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Challenge Accepted By Annabeth Leong (@annabethleong)

Challenge AcceptedBlurb:

After being shamed for her dominant desires too many times, Christine has resolved never to date a vanilla man again. She needs a man who knows he’s submissive, and she’s determined to hold out until she finds one.

Until she meets Sam, that is. Christine can’t bring herself to turn down the handsome parkour aficionado, so instead she tries to scare him off with an intensely kinky first date.

When Sam meets her extreme challenges head-on, Christine must decide if he can become the man to serve her every need—in the bedroom, and in her life.

Warnings: m/f anal play; BDSM content includes impact play, foot worship, dominance and submission, clamps placed in fairly extreme locations, and implied piercings.

 

Excerpt:

Even seeing only her back, Sam had no trouble recognizing Christine as he carried a sack of dirty clothes into the basement laundry room of his new apartment building. He’d liked her tall, thick frame the moment he’d caught her watching him, and he liked the way she moved. She folded clothes with sure, clean gestures. He’d been an athlete for enough of his life that he could immediately spot a woman in full control of her body and presence.

He hefted the laundry onto his shoulder and assumed a casual stance. He made his movements feel easy so they would look easy. “Christine.”

She turned. He liked that she didn’t jump. Maybe she knew he was coming.

He saw her reacting to him—gaze flicking down his body, body shifting to emphasize her hip. Her eyes were fierce, not welcoming. She looked as if she might be about to set him on fire. Apart from that, though, her nod was polite and distant.

Stretching and making a show of it, he set the laundry down beside a free machine. He didn’t know what to think of the contradictions he read in her body language. He was intrigued and wanted to get to know her. She, on the other hand, wasn’t being clear about what she wanted. He couldn’t tell if she was hoping he’d strike up a conversation or wishing he’d drop his clothes into the wash and get the hell out.

Sam had been raised in the type of family that communicated in code, and he didn’t like it. The only way he knew to make sense of the world was to speak his mind. “You up for company?”

She hesitated. “I think so,” she said finally.

“I’m glad.” His voice came out softer than he’d intended, his tone deferent.

There was something about Christine that made him want to address her that way. He stole glances as he started a washer. She dressed professionally, but not in an imposing way. Her body looked strong, but her shoulders were relaxed, her face at ease. She didn’t loom or intimidate, though he imagined she could if she wanted to. She had big, dark eyes and rich, brown skin. Her features weren’t delicate—he liked the bold lines of her nose and jaw—but neither were they harsh. The only hint of real severity he could see was in the way she wore her hair—straightened to within an inch of its life and sharply restrained.

“The weather’s gotten nice,” Sam said, reaching for an easy conversation starter. “Anything you’re looking forward to doing now?”

Christine shrugged. “Not wearing a heavy jacket.” Was that a touch of humor in the curve of her lips? He wasn’t sure.

“Definitely.” Sam kept his voice light. “You recognized parkour. Is that your sport?”

She laughed. “Afraid not.” Sam wondered if she was warming to him, but she was still so difficult to read. He hated the idea of lingering where he wasn’t wanted.

“Look,” he said. “I’d like to get to know you. I’d like to take you out sometime. Are you interested?” He had a nice Italian restaurant in mind if she said yes. If she said no, he’d ignore the flickers of interest he kept feeling from her.

She didn’t agree or refuse, though. Instead, she looked pained. “Why would you ask me that? We’ve got nothing in common.”

Sam stepped back, holding up his hands. “I asked because I wanted to know your answer,” he said, the words low and even. “If you’re not, it’s cool. I won’t bother you about it.” He’d be disappointed, of course, but he wasn’t the kind of jerk who would try to make a woman feel guilty about turning him down.

Christine reached toward him but dropped her arm just before she made contact. “You couldn’t handle me.”

Sam probably should have walked away at that point, but he’d noticed the way she’d almost touched him and the stubborn part of him couldn’t let the challenge pass. “What do you mean, I couldn’t handle you?”

Familiar anger rose to his chest. In high school, everyone had assumed he was a nerd because he was Chinese. He’d been told he wouldn’t be able to handle being on the football team, wouldn’t be able to handle American-style boxing—though everyone also seemed to expect him to be an expert at Wing Chun—and wouldn’t be able to handle going with the other guys on the team to play pranks on the local rivals.

Sam had responded to each of those challenges by proving his doubters wrong, doing everything better and harder than the people who had questioned him. He’d given up on obligatory popular sports to focus on parkour, but there was still a part of him that thrilled each time he pulled off a difficult move, exulting that, yet again, he’d shown them.

Christine’s skin darkened with a blush, but she lifted her chin defiantly. “I’m kinky, okay? I doubt you’re ready for that.”

Sam blinked. “Wow, okay. That seems like something we could sort out after we go on a date and find out if we like each other. No need to jump ahead.”

“No point.” She shook her head, the gesture firm and dismissive. “It’s a waste of time to get to know each other if we’re just going to wind up incompatible.”

“Really?” Sam bristled. It irritated him when women assumed a Chinese guy wouldn’t know anything about sex, and he hoped that wasn’t what was going on. “I have heard about that book, you know. The one all the women are reading.”

“No, that’s not what I’m talking about. I like to be the one on the handle end of the flogger. You don’t want it, trust me.”

Sam had almost no idea what that entailed, but he pressed, annoyed that she’d presumed to tell him what he would and wouldn’t want. “How do you know? Talk to me about it first. Try me.”

“If you don’t already know about it, it’s just not going to work. I promise.”

Sam had never been aware of an interest in kink, but he couldn’t stand assumptions. “Tell me straight-out what you want to do,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’ll tell you whether or not I want to do it.”

Christine stared as if he’d suggested a really strange plan. It reminded Sam of so many movies he’d seen, times when characters acted like telling the truth was such an odd and original thing to come up with. “I don’t know…” she said.

He grabbed his now-empty laundry bag. The fabric snapped as he yanked it through the air. The fresh, warm scent pouring from the dryers seemed sour in that moment. “Or turn me down. Just don’t tell me what I can and can’t handle.”

Again, she moved as if she wanted to take hold of his wrist and stop him. Sam paused, trying to make it clear he would let her if that was what she wanted to do. They were still for a while, and then he gave up and walked to the door.

“Wait,” Christine said before he could leave.

“Yeah?”

“Maybe. Do you use IM? Can we talk later?”

He shrugged. “Sure.” This was probably another part of the brush-off. Maybe she thought it would be nicer if she offered to chat online. He didn’t particularly like that tactic, but he didn’t feel like criticizing it now. Without expecting to hear from her again, he gave her his username.

 

Buy Links:
Loose ID: http://www.loose-id.com/challenge-accepted.html
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Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1R3TTYq
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Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/challenge-accepted-1

 

releaseblitzbutton_challengeacceptedBio:

Annabeth Leong wears high heels and frequents the former haunts of H.P. Lovecraft. She is obsessed with baseball and marine life, and is an enthusiastic member of New England Feet. She is frequently confused about her sexuality, but enjoys searching for answers. Her work appears in more than 50 anthologies, including Best Bondage Erotica 2013, 2014, and 2015, Best Women’s Erotica 2015, and Best Erotic Romance 2014 and 2015. She is the author of a number of erotic novels, ranging from sweet to dark. Find Annabeth online at annabetherotica.com, and on Twitter @AnnabethLeong

 

Falling by Annabeth Leong (@AnnabethLeong)

annabethleong_tourbuttonThank you so much for hosting me!

It’s a bit ironic to me that I’ve written some of my best scenes of people falling in love for a book that’s meant to be erotica, not romance. That’s not to say I’ve compromised the erotic elements by doing so—trust and believe that Untouched is wall-to-wall hot.

This is also the book that’s pushed me the farthest as a writer, though, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it led me to a deeper understanding of what happens when people fall in love.

I’ve written romances before, and I’ve had romances in real life, so I’m familiar with the stages of attraction and the realization that a connection is turning from attraction into something more. Untouched, however, made me step back and think about what’s going on in those cases.

I think falling in love feels like a private world is being formed. There’s a sense of wonder, accompanied by desperate hope that the feeling is mutual. There’s a sensation that the other person gets it in a way that’s special and different from most of the world.

When I’m feeling that, a lot of it hinges on the sense that the other person is feeling it, too, and that the other person does in fact get it. It hinges on the feeling that I am creating that same sense for the other person, that they, too, feel I understand them in a unique and important way.

There is a sense of being chosen, of setting each other apart and singling each other out.

To me, falling out of love is the collapse of this private world. It’s the realization that there was something false about it all along, or the admission that foundational pieces of it have been lost.

This private world is so heady and so wonderful to be in, that I think we’re all aware of how dangerous and seductive it can be. I want to see it so badly that I can convince myself it’s there even when it’s very much not there.

So this becomes the challenge of falling in love and then maintaining it—truly recognizing that private world when it appears, and then working to preserve it.

In many ways, that’s what Untouched is about. Celia, the heroine, is cut off from the world by her inability to allow someone to touch her. She doesn’t believe she can have that private world with anyone—until she meets Eli, and that sense of mutual understanding forms. From there, Celia’s plunged into a world of questions. Is this truly what it appears to be? In moments when it feels as if it will collapse, can it be saved? Is there something to rescue, or do those dark moments mean it was never there at all?

I enjoy the romance formula very much when I’m in the mood for it, but there’s a sense of safety that dulls the impact of those questions. In a romance, everyone knows that the characters are fated to be together, that the private world they’re glimpsing is true and right. It’s wonderful to go through that experience with characters, but in real life I’ve never had the luxury of knowledge of fate. For me, love has always felt more like the way I’ve written it in my erotica novel, Untouched. It’s large and scary and uncertain, and at the same time so heady and tempting.

 

UntouchedExcerpt:

The street where Eli had parked was empty except for a sleepy craft store and a few half-vacant apartment buildings. A grocery store circular drifted down the road, propelled by a lazy breeze. Everything contrasted with Celia’s sweaty urgency.

Eli drove an older luxury car, well-maintained, detailed, and cleaned, roomy on the inside. Celia grinned at him. “That looks perfect.”

“You’re sure? You would do this on the street? What if someone sees through the car window?”

“I don’t care,” Celia said firmly. Her pussy was already on the Internet. She could bare herself to Eli now without fear. “How about you?” she asked, trying to gauge his expression.

“Right now, I’d do just about anything.”

Again, tenderness compelled her to look out for him. “Will you be sorry tomorrow?”

“I can’t imagine how I could be sorry. This is the hottest thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Eli fumbled with his keys, shaking too much to fit them to the car’s lock. His hand slipped, and he dragged the point of the key a short distance over the car’s paint, marring it and creating a brief metallic screech. The keys dropped to the pavement.

“Jesus,” he said.

Celia felt brave and capable. “Take two steps to your left,” she said, and he obeyed her without question. When he’d moved out of the way, she knelt and picked up his keys. The metal was still warm from his hand. She cupped the keys in her palm, staring down at them in awe, feeling closer to him than she’d managed with another person in years.

Afraid that he wouldn’t understand, she slowly lifted her eyes to his face. Her fears proved unfounded. He wore a reverent expression that matched her feelings exactly. “That’s a big deal for you, isn’t it?” Eli’s voice was hushed.

“Oh yeah.”

“We have something, don’t we?”

“I think so.”

“We’ve got to get into that car.”

 

Blurb:

Celia Lambent lives in constant conflict. Her sexual appetite is voracious, and yet she cannot bear to be touched. Untouched is a raunchy journey of voyeurism and discovery as Celia seeks the cause and cure for her condition.

 

Preorder now:

Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Publisher site: http://www.sweetmeatspress.com

 

Untouched is also distributed in the U.S. by Consortium, and will be available at many fine bookstores.

 

Bio:

Annabeth Leong has written erotica of many flavors. She loves shoes, stockings, cooking and excellent bass lines. Her work has appeared in more than 40 anthologies and counting, including Made for Hire from Sweetmeats Press. Visit her website, annabetherotica.com, or find her on Twitter @AnnabethLeong

 

Preorder offer:

Preorder Untouched now and forward your confirmation e-mail to annabeth dot leong at gmail dot com. As a thank you, Annabeth will send you a complimentary e-book copy of your choice of one of her other single-author titles (You can see them listed at annabetherotica.com). Please include which e-book and format you’d like in your e-mail.

 

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

One Flesh by Annabeth Leong

One FleshBlurb:

Leticia and Rosalie are planning their wedding, wanting very much to make their special day one to remember, but Rosalie has something else weighing on her mind, one more thing she wants to make as special and as memorable as the ceremony itself—their wedding night. Rosalie wants to be with Leticia in a way that neither of them had ever been with anyone else. But finding something that would be a first time for both of them turns out to be harder than expected.

As it turns out, there is one thing Leticia has wanted to do but has never trusted anyone enough to allow herself to overcome the fear of it. And it’s something that Rosalie has never done either.

The women discuss the idea of fisting as a means of connecting and forming an intimate bond with each other, one that they’ve never formed with anyone else. They’ve never loved or trusted anyone else they way the love and trust each other, and they are determined to find a way to make it work.

Excerpt:

“I’ll call tomorrow to tell the church how many flowers we want to order,” Leticia said, sighing and folding her notebook closed. No matter how many neat lists she made with her favorite purple pen, the sheer quantity of wedding-related details was overwhelming. “Can you call the caterer back, Rosalie? I still feel like they sneaked a charge in somewhere, but I can’t get a straight answer out of them about it.”

Her fiancée smiled indulgently. “Better yet. I’ll go in person on my lunch break, and they won’t know what hit them.”

“Great.” Leticia rubbed her temples and closed her eyes. She’d wanted to go to bed early, but another evening of wedding planning had made that completely impossible. She was excited to be marrying her one true love and all, but it was easy to lose track of that when she had fourteen phone calls to make and her mother demanded an e-mailed progress report every single night. “That’s got to be enough for now.”

Leticia stole a quick glance at Rosalie. She’d changed into a cute pair of pajamas when she got home from work, the childish pattern an odd contrast with her sophisticated coppery makeup. Leticia briefly fantasized about peeling the clothing away, revealing her lover’s curves and smooth brown skin. Unfortunately, at that very same moment, she had to stifle a yawn. She was so damn sleepy. They would need to get to bed immediately if she was going to give Rosalie proper attention.

“We can’t quit planning yet,” Rosalie said. “We haven’t discussed the most important thing, and it’s coming up soon.”

Leticia groaned. She flipped her notebook open again and paged through her color-coded, highlighted lists. “We’ve talked about everything I had listed for the day, and we even went over things that have deadlines coming up in the next few days. I don’t see what we’re—”

“The wedding night,” Rosalie purred. “We haven’t discussed that at all.”

There was no mistaking the sparkle in her eyes. Leticia actually blushed, the way she had at Rosalie’s makeup counter the first time they met, when the other woman’s soft words of praise, roughened by the obvious desire in her voice, had gotten Leticia so hot and flushed it had been impossible to identify the correct shade of foundation for her skin tone. She’d been forced to come back later, not that she’d minded.

Now that she’d figured out what Rosalie was hinting at, Leticia played innocent. For all her lover’s passion, her Catholic upbringing had left her with an adorable aversion to using direct language. Leticia loved to watch Rosalie get flustered while trying to explain her naughty desires. She batted her eyelashes and focused on her notes again. “We’ve reserved our hotel room the night of. We’ve got our plane tickets to Puerto Rico for the honeymoon a couple days after that. Everything appears to be in order.”

“The wedding night,” Rosalie said, apparently oblivious to Leticia’s teasing. She rolled her hands through the air, one over the other, the gesture an invitation to take the word “night” and run with it. “The whole reason I wanted an afternoon wedding was so we could have plenty of time together. Afterward. In the hotel.”

“You mean to take a good, long nap? I’m sure we’ll be tired after dealing with all the guests, and coming down from pre-wedding nerves, too.” Leticia couldn’t resist continuing the act.

“Not a nap. But I am talking about what we might do in bed.” Now Rosalie colored, a deep red undertone becoming visible beneath the screen of her makeup.

Leticia composed her face as much as she could manage and shrugged. “Oh, are you talking about sex?” A giggle threatened to slip through at Rosalie’s incredulous, exasperated expression. “I don’t know. I’ve read tons of articles about how people get so exhausted from all the things leading up to a wedding that they don’t even really want to have sex by the time the day is done. We’ll have plenty of time for that later in the honeymoon, won’t we?”

“Don’t even really want to have sex,” Rosalie repeated slowly, as if the phrase was a math problem and she couldn’t quite work it out. Her forehead wrinkled in utter puzzlement. A snort burst from Leticia. Realization dawned on Rosalie’s face. She grabbed a tissue from the box on the table and tossed it at her. They’d both collapsed in giggles by the time the thin paper floated airily to the floor beside Leticia.

Leticia allowed the force of her laughter to pull her off the chair. She crawled the short space to Rosalie’s chair and raised one brown foot to her lips. Leticia did enjoy a little foot worship now and then, but her current mood was far from reverent. Slowly, carefully, she slipped her mouth over Rosalie’s polished big toe. She licked until Rosalie’s breathing changed, confused between laughter and moaning. Then Leticia lifted off the toe and pressed her mouth to the sole of Rosalie’s foot. She inhaled, gripped the ankle tightly, and blew a powerful raspberry.

Rosalie squealed and tried to get away. Leticia smiled but kept up the wet, ticklish vibrations. Rosalie’s foot jerked in her hands. Leticia kept hold easily. She had plenty of practice restraining patients, which happened to have fun applications at home.

Rosalie writhed as she laughed. Leticia drew breath for another raspberry, but cut her eyes up as much as she dared. She didn’t want to miss the sight of her lover, breasts bouncing under her shirt as her rib cage shook, hips rolling as she struggled to get away, face squeezed tight as if to ward off the unbearable sensation of being tickled. Effectively, this previewed Rosalie’s orgasm. Warm arousal spread through Leticia’s body as she forced Rosalie to stay in this state, and as she looked forward to seeing the real thing very soon.

Rosalie rained playful blows onto Leticia’s head. “Why the hell am I marrying you?” It took forever for her to get the sentence out, as she had to gasp each word between shrieking laughs.

Leticia grinned and tugged at her lower legs. Her lover took the hint and rolled out of the chair to join her on the floor. Leticia wrapped her arms around Rosalie, who felt small and hot and curvy. She slipped one hand down to tickle between her ribs, rewarded by another delicious howl. Rosalie shoved at her chest. “You are evil, I swear.”

“I’m sorry,” Leticia said softly, managing to sound sincerely regretful. She kissed Rosalie’s temples with great tenderness, until her lover relaxed and stopped wriggling. Leticia murmured more soothing words, rubbing Rosalie’s back… then licked the side of her face.

Buy Links:
All Romance eBooks
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
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Storm Moon Press

 

Bio:

Annabeth Leong has written erotica of many flavors—dark, romantic, kinky, vanilla, straight, lesbian, bi, and menage. Her lesbian stories have appeared in the Lambda Literary Award-nominated Lesbian Cops, Circlet Press’s love-spell anthology Like Hearts Enchanted, Lovecraftian erotica book Whispers In Darkness, and others. When not writing erotica, she is frequently reading it. She has lived in six states in various parts of the United States, and traveled to most of the others. Annabeth believes passionately in freedom of speech, rights for people of all sexual orientations, and the need for compassionate religion. She loves shoes, stockings, cooking, and excellent bass lines.

 

Run for Your Love by Annabeth Leong

Run For Your LoveBlurb:

Shotguns seem to be everyone’s favorite accessory for the zombie apocalypse, but Zach Paul believes he can survive without hurting anyone—not even the zombies. An elite-level runner, he plans to speed away from every danger. Then Zach meets a woman he can’t bring himself to leave behind, and staying beside her tests all his principles.

Viola Ortiz fought free of her controlling boyfriend just before the zombies came, but now she believes her macho ex is the only one who can protect her. She sets out to reunite with him, only to encounter Zach instead. The tall, lean runner is everything her ex is not, and Viola is shocked to find he turns her on as no man has before. Viola’s ex, however, isn’t willing to let go of her, and soon it’s clear that other survivors are as dangerous as the zombies.

Zach and Viola can run, but they must find safety before they lose their humanity in the struggle to protect their lives and growing love.

 

Excerpt:

It may not have been too crazy for me to think I could keep clear of the zombies in the Quarantined Area. On the news everyone kept saying these are “slow zombies.” They’re dangerous, diseased, and mostly impervious to pain, but not the sort of terrifyingly speedy hunters that have been popular in movies lately. My plan to run in there was risky, but I like to think not completely doomed. I planned around my talents instead of just deciding I’d somehow figure out how to execute a standing long jump of multiple feet once I found myself staring down at concrete two stories below a rooftop. I trusted the only thing I’ve been able to rely on my whole life—my legs.

What I didn’t take into account were bullets—as in projectiles whizzing past my ears as I booked it down the sidewalk. Why the hell does everyone think the zombie apocalypse gives them a license to act like Rambo? I’m not just talking about what happened once zombies actually appeared in the middle of our city, eating brains, shambling, and whatever else they do. I’m talking about all the years of excitement about zombies—Facebook quizzes predicting whether your relationship would survive an outbreak, the sudden popularity of YouTube videos about parkour, and a pervasive cultural obsession with shotguns. I think people watched zombie movies and decided it would be great for the rule of law to break down to the point that they’d be allowed to solve problems by shooting first and asking questions later.

It’s not the most macho position to take, especially not in the neighborhood where I grew up, but I guess it’s clear by now that I’m a pacifist. Some other guy might respond to the looters by taking cover behind an abandoned building and pulling out his own gun to trade shots. That’s not my style.

Instead, I shouted, “What the hell?” and tried to run faster.

Two days into societal breakdown, street cleanliness had already suffered. Trash bags, newspapers, and other detritus littered the road, and I swear the pavement had more cracks than usual. It took all my concentration not to slip or break my ankle.

I don’t have experience dodging bullets, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be harder to hit if I tried to zig-zag or not. Since I didn’t know, I ducked my head, picked up the pace, and hoped for the best.

The guy with the gun shouted, “Drop the backpack!” Apparently, he thought bullets made good punctuation.

“There’s nothing in it!” I screamed back. Which wasn’t strictly true. I didn’t have any money or valuables, which I assumed was what they were looking for. On the other hand, the backpack had everything I thought I needed to survive in the Quarantined Area, so I didn’t want to give it up.

“Like hell it’s empty!” The guy chasing me squeezed off a few more shots.

The fact that he hadn’t managed to hit me yet confirmed one of the points I’d like to make about guns, which is related to a couple of the things I’ve already ranted about. A lot of people think you can just pick up a gun and go to town. That tells me that most people have never actually held a gun, much less fired one.

I’ve been to the shooting range a number of times with my older brother Dominic, and once, before a birthday party he celebrated one year in Vegas, that included firing machine guns. Before I’m accused of hypocrisy, I’ll add that Dominic spent a long time trying to get into the police academy, and I provided moral support while he studied and trained. Anyway, after several good tries, I learned that if you can hold a gun without your hand trembling uncontrollably, you’re doing well. And it takes training before most people can manage to hit, say, the broad side of a barn.

The looter chasing me might think he was tough, but he’d obviously never gotten the chance to practice with a gun. I promised myself I’d say a prayer of thanks as soon as I got out of range of him and his burly friends. I almost looked forward to the zombies at that point—at least I’d understand their motives.

Someone cried out behind me, and I risked a glance over my shoulder. One guy lay on the pavement clutching his ankle, probably a victim of one of the cracks I’d noticed earlier. Two of the others seized the excuse to quit running, squatting beside him clutching their sides, gasping, panting, and coughing. I allowed myself a satisfied smile. The guy with the gun hadn’t tired yet, but he would, as long as he didn’t manage a lucky shot before I finished putting him through his paces.

I lengthened my strides. It felt good to take my body to its limit, to dig as deeply as I could into the inner reserves I’d built up over the years… Right up until I realized I’d forgotten to keep an eye on the littered road.

My foot tangled in a plastic bag, and I went down hard. It was like something out of kindergarten—bloody knees, bloody palms, and pain that brought stinging tears to my eyes. A bullet hit the asphalt a mere foot away from me.

“Let up, man!” I made my voice as threatening as possible, despite my vulnerable position. “I got nothing!”

“Give me the backpack!”

Adrenaline forced me to my feet. I took a deep breath, preparing to push myself back into a run despite the stiffness already settling into my knees.

That wasn’t to be, because my fall had allowed the big guy catch up with me. He may not have known how to use his gun, but he sure as hell knew how to use his hands. He demonstrated on my trachea as soon as he got hold of me.

I hate to say it, but I froze. I thought about trying to stomp on his foot or something, but I didn’t really expect that to work, and I didn’t want to die a traitor to my own pacifist ideals. I helplessly pondered what to do as he squeezed my neck tighter, and I started to feel chilled and light-headed.

That was the first time I saw her, and considering how little oxygen was reaching my brain at that moment, you can probably understand why I thought she was some sort of apparition. She was beautiful. Sexy? Yes. She had the sort of curves that make a man want to spend long afternoons in bed just tracing the shape of them. Lips to match and ringlets of black hair that I immediately wanted to feel across my bare chest. But she was also beautiful in a holy way—some kind of light in the eyes or glow to the skin that reminded me of pictures of La Virgen. She was dressed all in blue too, which contributed to my impression that she wasn’t entirely of this world—my mother taught me that blue is Mary’s color.

Her small, compact body hurtled into me and my captor with force far beyond what I would have expected from her weight. She screamed that he ought to let me go, and his grip loosened, I think because he was so stunned. Neither of us knew where she had come from or what she had to do with me.

Unfortunately, the deranged looter’s first instinct after letting go of me was to go after her, specifically by hooking a finger through one of the big gold hoop earrings she wore. I stretched my own rules a little and jabbed him in the ribs with my elbow, hoping to distract him enough that my rescuer and I could both escape.

She didn’t have the kind of qualms I did. Out of one pocket, she produced a can of pepper spray and proceeded to administer a healthy dose straight into his eyes. I covered my face in time, but he gave a high-pitched scream and clapped his palms to his cheekbones. The gun hit my foot then the pavement. The woman screamed too, and I wondered if he still had her by the earring.

I dropped to the ground and crawled a few feet away, moving through the pain in my knees and palms. A glance at the woman showed she’d gotten herself free of her opponent’s grip and had grabbed the upper hand by far. She administered a series of precise and painful-looking strikes to his abdomen.

Any second, more of the looters would join this fight. I didn’t feel good about running away when she’d gotten involved in the first place because of me.

Pushing myself to my feet, I went over and grabbed her elbow, wincing when my scrapes contacted her skin. “We have to get out of here,” I told her. “Try to keep up.”

She rolled her eyes but didn’t answer me. I took off running, feeling so much adrenaline by then that the pain in my knees didn’t really bother me.

She wasn’t next to me.

I whirled without stopping, in time to see her scoop the looter’s gun off the sidewalk and toss it into a glittery backpack she carried, slung too low to be entirely practical.

I took my own turn rolling my eyes. Just what I needed. Another Rambo wannabe. “Come on!” I shouted.

I have to admit that despite annoying me by going for the gun, she’d impressed me so far. The next thing she did really caught my attention. She grinned at me, as wicked and gleeful as if we’d gone out racing to settle a bet. Then she covered the distance I’d put between us so fast it took me a moment to realize I was being outpaced.

She shot past me and tossed another smile over her shoulder. “You better hurry,” she said, with a Puerto Rican accent and not a trace of effort. “Ahora, chacho. Those guys look mad.”

 

Buy Links:
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Breathless Press

 

Bio:

Annabeth Leong has written romance and erotica of many flavors — dark, kinky, vanilla, straight, lesbian, bi, and menage. Her titles for Breathless Press include the contemporary werewolf erotic romances Not His Territory and Not the Leader of the Pack, and Run for Your Love, a romance set in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, blogs at annabethleong.blogspot.com, and tweets @AnnabethLeong

 

Buy One, Get One Free Offer:

Did you miss Annabeth’s previous titles with Breathless Press? Not to worry. E-mail proof of purchase of Run for Your Love, such as an Amazon receipt, to annabeth dot leong at gmail dot com and let her know your e-book format of choice. Annabeth will buy a copy of her werewolf novella, Not His Territory, for anyone who sends this information before November 12, 2013.

 

Design and Scandal by Annabeth Leong

Design and ScandalBlurb:

Costume designer Kahala Lin didn’t get into her line of work to make clothes for tiny models. She dreams of creating high-fashion masterpieces for BBWs such as herself. When she’s hired to work on costumes for the science fiction movie Laser Sentinel, she passes up the opportunity to dress the film’s heroine and ends up with the hardest job on set—pleasing the demanding and devastatingly handsome star, James Corwin.

James is one of Hollywood’s best known actors, but he’s in trouble when he’s forced into working on this dud of a movie. James can’t relax and enjoy the shoot on Hawaii’s black sand beaches. He needs to prevent this film from becoming an embarrassment, starting with making sure he’s not shot wearing nothing but spandex, a headdress and a ray gun. His collaboration with the new costume designer starts out promising, but soon he’s so busy taking off her clothes that he’s hardly thinking about what he’ll wear at all.

The press, however, discovers their relationship almost before it begins, and the resulting scandal threatens both their livelihoods and James’ chances with Kahala.

A Romantica® contemporary erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

 

Excerpt:

“Is James Corwin as hot in real life as he is onscreen?” Kahala Lin winced a little at the question, but couldn’t help herself. Apparently going to work on the set of an honest-to-God big budget film excited her more than she’d let on when Lani had first asked if she wanted the job.

Her friend Lani grinned, revealing a bit of the fangirl herself. “Hotter. I don’t think the camera captures exactly how beautiful his eyes are.”

Lani pulled her truck into the makeshift parking lot on the edge of the set, just out of sight of the black sand beach where the first two weeks of filming would take place. Kahala figured she’d better get the silliness out of her system now, so she could act professionally once she actually met her new colleagues and the contingent of movie stars.

Kahala winked. “Eyes. Not exactly the body part I was thinking about.”

Lani slapped her arm. “You are so bad.”

Kahala shrugged. A serious expression spread over Lani’s wide, friendly face. She narrowed her dark eyes and peered at Kahala. “They’re really strict about that, you know. They don’t want you bothering the stars.”

“I’m not going to embarrass you, Lani. Don’t worry.”

Lani rolled her eyes. “Sorry. I know you’re not a teenager. You nervous?”

“Nervous?” She shook her head firmly. “This is a fun job to me. I’m not looking for a career in the movies. Believe me, these aren’t the people I’m really hoping to dress. My designs are for women with meat on their bones, not size negative two like Madison Marin.”

Lani tapped her fingers against the steering wheel. “I hear what you’re saying. I appreciate it. You made me a gorgeous wedding dress, anyway.” She smiled, then paused. “I just don’t think you should dismiss the opportunity. You might make some good connections. The work you do here is going to be seen by millions of people. That has to be worth something, even if your clothes are on a skinnier girl than you’d like.”

Kahala looked out the window. The Big Island was prettier than she remembered, way less developed than Honolulu, where she lived. Here she could actually see glimpses of what the island must have looked like when her ancestors had lived there.

Lani took her hand. “What’s the matter, Kahala? Other than being excited to see James Corwin in person, you’re acting like you don’t want to be here.”

She summoned a smile. Her friend didn’t deserve to feel bad about this. “I’m really glad you set me up with this, Lani. Don’t get me wrong. I need seed money to get my design business into higher gear. It’s just that I swore I wasn’t ever going to make clothes for tiny girls.” She closed her eyes, remembering how she’d felt when she’d gone shopping back in high school, looking for knockoff versions of styles she’d seen in Vogue and W. “They didn’t even bother to make sizes larger than twelve for most of the clothes I wanted to wear when I was younger. When I started making my own stuff, I promised myself I wouldn’t make anything smaller than twelve. I want the skinny girls to wish they were bigger so they could wear my stuff.”

“This doesn’t take away from that,” Lani said. “Don’t worry about Madison Marin. You might not even end up working on stuff for her.” Lani lifted her shoulders and spread her hands wide. “You ready to do this, girl? For the next three months, we’re going to drink, breathe and eat this place. I hope you like coffee, because your next full night’s sleep won’t be until August.”

Kahala grinned. “You love this work.”

Lani smiled back. “Craft services is rewarding. Everyone’s so hungry and tired, they love everything we do. Believe me, I never felt so appreciated working in a restaurant kitchen.” She slapped the top of Kahala’s thigh. “Let’s go. This’ll be fun.”

***

Lani dropped Kahala off with Lawrence Marsh, head of costumes. His office was a trailer nestled under a stand of papaya trees. Whip-thin and more than six feet tall, the man’s pale skin shone bright and startling against the lush, tropical background. Kahala hadn’t known a person could be that color in Hawaii—even the whitest people typically had the grace to turn red. Lawrence wore a woman’s shirt, skinny jeans and more rings than a gypsy fortune teller. He greeted Kahala with a hug but broke it off to grab a papaya off the tree behind her.

Kahala smiled nervously while he produced a small knife from the back pocket of the skinny jeans and sliced the fruit open with surprising expertise. He ate a piece of juicy flesh off the point of the knife. He didn’t wait to finish chewing before speaking with a cultured British accent that, given his behavior, seemed incongruous. “Kahala Lin!” He sounded much more pleased to see her than she’d expected. “Lovely online portfolio. Very fresh.”

She started. “Thank you!” Lani had made it sound as if she’d pulled strings with the union to set Kahala up with this job. She hadn’t thought anyone would have paid attention to her work.

“I wish I had a star worthy of your talents,” Lawrence said, leading the way into his trailer. The inside looked like an exploded dress shop. Pieces of odd fabrics mingled with half-destroyed specimens of the latest designs from Fashion Week. A dressmaker’s form wore nothing but thin gold chains. Scissors and measuring tape tumbled off tables, and Lawrence possessed more sewing machines than one person could reasonably use. Tilted against the trailer’s AC unit, a laptop showed flashes of an odd shape rotating slowly in a computer-assisted design interface. “Don’t mind the mess,” Lawrence said, shrugging. “It’s my creative process. You understand. Pull up a chair.”

Kahala blinked. She couldn’t see a chair to pull up. The only thing around remotely resembling a seat looked about half as wide as she was. She stayed standing. “I’m really glad you liked the portfolio! What were you—”

Lawrence took another bite of papaya. “I loved it. Most designs for plus-sized women try to hide the body. You let the body do the work. You have a very nice eye for accentuating natural features. I can see it in the dress you’re wearing now.”

Was she blushing? “I did make it myself! How did you—”

“You couldn’t have bought a dress with that stitching for under three thousand these days.” He shuddered. “Machines are so much sloppier than most people realize.” He slapped the papaya down and took Kahala’s hand dramatically. She flinched but tried to roll with it. “I’m going to ask you to betray every instinct that makes your work special. Can you do it for me, Kahala?”

She blinked. “What are you talking about?”

“This is science fiction. The clothes need to do the work, not the body beneath them. Madison Marin’s got no body to speak of. You can’t rely on her shape. You have to give her a shape. Designers like bodies like hers because they can give them any shape they desire. I’m asking you to betray your obvious appreciation for the female form and work with the alien specimens we have here on this project—otherwise known as actresses.”

Kahala stared. “You’re assigning me to work with your female lead?”

“I believe in delegating.” Lawrence smiled tightly. “I’d planned to work with her myself, of course. I spent months drawing sketches for her. You’ll be following those, making adjustments as needed to the costumes I’ve started creating. I’d do it myself, gladly, but ever since I arrived on set I’ve had a certain problem that’s—James Corwin.”

“James Corwin?” Kahala echoed, confused. “That’s your problem?”

“Oh, James Corwin is about to be his problem, all right,” said a deep male voice behind her. Kahala jumped, turned, and found herself face to face with the screen idol himself, all six solid feet of him. James Corwin had played football in high school, and Kahala could see why. He had a linebacker’s build and muscle. He gripped the doorframe with big hands. His face wrinkled with distaste at the sight of Lawrence Marsh, but as his gaze settled on Kahala, his expression changed. His famous golden eyes focused on her and she caught the subtle flicks he used to check out her body below the neck. Kahala’s face heated and James smiled slowly, his nostrils flaring. His dark skin seemed much warmer in person than it did onscreen. The red tones in it caught the light so he almost gleamed.

“Hello,” James Corwin said, dragging the word out to two syllables and lifting his eyebrows with appreciation.

“Um, hi.” Kahala was relieved that her voice didn’t squeak.

Lawrence dropped a hand onto her shoulder. “I’m impressed again, Kahala. That’s the first civil word I’ve heard come out of this fellow’s mouth. Even if it reeks a bit of the chauvinist pig.”

James Corwin grinned. A slight gap between his front teeth marred his perfection just enough to make him convincingly real. He didn’t take his eyes off Kahala. “I can be nice if given reason.”

“Well I’m afraid I don’t have DD reasons,” Lawrence shot back.

Kahala bit her tongue before she could add that she wished they were just DD. Bra shopping would have been so much easier if Lawrence had been right about her size.

“Lawrence, that’s crass,” James said. He leaned in toward Kahala, his voice dropping and turning conspiratorial. “Don’t think I’m not a gentleman just because of the way I’m looking at you. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the full package, but I also enjoy learning about a beautiful woman’s personality.”

A thousand red flags went up in Kahala’s mind. This man was trouble. It couldn’t have been clearer if he’d tattooed the word on his forehead in capital letters and accentuated them with glitter. Unfortunately she could be as circumspect about this as she wanted inside the sanctuary of her own thoughts, but that didn’t help to control her glee at the movie star’s compliments. He’d still made her grin like a fool.

James winked, mischief pulling one side of his smile higher than the other. “Well? You didn’t sound shy when you were talking with just Lawrence a minute ago.”

“I’m not,” Kahala admitted. She saw his challenge and raised him. Surveying his body frankly, she allowed herself a wicked grin. “I can’t make a call on your full package yet. I haven’t seen enough of it.”

James liked that response, clearly. He moved even closer. His fingers twitched against the doorframe as if they wanted to move to Kahala’s frame instead.

Lawrence broke into the moment before she could see where it would lead. “Whoo!” He fanned himself and continued with high-pitched sounds of appreciation. “It’s gotten very, very hot in here. Almost as if you two are forgetting the full workday we have in front of us.”

Kahala blushed. She’d gotten so caught up in coming up with cool responses to James Corwin’s flirtation that she’d forgotten to act professionally. “Sorry.” Instinct told her to leave the two of them to their business, but she couldn’t see a graceful exit out of the cramped trailer. Whether she ducked left or right, any attempt to leave would involve an intense negotiation between her body and that of James Corwin. She stepped back instead, then looked to Lawrence for direction.

Lawrence drew himself up even taller, so his Adam’s apple poked prominently out of his long, thin neck. “Before you arrived, Mr. Corwin, I was in the middle of delegating loads of work to Kahala here. She’s going to take over dressing Miss Marin for me, all so I can devote the bulk of my time to satisfying your demanding self.” His words sounded light and irreverent, but Kahala caught a strain of sincere irritation running through them.

Corwin must have picked up on that too, because he scowled in response. “I don’t know if I want any more of your attention, Lawrence. That’s what I came to talk to you about.” He sighed. All the playfulness he’d shown with Kahala had gone out of him. He seemed tired and far less glamorous. “The studio’s leaning on me to be here, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’ll be professional, I’ll do as I’m told, but I won’t tolerate being made to look or behave like a fool.”

 

Buy Links:

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Ellora’s Cave
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Bio:

Annabeth Leong has written erotica of many flavors. She loves shoes, stockings, cooking and excellent bass lines. She always keeps a new e-book loaded on her phone and a paperback stashed in her purse, but her eyes are still bigger than her stomach whenever she visits a bookseller. She blogs at annabethleong.blogspot.com, and tweets @AnnabethLeong . Watch for her next contemporary erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave, Heated Leather Lover.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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