Friday, March 6, 2015

Dangerous Passions: 12 Tales of Contemporary Sexy Hot Alpha Heroes *Book Blitz*

Dangerous Passions
12 Tales of Contemporary Sexy Hot Alpha Heroes
Publication date: March 3rd 2015
Genres: Adult, Romance

Dangerous Passions: 12 Tales of Contemporary Sexy Hot Alpha Heroes

  Cops * Navy SEALs * Marines *  Military * FBI Agents * Secret Agents

 Police Captains * Spies * and More
A Romance & Romantic Suspense Collections

 Multi-Author Box Set Anthology

    From 11 National, USA Today, & New York Times Bestselling Author's

It's Contains These Genres

 Action & Adventure * Contemporary Romance * Military Romance

 Romantic Thriller * Sexy Romance.

Add To Goodreads

 Kylie Brant

Five years after escaping from The Collector Mia Deleon stops hiding
 and teams up with security expert Jude Bishop to track her former captor.

 Jude’s efforts to help Mia are complicated by the growing attraction between them. Because their race to trail the sexual sadist brings Mia ever closer to the man determined to see his collection finally complete….

“Mia?”  He pushed open the door, took a step inside the small space.  The flimsy shower stall’s curtain was closed.  His hand rose midway in the air to open it.  Then he heard a slight sound behind him and immediately realized his mistake.  Cool steel kissed the side of his throat.

“I had a little time to think while you were gone.  And I decided that you owe me some answers.”

“Not bad.”  Jude’s tone, damn him, held a tinge of amusement.  “I wouldn’t have guessed you were that fast.  You opened the window, and hid inside it, right?  Behind the shade?”

“I’m the one with the questions, remember?”  Mia increased the pressure against his throat. He wasn’t taking her seriously, but he should.  There had been a few others in recent years that had underestimated her, to their regret.  Right now she was half convinced he’d sold her information to Four and the demon that had enslaved them both.  Paranoia was running high, warring with reason.

“I’m not fond of knives.”  The humor had vanished from his voice.  “Normal enough reaction, after someone tried to peel my face off with one.”  With the speed of a striking snake his hand came up to clamp her wrist, while he pivoted toward her.  Anticipating his move she pulled away, kicking his half bent knee while he was turning and danced out of reach.

“Nice move.”  The compliment was delivered with almost clinical detachment.  “You shouldn’t attempt to use a knife in close proximity with someone so much taller.  It’s too easy to be overpowered, and you’re limited by your shorter reach.”

“Am I?”  Her tone was derisive, her gazed fixed on his.  “And yet here I am, still armed.”

“Only because I’m more interested in eating than in hurting you.”  He started for the door. Stopped when she deliberately stepped in his way.

“As I said, you have some explaining to do.”

He spread his arms.  “You want to slice me up?  Go ahead.  Aim for a major artery.  Any other place and you risk the chance that I just take it away and use it on you.”  A moment ticked by.  She didn’t move.  “No?  Then I’m going back into the hall to get the food I left out there.  We can eat while we talk.”

She let him go because she didn’t doubt that he’d return.  Either because he didn’t take her seriously, or because he was that confident of his own defensive abilities.  Probably both.  Still wary, Mia lowered the knife to her side but didn’t put it away.  She wasn’t without defensive moves of her own.

He reentered the room, stopping to relock it before striding to the bed, paper bags in his hands.  She watched as he removed boxes from the bags, spreading them across the bed before he rummaged for plates, chopsticks, napkins and plastic silverware.  He knelt in front of the bed and nonchalantly filled a plate, as if used to having an armed woman standing near him, only degrees away from doing him harm.  Given his personality, maybe it was a common occurrence.

“There’s no way Four found me without help.”  Her stomach growled, a reminder that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  But she made no move toward the food.  “I was too careful.”

Jude sat on his haunches, plate balanced in one hand while he expertly wielded chopsticks with the other.  “You must have screwed up.  Left a trail.”

The accusation had her fingers curling more tightly around the hilt of the knife.  “Or you sold my information to her.”

He paused, the chopsticks midway to his lips.  “Why would I do that?”

Mia jerked a shoulder.  “The same reason people do anything.  Money.  Greed.  Sex.  Power. Pick one.”

“None of the above.”  He continued eating, working around the different dishes he’d served on the plate.   “You got complacent.  It happens when people are on the run for too long.  You must have let something slip to the wrong person.  Made a phone call that could be traced.  Left a cyber trail."

She could have told him that complacency and carelessness set in only when people began feeling safe.  Mia doubted she’d ever experience that particular emotion again.  “Seems a lot of work when all she’d have to do is go to you.  If you didn’t sell the information outright—and I’m not convinced you didn’t—maybe she hacked your computer files.”

He laughed at that, seeming genuinely amused.  “Not a chance.  And if she had she wouldn’t have found the information she was looking for there.  You think I leave evidence that I provide services that some narrowly focused on the law might consider illegal?”

He had a way of setting her teeth on edge.  “You’ll forgive me if that, coupled with your professed skepticism about my past doesn’t fill me with confidence.”

“I didn’t say I didn’t believe you.  Exactly.  I’m reserving judgment for the time being.  Forget about that.  All that matters right now is that I've found a fisherman who has agreed to get us to the Philippines.  With any luck we can be back in the States in a few days."  He finished eating, then disposed of the garbage before stretching out on the sagging bed.  “We have hours before we meet the boat.  Don’t forget to close and lock the window.”

Mia gaped at him, vaguely insulted.  He was sleeping?  With an armed pissed off suspicious woman in the room?   “You do appear to enjoy living dangerously.”

“If you were going to use that knife on me, you’d have done it already.”  He didn’t bother opening his eyes.  “And whatever doubts you might have, I’m your best chance of getting out of the country.”

Her fingers tightened around the hilt of the knife, but doubt filtered through her. Mia didn't trust any man, but she distrusted Jude less than most. He didn't have to like her. Or believe her. She just needed him to get her out of the country alive.

 Nina Bruhns


 A spec ops transporter for STORM Corps takes on drones, bad guys, and car chases on the coast of Italy—and falls for a beautiful scientist whose curves are far more dangerous than the road!

With as much dignity as she could muster, Linnea lowered herself into the passenger seat of the sports car.
It wasn’t easy. The thing was as low-slung as a damned dachshund. She wasn’t super tall, but she felt like a giraffe folding herself into the deep, luxurious seat. Once there, it felt really nice, though. And it smelled good, too. Like a new car.
It smelled even better when Darryl slid gracefully into the driver’s seat—good grief, how did he even fit?—after tucking her carry-on into the front trunk of the car. She recognized the expensive European men’s fragrance he wore, though she couldn’t put a name to it. She’d forever associate the scent with the elegant men in the hushed paneled elevators of the posh hotels she and her parents had stayed in during that fateful summer vacation ten years ago.
Surprisingly, the scent triggered only good memories. She’d been just sixteen then, shyly budding into her womanhood, and the European men they’d encountered at every turn had been charming and flattering, directing an undercurrent of sexual interest toward her that had been both flustering and flattering. Not to mention highly arousing to a young girl with dreams of being swept off by an honest-to-goodness prince charming. It happened in the movies all the time, so why not to her, too?
In the end, she would much rather have been rescued by a genuine hero than a useless prince.
A lot of her childish fantasies had been crushed to dust that summer.
But the smell of that sexy cologne took her body back to before that all happened. Against her better judgment, it got her juices flowing and her foolish imagination creeping into the kind of fairytale territory far better left slumbering in its stone tower high above the grey clouds of reality.
She’d learned years ago there were no such things as princes…or heroes. A girl just had to learn to do the rescuing herself.
She turned to Darryl and forced a smile. “Sorry I snapped at you, Mr. Bachmann. I was—” Worried about her life’s work? Freaked out by being in Italy again? Mortified by being so turned on by him and the scent of his damned cologne? “It was a long flight,” she finally managed.
He pushed a button and the engine roared to life as he returned a smile that actually seemed sincere. “No worries, doc. And if we’re going to be hanging around together for the next two weeks, you better call me Darryl.”
She blinked. Momentarily distracted from him calling her doc again.
“T-two weeks? You a-and me?” she stammered in disbelief.
No. That was not possible. She’d be a hot mess if she had to share space with that ridiculous body and that impossible cologne for more than a few hours.
“Sure. Buckle up, ma’am. Safety first.” He looked at her expectantly.
She stared back at him. “W-why would we be hanging around together?”
His brows flickered, and when she still didn’t move, he calmly leaned across her and reached for the seatbelt himself. As he grasped it, he said, “Didn’t they tell you?”
Fireworks were suddenly going off in her whole body. He was so close he was practically touching her. Hell, he was touching her. His broad shoulder was brushing hers, and oh, my God, his chest was pressing lightly against her breasts.
No wonder she was feeling fireworks.
She felt like Marvin the crash dummy. Her body was frozen in place, her muscles unable to move even a millimeter. Not even to answer his question. If it was a question. She wasn’t sure. Because that damned cologne had invaded her senses. And then he turned his head and was looking at her with a weird expression on his handsome face…that was actually more rugged and tan and windswept than classically handsome, which was, naturally, even more attractive in her eyes. And like Marvin, she could clearly see the terrible crash coming right at her, lethal and heart-wrenching and life-altering, but was unable to do a damned thing about it.
Somehow, she managed to pry open her mouth and croak out the words, “Tell me what?”
She felt the seatbelt stretch across her body, but for the life of her she didn’t know how, because he wasn’t moving away. If anything, his body pressed infinitesimally closer into hers. His warmth invaded her, making her shiver, and his breath whispered across her face.
“This is your test vehicle,” he murmured, the dark rumble of his voice penetrating the deepest reaches of her insides. Just the car engine, she told herself, though she knew that was a lie.
Slowly, his gaze dropped to her lips. Which parted all on their own in horrified delight.
Oh, God.
The seatbelt closed with a deafening snap. Her body jerked, brushing against his just hard enough there was no way he could miss feeling her pebbled nipples.
Her pulse zinged into hyperspace. Ohgod-ohgod-ohgod.
“Yeah. And I,” he said, meeting her desperate gaze again, “am your assigned transporter.”

 Opal Carew

Angel has been deep undercover in the mob for far too long. Four years ago, she was forced to betray the only man she ever loved. He barely got away with his life, and now he hates her. Too bad they’ve been partnered to work together. As man and wife.

He had to get out. Now. The thought sizzled through Frank's brain like a current of electricity.

while across the crowded ballroom the subject of his turmoil calmly played her game. Stunning

in her shimmering blue gown, she glittered like a precious gem in this setting of the rich and elite.
Emotions clashed and careened wildly within him. Was that really Angel? The woman he had once loved. The woman he had hated for four long years. He couldn't be sure.

He had never wanted to see her again and yet now he couldn't stop staring at this woman who looked so much like her. His mind screamed retreat while his burning emotions demanded confrontation. Frozen by his doubt, he forced himself to linger until he could determine her identity.
A waiter hovered by a circle of guests offering hor d'oeuvres, cutting off Frank's view of the woman. The room swam back into focus, and he damned the Bureau for forcing him to spend his first night in New York at this glitzy, shallow party. But they'd given him no choice.

Somewhere in this room his new partner waited to meet him. If the woman really was Angel…. He hooked his index finger in the collar of his white, pleated shirt and tugged. He didn't even want to think about the disaster that would cause.

All about him people tossed chips around and laughed, careless of how much they lost. The theme was Monte Carlo, the aim to raise money for cancer. Frank chose to observe. Gambling went along with his job—along with the requisite losses.

 The waiter moved, and he gazed again at the woman in the blue dress.

 At least once, he'd lost more than he could afford.

His gaze followed the curves outlined by the iridescent blue gown. So far, he'd only seen her from the side. She stood at the roulette table. Her dark hair, sleekly pulled to the back of her head with a gold clip, shone in the soft light.

Could Angel have tamed her riotous curls into a smooth coil like that? Probably not. His eyes narrowed. The graceful curve of her neck looked the same.

As she turned around and leaned over the table to scoop up the chips she'd just won, laughing, revealing the deep crevice in the dip of her neckline, his pulse lurched.

Surely the woman didn't realize how much flesh she exposed. Every man near her did, however. Because, just like Angel, she had a generous amount of cleavage to expose.

 It couldn't be Angel. The last time he'd seen her had been in Hawaii.

Hawaii. Four years ago. He'd gone to the island on a case, following the notorious drug lord Domenic Cavaglione. Frank's department had known something big was planned when Cavaglione headed there for an extended vacation.

Frank and his partner had been dispatched to keep an eye on the suspect's activities. Cavaglione had spent the first few weeks attending a few closed meetings, but basically biding his time.

Frank and his partner had cycled shifts watching their target and Frank used the dead time to work on his tan and enjoy the sights. He'd soon found a sight worth watching in the beach front cabin three down from his. Angel Tortina.

 He remembered the first time he'd seen her. With her long curls swirling around her shoulders, she'd been wearing a bright crimson bikini that made his heart pump triple time.

Her legs were long and shapely and she was generously curved in all the right places. With a figure most women would die for, she still maintained an air of sweet innocence that attracted him far more than mere physical attributes, though he couldn't deny that her body enticed him.

After all, he was a normal, healthy male.

He'd made a point of meeting her and for three weeks they'd spent time together, enjoying each other's company, getting to know each other. She'd been just an interesting diversion—until he realized he was falling in love with her.

Sweet Angel. His body had ached for her. So many times he had come close to sweeping her up and carrying her back to one of their cabins to make passionate love, but her delicate, hesitant kisses told him she was…inexperienced. If he'd had more time, if he hadn't been on a job…

He'd wanted to be the one to show her the ways of love.

 Then he'd found out who she was—and who she worked for. Cavaglione!

Even then, smitten as he was, he'd actually believed Angel could never be involved in illegal activities, that somehow she had been unaware of her boss' shady dealings.

Frank didn't want to remember what had happened after that. He'd been a fool! He'd never made such a grave mistake in his life. He was lucky it hadn't been a fatal mistake, not only for himself but for his partner, too.

A burst of laughter nearby dragged Frank back to the present. He grabbed his drink and gulped it down, trying to drown the bitter taste of self-disgust.

* * *
Angel knew she was being watched. A person couldn't get very far in her business without developing a special sense about these things. She glanced around and saw a scowling man thump his drink on the table, then glare into the liquid depths. Had it been him?

She continued scanning the room. She knew that prickly feeling.

 She stacked her chips in four neat piles. One white, two red, and one short pile of blue. She picked up a red one and tossed it onto the square marked fifteen.


That had been her cabin number in Hawaii. She frowned. Why would that come back to her now after so many years?

Again, she felt the prickle and glanced up, unconsciously fixing on the same man she'd noticed earlier. His expression neutral now, he stared at someone two tables over, yet Angel was sure she'd seen his focus shift slightly when she'd locked her gaze onto him.

His features were obscured by the dim light. Staring intently, she could make out an angular jaw, dark, wavy hair cut short on the sides and longer on the top, and eyebrows that angled up and away from his straight nose. He reminded her of the one man she'd do anything to forget.

 Frank O'Connor.

 But of course this wasn't Frank. As far as she knew, he was still in California. This man just resembled Frank. She stared down at her hands and realized she was flipping a chip over and over between her fingers. The croupier declared final bets before starting the wheel.

Frank represented an episode in her life she'd rather not think about. He had fallen in love with her and he'd gotten hurt. Well, damn it, that wasn't her fault.


You should have stayed away from him as soon as you started to fall for him.
Glancing at the ball spinning round the wheel, she sipped her wine spritzer. Right now she had enough to cope with in her job without worrying about a ghost from her past.

Her current task was at a standstill and her boss planned to bring someone else on to work with her. She had a very bad feeling about that.

 The clink of the ball into its final destination triggered a groan from the man next to her.

 "Fifteen. You won again." The woman beside Angel nudged her.

 Angel focused on the new pile of chips the croupier pushed toward her and started to sort and stack them neatly onto her piles. She glanced in the direction of the scowling man and this time their gazes clashed.

 Good Lord, it was Frank! She knocked down two of her piles as her hand flew to her chest. He started to get up. Panic flared within her. He was coming to confront her! No, not here!

 He couldn't!

 After what she'd done to him, how he'd looked at her with murderous intent the last time she'd seen him, she realized he could. And would.

Her heart pounded against the wall of her chest as she stepped back from the table, trying to ignore her roiling stomach. She'd scanned the ballroom for all the exits earlier, a precaution she always took.

 "Ma'am. Don't forget your chips."

 Her attention flickered away from Frank's intent gaze for a fraction of a second and she glanced at the croupier.

 "I…uh… Take them as a donation." She waved her hands distractedly.

 He smiled and swept them away from her into the house pot. "That's very generous, ma'am.

 Have a good evening."

 She glanced back toward Frank, expecting him to be closing the distance between them. But he was no where to be seen. She glanced around and saw a broad, tuxedo-covered back disappear out a side exit.


 Injured Navy SEAL and the critical care nurse he’s attempting to woo join forces to stop a terrorist attack at a military hospital in Germany.

Irish backhanded him in the chest. “I think you’ve met your match in that one.”

By the way Lt. McGee was shaking her pretty red head, Irish might have it right. What Irish didn’t realize was just how much Caesar had been working to break down the lady’s defenses. “Trust me, at this very moment, she’s on the brink of raising the white flag.”

“And her skirt?” Irish snorted. “I seriously doubt it. Wanna lay down another bet?”

“Sorry, I have to go. My future awaits.” Caesar took off across the floor, his focus on the petite nurse with deep auburn hair and emerald green eyes.

With her full, luscious lips pressed into a thin line, she led him deeper into the clinic to an examination room. All the way down the aisle, Caesar couldn’t help but notice the way her hips swayed beneath the flight suit that hugged her body like a tailored glove.

His groin tightened along with his resolve to have this beauty.

“Sit,” she ordered, pointing to the examination table.

Caesar hopped up on the table and spread his knees wide. The only way she was getting to that cut finger was to step between them. Still wearing his PT shorts, he realized the mistake that was. With nothing much to hold him back, he tented the shorts in an instant when the door closed to the room and they were alone.

“You really have to stop cutting yourself. This camp is full of all kinds of germs. Keep this up and you might lose that finger altogether.” She pulled a gauze pad out of a drawer, alcohol pads and a bandage before she turned and met his gaze, her own green eyes dancing with humor. “And the answer is no.” She pressed her lips together.

“How did you know I was about to ask a question? I might really be here to seek aid for my cut finger.”

“Uh huh.” She shook her head and stepped between his knees. “Two times in the same week is suspicious. Three times cutting the same finger, and that the injuries just happen to be on the same days as I’m volunteering at the clinic, is proof. You’re stalking me.” She bumped the inside of his thighs with her hips and sucked in a sharp breath, moving back quickly, her cheeks turning a rosy shade of pink.

So, she wasn’t immune to his presence. She just needed a little persuasion.

 Linda Winstead Jones

When a one night stand makes Frannie a witness to murder and puts her in danger, Detective Malcolm Bridger refuses to let her out of his sight until the murderer is caught.

The music came to an end, and they stopped moving. Bridger didn’t let her go right away, but held her hand and kept a steadying arm around her.
“Maybe we shouldn’t blow up the jukebox after all,” he whispered.

Another selection soon took the place of the slow love song, and the spell was broken. Harsh sounds filled the bar, and Frannie jerked her head around to look at the jukebox.
“That’s it,” she said, forgetting Reese and her lost job. Bridger’s arms fell away.
 He faced the jukebox with her, his entire body alert as he faced an unseen threat.

“That’s the noise my car’s making.”
 A man with a reverberating deep voice was repeating a short phrase, quick, choppy and harsh, the sound vibrating through tinny speakers. It sounded just like the engine of her ancient Buick.

Bridger relaxed visibly and led her back to the bar. “I don’t know a lot about cars, but I’d say that’s at least a five-hundred-dollar noise.”

 “That’s what I was afraid of.”

They reclaimed their stools, side by side. The place was uncomfortably empty without the chattering women they’d listened to all evening. Frannie played with what was left of her drink.

 It was melted, unappetizing, and she’d had her limit, anyway. But she didn’t want to leave. What did she have waiting for her at home?
She loved her little house, but there was nothing no one waiting for her there.
There were just messages from her mother and a little harsh reality, and she was in no mood to face either at the moment. An old man, the last of the night’s crowd but for Bridger and Frannie, tossed a bill onto the table and weaved his way to the door, waving over his shoulder to Benny.

“He’s not going to drive, is he?”
Frannie asked as she watched the man stumble, check the floor for a nonexistent hazard, and move on.

 “No,” Bridger answered.
“I’ve seen him around. He lives around the corner in that old department store they converted into apartments a couple years back.”

 “Last call,” Benny said cheerfully, and they twirled around to face him as he placed two fresh drinks on the bar.
“This round’s on me.”

 The jukebox was silent at last. Benny was turning the chairs up on the tables that were scattered throughout the room, preparing to sweep up and close for the night.

 Frannie didn’t want to go home. She played with the drink before her, stabbing at the frozen concoction with her straw and drinking nothing, delaying the inevitable.
Bridger was gloomy again, as miserable as he had been when she’d first arrived and seen him sitting there staring into his drink. Maybe he didn’t want to go home, either.

 They hadn’t talked about the shooting since he’d told her what happened, but it had to be on his mind. He’d saved lives today, but he’d also taken one. That couldn’t be easy.
She glanced again at the gun he wore. She liked Bridger too much.
It wasn’t just that he was pleasant to talk to, or that he was a great dancer. He had a kind soul, and she’d known it after talking to him for five minutes. She sat beside a kind soul in a six-foot-plus body, a guardian angel with a gun strapped to his belt, a man who could love a woman and protect her from anything.

 Two drinks and she was hallucinating. “Good night, Detective Bridger,” she said, a false brightness in her voice as she slid from the bar stool and put those ideas out of her mind.
 “Thanks for commiserating with me.”

 He mumbled something that sounded like “any time,” but she couldn’t be sure.

 “Good-night, Benny,” she said without looking back.
“I’m going to make a pit stop and then
I’m headed for home.”

 She really didn’t want to go home, back to the house that was small and yet too big for one person, back to the messages from her mother that she would eventually have to answer, back to the reality that she didn’t have a job anymore. She was at a crossroads, and she didn’t know where to go from here.

 When she came out of the rest room, she was surprised to find Bridger waiting for her. He was leaning against the wall by the pay phone with his head down and his hands in his pockets.

 As the ladies’ room door swung closed, he lifted his head.

 When his eyes latched on to hers her heart skipped a beat. Malcolm Bridger had cop’s eyes: eyes that had seen too much and never missed anything. How could eyes like that be anything but lonely?

“I can’t let you drive home,” he said softly.

 “I walked,” she said quickly. “
I wanted to show that good-for-nothing car of mine that I didn’t need it. My house isn’t too far. I don’t think it took me twenty minutes to get here.
” Of course, it had started raining on her when she’d been halfway to Rick’s. Maybe walking hadn’t been such a good idea after all.

 “I’ll drive you,” he said, never moving from the spot where he’d planted his feet. She had the impression it was a statement, not an offer.

 She was treading on very dangerous ground, and she knew it. She should play it safe, brush him off, call a cab, maybe laugh at him for good measure. Frannie Vaughn did not make a habit of picking up strangers in bars. She was a good girl, a cautious woman.
 Her mother had taught her well, by bad example if not design.

 So why did she have the overwhelming desire to walk into Detective Bridger’s arms and ask him to hold her tight?

 Why did she want to bury her face against his chest and breathe deeply once again?

Loneliness, certainly. Lust, maybe.

 She wasn’t particularly well acquainted with the latter.

Elle Kennedy

 Navy SEAL Cash McCoy knows all about danger, but when it comes to the love of his life, this alpha soldier does everything in his power to keep Jen Scott happy and safe. When the tables are turned and Jen places herself in harm’s way for her job, Cash must learn to trust the woman he loves…or lose her forever.

Would it be wrong to hit the man you loved?


 Besides, Jen didn’t really want to hit him. Maybe kick him in the shin, though. Or throw something at him. Because…had he really just told her she couldn’t go?

 As in, he was attempting to dictate what she could or couldn’t do in her own life?

 “Okay, just to be clear,” she said tightly. “You’re telling me I can’t go?”

 “That’s exactly what I’m telling you,” Cash shot back.

 Anger and disbelief twisted in her belly, making it difficult to keep the hostility out of her voice.
 “So you make decisions for me now?”

 “About this? Hell yes.”
He grabbed his jeans and yanked them on, his sculpted shoulders rigid with tension. “You think I’m going to let my girlfriend happily stroll into a war zone? No way.”

 “First of all, it’s not a warzone. And second, even if it was, how is me going any different from what you do?” she challenged.
“You put your life at risk on a daily basis!”

 “That’s what I trained for, Jen!
I went through years and years of training that taught me how to handle myself in dangerous situations.”

 “And I can’t handle myself?” she demanded, her skin prickling with offense.

 “No, you can’t,” he said bluntly. “You’re trained in self-defense, not in urban warfare.

 Central America is too unstable right now. It’s too fucking dangerous, especially for a woman traveling alone.”

 “I won’t be alone,” she insisted.
 “I already told you, the magazine is arranging for a military transport. And there’s a whole unit of US Marines down there training the local military.”

 “That doesn’t mean shit if you’re in a town that’s overrun with gangs and they open fire on you, or kidnap you, or kill you.”

 “We won’t be going into areas like that.”

 “The whole country is areas like that!”

 Cash snatched his shirt off the floor and threw it on, radiating waves of white-hot anger. But his response had left her equally infuriated. It would’ve been one thing if he’d calmly suggested they talk it over, but to flat-out say she couldn’t go?
 With no discussion?
Without even hearing the details?

 She didn’t mind a caveman in bed, but this was ridiculous.

 “I’ll be taking every precaution. And you know I’ve visited poverty-stricken areas before. I only do boring portraits for Today’s World, but I used to travel on my own, remember?”

 “The other places you’ve gone haven’t involved drug cartels and—”
 He stopped and shook his head.
“I don’t know why we’re even still talking about this. You’re not going.”

 Every muscle in her body seized to the point of paralysis. Jen could barely take a breath she was so furious. She stared at Cash’s inflexible expression as she struggled to control her temper.

“You have no say in this,” she said stiffly. “If I choose to go, then you can’t stop me.”

 She stuck out her chin. “And I choose to go.” Astonished blue eyes stared back at her. “
You’re fucking kidding me.” “Does it look like I’m kidding?”

 “You’d really put your own neck on the line just so your pictures can be featured in a lead story?”

The harsh words stung. “It’s what I signed up for when I got into photography,” she snapped. “I never wanted to be a bubblegum photographer who takes portraits of cats and babies and frickin’ fruit baskets! I want to shed light on real issues and make a difference.”

She glared at him accusingly.

 “You know that. And you always said you supported it.”

 “I do support it.” He glared right back. “But not when there’s a risk to your life.”

 “There’s a risk to your life every time you go wheels-up. Every time you’re deployed for months on end.” Frustration clawed up her throat. “I have to live with that every fucking day. The worry and the panic and the fear that I’ll never see you again—”


“Well, it’s your turn to live with it. I’m going, Cash.”

 “Jen…” A warning note crept in. “I’m going,” she repeated. “And as much as I would love your support about this, I don’t need it in order to accept this assignment. Nor do I need your approval.”

 Cash didn’t answer. A noticeable vein appeared in his forehead, his mouth set in a tight, angry line. He looked ready to explode, but Jen didn’t care. His high-handed, domineering reaction to this whole situation had seriously pissed her off.

 “By the way,” she said curtly. “I leave tomorrow.”

Gennita Low

 Navy SEAL, Steve McMillan, has been pulled from his team to work with CIA’s Task Force Two, where he’s assigned to deal with the “world’s most glamorous assassin.” Marlena Maxwell proves to be as seductive and dangerous as her reputation as the assignment becomes a game of cross and double-cross. Into Danger is the winner of RT Book Reviews’ Best Romantic Intrigue.

...Steve McMillan liked kissing women.

Which was not what he should be thinking about right now. He looked across the room at his target. She was a lot taller than he’d expected; dressed in black leather, she made a striking figure standing against the bar, calmly sipping a drink. She didn’t look like she was waiting for someone. Her stance was relaxed, her smile a little bored. One or two men had approached with interested smiles, but she had sent them away with a few words.

In the dark corner of the bar, he’d been watching her for almost an hour now, and her patience seemed endless, because she hadn’t glanced once at her watch or looked around at the patrons. She didn’t fidget with her dark auburn hair. She didn’t make small conversation. She didn’t smoke. Once in a while she would turn around and lean back on her elbows to watch the baseball game in progress on a giant TV screen above the bar.

At exactly an hour later, she finished her drink, picked up the small suitcase by the bar stool, and walked off. She didn’t look back, so she missed the appreciative glances admiring her long, leather-encased, shapely legs. Steve stood up and followed. It was dark and cool outside. He pulled on his jean jacket as he looked around for the woman. She was nowhere to be seen. He turned the corner, keeping to the shadows.

He was a trained operative. He knew not to show his training. So he allowed her to have the advantage for now.
Movement. Speed.

He was pinned hard against the wall, and a husky voice, whiskey-laced, drawled in his ear, “It’s been an hour, sweetheart. If you plan to make a move, you mustn’t make a lady wait.”

Steve angled his head sideways, and the light out of the windows was just enough for him to make out her face. Her eyes gleamed back, no fear in them. Her lips were temptingly close and perfectly shaped.

There were kisses that stole. And there were kisses that gave away secrets. Steve wondered which kind would persuade a hired assassin to reveal who her target was.
Her strength didn’t surprise him. After all, everything he had profiled about Marlena Maxwell showed a woman who knew how to take care of herself. What caught him by surprise was how his body responded to her. From his table watching her, he had appreciated her tall, sultry beauty, but up close and personal, the appreciation became a growing private interest.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, when he didn’t say a word. “Don’t you like it when a woman comes after you?”

“It depends on what she’s after,” Steve answered.

“Oh? Like what?”

“I don’t mind a lady after my body,” Steve said dryly, “but I do draw the line if it’s my dead body.”

She pushed an elbow hard against his lower back, forcing him to buckle against the wall. “Let’s not bicker over details. It would save me time if you introduce yourself,” she said, still in that husky drawl, “and I hope you don’t mind. I have to make sure you aren’t armed, sweetheart.”

Damn, but the woman’s elbow was sharp. The hard stucco of the building cut into the side of his face. “No problem,” Steve assured her. “Look all you want.”

She slid a hand into his jean jacket, checking for secret pockets. Then her hand glided down his chest to his jeans, obviously knowledgeable about the places a man could hide a weapon.

“Lower,” Steve suggested, reckless desire spurring him now, “and you might find something loaded.”

There was a pause. Her eyes looked into his for a moment, then she took up his challenge. And went lower.

J.M. Madden

 For the first time in years former Marine John Palmer has met a woman that makes him feel like the man he used to be, before his catastrophic injury. When a stalker threatens her, it’s his job to remove the threat. Why does the possibility of having his heart destroyed scare him more than taking on a killer?

The business was doing great, but he couldn’t help but be resentful that he was not part of the detectives out on the street. Looking down at his worthless legs, he was once again swamped with anger. As a Marine, it had been standard practice to run for five or ten miles a day. Now he was lucky if he could get his thigh to twitch on command. It was historic if he could get a hard-on.

Although, he thought with a slight smile, it was happening more and more often when Shannon was in the room.

The first time he’d met her, more than six months ago now, she and Mrs. Harrison had been kneeling on the floor going through files. Shannon had straightened and arched her back to work out the kinks. She’d been wearing a cute little pink outfit thing that clung to her lush curves, but she’d kicked off her high heels. The lust that had fired through his veins caught him totally off guard. For the first time in six years, he’d gotten excited looking at woman’s ass. Her legs were bare beneath the skirt. He sat stunned, soaking up her subtle beauty and the exhilaration of being turned on.

The women hadn’t seen him yet, so he cataloged everything he could about Shannon Murphy. Mrs. Harrison had said Shannon was extremely intelligent and would be a wonderful office manager, but she had not told them how exceedingly beautiful Shannon was, with her petite little shape and curly, dark chocolate-colored hair laying gently on her shoulders. Shannon was a good bit smaller than the older woman beside her, but curvy, and had a husky laugh that gave him chills. His own lips curled up in shared humor, even though he had no idea what she laughed at. Without conscious thought, he pushed his chair forward to get their attention.

Mrs. Harrison noticed him first, and pushed herself to her feet, then urged Shannon to join her. John barely heard the introduction as his eyes took in the details of her face. In honest fact, she was not classically beautiful. Actually, “cute” would more likely be applied to her mobile features and wide-set hazel eyes. Her broad smile started with up-tilted lips on one side, then spread to encompass her whole mouth.

He held out his hand and was entranced as she pumped energetically. Without blinking, he watched for any hint that the chair or his disability bothered her, but she seemed almost oblivious to the fact that he could not stand up to shake her hand. For the first time in longer than he could remember, he had met a person that not by word or deed made him feel like less than a man.

 Dana Marton

The only woman he could ever love, has a secret he could never forgive.

Bing drove them home, led the dog to the back, and snapped off the leash, then shook his head with a smile when Peaches took a leaping run as he spotted a squirrel at the back fence.

 “Thank you.” She grinned after the goofball before turning to Bing.
 “And thank you for the gardening. And the bath too. This is more progress than I would have made in a month on my own. I—”

 “I enjoyed it,” he said quietly, watching her face. She blinked.
 “You did? But it was just a lot of work.”

 “I enjoyed spending time with you.”

 Oh. Pleasure spread through her. “Me too.”

 She walked him back up front, feeling thrilled and awkward in equal measure. They stopped on the stoop outside the door. A half smile came to play on his lips.
 “You’re easy to be around. And easy on the eye. That’s a bonus.”
 He caught himself. Took a step back.
“I have no right to be saying that. I’m not in a place where—”

 “I’m attracted to you too,” she blurted, then wished the earth would just open up beneath her and swallow her up along with the wave of embarrassment that washed over her. She had no idea how to act around a man she was attracted to. She was pitifully inexperienced when it came to dating. He stepped closer with an intense, thoughtful look on his face.
 “We shouldn’t do this.”

Her heart gave a hard thud.

 “You probably can’t kiss.” Another step closer. “What does the doctor say?”

 “We never kissed,” she deadpanned. “Dr. Pratt and I are not interested in each other that way.”

 The sound of his deep laughter broke the tension between them. He moved a little closer still. “Dr. Pratt says intimacy is all right, unless the other person is sick.” She couldn’t believe she just said that.

 Why not put a neon sign on her forehead? DESPERATE FOR SEX.

“This isn’t going to work.” He leaned his forehead against hers, the skin-to-skin contact jolting. “This isn’t the right time for either of us.”

 His hands slid up her arms. “I shouldn’t kiss you,” he said.  And then he did.

 Holy heavens.

 He didn’t do more than brush his lips over hers, and her head was swimming. Her heart seemed to skip several beats, which gave her a moment of anxiety before she remembered that it might be normal. Things like that were frequently mentioned in romance novels. She’d just never thought it was real, that she could ever feel a wave of desire as intense as this.

 Bing slowly put his arms around her, drawing her closer, and suddenly her breasts were snuggled against his hard chest. Tingles ran across her skin. Then he nibbled on her lower lip gently, and her knees went weak.

 She lifted her hands to his waist, for support first, then they somehow slipped around him and moved up the rippling muscles of his back. His body felt like a work of art under her fingertips.

 A long minute of bliss passed before he eased back to look at her. She stared at him, dazed, then gathered herself.

 “I’m not like this normally.”
They barely knew each other, even if she’d felt an instant connection, almost from the moment she’d met him. He raised an eyebrow. “Like what?”

 “Brazen.” If that was the right word.

 He shook his head, that half smile coming out again.
“Think again. You just locked lips with the police captain on your front stoop for everyone to see.”

She felt her face flush as he watched her, conflicting emotions crossing his face. The half smile disappeared as he stepped back.

 “Don’t say it,” she blurted. “Don’t say it was a mistake, or apologize or—”
She wanted to keep that one perfect moment as it was, even if they never had another.His gaze darkened.
 “Apologizing couldn’t be further from what I’m thinking.”

 Did the air thin suddenly?
She felt like it did. He watched her with an intensity that made it impossible to look away from him. As if he was wrestling with an important decision.

Julie Miller

 A Marine whose soul is tortured by his mystical abilities puts his life and heart on the line to rescue a Plain Jane school teacher and her students from an archaeological field trip gone horribly wrong.

"You shouldn't be out here alone."

His voice vibrated across the distance, a bare whisper in the encroaching night.

 " Are you following me?"
He advanced on her, and Sarah involuntarily backed away as he quickly closed the distance with his long strides.


 She jumped back from his hoarse command. The flashlight clattered to the ground, and her hair snagged on something behind her. She reached back to free her braid from its entanglement, and Hawk lunged forward.


 He grabbed her wrist and yanked her toward him. At the same instant, he reached into a pocket of his vest and pulled out a knife. Not a knife. A sword! A wicked, twelve-inch killing thing that glinted in the twilight.

 He raised it above his head and swung it down with deadly force. Sarah screamed. She jerked her shoulder away from the sure blow and rammed into the brick wall of his chest. His arm trapped her there like a steel vise and lifted her clear off the ground.
She pounded with her fists and kicked with her legs, pummeling for all she was worth, frantic with the knowledge that he would attack her, desperately frightened to realize how much bigger and stronger and unyielding he was than she.

 "Sarah! It's over now. It's okay."
Her feet touched the ground and his shoulders curved over her, blocking out the rest of the night. His chest muffled her screams. Through her daze of panic she heard low-pitched reassurances crooning in her ear.
The arm that had cinched her to him still held her just as tightly but he splayed his fingers and stroked up and down the side of her rib cage, soothing her like a frightened animal. As the hazy grip of panic began to clear, she realized that she felt no pain. He hadn't stabbed her after all.

She gasped, gathering her composure as much as her breath.

 Her senses returned and she remembered the knife. The big knife. She angled her head back because she could move no further and slapped at his shoulder.
"What are you doing with a weapon like that here?
It's stupid and dangerous—"

 "That's better. I'd rather see you spitting mad than afraid."
She wanted to stay angry with him. She wanted to vent her frustrations, but his unexpected teasing undid her. She stopped her tirade and noticed his mouth, mere inches from hers.


 She caught her breath at the sheer masculine beauty of it. Straight white teeth framed by firm, thin lips. They were close enough that she could feel his warm breath fanning across her face. She inhaled the soapy, clean, masculine scent of him, tinged by the faint pungency of the insect salve he, too, wore.

 Sarah's stomach flip-flopped. An unusual heat sparked there and curled lower as a whole new set of sensations vibrated through her, every bit as powerful as her anger, but much more pleasurable.
 His chest was so hard, his hold unbreakable yet so gentle, his mouth so tempting. She stared at that temptation and discovered she couldn't speak. Her throat tightened with a customary clench of shyness. She damned her cursed inability to voice her desires.
She wanted to savor the rush of adrenaline coursing through her. She wanted to channel it in a way a woman and man could share together. She wanted him to kiss her. She wanted him to want to kiss her. And yet she knew he wouldn't. All she could do was lecture him. All he could do was put up with her.

 "You were backing into a web."
As if sensing her clouded ability to speak, Hawk took over the duties for her. Grateful for the change of topic that doused both her desire and her embarrassment, she relaxed and followed the inclination of his head.

 He twisted his right wrist and lifted his knife to eye level. Skewered at the end was a brown, hairy spider the size of two Ping-Pong balls stuck together.

 "Spider! Big spider!" she shrieked.

 She spun and buried her face in his shoulder. As hard as she had hit him before, she now clutched him tightly, clinging to fistfuls of his shirt and vest. She felt his arm flinch as he flicked the horrid creature into the jungle and wiped the blade clean on his pant leg.

He shifted his stance and wrapped both arms around her, catching her more fully in his embrace. He tugged at her braid, picking out the sticky white residue that had caught her hair. He bent his head and cooed into her ear, calming her with whispers in a language she didn't understand.

The ups and downs of the day caught up with her and she sagged against him, weary with emotional fatigue, grateful for his gentle, steadying strength.

 "That's it, honey. You're gonna be all right. You'll beat this like you beat those bureaucrats back home."

Karen Fenech

 Chemist Dr. Eve Collins, wrongly accused by the CIA of developing a chemical weapon, learns someone has set her up as a scapegoat. That “someone” wants her dead.

Eve left the Porsche and stumbled out onto the asphalt. She was still holding her phone and dropped it onto the pavement as she ran to the sedan. She reached it and seized the lid just as the dark-haired man was about to slam it.

 “You can’t move Richard’s body. Drive back to the nearest city and send the police.”

 What was the name of the last place they drove through? She shook her head in frustration. She couldn’t recall it. She eyed the two men.
“There’s a city about a forty minute drive east of here. Since you were on this road, you would have passed it as well. There’s bound to be a police station there.”

 The man slammed the trunk and turned to his companion.
“You’d better get going. I’ll be in touch.”

 “Will do.”

 The men acted as if she hadn’t spoken. Eve reached out and seized the dark-haired man’s forearm. Beneath the conservative gray suit was hard muscle. Instead of digging into skin, her nails bent. She bit down hard on her back teeth
“Did you hear what I said?”

 He met her gaze.
 “Every word. I’m afraid, however, that we will be removing the body.”

 She could see the promise in his eyes, and her anger spiked another notch.

 “Listen to me— ”

 “Dr. Collins—”

 “You know me?”
 She searched her memory, but could not recall ever meeting him. He obviously knew her though, and though he had yet to harm her, that fact unsettled her, reminded her that this man and his companion had been following Richard.

 Who were these men?
Eve’s stomach went as tight as a fist. Her body went cold with apprehension but she knew better than to show it. She crossed her arms and narrowed her gaze on the dark-haired man who appeared to be leading the other man.
“I asked you a question.”

 “We’ve never met. I’m John Burke.”
Burke indicated the man beside him. “This is Michael Lanski. We work for a division of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Burke withdrew a small folder from inside his suit jacket and opened it for her inspection. It was his picture ID. He replaced it, then repeated to Lanski, “Get going.”

 Lanski got behind the wheel of the sedan, and Eve’s heart thumped. “Where is he going?” she asked Burke.
 “Why were you following Richard?
What does the CIA want with Richard’s body?”

 “We’ll talk on the drive to Rowland,” Burke said. “Let’s go, Dr. Collins.”

 Eve narrowed her eyes on Burke. “You know where Richard and I were going?”

 Burke gave her a level look.
“Oh, yeah. We know a lot of things about you and Richard.”

 Eve arched her eyebrows at the cryptic statement.
 “What is that supposed to mean?”

 Before Burke could respond—if he’d intended to—Eve’s attention was drawn by the sedan. Lanski spun the car in a U-turn then, tires squealing, sped down the road. Dust swirled in the air where the car had been an instant earlier, and Richard was gone.

Again, Eve felt tears burn. She forced them back and confronted Burke.

 “I asked you what the CIA wants with Richard’s body.”

 “And I told you we would talk on the way to Rowland,” Burke said.

 The sun had lowered and dusk had descended. In the interval between day and night, there was a stillness, a quiet time. In the silence, Eve became aware of the hum of the Porsche’s engine. She’d thought the car was disabled by the accident, but Burke or Lanski had started it. Obviously, Burke intended that they leave there in Richard’s vehicle. Eve crossed her arms.
 “I’m not going anywhere with you, Mr. Burke.”

 He braced his hands low on his hips.
“Are you thinking to wait out here, hoping another car will come along?”

 “Oh, no. I am leaving. You’re not. I’m taking the car. You should have gone with Lanski.” Eve’s cheeks warmed. “This isn’t over. If you won’t tell me what I want to know, I’ll get my answers from your office. I will get Richard’s body released. I will find out why the CIA even knows my name.”

 Eve moved past him toward the car.

 “You aren’t going anywhere without me.”

 She glanced back at Burke. He hadn’t moved, but his eyes had hardened and she knew he meant what he said. He outweighed her by at least seventy pounds and topped her by a good eight inches. Did he intend to use physical force to detain her?
When she’d been on the job, she’d taken down men of his size before. Still, he would need a reason to insist that she accompany him. He was an officer of the law, after all, not a thug. She raised an eyebrow.
 “If you want to stop me, you’re going to have to place me under arrest.”

 Burke reached into a back pocket and held up a pair of handcuffs. Eve’s lips tensed briefly. “You have to be out of your mind, Burke. I’m a chemist not a criminal.”

 “You set the terms, Doctor. We are going to talk. If I have to arrest you to do that, I will.”

 “This is ridiculous. You can’t arrest me without cause.”

 “Oh, I have cause.” He leaned in close to her, and his voice lowered to a near whisper. “You’ve been named in a terrorist plot, Doctor. The charge for committing an offence against your country is treason.”

Stronger Than Sin
Caridad Pineiro


To save his family’s life, he must risk losing the woman with whom he is falling in love.

Jesse wasn’t in his bed when she walked into the room.

Closing the door and locking it behind her, she glanced around the large suite and noticed that he was out on the balcony that faced the beachfront.

Striding toward him, she stopped to put down the bag of take-out she had brought on a low coffee table in a sitting area near the windows and French doors leading to the balcony.  She had dropped by her parents’ place again, received another helping of her mother’s soup and other goodies intended to help Jesse feel better.

While she wasn’t sure that there was any medical basis for thinking the food might assist, she knew that mentally it did her a world of good.  It reminded her of her roots and the love her family had for her.  Something Jesse seemed to have lacked, which saddened her.

Jesse, she thought, staring at his back as he stood facing the ocean.  A strong wind was blowing westward, ruffling the shorter strands of his hair.

She hadn’t had a chance to tell him that she liked the change – the shorter hair and clean shaven face.

She wondered if had done it for her which caused a skitter in her midsection along with warmth farther below that he had cared enough to do it.

She had come to discover that about him.  Despite all the tabloid gossip and bad boy antics, he cared about others.  His sister.  Mother.  Possibly even the father that denied his existence.

Maybe even her.

She laid her hand over her fluttering midsection and walked to the French door.  He seemed distant, a solitary figure looking almost lost against the vastness of the ocean before him.

Not wanting to intrude without welcome, she rapped on the glass door and waited for his reception.

He turned, his face grim and set in sharply chiseled lines. They relaxed somewhat as he saw her, grabbed the handle of the door and slid it open.

She stepped out onto the balcony and he closed the door behind them.

The wind increased the chill of a day that was quickly fading to night.  Intense reds and purples painted the sky and the ocean had darkened to slate grey with the arrival of night.

“Cold,” she said and wrapped her arms around herself.  Even though she still had on her winter jacket, the wind seeped beneath the wool, which made her wonder how he stood there in nothing but fleece sweats braving the wind.  Once again staring out at the ocean.  The white of the bandage at his temple a glaring contrast to his skin in the dim dusk.

“Aren’t you cold?” she asked and patted her arms to try and generate some heat.

He hunched his shoulders, shot her a half glance.  “I wasn’t sure you’d come back.”

“I said I would.  I needed to see how you’re doing.”

He gave another shrug, seemingly indifferent except she sensed undercurrents beneath.  Dangerous ones.

“I’m here.  I’m alive.  Consider your obligation fulfilled.”

A self-defense mechanism? she wondered.  Push her away --push what he was feeling away – in order to keep from being hurt?

Only as she had discovered after pouring her heart out to Carmen, it was no easy thing to keep him at bay.  Somehow he had touched her.  Infiltrated those areas she had thought safe.

Trying to shore up her defenses, she beckoned toward the bag of food on the table within.  “I brought food.  I thought you might be hungry.”

Some emotion finally cracked the stern lines of his face.  A hint of a smile and glitter in eyes that had gone to slate grey. He took a long stride toward her, until barely inches separated them.  Laying a hand at her waist, he bracketed her side with it, sending her insides quivering.

Jesse glanced down at her, sensing the tremor in her body.

She was as aware of him as he was of her.  At his touch, her gaze had gone wide, revealing eyes that were nearly black with desire.  When she moistened her lips, the last of his restraint disappeared.

He bent his head, whispered against her lips.  “I’m hungry, but not for food.”

Then he closed the distance and kissed her.  Dug his hand into her hair while he kept her from running with his other hand on her waist.  There was a stutter, maybe a half-hearted protest against his mouth before she was answering his kiss, moving her lips against his.  Slipping her arms around his back to press him tight.

Over and over their lips met until Liliana opened her mouth and invited him in.

He went willingly, lost in his emotions, needing so much more.

He slipped his one hand to the buttons on her coat, undid them and eased beneath the wool and her suit jacket to place his hand on her side.  Her body was warm, the cotton of her shirt slick beneath his palm as he trailed upward until he was cupping her breast.

She moaned into his mouth.  Needy.  Hungry.

Unerringly, he shifted his thumb across the tip of her breast.  Her nipple was hard and as he took it between his thumb and forefinger, she gasped and pulled away from him.

“Jesse,” she said and disappointment arose within him.

But then she said, “The bed’s inside.”

Sweet lord, he thought, swept her up into his arms, somehow slid open the French door and closed it against the chill before stalking with her to his bed.

He released her, allowing her to slide across his body as she returned to her feet again.

So many thoughts went through his head as she pressed against him, reached up and ran her hand through the short strands of his hair.  So many thoughts that suddenly came spewing from his mouth.

“Bruno – “

“Is downstairs eating.”

“He may come up after – “

“I locked the door on the way in.” She raked her fingers through the shorter strands of his hair and gave a sexy half-smile, but it turned into a frown as her fingers encountered the gauze at his temple.

“They might have killed you,” she said, concern and anger warring in her gaze.

“They didn’t and I’m here, wanting you.”

“Why me, Jesse?  You must have had your share – “

He placed his finger on her lips.  “That’s in the past.  I’m not that man anymore.  Maybe I never was.”

Her gaze narrowed as she considered his statement, but relaxed as she said, “Fame didn’t change the real you.”

“I lost the real me for awhile, but I’ve found myself.  And I’ve found you,” he said, bent his head and kissed her again only the kiss was gentler this time, not as urgent, although his need was just as great.

She opened her mouth, sampled the edges of his lips as she moved her hands to his shoulders.  Shifted them across their broad width and down his arms to his hands.  Taking hold of them, she brought them to her waist and murmured against his lips, “Touch me, Jesse.”
















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