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Shameless Selfie: Identity Crisis

 

We’ve all had the experience, when you get well and properly stuck into a good book. When the experience becomes far more than just reading. It becomes an obsession. It becomes an experience. In so many ways it feels like you’re right there with the characters on the pages. Time goes completely away when we spend time with our favourite authors in their latest novels. And who hasn’t wondered about those mysterious people inn the shadows behind the computer screen tap, tapping away at the stories we love. What are they really like? What really inspires them? How can they write such amazing stories. I don’t know about you, but I have fantasies about what my favourite writers must be like, about fan-girling majorly with them one-on-one.

But what happens when you find out your fave author isn’t the person you thought they were, but in fact they’re exactly the person who irritates you most, and they need your help. Identity Crisis is the second of the Executive Decision novels and a case of way more secret identities than can truly be kept secret for very long. Here’s sizzling except, in which Garret and Kendra go for an unexpected swim.

 

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

 

 

 

PR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.

When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?

 

 

 

An Unexpected Swim — Identity Crisis Excerpt:

 

‘You look poorly slept with’ Ellis said, giving Garrett a hard slap on the back.

‘Can’t say the same about you,’ Garrett said. ‘Either one of you.’ He gave Dee a hug and took the bottle of Sam Adams his brother offered him. He leaned back against the deck railing, glancing out over the golden mid-day glow of the Water Hole, as Harris’s little private lake had been dubbed.

Stacie came to his side. ‘It’s friendlier on this half of the deck,’ she said nodding over to where Harris and Kendra huddled around the grill with Wade Crittenden. Ellis and Dee’s secretaries and their spouses along with several other people Garrett didn’t know, people he figured were friends of Dees milled around down by the water.

‘Give them some time,’ Dee said, following her gaze. ‘They’ll warm to you.’

Garrett’s gaze came to rest on Kendra Davis dressed in a baby-blue bikini top and a pair of shorts that made her legs look like they went on forever before they joined her luscious bottom up under what he could imagine was nice soft cotton. Damn, it would be easier to dislike the woman if she didn’t look so good. Garrett’s jaw still ached in muscle memory when he recalled the hard slap she had given him down in Wade’s office back on the day when no one was really sure what would happen between Ellis and Dee and everyone was waiting and nail-biting to see how the two would deal with the sharks of the press waiting to accuse Ellis of sexual harassment. Falsely accuse, of course, but that never stopped them. Garrett still felt awful about the role he and Stacie had inadvertently played in that nightmare. One more item to add to his guilt list where his relationship with his brother was concerned. Dee and Ellis had forgiven them, and it was clear all was well in paradise, but Dee’s friends didn’t seem nearly so willing to forgive and forget. In spite of being closer to his brother than he’d been in a very long time, he still wished there was a way to make things up to him and Dee.

He watched as Kendra put her arms around Harris from behind and gave him a tight squeeze from where he leaned over the grill, tongs in hand. He’d been told they were just friends, but if that wouldn’t make a man stiff, he didn’t know what would. Garrett had given himself a hard-on several times thinking about Kendra Davis’s enthusiastic slap. How pathetic was he? Of course in his fantasies, what followed the slap was a lot more fun for him than what had actually happened. Still, he would have liked it if she at least loathed him a little less.

‘So what’s up, Bro?’

Garrett turned his attention back to Ellis, but before he could say anything, Stacie spoke up. ‘Tess Delaney’s been nominated for the Golden Kiss Award.’

‘Really? That’s fantastic!’ Dee threw her arms around Garrett and gave him a proper bear hug. Ellis had obviously told her about the lesser Thorne brother’s secret life.

Ellis gave him another hard slap on the back. ‘Congrats, Tess. You must be all aflutter.’

Garrett gave a quick glance around to make sure no one else was close enough to overhear.

‘So,’ Ellis continued. ‘If Tess has been nominated for such a big honor, then why do you look like you’ve had an encounter with a freight train?’

‘They want to out him,’ Stacie said, sipping daintily at her Margarita. ‘Tess, I mean.’

‘Shut up, Stacie,’ Garrett said between gritted teeth.

‘Out you, what do you mean out you?’ Ellis asked, and he took the stance Garrett was too familiar with, the one that said he wanted the straight answer and he would have it one way or another.

 

 
Once he was finished with the whole tale and starting on a bottle of something from one of the local micro-breweries he’d never heard of, he was pretty sure he wasn’t happy with the way everyone else who’d just heard his sad little story seemed to be smirking.

‘Why don’t you ask her?’ Stacie nodded to Kendra, who was now engaged in conversation with Wade Crittenden as though he were the most fascinating man in the whole world.

And in spite of himself Garrett couldn’t keep from offering her an admiring glance.

Ellis laughed. ‘Not sure he could survive a date with her, incognito or not.’

Dee elbowed him in the ribs, but even she couldn’t hold back a snigger.

‘All joking aside,’ Dee said, ‘PR is Kendra’s forte and this is sort of a PR task, specialty, no doubt, but still, Tess Delaney needs someone who knows her work really well and is really comfortable around big crowds, someone who could move with the movers and shakers and blend right in. Surely that’s what Tess Delaney would be able to do.

‘Tess Delaney? What’s this about Tess Delaney?’ No one had noticed Kendra until she stood in their midst. Her blond hair slightly wind-blown, her bright eyes at least a couple of shades bluer than the sky, and Garrett so did not want to be thinking about the way she looked.

‘Nothing.’ Garrett gave them all a warning glare, grabbed Stacie by the hand and practically dragged her away. He knew Ellis and Dee would be the epitome of discretion. Stacie he was never too sure about.

‘Apparently Tess Delaney is looking for some specialty PR help,’ Stacie managed over her shoulder before Garrett could drag her away. Damn it, the woman had a big mouth. He was sure she’d done it on purpose.

As he escorted her briskly off the deck, he overheard Kendra ask Ellis, ‘Do you know Tess Delaney?’ But he couldn’t hear his brother’s response because Wade was suddenly asking him how he liked his new house.

 

‘Ellis, do you know Tess Delaney?’ Kendra asked again. ‘If she needs help with PR I’m her girl.’ She lifted her glass in a toast, way more excited about any lead that would give her a chance to meet Tess Delaney than she cared to admit.

Ellis and Dee shot each other a meaningful glance, and whatever the meaning was, Kendra had every intention of getting it out of her friend the first chance she got.

‘I know her, yes.’ Ellis spoke as though he wasn’t overly willing to let the words out of his mouth. ‘I don’t know the details of what she’s looking for, Garrett didn’t exactly say.’

‘Garrett knows her too?’

He shot Dee another glance, then shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. ‘Better than I do, really. Maybe you should talk to him.’

Talking to Garrett Thorne was not something that Kendra really wanted to do, and for someone who was so good at giving nothing away at the negotiating table, Ellis certainly was not good at keeping his discomfort to himself when it came to talking about romance writers. ‘What is Tess Delaney an ex-lover or something?’ She asked.

Ellis nearly choked on his beer. Dee pounded him on the back and Kendra could tell she was trying hard not to laugh. He shook his head. ‘No, nothing like that. Honestly, she’s much closer to Garrett than she is me. Why don’t you talk to him?’

            She looked over the deck railing to where Garrett was now chatting with Wade. He was the last person she wanted to talk to, but it would be really something to spend time working with Tess Delaney. And the truth was, she was bored with being a lady of leisure. Though she was set for money for a long time to come, even had the funds set aside to buy a house whenever she got round to actually looking for one, a bit of interesting work, a chance to pick the brain of the woman who created such tantalizing tales would be the perfect distraction. She waited until Garrett was alone, down on the dock. He’d stepped aside to answer his cell phone. She’d just catch him when he hung up and ask him a few basic questions, then leave him to his ruminations and that would be that. It couldn’t take too long.

 

‘Now’s not a good time, Don,’ Garrett hissed into the phone. ‘I’m at my brother’s engagement party.’

‘Tell Ellis congratulations for me,’ his publicist said. ‘This’ll only take a minute then you can get right back to the party.’

Garrett gave a gargantuan shrug. ‘What do you want?’

‘I just wanted to let you know that I’ve put it out among some of my close friends and more respected colleagues that Tess Delaney is looking for a PA.’

‘You did what?’

‘Well, I didn’t know what else to call it. I thought I could maybe screen the candidates for you. I also know some folks who have connections with the actors guilds and they may be able to send some possible candidates as well, I mean we have to get on this, Garrett, that is if you’re absolutely sure you won’t just go to the award banquet as yourself.’

‘I already told you, no. Let me do the screening. If this woman is going as my date, I need to at least like her and trust that she knows enough about my work to pull it off.’ Though in all honesty he was finding it very difficult to imagine how he’d ever find someone who would understand Tess Delaney on a level that could convince people she was the woman that lived inside Garrett Thorne’s mind. But then, he wasn’t the one she’d have to convince, was she? She’d just have to convince Tess Delaney’s fans, and writers were often quite different than their loyal fans imagined them to be.

‘I insist.’ He interrupted Don’s list of reasons as to why he should choose the future Tess Delaney rather than Garrett.

There was a moment of silence and for a second Garrett thought they’d lost the connection. ‘Alright then,’ Don spoke at last. ‘I’ll send you the resumes of the candidates. But remember what I told you. She’d better good, or you’re outed. It’s not my call. That’s just the way it is.’

Garrett hung up without saying good-bye. ‘Asshole,’ he growled, as he stuffed the BlackBerry back in his pocket.

‘So tell me about Tess Delaney.’

Garrett jumped. He hadn’t even seen Kendra until she was right on him.

‘Jesus,’ he said. ‘Do you always sneak up on people like that? Were you listening to my conversation?’ The minute he said it he realized his mistake and the phantom burn from her hand to his left cheek flared with a vengeance.

She thrust her hands on her hips and glared at him. ‘I wasn’t sneaking, and why the hell would I be listening to your conversation?’

He thought she was going to turn around and leave, but instead she took a step closer. ‘Ellis just told me that you know Tess Delaney. Is that true?’

‘Why?’ He stepped back dangerously close to the edge of the dock.

‘Well Stacie said she needed some kind of PR help and PR’s my specialty.’

‘She doesn’t need your kind of PR help,’ he said.

‘What the hell’s that supposed to mean? And how would you know anything about PR needs. I’m damn good at what I do, and if anybody could solve her PR problem, I could.’

‘Oh I doubt that,’ he said. Another big mistake.

She took another step closer, folding her arms across her chest, and if looks could kill, he’d have been well dead and buried. ‘Why don’t you let her be the judge of that,’ she said.

‘Trust me on this, you’re not right for the job,’ he said. ‘I know Tess Delaney, and she’s looking for someone way more cooperative than you are.’ Jesus, why the hell couldn’t he keep his mouth shut?

The smile she offered him had no humor in it at all. In fact the curl at the edge of her luscious lips was down-right dangerous. ‘Oh I’m very cooperative with my clients. I promise you Tess Delaney will be very happy my work, and you know why that is, Thorne? It’s because I keep my nose out of other people’s business and do my job, something you wouldn’t know anything about, would you?’

He felt her words like a slap, and yet, even as he was regretting it, he still couldn’t keep his fucking mouth shut. ‘So what are you going to do for Tess Delaney, Huh? Slap her around? Throw your drink at her?’

The words were barely out of his mouth before she gave him a hard shove. He waved his arms wildly, teetering on the edge of the dock, then just before he went over, he grabbed her around the waist, and they both went off the end hitting the mirror bright water of the lake with a huge splash while Ellis and Dee and all the rest of the guests looked on.

 

 

 

 

Available from:

eBook:

Xcite Books
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
iBooks UK
iBooks US
Kobobooks.com

Print:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository

 

 

Reviews:

 

risquereviews“Outstanding! Marshall weaves together a wonderful and brilliant story. With so many twists and turns, the author keeps you on your toes from the beginning right up to the very end. What I also loved is that even if you did not read the first book in the series you are not completely lost in this book. Overall, this was a fabulous book! I can’t wait for the next book!” 5 out of 5, Risque Reviews

 

 

“…I enjoyed this book very much, with its fascinating mix of love, hate, passion, violence, mystery and action. The outcome was a page-turner that I whizzed through even faster than its predecessor. Definitely recommended for hot romance fans… I’m now eagerly awaiting book three.” Erotica For All

“A great romance novel with a good out lined concept to keep you turning the pages of this book. Highly recommended to all lovers of Woman’s fiction, Romance with heart thumping passion and a good dash of suspense.” 5 out of 5, Lynelle Clark

“I have absolutely fallen in love with Kendra and Garrett. The tensions in the book perfectly transitions from hate to sexual and finally fear. The emotional highs and lows keep the reader intrigued, and the mystery keeps them hooked. I have been unable to put the book down until the momentous revelation at the end. Just when you think you have it all figured out, Ms. Marshall changes all the rules.” 5 out of 5, Coffee Time Romance

“This book pulled me in and had me on the edge of my seat with all the mystery, suspense, and hot, hot, loving. It was refreshing to read about a very romantic bad boy with a protective streak. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.” 4.5 out of 5, The Jeep Diva

“All in all, I found Identity Crisis to be one incredible read and cannot wait now to finish off with the third book in The Executive Decision Trilogy, The Exhibition. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a bit of diverse, hot, steamy reading that will have you clutching the bed sheets for all the right reasons.” 5 out of 5, Blood, Lust and Erotica

 

Shameless Selfie: Identity Crisis

 

 

 

We writers are never quite what we appear to be, and we don’t have to be because we can hide behind our computers
and create the world any way we like it. That means, however sometimes our readers expect us to be one thing when we’re really something else. Most writers of erotica and erotic romance get asked on a regular basis whether or not we do the things we right about. But poor Garrett Thorne, is really nothing like his readers think he is. They all think he is a woman — celebrated romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Just how far will Garrett go to keep Tess’s identity a secret? Enjoy the first chapter of Identity Crisis, book 2 of the Executive Decisions Series.

 

 

 

Blurb Identity Crisis:

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

PR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.

When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?

 

 

 

Chapter 1 of Identity Crisis:

‘Excuse me.’ The man sidled in next to Kendra at the bar all casual-like. ‘I couldn’t help noticing you sitting here all by yourself, and I was wondering if I could I buy you a drink?’

Kendra lifted her barely touched rum and Diet Pepsi. ‘Thanks but I already have one,’ she said without looking up from her novel. ‘And I’m not alone.’ She nodded down to her Kindle. She was just getting to the good part. All she wanted the man to do was go away and leave her alone.

Honestly, she was so engrossed in her novel that she thought he’d done just that until he cleared his throat loudly and sat down on the stool next to her. ‘So, whacha reading that has you so enthralled?’

‘Tess Delaney’s latest, Learning the Business.’ She kept reading. Surly eventually he’d figure out she didn’t want to be disturbed. There was a time it would have embarrassed her to say that she was reading a romance novel, but now she didn’t think too much about it, not when it was a Tess Delaney novel.

But apparently the man wasn’t very bright. He scooted slightly closer as though he might read over her shoulder. ‘It must be really good. I mean this is the Boiling Point. Most people don’t come here to read.’

She heaved an irritated sigh and closed her Kindle. ‘Yes the book’s very good. Tess Delaney’s best so far. And no most people don’t come here to read.’ She downed her drink in one go and jammed the Kindle into her bag making no efforts to hide her irritation. It barely registered as she slid off the stool and headed out the door passed the mountain-sized bouncer that the man hadn’t been bad looking. He was in a nice suit like he’d just come from some office somewhere, and if it wasn’t for Tess Delaney, Kendra probably could have had him in the park on that nice little secluded bench behind the shrubbery if she’d wanted to. That would have been a nice kinky beginning to the weekend. That was what she’d come to the Boiling Point for, wasn’t it? She figured she’d dance a little, flirt a little and with a little luck get nicely laid. She hadn’t done that in a while. Was she losing her touch?

She cursed under her breath. Whoever this reclusive Tess Delaney was, her novels were ruining Kendra’s sex life with her damn romance and love and not settling for just having a tumble a handshake. What the hell was the matter with her? A fantasy, that’s all it was, just a fantasy. Nobody really got a happy ever after!

But when the man at the Boiling Point so rudely interrupted her, she’d left Lisa and David with the sexual tension sizzling between them, and she was pretty sure they were going to get laid even if she wasn’t. That being the case, she sure as hell didn’t want to miss out on their fun. She felt like a damned voyeur. She headed out across the park at a quick pace. It was a short walk back to Dee’s. She’d order herself some nice Chinese and curl up with Lisa and David for their boardroom romp. God, what was getting into her? Was she just getting old? Harris never let her forget she was the oldest of the Three Musketeers. By two months, she reminded herself. And Harris was joking. It wasn’t that she wasn’t horny. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to start out the weekend with a sweaty romp with some hot guy. It was just that, well she knew it would never feel like it felt when David and Lisa’s anger gave way to lust and they ended up humping each other’s brains out on the floor of his office. Oh it wasn’t that Tess Delaney didn’t write good love scenes, they were fabulous, in fact, hot and steamy and pulse racing. But that was just it, Tess Delaney wrote love scenes, not sex scenes. Lisa would have never had a one-night stand with some guy she just met at a bar, and David would have never gone looking. There was chemistry, real chemistry in a Tess Delaney novel, and though Kendra seriously doubted if such chemistry, such romantic feelings really existed, Tess Delaney had drawn her in and made her wish like hell that they did.

As she often did, she was house sitting for her best friend, Dee Henning, who had been in New York on business. Well she was probably back home now, but she’d be having a very steamy romp of her own with Ellis Darby over at his place. Against all odds, Dee and Ellis were a couple almost straight from a Tess Delaney novel. In fact, if she didn’t know better, Kendra would swear that Tess Delaney had been hiding in the closet or under Ellis’s desk taking notes for this novel. Wow! If this was what it felt like for Dee and Ellis, if this is what they experienced when they were together, then she was damn-well jealous. She’d never admit it of course. And as the Chinese food arrived and she scrounged in the fridge for the Diet Pepsi Dee always kept on hand for her, she found herself wondering if maybe she should stop reading Tess Delaney novels. It was pretty stupid really. It only made her want what she knew she couldn’t have. Dee was Dee. Dee had a way of pushing through, of never giving up, of never settling until she got what she wanted in the relationship department, or any other department. Sadly, Kendra wasn’t like that. She wasn’t an optimist where love was concerned. She never had been, even as a child. She knew better. But since her return from California, she’d found it really difficult to get back into the clubbing scene. That meant that the only sex Kendra was getting these days was sex for one.

Dee’s two red tabbies, McAlister and O’Kelly, heard the rattling of the bag from the Chinese food and came to investigate. Kendra handed over the bag to the felines and settled onto the floor in front of the coffee table to eat her spring rolls and kung pow chicken with cheap wooden chopsticks.

Just as David and Lisa clawed their way to the mother of all simultaneous orgasms, Kendra’s iPhone rang, and she dropped a spring roll into her lap, then grabbed it up with her fingers while David and Lisa quickly dressed, embarrassed by all the feelings that they shouldn’t be having. It was Harris on the phone.

‘Hi Ken. Surprised I caught you.’ She could hear the concern in his voice. ‘Weren’t you going to the Boiling Point? Are you alright?’

‘Fine,’ she said, ‘I’m fine, just having some Chinese before I head over,’ she lied. ‘What’s up?’

‘Just wondering if you can pick up some extra beer for tomorrow, maybe some soft drinks It’s supposed to be hot. Plus, with the guest list being what it is, well, I don’t want to run out of lubricant.’

‘In that case, better get some hard stuff too,’ she said. Harris, Dee and Kendra had been best friends from high school and that bond had grown stronger during university and beyond. After all those years, they were still the Three Musketeers. Tomorrow Harris was throwing a little bar-B-Q out at his lake cabin, sort of an informal engagement party for Dee and Ellis. She’d work up a lot more enthusiasm for that little soirée if Ellis’s jerk of a brother wasn’t going to be there along with that Stacie chick, with whom it sounded like the two Thorne brothers had quite a history. Kendra liked Ellis. She liked him a lot, and she’d never seen Dee so happy. However, Ellis’s brother and Stacie, well they were both trouble. The two of them had bumbled about until they’d nearly destroyed the relationship between Ellis and Dee before it happened. Though that had not been their intention and they had both been very contrite, Kendra didn’t place much stock in good intentions. It didn’t matter, though, Garret was still Ellis’s brother, and apparently he was coming with Stacie as his date, even though she was his ex-wife. A perfectly good bar-B-Q ruined. But she supposed if Dee and Ellis could forgive the two, she would have to at least try.

After she hung up she made a quick note to herself to pick up drinks and returned her attention to Lisa, who was now coming clean with her best friend about sleeping with her boss.

 

Pale morning light filtered through the bedroom window, illuminating the delicate curve of Amanda’s shoulder and the swell of her breasts, which rose and fell in the even breathing of sleep. For a second he wondered if he were dreaming, but then he reached out and ran a finger along her cheekbone and watched the twitch of muscles and heard the soft moan escape her lips. It was no dream and, as memories of the past night flooded back to him, he wanted her all over again.

 

‘Damn it. It’s not right. It just doesn’t feel right.’ For the third time in the last half hour, Garrett Thorne shoved back the chair from his desk and moved to pace in front of the French doors that led onto the balcony. It had not been a stellar day for writing, and there were deadlines looming. He was prolific. Tess Delaney was prolific. He could whip out the novels almost as fast as his publisher wanted a new one, but for some reason, there was just no flow, no chemistry between Jessie and Amanda, and fuck if he cared, to be honest! The last thing he really wanted to write was another billionaire story. But this one was an oil tycoon in Texas, his editor said. A unique approach, his editor said.

‘Think kinky Dallas all wrapped up in a black and grey book cover,’ Garrett grumbled out loud. ‘Yep, that’s unique alright.’ He’d been joking when he brought up the idea, just joking. But hell, he didn’t have any other ideas at the moment, and that was very unusual for Tess Delaney.

At the moment he just wasn’t thinking like Tess Delaney, that was the problem. He was thinking like Garrett Thorne, and Garrett Thorne wanted to kick back, have a couple of beers in front of the television and … well actually, Garrett Thorne wanted to get laid. But he’d only been in Portland just long enough to get settled into his new house. He didn’t know anyone here, and the truth was, he wasn’t into one-night-stands, and he certainly wasn’t anxious to put his heart out there again after what happened with him and Amy. She’d sent him a free ticket to watch her dance the lead role in Sleeping Beauty in New York, but of course he wouldn’t go. He just couldn’t ride that roller coaster again. Not for the first time, he found himself thinking that if he really were Tess Delaney, if there was such a person, she would just get on with it.

He sat back down at the desk and took a sip of the neglected glass of cabernet. Out of the stack of waste paper he saved up from read-throughs, he took a piece and began to write on the back with a fountain pen.

 

I’ve never really thought about what Tess might look like, other than to notice how deliciously comfortable she is in her own skin. And that makes her outrageously sexy. Tess doesn’t really think much about romance and love and struggles of the heart. She just gets on with it. Tess is more practical that Garrett is. Tess knows that sometimes you just need to get laid, that sometimes you just want it to be easy for a little while.

He chuckled to himself and drained his glass of wine.

Tess isn’t really my secret, so much as I’m hers. She can cover for me, and she does. She knows I’m the twit who wears his heart on his sleeve, and that I write all about it. Tess covers for me in a way that’s far more elegant and natural that I could ever be.

Sometimes I wish she were real. I suppose this is a testament to how neurotic I am, but sometimes I wish she were my lover, tough and strong and comfortable in herself and able to slap me around a bit when I need it. Jesus, what am I writing here, Tess Delaney, Bad-Ass Dom? No denying that thought gets my attention, even if it makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Still, I suppose Tess’s fans see her as far more straight-laced that that. She’s hardly the kind who would fuck the lesser Thorne brother, is she? Though she might beat me into submission from time to time, she’d definitely go for the hero at the end of the day. And when she catches the public eye, she’s the paragon virtue, the teller of tales of the heart. Ah! Tess Delaney! Where the hell are you when I need you?

Beneath it, he scribbled a heart with an arrow through it, then stood to pace again. He was just ready to sit down and try once more with Amanda and Jessie when his BlackBerry rang.

It was his publicist. ‘Damn it, Garrett, don’t you ever read your emails?’

Garrett plopped down at his desk and pulled up his gmail account. ‘Why should I, Don? I can always count on you to call me in a panic if I need to know something.’

Don cursed, not quite under his breath. He’d been Garrett’s publicist long enough not to be required to be polite, and certainly Garrett wasn’t at times … most of the time, actually. ‘Tess Delaney has just been nominated for the Golden Kiss Award.’ He didn’t wait for Garrett’s reply, but ploughed on, as he usually did, trying to get as much said as quickly as possible before Garrett hung up on him. ‘You do know what that means, don’t you? You do know what a big deal that is, what a coup? And if Tess wins, well, it could very well eclipse anything else she’s done up until now, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what it would do for sales.’

‘The Golden Kiss? Tess was nominated for the Golden Kiss?’ Garrett almost managed to let the excitement of such an honor sink in before Don was off and ranting again.

‘This year the awards banquet’s in Portland, well that’s right there for you, isn’t it? And frankly, Garrett, your agent, your editor and I, well we all think it’s the perfect opportunity to out Tess Delaney as a local boy gone romantic. And I think –’

‘No!’ Garrett said, feeling as though the bottom had just dropped out of his stomach. ‘There’ll be no outing Tess.’

‘Calm down, Garrett. Don’t hang up. Just listen to me, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s well worth considering. Outing Tess Delaney can’t do anything but help sales and if you win , well it would be –’

‘I said no,’ Garrett repeated, no longer listening to Don’s long litany of reasons. ‘I won’t out her, and you can’t make me.
And that’s final.’

He was just ready to hang up when Don said, ‘well, actually, we can. We can make you. Your publisher is riding your editor who’s riding me, and unless you’re dead or dying, Garrett, they want you at that award ceremony. I suppose you could go in drag, but then to be honest, I think you’d make a very ugly woman, and I don’t think you’d be keen on the chest waxing beforehand either.’

‘Goddamn it, Don, I don’t want Tess outed! I’ve told you before, I write better when no one knows, when everyone thinks I’m just Ellison Thorne’s worthless brother. I don’t mind going. But not as Tess. There has to be another way, or I’m warning you there’ll be trouble. You know I don’t have to write for Romancine.’

‘Well, actually you do. You’re under contract for three more novels.’

Garrett gripped his BlackBerry tighter. ‘I can make it miserable for all of us.’

Don’s huff of a sigh into the phone sounded like an explosion. ‘Jesus, Garrett, can’t you ever just do what you’re asked? This is a big deal, the biggest. It’s a huge honor to even be nominated, and it would be the perfect time to let the real Tess Delaney take her bows … his bows rather. Think how it would boost sales?’

‘Sales are already good, Don.’ Garrett made a desperate reach for his wine glass only to discover it empty and the bottle
was still in the kitchen.

‘Good, yes, but this could be better than even you, even Tess, could imagine. Garrett, we’ve thought this out, really thought this out and there’s no logical way for Tess Delaney to make her first live appearance ever without letting the world know that Tess Delaney is really bad boy, Garrett Thorne. It’s like a PR dream-come-true.’

In the kitchen Garrett refilled his glass spilling a trail of wine across the granite counter top before drinking back half the glass. ‘Come on, Don. What if I can’t write when everyone knows I’m Garrett Thorne? Then what? Did you think about that? I mean it’s no secret what a neurotic mess I am, just ask my brother. Don? I can always get another publicist, you know?’

‘All right! Damn it!’ The curse was loud enough that Garrett held the BlackBerry away from his ear. ‘All right.’ There was a long pause, and Garrett was perfectly happy to wait. Tess Delaney books were top sellers, and the mystery of the woman behind them was discuss in more than a few coffee klatches and girls’ nights out. He did have some weight to throw around where the issue of his outage was concerned, and throw it around, he would!

‘Okay, look. The solution is simple, then,’ Don said. ‘Find someone else to be Tess Delaney, I don’t know, an actress, a friend, someone you can trust. Then you go as her date’

Garrett gulped the rest of the wine and emptied the bottle into his glass. ‘You’re kidding, right?’

‘This is not my kidding voice, Garrett. I’m serious. The way I see it, this is your option. You either come as you are and out Tess Delaney as Garrett Thorne or you come as Garrett Thorne, Tess Delaney’s bad boy date. I mean we could get some serious PR mileage off that, Tess Delaney dating Garrett Thorne.’

‘How am I going to pull this off?’ Garrett said, as much to himself as to Don. He was already going down the list of women who might play Tess Delaney. The obvious choice was Stacie, but everyone already knew who Stacie was and

she had a reputation of her own to keep, as well as the fact that she was his ex-wife

‘Not my problem,’ Don was saying. ‘If this is how you want to play it, that’s totally fine, but you’d better find someone and she’d better be good or your ass is outed. I’m sorry, man. They want to break ground by having their big name romance writer be noted as a man. They figure women will eat it up. That’s what Romantacine wants. The way I see it, you hire yourself a Tess Delaney or you come clean. I don’t care which you do, but you have to do one or the other. Think about it. And read your fucking emails, for Chrissake.’ He hung up, leaving Garrett white-knuckling the BlackBerry to his ear.

 

Sleazy Bars — A Touch of Grace … Grace Marshall that is

(From the Archives)

I have a soft spot in my heart for bars, and western bars in particular. No doubt it’s out of that soft spot and the exec-box-setfantasies it spawned that The Boiling Point, the bar in the Executive Decisions Trilogy, grew (Available in a Box Set Now!). The coolest bar I’ve ever been in is Moose’s in Kalispell, Montana, with its swinging wooden doors and peanut shells and sawdust on the floor. The rough wooden booths are carved with the graffiti of who knows how many pocket knives, and there’s always Canadians, Cribbage, and red beer in abundance. For the uninitiated, red beer is beer and tomato juice.

In my childhood, bars always intrigued me because they were forbidden. The bars of my youth, which I was only ever allowed to peek into before my mother would grab me by the arm and drag me away, had wooden dance floors, high stools at the bar and lamps that were adverts for the local beers. There was always a pool table and often several monuments to bad taxidermy. In their early years of marriage my brother and his wife rented an apartment that was attached to a derelict bar in the middle of nowhere on the Colorado and Wyoming boarder. I loved going there because my sister-in-law would let me into the bar to have a spin round and round on the bar stools and do cartwheels and slide in my stocking feet across the hard wood floor. Oh, in case you’re wondering, there’s a fourteen year age difference between my brother and me. I was just a little girl then. Though it still sounds like something I’d enjoy. Looking back, that might actually be the most fun I ever really had in a bar. I suppose Harris Walker is my alter-ego in that.

In Kirksville Missouri, where I went to university there was the Zodiac, which was not much more than a glorified warehouse with concrete floors and a raised concrete platform for dancing. The music was loud, and the crowd mixed, with a good few under-ager sneak-ins with fake IDs.

The Blue Moon, on the other side of the tracks, had pool tables, an abundance of ripped naugahide booths and the best hamburgers in town.

Ask any of the good Christian folks in Mooringsport, Louisiana, where my husband grew up, and they’ll tell you that the Highway 1 Bar is the brimstone belching den of Satan. When my husband was a child, his family drove by it several times a week on their way to and from church, looking upon it with disdain. After we were married, in an act of breath-taking rebellion, Raymond took me there for a drink. We weren’t taken to the back room and sacrificed to Satan, nor were we corrupted into a life of debauched drunkenness and godless filth. (though we might have already been a bit debauched) We were, however, served cold beer at a quiet table in the corner while country music whined on the jukebox.

As you can probably tell from my sordid and sleazy account … em … my experiences never quite lived up to the ones in my imagination. Maybe that’s why The Boiling Point appears larger than life in all three of Grace Marshall’s Executive
Decisions novels. The Exhibition is no exception. The Boiling Point is an amalgamation of the bars I’ve been in and the experiences I’ve fantasised in those bars. I reckon Harris Walker’s experiences of bars is rather similar to mine. They never quite live up to his expectations, and yet he wants them to.

After a less than satisfying experience in An Executive Decision, the first novel of the trilogy, the Boiling Point is not on Harris Walker’s list of favourite hang-outs. The Boiling Point is a squat cinderblock den of iniquity that has been through multiple incarnations since it was a speak-easy during prohibition. It’s the hang-out for all sorts – bikers, goths, red necks and even slumming banker boys. It has a reputation for watered down drinks, surly waitresses, loud music and being periodically raided – which is exactly what happens the night Stacie Emerson convinces Harris to meet her there in an effort to get him to exhibit his photography in her gallery.

The Exhibition Blurb:

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?

As successful gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, finds herself in the clutches of a powerful enemy from her dark past, her growing feelings for her latest exhibitor, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, could get them both killed. Sharing her secret could destroy their relationship, but keeping it could be fatal.

The Exhibition Excerpt:

The fact that cops were pouring through the door only half registered in Harris’s Stacie-addled brain. Then some te-new-coverwoman screamed raid, and people were running and shoving in all directions. Someone was shouting something in an authoritative voice into a blow horn. It all felt like a scene right out of a gangster movie.

Stacie grabbed him by the hand and dragged him back toward their table. She shoved her iPad in her bag, and shouted at Waters, who had rushed back to the booth with his dance partner hanging on for dear life and was now shooting pictures like crazy.

Every time the man had a camera in his hand, he looked like he was about to get well laid. Did his work really do that for him? The adrenaline rush that came from fear of losing life and limb was the best Harris ever managed.

‘You alright,’ Stacie yelled to Waters.

He nodded breathlessly and handed Stacie something that Harris couldn’t see. ‘Need you to do me a favour.’ His words were clipped, excited. ‘Can you take care of this for me?’ He nodded toward the ladies room.

‘Seriously? You brought that here?’ For a second, Harris thought Stacie was going to belt the man.

But Waters only shrugged, gave her a sheepish grin, and kept shooting. ‘I didn’t think.’

She said something that Harris couldn’t hear over the chaos, something he figured wasn’t very nice.

She grabbed Harris by the hand and headed toward the bathrooms, dragging him right on into the women’s room. ‘What the –’

She shoved her way into the first stall, dropped a tiny plastic bag with what looked like a couple of roll-your-owns into the commode and flushed with her booted foot.

‘Jesus! Are you kidding me?’ Harris felt the tension ratchet up a notch in his shoulders as she watched the swirl of water in the toilet to make sure her efforts were effective. ‘He brought pot here? Idiot.’

She placed a finger to her lips, then slammed the cubicle door shut once she was satisfied with the results. ‘I’m sure that’s not what they’re looking for, but it’s enough to land him at the police station.’

Outside someone shouted, ‘Hastings, check the crappers.’

Before Harris knew what hit him, she pulled him into the cubicle at the other end of the row and locked the door behind him talking in a fast whisper. ‘Sorry about this. Not very professional, I know, but I promised to do my best to keep us out of jail, and I’m thinking groping in the ladies’ room’s not what this raid’s all about.’ The words were barely out of her mouth before she launched herself at him lips first. Damn it; he wanted to be mad at her. They were about to go to jail, for fuck sake! But instead of giving her a piece of his mind, he kissed her right back, hard, and felt her yield and open, and his tongue was in heaven sparing with hers, tasting, testing, thrusting. He found himself hoping that the inevitable arrest would wait until after he got his fill of Stacie Emerson, and that could take a while. She felt way better than she had even in his fantasies, and when his badly-behaving hands moved down to cup her magnificent bottom and pull her closer, she returned the favour and gave his ass a good grope. As though that gave him permission to explore, he slid anxious fingers inside her trousers wriggling down past a miniscule thong to cup an impossibly soft, impossibly firm buttock that gave a muscular clench in his hand, forcing her hips forward until she couldn’t possibly miss the press of his appreciative hard-on straining his jeans to get closer to her.

In the hall the noise got louder and the door burst open.

She had just managed a good firm stroke to the front of his trousers that had his full attention and then some, when a heavy-handed knock on the door caused her to yelp, and he nearly fell back onto the commode.

‘All right, you two, tuck it in, and come on out.’

 

It’s Launch Day for THE TUTOR!

The Tutor is now available for your reading pleasure!

 

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Who knew a can of pears in heavy syrup could inspire an entire novel about an outrageously sexy haphephobic sculptor and the woman he longs to touch but can’t? I know it seems like quite a stretch, but inspiration is like that, isn’t it?

 

We have five senses. We use them all without thinking, but as a writer, I’ve always been intrigued by what it would be like to live without one of those senses– one that we use most often. In The Tutor, I take away the one sense that we never lose, the one we most rely on in our everyday life. I take away the sense of touch. Sculptor, Lex Valentine, is severely haphephobic — he us unable to touch anyone else or to allow himself to be touched. Within that context, I wanted to explore intimacy and how it would develop without the aid of human contact.

 

What exactly is intimacy, anyway, and is it really dependent on being able to touch each other? How much of what binds us to someone and what makes us close depends on being able to physically touch? Lex Valentine and Kelly Blake must find their way to each other without touch. Can they do it? And just how the hell will a can of pears help?

 

The whole story, pears and all, available for your reading pleasure:

 

eBook:
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Print:
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The Tutor Excerpt – What Does it Feel Like?

“Look I don’t expect you to deal with what a fucked up mess I am. I realized that what I really want to know is what it feels like, what you feel like, what any woman feels like when she’s with a man, or even when she touches herself, and I have no one I would feel comfortable asking without wondering the whole time if they thought that by my asking I had given them permission to try and fix me. Does that make any sense?”

She had little time to do more than nod before he continued. “Oh I’ve watched enough porn that I get that it feels really good. I’ve read enough erotica to get some picture of how it’s supposed to be, but my take on it’s always one-sided,” he raised his hand and wiggled his fingers as though to demonstrate. “I can’t know anything but my own touch, certainly I can’t feel anything else, so I want you to tell me. I want you to answer my questions. I want you to tell me what I would feel if I touched you, what you would feel if I touched you. As for what I would feel if you touched me, well,” he shrugged and offered her a smile that seemed slightly forced, “for that I’ll just have to use my imagination.”

She took a deep breath, as though she were about to dive under water. “Okay, well, I’ll start with my lips because lovers often start there. I would have made sure they were moist for you before you kissed them, but not so wet as to be off-putting, and you would have done the same. And your first kisses would be tentative, if you’re really good, almost like a feather lighting against my mouth softly and repeatedly until I’m breathless for the want of more; and then I would part my lips to give you more surface area so that we could feel each other better.” She chuckled softly as she realized they’d both raised their fingers to their mouths. “And then we would both press harder and rub harder. The more surface area we touched the more we’d want and, I think lips swell, not just from the pressure, but in an effort to create that surface area, and when they can swell no more, when I feel like I want to completely take my lover into my mouth, then I would open to him and there would be a whole new surface area, wet and slick and warm, there would be a whole new motion when our tongues discover each other. I think a kiss reflects what happens in penetrative sex. It’s sort of an intimation, if you will,” her gaze locked on him, and for the first time she noticed just how blue his eyes were, “a promise of things to come.”

“Yes,” he whispered. “I’ve thought of that in my art. I’ve thought of the interchange we make with mouths and cocks
and vaginas.” He struggles with the last word

“It’s okay to call it a pussy or a cunt or whatever works for you.” She said.

He laughed softly. “How the hell would I know?”

“Well,” she stretched out on the countertop and rolled onto her side, resting her head on her hand. “you just have to try them out and see how they fit your mouth.”

This time they both laughed. “If they fit my mouth, I wouldn’t have to worry about what words I used, would I?”

“Good point,” she said.

“Not quite, but getting there fast, thank you.” Again, they both laughed, a strangely relaxed laugh under the bizarre circumstances.

“The thing is,” she said, rolling onto her back and staring up at the long rack of copper bottom pans above her head, “words are often as important in sex, and as erotic, as touch. I write in my other life, and I find that while some of my characters get turned on by waxing poetic between the sheets, others get hot by talking dirty.”

“How does your cunt feel when some fucker talks dirty to you,” he said, though not without a hearty blush.

“That would depend on the fucker and the circumstances and how badly I wanted to ride his cock.”

“And if it was a fucker whose cock you really wanted to ride, a fucker who was hard and heavy for you? What words would he use, and what response would he elicit?

“It wouldn’t hurt for him to observe out loud what he sees about my body’s state of arousal, and how he admires it.”

“You mean like how lovely your breasts are when your nipples are so taut that even your areola are visible through that shirt, which I imagine feels like a caress every time you inhale. You mean like the way your lips are parted and moist. You’ve not completely shut your mouth for the past five minutes, the way you rock your hips, almost but not quite secretly, and grind you bottom against the countertop. Is that what you mean?”

“Jesus! We shouldn’t be doing this.” She sat bolt upright on the surface and then froze as though someone had hit the pause button. “Alex?”

The man perched on the edge of the counter, just far enough away that she couldn’t easily touch him. He had kicked his shoes off and his own nipples peaked to bullet points through his white polo shirt. That would have been enough to hold her attention indefinitely had it not been for the heel of his hand stroking the very obvious, very anxious erection
through his jeans.

It was all right. It was fine, she told herself. She’d had more than a few occasions where her job involved watching and coaching someone while they masturbated. This was just her job. That’s all.

“It’s more obvious with me what I feel,” he said, raking her body with a hooded gaze. “And your nipples, well you could just be cold. Please tell me what you feel when you see me like this, when we talk like this.”

She moved to the edge of the counter giving him space, then motioned him onto it and she opened her leg. “If I weren’t
wearing trousers, if you could see my panties, you’d know that I’m wet.” She nodded to his erection. “You’d know that the thought of what you’re doing, the sight of how your body is responding to mine, is making me wetter.” She cupped her breasts in turn, through the white blouse. “Every part of me feels heavy, Alex. My breasts feel like my bra can no longer contain them. My nipples ache. And my lips,” she touched her mouth, and then, holding his gaze, moved her hand down to rest on the crotch of her trousers. “My lips are swollen, so swollen and slippery and ready to be penetrated.” She nodded first to his mouth and then to his erection. “Do I want the fucker to give it to me hard and deep in my cunt? What do you think?”

“Oh God,” he managed. Then he stopped talking altogether. His breath came in tight little grunts and gasps as he moved against his hand, holding her in his gaze as surely as if he held her in his embrace; and it was in that instant, the instant she slid her hand down the front of her trousers and into her panties an action he mirrored, that she knew neither of them would make it out of here intact. She wanted to run, but she didn’t. She wanted to take off her clothes and feel his gaze all over her body, but she didn’t. She wanted to demand that he strip for her, that he come just for her thetutor_800eyes, but she didn’t. She couldn’t. She could only cup and grope her breasts until they hurt. She could only stroke herself while she watched him do the same.

The space around them crackled with their energy, and their desperate efforts to breathe were the only sounds beyond the stroke of skin against fabric. In a hungry attempt at relief, they both rocked and bucked, mirror images of each other with one hand down the front of their trousers while the other groped and cupped and tweaked and pinched whatever part of their anatomy it came in contact with. Then breathing stopped, time stopped. Everything around them disappeared until they saw nothing but each other, locked in each other’s gaze, more physical than any embrace Kelly had ever felt, and it was enough. Heaven help them, it was enough. He came first by a split second, roaring like a wounded lion, arching back until she feared he’d either break his neck or fall off the counter. But the sight of him so vulnerable in his passion, the fact that even in his release, he kept his eyes on her was all she could handle, and she convulsed against her own hand, convulsed as though she would break apart, never taking her eyes off him, never breaking that connection.

 

 

 

It’s Early Download Day! The Tutor Now Available EARLY Exclusively at Totally Bound!

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If you’ve been waiting for the 11th of October so you can download your copy of The Tutor and find out all about how canned pears can be an aid to romance, wait no longer! As of today you can download The Tutor exclusively from the Totally Bound website and get to reading before the official release date of 11th October.

Remember, if you’re into delayed gratification, you can still preorder The Tutor from the links below and practice patience and anticipation. And here’s a little snippet to make practicing patience a little harder. Enjoy!

 

The Tutor Blurb:

When physical touch is impossible, intimacy may become a powerful work of art or a devastating nightmare—but, above all, it’s an act of trust.

 

Struggling writer, Kelly Blake has a secret life as a sex tutor. Celebrated sculptor and recluse, Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine, can’t stand to be touched. When he seeks out Kelly’s advice incognito, the results are too hot to handle. When Kelly terminates their sessions due to what she considers her unprofessional behavior, Lex takes a huge risk, revealing his identity to her at a gala exhibition, his first ever public appearance. When Kelly helps the severely haphephobic Lex escape the grope of reporters and paparazzi, rumors fly that the two are engaged, rumors encouraged by well-meaning friends and colleagues.

The press feeding frenzy forces Kelly into hiding at Lex’s mansion where he convinces her to be his private tutor just until the press loses interest, and she can go back home. They discover quickly that touch is not essential for sizzling, pulse-pounding intimacy. But intimacy must survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal.

 

Download your copy of The Tutor Here:

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The Tutor: First Contact:

For a long moment they sat in silence again, both wrapped in matching terry robes, both looking slightly worse for thethetutor_800
wear. He was okay with that. He could have sat there with her all night, but she broke the spell. “Lex, you’re exhausted. Do you think you could try to get some more sleep?”

“Stay with me.” The words were out before he could stop them. “If you stay with me, I can sleep.”

She stood and looked back at his bed and, for a dreadful moment, he though she was going to say no. “All right then, but your bed’s a train wreck. Why don’t you come to mine? It’s virtually undreamed in tonight. Besides I only allow good dreams in my bed.” She nodded to the open French doors and gave him an encouraging smile.

Back in the Meadowlark Suite she went to work on their sleeping arrangements, putting a barrier of pillows down the middle between them. It was a huge bed, just like his, so there was still lots of room. “There are enough cushions and pillows and throws for a herd of elephants to have a slumber party,” she said. “I don’t move much when I sleep, but this will make sure that I don’t accidentally touch you or you me.” She pulled back the covers and nodded to the space. “Get comfy and I’ll tuck you in.” He did as she asked, wishing desperately that they could lose the pillow barrier and he could take her in his arms and hold her all night and wake up with her still pressed against him. The thought made his chest ache with longing, but that she was here, that she was next to him, sleeping close, that would do. That was so much better than anything he’s ever been able to imagine for himself.

When she was settled in on the other side of the pillow barrier, he couldn’t keep from smiling. She was in his bed, well technically it was his bed, wasn’t it? She wore his engagement ring, and she did! She still wore it. She hadn’t taken it off. At least for the moment he could almost imagine the two of them as a normal couple climbing into their bed together after a hard day, lying close to each other before they both drifted off to sleep. What must that feel like? Would he ever know? If he ever did, at this moment he couldn’t imagine anyone he’d rather share his bed with than Kelly Blake. And just before he drifted off to sleep, he remembered that she had found him, she had followed him and come searching for him, both the other night in the sculpture garden and tonight. She had rescued him from the dream world and she hadn’t been repulsed by his neediness. She had stayed with him.

* * *

Kelly woke with a pillow tossed carelessly over her face and a heavy warm weight on her body. It was only when she moved slightly in an effort to dislodge whatever it was that she realized the heavy weight was Lex Valentine. She froze, heart summersaulting in her chest, right exactly where his head rested, dark hair tickling her chin. All around them she could see nothing but mounds of pillows, but there were none between them. There was nothing between them. His head lay between her breasts with one hand cupping her. One well-muscled leg was thrown over her body just above her hip, which his morning erection prodded enthusiastically. What the hell should she do? If he woke up like this, he would pass out or throw up or both, at the very least he would have a panic attack, but she hadn’t moved. He had found his way to her in his sleep, and he clung to her like he would a lover. Like he would a lover! That thought focused her enough that she made an effort to relax. It was human contact. The cost, from what she had seen yesterday — at least between the two of them — the cost was worth paying. His unconscious had known exactly what he needed, what he desired. So why not let his unconscious take care of the need he couldn’t yet take care of consciously. Did she believe that he would be able to at some point? She desperately wanted to believe that, and she wanted to be there when it happened. She wanted to be the one he took consciously into his arms.

His thumb brushed her nipple and she battled to hold still in the bed as it stiffened and rose against his stroking. The satin hardness of his erection surged where it pressed trapped between her hip and his body, and he began to shift and slide against her. She swallowed back a moan, feeling the rush of heat down low where her legs were spread. Had she slept that way, or was it an unconscious response to the nearness of him and his obvious need of her. She couldn’t help it, she wriggled slightly beneath him until she was a little more open and the rhythmic clench and release, clench and release, of her pelvic muscles mirrored his slid and shift, slide and shift. He squirmed and moaned and she froze, for a moment fearing he was waking up and once again at a loss as to what she should do to make it easier for him. But instead of waking up, he shifted more fully onto her until he was almost, but on quite on top of her. His cock pressed up against the inside of her thigh, and still he shifted and slid and moaned softly and, God help her, she found herself wriggling and grinding in an effort to get more fully beneath his body, in an effort the get him inside her. Jesus, she wanted him inside her! She wanted him inside her like she’d never wanted anything as his fingers curled around her breast kneading in rhythm to his shifting, in rhythm to the undulation of her hips. Then he took his hand away and she all but cried out in her frustration, catching herself just before there was any sound other than a heavy intake of breath. But there was very little time to dwell on the absence of his hand as he moved splayed fingers down the flat of her belly and wriggled his way into the top of her panties, there he rested his hand only for a moment on her pubic curls and she arched against it, effectively willing him to seek out the place where she needed to be touched. And thank fuck, he did! He found that place, and memories of the slippery pear half flashed through her head as he carefully, but urgently fingered her open and began to stroke and probe.

This was insane. He was asleep. She absolutely had to wake him before it was too late. If he woke up like this he’d be embarrassed as well as panicked. If he woke up like this he would think she was taking advantage, which she was. And then he found her clitoris, and she held her breath and dug her heels into the mattress to keep from moving as he circled her — first with his thumb and then with two fingers slick with her own lust. Then he found her rhythm and he thrust and scissored, circled and probed, exactly as she had told him she liked it, as she had demonstrated on the pear.

There was nothing she could do but let him touch her, let the feel of him wash over her in waves, the incredible sensation of being caressed so intimately by Lex Valentine. Her haze of arousal was sharply punctuated by his moans and grunts, not the sounds of distress, but the sounds of a man about to ejaculate. Though her own shifting and rocking had become almost entirely internal, she was there with him, right on the edge as he stroked and touched and tweaked. Christ, how could anything feel better than this? He stopped breathing. His whole body was one tightly clenched muscle, the shifting and sliding had become outright thrusting, and the moans and grunts had escalated to guttural growls. At some point, she didn’t know when it had happened, she grabbed onto the headboard to keep back the overpowering urge to touch him, to take him by the wrist and hold his hand down where she needed it, to grab him by the cock and stroke him until he came, or even better to guide his erection down between her legs where she wanted him most of all. But before there was time to think about it, he grunted, then grunted again, and she felt the warm wet of his release against her thigh. That was enough to send her over the edge. Try though she might, she couldn’t lie still, and Lex woke up.

“Kelly? Fuck!” His words were followed by a hard thud and a barely swallowed string of curses as he rolled off onto the floor.

“Christ, Lex, are you all right? Are you okay? I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to do. I should have woke you up.”

“You did wake me up,” he managed between gasps for breath. “Christ, woman, no one has ever woken me up like that before.” He groaned and rolled onto his side.

“Are you okay?”

“Never better.” He said with a soft laugh that sounded somewhat painful. “I’ll be even better still if I can get the room to stop spinning. For a long moment there was no sound but the sound of his breathing. She wasn’t breathing at all, though she desperately needed to. She was too busy trying to listen to him, to make sure he was okay.

At last he spoke. “Did I just … Did we just.”

She couldn’t help the giddy little laugh. “Your fingers aren’t sticky from fondling canned pears, big boy, and I’m gonna need clean sheets.”

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© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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