy jungle of the Amazon.
WET DREAMS by Larissa Ione Injured and on the run, DHS agent Brent Logan needs is a miracle. What he gets is Wet Dream, a sport-fishing boat owned by Marina Summers, whose fledgling business is now in jeopardy, thanks to Brent. Pursued by killers, ravaged by a fierce storm, and plagued by engine troubles, they can do little but spend their final hours immersed in sensual pleasure. But soon they discover that the danger they face on the high seas is nothing compared to the danger to their hearts…
To My Readers: I’ve always loved stories involving strangers who find themselves alone, in danger, and mired in a situation where they must learn to trust each other in order to survive. Extreme stress strips people down to their essences, and through elements such as teamwork, honesty, vulnerability, and sacrifice, they develop intense bonds in short periods of time. I’m fascinated by this dynamic, whether the bonds form between lovers or friends, and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t gone through something similar.
In Wet Dreams, Marina Summers and Brent Logan experience this dynamic firsthand when they must conquer dangerous men, rough seas, and their own fears in order to get out of a bad situation alive. Please, come aboard and share their story.
"As always the Secrets collection contains the best erotic romances due to strong characterizations inside of deep plots.
The latest quartet provides a fun time for the audience even as it crosses subgenre lines." ~~Harriet Klausner's Review 4 Stars "This perfect blend of story, romance and sizzling sensuality has hot alpha heroes and ladies who can hold their own with them. These stories will keep readers warm on a cold winter night." Romantic Times BOOKReviews.
Volume 21: Primal Heat is worth every penny of its price. It definitelyleft me eager for the next volume. ~~Enchanting Reviews.
GOOD VIBRATIONS by Kate St. James REVIEW: Secrets 21 4.5 Quills "Kate St. James has just found a spot on my must have list. Secrets