Cowboy Boots and Inconspicuous Motives (MF), Cowboy Boots 8, by Natalie Acres

Cowboy Boots and Inconspicuous MotivesPublished by Siren-Bookstrand

Blurb:

Brock Donovan’s enemies found his weak spot.

Sydney Donovan is her husband’s whole world. Now his enemies know what it will take to bring one powerful man to his very knees.

She put an entire organization at risk.

Sydney’s need for independence places her in enormous danger. Now, the Underground Unit teams are facing an unknown enemy in order to save her life.

He is fully prepared to meet their demands.

Sydney understands what’s at stake. The authority’s enemies have banded together and they want Brock to trade his life for hers.

His adversaries will attack from all sides.

Operatives from around the country join Brock’s rescue effort, but as the identities of the Donovan’s rivals are revealed, Brock realizes there’s more at risk than Sydney’s safety. The Underground Unit operatives have bounties on their heads and at the going rate, it won’t be long before the danger moves close enough to destroy the operatives and all they hold dear.

Buy Link: http://www.bookstrand.com/cowboy-boots-and-inconspicuous-motives

 

Excerpt:

Brock Donovan clenched his fists until his knuckles popped. He dug his fingernails into his palms. Droplets of blood trickled down his wrists. A bead of sweat slowly ran from his brow to his chin. He’d never known such rage. At the same time, he’d never experienced such outright pain.

He was furious, but unable to strike out at the ones who’d angered him. He wanted revenge, but before he could call upon the Underground Unit for a retaliation mission, he had a more important task at hand.

He needed to hold it together long enough to find out where his enemies were holding the love of his life, his submissive woman, his beautiful wife.

Specifics, damn you! I’ll do whatever you ask. I’ll pay millions. I’ll trade my life for hers. Just tell me what you want! Name your price!”

His brother Jett leaned over the table. He kept his head down, his gaze glued to the phone. Riley paced behind them, muttering the same thing over and over again. “How could this have happened?”

Brock tried to shut out Riley’s broken tone. It was difficult enough to concentrate without worrying about the added voiced regrets from Riley and Jett or their repetitive death threats.

In order to kill an enemy, a man had to know who and what they were facing and as Brock listened closely to the orders barked from the other end, one thought kept going through his mind. He had no idea who they were dealing with. The Underground Unit operatives had infuriated many men, taken down cartels and key players in the mob, but who was stupid enough to go after one of their women? Who would abduct his cherished Sydney?

“Get a piece of paper, Donovan.”

“Go ahead.” The phone call was recorded. He didn’t need to scribble down instructions. He’d replay this conversation again and again. Still, he needed to keep his cool. He wanted to buy time and allow for opportunity on the chance they could later pick up background noises or faint dialects in the recordings.

The caller made a foolish error when he didn’t try to disguise his voice. With technological advancements and the tools they had at their disposal, if this guy had a criminal record or had ever given a statement, Brock would find out. He’d know who he was dealing with before the end of the hour. Still, it wouldn’t change one heart-wrenching fact. They’d failed to keep Sydney safe.

The fellow on the other end of the phone made his foolish, but nonetheless calculated, demands. “Are you still with me, Donovan?”

“I’m here.”

“The silence is defeating as much as deafening. Isn’t it?” His evil laughter rang out with the question. “You seem devastated, Donovan. Surely you and your brothers aren’t surprised. When you dabble in this sort of business, you expect casualties.”

Dabble? At this point, Brock wished dabbling covered it. Unfortunately, the Underground Unit had recently been credited for bringing down some of the most dangerous crime organizations of their time.

“Since we’re only amateurs here, let Sydney go. And if you let her go now, we can avoid future ‘casualties’ as you say. I’ll let you walk away without a scratch and I won’t come after you with the force of ten thousand men. You can walk away with your life and I walk away with my wife. Deal?”

The man bellowed his laughter. “You’ll let me?” He snorted. “The only thing you’ll let me do now, Donovan, is this—you will willingly give me your head instead of Sydney’s. Sound like a fair trade to you?”

Jett glanced up and shook his head sharply. Brock easily read what his brother wanted to say but couldn’t.

Brock’s voice gave everything away. His enemies had struck below the belt and brought a man and his family to their very knees.

From the beginning, Brock had feared this day might come. Every night before he went to sleep, he kissed his lovely submissive wife goodnight and prayed for her safekeeping. Still, even with the everyday dangers he and his teams faced, he’d allowed himself too much comfort. He’d begun to think of his homes as safe havens, too guarded and protected for a security breach.

As the perpetrator on the other end of the line gave specific instructions, Brock cursed himself for loving a woman, for endangering Sydney by loving her too much to let her go.

He hated himself for his vulnerability, for falling in love with an innocent young woman who deserved far more than any man in his position would ever be able to give her. Now, she was a bargaining chip. Their enemies had found the Donovan weak spot, the crown jewel they couldn’t afford to lose.

 

About the Author

Natalie Acres is an international bestselling author with several past #1 Bookstrand bestsellers including Sex Games, Cowboy Boots and Untamed Hearts, and Sex Camp. An East Tennessee author writing in several genres, Natalie and her husband enjoy attending writing events and music festivals.  With a full roster of forthcoming books, Natalie gives frequent updates via social media.  She invites readers to follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NatalieAcres or visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NatalieAcresAuthor

 

Cowboy Boots Book 8 is sold exclusively at Siren-Bookstrand during its debut month. Purchase during pre-order status at a discount from the publisher at http://www.bookstrand.com/cowboy-boots-and-inconspicuous-motives

Read the Cowboy Boots books in order!

Cowboy Boots and Untamed Hearts (Ménage Romance)

Cowboy Boots and Unfinished Business (Ménage Romance)

Cowboy Boots and Unsettled Debts (Ménage Romance)

Cowboy Boots and Unadulterated Pleasures (Ménage Romance)

Cowboy Boots and Inexpressible Longing (M/F Romance)

Cowboy Boots and Uncensored Behavior (Ménage Romance)

Cowboy Boots and Inconceivable Arrangements (M/F Romance)

Cowboy Boots and Inconspicuous Motives (M/F Romance)

 

11th Instalment of DEMON INTERRUPTED: A Lakeland Witches Story

Demon Interrupted CoverI’m very happy to offer the eleventh instalment of  Demon Interrupted, a new story from the Elemental Coven that will be unfolding in its entirety right here on A Hopeful Romantic over the next few weeks with the final episode on October 31 — the final day of Things that Go Hump in the Night. All through the month of October, A Hopeful Romantic will be celebrating all things paranormal and all Things that Go Hump in the Night. There’ll be lots of great authors stopping by bringing with them lots of paranormal fun. There’ll be lots of great giveaways and lots of scary, sexy, excitement, so be sure to put Things that Go Hump in the Night on your calendar. More on that in a later post.

The Lakeland Witches Trilogy left so many stories untold and so many fun places in the lives of the Elemental Coven yet to be explored, that a serial seemed like the ideal way to share more of the coven’s adventure. With a coven that specialises in sex magic, it’s not only exciting to revisit my witches at Elemental Cottage, but it’s sizzling hot.

If you’ve missed the previous episodes of Demon Interrupted, find the links at the bottom of this instalment.

Enjoy Chapter eleven, and thanks for joining the fun with this Work in Progress.  If you want to know more about the Elemental Coven’s sexy adventures, check out the Lakeland Witches Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy! 

 

Chapter 11

Chasing the Dream

‘Lucia, I need you! Lucia! Lucia! Lucia!’ Shivering convulsively, Ferris woke croaking the demon’s name with a throat that felt like it had been bathed in hot coals. His head was pillowed on Tara’s lap, and it felt as though it would split in two. Someone had thrown a soft McKenzie tartan over him, and Fiori wiped his forehead with a cool cloth.

‘Welcome back,’ Tara said, smiling down at him.

‘Here, drink this.’ Sky handed him what looked like a glass of water, but it tasted herby and clean in his mouth and soothed his raw throat. He drank in thirsty gulps, nearly gagging.

‘Not so fast.’ She took the glass from him. ‘It’s stronger than you think. You’ll make yourself sick.’

As everything came back to him, he sat up in a panic. ‘It was … it was…’

‘It was a dream,’ Tara said, squeezing his shoulder reassuringly. ‘Your first in a very long time, my dear friend.’

‘And it was a doozy,’ Marie said, coming to sit cross-legged on the floor next to him. She was dressed once again in her pale blue ceremonial robe. In fact the whole coven was robed. He wondered how long he’d been out.

BTR_teaserHe drank again and looked around, the tension in his muscles dissipating with the sense of relief at being back with the coven, back in the Waking World. It had been only a dream. He had not betrayed them. He had not drawn them into dark hallucinations. They were all still in the Room of Reflection, and he was happy to see the horrific scrying mirror prison still untouched in its place on the altar. ‘It was a dream,’ he repeated, more for reassurance than anything else. Still not trusting himself, he looked around at the Elemental Coven, taking a mental head-count, Alice, Fiore, Kennet and Sky. Tim, Marie, Tara and Anderson. And, of course, his lovely Cassandra. Yes, they were all there, just as they had been when he entered the dream with Elaine. His stomach went into free fall. They were all there, but Elaine was not.

‘Where is she?’ He asked. ‘Where’s Elaine?’ Dear goddess, he hoped she hadn’t been so frightened that she’d fled. It must have been terrifying for her to see him like that, like he was in the dream. And humiliating for her to see herself as he had seen her with Deacon. Such a hideous creation from his unconscious would have caused anyone to run from him in horror. ‘Where’s Elaine?’ He asked again, struggling to keep the shame and the panic out of his voice.

For a moment, no one answered. The looks that passed between coven members were those same kinds of looks that flitted from person to person like a pestering insect when bad news is about to be shared.

‘Is she all right?’ He felt as though it were he who wore her noose around his neck, and that invisible hands were tightening it until he couldn’t breathe.

‘Ferris,’ Tara scooted closer to him and took his hand. ‘Ferris, You’ve talked about Elaine ever since you got back from Storm Croft. You even chased her across the fells when we were all in the Dream Cave, but Anderson and Fiori went with you and they didn’t see her.’

What do you mean they didn’t see her? I brought her back, we brought her back here to Elemental Cottage, and you asked her to stay, and we made love, and I left my body because it frightened her, the one I usually wear. Where is she? Just tell me where she is.’

‘Ferris,’ this time it was Cassandra who knelt next to him. He knew that look in her eyes; he knew that her honesty would not allow her to lie to him. ‘Ferris, no one has seen Elaine but you. You’ve talked to her, you’ve … been distracted by her, you’ve clearly seen her, been with her, but we, none of the rest of us, have seen her. At all.’

The feel of falling was so intense that Ferris shoved his hands against the floor to stop it. ‘And the dream magic? Who was I with then? Who did I dream with?’

She held his gaze. ‘You dreamed with the strongest dreamer, Ferris. You dreamed with Tara.’

‘No! That can’t be right.’ The ache in his chest seemed to have followed him from the Dream World and the sudden pressure in his head felt like his brain would explode. ‘She was here. Elaine was here and it was her I dreamed with. I know it was her.’ He forced himself to his feet. ‘Elaine! Elaine, please come back. I didn’t mean to frighten you?’

When there was no answer and when the only response from the coven was shared looks of distress, he changed tactics. ‘Lucia? Where are you, Lucia? Please, I need you. I know she was here. Elaine! She has to be here. Lucia, please, help me?’ In a wave of vertigo, he grabbed his throbbing head between both hands and would have fallen if Anderson and Tim hadn’t caught him and eased him back onto the cushions.

When he had calmed a bit and Sky had forced him to drink a little more of the herbal concoction, he spoke. ‘If you dreamed with me, Tara, then you must have seen her. And the rest of you all witnessed. Elaine was there.’

‘Elaine grounded you and sent you back to us, ‘ Kennet said. ‘But what Elaine represented in your dream journey none of us can actually say. That’s for you to find out.’

‘She doesn’t represent anything,’ Ferris growled. ‘She’s real, as real as Anderson and Fiori and Sky. She’s real, and I need to speak to Lucia. Please.’

Kennet bristled. ‘You know Lucia doesn’t come on demand,’ he said. The man would know better than anyone since he’d lived as her possession for over seven years, years that had taken their toll on him.

RTE_teaserTara laid her hand on Kennet’s shoulder. ‘You know Lucia. She’ll show up when she’s ready, Ferris.’ He couldn’t keep from noticing the way she rubbed her fingertips absently over her sternum, the place that Ferris had always thought of as “the door” where Lucia came and went to her new possession. In spite of that demonic lifeline that she now provided for the high priestess, Ferris knew as well as the rest of the coven that the truce between Tara Stone and the demon, who took up residence in her was an uneasy one at best. Tara nodded to Sky. ‘Let’s open the circle, get something to eat and then get some rest. I think we all need it, especially Ferris.’

He balked as she stood and offered him her hand. ‘I’m not safe. You know that. I need to stay close to the scrying mirror in case you have to put me there …’

‘Bullshit,’ Tara said. ‘You need to be with your family right now, not in horrid isolation.’ This time he took the offered hand and came to his feet.

‘And will I dream if I sleep?’ He asked.

‘Quite possibly, the coven leader replied. ‘The dam has burst in a big way and we still don’t know who you are or what you need to know to recover your memories. But you’re not going to hurt any of us, and I’m very encouraged by the fact that you did dream rather than hallucinate.’

‘He hallucinated Elaine,’ Tim said, then added quickly, ‘possibly.’

‘He didn’t,’ Cassandra responded. ‘If Ferris says Elaine is real, then she’s real.’

Ferris was encouraged that Tim, who was inclined to be argumentative, only shrugged and nodded.

‘In the meantime, if you dream while you sleep –’

‘I don’t need to sleep,’ Ferris interrupted Tara. ‘Perhaps it would be better if –’

‘As I said,’ she held him in a cast-iron gaze, ‘in case you dream, you’ll sleep with Kennet and me, since we’re the strongest dreamers.’

Kennet moved to take her hand and the look in his eyes convinced Ferris that it was useless to argue. ‘Besides,’ Kennet said, ‘You’ll be there when Lucia returns – not that she won’t find you wherever you are, but I like to stack the deck in our favour.’

Fiori’s classic late-night fry-ups with some of the best Cumberland sausages on planet Earth, was just the ticket for the caloric needs of the coven after performing such intense magic, and everyone ate with gusto. Ferris went through the motions but tasted nothing.

‘Ferris, are you sure Elaine and Patrick Farringdon lived at Storm Croft?’ Marie spoke around a mouthful of eggs. ‘Because I’ve been doing some research and so have Cassandra and Alice and none of us can find any evidence of any Farringdons at Storm Croft.’

‘She knew her way around the great house and she where the overgrown garden was,’ Ferris said, ‘and she spoke of the place as her hideaway from Faraday. I don’t know. Anderson, is it possible she might be from somewhere else? I thought ghosts were attached to places.’

All three of the coven ghosts chuckled and Anderson replied. ‘My dear man, as you can see we three are very far from the places in which we lived our lives, and though Fiori and I are not terribly far from the places of our deaths we are in no way attached to them. Indeed, Tara and I have been friends across several continents and all after my demise.’

EF_teaser‘You remember nothing before Storm Croft, isn’t that right, Ferris?’ Cassandra said. ‘Didn’t Lucia commission you to care for me at that particular place?’

‘That’s true,’ he said.

‘Then isn’t it possible that Elaine visited you in the place that she knew you would remember rather than the place where you knew her?’

Goddess, he loved the young succubus! She was the heart of him in so many ways and, as the others nodded agreement around the table, he felt relief that perhaps they now doubted him a little less about Elaine. He wanted them to believe him, needed them to believe him. He could not … would not believe that he had only imagined Elaine.

 *****

Tara and Kennet had drawn him into their lovemaking, as he had known they would. And as Tara welcomed him between her legs while Kennet caressed and fondled both of them, Ferris could feel the magic they wove around him, the protection spell along with the spell that would ease his passage into the Dream World. So strong was their magic that by the time he emptied himself into Tara, he already felt as though he’d been drinking champagne from Anderson’s special stash. The boundaries had softened to a gossamer blur and the world around him dissolved into images wrapped in soft gauzy cotton.

It was with a start he noticed Elaine sitting in the rocking chair by the foot of the bed watching him. ‘Elaine! Elaine I’ve been looking all over for you. Tara, Kennet, you see, I told you she …’ His words died in his throat as he discovered that he was alone in the bed. But it wasn’t Tara’s bed, nor was the room familiar to him.

‘She’s waiting for you,’ Elaine said. Then she stood and motioned him to follow.

‘Am I dreaming?’ He called out to her as he struggled into his trousers.

‘You mustn’t keep her waiting,’ she spoke over her shoulder.

He followed her into a long corridor lined with endless doors, each one identical to the other and, though he ran to catch up with her, he never seemed to get any closer. By the time she descended a staircase into a grand ballroom hung with chandeliers and lined with gilt mirrors he felt certain he had entered the Dream World again. The staircase continued downward through an enormous library whose shelves of books disappeared into the distance in front of him and above him. Then he descended to a drawing room where a blaze crackled in an enormous stone fireplace, and still they descended with Elaine always just ahead of him, just out of reach. Each floor revealed a different room, some grand, some plain, as they endlessly descended through dungeons and boudoirs, through kitchens and studies, through wine cellars and crypts. For days they descended. He could feel more than see the rising and setting of the sun, the turning of the night sky overhead. Elaine was always just out of his reach, moving as though she had conviction, moving as though nothing could stop her. He didn’t know how long they had descended before he realised the stairs were gone and they lowered themselves on bare rock, the path steepening with each step they took. Though there was no lighting that he could see, the deeper they went the brighter the red dance and shift of firelight reflected off the rock.

DI_teaserWhen the path became nearly too steep to walk, when he was convinced that surely they approached the centre of the earth, the space opened before him into a vaulted room and in the middle of that room stood Lucia, the dance of flames coming from the robe she wore. He was stunned by her beauty, which Elaine did not seem to notice. The woman moved, without stopping, without acknowledging the presence of the fire demon, to a stone ledge at the back of the chamber upon which she lay down and crossed her hands over her breasts as though she were laid out for burial. Before Ferris could call out to her, Lucia shrugged out of her robe and placed it over the supine woman. ‘Rest, my darling,’ she said, dropping a kiss on Elaine’s forehead. ‘I have no further need of you at the moment. My business is with this one.’

When she turned to him he was stunned to discover that, naked, her brilliance was even more dazzling that when she had been clothed in the fiery robe. She stood before him, the image of perfect womanhood and ancient power, terrifying and deadly, wild and exquisite, and yet his eyes darted back to Elaine.

‘Is she all right?’ he asked.

‘She is dead, my old friend, and has been for a very, very long time.’

‘So’s Anderson. So are Sky and Fiori,’ he said, desperate to erase the finality of her words.

‘And so they are.’ She reached out her hand. ‘But you did not come to me in order to discuss the afterlife of ghosts, my dear Rider. Look at you –’ she stroked his cheek with a scorching fingertip ‘—you have come to me in all your magnificence. How could I possibly resist?’ It was then that he realised he was no longer wearing the flesh of Patrick Faraday. He, like Lucia, was unclothed, as though he too had thrown off his robe and stood in the shadowy darkness that was his true nature. And though he did not know what that nature was, naked in himself, he felt full and strong and well-muscled. He felt power surge through him that he was certain human flesh could not contain, and he wondered how he had ever managed to fit himself into such a small and fragile vessel as Faraday.

Before he could contemplate further, Lucia moved into his arms and kissed him and guided his hands onto her breasts. ‘And now my dear Ferris, now that you have yielded to the world of dreams, I will guide you deeper.’

His cock responded mightily to the caressing and coaxing of the demon, who cupped his fullness until it felt as though it had never been emptied in all his long existence, and the need was unbearable. When he felt that he could hold it no longer, when he felt he would come in her hand, she pulled away and guided him to the ledge where Elaine lay beneath her robe. ‘I am a fire demon who has possessed, in succession, two witches powerful in Dream Magic, but neither Tara Stone nor Kennet Birch, nor any of their formidable coven can take you where you need to go, my dear Ferris. Even I may not perform such a
task. But I owe you a great debt for your patient and steadfast care of Cassandra, and I shall do what I am able to repay it.’ She sat on the edge of the bed and opened her legs wide so that he could see the depths of her — mother-of-pearl-slippery, swollen and splayed in welcome.

‘Kiss the Keystone, Ferris, and though I may not take you where you need to go, I may ease you into the thingsthatgohump300x200dream and guide you in the right direction. The rest, my dear man, is up to you.’

He practically fell to his knees on the cave floor and buried his face in her wet warmth, kissing and laving and lapping at her until he was intoxicated with the taste of her. His face was heavily dewed her juices and the Gateway was open and ready for him. Then he rose to his feet, gripped her behind the knees and thrust into her. It felt like he came instantly. It felt like he came forever, convulsing and trembling with her whispering in his ear, ‘chase the dream, Ferris. The Gateway is open to the depths of it, and you have but to enter. Chase the dream.’

 

Here are the links to the previous episodes in case you missed them:

Chapter 1 Demon Interrupted: Perchance to Dream.

Chapter 2 Demon Interrupted: A Chat with a Demon

Chapter 3 Demon Interrupted: Enter the Shadows

Chapter 4 Demon Interrupted: Dark Chrysalis

Chapter 5 Demon Interrupted: The Empty Spaces in Between

Chapter 6 Beneath the Weight of Shadow

Chapter 7 Possessions

Chapter 8 Necessities and Inconveniences

Chapter 9 Demon Dreams

Chapter 10 Backlash

 

Kristina’s Kinky Cocktail Party: Celebrating Kristina Lloyd’s New Novel, UNDONE

Kristina Lloyd Blog Tour buttonunnamedI’m very excited to help Kristina Lloyd celebrate the release of her sizzling new novel, Undone. She’s invited me to the gala celebration. Along with lots of fab authors and lots of naughty, inebriating cocktails and excerpts there’ll be plenty of yummy giveaways as well!

AND the fun will continue through the entire month of September with Kristina’s fabulous Undone Blog Tour. If you want to follow her on that tour (and she will be stopping by here! ) Here’s where you’ll find her.  The Undone Blog Tour. 

Belly up to the bar and join the fun because it’s my turn to serve up the cocktails at Kristina Lloyd’s Kinky Cocktail Party, by naming my poison, so get ready for fizz and get ready for a bit of Latin dancing while I serve up Champagne Ritas along with an intoxicating dose of The Initiation of Ms Holly!

If you’re still standing when the drinking and the dancing are over, comment with your favourite cocktail for a chance to win a copy of my novella, Surrogates. Bottoms up!

 

 *****

Champagne Rita

A delicious recipe for Champange Rita, with tequila, limeade, triple sec and Champagne.

1 1/2 oz tequila
1 1/2 oz limeade
1 1/2 tsp triple sec
3 oz Champagne

Pour the tequila and triple sec into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain into a champagne flute. Add limeade and champagne, stir briefly, and serve.

*****

You can join the party and sample other kinky cocktails, more filthy excerpts and more fun by going here - http://kristinalloyd.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/undone-blog-tour-launch-kinky-cocktails-and-digital-drinking/

*****

Blurb from The Initiation of Ms Holly

Book One in The Mount trilogy (Click here for: Book Two | Book Three)

Journalist, Rita Holly, never dreamed sex with the mysterious Edward in the dark of a malfunctioning train would lead to a blindfolded, champagne-drenched tango, a spanking by a butch waitress, and an offer of initiation into the exclusive mysteries of The Mount. Desperate to save her threatened job, she agrees, scheming secretly to write an inside exposé on the club that will make her career. But as she delves deeper into the intrigue of The Mount and the lives of its members, she soon discovers that her heart may have other plans.


Holly Final Cover ImageExcerpt from The Initiation of Ms Holly:

Edward’s hand slipped underneath the spaghetti straps to cup her breast and stroke her engorged areola. ‘Expensive dress?’

‘What?’ Intimidation knotted her stomach. ‘Does it matter?’

‘Not really.’ She could hear him filling the champagne flute. ‘I’ll buy you a new one.’ He lifted the glass to her lips. Just as the taste hit her tongue he pulled it away and she felt a cold wet splash over her left breast. She stifled a yelp, but not before his lips clamped down tight on her drenched nipple, and the friction of tongue and teeth on wet silk caused delicious shock waves down her belly all the way to her cunt.

‘You know,’ he said between sucklings, ‘at the command of Louis 15th, the original champagne glass was said to have been shaped like the breasts of his mistress, Madame Pompadour. I can understand why. Once you’ve suckled champagne from a beautiful breast, champagne alone, no matter how expensive, isn’t nearly as nice.’

Another cold splash across both breasts and down her cleavage. She gasped and held him to her as he shoved down the spaghetti straps and freed her into his hungry mouth. ‘What if people are watching?’ she whispered.

‘Don’t worry. I know the owner.’

Another drizzle of fizz, but this time over her belly, dripping down icily against her mound. She squirmed and ground her hips against the seat.

‘Open your legs for me,’ he whispered. ‘There’s one cup even more perfect than Louis’s design.’

She did as he asked, wriggling and lifting her butt, her pussy clenching in anticipation. In one fluid motion, he shoved the dress up over her hips and pulled her panties down and off over her shoes. She wasn’t sure how he had managed it, but he manoeuvred himself onto the floor beneath the table. Before she could figure it out, cold liquid bubbles tickled her clit and dribbled down between her labia chased by the white hot lavishings of his tongue.

She moaned and everything inside her tensed with the surprise of it, the tantalizing, bracing shock of it, just before everything went molten and she slid down in the booth until her bottom was practically off the seat.

His hands kneaded her buttocks, thumbs spreading her folds open to the explorations of his mouth. ‘The perfect cocktail,’ he spoke against her pussy. ‘Champagne and lady juices.’

The music changed to a Latin beat, and behind her blindfolded eyes, bright flashes of colour burst and exploded like fireworks as she rocked and thrust, concentrating only on his mouth and her pussy and the sweet tart scent of champagne bubbling against her slit. She was so focused that she nearly slid off the seat when he pulled away, and she heard scrambling under the table.

‘What’s wrong,’ she gasped. ‘What is it?’ ‘Excuse me, but might I have this dance?’

The voice near her ear at the side of the booth startled her and she jumped. It wasn’t Edward’s!

‘I love Latin dancing, don’t you?’

‘What? Dance?’ She gasped. ‘Now’s not a good time. Who are you? Edward? What’s going on?’

There was the familiar whisper in her other ear. ‘Go with Alex, Rita. Trust me, now’s a very good time.’

Before she could protest further, she was half dragged, half tangoed on to the floor. ‘How can I dance,’ she panted, ‘when I can’t even see?’

There was a humid chuckle close to her nape. ‘What? You don’t trust me to lead you?’

‘Not when my brain’s in my knickers.’ She struggled to catch her breath.

‘You’re not wearing any.’ The words were pressed to her ear in a warm kiss, followed by a sigh of resignation. ‘Oh all right.’ He pulled off the blindfold, and she found herself squinting at a lovely face in a halo of blond curls. A well- muscled man with a dancer’s body pulled her into an intimate tango. She was so close that she could feel the bulge in his trousers and wondered how the hell he could still move so gracefully. Heat flared with the driving pulse of the percussion, and his groin rubbed deliciously against her mound with each shifting beat of the music.

Without warning, he lowered her into a heart-pounding dip, and she yelped out loud, causing several dancers to glance in their direction. As he pulled her back to him, she spoke between clenched teeth. ‘Is this some kind of a joke, Edward gets me all excited then hands me over to someone else? That is if I was with Edward at all. How the hell would I know?’

‘Shshshs.’ Alex covered her mouth with a kiss. ‘Relax. Of course you were with Edward, still are. I’m his gift to you. When you’re done with me, I’ll take you back to him.’

‘When I’m done with you? What’s that suppose to 16

mean?’ She shot a glance into the darkness at the edge of the dance floor, but to no avail. She was blindfolded when Alex led her from the table. She had no idea where Edward was.

Holly cover FINAL9781907761270_FCOnce more he lowered her into a dip, this time pulling her up slowly, lingering to kiss the mounds of her breasts, nipples chilled stiff and clearly visible through the champagne soak fabric. Her pussy clenched with a wave of sensation that reminded her just how close to orgasm she had been when Edward had handed her over. ‘What do you mean you’re his gift to me?’

‘Edward’s a bit of a voyeur, and he wants to watch your pleasure.’

‘What? And have a wank? Oh that’s just great.’

Alex chuckled, and she realised his hand was working its way beneath the slit of her dress. ‘Hardly. Edward isn’t exactly what I’d call a wanker. Trust me, he’ll be more than ready for you when you’re finished with me.’ He shoved the hem of her dress aside until her bare pussy pressed against the bulge in his trousers, then he flicked a finger into her pout so quickly she wouldn’t have been sure it happened if not for the rush of pleasure and wetness. He pulled her still closer. ‘You need to come. Use me. That’s what I’m here for.’

‘I thought that was Edward’s job.’

Another chuckle. ‘I promise you, Edward won’t disappoint.’ He thrust hard against her. ‘Do you want me?’

‘What do you think? You just fingered my cunt.’

Another dip, this time slow and serpentine. With a deft hand, he freed his cock. She didn’t know how he’d managed it, but there, in plain sight with moves that would have made a magician jealous, he slipped his substantial erection between her legs, then he lifted her onto him. With one thrust and a grunt she was completely penetrated. All she could do was wrap her legs around him and hang on, marvelling that with each thrust he never missed a beat of

the music. In fact, he continued the dance as though nothing out of the ordinary was happening, hands cupped supportively under her arse, dancing amid the few other couples who moved beneath the sparkle of the disco ball. Were they blind? Could they not see that Alex was slinking around the dance floor, hammering her cunt with each pulse of the tango?

And she didn’t care. It was totally insane, but she didn’t care. They were thrusting and swaying with the music, and somewhere in the darkness Edward was watching with his cock aching to be inside her. She wondered if he were touching himself. She wondered if his balls felt close to bursting. She certainly hoped so. She wondered if, when she returned, he would take her right there in the booth, her pussy still wet from her erotic dance with Alex. She imagined her fizz-soaked cunt swallowing up Edward’s penis in hungry gulps.

That did it. Suddenly it was as though champagne had been uncorked inside her. She gave a startled little cry as her orgasm exploded up through her, rocking her from head to toe with its impact.

When the aftershocks subsided and the music stopped, Alex danced her off the floor to a discreet nook near a linen cabinet and helped her dismount. Then with a heavy grunt, he spurted his wad into a handkerchief he’d extricated from his pocket. When he finished wiping his cock, he said, ‘It wouldn’t be polite for me to come inside you when you’re with Edward.’

The sense of excitement she felt at Alex’s words was visceral. And surprising. She’d just had totally hot sex with him, and in truth she wouldn’t know Edward if she saw him, but still it was Edward she wanted. Maybe their time together on the train had somehow bonded them. It was certainly a relief knowing that he hadn’t pawned her off, even on such a good lover as Alex.

While Alex tucked himself in, Rita had time for a quick glance around the room. Her eyes now accustomed to the light, she could see only one booth occupied by a single diner. And though that booth was in shadow, she could still make out the shape of a tall muscular man seated, watching.

‘There, now I’m presentable again.’ Alex held the blindfold up for Rita. ‘I’ll just slip this on and take you back to Edward.’

Kristina Lloyd undone_kristina_lloyd-300Pre-Order UNDONE by Kristina Lloyd Here:

Published September 11th, 2014
Pre-order with Amazon

Amazon UK paperback :: Amazon UK Kindle
Amazon US Kindle
Amazon CA Paperback :: Amazon CA Kindle

 

 

End of Summer Beginnings: The Exhibition Chapter 1

Welcome to the beginning of my End of Summer Beginnings Posts! As everyone is frantically trying to fit in one last dose of the summer sun and a smidge more holiday before autumn is upon us, I thought it was time for a bit of temptation. One of the best parts of summer holidays is a good read to match the summer sizzle, so with that in mind, for the next two weeks, I’m sharing First Chapters of all my novels. Today I’m sharing more  hot romance, Grace Marshall, style and chapter 1 from The Exhibition, book three of the Executive Decisions Trilogy. Enjoy!  (Follow hyper-links to learn more and to find buy-links)

 

TE new cover
The Exhibition
Blurb:

Book Three of the Executive Decision Trilogy (Click Here for Book One | Book Two)

Successful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?

Chapter 1 The Exhibition

Prologue

What she was about to ask was a terrible thing to ask of a friend. Stacie Emerson had ridden MAX in from Gresham, which had taken forever, but the long ride on public transport gave her time to think about it, to back out and turn the whole event into just two friends meeting for coffee. And then what? Where else could she turn? The two met in Pioneer Square just before the deluge began.

Kendra Davis gave her a fierce hug, and they hurried the few blocks to the coffee shop that looked up onto Raymond Kaskey’s colossal sculpture, Portlandia, which graced the

third story of the Portland Building. Just as the downpour got serious, they shoved their way into the cafe and settled into a table near the window with a good view of the sculpture. It had always been one of Stacie’s favourite things about Portland. She never got tired of it, no matter how many times she looked up at Portlandia with her hair caught up in the artist’s imagined breeze, with her strong Amazon body leaning down from on high, trident in one hand while the other arm reached out to the world below. Stacie never got over the urge to lift her arms up to the sculpture in hopes of being drawn into her magnanimous, muscular embrace.

When both women had given Portlandia the homage she so richly deserved, they turned their attention to each other. ‘How’s Garrett?’ Stacie asked.

‘He’s recovering nicely, thanks. He’s a horrible patient though. I practically have to tie him to the bed to get him to rest.’

Stacie offered her a wicked smile. ‘Somehow I can’t picture him really minding that too much, you tying him to the bed, I mean.’ Was she mistaken, or did Kendra actually blush? ‘And what about you? How are you doing? I mean recovering from what you’ve been through can’t be an easy task.’ Stacie shivered at the thought of the stalker and what might have happened if Kendra hadn’t been made of sterner stuff than just about anyone she’d ever met.

Kendra looked down at her hands folded around her cup and the smile she offered, though genuine, clearly took some effort. ‘I’m alright. The dreams are coming less and less often, and I’m seeing a psychologist. We both are. I won’t lie; sometimes it’s rough, but we have each other and…’ This time her face broke into a broad, easy smile. ‘God, I can’t get used to saying that … we have each other. It sounds do presumptuous, and yet I love it.’

‘It sounds just perfect,’ Stacie said, giving her arm a squeeze. ‘And you two deserve to be very, very happy together.’

Kendra reached up and patted her hand. ‘You should stop by for dinner some night. I don’t cook, but I’ve discovered Garrett makes a mean bolognaise.’

Stacie offered her a knowing smile. ‘He certainly does. Who do you think taught him how to make it?’ She waved a dismissive hand. ‘But honestly, to see the two of you so happy, I’d come for peanut butter sandwiches.’

‘That I think I could almost manage,’ Kendra said. Then the smile slipped from her face, and she held Stacie in a gaze that was all business. ‘Now that you know how Garrett and I are, I imagine it’s K. Ryde you really need to talk to, or you would have met me at Garrett’s or invited me for a look-see at the progress you’re making at the gallery.’

Kendra was dressed in a white t-shirt, faded jeans and a pair of black ankle boots. Her hair, once again golden-blond, was pulled back in a ponytail and she wore no make-up. No one would have ever imagined her to be the best in her field. In fact only a small handful of people knew anything about the mysterious P.R. guru, K. Ryde, and if they did, they’d certainly never met the legend in person. K. Ryde had worked for Stacie all this time, and it had only been during the horrible incident with the stalker, when K. Ryde was working for Garrett, that she’d actually discovered Ryde’s true identity.

‘When I hired the Ryde Agency,’ Stacie began, ‘it was a long term project, and then, well, then it was all so nebulous. I mean I had no idea who K. Ryde really was, and it didn’t matter. But now,’ she scooted closer to the table and leaned over it. ‘Now it does.’

Kendra laid down the spoon that she’d just used to scoop a mound of cinnamon-dusted foam from her cappuccino into her mouth. ‘Then you’re ready for the next phase.’

Stacie nodded, feeling the tremor of nerves in her belly as she thought about what the next phase would mean. To both of them. ‘And I need to know if I’ve been handed over to the agency or if you’re still in charge. I assume you were in charge.’

Kendra offered her a half-smile. ‘I was always in charge, and your … request intrigued me a lot so I took a personal interest. You’re one of the few clients I kept after I sold the agency, one of the few that I could continue working for on my own without anyone being the wiser for it. And I only did that because it interested me so much.’

‘Even after everything with Dee and Ellis?’ Stacie said. ‘I mean I know you blamed me, and rightfully so.’

Kendra studied her for a moment then nodded slowly. ‘K. Ryde’s business is business, Stacie. My personal feelings didn’t figure into it. K. Ryde never got involved personally … not until Garrett came into the picture, and that was … well that was something I could have never foreseen.’

Love was like that, Stacie thought. She released a shaky breath and wiped sweaty palms on her trousers. ‘I guess I need to know if I’ll be continuing to work with you, now that I’m ready to move forward with … my project, or if I’ll be working with someone I don’t know.’

Again Kendra studied her. ‘Do you want someone to take over?’

Stacie shook her head and stared down into her cup, trying to gather her thoughts. ‘It’s just that, well what happens next … what happens next you probably won’t like, and now that our situation has changed, I’m not sure I like having my friend involved. In fact, what I’m about to ask is a pretty terrible thing to do to a friend, if you want the truth.’

‘Stacie if you want me to hand you over to the agency, all you have to do is ask. But …’

‘But no one else could handle it like you could, if they could handle it at all, right?’

Kendra didn’t answer. She only held Stacie’s gaze.

‘I know that, and yet I also know what it’ll mean.’ Stacie looked out at the sculpture with its outstretched hand as though somehow it would offer her an easy answer for what she knew was ahead of her. But there were no easy answers. There could be none. She knew that. ‘It’s just that I … Well it’s complicated.’

‘Most of what K. Ryde deals with is complicated, Stacie. That’s why K. Ryde deals with it.’

There was a sudden flash of sunshine through the rainclouds bathing the sculpture in bright light and Stacie blinked back the after image, then turned her gaze back to Kendra, who sat for a second with Portlandia’s features super-imposed onto her own. Then Stacie blinked again and it was Kendra who sat across from her offering a sympathetic smile.

She knew how tough Kendra was, how much fire there was in that slender frame. But she also knew what the woman had already been through, and what she was about to ask her seemed cruel. ‘After everything that’s happened … to you, to Garrett, I don’t know …’

‘Stacie, Garrett and I are both struggling to put what happened with Edge behind us and move on. For me, that means finally being able to have my life back. Oh, I’m not moving back to California.’ She nodded up at the sculpture. ‘Portland is my home and I want to stay here – especially the way things are with Garrett and me now. But I have no intention of not working, and frankly, you know me well enough to know how bored I’d be with anything that wasn’t up to K. Ryde’s usual clientele.’

‘What about Garrett?’

Kendra raised a golden eyebrow. ‘What about Garrett? My love life most definitely doesn’t involve breaking client confidentiality. If you want me to finish what we started, Stacie, I will. In fact, I’ve always had every intention to.’

Stacie gripped her hands in her lap to keep them from shaking. ‘You won’t like it.’

‘Tell me, and let me decide,’ Kendra said.

Forty-five minutes and two more lattes and a Diet Pepsi later, Kendra blew out a sharp breath and scrubbed a hand over her face. ‘You’re right. I don’t like it.’

Stacie felt her stomach drop and the fear that all of her efforts, everything she had done so far had been for nothing threatened to overwhelm her. ‘Then I need to find someone else?’

Kendra shook her head slowly. ‘I didn’t say that. I said I didn’t like it. Besides, you wouldn’t find anyone else who’d do this for you, even if they could.’

‘I don’t want to … I never wanted to put you at risk.’

Kendra reached across the table and took Stacie’s hand in a strong grip. ‘Some things are worth the risk, Sweetie. But this is the last time we meet like this. From now on you only see Kendra Davis in person. K. Ryde will be in touch and inform you of what comes next.’ She squeezed her hand hard. ‘I mean it, Stacie. From this moment on, you’ve never met K. Ryde, and you won’t ever meet him again. Are we clear?’

Stacie squared her shoulders and nodded, unable to speak around the claw of nerves in her chest.

Kendra’s face softened to a warm smile and she released Stacie’s hand with a soft pat. ‘Good. Now the sun’s out and I’m dying for a walk along the river so that I can bore you beyond words with the latest about Garrett and me.’

And really, there was nothing in the whole world Stacie needed more at that moment.

Chapter 1

Stacie nearly fell off the chair behind her desk as she jerked to wakefulness. It took her a second to realize she was in her office at the gallery. A quick glance at her watch told her she had maybe a half hour before the workmen arrived. She yawned and stretched then shoved to her feet to open the utilitarian mini blinds. They would soon be replaced with lush spring green drapes at windows that would be flanked by plants from the same nursery that had furnished the greenery for Ellis when he’d opened the Pneuma Building.

Even unfinished as it was, she loved the feel of the place and what she was building it into. Stacie already owned a thriving gallery, and she had every intention of making the new West Coast gallery as successful as the one in New York. Two trips to Japan in as many months and the constant yo-yoing back and forth to New York until she could get her manager there trained and up to speed had pretty much guaranteed that she wasn’t getting enough rest. She was jetlagged as hell, so she tried to make the best of it and get some work done when she couldn’t sleep. That was all to be expected. It was a challenging time. It wouldn’t last forever. But the stress of opening the new gallery meant that the nightmare she had lived through in the early days of the New York gallery was bound to bubble up and kick her unconscious in the butt. It had been a bad dream that had woke her in the wee hours this morning. Even the pep talk she had given herself — that this time was different, that this time she was going in with her eyes open, that this time she knew what she was doing — didn’t lull her back to sleep, so here she was.

She glanced around her make-shift office with its folding chair and battered pine desk buried beneath shipping documents for the Japanese part of the exhibition and plans for the completion of the interior of the gallery. In her office, the walls were already painted, the floor was laid. The furniture would be delivered next week, and that included a comfy chair and a sofa for her to doze on when she was jetlagged. It was coming together, she thought. It was coming together.

Just then her BlackBerry buzzed, and she scrabbled to find it beneath the stack of papers, nearly dropping it in the trash can when she finally unburied it and read the reminder to call Harris Walker. Again. She’d already rescheduled the call three times in the past twenty-four hours because she knew the drill. Either she’d get his voice mail and he wouldn’t return her call or he’d tell her he couldn’t talk right now, but he’d get back to her, and then he wouldn’t. But Harris Walker had no idea just how tenacious she was and how badly she wanted his work for the gallery’s opening exhibition. He’d have to personally tell her to fuck of and die before she would even begin to take the hint. And though Harris Walker didn’t much like her, she knew he was way too nice to tell her to fuck off and die.

newgmbuttonThe sunshine was just beginning to make a golden path onto the newly laid wood floor, and she had it on good authority that Harris would be up. In fact she had it on good authority that he had spent the past night in a hide photographing great horned owls. Owls slept in the daytime so she figured he’d just be finishing up, but not yet have had time to tuck up in his jammies for a nap. She’d invite him to breakfast. Surely he must be starving after spending the night in the woods. Of course, even if he were, he’d still tell her no. Then she’d invite him for coffee and work her way down from there. Maybe they could compromise on a glass of tepid water in her disaster of an office.

She really didn’t need to refresh her memory on Harris Walker’s work. She had studied his photographs in detail long before she knew him in person, back when she had no reason to believe that when they actually met he wouldn’t like her. But as she pulled up the Wilderness Vanguard Website, she told herself it was to give him time to get back to civilization before she became the unpleasant point in his morning. He was the editor of Wilderness Vanguard, and some of his work was in almost every issue. After she’d looked through the latest edition, she pulled up his own website and flipped through the photo galleries. She flipped past the photos of pristine Cascade scenery, past the photos of birds preening and elk rutting, past the photos of sunsets over the Pacific Ocean and sea lions lolling in the sand near Lincoln City. She even flipped past the gripping photo-diary he had done of his trip to the forests of Valderia with Ellis a few months ago. She flipped instead to the images of mining run-off and erosion-ravaged landscapes, to the photos of landfills, oil-slickened waterways and clear-cuts, to the photos of small dying communities that had lost their livelihood when the lumber industry went belly-up. As she studied them for the hundredth time, she wondered how he did it, how he could revel in such beauty as the Northwest was famous for, then immerse himself in landscapes from hell without somehow damaging his soul. She’d like to ask him if he’d ever consent to at least meet her for coffee.

She really thought that of Dee Henning’s two best friends, Harris would be the easiest to win over. Stacie knew what men saw when they looked at her, and she seldom had to do much more than smile at a man to get his attention. Socially, she wasn’t even close to desperate. She was used to being able to date anyone she wanted whenever she wanted.

And though Harris Walker was definitely the stuff of sex dreams with his broad shoulders and outdoorsy good looks, all she wanted was the man’s photos. It was business, strictly business. At first she thought he simply couldn’t forgive her for her inadvertent role in her and Garrett’s bumbling attempt to get Dee and Ellis together, the attempt that had nearly had the opposite result. But Garrett, he seemed to have forgiven, so she suspected his less than warm feelings toward her had as much to do with her past relationship with Garrett and Ellis as anything. Ex fiancée to one, ex wife to the other. Okay, it wasn’t a shining resume, but she had only been eighteen, for fuck sake, and that horrible mistake had cost her way more than she could have ever imagined.

Anyway, it wasn’t like she was asking Harris to marry her or even to like her. What, could he possibly think she’d try to seduce him? There were at least five other wildlife photographers who were practically begging to be a part of her opening exhibition, but it was Harris she wanted. She flipped back through the pictures of devastation one last time, then grabbed the BlackBerry and pulled up his number.

It rang until it went to voice mail. She rolled her eyes, then put on her sweetest voice and asked him, for the hundredth time, if they could get together to talk about the exhibition. When she hung up, she left a text as well, all the while having visions of the man slapping a restraining order on her. Well, that’s what he’d have to do if he wanted her to give up. She’d beg, bargain and grovel if she had to. She’d try again a little later.

While she made herself coffee in the small kitchenette next to her office, she went down the mental list of questions she’d ask him, just in case today was the day when he actually gave in and returned her call.

Still thinking about the uncooperative Harris Walker, she started a second pot of coffee. The workmen would be here soon and the bakery around the corner would be delivering shortly. She had made special arrangements for a delivery daily as long as the workers were finishing up the gallery. She needed them happy and pleased to do things exactly the way she wanted, and nothing said do it my way quite as nicely as fresh pastries and quality French roast coffee.

That done, she took her own coffee and went back to her desk. She glanced through Harris’s photo galleries again, studying the horrendous detail of some of the scenes of destruction and environmental damage. She took a pen and a small pad of paper and scribbled notes about the ones she hoped to include in her exhibition. While she was at it, she made a note to call the young reporter, Carla Flannery, for more details about the illegal landfill she had uncovered in the John Day area. There was a whole series of photos on Harris’s site from that unfortunate incident.

While jotting down notes, she pulled up Harris’ number and tried again. Still no answer. She left another message and decided to let it go for the day. She could only do so much harassing before she had to give the poor guy a break. She had dinner plans with Dee and Ellis this evening before she took the red-eye to New York, and if he hadn’t gotten back to her by then, she would exercise her option to manipulate and get the two of them to talk to him. He’d probably like her less for it, but since she didn’t know him well enough to know how much less he was still capable of liking her, she supposed she could live with that. The man was just being stubborn. He’d exhibited his work all over the Northwest and beyond. She’d made it clear the proceeds from the exhibition would go to funding the Vigilant Trust, which Wilderness Vanguard and Ellis and his company had been instrumental in starting. The Vigilant Trust was money for reclaiming land that had been damaged and for helping communities that had suffered from job losses. Stacie was proud that her gallery would begin its life supporting such a good cause.

Into her silent reverie, her BlackBerry buzzed the arrival of a text causing her to jump and drop the notepad onto the floor. Maybe this was it then. Maybe Harris Walker was finally getting back to her. Her mind was already racing as she grabbed for it. She had no doubt she could convince him to allow her to exhibit his work if he’d just listen to her. She was sure he’d be intrigued.

She pulled up the text, and all thoughts of the exhibition, all thoughts of Harris Walker, all thoughts of the workmen she could now hear arriving, went out of her head. Her stomach rebelled, and for a second, she thought she would vomit her coffee. But she forced a deep breath, forced herself to calm and focus. After all, this was not unexpected. She had lived in the shadow of this moment for ten years, and she would never be more ready to face it than she was now. She took another deep breath, squared her shoulders and read:

Welcome to the West Coast, Stacie. It’s such a pleasure to have you close once again. Feels like old times. We must meet for drinks and dinner. I’m dying to catch up on all your news. I do hope the gallery renovations are going without a snag. So many unexpected, and expensive, glitches can happen when you’re on a tight deadline.

Yours always,

            TJ

The BlackBerry slipped from her hands and disappeared in the mound of papers on her desk as she shoved back the chair and ran for the stairs.

‘What the fuck?’ She heard one of the workmen exclaim, and she nearly ran into Ted, the foreman who was racing up the stairs toward her. He caught her before she could lose her balance. His expression was hard; his voice tightly controlled. ‘Ms Emerson, you’d better come look at this.’

He kept a protective hand under her elbow as he led her into the main exhibition hall, and it was probably a good thing he did. The red paint was splashed over the newly laid wood floor and onto the freshly painted wall where it dried in thick spatters. Oxygen rushed from her lungs and everything else disappeared as the past forced its way into the void. ‘Zoe!’ Stacie could never remember if she had actually called out her friend’s name or if it were only in her head. She was no longer in the vandalized gallery. She was transported back to Zoe’s flat, back to the gunshot that shattered her world, back to the blood on the walls.

‘Everything was locked up just like we left it last night just like always,’ Ted was saying, but the rest of his words were drowned out by the ringing in her ears and the present fell further away.

When she allowed herself to think about that horrible time, it was always with thoughts of what might have been if she could have gotten Zoe away from him, if they could have gone somewhere, somewhere that he couldn’t find them. Strangely it was his scent that permeated all of her memories of him. Every time she had ever been with him it had surrounded her, practically drowned her; when he held her, when he stroked her hair, when he caressed her. He always smelled like the desert, with everything that was dangerous about it. Everything that was poisonous or desolate or sharp angled and deadly seemed to seep through his pores in a way that was both dark and compelling. How was it that something as simple as the way someone smelled could illicit such desire, such hope, such terror, such rage? How was it that the scent of the man was the first thing she remembered about him and the last thing that haunted her in her dreams?

When she came back to herself she was seated on a folding chair and Ted was offering her a glass of water. This is how it all begins, she reminded herself. And this was not the time to be squeamish. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t expected to hear from Terrance Jamison. That was inevitable. It was just that she hadn’t expected to hear from him quite so soon, and she had at least expected a little grace period before the harassing began.

‘Shall I call the police?’ Ted was saying.

She shook her head. ‘No.’ There was a shuffling and a mumble of surprise among the workers. She drank the water down and stood. ‘I know what this is all about, and I don’t have time to go through a police investigation, which will turn up nothing, not if this gallery’s going to open on schedule. How soon can you fix it?’ she asked Ted. Before he could respond, she added. ‘I don’t care how much it costs. I don’t care what it takes. I need it fixed immediately if not sooner.’

The foreman looked around at his crew. ‘Alright, I can call in some extra workers, we can arrange for an extra shift, work into the night if we have to, but are you sure you don’t want the police to check this out. This is vandalism, ma’am, and no doubt –’

She cut him off. ‘I know what it is, and I’m sure. Just do whatever it takes. I’ll be in my office if you need me.’ She turned on shaky legs and walked carefully back to the stairs. Already Ted was barking orders Xcite FB campagne for Exec Dec trilogyand the place erupted into action. Back in her office she forced herself to read the text through one more time and then again. She forced herself to remember, to remember all of it, all that she knew and all that she couldn’t prove, but she knew with a certainty that was unshakeable. She forced herself to remember every detail, every nuance, every injury suffered, and when it felt like a cold, hard stone in the pit of her stomach, she closed the text without answering it.

 

New Release: Smut by the Sea Volume 3, edited by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) and Victoria Blisse (@victoriablisse) #erotica #anthology #romance

Smut by the Sea Vol 3Blurb:

Light hearted, sexy fun by the sea is the theme of this erotic anthology, edited by Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse.

From exotic locales such as Croatia and Australia to the coastal caves of England, Smut by the Sea Volume 3 has it all. Whatever your interpretation of naughty seaside fun, there’s something nestling between the covers for you. Kinky role play, gorgeous artists, bobbing boats, sexy cougars, hunky hermits and more abound in this exciting collection of stories from erotica’s finest authors.

Buy links: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/smut-by-the-sea-volume-3/

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22703850-smut-by-the-sea-volume-3

*****

Excerpt from Hermit by Lucy Felthouse:

Karen grimaced as she drove the car onto the Dungeness estate. She knew for a fact she was on said estate because she’d just passed a sign proudly proclaiming her whereabouts. Personally, she couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. It looked pretty damn grim, in her opinion.

She sighed. As soon as she’d been handed the assignment, she’d known it would be a bitch. The blog she wrote for, Universe of Quirk, published just that—anything quirky. This meant there was a huge amount of scope for articles for the site. Mostly it was about weird phenomena, picking out oddities in popular culture and freaky findings the world over. For the most part, Karen loved her job—she had a genuine interest in the bizarre and unusual, and a good nose for sniffing things out to write about. She didn’t often have to leave the comfort of her office chair to write her articles—the Internet gave her all the information she needed, at the touch of a button. And what she couldn’t gather via Google, she could find out by interviewing people. By email, phone or Skype.

But not Tom Pettyfer, it seemed. According to her notes, he was an ex-army dude who’d had some kind of meltdown, quit his job and moved to a shack in Dungeness. He was now a total hermit—hence the in-person interview. He had no telephone, let alone a computer or Internet access. Her boss had had to arrange the appointment by snail mail, for heaven’s sake! As such, there’d been no way of double checking he was still available. Karen hoped like hell he hadn’t suddenly decided to go out—leaving her with a long journey home with no article in the bag.

Continuing along the poorly-surfaced road, Karen slowed the car to a crawl—both to avoid damaging the rental vehicle and also to squint at the shacks she passed to find the one she was looking for. They all seemed to have names rather than numbers, which made the signs easier to read, but it was more difficult to find the right one, as there was no rhyme or reason to the layout. For all she knew, Tom Pettyfer’s shack could be the very last one on the lane.

Soon, she discovered that was not the case. Tom’s home was a strange-looking wooden building that wasn’t near to anything else. It sat alone in the shingle, a sparse garden-type thing surrounding it, and an ancient rusty car on the driveway. She supposed there was no point buying and running an expensive car if one didn’t go anywhere. Perhaps he just used it for errands and grocery shopping. He couldn’t shop online—so how else would he buy food and other necessities? How did he pay for those things if he never went out, didn’t have a job?

She reminded herself that this was the whole point of the trip. To meet this hermit and ask him questions, to find out why he lived the way he did, what made him tick. What had happened to make him choose this lifestyle?

Her car wouldn’t fit on the driveway behind his so she parked at the side of the road in front of his house, figuring traffic wouldn’t exactly be a problem anyway. Looking around, she was struck by the eeriness of the place, the loneliness. Add that to the ugly nuclear power station perched at the edge of the estate and you had a recipe for… well, hell on earth, really. And they called Kent the garden of England.

Pulling herself back to the task at hand, Karen grabbed her stuff then stepped out of the car, locking it and walking up to Tom’s shack. The sooner she got the interview over with, the sooner she could leave this desolate dump. Grey clouds overhead threatened rain, and she could hear the sea crashing mercilessly against the shore, the saltiness in the air filling her nostrils and coating her tongue. None of those things endeared her to the place.

Reaching the front door of Tom’s shack, she sucked in a deep breath and let it out, then straightened her stance. She was so used to working from home, lounging in her office chair as she researched and typed away, that she’d almost forgotten what it was like to meet someone on a professional basis. It was imperative to get this guy to trust her, so he’d open up and give her some good stuff for her piece. The project was a pain in the arse, but she couldn’t grumble too much—the site’s editor had made it worth her while financially.

Satisfied her body language was business-like yet friendly; Karen knocked on the door, and waited.

A couple of seconds later, the door opened. “Hi,” said a guy about her age, “you must be Karen, from Universe of Quirk.”

“Uh, yeah… that’s me.” So much for being professional. She hadn’t been expecting a god to answer the door. It had totally thrown her. “I mean, sorry, yes. I’m Karen Wilson. Lovely to meet you.” Holding out her hand, she tried not to swoon as the hottie reached out and gripped it, his own hand warm and dry, the shake firm but not crushing. Her belly did flip flops.

*****

Editor Bios:

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, is book editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

 

 

Victoria Blisse is a Mother, Wife, Christian, Manchester United Fan and Award Winning Erotica Authoress. She is also the editor of several Bigger Briefs collections, and the co-editor of the fabulous Smut Alfresco and Smut in the City and Smut by the Sea anthologies.

Victoria is also one of the brains behind the fabulous Smut Events, get togethers for authors and writers alike. Check out http://smutters.co.uk for the details of the next smut gathering.

She is equally at home behind a laptop or a cooker (She is TEB’s resident “Naked Chef”) and she loves to create stories, poems, cakes and biscuits that make people happy. She was born near Manchester, England and her northern English quirkiness shows through in all of her stories.

Passion, love and laughter fill her works, just as they fill her busy life.

You can find often find Victoria procrastinating on Facebook http://facebook.com/victoriablisse , Twitter http://twitter.com/victoriablisse  and Pinterest http://pinterest.com/victoriablisse  and if you want to know more check out her website http://victoriablisse.co.uk

 
© 2014 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

Site created and maintained by Writer Marketing Services | Sitemap