The heat from the heavenly flames seared my flesh before the fire consumed my soul.
There’s something to be said for lust at first sight.
Redd wasn’t looking for Mr. Right but Mr. Right now. But the moment Nikko walked into her bar she felt that first rush of need. She wasn’t shy about getting what she wanted even if only for one night, which was all her chaotic lifestyle would allow. Besides, not many men wanted to date a woman who worked in a strip club, even if she were the bartender. It tended to make them sneer. She didn’t know which was worse. When they found out she was part owner or when they found out she was a law student. That intimidated the hell out of some. She didn’t really give a damn.
Nikko wasn’t looking for anyone. His life was full as the senior associate at a law firm and he just found out he was being considered for partnership. His life was about to become even busier. Then something happened that left him shaken. What should have been one night of uninhibited pleasure became a weekend, then it became more. How the hell did that happen? And did he want it to stop?
Shaken is also book 1.5 in The Young Guns Series.
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Who is that masked man?
During the day Harper Reynolds might have been a law school student, but at night he was a male stripper. At the very exclusive members only Club Prestige. To protect his identity he wore a mask. But one day someone saw through his facade and suddenly the future he’d planned was threatened.
Nadya Johnson thought she’d always be a marine, at least for the next eight years. But a bullet took it all away from her. Including the man she’d been writing to for years. Someone she’d never met—but she wanted to see him just once. Even if he didn’t know who she was; and she didn’t dare tell him her real name. All she wanted was one night.
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A perfect moment can change it all.
Ever have that one perfect moment in time, when you know exactly what you’re supposed to do, who you’re supposed to be in life? Well, that had been me, and it certainly had lasted for more than a moment. I’d decided to pledge myself to God and help others in his name. Selfless, that was me and I was weeks away from taking my final vows. Then something happened, I met someone and suddenly I questioned everything.
I’ve always lived my life on my terms. Granted, I never thought I’d grow up to be a male stripper. But what the hell, I made good money and now, I had a shot at something more. And the women. Yeah, I loved women but they came and went. I preferred it that way. Didn’t matter which of us left first, as long as one of us did. I didn’t do attachments. Then something happened. I’m no saint, but I saved someone and wanted an attachment. Only to find out I could never have her.
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“Thank you again for coming, Lani,” Corrine said, giving me a quick hug.
“Yes,” Lara added, kissing my cheek. “Thank you. Love you. Feel better.” She squeezed my arm.
“I will. Love you too.”
“Want me to help you get a cab?” Lara asked
“No, I’ll just call one.”
“Okay. Text me once you get home,” Lara said.
I rolled my eyes. “Sure, sure.” It’s not like I lived alone. I hadn’t moved out of our parent’s house yet. I wouldn’t until I took my novitiate vows in a month, but I worked everyday and went to church every other day. Only returning to our parent’s house in time for dinner and to sleep.
I made my way to the elevator while my sister and her companions went in the other direction to one of the rooms for the strip show. Part of me was a little curious and wanted to see one, but the other more practical part of me knew I shouldn’t. Having a drink in a bar was one thing, watching the strip show, well something else entirely. Besides, the world seemed a little tilted. I stepped onto the elevator and leaned against the side to right myself. I’d just pressed the button for the first floor when someone stepped on. My head ached so much I couldn’t even glance up to see who I shared the ride with. I stared at the floor and could see the dark shoes and pants legs, the size hinted at a man.
The door closed, the elevator dropped and my body swayed but I didn’t fall.
The man who now stood behind me said, “Whoa!” He held onto my waist as though to steady me.
“Tha—thank—y…” Something was wrong with my voice. My words didn’t come out right. How much did I have to drink? The elevator door opened and I took a step forward to get out when the entire floor spun up to meet my face, but strong hands held onto me.
“I got ya.”
A male’s voice asked, one I didn’t recognize.
“Yeah, she’s fine. Just a little too much to drink.”
I didn’t recognize the one who answered either. “Na…” I wanted to protest, but the arms holding me up were the only reason I could walk forward. I leaned against his strength, depending on it.
I felt myself being placed in the back of a car. The scent of smoke and stale air made me want to puke. “Cab,” I muttered.
Hands reached across my lap to snap my seatbelt, pausing to stroke my breasts. Wrong this was all wrong. “Nooooooo!” I cried out.
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The erratic pounding beneath her chest had her pulse racing. Her body felt strange. A static charge started at her head and worked its way down to her toes. In waves, it rolled back up her body and left the center of her back pulsating. “What the hell…?”
Bewildered, Rayne reached back under her shirt, and brushed her fingers over her dragon tattoo. She vividly remembered when she got it. It was years ago in Hong Kong. On that day, she was a little tipsy, and feeling mighty damn adventurous.
As she stroked her tatted flesh, it thumped against her fingers like a heartbeat. Weird!
In the thick of her confusion, something really freaky happened. Time slowed down. Rayne turned in a circle watching everything in motion drag to a sluggish pace. After that, everything went mute. She couldn’t hear the sounds of cars driving by, or the chatter of the people walking along the strip, who literally moved in slow motion as they sauntered by.
It was like being caught up in some bizarre dream.
A presence… She felt a presence that made her insides flutter. She’d felt this presence before, in her mind. Could it be him? Demetri? Had he actually found her?
Nervously, she clutched the end of her shirt and scanned the area for just a glimpse of him. No one stood out. No one even looked her way. Was he teasing her, or was her mind truly playing tricks on her? “That’s it, make me even crazier than I already am,” she muttered.
Along the side of the street, a cab pulled up next to her. The driver, a middle aged man with a cropped haircut and a broad smile, stepped out of the car. He trotted around the vehicle to where she stood and opened the back door. Sweeping his hand through the air, he gestured for her to enter.
Without asking any questions, she slid into the cab.
It was a quiet ten minute ride to the beach. Still smiling, the driver helped her out, and then waved for her to follow him.
Her Adidas’ rubber soles dug into the sand as they trudged along the deserted beach.
Off in the horizon, a pale pink tint from the moon beamed over the small waves in the ocean and highlighted the grains of sand. They sparkled under her appraisal like a trillion tiny diamonds in the spotlight.
The driver led her to a small gazebo near the shore. Sheer red curtains covered the openings. Through the transparent fabric a chaise lounge sat in the center of it. On the side, was a tall bucket filled with ice, chilling a large bottle. Probably wine. Long metal torches on either side of the shelter added to the glow already cast from the moon above.
“This is lovely, but why’d you bring me out…?” She turned to find the driver gone. “Ohh-kay, Houdini, where’d ya’ go?”
A gentle breeze blew ripples over the water and pushed the curtains back, as if to welcome her into the cozy enclosure.
Swallowing hard, she moved toward it.
A deep croon brushed the side of her neck. “Do you approve?”
Startled, she whirled around and tumbled backwards. The heel of her shoe dipped into a patch of soft sand and she lost her balance.
A pair of hands caught her by the arms. She was jerked upright and drawn against a hard masculine body. Her breath came out in shorts spurts as his arms circled her waist. “Oh God,” was all she could whimper.
Deathly afraid to look up into his face, she clutched the lapels of his jacket and squeezed her eyes shut. Panic picked at her nerves. Suddenly, she realized she was holding her breath.
Breathe, Rayne, breathe.
This was no dream, or vision. This was actually happening. He’s here! He’s really here!
The enticing scent that made her horny as all hell swirled around her in teasing ribbons of ecstasy. She couldn’t help but breathe him in with every inhale.
His long fingers slipped beneath her chin and tilted her face up to his. “At your request, I am here.”
She opened her eyes and her next breath got caught in her throat. Whoa!
Jet black, wavy hair draped his broad shoulders, and framed his porcelain face. Mid-high cheekbones and a narrow-bridged nose added to the perfection of his features. Accented by a fan of thick black lashes, bright, exotic eyes that shimmered like the ocean were fixed on her.
Plainly put, this man was crazy hawt, a real stunner. Never in her life had she seen a man, or woman, so incredibly beautiful. He was unreal. Just looking at him made every muscle in her body tingle, every nerve quiver and her lady needs increase. “Demetri?” she whispered, giving into the shudders darting up and down her spine.
His plush lips curved up into a sexy smirk, enhancing his beauty as he slowly removed her shades. “Hello, Angel.”
A Kiss of Ashen Twilight Excerpt
At the sound of her name, she immediately turned to Jace. The look in his eyes and the subtle tremor of his hungry voice alerted her of what he really needed. Blood.
Right away she pulled her curly hair away to bare her neck to him.
“No, Ariya,” he said weakly. “I can’t take your life. I’ve never—”
I’ve never fed before without killing in the process.
She silenced him, leaning down to press her lips against his in a kiss. “I trust you,” she whispered into his mouth in a kiss.
I can’t chance it, Ariya, his words echoed in her mind.
Ariya remembered his words about the feed.
With the right person, it is highly pleasurable, but potentially deadly. It’s hard to put into words the heights of bliss one rises to as they are pushed to the edge of death. Unless they share the experience with me, apparently. Then they don’t survive at all.
She sensed him tense with her remembrance and a wash of fear fell over him at the risk. Despite it all, she couldn’t let him die here. She refused to stand by and lose another person. This was the only option, even if she had to force her blood in his mouth to help him stay alive.
His understanding was confirmed as she felt his cold, yet gentle, touch. His hand caressed her skin in reluctant movement as he reached out to cradle her head. Pulling her down to him, he entangled his fingers with her tight, curly locks and sharply sucked in a gulp of air before speaking.
“Ariya, please forgive me.” Jace gripped a handful of locks in a tight fist and opened his mouth to reveal his white, shiny fangs.
With a soft growl from deep within his throat, he sunk his teeth into the soft skin of her neck.
Pain shot throughout her body, mixing with waves of pleasure. Jace held onto her as he fed, taking with her blood not only energy to revive him, but her very essence that mixed with his own. It drained into him as he took more and more.
Ariya’s blood was on fire with a passion she had never felt before. Sensual pleasure shot straight to her core. She wanted more. She needed to have more of him.
Just when she thought her body was ready to explode, he released her and she fell back on the sandy ground with shallow breaths.
Jace’s hands curled into claws and his back arched as he released a loud thunderous roar. His body regenerated itself right before her eyes from a scalded, damaged figure to his youthful, pale handsome form. His breath slowed until he calmed as the night stilled around them. He didn’t waste another moment before rushing over to Ariya.
“Ariya—” He grabbed her arms and helped her sit up. Gently, he caressed the two puncture wounds he had made on her neck.
The pain dissipated under his touch and when Ariya brushed her finger over the tender area, she found it smooth, as if he had never fed. How did he do that?
“Jace?” she said, her voice weak even to her own ears.
“Yes, baby. It’s me.” He brushed his fingers against her hair, smiling as he gave a gentle laugh.
Sirens loomed in the distance and the spell between them had been broken.
“Looks like that’s our cue,” Rich said with a gruff edge to his tone.
Jace looked up at his Uncle watching them in silence. “Uncle, I know you don’t condone–”
Julian held up his hand, silencing Jace. “We’ll discuss this later. Come, you can rest at the Ashen Twilight House.”
Rich tapped Gael’s chest before gesturing to their waiting vehicles.
Gael nodded in response. “We need to clear out before the Mortal law enforcers show up with tons of questions.”
Car engines started up like a musical symphony followed by a succession of doors opening and closing. Jace scooped Ariya up into his arms and rushed over to a nearby limo where Rich held the back door open.
Jace froze as something dawned on him. “Your bike.”
Rich waved him away. “Uncle’s got it taken care of. Come on.”
Jace climbed in the back, settling across from Gael while he set Ariya down in the seat next to him. Rich tapped the top of the limo in short succession before climbing in to join them. As soon as he closed his door, the limo started on its way.
Ariya shifted position to rest on Jace’s chest as he embraced her. Wrapping her arms around his torso, she exhaled softly, finally feeling the weight of the night’s events slip away.
“She lived,” Rich said, smiling proudly.
Jace nodded. “That she did.”
“You know what this could mean?” Gael leaned forward, folding his hands while resting his elbows on his knees.
Jace didn’t respond and Ariya wondered what he was thinking after hearing Gael’s question. As he looked down to meet her gaze, realization struck him like the heat of the sun’s rays on his cold skin.
After tonight and the act they shared, Jace knew his immortal days had been changed forever.