Saturday, July 12, 2014

Release Day Blitz: The Naughty Nine




 


The Naughty Nine Boxed Set 
Publication date: July 8th 2014
Genres: Adult, Romance


The Naughty Nine — Where Danger and Passion Collides


Included in this box set collection: 
* Stop in the Name of Love by New York Times Best Selling author Nina Bruhns
* Deathblow by New York Times Best Selling author Dana Marton
* A Girl, A Guy And A Ghost by Patricia Mason
* Everything He Never Wanted by Mary Leo
* Red Rock Rises by Taylor Lee
* Dirty Little Secrets by New York Times Best Selling author Julie Leto
* Sex is Murder by Rita Heron
* Saved by Lorhainne Eckhart
* Snowbound by USA Today Best Selling author Karen Fenech
* Secret Identity by New York Times Best Selling author Jill Sanders

Below are individual descriptions for each book

Stop in the Name of Love by Nina Bruhns

When an undercover cop must cozy up to a suspect’s pretty neighbor, things don’t go as smoothly—or seductively—as he’d hoped when she tells him she hates cops and wants nothing to do with him or his damn assignment.




Red Rock Rises (The Red Rock Series, Book 1) by Taylor Lee

A fiery former undercover agent, as tough as she is beautiful , fiercely independent, she is the Rock. Few see the vulnerable woman beneath. No one messes with Red Rock until she meets the handsome Police Chief.




Dirty Little Secrets by Julie Leto

Marisela's sexy ex lures her into a treacherous underworld of arms dealers, hit men & sinister double-crosses. Has she descended into hell or finally found kick-ass heaven? It’s the perfect setup to break her heart. Again.




Saved by Lorhainne Eckhart

Growing up I had dreams that one day I'd fall in love, marry & start a family. Then one night I was taken. I survived, escaped, I was saved. Eric didn't see me as damaged. He didn't see my baby as a monster. He protected me, kept me safe ... he saved me.




Everything He Never Wanted by Mary Leo

Billionaire, Antonio Milani, came to London to recover what is his: a rare, signed copy of Oliver Twist. Instead, finds himself falling for the woman he suspects is involved in an international ring of book thieves.




A Girl, A Guy and A Ghost by Patricia Mason

A sexy psychic private eye could help her find a ghost... or turn her into one.




Deathblow by Dana Marton

Former small-town football hero turned cop, Joe Kessler never met a linebacker, perp, or a woman he couldn't handle. Then a troubled single mom walks into his life, & the only place this hot jock will ever see 'easy' again is in the dictionary.




One Night to Kill (Seven Nights, Book 1) by Rita Herron

A military man must use his leave to play bodyguard to the General’s sexy daughter!




Snowbound (The Protector Series, Book 2) by Karen Fenech

FBI Agent Mallory Burke, injured and on the run for her life, is stranded in a snowstorm with a reclusive and secretive cop she's not sure she can trust but is falling in love with.




BONUS Novella: Secret Identity by Jill Sanders



Carter always had a thing for his best friend Eve. He hired her to boost his business & it’s never run more smoothly. When an opening presents itself, he takes a chance at happiness that could end up destroying their friendship.

DEATHBLOW
by Dana Marton
The worst time for a police cruiser to fly off a bridge was when you were handcuffed in the back. Joe Kessler braced as the Hummer crashed into the cruiser from behind for the final time and sent the brand-new Crown Victoria over the railing.
The two Philly cops up front—the driver Irish-looking, the other one black—yelled all the way down, “Hang on! Hang on! Oh hell, dammit!”
Joe and Lil’ Gomez, free-flying in the back, swore more colorfully than that as the car hit the Schuylkill River with a bone-rattling crash. Joe smashed into the metal screen that separated him from the scrambling officers, Lil’ Gomez on top of him, the kid’s pointy elbow slamming into Joe’s cheekbone.
God, he hated undercover work.
Then the rear end of the car slammed down, and they dropped back into their seat, Lil’ Gomez still swearing, the driver shouting into his radio unit, “Officers in the water! Men in the water! We went off the bridge!”
Joe pushed the scrambling kid aside. “Hey! Let us out!” He kicked hard at the door that didn’t budge. “Let us out, dammit!” But the officers paid no attention to him as the cruiser began sinking.
The river churned in the dark night around them, swollen from the spring rains. The cop in the driver’s seat jabbed at the window button by his side, his partner doing the same, grunting, hurrying to roll the glass down before the water could short out the electrical system.
“Hey!” Joe banged against the back door in vain; everything was controlled from the front in a police cruiser.
He glanced at Lil’ Gomez as the scrawny teenager beat against the glass on his side, cussing at the cops, his brown eyes filled with panic. Then the front windows were down at last, the cops tearing at their seat belts.
Oh hell.
“Undercover officer.” Joe gritted his teeth. A month of undercover work down the drain. His gaze met the driver’s in the rearview mirror, and he shouted louder. “I’m an undercover officer!”
But the kid’s yelling and the loud rush of the raging river drowned out everything else.
The ice-cold water was up to their knees in a second, then up to their chests. Ho-lyfuck. Joe had to catch his breath as he adjusted to the shock.
He twisted to kick the wire mesh divider to draw the cops’ attention, but the officers were focused on getting out, paying no mind to the panic in the backseat.
The car filled up in seconds, only a two-inch air pocket hanging on stubbornly under the roof where Lil’ Gomez was sucking air, quiet for the moment. Underwater, the headlights’ eerie glow provided maybe a foot or two of visibility; nothing but murky river beyond that.
Joe rattled the door as he watched the driver wiggle out of the car, then kick away, disappearing in the dark water in seconds. The cop on the passenger side was squeezing through his own window inch by inch. He was rounder than his buddy, but he heaved himself through at last, glancing back.
Joe banged his cuffed hands against the rolled-up window in the back, holding the man’s gaze.
Indecision mixed with desperation on the officer’s face. Then he reached back in, his dark hand barely visible against the car’s black interior. He pressed the button and waited three seconds for the glass in the back to slide down most of the way.
Then he pushed away and faded into the roiling water.
Joe grabbed Lil’ Gomez and shoved him out, then drew a deep breath from the air pocket under the roof. He grabbed the window frame and forced himself through, paying no attention to the skin he was scraping off, thinking only about escaping a watery grave.
His lungs were bursting by the time he freed himself, the car shifting as the water rolled it. Zero visibility. Which way up? The side mirror dragged against his leg from hip to knee. Okay, the car would be going down. He kicked at it for leverage and tried to move in the opposite direction.
He kept his hands stretched in front of him, palms pressed together, kicking as hard as he could, up and up. And barely made headway. His lungs ached.
He was going to drown. Shit.
The image of a pair of laughing, gray eyes flashed into his oxygen-starved brain, mysteriously beautiful eyes and the hot model who went with them—Wendy.
He refused to drown, dammit.
Kick. Kick. Kick.
He toed off his water-filled shoes so they wouldn’t drag him down, wiggled his body for all he was worth, his legs moving, scissoring without break.
His ears rang by the time he breached the surface, but he did reach it, the Schuylkill River filling his mouth with dirty water on his first gulp for air. He choked and tried again.


~~~~~

A Girl, A Guy and A Ghost 
by Patricia Mason



Giselle grabbed the knob and pulled the door open. Ry was almost on her heels as she darted inside. She ran into something that clattered and fell. Darn it. Cleaning supplies. She’d run into a closet of cleaning supplies. A small, dark, closet of cleaning supplies. Before Giselle could react and back out of the closet, Ry rammed in behind her. The door slammed shut, closing them inside.
Ry made a big, tough, inflexible wall pressed to Giselle’s back in the darkness. His breath chugged through his chest, out his mouth, and onto the top of her head like the air from an open oven.
“What the—” Ry began.
“We’re in a closet, Mr. Genius.”
“Why did you come in here?”
“I was trying to get away from you. And besides, I thought it was the ladies’ room.”
Ry snorted. “So you led us into a closet, Miss Genius.”
“Just open the door and let us out.”
“I’d like those photos first, if you please,” Ry said silkily.
“I can hardly lift my arm in here without hitting something. Just let us out of here.” The closeness of the closet started to affect her. Her breath shortened to a rasp. “Let me out of here right now.” Her voice had more than a hint of panic.
Her looming hysteria must have transmitted itself to Ry, because she felt him move. The inside knob clanked in a hollow rattle.
“Hurry. Open it.” Desperate now, she gasped. There was no oxygen in here. The closet must be sealed. They were going to suffocate. They were going to die.
“I’m trying, but it’s hard to get a grip from this angle,” Ry grumbled.
“Let me do it.” Giselle squirmed and wiggled against Ry’s hard body. If only she didn’t feel so panicky. She could be enjoying this.
She’d gotten her body about halfway facing him when she snagged her skirt on something in the closet. She jerked free and the top of her head impacted something hard.
“Ow. You got me in the chin,” he said.
“I’m sorry, but it didn’t feel so good to me either, you know.”
She twisted again and felt her knee jab him in the thighbone.
“Ouch.”
She stepped on his foot.
“Ow.”
“Sor—ry,” she sang. “I’ll try not to damage anything important.” Unexpectedly, the exchange left her a lot calmer. Tormenting Ry had dissipated her panic.
“Open the door already,” Ry said.
Giselle chuckled. Yeah. Ry’s distress made her feel a lot better. Besides, Mr. Meanie deserved it. Giselle brought her right arm around Ry and grasped the doorknob. She tried to turn it and push the door. The doorknob wouldn’t move. She shoved. No movement in the door either.
“It opens outward,” Ry said with a dry tone.
“I know. I turned it and pushed outward. It didn’t work.”
“Try pulling and then pushing when you turn it.”
Giselle pushed then pulled while turning the knob. The knob turned this time. Success. But then.
“Uh-oh,” Giselle said.
“What?”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Yes, I do.”
“No, you don’t”
“Yes, I do.”
“The doorknob came off.”
“No, I don’t.”
“I told you so.”


~~~~~


STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE 
by Nina Bruhns

“Lord, you’re good on your feet,” she said with a grin, catching her breath.
He chuckled. “And on my knees, and lying down...” He hardly recognized his own voice, it had suddenly turned so deep and suggestive.
She froze on the dance floor, and a deep blush started at the apples of her cheeks and spread outward. Mesmerized, his gaze dipped and followed the rosy stain as it fanned across the exposed swell of her breasts.
He met her eyes and slowly raised her hand to his lips. “My God, you’re beautiful,” he murmured as she melted into his arms.
The next dance was slow and romantic, and the woman he held was warm and soft. He wrapped himself around her and surrendered to the moment, drowning in the feel of her silky body under his hands, her curves pressing enticingly into him, surrounded by the intoxicating scent of strawberries and desire.
He wanted more.
Damn, he wanted her.
He knew he was treading on dangerous ground. He’d never been drawn to a woman like her before. He knew she’d want more from him than just hot sex. A lot more.
And for the first time ever, he was suddenly afraid he might want to give it to her—to try a normal relationship with a real woman, not a quick fling with some superficial chick who was only attracted to his badge or his overrated charm.
No, Mary Alice was different. She was genuine and honest and pure. Her quiet grace and innate goodness reminded him a lot of his mama. That alone should scare the hell out of him.
Not to mention the fact that Mary Alice hated cops with a passion.
How ironic was that?
Hell, no, it would never work. Everything was stacked against them. Bridge had no business toying with her, for both their sakes.
But dammit, he was only a man.
And the loneliness in his soul called out to him.
Once, just once in his life, he’d like to touch a woman who turned his hard, harsh world to wonderfully tender mush, and eased the aching in his heart.
When the song ended, he whispered in her ear, “It’s getting late. Shall we go?”
The only question was...did he dare?

~~~~~

ONE NIGHT TO KILL
By Rita Herron

Get drunk. Get laid. Get sleep.
Those were the three cardinal objectives of Sergeant Max Murdock’s next mission, and he was eager to get started.
After completing the most hellacious Special Missions Unit (SMU) assignment he’d had yet, losing three fellow soldiers, almost getting blown up himself and getting shot, then the intensive debriefing he and his team had undergone since they’d arrived back stateside, he needed some major R & R.
Seven days and seven nights of it.
Thankfully his physical injury hadn’t been serious. One night in the hospital had been enough.
But the scars from losing his fellow men ran deep.
Just the thought of a cold beer made his mouth water. And a nice warm bed with real sheets—the stuff dreams were made of.
But what he wanted, what he craved most, was a hot tamale in that warm bed, her hands trailing down his belly, her lips closing around his cock.
An orgasm without having to resort to his own hand.
Yes, in a few hours he would make up for all he’d missed.
Finally.
But first he had one last meeting.
The final obstacle to freedom.
But nothing was going to come between him and his time off. Nothing.
A minute later when he stepped into the general’s office and saw the grave expression on his commander’s face, he sensed trouble.
General Woods stood ramrod straight, his mouth set in an angry line. “Sergeant Murdock, an emergency situation has arisen. I need you immediately.”
His pulse jumped.A terrorist attack? Nuclear bomb? The president was in danger?  “Sir, yes, sir.”
General Woods’s hand shook as he sank into his desk chair. “A threat to my life has been made, and my daughter may be in danger.”
No national security threat?
Max frowned.  The general had military police to investigate and security details to protect him. Why would he need him?
Then the general lifted his face, and trepidation knottedMax’s stomach. No...he couldn’t be asking what he thought he was asking.
General Woods angled the photograph of his family toward Max. “While the military police investigate this matter, I need you to protect my daughter Willow.”
Max gulped. “Sir? You want me to be your daughter’s bodyguard?”
“Yes, Sergeant.” General Woods gestured toward Willow’s smiling face.  “You have excellent skills and are one of my most trustworthy men.  That makes you the best man for the job.”
Max grimaced. The photo showed a knobby-kneed teenager dressed in her private school uniform with braids and wire-rimmed glasses.  Her hair was a weird red, her pug nose dotted with freckles. Granted, she was a little older now, but he was certain she was still just as prim and proper and homely.
And probably spoiled rotten.
General Woods cleared his throat, but emotions tinged his voice. “Sergeant, I lost my wife a few years ago.Willow is all I have left. You hear what I’m saying?”
“Yes, sir.” He certainly did.
Max’s insides churned with the unfairness of the general’s request as he braced himself for more details.
General Woods’s cold eyes narrowed to fierce slits. “Nothing is more important to me than Willow, Sergeant. Let anything bad happen to her, let anyone lay a damn finger on her, and not only will your career be over, but your life won’t be worth living.”
Max’s jaw tightened, but he confirmed that he understood with a nod and a salute.
But inside he was seething.
If he denied the general’s orders, he’d probably be court marshaled.
But now instead of the mental and physical break he desperately needed, instead of seven days and nights of erotic bliss, he had to spend the week babysitting his commanding officer’s snot-nosed, geeky daughter.
What had he done to deserve this kind of punishment?
~~~~~
Secret Identity
by Jill Sanders
She could hear talking, but every time she tried to focus, she would slip back into the darkness. One voice stood out, however; it was constantly there. Its richness warmed her. She felt hands on her, cold hands. They came and went, lifting her, moving her, but she didn't respond. It was almost as if her mind was locked in a room, unable to respond to anything.
Finally, it was quiet and she slept. Then there was a bright light and she squinted as she raised her arms up to shield her eyes from the light.
“Eve?” The deep voice said just above her.
“Eve?” She opened her eyes and saw a dark haired man leaning over her. She blinked a few times, trying to get his face into better focus. Her eyes refused to focus at first; she looked up at him as if seeing him through a haze. Finally, he came into focus and she noticed his chocolate eyes hovered just above hers. There was a thick covering of stubble on his chin, and it was obvious that he hadn't shaved in a while. She ran her eyes slowly over the nice shape of his jaw and wondered how it would feel if she reached up and ran her fingers over it. His hair was messed up, like he'd run his hands through it. Would it be as soft as it looked? His shirt buttons were open and she saw dried blood spots around the neck.
She went to move, to try and wipe her eyes. “No, sweetie,” he said in the rich voice she'd come to know. “Don't move. Your wrist is sprained.” He held her other hand and for the first time, she noticed a dull pain radiating from her left wrist.
Someone else spoke from across the room. He looked up, away from her, to answer them. When he looked back down at her, he smiled. “Mitchell and Sandi are here. Sandi's going to go find a doctor.” She watched a tear slip down his cheek. Raising her good hand, she wiped it from his face. The wetness on her fingertips felt warm.
“Hey there.” Another head leaned over her. This one was blond and the man had sea green eyes. He too looked like he could use a shave. The worry in both their eyes matched.
“I…” Her throat felt sore. She cleared it and tried to talk again, but just as she opened her mouth this time, the doctor walked in.
“Hi, good morning. I hear our patient is up.”
“Yes,” the men said in unison.
“Good.” An older, gray haired man leaned over her now. His face was wrinkled and he had kind, blue eyes. “How are you feeling? Mrs. Taylor?”
She blinked a few times and fear crept into her mind. “I…Where am I?” She didn't know what to say. She had so many questions, but this one seemed to be the most important at the moment.
“You're at University Hospital in Chicago.” Then the older man looked up, away from her. “If you don't mind, I'd like to examine her. Maybe you can run downstairs for a cup of coffee?” She heard people leaving the room and the click of the door being shut.
A young, blonde nurse leaned over her now. “Here, would you like to sit up?” The bed began moving and soon she was looking at a small, empty hospital room. She could see her feet tucked under a large green blanket. She wiggled her toes and saw the blanket move.
“Good. I see you moving your feet.” The nurse smiled at her.
“Can you tell me, what's the last thing you remember?” The doctor flashed a light at her face and her head exploded. She shut her eyes and grabbed her head with her good hand. Pain spread from her left temple down her jaw, through her neck, and into her entire body.
“I'm sorry, dear. I know your eyes are sensitive to the light, but I have to check your pupils. Can you open your eyes for me?”
She shook her head slightly. The pain was almost too much to bear.
“Okay, we can try again later. Can you tell me how many fingers I'm holding up?” She slowly opened her eyes and looked. It was blurry, but she could see three fingers.
“Three.”
“Good. How's your vision? Can you see the clock on the wall there?” He pointed across the room. She could just make out a dark circle, but wouldn't have known it was a clock. She shook her head.
“Okay, that's okay. Sometimes a bump on the head like the one you took will play havoc with your sight. It may take a few days until everything is back in focus.” She watched him write something down. “Can you tell me the last thing you remember?”
She thought about it. The last thing she remembered. Everything was blurry. She was in a hospital room in Chicago. There was a dark haired man whose voice was familiar to her, a blond man named Mitchell and someone named Sandi. Looking up at the doctor, she shook her head, no.
“No? No, you can't tell me what happened? Or no, you don't remember what happened to you?”
“I don't remember anything.” She felt the bedspread under her fingers and gripped the cotton. She felt short of breath and found it difficult to swallow. “I can't remember anything. Who I am. Who those people were. Why I'm in Chicago. I can't even remember what I look like or my name.” 

~~~~~

SNOWBOUND
by Karen Fenech

What was that? Gage Broderick turned away from the frozen dinner he was nuking. Sounded like a knock at the door. Impossible. It was a blizzard outside, and he was in the middle of nowhere.

But the sound nagged. Ignoring the beep from the microwave signaling that his meal was done, he made his way across the rough-hewn plank floor of the cabin to the equally rough door and opened it.

A woman fell into his arms. Gage caught her against him as a cold gust of wind blew inside. Snow swirled in the air, the crystal flakes dancing then landing on the wood floor and instantly becoming puddles of water.

The woman was unconscious, wet, and so cold, goose bumps rose on Gage’s own flesh from merely touching her.

The last thing he wanted was company. He felt a surge of anger at the intrusion. He had an instant—a flash—of just leaving her where he’d found her. He went still. He closed his eyes. It was a near thing but he wasn’t that far gone. He hadn’t completely lost his humanity. Yet.

He lifted the unconscious woman into his arms and carried her inside, kicking the door shut behind him. With the door closed, the wind was gone. More than the absence of cold, the cabin was again quiet other than the sound of the clock on the mantel ticking and the groans and squeaks of the old wood as he made his way into the living room.

He placed the woman on the leather couch and checked her pulse. Slow but steady. There was blood along her hair line. He parted her thick, brown hair gently and found a long gash at one temple that looked raw, enough to hurt but not severe enough to be life threatening. He probed further, but found no other cuts. He thumbed open her eye lids. Pupils were normal. Not concussed, then. He’d clean the head wound, but that was no longer his first concern.

Her hair was tucked in the collar of her T-shirt. Oddly, she wore no coat. Her face had little more color than the white shirt. He had to get her warm.

The snow on her skin was melting and droplets of water glistened on her face and in her hair. He got a towel from the linen cupboard and gently dried her skin, then moved on, drying her hair as best he could with the cloth.

Tossing the towel aside, he made short work of one boot, dropping it onto the floor, but as he tried to remove the other, it held. He ran his fingers gently over her lower leg and felt swelling in her ankle. Broken? He needed to free her leg. He estimated that the woman had been inside with him for about three minutes. She hadn’t stirred in that time. Better that she hadn’t. The way her boot had molded to her ankle, when he forced it, it was going to hurt.

With her boots off, he saw that her white socks were soaked through. He peeled them off carefully. Her right ankle was swollen, all right. Swollen but not broken, he judged and on its way to getting one hell of a bruise. He figured she’d had enough ice on that foot, thanks to the snow. Nothing he could do for it.

Her jeans were wet. Her T-shirt soaked through. No help for it, he was going to have to remove them. By the time he’d taken off the garments, he’d broken into a sweat. Not the result of shifting her slight body weight the few times needed to remove the clothing, but from what had been revealed to him. A tight, sexy body now clad only in a lacy bra thing and matching bikini panties.

Gage rubbed a hand, that was no longer steady, down his face. Her underwear was also too wet to leave on and would have to go as well . . .

~~~~~

Saved 
by Lorhainne Eckhart


The Northern Arabian Gulf
There was a point right at the break of dawn when darkness parted swiftly, much like a curtain drawn open making way for the coming day. On a typical morning, this was welcoming, a sign of a new journey to look forward to, but for Abby, today could very well be the last day of the rest of her life. She knew it, she felt it deep in her bones, but she also had hope.
As she watched the bright orange and yellow reflection at the edge of the water, she wondered if maybe today would be different—maybe today she had a chance, maybe today she’d finally make it. She’d come this far against all the odds, so she needed to hang on just a little longer. She rested her head against the stiff side of the rubber dinghy and shivered under the dark abaya, damp and sticky from her sweat. It was so humid, the air thick and heavy, that she struggled to breathe as she stared at the miles and miles of open water, still with nothing in sight. She probed her tongue gently to the side of her chapped, swollen lips. She was so thirsty she’d do anything for a cup of cool water. It was painful, horrible, being so thirsty, because that was all she could think of. Staring at miles of open water only tempted her. How long could she go without water before her body started breaking down? The dew clinging to the side of the dinghy glittered like a handful of diamonds, and, like a starved woman, she licked it with her tongue and gagged from the saltiness. She dropped her head to the side again.
She was so tired. She’d lived in fear for so long that it had become her constant companion, keeping her on her toes, awake in an instant, as if her soul knew it wasn’t safe to sleep. As always, she felt it slice out of nowhere, the buzz that ripped through her, keeping her body and mind on the edge of sanity. She couldn’t rest, even though she needed to. Abby peeked over the side, her eyes burning into the shadows, and she squinted, wondering if she was seeing things. Was he coming for her? Was that a boat on the horizon? She swiped her palms hard across her eyes and looked again, and for a minute she stopped breathing, moving, but she couldn’t still the thudding of her heart. It had a mind of its own and pounded the walls of her chest so hard she thought her ribs would crack. She waited and blinked again.
“It’s just water. Come on, get a grip.” It hurt to speak, but she needed to believe it. Those brave words weren’t convincing her at all, though, because it was only a matter of time—and time was not on her side—until he found her. She knew he’d search to the ends of the earth to find her. He never let go of what was his, ever.
Abby had no idea where she was, as she was floating with no paddle. Being at the complete mercy of the waves meant just one more thing she had no control of. Each minute the sun rose higher, she could feel the heat climb. Out here it was so intense, rising as though someone had switched on a furnace, slowly building until it scraped her lungs as she struggled for each breath from air that was so thick and humid that she’d swear a knife would have trouble slicing through it. Out of nowhere, a sharp gust of wind blew from the northwest, rocking the dinghy up and over the waves, and for a moment the breeze was unexpected and welcome. Then the dinghy bounced faster, higher, moving through the water and crashing down as the water slapped the sides, awakening her again to the reminder that she wasn’t safe. Any minute, he could appear on the horizon, and there was nowhere to hide. Maybe that was why she didn’t think as she dropped down and curled onto her side. A burning jab poked her ribs, shooting shards of fire through her, and she bit on her lip, drawing blood as she fought not to scream. “Don’t move, stay still and you’ll be fine,” she whispered to herself and panted out huffs of air. Even though there was no one to hear her breathing, she was still afraid.

~~~~~


Red Rock Rises
By Taylor Lee

In the meantime he focused on the rest of her. Tall and slender, her body was as extraordinary as her face. She was all woman. Curved where she should be curved, and, Dameon noted appreciatively, some of those curves were downright monumental.  Her dress was a work of art. Its deceptively simple design made the most of her amazing body.  A shimmering drape of sea green fabric hugged her voluptuous frame.  Cut low across her breasts, it made no secret of the treasures beneath. The hem of the dress hovered six inches above her knees revealing toned, gasp-worthy legs that refused to quit.  Her strappy high-heeled stilettos added more alluring inches.
But it was her fiery red hair that had Dameon’s dick straining at his trousers.  That in itself was noteworthy, as he’d been so caught up in his divorce he hadn’t responded to a woman for a long time. And I was worried about my dick, he thought with a disparaging snort. No question it had risen emphatically from the dead, thanks to the redhead. Her long thick hair was piled up on top of her head, secured by a four-inch silver clip. Errant curls escaped hanging tantalizingly around her face and neck. Dameon’s breath hitched at the thought of removing the clip and freeing that fiery mass.
As captivating as her appearance was, her demeanor was even more interesting.  Although she affected an insouciant casualness, through his practiced eyes Dameon saw her wariness. She was edgy, uneasy, perhaps even afraid.  She glanced frequently at the door and then back at her watch. She looked his way and briefly met his eyes but quickly averted her gaze. Hmm, was she anxious? Or maybe shy? A woman who looked like she did?  It was an intriguing thought.
~~~
Jesse glanced at her watch, trying to appear nonchalant. Damn. Where was Raoul?  She hated standing here by herself.  Could she look any more out of place? She groaned silently. Bad enough that she looked like a hooker.  Obviously that’s why all these men were ogling her. She kept them at bay with her well-honed brush off but she could handle only so many at a time.  For God’s sake, had these yokels never seen a redheaded woman in a tight green dress whose boobs were about to pop out? God, why did she choosethis dress?  It looked tame on the hanger but added to her shoes and with a little make-up, tame was not the word to describe her.
A better question was why she’d agreed to come to this damn party where she didn’t know a soul. And one of the two people in the whole town that she did know should have been here fifteen minutes ago.  For the sixth time, Jesse reminded herself. ‘You came, girl, because if you can pull off this gig, you will make $10,000.’ Sweet! Raoul hadn’t batted an eye at her price. She chortled, the closest thing to a smile since she arrived. Guess a handsome Hispanic Club Owner with questionable ties to the Mexican mafia had different financial standards than most. Good.  Now if her tardy client would just arrive, maybe she wouldn’t feel quite as out of place.  Hell, her new profession might actually be fun.
That thought fled when she caught a glimpse of the brown-skinned man across the room. Damn, who was he? Gorgeous didn’t begin to describe him. His light brown coloring and features spoke to a mix of heritages. Latino? Maybe African-American with some Asian thrown in? His high cheekbones and chiseled jaw indicated there might be American Indian blood in the mix. His eyes were an aberration. A piece of the puzzle that didn’t fit. How the hell could a warm-skinned Adonis have cobalt blue eyes that gleamed from ten feet away?
His lazy stance didn’t hide his commanding presence. He had ex-military stamped all over him. Jesse stopped taking inventory when she caught his gaze. He was studying her through narrowed eyes. She groaned and quickly looked away. Damn, another bad boy.  She attracted them like ticks on a hunting dog. His quirky grin said he knew what she looked like without her clothes. Of course. Her damnable body. That’s all any of them saw. 
Jesse stiffened when she saw him approaching. His casual stride belied the power radiating off of him. Drawing her protective cloak around herself, Jesse assumed an indifferent pose. Her heart thudded so hard in her chest she was sure he would hear it. Refusing to be intimidated, she raised her chin and met him with a glare.  It was a look designed to repel the most intrepid would-be suitors. The easy grin on his handsome face confirmed he wasn’t impressed or intimidated by her fierce glare

~~~~~


EVERYTHING HE NEVER WANTED 
by Mary Leo

Despite his distaste for what she’d done, he immediately went hard gazing at the long line of her magnificent back, all her luscious curves and her naked butt. She seemed much rounder and with more delicious curves in the soft glow of moonlight peeking in through the sheer curtains on the window. Her legs were longer and more muscular than he remembered, but then he didn’t remember much about that night. Plus there was something on the small of her back, right above her sweet butt, but he couldn’t make it out. Even her hair had a much deeper tone to it, although there were dark shadows over the upper part of her body and he couldn’t really see much above her shoulders.
He closed the door behind him and stripped naked figuring he’d get the sex out of the way, then in the morning she’d return his book and he’d be out of there before breakfast.
An easy, sensuous exchange, one they would both thoroughly enjoy.
Within moments he slipped onto the bed and wrapped his arms around the woman who liked to play with fire.
As soon as he nuzzled her sweet neck, taking in her musky perfume, she said, “I sleep with a gun under my pillow, and my hand is on the trigger. I’m an excellent marksman, and if you don’t leave right now I’ll put a bullet in your head.”
Antonio jumped out of bed and was out of the bedroom faster than his thoughts could catch up to his mouth. “Wait! What? Holy crap, woman! It’s me.”
“Me who?” a voice shouted from the bedroom as Antonio stood in the middle of the living room, shaking from fear, his heart beating faster than a humming bird’s, adrenalin gushing through his veins. He felt as though he was going to pass out, but then he took a couple deep breaths and regained clarity.
“The house guest you invited.” He dashed behind the sofa, as if it could serve as some sort of protection from a screaming bullet.
An unfamiliar face peeked out from the doorway, the rest of her body hiding behind the wall, then she disappeared back inside the bedroom.
“That’s impossible.”
“Okay. Okay. I’m confused. I don’t know who you are, or what you’ve done with Jackie, but please just throw me my clothes and I’ll get out of here.”
His clothes flew out of the bedroom, along with his shoes, one at a time, without the girl showing her face. Antonio ran up the short hallway and quickly scooped up everything, but couldn’t seem to manage getting anything on. He was shaking too much. Instead he ran back down the hallway holding his things in a tight ball in front of him.  “Look, I don’t know who you are, but I’m a . . . friend of Jackie’s. She invited me.”
“How do I know you’re telling me the truth? You just broke in.”
“I didn’t break in. She gave me the key.”
He couldn’t believe he was having a conversation with someone who had just threatened to kill him.
After a long silence, the girl said, “What’s your name and how do you know Jackie?”
“Antonio Milani. I met her in New York. We . . . I . . . I’m here to retrieve something that belongs to me.”
“Shit,” he heard the girl say.
“Everything okay in there?”
“You’re that Antonio Milani?”
“Is there another one?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Good, because I thought I was special.”
“Don’t flatter yourself.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He tried to placate the gun toting lunatic in the bedroom, but he really needed to know who she was. “Who are you?”
Antonio’s potential shooter slowly came into view at the end of the hallway. She flipped on a light switch and he could see that she was wearing stretchy tights that showcased bunnies in various colors hopping down her legs, and a white tee with a huge bunny with floppy ears that seemed to outline her full round breasts. Her thick auburn hair was pulled up in a messy ponytail on the top of her head. Her empty hands were at her sides.
No gun of any kind . . . just bunnies.
He let out the breath he’d been holding. His shooter wore bunnies?

~~~~~


DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS 
by Julie Leto

Several skidding turns and rolling stops later, Frankie killed the engine, allowing the momentum of the car to propel them up the driveway beside his mother’s house. When he’d first hit town, he’d planned to take up residence in the tiny apartment above the detached garage, but his arrest changed all that. Instead, he’d crashed in some flea-bit motels on the port side of town, avoiding Ian Blake and his far-reaching grip. Instinct alone had steered him here with Marisela, to the same apartment where he’d lost his virginity to her—and she to him—all those years ago.

He fished the key out of the flowerpot beside the door and by the time he turned to Marisela, she’d kicked off her boots and jeans, right there in the open air.

Lust surged and he grabbed her, not thinking about anything but feeling her naked against him. They fell into the apartment, landing half on the bed, half on the floor. Before Frankie could remove his shoes and pants, Marisela lost her jacket and her T-shirt. For an instant, he spied the black holster she’d worn around her shoulder and waist, but the minute she crawled onto his bed, wearing nothing but pale pink panties, he willingly forgot about her gun. She hooked her hands under the lower rod of the cast-iron headboard, tested the strength of the metal with one wanton tug, then waited, her breasts round and tight-tipped, her areolas dark, her mouth slightly parted and still a blurry red from his kiss.

Frankie stopped, just for a fraction of a second, to drink in her illicit beauty. He tore off his shirt, but swallowed a grin when her deep brown eyes sparkled with appreciation. Not much for a man to do in prison but work out, and his last job on the docks had enhanced his physique. He wasn’t some scrawny schoolboy anymore—if he’d ever been.

“Jesus, Frankie. You look good,” she said, slicking her tongue over her lips. He loved her mouth. He’d always loved her mouth. How it felt pressed against his skin. How she could use all that hot, wet flesh to drive him insane.

Vidita, I could come right here, just looking at you.”

She glanced down at her own prone and posed body, then shifted into the moonlight streaming in through the window. “That would be a big waste, wouldn’t it?”


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