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Lust and Magic: Shameless Selfie on the Fells

13924941_10206900506259504_2409484410935329656_nYup! You guessed it! Being just back from some serious fell walking in the Lake District, today’s shameless selfie is inspired by my week of walking in the sunshine – a very lucky weather condition in the English Lakes, and one that can change in a heartbeat. In fact it was that sudden change in the Lakeland weather that inspired my four-novel Lakeland Witches series. When what started out as a walk on a sunny day turned into a downpour accompanied by thick mist, I was inspired – after I was down safely drinking coffee in a tea shop in Grange.

 

This weekend’s Shameless Selfie is the first chapter of Body Temperature and Rising, the first book of the Lakeland Witches series. Enjoy!

 

WARNING: Seriously adult content … and lots of magic.

 

Body Temperature and RisingBlurb:

Book one of the Lakeland Witches trilogy (Click here for: Book Two | Book Three)

American transplant to the Lake District, MARIE WARREN, didn’t know she could unleash demons and enflesh ghosts until a voyeuristic encounter on the fells ends in sex with the charming ghost, ANDERSON, and night visits from a demon. To help her cope with her embarrassing and dangerous new abilities, Anderson brings her to the ELEMENTALS, a coven of witches who practice rare sex magic that temporarily allows needy ghosts access to the pleasures of the flesh.

DEACON, the demon Marie has unleashed, holds an ancient grudge against TARA STONE, coven high priestess, and will stop at nothing to destroy all she holds dear. Marie and her landlord, the reluctant young farmer, TIM MERIWETHER, are at the top of his list. Marie and Tim must learn to wield coven magic and the numinous power of their lust to stop Deacon’s bloody rampage before the coven is torn apart and more innocent people die.

 

 

LakelandWitches1BTRBody Temperature and Rising Chapter One:

Out of nowhere the clouds descended, blocking the midday sun and the view of the Borrowdale Valley below. The path ahead of Marie vanished in a roil of thick mist. She shivered, then squinted at her compass. Damn it! The weather forecast had promised sunshine for the day, unseasonably warm, it had said, just like it had been all week. She reassured herself that there was no real way she could get lost on Maiden Moor and High Spy, so close to civilization. Then why did the mist feel so unsettling?

She shifted the pack on her back and tried to remember if this was the route she had taken with her parents. But that was fifteen years ago, and there had been no fog.

The world around her fell silent, as she stepped cautiously forward. She heard no bird song, no breeze, and stranger still; on what was a frequently walked path, she heard no other people. It was as though she were the only person left in the world. As she followed the flank of the fell around, the silence deepened still further until even the sound of her own breath seemed muted in the mist. Goose flesh rose along the back of her neck, and she shivered. A few more steps and the sound of a woman’s voice, half whispered in the mist, stopped her in her tracks.

‘Anderson? Are you there?’ 1

The knot in her stomach tightened at the possibility of this Anderson being lost to his companion in the fog.

‘Anderson?’ The voice came again. It didn’t sound particularly frightened. ‘Anderson, I need you.’

Marie was about to round an outcropping of rock that obscured the path when, directly in front of her, the mist cleared, and she caught sight of the woman calling for this Anderson guy. Her dark hair was pulled back in a heavy pony tail, and her legs extended forever from underneath kaki walking shorts.

Marie was about to make her presence known when out of the fog, almost as though he had materialised from nowhere, stepped a dark-haired man with a closely trimmed beard. He was broad shouldered, a little taller than the woman, and dressed in a black suite of vintage cut.

Damn tourists, Marie thought. What the hell was he thinking coming on to the fells dressed like that? Her irritation was interrupted by an intense tingling of heat below her navel that flashed hot, took her breath away and nearly drove her to her knees before it cooled to a warm buzz and skittered down low inside her pelvic girdle. Just then the man scooped the woman into his arms and kissed her with an open-mouthed tongue- fondling that left Marie’s insides feeling like warm toffee. Instinctively she stepped back, not wanting to interrupt the reunion.

‘I was worried when you weren’t here,’ the woman spoke between breathless kisses.

‘Tara, my love, I came as soon as you called. You must not worry so.’

She released a sigh that was almost a sob. ‘I have good reason.’

‘Of course you do, my darling. But worry will not ease 2

our situation. So we shall do what we must. And I will do whatever it is you ask of me.’

There was something in the way the man spoke that was strange. The accent was very British, and yet not. And the wayxcite1DEMON INTERRUPTEDedit
he moved against the woman, the way he protectively pulled her to him, the way his mouth made love to hers banished Marie’s irritation that they’d chosen her path for their reunion. Irritation was replaced by longing that ached down through her torso to mingle with the strange buzz that had migrated to the soft spot between her legs, and the air felt suddenly warmer. The man’s hands joined the reunion. He slid the strap of the woman’s tank top down to spill a bare breast heavily into his waiting palm. He paused to knead it and fondle it as though he had never seen anything more exquisite. Then he took as much of it into his mouth as he could. The woman released a shrill gasp as though cold water had been poured onto her. ‘I can feel it,’ she breathed. ‘We were right.’ Then she held him to her, letting him nurse at her in hungry nibbles and slurps.

Marie should have left, and yet she stood riveted to the rock beneath her, feeling heavy and pliant, as though something had suddenly filled her and was moulding her and shaping her from the inside with fiery hands. Her breasts tingled at the rub and tickle of the man’s beard against Tara’s tender flesh, at the tug and pull of pursed lips on swollen nipples. She felt almost as though it were her breasts at which he nursed.

Marie clasped her hand over her mouth to hold back a gasp of appreciation as, from the man’s trousers, the woman manoeuvred the longest, thickest erection she had ever seen. Not that she’d seen that many erections When had there been time? She could almost feel the hot stiffened twitch of maleness against the woman’s hand.

3

As the mist floated around them revealing, concealing and revealing again, he slipped his other hand into Tara’s shorts. She caught her breath and nibbled her bottom lip as he found what he was looking for. Then she squirmed and twisted against him, practically sitting on his hand, as he stroked her. The look on her face was one of deepest concentration.

For a moment the mist thickened around the couple, and Marie held her breath listening desperately to hungry grunts that she felt deep in her belly and to little throaty moans that tingled down low, down where she shifted almost unconsciously into the dampening press of her panties against her labia.

When the mist cleared again, Anderson was sliding Tara’s shorts down, kneeling to kiss and nibble her calf as he lifted one exquisite leg free from both shorts and a pale lace thong that was definitely not what Marie would consider standard walking apparel.

He lifted the freed leg higher until Marie was afforded the perfect view of the woman’s distended lips, glistening like the heavily-dewed hawthorn flowers she’d cut this morning for a vase on her kitchen table. Marie was certain her own pout had to be at least as wet. The heat and the buzz between her legs intensified, and the slippery ache overrode the guilt at being an unwelcome voyeur, as she wriggled and strained against the seam of her walking trousers and her much more practical panties.

Anderson lifted Tara’s still booted foot onto his shoulder in reckless disregard for his pristine suit. He moved forward cupping Tara’s arse cheeks in large kneading handfuls, guiding her into enough of a squat to position her splayed cunt so that his tongue had easy access. Then he buried his face deep into the woman’s pussy, as though he planned to split her in two with his

4

tongue and the wedge of his face. The woman trembled and pressed back hard against the rock, surely just to keep from collapsing under the overwhelming pleasure of what Anderson’s mouth must feel like eating at her so deeply.

Lakeland Witches 3 EFMarie was amazed that, totally surrounded by fog as they were, her view was still perfect, even enhanced. She could almost feel the distended press of the woman’s nipples as she tugged and pulled at them with the hand not curled possessively in the man’s dark hair. She could almost smell the slippery sheen of the woman’s heat coating the man’s beard. And the rise and fall of his chest matched her own hungry need for oxygen. A single droplet of precome glistened on the head of his uncut cock. It lewdly, jutted and danced between his legs like an escapee from his dapper trousers. It boldly proclaimed freedom with each bounce and shudder against heavy balls pressed tight in their own effort to escape confinement.

It was as if the world in the mist now contained nothing else but the three of them. And the world the three of them inadvertently shared had shifted into slow motion, as though every detail were magnified, intensified and stretched to the breaking point all at the juncture between Marie’s thighs.

Even in her fantasies nothing like this had ever happened. Marie moved very carefully, feeling the rock shift under her feet as she eased her cold hand down the front of her trousers and into her panties. She shuddered at her first touch. Her knees felt weak as water as she wriggled her fingers in between her pussy lips, already drenched and swelling. She couldn’t hold back a sigh at the velvety feel of herself, at her salty sweet aroma infusing the fresh fell air.

In the crescendo of her lust she wondered if even the 5

crotch of her trousers would bear the mark of her heat when she was finished, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if her juices flooded and ran down her legs to puddle on the path beneath her, she could not have pulled away if her life depended on it. It was as though she were the invisible third party entangled in a rutting threesome too far gone to disengage.

Anderson tongued his way up over Tara’s belly, his face shimmering with her moisture, moving upward to suckle each of her nipples in turn before he pulled her to him and whispered against her ear.

Marie froze, her hand still in her knickers. She held her breath, but she couldn’t make out the man’s words.

Tara nodded and spoke breathlessly. ‘Yes, I know. I feel it. Such a powerful lust. We can’t hide it. There’s no way.’ She gave his cock a caress, and it jumped at her touch.

‘I fear it is far too late for that now.’ He turned her to the flank of the rise, where she bent, resting her arms against the rock, exposing the half-domes of her arse cheeks to Anderson and to Marie.

Tara lifted one knee onto a boulder. As Anderson helped position her, Marie caught an exquisite glimpse of the dark clench of her anus. As he spread her and she shifted her hips to accommodate him, the engorged lips of her cunt pouted into view again, open and anxious before him, before Marie.

As Marie watched his fingers move over the slick spread of the woman’s open folds she wished it were her cunt 13873113_10206900507379532_2466330018196114994_nAnderson was caressing. But at the same time she wished she could touch the soft smooth skin that opened itself so pliantly to his probing. Marie could swear she smelled the tide pool of the woman’s arousal, different from her own, yet so delicious that it made her mouth

6

water. Anderson postured over Tara, his cock like a sword pressing downward in his hand. His open fly exposed only his cock and the squeeze of his balls, which somehow made the act seem all the naughtier.

Suddenly the air around her chilled. The world tilted, and Marie felt dizzy and confused as though she had just awakened from a dream to find herself somewhere other than where she should be. Hands cupped and splayed her, hands she couldn’t see. An erection that wasn’t there pressed anxiously at her cunt. Her heart hammered, everything below her navel surged hot and trembled. The press of flesh and the smell of sex enfolded her on all sides as though she were drowning in a heavy demanding caress, one that pushed at her, prodded at her, nuzzled at her, threatening to overwhelm her.

‘Please, Anderson I can’t contain it. Help me.’

It was the sound of Tara’s voice that pulled Marie back from cold panic, just as Anderson thrust home. Then the world warmed again and swung back into focus. Once more the sounds of pleasure filtered through the thick, otherwise silent air. As Anderson mounted Tara with a desperate grunt, it stopped mattering whether they knew she was there, and Marie felt strangely included in their intimacy. She pressed herself harder and harder into the palm of her hand, pinching her nipples until they ached in empathy with the growing rush building just behind her clit, a storm surge threatening to burst the dam and rip her apart.

Tara’s hair had come free from the pony tail and fell in a dark curtain around her face. Marie could almost see the heatwaves radiating up the woman’s spine, higher and higher, as though Anderson jack-hammered them into her with each joint-cracking thrust of his cock.

It was obvious Anderson was straining close to the 7
Lakeland Witches 2 RTEedge when Tara pulled away from him and turned around, grabbing his cock and keeping the rhythm steady. He dropped onto a bolder, then she knelt in front of him and began to slide his swollen erection between her breasts, faster and faster. Her eyelids fluttered and her lips moved rapidly, like she was saying something, chanting something over and over again, something Marie couldn’t quite make out. Not that she needed to with the sensory overload already throbbing through her whole body. Anderson braced himself against the rocks, thrusting with abandon between the tight grip of Tara’s breasts, every muscle tense and quivering, until at last his whole body shuddered. ‘Oh dear Goddess,’ he gasped.

Tara pulled back, guiding his cock so that his viscous load splattered across her breasts in high arching spurts. Marie felt fire spread through her chest and down over her belly in empathy with the couple, and she humped herself harder, whimpering, gasping desperate to come.

The look on Anderson’s face was ecstatic as he unloaded. Then he joined Tara in whatever it was she was still repeating over and over again. While they chanted, he caressed and massaged and stroked, spreading his semen as though he were spreading lotion over Tara’s body, even up her neck and onto her cheeks and forehead. All the while Tara undulated and moaned beneath his touch and continued her chant.

‘My seed covers, but the power still resides in you,’ Anderson breathed. ‘And shall we release it now, my love?’

Tara only nodded and continued her breathless mutterings.

Before Marie could wonder what they were on about, he lifted Tara onto an outcropping of rock that was just the right height. ‘Then we shall complete what we have

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begun. Let me release it for you now, my darling, allow me the pleasure of finishing it.’

My God, the way the man talked, Marie thought. He could convince a woman her cunt was lined with gold. She could probably come just on his words alone.

He buried his face once more in Tara’s pussy, and once again, Marie felt as though she had been physically pulled into their intimacy.

With her gaze locked on the writhing couple, Marie tugged and pinched at the heavy nib of her clit until it buzzed with IMG_6129raw heat close to pain but much closer still to pleasure. She shoved and twisted and thrust the rest of her fingers into her grasping cunt until she reached the precipice, lingered there for a moment, then free-fell into a long dizzying orgasm, just as Tara convulsed her own release in breathless guttural grunts.

Marie’s legs gave under her, and she sat down hard, letting the aftershocks wash over her. Oxygen rushed back into her starving lungs. Muscles, strained to the point of collapse, relaxed and softened. The strange fire between her hip bones subsided to a warm thrum, and as the mist descended around her again, she managed to crawl to a mossy spot. Suddenly it didn’t matter how far she still had to walk or how thick the mist was. She could no longer hold her eyes open.

Just before she dozed, she thought she heard Anderson say, ‘There. That’s better, is it not?’

Buy Body Temperature and Rising Here:

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Reviews:

 

“I am a huge fan of K.D. Grace’s explicit, well-crafted writing (I’ve selected and published her work in multi-author “Best” collections), and this novel did not disappoint me. It’s the first of a hardcore paranormal trilogy, and many readers think it is her best work to date.” Violet Blue

*****

“Body Temperature and Rising is my favourite of K D Grace’s books so far… So if you’re looking for a well-written, pacy and smokin’ hot paranormal romp, I’d point you towards this book. One warning, though. As soon as you’ve read it, you’ll want to read the next book immediately. I know I do!” 5 out of 5, Erotica For All

*****

“This is powerful, sexy writing from the extremely competent K D Grace. The story contains a compelling narrative. And all of it is set in the most beautiful scenery in the natural world. You really will love this book.” Erotica Readers & Writers Association

*****

“The plot definitely engaged me. It’s a series of one intriguing revelation after another, and one steamy interlude DI_teaserleading into another. Ms. Grace gives the reader a complex story of ghosts, witches and sex magic that I enjoyed and I think you will too.” 4.5 out of 5, Dark Haven Book Reviews

*****

“This well-written, full-length erotic novel comes from the pen of well-established writer K. D. Grace… easily one of the best books I’ve read!” Jade Magazine

*****

“For the love of all things steamy, this is one HOT read. Steamy, sexy and some other words that start with S and mean hot things, Body Temperature and Rising is definitely a wild ride. If you don’t like the sexy, stay out of the sex coven.” Reading the Paranormal

*****

“Crossing my fingers that there is more to come in this series and soon! Body Temperature and Rising is steamy hot with an involved plot. Definitely give this paranormal erotica a try!” BookingIt

*****

“Let me just say wow. The book is gripping and so erotic I lost my breath at times. It was an erotic treat and I enjoyed every second of it. While it is full of sex and damsels in distress it was a delicious read.” Books-n-Kisses

*****

“Erotic fans will really love this story however because the sex scenes and K.D. Grace’s writing style is perfect for that genre. This is the first book in this series, so I hope to see Marie and Tim’s relationship move closer together in future stories.” 4 out of 5, Romance Book Scene

*****

“This full length paranormal and erotic novel had me gripped from beginning to end… This beautifully written novel and a great mix of good plot and steaminess makes this a great start to the trilogy… Warning; make sure you have hours to spare as you can’t put this book down.” Midnight Boudoir

*****

“This erotic novel gripped me from the onset to the end, informative, descriptive and steamy with plenty of hot sexy scenes was just what I wanted from this type of book. So beautifully written I had trouble putting this book down. The author has really set the bar high and I think I will be a struggle to find another erotic novel this good.” Sex Toy Testers

*****

“…if you’re looking for a helluva lot of graphic sex, with ghosts and witches that can practically make you come just by breathing on you, multiple orgasms, group sex (and there’s a tiny bit of m/m and m/m/f action in there too), sex magic, interesting relationship dynamics without the romance development, a steady, strong plot… this book is for you. I highly recommend it.” Erotic Flashes

 

 

A Paranormal Tidbit

10628798_10152952694540561_1170280432287907008_oIf you’ve been keeping up with my online serial, In The Flesh, then you know that I’m in the dark paranormal zone at the moment, and there are a lot more connections with what I’m writing than you can easily guess at the moment. Since I’m off in London this weekend for the Romance Novelist Association Conference, I decided to continue the paranormal theme and make it easier on myself and hopefully fun for you by offering up the 1st chapter of my paranormal M/M erotic novella, Landscapes from the fabulous Brit Boys: On Boys anthology. Enjoy!

Brit Boys: On Boys

From east to west and north to south, these British boys are having a blast in and out of the bedroom with the men of their dreams. They’re topping and bottoming from London to Cardiff, living out fantasies in the wildest fells and hooking up while serving HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

With passion and lust the name of the game, nothing is off limits. Throw in honed muscles, high-strength testosterone and an accent to die for and there is nothing they can’t do and no one they can’t get in this world or another.


Landscapes
 Blurb:

Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life?

 

Landscapes

Chapter 1

Back on British Soil

It wasn’t that Reese Chambers made my cock hard – though he did. It wasn’t that he was beautiful in a rugged, leather and stone sort of way – though he was. It was that Reese Chambers moved me in ways I had not been moved in a very long time, in ways that I, who never lacked just the right words to express myself, found my vocabulary inadequate to the task. Talia would call it an obsession, and maybe it was; from my first sight of him mantling his sketchpad like a bird of prey over a fresh kill, alone in the midst of the crowded pub, I could think of nothing else. It was my first night back on British soil. It is said that you can never go back home, and it had been a very long time for me. But the need to come home was in my blood like fever these past years, as were so many needs that never left me, but only sharpened with the passing of time.

Next to me, Talia droned on about suitable residences in Cumbria, about the leasing of a car and the making of necessary renovations. The Twa Dogs was busy for a Monday night with tourist season past, but being invisible was sometimes easier in a crowd. As Talia talked business in softly accented English, the men at the bar gave her admiring glances. Along with the permeating waft of warm bodies and fermented barley, I smelled the subtle spice of curiosity and the yeasty bread scent of simmering lust from men who knew the woman they admired was out of their league. Besides being excellent at her job, Talia was good for keeping attention off me. But there was little less than a lightning bolt that would have taken my attention off Reese Chambers.

He sat at a table near the exit, sketching in an open pad, his pint gone wanting as he lost himself in his work. I admire people of focus; people whose work is also their calling. They seem to exist on a different plane from the rest of us, and no one or nothing outside can touch them. I very much wanted to touch Reese, to draw his attention away, to hear his voice, to perhaps solicit a smile from him, to know that for a moment his attention was on me. But I’m a cautious man, and time is always on my side. The anticipation of knowing Reese Chambers in itself was to be savoured, not unlike just that right amount of intoxication, when warmth and relaxation take one to the boarders of euphoria, but no further.

‘There are three places that might be suitable.’ I returned my attention to Talia. ‘One in the Borrowdale Valley and two near Ullswater. But perhaps you should consider going back to High View, after all it is your –’

‘Find out who he is.’ I nodded in Reese’s direction. Before Talia could protest, I continued. ‘I have a roof over my head, and I’ve fed. There’s nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow.’

Talia’s cheekbones flushed with the rush of blood, and heaven knew how beautiful she was in such a state, porcelain pale skin, midnight blue eyes and hair, which was so close to black that no one but I would have noticed all of the other colours in her silken tresses. She knew what it was I asked of her, and she knew the delicate line she tread on the rare occasion when I did ask. A tremor passed up her long, straight spine, and a bloom of tiny goose bumps textured her bare arms. It would not be painless, what I asked, and I knew she feared it as much as she longed for it. I could hear the thud thud of her pulse in the thin, silken skin of her throat as she swallowed the sudden dryness of fear. ‘What do you want to know?’

I leaned forward to rake the tip of my thumb against the pulse point in her temple. ‘Everything, Talia. I want to know all of it. And when you know, come directly to me. I don’t care what time it is when you return.’

Only her eyelids fluttered her acknowledgment, for an anxious moment shuttering the brilliance of her eyes before she drank back her Merlot and excused herself to the ladies to freshen up.

I took little notice of her leave, but like a child left alone with the candy jar he couldn’t reach, I sat taking the object of my lust into my hungry senses, watching the muscles of his arms move beneath fine bronze skin as he sketched, watching the rapid rise and fall of his chest, as though what he sketched excited him, as though he were breathless from his engagement with it. His hair, unkempt and in need of a cut, was the colour of newly-forged bronze and the rapid shudder of his pulse against his throat made my lips tingle with the need to be pressed there where the life force flowed so close to the surface, there with his excitement, there with his passion. I licked my lips tasting the copper salt of my own sweat, and opened my mouth just slightly, just enough to take in the scent of him — the heat of his body, the cinnamon bite of his intense focus, and my cock shuddered heavily against my trousers. For a brief moment the sound of my own blood rushing through my body drown out the dart game behind me, the low drone of a football match on the big screen TV, the clink of glasses, the shuffle of feet. I heard only the rising of my blood and the scratching of his pencil against the rough-textured paper. For a moment, I sensed his own lust, harnessed tightly and focused through a needle’s eye on his creation and, God, I wanted that focus on me.

Before Talia returned, I stood to leave, and as I brushed passed him I smelled damp earth and verdant growth, I smelled a spark freshly kindled, and at the back of my throat I could taste his essence, as though passion itself had been distilled from the lusting creative force of the human soul. I inhaled once, then again, then I left the pub, having no idea just how powerful my lust for Reese Chambers really was, nor the sequence of events it would set off.

 

It was nearing dawn when Talia returned to our accommodations smelling of sex, as I knew she would if she were to obtain for me what I wanted. By then my blood burned in my veins, and my body felt too close to me, as though the flesh that I dwelt in suddenly conspired to crush me with its demands. And though I knew that Reese Chambers could not have refused her even if she had come to him as a toothless, foul-smelling hag, I hated her that he had poured himself into her body while I had been left with only my fantasies kindling my lust to an inferno.

Though my need was such that my flesh was fevered and my cock an insistent throb, until she returned, I held myself contained within skin that felt too thin. When she saw the state that I was in, she pulled the heavy drapes with an efficient tug, then with a nod of her head, motioned me to follow her down into the basement room that had been prepared for me. When she turned to me at the foot of the bed, before she could opened her kiss-bruised lips to speak, I took her mouth, starving for the first taste of him, the taste of his saliva, the taste of his blood, mixed with hers. She’d bitten him; he’d bitten her back. He was rough, and he liked to be treated rough, but he kept that to himself. He was embarrassed by it. His lips were slightly chapped from so much time in the sun and wind, and they’d slid against hers, suckling and stroking and pressing until her mouth opened to his. With ravenous laps of my tongue, I tasted him in her mouth, and she held back the moan of response, so I could hear the echoes of his groans, heavy with need he’d not satisfied in awhile, and I felt kinship in my own unsatisfied needs. Images of him flashed through my head. Christ, his eyes were green, dark green like the evergreen forests of the north, and he kept them open when he kissed her, taking her in with his eyes.

I shoved aside the silk of her low bodice exposing her breasts, breasts that his hands had cupped. My nipples peeked to sharp aching points at the feel of his calloused thumbs raking, pressing and releasing. I breathed in his scent on her breasts, burying my face in her cleavage, licking the taste of salty, slightly picante maleness, sniffing and tasting until I could stand it no more. In one violent jerk, I tore the dress all the way down and shoved it off her shoulders, away from the flesh he had licked and kissed and mounted. I cried out at the feel of him, weight on one elbow, knee spreading her thighs, fingers opening her heaviness, anxious to penetrate, anxious to relieve his need. And then, with Talia free of clothing, Reese Chambers’ essence filled the room. Talia’s panties were still wet with his semen mixed with her humid desire, and I tore them from her and forced her onto her stomach, onto her hands and knees, so that it was not her face I saw, but his that I imagined. With hands on her hips, I raised her bottom in the air and spread her still swollen, still slippery folds with fingers made awkward by my arousal, letting the scent of his hot bread and honey release intoxicate me. Then I buried my face in her snatch and, as I ate his lust from her, I knew him.

He was Cumbrian born and bred, and his accent was the soft lilting sound of the fells. He was a landscaper and a gardener by trade. His hands held the magic of the earth and his mind conceived ideas for beautiful outdoor spaces; those he liked best were patterned after Renaissance and medieval gardens. He was homesick and heartsick. He’d gone to Surrey to work with his father because the money was good. But his father had died recently and he had returned home to Cumbria. He didn’t care if he had to work in a pub or muck stables. He wanted to be home. He missed the people and he missed the fells. He missed the simpler, more honest rhythms of life. He was shy, even a bit reclusive. He read voraciously and widely, he liked astronomy and he was afraid of snakes, though it embarrassed him to admit it. He hadn’t had sex in a long time, and found it better to have a wank session than a meaningless encounter. The facts of him, the details of his life raced at me in a flood I consumed ravenously with each lap of my tongue.

As I ate Talia I felt the shape of his face, the curve of his chin, the rise and fall of his chest as he had done the same. I felt the soft tuft of bronze curls nestled between the hard rise of his pecs and the courser, deeper curls that caressed his testicles and his cock when it was at rest, but it hadn’t been at rest. How many times had he taken her? He was thick enough to fill her and the friction of him inside was delicious and maddening. The shape of him – I wanted to caress the shape of him, with my hands, with my mouth, and the taking of his essence from Talia was an act of ripping away something that should have been mine. As I bruised her arse with kneading fingers and, as I licked the last of his release from her, she managed a breathless moan. ‘Take the rest. God, Alonso, take the rest, and release me.’

I could hold back no longer. I rose on my knees behind him, and now it was truly him I saw as clearly as if Talia had brought him to me physically. With one hand wrestling at my fly, the other fondled his tender opening, careful as he lay there beneath me, legs parted, bottom exposed. In my mind’s eye, I would be gentle. He had not been with a man before. That I would be his first excited far more than just my cock. In my mind’s eye, I would make it good for him. I would make love to him as not even Talia could do. But in reality I was once removed, ripping vicariously the love I wanted from a succubus, and I was unable to do so graciously or without malice. When my cock was free, I took her ruthlessly, the sound of her closely entwined pain and pleasure far away. And once I had penetrated her depths, I took the rest of what I wanted, a connection, a connection that I could hold on to. I ripped it from her as surely as if I had ripped her skin from her flesh, fisting her hair and yanking her head back, bruising her hips, biting her shoulders.

And when I had savaged her for having him, and yet blessed her that she had done such for me, when I had ripped a release from her, then I felt him rising up, erect and needing to come, I felt him penetrating, deep and hard, varying his pace, torturing himself, torturing me as he had tortured her, as my own balls ached under their weight. The muscles of his buttocks clenched and released with each thrust and the look on his face as he came was pain and pleasure and vulnerability, and then distance. I took Talia cruelly, as she knew I would, punishing her for the betrayal that I had forced upon her even as every thrust, every bite, every bruising of her delicate skin, skin that smelled of his sweat, of his breath, of his semen, brought the reality of Reese Chambers, his pain, his dreams, his passion into me, deep into me. As she fucked him, I fucked her, by the very act, taking back from her what she had taken from him, every detail of who he was, alive with each thrust, with each bite, with each bruise that I dealt her.

And when I had used her up, taking from her every memory, every nuance of Reece Chambers, when she collapsed beneath me with a sob, I felt the brush of my own guilt, my own shame, as I always did when I used her so. I spoke gently to her, thanking her, calming her as I bathed her and gently cleaned the aftermath of me from her body. Then I lifted her in my arms and took her to her room. She was weakened from the experience, as she always was, and when she nuzzled in against my chest, I opened the small incision above my left nipple, and when the blood beaded up, I pulled her close so that she could feed and heal. I stroked her hair and watched, imagining that it were him feeding from me, and feeling myself hardening again at the thought.

When she was sated and sleeping peacefully, I watched her for a moment. She would need all of her strength in the days to come, for she would be my conduit. She would be my connection to Reese Chambers. I knew that above ground it was now full daylight, and I could now sleep with the essence of him against my flesh, in my flesh. And tomorrow, we would begin plans to move back to High View, where I would most definitely have need of a landscaper.

 

Find Brit Boys: On Boys Here:

Amazon UK
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Amazon AU
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
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Brit Boys: On Boys Blurb: 

From east to west and north to south, these British boys are having a blast in and out of the bedroom with the men of their dreams. They’re topping and bottoming from London to Cardiff, living out fantasies in the wildest fells and hooking up while serving HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

With passion and lust the name of the game, nothing is off limits. Throw in honed muscles, high-strength testosterone and an accent to die for and there is nothing they can’t do and no one they can’t get in this world or another.

 

Bodywork

By Ashe Barker

 

Alex is doing okay. His body repair shop makes enough to live on, he has a decent apartment, life is fine. That all changes when he runs into Graham in a supermarket car park – literally. He offers to fix the damage to Graham’s car free of charge. The sparks soon fly, and the heat between them has nothing to do with welding equipment.

 

Breaking the Marine

By M.K. Elliott

 

Brandon Rosen hadn’t planned for his final night before enrolling in the Royal Marines to involve a hot stranger and a pub car park. And he certainly hadn’t planned for that same hot stranger to turn up at the barracks in the form of his Drill Instructor, Corporal Will Stewart. In the testosterone fuelled environment of the training camp, can Brandon and Will overcome past pains and face up to what they really want? Or will the Royal Marine Commando School break their relationship before it even gets started?

 

Love on Location

By Lucy Felthouse

 

When Theo Samuels heads off to film on location in the village of Stoneydale, he’s expecting drama to take place on camera, not off. But when he meets gorgeous local lad, Eddie Henderson, he struggles to ignore his attraction. A relationship between the two of them would be utterly impractical, yet they’re drawn together nonetheless. Can they overcome the seemingly endless hurdles between them? Or is their fling destined to remain as just that?

 

Landscapes

By K D Grace

 

Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life?

 

The Chase

By Lily Harlem

 

Steve’s killing time working in a comedy club. Why not? It makes him laugh and both the clientele and the comedians are not just fit but also great company. One stand up joker decides to create a wild goose chase for Steve and his ex Robert. Cavorting around Cardiff on a frosty night, however, does more than just show them the way to a threesome, it also reveals the reasons why they should give each other one more shot.

 

Dish of the Day

By Clare London

 

Richie’s sunk all his hopes and savings into a new restaurant in south London promoting British ingredients and recipes. His best friends Craig and Ben should be around to help him celebrate the grand opening, but it looks like it’s all heading for disaster – until his friends step in to tell him some home truths. Then they’ll help him relax and enjoy their loving, intimate menu instead.

 

E2

By Sarah Masters

 

When Archie meets Dan after The Change, he realises there is no such thing as a random meeting of soul mates, it’s all mapped out in the stars. Now all he’s got to do is hope those orbiting planets stay in alignment and true love finds him again.

 

Locked Out

By Josephine Myles

 

Getting accidentally locked out of his hotel room on Valentine’s Day night is embarrassing enough for teacher Martin Cooper, but the fact he’s stark naked makes it even worse. It doesn’t help that the one person he runs into is Rod, the gorgeous man he’d been checking out earlier in the hotel pool. But when Rod offers Martin a refuge, the night heats up. Now if only Martin could get the hang of this seduction business…

 

Awesome British M/M Authors

Ashe Barker

M K Elliott

Lucy Felthouse

K D Grace

Lily Harlem

Clare London

Sarah Masters

Josephine Myles

Need more Brit Boys? Hang out with the authors on Facebook by joining the dedicated Brit Boys: On Boys group and pin with the authors on Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

 

The Exhibition, Another First Chapter, Another Executive Decisions Novel

Interviewing Wade_edited-1Knowing that everyone is enjoying a long weekend, and for some people that will involve relaxing in the sunshine (provided you’re lucky enough to get some) with a good read, I thought I’d continue on with the spirit of the Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway by giving you something to read. It was the first three Executive Decisions novels that led fans to demand Wade’s story. And while Wade is a secondary character in each of those novels, his role is vital and vibrant. So I’ve decided to celebrate the release of Interviewing Wade by sharing the first chapter of each of the first three Executive Decisions novels with you. To date I’ve shared the first chapter of An Executive Decision and Identity Crisis and today I’m sharing the prologue and chapter 1 of The Exhibition

 

Happy Reading!

And be sure to check out all the Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway sites and sign up for the Amazon Gift Card by following this link!

  

The ExhibitionThe Exhibition

Book Three of the Executive Decision Trilogy (Click Here for Book One, Book Two, Interviewing Wade)

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?

 

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.’

AED_teaserStacie 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.

IC_teaserEven 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 jet-lagged. 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.

The 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.

TE_teaser2She 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.’

Wade_teaser2The 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 and 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.

 

End of Summer Beginnings: An Executive Decision 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. I’m beginning with a bit of hot romance, Grace Marshall style and chapter 1 from An Executive Decision, book one of the Executive Decisions Trilogy. Enjoy!  (Follow hyper-links to learn more and to find buy-links)

 

AED new coverBlurb An Executive Decision:

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

Sex in the contract – it’s the only way super-focused, over-worked CEO, Ellison Thorne, is ever going to get laid. That’s what his retiring business partner and secret match-maker, Beverly Neumann, thinks. She’s convinced no-strings, stress-free sex in certain employee contracts would raise productivity and minimize stress — perfect for a busy executive like Ellis. But she’s joking, right?

Enter her hand-picked replacement, Dee Henning. Young, hungry, gifted, Dee is the queen of no time for sex. When negotiations on a major project break down, and Dee and Ellis end up in each other’s arms, the Executive Sex Clause suddenly becomes more than a joke. In fact hot executive sex just might be the ultimate secret weapon for success. But secrets seldom remain secret, and Dee and Ellis soon learn there’s no such thing as no-strings where the heart is concerned.

 

Chapter 1

Dee gave herself one last inspection in the mirrored walls of the elevator. No tell-tale trembling or sweating; the stage was fright all hidden beneath a well-polished exterior. How could she be this tense? She’d been in business with the big boys long enough to have nerves of steel. But this was Ellison Thorne she was meeting. The man was in a league of his own. She’d waited three years for this opportunity, and she was determined he wouldn’t see the mass of quavering jelly beneath the calm.

When she reached the executive suites, Beverly Neumann beckoned Dee into her office. ‘Ellis is stuck in traffic. He figures it’ll be at least another half hour.’

‘That’s too bad.’ Dee tried to mask her disappointment. She had a meeting with a potential head of marketing for Sportwide Extreme Adventure immediately after this, so there’d be no lingering if Ellis didn’t arrive before her hour was up.

‘I know he’ll do his best to get here,’ Beverly said. ‘He’s dying to meet the woman who threw a drink in Terrance Jamison’s face at Jasper and McDowell’s big New Year bash last year.’

Dee blushed. ‘Not funny, Beverly. I nearly lost my job over that.’ She still couldn’t figure why the man hadn’t sued her ass off or ruined her career or had henchmen break the legs of her family and close friends. Even now it made her nervous that he’d taken it so graciously.

‘And if you had, there’d have been ten companies in line to hire you, including Pneuma Inc,’ Beverly said. ‘It was so worth it. If only I’d had the presence of mind to record it all on my iPhone, you’d have been the queen of YouTube. You seldom get that caliber of entertainment at a corporate New Years party.’

Dee glanced at the front page of The Oregonian lying on Beverly’s desk. There was a photo of Ellis shaking hands with the governor. The caption read, Ellison Thorne, a force of nature working for nature. She studied the image, one of many she’d seen of him. Though there was a warmth about him in the photos, it was never blatant, always slightly distant. She was familiar with that distance. She’d been accused of it herself by colleagues who just didn’t understand her sense of focus.

She lingered over the photo admiring again the short brown hair with its patina of bronze, which laid bare the strong geography of his face. The well-defined jaw and firm brow created a fortress, of sorts, keeping his emotions and thoughts from the prying hordes. From it, he looked out on the world through dark amber eyes that never missed anything and never gave anything away. Heroes were like that, she thought, and she had idolized him and his company for a long time.

It was through Beverly that Dee occasionally caught more intimate glimpses of Ellison Thorne. No doubt he’d be appalled if he knew. But that was a part of her meetings with the woman that Dee always looked forward to.

Beverly nodded to the seat in front of her desk. ‘Might as well relax. He’ll get here when he gets here.’ She turned her attention to the forest of plants behind her desk and began misting the broad leaves of something that must have come straight from The Little Shop of Horrors. Thanks to Beverly’s insistence that a green work place actually be green, the whole ten-story cantilevered edifice that was the Pneuma building was one colossal hanging garden. It was healthier that way, she’d said.

Dee sat down a safe distance from the sinister-looking foliage. ‘You don’t need to go to the rainforest. You’ve got a jungle right here in your office.’

‘You sound like Ellis,’ Beverly said.

‘Is he still giving you a hard time about your trip to Brazil?’

‘One minute he’s treating me like an old lady, saying it’s too dangerous for someone my age to go trekking through the jungle, and the next he’s telling me I’m too young to retire and he absolutely can’t run the place without me for at least five more years.’ She brushed pollen from the jacket of her power suit. ‘Five more years! Do you have any idea how much life a person can miss out on in five years?’

‘So what will you do?’ Dee asked.

‘Well,’ Beverly rearranged the leaves of a large fern as though it were her favorite child, ‘first I’m going to Brazil. I haven’t had a real vacation in longer than I care to remember. And when I get back, if he doesn’t find someone to replace me while I’m still here to help train them, that’s just too damned bad, because in exactly one year, I’m out of here.’

‘Good for you. Life’s too short not to go for it when you get the chance.’

‘Yes it is, isn’t it? And speaking of going for it,’ Beverly sat down in her chair and leaned conspiratorially across her desk, ‘I hear the accountant over at Ab Con – what’s his name, the one with the dark hair that always looks like someone’s been running their fingers through it, I hear he sent you flowers.’

‘I recruited the best finance manager in the history of finance managers for Ab Con, Beverly. I earned every one of those flowers.’

‘Earned the flowers?’ Beverly frowned at her and clucked her tongue. ‘What part about the man being hot for you did you not get, sweetie?’ Before Dee could cut her off at the pass, Beverly was on a roll. ‘Honestly you’re hopeless, Dee Henning. I understand your focus, your drive to succeed, really I do, but I gotta wonder how you even call it success when you’re so wrapped up in your work that the only way you’ll ever get laid is if they put it in the job description. And frankly, if I had my way and I were running the business world, sex would be a contract requirement.’

Dee rolled her eyes, but Beverly clasped her hands on top of her desk, doing a fair imitation of a psychoanalyst. ‘I worry about you, Dee. I really do. Not having time for sex just isn’t healthy.’

‘You’re probably right, it probably isn’t –’ Dee change the subject by shoving a half a dozen files across the desk at Beverly. ‘– but it’s also not healthy for Ellis not to have a replacement for his retiring executive assistant.’ The title, executive assistant, was entirely misleading. Dee knew that Beverly, not Ellis, had chosen it. And though technically she was his equal in the business the two of them, along with Wade Crittenden, had begun thirteen years ago, Beverly preferred to work quietly with no pompous moniker to live up to. She wore the title proudly and carried the incredible burden it entailed with panache and enthusiasm. Dee was certain that whoever took up Beverly’s weighty mantle would inherit the humble title as well as its prodigious responsibilities.

Just then Beverly’s Blackberry buzzed. ‘Damn!’ She punched in a quick reply. ‘Ellis says the traffic’s at a standstill. I was really hoping the two of you would finally meet before I head off to Brazil.’

Dee buried her disappointment. Meeting Ellison Thorne was not the real reason she was here, she reminded herself. She still had work to do. She nodded down at the files of resumes of Beverly’s perspective replacements. ‘Best get to it then, hadn’t we?’

But Beverly pushed the files to one side and picked up right where she’d left of. God, the woman was tenacious! ‘Seems to me the obvious solution is to include sex in certain job descriptions, like for an executive assistant, or a secretary, or any position where two people work closely. That’d be a good start, don’t you think?’

‘Great idea. Maybe I’ll find myself a nice male secretary.’ Dee gave the door a quick glance, certain she’d heard someone approaching. There was no one, but in any case, she was sure that wouldn’t have stopped Beverly.

‘I think that would be a wise decision for a busy executive. And I doubt you’d have any shortage of applicants. Ellis wouldn’t either, and the benefits to both of you – well, I think you’d be amazed. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I personally can’t see a down side.’ Beverly continued her speculations. ‘Just think of how much more relaxed the two of you would be if you and Ellis had a reliable source of stress-free sex available when you needed it. Imagine how much more focused you’d both be if your junk wasn’t interfering with your brain.’

Dee straightened in her chair. ‘My … junk does not interfere with my brain.’

Beverly leaned over the desk like an accusing lawyer. ‘Ah, but how do you really know that, since you’re not getting any?’

‘Beverly –’

‘The Executive Sex Clause could reduce sick days.’newgmbutton

‘I’m never sick.’

Beverly came around the desk and laid an unsolicited hand on her forehead. ‘I’ve been thinking you look a little pale, and you feel a bit warm to me.’

Dee brushed her hand aside. ‘I’m fine. I don’t need the sick days I’ve got, and I bet Ellis doesn’t either.’

‘A good thing, since you wouldn’t have time to take them if you did. Forget sick days, think of the increase in productivity, the boost to creativity. Think of the serenity in the work place. That’s gotta be worth something. The possibilities are endless.’

‘My productivity’s fine and I’m very creative. And I work at Jasper and McDowell. Serenity isn’t part of the package.’ This conversation had gone far enough, farther than Dee wanted, and she really didn’t have time to wait any longer for Ellis. It looked like the long awaited meeting with the force of nature would have to wait for yet another time. Dee nodded to the folders on Beverly’s desk. ‘As interesting as the idea of a Sex Clause might be, if you insist on deserting Ellis, I need to do my job and find someone who can take your place, which won’t be an easy task.’

When the meeting finished, Beverly walked her to the door, glancing down at her watch. ‘Sorry you missed Ellis. But you know how it is with busy executives, it’s catch as catch can, isn’t it?’

Dee had the distinct feeling the woman wasn’t talking about work. She said her good-byes and promised they’d get together when Beverly returned from Brazil.

‘I missed her again didn’t I? She’s going to think I’m avoiding her.’ Ellis dropped into the chair in front of Beverly’s desk and flipped absently through the files Dee Henning had just left. ‘It’s not her that I’m avoiding; I’m avoiding your silly retirement plans.’

‘You won’t be laughing when you come in here some morning and find my desk empty. You’ll be SOL big time, boy.’

Ellis pulled one of the files from the stack and handed it to her. ‘Here. Here’s my choice. Why not Tally Barnes? She’s about as qualified as anyone, I guess.’

She shoved the folder back at him. ‘You know why not Tally Barnes, now stop being a smart ass.’

He offered her an amused chuckle. ‘Who are you kidding, Beverly? You love this place and you know it. You’re not going to retire. How many false alarms have there been now, three? Four? I’ve lost count. Face it; you’ll work here until you drop dead.’

‘Believe what you want, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.’ She pulled a manila envelope from the top drawer of her desk and handed it to him.

‘What’s this?’

‘My replacement. Since you won’t help, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. She’s been right under our noses all along.’ She rubbed her hands together with a shiver of anticipation. ‘Come on, humor me.’

Still holding her in a disapproving gaze, he took the envelope as though he half expected it to be booby trapped. He opened the clasp then slid the contents from inside and gave it a glance. ‘Wait a minute. This is a file on Dee Henning. You can’t be serious. You want a head hunter to take over running half of Pneuma Inc?’

‘Don’t be such a snob, Ellis. It’s not like she’ll be taking over tomorrow. I’ll be here to train her up to suit your persnickety standards.’

‘Then why not promote Tally Barnes? I don’t see what you have against her. She always seems fine to me.’ He nodded to the top file in the stack Dee had brought in. ‘She already works for Pneuma Inc, and she’s a lot more qualified. You could train her up.’

‘Oh she’s already convinced she’s a shoo-in. Hell she’s already planning to redecorate my office. Wouldn’t be too surprised if she has plans for you too. Don’t give me that snooty smirk. She’s a trouble-maker, Ellis. Oh she’s great at ass-kissing, and that’s why Tally Barnes always seems fine to you. I don’t like her and I don’t trust her. You know I’m a good judge of character. Trust me on this; she’s not right for my job no matter what her resume says.’

‘Suit yourself.’ He returned his attention to Dee Henning’s details. ‘How did you get this information anyway?’ The file was too thick for a simple resume, and some of the pages looked like hand-written notes photocopied. Others were odd sizes, some were written on post-it notes, and the whole packaged smacked of Beverly’s scheming.

‘Portland’s a small city.’ Suddenly she seemed particularly interested in the leaves of a thriving Christmas cactus sitting on the edge of her desk.

‘Beverly?’

‘I’m friends with Irv McDowell, okay? At least I think we’re still friends.’ The look of driven-snow innocence gave way to something just slightly this side of devious.

‘You’ve been head-hunting from the head head hunter? Dee Henning’s Jasper and McDowell’s star recruiter. Surely Irv didn’t give you this willingly.’

Beverly ignored the question and nodded at the photo he now held in his hand.

‘She’s exactly what you need on all counts. Though it’s true she’s only a few years out of grad school, what impresses me is her accomplishments during that time. She reminds me of you back in the early days – young, hungry, dedicated… And pretty. Don’t give me that look, Ellis, you’d blush if you heard some of the juicy conversations about you I overhear in the ladies’ room.’

He pretended to ignore the photo. ‘Your delusions aside, it doesn’t matter — that she’s good looking, I mean.’

‘And that’s why you’re drooling over the photo? I may be old, Ellis, but there’s nothing wrong with my eyesight.’

He put the picture of Dee aside and flipped through the file. ‘What all do you have in here anyway?’ He read out loud from the photocopied pages. ‘Classically trained, voice and piano? Oh, that’ll come in really handy here at Pneuma Inc. In fact, I was just thinking of requiring it for all new employees.’

‘Stop being an asshole. It’s just background information, just stuff that’s good to know.’

A hand-written note stated that both of Dee’s parents were musicians. Her father had sung in the chorus for the Paris Opera. Her mother was a soprano, who went to Paris on some summer program, and nine months later Dee came along. Ellis suddenly felt like a voyeur. ‘This is none of our business.’ He tried to shove the file back at Beverly, but she refused it.

‘Oh for chrissake, Ellis, there’s nothing in there I haven’t already wheedled out of the girl over coffee or drinks. Don’t be such a wuss.’

‘I’m sure she didn’t give you the copy of her finances over coffee and drinks.’

‘Oh that. Just tells us that we can’t appeal to her with money alone.’

‘Clearly she doesn’t need it,’ he said. He was surprised to find someone so young had such a good portfolio. She obviously knew how to make money work for her. She wasn’t exactly rich, but give her a few more years, and she would be.

‘My point exactly. Musicians tend to be poor, and I think our Dee has taken it upon herself not to follow in her parents’ footsteps.’

‘If the need ever actually arises for me to interview her, what makes you think she’s even interested in working for me? She’s got a growing career with Jasper and McDowell, and as you said, she’s making very good money.’

Beverly frowned. ‘Jasper and McDowell is a means to an end. Surely you don’t expect someone with her talent to settle in there permanently, do you? It’s the experience of working here with you that’ll appeal to her. She’s a perfectionist, never does anything half-assed. She’s always striving to be the best. She’s driven, just like you are. Remember that when you interview her.’

He shuffled pages. ‘What did you have to do to get this stuff, tie Irv to a chair and beat him with a tire iron?’

‘It’s amazing what a man will tell you over a couple of drinks.’

‘You got him drunk.’

‘It wasn’t that hard. He never could hold his booze. I can’t believe I didn’t figure it out sooner. She’s perfect for my job.’

Ellis looked down at the resume. ‘She’s not perfect for your job, Beverly. She’s too young, too inexperienced, and this is not even her area of expertise.’

‘The woman’s a head hunter, Ellis. She has to be competent in lots of areas. Besides, we’ve always been risk-takers at Pneuma Inc, and those risks have always paid off. I’ll train her myself, and you’ll see, within a few months she’ll be able to run this place on her own.’

‘An opportunity she’ll never get because you’ll never retire.’

‘Forget about my retirement, Ellis. It’s time. You know it is. We need someone in training for when the inevitable happens.’

He gave up pretending to ignore the photo, which was definitely the nicest thing he’d looked at all day. Short, dark hair framed blue eyes, a straight Roman nose, and a full-lipped smile that suggested competence, with a touch of mischief. So this was what Dee Henning looked like. He’d often wondered.

Xcite FB campagne for Exec Dec trilogy‘Hire her, Ellis. It’s not just that I’m retiring, but I’m old. Hell I could drop dead anytime, then what?’

‘Oh for chrissakes, Beverly, we both know you’re too damned ornery to die. You’ll outlive me. But I tell you what, if and when you do drop dead, I’ll hire her. Hell, when you drop dead, I’ll give her your job on a silver platter and train her myself, I promise. Now can we get back to running the business here?’

 

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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