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First in Series Part 4: In The Flesh

For the final installment of the First in Series Series, I’m once again wearing my KDG hat, but writing what has become my first love, PNR and urban fantasy. I’m sharing an excerpt from my final series, which is still in progress, The Medusa Consortium tales. Once again, it was never my plan to begin a series when I wrote In The Flesh, which interestingly enough, actually began life as a weekly series on my blog. There are now three books and a novella in the series, as well as several related short stories only available on my blog, along with another novel on the way. As always, be warned, most of my excerpts bite back, even if they don’t have vampires in them. Enjoy!

 

Book one in the Medusa’s Consortium series (Click Here for Book Two | Book Three)

Blurb:

When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

 

 

I Wasn’t Alone in the Dark

 

I wasn’t alone in the dark. I knew that the first time I entered the crypt at Chapel House. I could feel a presence there, almost as though someone stood just behind me, about to reach out and touch me. The shiver over my skin was not so much from fear, though certainly there was an element of fear, as it was from longing, bone-deep longing. I could barely breathe for it, I could barely stand under the weight of it, and I couldn’t imagine how such an ache, such a hunger could exist inside my flesh and not tear me apart. I was astonished that Annie seemed completely unaware of anything out of the ordinary, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t anxious to share it with her.

She continued to chatter on about her plans to make Chapel House over with a state of the art kitchen—she who didn’t cook, and a master suite that would rival the finest hotels in London. Strange that I could listen with one part of my brain and comment on her ideas for an open plan living space, for a library in the choir loft, for a wet room in the sacristy, while with another part of my brain I felt like every cell of my body was responding to whatever it was, whoever it was that I was certain waited there in the darkness, just beyond the beam of Annie’s Maglite.

The departmentalizing of Annie’s plans and the feel of the presence in the darkness became much more difficult when I felt the closeness of a warm, hard body against my back and the humid nip of a kiss on the nape of my neck. I explained away my little gasp of surprise to Annie by saying I’d almost lost my footing. I should have been frightened. I should have been terrified, and believe me, I was. But by the time I felt a large hand splayed low against my belly, by the time I was certain of the maleness pressed hard and low just above my butt, I was far more intrigued than I was frightened. Even if terror had won out, I don’t think I could have forced myself to move as the hand in the darkness migrated to cup my breasts and thumb my nipples, first one, then the other, and the slow grind and undulation from behind became more demanding.

“The roses, they smell lovely.” I managed a breathless response to Annie’s ramblings about plans for the overgrown mess of a garden. “You might want to consider a scent garden.”

She laughed. “I can’t smell anything, but then you were always the one with the sensitive nose. Of course I’ll make sure there are lots of roses.” She knew they were my favorite, but I couldn’t imagine her not smelling them; the scent was nearly overwhelming in the tight space of the crypt. To my surprise, as she rambled on about a patio with a Jacuzzi, the smell of roses was subsumed in my own scent and the humid, piquant scent of a man well aroused. The hand on my breast began a slow, torturous descent, and I wanted nothing more than for Annie to keep talking, keep planning, anything to keep her from dragging me away from this place, at least for a few more minutes.

I asked about the Jacuzzi, hoping that would give me another minute. By the time she got started about the sites she’d looked up online and the builders she’d talked to, I was rocking back against the hardness, craning my neck to yield as much bare skin as possible to teeth and tongue and lips all soft and warm and wet and sharp and hard and demanding. Oh, I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, but looking back, I wonder how the hell Annie couldn’t see? How could she have missed it? But she rattled on and on about some builder just up the road near Keswick who was supposed to be really good, some guy named Michael. Like I gave a fuck.

The study suddenly felt stuffy and overheated, and Michael’s grip on my hand convulsed. His jaw tightened, but he didn’t look at me.

Magda paid little attention to either my discomfort or Michael’s. She just kept on reading.

He was cute, Annie said. That led to observations about this Michael’s broad shoulders and nice arse and speculation as to whether or not he would be any good in bed, and was it wise to seduce him before he put in her Jacuzzi or wait till after and seduce him in it. All the while I nodded and pretended to be interested.

I was thankful for the extra time, but Christ, how could she not notice me standing there, legs apart, rocking back and forth and shifting from foot to foot like I had ants in my knickers? In truth, what I wanted in my knickers surely couldn’t actually be there, and yet I felt it, fucking hell, how I felt it! I swear, I could feel muscle and sinew. Hell, I could feel the actual shape of an erection as though we were both naked, as though all he need do, this dark being who surely was just my imagination, was bend me over and open me, me struggling to keep my breathing quiet, me struggling to focus enough attention on my friend that she wouldn’t suspect I was about to come. Oh yes, I was terrified. I would have, should have, run, if I hadn’t been so intrigued, so turned on. I just wanted one more second, and then another and another.

In desperation that shocks me even now as I write this in the dark silence of Annie’s flat, I grabbed onto a wrist that I swear was as solid and warm as my own and guided the caress, the tease, the fondling of fingers and palm down my belly toward where I really needed it to be.

Annie yammered on about this Michael, all the things she’d heard about him, all the things she wanted to do to him—at least I think she did. My God, my whole body felt alive, every cell, every molecule. I could damn near feel the coursing of my own blood through my veins. You have no idea what an exhilarating combination fear and arousal make. I lost track of what Annie was saying, and the air was filled with the scent of sex. I could smell him, actually smell this phantom man, who was as near release as I was, and I was sure, as my knees gave beneath me, I felt the warm wet of his orgasm against my lower back. And then for an instant everything around me was silk and darkness, so perfect, so ecstatic. But just beyond that warm tight space, I knew. I knew as well as I know my own breath, I was terrified, and what I felt was like no terror I’d ever known before and, holy God in heaven, I want to feel it again.

And then I was shivering on my knees against the stone floor in the crypt at Chapel

House.

“Susan? Susan, you’re scaring me.” Annie’s worried face invaded my field of vision before she half-blinded me with her Maglite. “Are you all right? What the hell
happened?”

“Sorry, I got a little lightheaded there. Probably just blood sugar. I missed lunch,” I

lied, stumbling quickly to my feet, making a quick swipe at the back of my skirt, surprised to find it was dry. Glancing over my shoulder into the narrow beam of the Maglite, I saw only the empty darkness of the crypt and the tunnel that led back to the rusted barred door. But I was certain someone was there, someone I hungered for way more than I hungered for food. And I was equally certain that I would have Him.

 

First in Series Part 3: An Executive Decision

Hi everyone! Reading any good series I should know about??? In the third week of the First in Series Series, I not only try my hand at contemporary romance, but I take off my KDG hat and don my Grace Marshall hat for The Executive Decision Series. As a testament to my love for series, The Executive Decisions series started out as a trilogy, but then readers insisted on knowing Wade’s story too, so Interviewing Wade became the fourth book in the trilogy. Today’s excerpt is from the first book in the series, An Executive Decision. And today I’m feeling generous, so you get one of my favourite excerpts from the novel. It’s long, it’s juicy, and it’s fun. Enjoy! And do let me know if you’re reading a great series you think I shouldn’t miss out on.

 

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

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.

 

 

 

I can handle it if you can

 

‘What the hell are you doing in Beverly’s office?’

A hard hand on her arm spun her around none too gently, and she found herself face to face with Ellison Thorne, who was clearly not pleased to see her. In fact, the powerful grip on her arm, the storm cloud look on his face made her knees weak and her voice difficult to find.

Just then, Beverly’s secretary burst in. ‘Ellis! That’s Dee Henning.’ She laid a gentle hand on the man’s arm. ‘Ellis, it’s all right. Dee had an appointment with Beverly. She doesn’t know.’

‘Doesn’t know what?’

The knot growing in her stomach suddenly tightened like a fist as the secretary turned her attention to Dee, her face drawn, her always square shoulders tight. ‘I’m sorry, Dee. I would have let you know, but we couldn’t get hold of you.’

‘Let me know what? I was out of the country. I told Beverly. What’s going on? Where is she?’ It was then she noticed Ellis was in khaki walking trousers and a rumpled matching shirt. The man, who had never looked anything other than pristine in his photos, wore several days’ growth of beard, and even from behind his glasses, she could tell he hadn’t slept. He still didn’t release her arm.

He held her gaze as though he were searching for something in her face, then he drew a breath that sounded like he’d just come up from the depths. ‘Beverly’s gone missing.’

The room spun slightly, and the buzzing in her ears made everything sound far off, even her own voice. She jerked her arm away, nearly toppling back into Beverly’s plants. ‘What do you mean she’s gone missing? How can she have? She was with the best. She assured me the people she was with were the best in their field. She said she’d be safe. She promised me she’d be safe.’

This time Ellis took her by the shoulders and gave a gentle shake. ‘She’s missing, Dee. That’s all. We’ve lost contact. That’s all. We’ll find her.’

She stepped back and ran a hand through her hair, a little embarrassed by her outburst, but it was Beverly they were talking about. ‘What happened?’

‘There was a tropical storm. Unseasonal. The outfitters lost contact with the expedition.’ He looked down at the clothes he wore. ‘The storm was supposed to break. I went down to look for her, but the weather got worse, and I had to come back.’

‘You went to look for her?’ Dee said. ‘Are you out of your mind?’

The secretary fidgeted uncomfortably, but Ellis offered her what might have almost been half a smile. ‘Probably, but I went anyway.’ Then he heaved a sigh. ‘Look I really need a shower. Sandra’s ordered Chinese. I need to eat, she says, and I know better than to argue with Sandra. I’m sure she’ll have ordered enough for a family of six.’ He nodded to the door. ‘If you’d like to join me, I’ll tell you everything.’

Ellis’s office was nothing like she expected. It was much more like an apartment than the lair of one of the most progressive businessmen in the US. He led her away from the big oak desk that sat, with its full complement of office furnishings and necessities, in front of a wall of glass looking out on to Mount Hood. He led her down a short hallway into a lounge that could have easily passed for a library in an Edwardian manor house. The blue leather furnishings were dwarfed by bookcases full to capacity, and the coffee table in front of it was strewn with an eclectic disarray of books from poetry of the English Romantics to modern theories of cosmology to Stephen King and everything in between.

It didn’t take him long to shower. He returned in jeans and blue cotton shirt open at the neck, sleeves rolled carelessly halfway up his forearms. He was once again clean shaven and his short hair was still damp. As Sandra arrived with the Chinese food, he shoved the books off onto the floor and made room for dinner. The secretary left for the day, and Dee silently helped him spread the meal, feeling shy and almost embarrassed to have seen beyond the man’s

façade, to be sharing such an intimate view of him, the man who, in her mind’s eye, was always so much larger than life. When the meal was spread, he smiled up at her, his glasses slipping down the bridge of his nose, and her stomach did a little somersault at the sight of him like this. She blushed. It embarrassed her that she did so, but she did.

She was taller than he had expected. In the black heels she almost stood nose to nose with him. And her eyes, her eyes were even bluer than they were in the photo. The contrast with her nearly black hair and her pale skin was stunning. And the way she talked; it wasn’t the antiseptic elocution he had grown used to hearing from women in the business world. There was something interesting about her barely perceptible accent. He wondered if she owed that to her French father. The last thing he wanted was to entertain. The last thing he wanted was to make nicey-nice, and yet he had invited her to join him, and when his arm brushed hers, when the silence between them seemed strangely comfortable, he wasn’t sorry for her company.

When at last they were seated, Dee spoke without preamble. ‘What happened?’ she said around a mouthful of spring roll, covering her lips daintily with one hand. Ellis could instantly see why Beverly was impressed. There was no nonsense about this woman. No subterfuge. But then to have earned such high praise and respect from Beverly, he would have expected nothing less. Even more importantly, she was Beverly’s friend. She must feel as gutted as he did right now.

‘The guides had taken her into the rainforest,’ he said by way of explanation. ‘Some really remote area, where there was a nest of harpy eagles.’

Dee nodded. ‘She told me she had her heart set on seeing harpy eagles.’

Ellis continued. ‘I knew they’d be out of contact while they were there. And she promised me it was no big deal, that this was a regular expedition for the outfitters. She promised that she was in the best possible hands. Then the storm came in. They were supposed to have been back before it hit. Damn it!’ He tossed down his chopsticks and stood to pace. ‘Why the hell couldn’t she just go to the zoo to see harpy eagles, or watch them on YouTube like everyone else does?’

‘You know why not.’ Dee nodded to his plate. ‘Sit down and eat.’

‘Jesus –’ he grumped ‘– you’re damn near as bossy as Beverly.’

She blushed – a beautiful pink blush – and fidgeted in her seat, no doubt remembering that this was his domain, and she was still trying to decide if she were here on business or not. When she squared her shoulders and nodded to the sofa, he figured she’d decided she wasn’t. He was glad.

He dropped down beside her, picked up the chopsticks, and stuffed his mouth full of Singapore noodles, more because he could tell it pleased her than because he had anything resembling an appetite right now.

He swallowed his noodles without chewing, and continued. ‘I waited until I got word that there was a lull in the storm, and I could actually fly in. I barely got there before things picked up again.’
Her full lips were a tight line, as though she were making every effort to keep her mouth shut, to keep her disapproval to herself. But she failed.

‘What did you expect you could do down there on your own besides put your life at risk along with Beverly’s?’

‘I wasn’t alone. And my team’s at least as good as Beverly’s. They know the area like the back of their hand. If anyone could have gone in and found her, they could.’

She raised an eyebrow. ‘And all that with the added responsibility of keeping the CEO of Pneuma Inc. safe. Nice.’

‘I happen to know a good bit about trekking in the rain forests, Dee. I would have been just fine.’

‘I know what an outdoorsman you are, Mr Thorne. Everyone in the Northwest knows that.’

‘It’s Ellis,’ he interrupted her.

She bit at a prawn as though it had somehow offended her. ‘The point is, Ellis, your team would have gone in level-headed and calm. They would have gone in without any personal feelings one way or the other. I doubt you’d have been able to do that. I know I wouldn’t have.’

He shrugged. ‘Anyway, it doesn’t matter because no one was going anywhere, and in the end I was lucky to get a flight out before the airport shut down again. I would have stayed, but Beverly has an important meeting tomorrow. She’ll tear me a new one if it gets cancelled.’ He felt helpless anger bubble up into his chest as though it would strangle him. ‘Damn it, I don’t have time to do her job and mine. The woman’s 63 years old. She shouldn’t be traipsing around in the rainforest out of contact with everyone like some stupid teenager.’

Dee studied him over the top of her chopsticks. ‘She deserved a vacation. Besides, she was doing what she wanted.’

‘I know that, but I need her here, and I need her safe. In spite of the woman’s bossy, crazy wackiness, I need her. I need her.’

‘I know,’ Dee said. ‘I need her too. My visits with her keep me sane, and the nuttier she is, the more sense everything makes.’ She laid down her chopsticks, folded her arms across her chest, and held herself as though she were suddenly cold. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound so airy-fairy. Beverly would laugh her ass off. She’s far more concerned with getting me laid than keeping me sane.’ She cocked her head to one side, her lips curving upward in a little quirk of a smile. ‘Though I suppose she probably wouldn’t see much difference in the two, really.’

‘Her Executive Sex Clause?’ he asked.

She nodded, and he thought he saw a whisper of a blush cross her cheeks. ‘Not likely to happen at Jasper and McDowell, though. In fact, the thought makes me a little queasy. But still, I won’t deny that it’s an intriguing idea under the right circumstances.’

He chuckled. ‘Believe me, I hear about it ad nauseum, along with all her other hair-brained schemes, and I won’t complain again about any of them once she’s back here safe and sound.’

‘Yes you will,’ Dee said. ‘It wouldn’t be nearly so much fun for either of you if you didn’t.’

Before he could agree with her, his phone rang and he grabbed it from the book shelf behind the sofa. ‘It’s from Brazil,’ he said, feeling the muscles in his shoulders tighten and his stomach clench. She was on the edge of the sofa next to him in an instant, her eyes locked on him. The call took less than ten seconds. It jump-started his brain back into the hyper-alert state it had been in since Beverly’s disappearance, the state it had only just come down from in Dee Henning’s comforting presence.

‘Storm’s breaking.’ He mouthed the words to her. She moved still closer, trying to overhear the conversation. He placed a finger to his lips and strained to hear. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘I’m on my way.’ He disconnected and all but catapulted off the sofa. ‘That’s the outfitters. I made them promise to call me the minute they knew anything.’

She was off the sofa too, following him to where his backpack leaned against a wing-backed chair. He’d had Harold prepare it and deliver it to the office just in case.

‘And?’

‘I’m going back. Jeffries is on standby with the limo. The plane is fuelled and ready. I figure we can be at PDX in 30 minutes, if traffic’s not too bad.’

She grabbed his arm and pulled him to a stop. ‘You can’t go back without at least a night’s rest, Ellis. You’re exhausted, and what about Beverly’s important meeting?’

He jerked away from her and hefted the pack onto one shoulder. ‘Fuck her meeting. I just want her safe.’

‘Ellis, be reasonable. As soon as things settle, you could get a phone call from Beverly laughing the whole thing off. Do you know how upset she’d be if she knew you’d put yourself in danger traipsing down there when there was no need? Please.’ She grabbed the backpack and wrestled it off his shoulder. ‘You know I’m right. Just rest. Just for tonight, and then tomorrow …’ She stepped into his personal space and placed a hand on his biceps. ‘Tomorrow I’ll go with you.’

‘Are you crazy?’ He jerked his arm away. ‘You can’t go with me, Dee. It’s awful down there, flooding, wind damage … It was bad where I was and I wasn’t anywhere near the worst of it.’

‘I’ve just spent a week in the Andes working for Sportwide Extreme Adventure. I can handle it if you can.’

He held her gaze. ‘And were there bodies floating in the streets where you were?’

She caught her breath, grabbed for the back of the chair, and nearly stumbled. All the beautiful colour went out of her face, and he was sorry he’d said anything.

‘Bodies, you didn’t say anything about bodies, Ellis. Why the hell didn’t you tell me there were bodies? Jesus!’ She ran a hand through her hair and looked around the room wildly. ‘Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?’

He took both her arms and steadied her, looking down into those deep, serious eyes. ‘I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to worry you. Christ, it’s bad enough for those pictures to be going through one of our brains, let alone both.’

She straightened her shoulders, nodded, and stepped back. ‘All right, but that’s in the towns, isn’t it? I mean we’re talking the rain forest; trees, tall trees, lots of them. That’s where Beverly’ll be. It’ll be better there, surely it will be. And no people. No bodies.’

‘I didn’t get that far. I don’t know what to expect, and we don’t know where Beverly was when the outfitters lost contact. I don’t want you there, Dee. And neither would she. Don’t you understand?’

But of course she didn’t understand, and he really didn’t expect her to. God, she was as stubborn and pig-headed as Beverly. She held him in a hard blue gaze. ‘She wouldn’t want you there either, damn it.’

‘Don’t tell me what she would want. I don’t care what she would want. I’m going, you’re staying. That’s final.’

Dee shoved both her hands onto her hips and glared at him, her eyes suddenly like raw heat. ‘You’re not my boss, and I do what I want, and right now I’m telling you you’re being an idiot.’

It came as a total shock when he grabbed her. He didn’t see it coming. He didn’t see any of it coming. Before she could do more than utter a gasp of surprise, he pulled her to him so hard that he feared he’d given her whiplash, then he did the unthinkable. He kissed her. He kissed her hard. His mouth was bruising and tyrannical against hers, like he’d forgotten how to be gentle, like he’d forgotten how to be civilised. He swallowed her breath even as she fought to swallow his. At first she pushed

him, pushed him as hard as she could, and he thought she was pushing him away, but her mouth sparred with his for still more contact. He only yielded enough to step back, pulling her with him, kissing her harder, holding her tighter, tight enough to crush her breasts against his chest. She bit and nipped at him like an angry wolf, with him yanking and shoving her jacket off her shoulders and going to work on her buttons while she pushed and shoved and clawed.

There was ripping and tearing. At least one button went flying. He wasn’t sure whose. He didn’t care. He’d fucking buy her a new suit if he had to.

With one hand he tugged and yanked her skirt up over her hips, with the other he shoved down the straps of her bra and kneaded and cupped until his thumb raked her nipples into heavy, responsive peaks.

She managed to force his trousers down over his hips as he figured out how to release the front catch on her bra. ‘Wait, wait,’ he said, struggling to breathe in the charged atmosphere, trying to keep his head clear. He nearly elbowed her as he tugged his wallet from his pocket.

In his distracted efforts, he stumbled backward over the backpack, pulling her down on top of him, forcing the breath from his lungs with a grunt.

‘Oh my God!’ she cried out. They landed in a heap sprawled across the soft carpet. With her sitting astraddle him, he yanked and tugged at his wallet, money, credit cards, and receipts falling like confetti until he found the silver foil packet, which he ripped open, launching the condom into the air in

his frenzied efforts.
‘Shit,’ they both cursed at the same time. She

was already tugging at his boxers as he grabbed up the rogue condom, rolled it down over his arcing erection, and thrust up into it, nearly bucking her off his thighs with the effort. He tugged the crotch of her panties aside. For a second he glimpsed the warm depths of her before they clawed and shifted and positioned to get what, until now, neither of them had known they needed so desperately.

Once he pushed into her, it was his turn to cry out. ‘Oh God, Dee! I can’t stand it!’ He grabbed her hips and held her tight. ‘Hold still. Don’t move. Give me a second.’

It had been a long time since he’d had any sex other than with his own fist, and his sensitivity was astounding, embarrassing actually. His chest rose and fell like bellows. Dee sat impaled, eyes closed, hands cupping her breasts, breathing like there was fire in her chest. She felt stretched exquisitely tight and warm and tetchy around his girth, and the few seconds he held her there seemed an eternity, suspended in the delicious agony of needing to thrust, but knowing to wait. Just a few more seconds until he felt in better control

When he was certain he wouldn’t embarrass himself, he gathered her to him, feeling the carpet abrade his elbows as he rolled on top of her, still buried to the hilt. And he began to thrust. She tightened her legs around his hips and rose in rhythm to meet his efforts, growling at him as he growled back, balling her fists against his back, straining upward onto her impaler, meeting strength

with strength. And her strength was impressive. She was all muscle and sinew, rounded and softened with delicious curves engulfing him in the feel and the power and the scent of femaleness, the tidal scent of steamy summer, the scent of lust tightly controlled. No doubt some of that was his own. And the blending of the two was intoxicating.

It was all over in a few minutes. They exploded into release like glass shattering on concrete. He came with a heavy groan and collapsed on top of her while she convulsed in orgasm. Surely he was dreaming. Surely he was asleep, and his psyche had fabricated the whole experience in an effort to relieve stress. Surely it couldn’t be real. He’d wake up soon.

They lay panting on the floor in a tangle of discarded clothing and trembling limbs, as his brain gradually regained control. In his fantasies, he always made it last, lingering to tease and pleasure Dee their first time together. And it was true; he actually had fantasised about her, about the woman he’d never met, the woman whose photo was in the dossier Beverly had put together. He’d fantasised about her from his first glance at Beverly’s wild concoction of a resume. And he had no doubt that had been a part of Beverly’s scheme.

But he was always a good lover in his fantasies; no awkward moments, no clumsy efforts. In his fantasies he always pleasured her like she’d never been pleasured before. He never imagined he’d take her with such force. He never imagined he’d take her at all, at least not in the real world. God, what must she think? He found himself remembering

Beverly’s Executive Sex Clause. No doubt this situation would meet with her approval, but at the moment, he wasn’t sure what he felt, other than dismayed that he’d lost control.

Finally he found the breath to speak. ‘Dee, are you all right? I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me; I don’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t mean to be such an animal.’

‘I like animals.’ She spoke around laboured breath.

The sting her nails had left across his shoulders and back convinced him she might be a bit of an animal herself, a thought that brought with it a new wave of arousal, which he tried to suppress. ‘Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I want you to know that I never, that I wouldn’t –’

‘I know. Me neither,’ she said.

Neither of them made any effort to get up or to move out of each other’s arms. In fact, the feel of her so close was worth hanging on to. He’d rest for a little while with her so nicely wrapped around him. Just for a few minutes, then he’d call Jeffries to take him to the airport. Just a little while longer, close to her warmth. That was all he needed. Just a few more delicious minutes.

 

The Executive Decisions Boxed Set

 

 

 

 

First in Series Part 2: Body Temperature and Rising

Hi everyone! Last week I kicked off a four-week series of blog posts called, The First in Series Series. Since I adore series and I find that they are mostly what I read, and write anymore, I’ve decided to celebrate the four series I’ve written by giving you an exciting, juicy and substantial excerpt from the first book of each. Today I’m sharing the second post in that series with my first ever attempt at writing paranormal romance. One book, in this case, turned into four! The Lakeland Witches Seriesis set in the English Lake District and follows the battle of a coven of witches fighting a very nasty demon. Enjoy this excerpt from the first novel in the series, Body Temperature and Rising.

 

A warning ahead of time, these will not be for the delicate flowers, though I’m pretty sure most of my readers are up for anything

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Descent Without a Compass

It was the chill that woke Marie from a dream of delirious wet sex with the couple on the path. The wet she was feeling, however, was not the slippery warmth of sex, but the chilling, heavy damp of the fog that curled around her like a smothering blanket. She jerked her hand from where it nestled in her panties, still sticky from her orgasm. Quickly she straightened up and cleaned herself as best she could then she fumbled with the compass to get her bearings. A glance down at her watch reassured her that she had only slept for a few minutes.

There was no sign of the amorous couple. She listened intently, thinking they surely couldn’t have gone far, yet she heard nothing but thick cottony silence. Now she was not so anxious to hide herself from them. Now she would have welcomed their companionship.

Her stomach growled. She popped a handful of trail mix into her mouth, took a sip of water, and headed on. The picnic she’d planned for her lunch when the day had been heavy and warm wasn’t likely to happen with the mist hanging over her. All she wanted now was to make it safely back home. She took another bearing on the compass just to make sure, secured the plastic map holder around her neck and trudged forward.

The next half hour she walked in the maddening fog. The pace was slow, with frequent stops to check map and compass. A light, but relentless rain slowed progress further. Though the map assured her she should be nearing the monstrous cairn at the top High Spy, she couldn’t fight back the fear that somehow she had missed it, that somehow in spite of nearby civilization, she was lost. In the barren featureless fog, for all she could tell, she might have been transported to another planet while she slept.

She had planned to walk the whole Newlands Horseshoe today, which would have returned her within easy walking distance of her cottage at Lace Wing Farm, but she wasn’t even half way there, and going back the way she’d come was beginning to make a lot more sense. Whichever direction she chose, she would be navigating completely by compass. The way back looked no different from the way forward. It was only when she reached into her anorak that she realized she was in trouble. The compass was nowhere to be found.

Fighting back panic, she searched her rucksack, all of her pockets, even down the front of her shirt, in case the cord had broken and it had fallen inside. But there was no sign of her compass. For the first time since the day had begun, she felt truly alone in the mist.

It would be alright, she told herself. Keswick was just down in the valley below. These fells were usually crawling with tourists. She really wasn’t alone. Her anorak wasn’t the most waterproof. She hadn’t expected bad weather. But it would do. She had at least a little food and water. She could hold out until the weather cleared a bit then she would just continue on.

But what if the weather didn’t clear? No one knew where she was.

The knot that was already a fist in her stomach tightened still further. Her landlord, Tim Meriwether, for the most part, pretended she didn’t exist, and she hadn’t been here long enough to make any other friends. No one would miss her, not even the couple she had watched.

She knew where she had been from her last compass bearing, so she simply sat down in the middle of what might or might not have been the path and hunched around herself. She’d be alright. She was cold and wet and miserable and the rocks were not exactly gentle on her back side, but she would be alright. She would!

It had to have been a dream, although how she could have dozed under the circumstances, she couldn’t imagine. The dark figure approached silently through the fog, little more than a shadow, and yet her pulse quickened, her nipples ached, and her pussy felt heavy and receptive. Still barely visible in the mist, he walked a tight circle around her, looking down at her, inspecting her, caressing her cheek with a large hand. ‘It was you.’ His voice vibrated up through the pit of her stomach, as though he had taken up residence just below her navel. ‘It was you. Exactly as I suspected.’

He moved to stand close behind her, so close that his heat radiated against her back. As she leaned into his warmth, he reached down to caress her breasts. She arched up into his irresistible touch as his hand moved up over her shoulder, her neck, her throat. Almost before she knew what was happening, the pressure of his touch became more insistent, more demanding, almost bruising and the heat was replaced by an icy chill.

Arousal congealed to cold fear. But just as she gathered herself to run, it was a gentle touch on her arm that woke her, and she looked up into the dark eyes of Anderson. For a sharp second the strange heat between her hip bones flashed hot, then settled to a warm thrum. ‘Come with me, out of the rain.’ He offered her his hand and helped her to her feet. She was amazed to find that he was still in the black suit, no anorak, no water proofs, no proper walking boots.

‘I lost my compass,’ she said.

‘I’m very sorry to hear that,’ he replied.

Almost before she knew it they were descending. ‘Not to worry,’ he spoke close to Marie’s ear. ‘I am as familiar with these fells as I am with my own face. Once we are safely down to Grange, Tara will be waiting for us.’

He made no attempt to explain who Tara was, nor did he introduce himself. That was her first clue that he might have been aware of her voyeuristic escapade.

‘We shall be down very quickly,’ he added, turning his face into the storm.

But they weren’t.

 

 

The weather worsened to a downpour. Bent double in the wind, Marie was soaked to the skin and shivering by the time Anderson pulled her into a cave that she hadn’t even seen until they were safe inside. He took her just deep enough to be out of the weather, but not beyond the reach of daylight. There he settled her onto a rocky ledge and sat down next to her.

‘We shall wait out the storm here.’ He offered her a smile and gestured around the cave, which she could now see was a disused quarry. ‘There are many such caves and quarries around the Lake District,’ he said. ‘Some are fenced off for the protection of curious tourists, and others, such as this one are unknown to but a few.’

‘And your girl friend, won’t she be worried?’

The tolerant smile he offered made her aware of her mistake. ‘Tara knows what I would do in such weather.’ Then he added, ‘Though she is very dear to me, Tara is not, as you put it, my girlfriend.’

Before she could say anything he chuckled softly. ‘I know that you saw us together, and there is no need to apologize. Neither of us was upset that you enjoyed our love making. In fact we rather hoped it would please you. Besides one must certainly expect such encounters when one chooses the middle of a well-travelled path for a rendezvous. Now remove your shirt for me, please.’

When she balked, he added. ‘You’re cold and wet. I only wish to make you more comfortable and prevent you catching your death.’ He had already shed his jacket and handed it to her. She was astonished to find it completely dry. ‘You may wear this.’

When she made no effort to put it on, he sighed and scooted closer to her. ‘Please, we must get you dry and warm.’ He unzipped her anorak and pushed it off her shoulders, then tugged the hem of her shirt out of her trousers. His hands were unbelievably warm grazing her bare skin. She lifted her arms, and he slid the wet shirt off over her head, then he reached behind her to unhook her bra while his other hand deftly dispatched with the buttons of his black shirt. ‘Now please, put this on.’ He slid the jacket around her shoulders like a blanket, shoved his shirt open and turned so he could pull her against him.

She wasn’t sure why, but it seemed such a natural thing to slide her arms around him, beneath his shirt, which was as dry as the jacket. As she settled in close, his chest expanded against her bare breasts, and his breath hitched.

‘You are freezing. I think you very much need my body heat.’

‘And you seem to have lots of it to offer,’ she spoke between chattering teeth, suddenly very aware of the gouge of her tightly puckered nipples against his warm chest.

He laughed softly, and she felt the deep low rumble of it clear through her centre. ‘My dear, you are welcome to as much heat as I am able to generate.’

The urge was overpowering. She rose on her haunches and kissed him. Out of the clear blue, she just lifted her mouth to his as though it were hers to take, as though she owned it. And he responded in complete acceptance of her possession, warm lips yielding, encouraging, inviting, making room for the flick of her tongue, welcoming her with the flick of his own.

‘You taste of her,’ she whispered when she came up for breath.

He cupped her face in a large hand and ran a callused thumb over her bottom lip. ‘But her taste pleases you, does it not?’

She nodded. ‘I can see why it pleased you so much.’ She was suddenly, painfully aware of her brazenness. What the hell was the matter with her behaving this way with a man who was, for all practical purposes, a total stranger?

She was about to apologize when he pulled her hand to his lips and suckled her fingers, the ones that had been in her panties not all that long ago. He held her in a gaze deeper than the quarry that now protected them. ‘Your taste also pleases me. Even more so than I imagined.’

The thought made her pussy tense with delight. ‘You imagined my taste?’

‘Of course I did, but experiencing the aftertaste of someone’s pleasure, though nice, is never as enjoyable as tasting for oneself.’

She had no time to do more than squirm at the heat of his comment before he pulled away to remove her boots and wet socks, lingering to chafe her cold feet between his hands, then he opened her trousers with amazing ease. She lifted her ass as he slid them off, along with her panties, then he settled her onto his lap. ‘Your bottom will not appreciate alighting upon a cold slab of slate,’ he said. He guided her to wrap her legs around his waist and arranged the tale of his shirt to cover them. Then he shifted to better balance himself and offered a soft sigh as his hands slid to her hips.

 

 

Lakeland Witches Boxed Set

Sex is magic for the Elemental Coven — powerful magic. But will it be enough to defeat the hate-driven demon determined to destroy them with the very magic of their own lust?

 

The First in Series Series 1: The Initiation of Ms Holly

Hi everyone! I hope your summer is rammed full of amazing travels and fabulous experiences and, of course, totally gripping reads! Since I adore series and I find that they are mostly what I read and write anymore, I’ve decided that for the next four weeks, a good few of which I’ll be traveling or out of pocket, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts called, First in Series. These posts will celebrate the series I’ve written by giving you an exciting, juicy, and substantial excerpt from the first book of each series – everything from The Mount’s  Initiation of Ms Holly, to The Medusa Consortium’sIn the Flesh. A warning ahead of time, these will not be for the delicate flowers, though I’m pretty sure most of my readers are up for anything. We’ll kick off this celebration of series with an excerpt from the first book of my first series, The Initiation of Ms Holly

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 Everything Tastes Better with Chocolate

HE PRACTICALLY FELL ON top of Rita, his hand grazing her left breast in the complete darkness. She yelped and grabbed him to keep from losing her balance.

‘God, I’m sorry!’ He gasped. ‘Bloody nuisance, this, isn’t it?’ His voice was warm, melodious, by far the most pleasant thing that had happened to Rita since she left Paris. ‘Oh dear. You’re trembling. Are you all right?’

‘I’m claustrophobic.’ Her words were thin and shaky, as though she didn’t fully trust herself to let them out. ‘It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t know where we are.’ For an embarrassing moment, she realised she was still clinging to him, but the embarrassment passed, and suddenly she didn’t care. If they were going to die trapped in a train in the Eurostar tunnel, buried beneath a gazillion gallons of water, she’d just as soon not do it alone.

He either understood, or was too polite to leave her in such distress. He wrapped his arms around her engulfing her in a muscular embrace, the scent of which was maleness barely masked by deodorant and some spicy cologne, both fading at the end of a day much longer than either of them had anticipated. ‘Don’t worry.’ In the darkness, he misjudged the distance between them and his lips brushed her earlobe. ‘It’s just an electrical malfunction. Anyway we’re better off down here than in the snowstorm up above. Sounds like all London is shut down. Who’d have expected snow this late in the spring? Never mind that, where else do you get the chance to cuddle strangers in the dark?’
He pressed a little closer to her, and she was relieved to find other thoughts, thoughts more welcome than those of their predicament, pushing their way into her head.

He felt good, broad-shouldered and tall, easy to lean on.
‘Why are you huddled here in the corner rather than hunkered down in your seat?’

She concentrated on his warm breath pressing against the top of her ear. ‘I was on my way back from the loo when the lights went out and …’

‘And this is as far as you got.’

She nodded against his chest, honing in on the reassuring sound of his heartbeat.

‘Shall I help you back to your seat then?’

The train lurched forward, and she yelped again, tightening her grip around his neck. ‘No, please. It’s better if I just don’t move.’

There was a long pause. ‘Do you want me to stay with you?’

She realised the poor man had little choice clenched in her strangle hold, as he was. ‘I don’t want to be any trouble,’ she lied.

He readjusted his stance and tightened his embrace. ‘No trouble at all. I can’t think of a better way to pass the time than in the arms of a beautiful woman. You are beautiful, aren’t you?’

In spite of the stress she felt, she forced a laugh. ‘Gorgeous, actually. Too bad you can’t see for yourself.’

He ran a hand down the contour of her spine to rest low on the small of her back. ‘I don’t have to see you to admire you.’

The thought that the man was rather cheeky barely crossed her mind before he lifted her fingers to his lips and planted a warm kiss across the back of her knuckles. ‘I’m Edward. I’m from London. Clearly you’re not.’

‘Rita,’ she replied. ‘I’m from Seattle, but I live in London now.’

 

 

‘Well Rita, from Seattle, we’ve established that you’re an exotic beauty. Perhaps you’d like to return the favour.’ He lifted her hand to his face and guided it gently over the slight stubble of his cheek. As her hand cupped his well-formed chin, he pulled her middle finger into his mouth and nibbled it, teasing the pad of it with his tongue. Suddenly her struggle to breathe had nothing to do with being claustrophobic.

‘Well?’ He asked pulling her hand away to massage her fingers. ‘What do you think? Am I acceptable?’

If he was cheeky, she was downright brazen. She stopped his words with her mouth, amazed at how easily she had found the mark in total darkness. Perhaps it was the darkness that made her so bold, but, whatever it was, he didn’t disappoint. His mouth was warm, opening eagerly to the probing of her tongue, responding in kind, caressing her hard palate, nipping at the fullness of her lower lip before pulling away just enough to speak.

‘There, you see? It’s not so bad being in the dark, is it? The other senses are too often overlooked, which is very sad, since they offer such exquisite delights.’ His hand moved up to cup her cheek, and he raked a thumb across her still parted lips. ‘Taste, for example. Few pleasures exceed that of the tongue.’

She heard him fumbling in the darkness, then she heard the rattling of foil. ‘Open your mouth,’ he whispered. ‘I have something that’ll make you feel better, guaranteed. Oh don’t worry, it’s nothing illegal.’

Reluctantly she opened her mouth, which he primed with a wet kiss, then slipped a chocolate truffle between her lips. It was covered liberally in cocoa and warmed exquisitely almost, but not quite, to the steamy melting point of his body temperature, which only enhanced the sharp, edgy flavour that separates expensive chocolate from the cheap stuff.

She gasped her surprise, then moaned softly at the intensity of the taste.

‘Don’t bite,’ he kissed her jaw, then her throat. ‘Savour it, roll it around in your mouth. There are places on the tongue that taste only sweet and places that taste only bitter or salt, or sour. Chocolate can have all those flavours. Caress it in your mouth like you’re making love to it, and you’ll be amazed at what you taste.’

She cheeked the truffle, slurring her words as she spoke. ‘I thought I was tasting you.’

He chuckled softly. ‘Everything tastes better with chocolate.’ Without another word, he took her mouth, plunging his tongue deep against the melting truffle, whirling it, lapping at it, sighing with the pleasure of it.

 

 

The Mount Boxed Set

Rita Holly’s sexy initiation; the strange contract Nick Chase fulfills for Elsa Crane; Liza Calendar and Paulo Delacour’s formulation of an exclusive perfume derive from the scent of sex – the cult of The Mount is behind them all. Shrouded in mystery and grounded in sexual exploration, The Mount is world-wide and ancient, its existence known only to its members who keep its secrets from generation to generation. Together for the first time in one volume, the accounts of The Mount in London, Las Vegas and Rome — three novels, three wild romps of lust, sexual largesse and love.

 

 

The Big U-Turn

Yes, I admit it openly! I’m an HEA sort of girl. I feel like I’ve been cheated if I don’t get that happy ever afteror at least a happy for nowat the end of a novel or a series. Yes, I expect losses, and yes I expect a journey that is fraught with chaos and nail-biting setbacks, but I do expect a pay-off for sticking with the author to the end.

 

If there isn’t an HEA, well I can live with that as long as the tale is redemptive. But take away the characters’ hard-earned HEA and their redemption arc and I will throw the book in the trash, or delete it from my kindle and never read that author again. Totally not acceptable in my sight!

 

While I get that sometimes the cost of the tale being told is way too high for a proper HEA, while I get that people suffer and die and things go tits up and pear shaped, I cannot, CANNOT except a tale that ends with no intimation of redemption. Perhaps it makes me a sappy git, but I believe redemption is essential to the human condition. If that were not the case, I figure the human race would have died out a long time ago from the total lack of hope.

 

I often find myself thinking about the redemptive arcs in my own stories. Not only are they there in every single tale, but they are absolutely essential for the HEA to happen. While a redemption story does not necessarily involve an HEA, in my opinion for an HEA to be worth the read, a redemptive arc leading up to it is crucial. Without it, the story is flat and, worst of all, it becomes something with which people in the real world cannot identify.

 

The sharing of stories is quite possibly the best form of escapism ever created, with reading fiction the ultimate refinement of that great escape. We read, and write stories to experience vicariously the journeys we can never make on our own, nor would we even want to if we could. And while that is true, the one thing that we do want to believe in, need to believe in, the one thing that we want to take for ourselves from each story is a sense of hope, without which there’s very little reason to journey farther.

 

Through the stories I’ve written, my characters have taught me several valuable lessons about redemption.

 

First of all, redemption doesn’t mean forgiveness. Some things cannot be forgiven, nor can they be undone. That means one of the very fist steps to redemption is letting go of the past those characters can’t change and moving forward to the future they can.

 

Secondly that moving forward instead of being stuck in the past and its hopelessness is often the opening of ones eyes to see things differently, a different view of what has been and how it affects the present makes for a much different view of the future and the possibilities awaiting the character.

 

Thirdly while the literal definition of redemption is the buying back of a thing, in fiction the currency is character struggle. What is purchased at a very high price is hope bought back from hopelessness. It’s not so much the hope that one might be made new again nor is it the pipe dream that what has happened can be undone, because certainly it can’t. But redemption is the moving forward on a different path that leads away from despair and toward hope, no matter how distant that hope may seem. It’s the understanding that while one can’t undo what has been done, one can move forward in hope and impact the world in a positive way, or at least not a negative one.

 

Fourthly, once the U-turn into hope is made, the journey is only just beginning. The characters’ flaws don’t magically vanish, the brokenness is not suddenly mended and the journey is more than likely going to be one helluva a ride. But it’s a ride worth the effort. It’s a ride worth waking up for every morning. That sense of value, or at least that sense of not being worthless, that sense of moving toward something that matters is a key ingredient in the redemption of a character.

 

Finally, sex in a story can play a major role in that redemptive arc. Sex can work as the drug that keeps hopelessness at bay and keeps a character numb or in denial. It may be nothing more than a distraction from the pain of that hopelessness, but in story it’s a powerful distraction and one that can convey to the reader the depth of the character’s hopelessness in a way that’s raw and honest, even in its dishonesty.

 

But sex in the redemptive arc can also lay a character bare, render a character open and vulnerable to that U-turning, to that possibility that hope might not just be something for other people. That sense of union and oneness that can happen with sex can be a part of the guiding force that brings a character back to himself, that reconnects him with all that matters, all that has been lost.

 

While we might all seek an escape from our own ordinary lives through the stories we read, while we might all live vicariously through the trials and tribulations of the characters, the need for redemption, for hope, is something not so vicarious, something we all need and long to share.

 

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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