Friday, August 30, 2013

Bound by Wish and Mistletoe by Kat Bastion Cover Reveal

 Title:  Bound by Wish and Mistletoe
Author:  Kat Bastion
Expected release date:  November 4th, 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Highlander Romance
Age Group: Adult
Cover designed by:  Mooney Designs; http://www.mooneydesigns.net/
Cover reveal organized by: AToMR Tours; http://atomrbookblogtours.com
Book Description: 
Desperate to honor a life-long promise, Susanna MacEalan escapes her abusive clan with the fierce determination of never falling under the power of a man. Ever.
Aggravated by shallow-hearted pursuing lasses, Robert Brodie, commander of his clan’s elite guard, has foresworn scheming women. Forever.
When magick transforms Brodie Castle into a Christmas wonderland, the two despondent souls find solace in a most unexpected place . . . each other’s arms.
Amid a whirlwind of escalating events, Susanna’s traumatic past threatens Robert’s ability to protect the one woman meant for him. In a harrowing moment when all seems lost . . . hope, faith, and love prevail, transforming silent prayers into wishes granted.

About the Author

Kat Bastion is an award-winning paranormal romance writer, poetic warrior, and eternal optimist who loves getting lost in the beauty of nature.
On a never-ending, wondrous path of self-discovery, Kat throws her characters into incredible situations with the hope that readers join her in learning more about the meaning of life and love.
Her first published work, Utterly Loved, was shared with the world to benefit others. All proceeds from Utterly Loved, and a portion of the proceeds of all her other books, support charities who help those lost in this world.
Kat lives with her husband amid the beautiful Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Visit her blog at www.talktotheshoe.com, her website at www.katbastion.com, and her Twitter account at https://twitter.com/KatBastion for more information.

Author social media links:





Moonflower by E.D. C. Johnson Book Tour

 



Title: Moonflower
Author: E. D. C. Johnson
Published: March 29th, 2013
Word Count: approx. 73,500
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Recommended Age:  12+

Synopsis: After Josephine Wood’s father dies of cancer, her mother up-roots the two of them and moves to the city. Josie hates her city life, but her teenage issues are of little consequence when they have a car accident and she wakes up in a strange land (reminiscent of Victorian Europe) alone. Lost, with her school backpack as the only connection to her world, Josie struggles to find her way home. She is found by Lucius Conrí, the son of a Marquess, who possesses royal blood and the gift to shift into a wolf’s form at will. Can the kind-hearted Lucius help her find her way while winning her love, or will she fall for Donovan Conrí his older, more serious brother and heir to the Conrí wealth?





Excerpt from Moonflower by E. D. C. Johnson:


“Ok, puppy. What do you want?”
She spoke so abruptly and directly that Lucius wasn’t sure what to think. Was she expecting him to respond? The girl grabbed her bag and opened a small front pocket to produce a shiny silver rectangle.
“This is all I have but I’ll give you some if you don’t eat me,” a tone of sarcasm in her voice.
Lucius emerged from the darkness so the two of them could look at each other clearly face-to-face. Her eyes were deep brown. She placed the corner of the silver wrapped rectangle in her mouth as she let down her hair. Beautiful!
Lucius stared wide-eyed in amazement as her surprisingly long hair fell about her face, past her shoulders, and down to the small of her back. It was dark but not black like his and it softened her features. She was lovely now that he had a chance to see her closely.
He watched as she put away her hair jewelry and opened the silver wrapper to reveal some sort of cookie. She took a bite and then tore off a piece, throwing it.
“Here you go, Boy.”
Lucius tilted his head and raised his eyebrow at the idea of her throwing him table scraps. This girl was treating him like a common house dog!
“Don’t you want it?”
He stepped cautiously toward the cookie piece on the ground. It had landed on some grass and leaves. Lord knows I’ve eaten worse, he conceded. Gingerly, he picked it up with his teeth and chewed. It was surprisingly good. He tasted sweet honey, nuts, oats and berries. He lay down, resting his head on his paws.
“Did you like that?”
He raised his head again as she reached out her hand holding the rest of the delicious oat bar. He crawled forward not only to avoid scaring the girl but also in hopes that she would not throw the cookie on the ground again. Delicately, Lucius took the cookie from her hand and sat up to eat it.
The girl waited for him to finish and held out her empty hand this time. She IS treating me like a common dog, Lucius thought exasperated. He bypassed the pleasantry of sniffing the girl before allowing her to pet him. He licked her hand instead. She gasped in surprise and disgust which made him grin and pant with enjoyment.
The girl wiped the saliva off her hand and reached out cautiously with her other one. This time Lucius allowed her to touch him without reproach. He could see her relax instantly when she ran her hand along his head and shoulders. He hadn’t realized that he was leaning into her touch until she stopped.
“All right, Puppy, we’re friends now, right?” she said reaching for her bag. This time she opened the largest section of the pack and rummaged to the bottom to produce some clothing. He now noticed that her trousers and boots were wet. She must have crossed the river.
“It’s getting cold, time to change.” The girl unlaced her boots and pulled off her socks which she draped on a nearby bush. “No peeking, Puppy,” she giggled as she pulled down her trousers.
Lucius was astonished. He didn’t know where to look first. He fixated on her slender, cream white legs until he realized she was removing her undergarments as well. He quickly turned his head back toward the tree to give her privacy. When finished, she stood before him in loose fitting night clothes consisting of grey pants and a long-sleeved green shirt with white lettering.
“There. Hopefully that stuff will dry before morning.” Lucius turned to look at the bush again to see her clothing, including black undergarments, strewn upon it. Embarrassed at his behavior, he quickly looked away again. A gentleman would not intrude on a woman’s privacy.
The girl situated her boots beside her and laced up a pair of even more peculiar white shoes. She lay her bag flat upon the ground to use as a pillow and reclined.
“Too bad my jacket is still wet. It’s getting pretty chilly, isn’t it? Better than snow, I guess.” The girl spoke to Lucius as if not expecting a reply.
He grew concerned when she shuttered from a chilly gust of wind. He wondered what he could do for her. Lucius had nothing to give her here and he did not dare leave her unguarded. Shivering the girl turned onto her side trying to get more comfortable.
Lucius decided to do away with proper decorum and crawled toward her back. He didn’t stop until his body touched hers. He shared his own warmth which was plentiful in all of his fur. Lying very still he listened to her breathing while it slowed from quick shivers through chattering teeth to soft and airy through her nose.
He relaxed as well until he felt her arm reach out across his body. She started petting him, scratching his back. All of the hairs on his body came alive. It was the most exquisite feeling Lucius had ever experienced, energy running from the girl’s fingertips to his skin. He closed his eyes in his own private ecstasy lying there until she fell asleep and her hand went limp.
Sleeping next to this girl was not likely. He was all too aware of her presence, her breathing, her smell, and her touch. Lucius lay there, awake, keeping her warm until just before dawn. I must meet her, he thought as he carefully crawled away so as not to wake her.
His supplies sat only a couple of miles away now. I can be back before she wakes…and the dawn is breaking. There is little danger if I go now. He looked upon her, lingering for a moment and then hurried in the direction of his own camp.
Lucius would come back to the girl, but this time as a man.

Grab your copy of Moonflower today!
About the Author:
EDC Johnson grew up in the Midwest, graduating from Michigan State University with her BFA in Art Education and her MA in Art Education from Western Michigan University. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Palm Harbor, Florida. Her decade of experience as a public school art teacher has inspired her to write fiction novels that will entice young readers. You may see some of her illustrations in Renee Mallet's: Fairies, Mermaids, and Other Mystical Creatures.



Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
$25 Amazon Gift Card
Giveaway is International.


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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Playing Chase by Julie Prestsater Book Tour

Playing-Chase




An Against The Wall novella ...

There are many words that have been used to describe Chase Marino: cheater, backstabber, dirt bag, heart breaker. He earned those titles cheating on his high school love Shelly and his co-worker Summer. He broke both their hearts and knows it’s his lot in life to make it up to them somehow. But while the ladies intend to make his life miserable, Chase is pretty good at doing it to himself. With his dad around treating him like a frat brother rather than a son, it’s easy for Chase to beat himself up over the shameful mistakes he made in the past.

That is until Tiffany Gutierrez, the new student teacher arrives. Feeling an immediate attraction to the young beauty Chase does everything in his power to fight it and do the right thing for once. But when Tiffany shows the attraction is mutual all bets are off. Chase soon realizes that while he’s teaching Tiffany how to be a good teacher, he’s learning a thing or two from her as well. Maybe it’s time to move on and let go of the past and realize that he may just deserve a real shot at love.

Amazon Barnes & Noble

Review:
If a guy can manage to take bad advice and follow through ruining his relationships, his name is Chase Marino.  After yet another ruined relationship, he finds that the last three women in his life want revenge and have setup an online account with blind dates that would set your hair on end.  

Chase is wallowing until he meets student teacher Tiffany Guiterrez who is a bit of an enigma with her stodgy appearance and rigid exterior.  It doesn't take long to realize there is more to Tiffany than what you see and he finds himself falling hard, except he has three pissed off women who seem intent on getting in his way.

I liked this, it was humorous, charming and had me smiling all the way until the very end.  This is a perfect end of summer, pick up your feet and enjoy the weather read.  


About Julie:
Julie is a high school teacher by day, and a writer by night. She writes both young adult and adult romances. When she's not writing, she can be found out and about with her family, reading, and watching football. As a reading intervention teacher, she prides herself on matching her students with great books to encourage them to become life-long readers.   Visit Julie at her website http://juliepbooks.com/   Follow Julie on Twitter @juliepbooks







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Tour Schedule

Seduce by Missy Johnson Book Blitz





Seduce by Missy Johnson
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:
Twenty-five year old Jack Falcon doesn’t do relationships, and why would he when he has woman after woman literally throwing themselves at him? For Jack, life is perfect just the way it is. He works hard and he plays harder.

Jack’s life changes when he meets Belle. Unlike any woman he’s ever met, there is something about this girl that makes him unable to keep away, something beyond the youthful beauty and her innocent spirit. Belle is strong and independent, a big leap from the usual brainless chicks he tends to attract.

Jack begins a dangerous game. He is determined to seduce Belle, and without realizing it, his feelings for her develop beyond anything he has ever felt before. Things become complicated when he learns there are good reasons as to why he should stay the hell away from her.

How can you stay away from someone you want to spend every waking minute with? And what do you do when you know eventually you will destroy that person?

As their feelings for each other deepen, Jack struggles with his own internal demons which threaten to rip them apart. Jack is torn between following his heart and listening to his head, which keeps telling him he is not good enough for her. She deserves better than what he can give her.

How far will he push before they both fall over the edge?


Purchase:


Excerpt :
“Come here,” I said to her, motioning towards my face. She moved in for a kiss, and I laughed. “Not those lips,” I said with a cheeky grin. She giggled and positioned herself just above my face.
“It’s okay,” I said, sensing her hesitation. “Just lower yourself down onto me.” She obliged, gasping as my mouth settled on her lips.
“Oh God,” she gasped as I moved my tongue inside of her. I loved the sweet taste of her pussy, especially when it was so wet and tight for me. My tongue circled around her clit, gently nibbling and sucking. She screamed as the muscles in her thighs tensed, indicating she wasn’t far away. I thrust my tongue faster while my finger massaged her clit.
“Fuck, yes, Jack! Fuck, fuck,” she yelled as her body spasmed. “Stop, oh god, stop,” she whimpered. She lifted herself off my face so she was lying on top of me, her mouth next to mine. I grabbed her hair and pushed her lips onto mine, kissing her hungrily.
“Can you taste how sweet you are,” I muttered, my tongue circling hers. She whimpered, as though she was unable to get enough. Eventually she pulled away, her head resting on my chest.



----

AUTHOR BIO:
Missy lives in a small town in Central Victoria with her husband, and her confused pets (a dog who think she’s a cat, a cat who thinks he’s a dog…you get the picture).

When she’s not writing, she can usually be found looking for something to read.

Author links:



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Awakening Foster Kelly by Cara Rosalie Olsen

Awakening Foster KellyAwakening Foster Kelly by Cara Rosalie Olsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Foster Kelly is that awkward girl you knew or were in high school. She is constantly teeter tottering in her life, either in her thoughts or her affinity for clumsiness make an appearance in her day to day life. After a particularly mortifying moment, Foster again feels a little lost when it comes to Dominic. After a rough start though they become friends of sorts but the more they spend time together it builds into something more special and quite unique. Throw in a protective and outspoken friend as well as a variety of other interesting characters and you have a really well written book.

Without divulging too much of the story line, you have to know that Foster quickly burrows her way into your heart. She is vulnerable, quirky, shy, clumsy and I have to say I shed a couple of tears while getting to know her. This story is meant to be savored,each page is rich with details and a story that transforms into something quite special. Excellent read.

View all my reviews

Beauty Bites by Mary Hughes Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

Beauty-Bites (2)

BEAUTY BITES Blurb:
Beauty Bites (Biting Love Book 6)
Beauty is skin deep…but the beast goes all the way.

When top Minneapolis ad man Ric Holiday is asked to design a campaign for a quaint little town, his first reaction is absolutely not. Meiers Corners is too near Chicago, home of the vampire who turned him as an orphaned boy. 

Then the city sends an angel-faced med student with a body made for sin to plead their case. Synnove Byornsson is the ray of sunshine Ric hasn’t felt since he was human.

Armed with determination and a micro miniskirt, Synnove is prepared to crash Holiday’s penthouse cocktail party—and to dislike him on sight. But Mr. All-Style-No-Substance turns out to have a deadly smile, a barely restrained, feral strength, and piercing blue eyes that look at her—not at her cleavage.

Unfortunately Synnove has competition in the form of a sly temptress with a counterproposal. For the first time in her life, Synnove must cash in her genetic lottery ticket and fire back with some sizzle of her own—or her beloved Meiers Corners could become the new Sin City.

Warning: Contains a doctor with a bod for sin, an ad exec with a chip on his shoulder, sarcasm, sex, and a cabin full of annoying friends. Secrets are revealed. One heart-stopping, horrific moment leads to the ultimate of happily-ever-afters.



Excerpt:
It was all fun and games until the gun hit my skull.

Thud. A bright pain cracked in my brain, telling me the mountainous hostage-taker had brought his own weapon to bear.

Almost immediately something heavy plowed into us, spinning me away from the gun. I staggered to a stop.

My sight cleared to Ric, wrestling the mountain.

The big goon seized Ric with one arm, hugging him close like he was going to give him noogies. But the gun in his noogie hand made reality more chilling.

Ric shimmered, and suddenly the mountain was holding a cloud of mist. 

Vampire fighting technique? I cheered before it occurred to me to wonder why Ric hadn’t used it before and why the shadowman helping us hadn’t used it at all.

The edge of Ric’s mist caught a stray beam of sunlight. It instantly combusted—poof. My elation turned to horror.

Ric snapped back into being like a rubber band. His cheek was seared open, exposing red muscle surrounded by blackened, bubbling skin. But he lost no time raising his bound hands, swinging, and whacked the bad guy’s head with fists like a mallet.

The mountain swayed but didn’t go down. Ric spun, once, twice, winding up his whole body behind it, and whacked him again.

Still the guy didn’t go down. My heart tripped double time. The mountain swept his gun toward Ric.

I leaped at them. Went oof when I hit the shadow’s arm, stuck out like a bar. I folded over it like a cheap towel and staggered back.

Ric slid into the rifle.

The mountainous goon opened fire as Ric knocked the gun to the side—the side where the ogre-like head hostage-taker stood.

Ogre Face ducked and covered. A spray of bullets rat-a-tat-tatted a line where his head had been.

Ric chopped his forearms across the mountain’s right wrist. The mountain howled, both arms flying up in defense, right hand dangling with a protruding lump at the wrist presenting as broken. The gun fell to hang from its clip. The mountain groped for it with his left hand.

Ric grabbed the big man’s balls.

The guy shrieked. Ric wrenched. The mountain dropped, curling on the floor like a shrimp. Apparently Ric also had a grip like a nut crusher.

“Stop!”

I whipped around. Ogre Face pointed his gun at my head. He rasped, “You’re dead.”

Terror burned that instant into my head like a snapshot. I stood facing the ogre. About ten feet separated us. Behind me was the hostage-lined bank of windows, the shadowman already running toward them. A few feet to my right, the mountain goon curled on the floor, Ric breathing deeply over him.

Both Ric and I were too far away to stop the ogre from shooting.

“Down!” The shadowman pushed hostages to the floor, starting with the ones in Ogre Face’s direct line of fire. Well, if you didn’t count me.

Ric leaped.

My knees started to bend.

Ogre Face pulled the trigger.

Ric wouldn’t hit him in time, even though he’d leaped before the ogre pulled the trigger.

The gun went off.

----------------------------------------------

I turned.

Ric Holiday in his full sizzling glory was right on top of me.

I stepped back, spine hitting the edge of the elevator shaft. My nipples reached out as if trying to stay in touch. *The erection of the mammary papilla is due to muscle contraction, like the pilomotor reflex which causes goose bumps*—Stupid nipples. “What do you want?” I spoke a bit sharply, but his heat and heady scent had goosed my frustration into borderline rudeness. I flushed but held my place. Well, fused against the corner of the shaft, I had to.

He stared down into my eyes, his own frustrated too. “I want to explain.”

“You made it clear enough. Me and Camille at the O.K. Corral, one week from today.” I looked away. The elevator was leaving.

“Synnove.” He slid two strong fingers under my chin and urged my face back to him. The blue had softened. “I’m sorry.”

“Why? There’s worse?” I scowled, but I had to work at it. Why did he have to be so gorgeous? Why did his fingers have to be so gentle, so warm? “You’re going to make us bikini mud wrestle?”

“Ouch.” He smiled slightly. “I deserve that.”

“No,” I grumped. “You don’t. But you’re getting it anyway.”

The grin slowly widened, making his whole face edible. “The vaunted Byornsson honesty. I’m beginning to see the advantages.”

And I was beginning to see the advantages of hot sexy sizzle. But no way I was admitting that to him. Not lying, just omission, which is not a lie. Mostly.
When my lips parted to say something that was not a lie and definitely wasn’t about how sexy he was, his eyes darkened. “Shh.”

He replaced the two fingers on my chin with two cupping hands, holding my face gently, like it was something precious. Like I was precious.

My lips stayed parted but no words came out.

In that moment of silence, he lowered his head. Slowly, so I could have stopped him.

Should have stopped him.

Did not want to.

*He’s nothing but image.*

*Image and intense pleasure.*

*The lips have one of the highest density of nerve endings in the body…*

*Argh. Shut up and kiss him.*

While I was arguing with myself his warm mouth settled on mine, tongue sliding deftly between my lips. It rasped my sensitive skin, rubbing my lips awake like a thorough toweling. A steamed towel, hot and wet.

Confused feelings fled. I gave a little moan and opened wider.

He swept inside, all spice and heat. He groaned, a sound of masculine hunger. His questing mouth, his hot kiss, said lust plain and clear. Yet his hands were tender on my face, his sweet caress speaking of something beyond sex, a closeness that transcended the physical.

Happiness blossomed in my heart. Our groans were intertwined, mutual. For this one moment, the battle was suspended and we were on the same side.
His fingers tunneled into my hair, holding me firmly while his tongue drove deeper. He pressed closer yet, pinning me to the edge of the elevator shaft with his body, imprinting me with every muscle, every bulge, every place he was hard and primitive under his worsted.

I rippled against him and moaned softly in response. If he could generate this kind of pressure standing, how would the weight of his body feel, pressing me into a mattress?

At the thought I nearly exploded.

He shifted me, his powerful hands urging me away from where the corner of the elevator was digging into my spine and guiding me onto the wall. There he pressed me into vinyl wallpaper and kissed me like he was starving for me. The honest hunger in his kiss undid me. I grabbed his head and kissed him back with everything I had.

A big hand slid up my ribs, sparking a trail of heat, stopping under my breast. The mound throbbed, waiting, wanting, yearning for that hot hand to slide up the curve, to touch my delicate and private flesh. To brand it as his own. My soft moans shortened to whimpers, and I arched to thrust my breast more fully into his hand.

A deep rumbling started, a lion’s purr. His hand moved, fingers barely brushing the bottom curve. I stopped breathing. His fingers skimmed higher, circling nearer, nearer to the hardening tip. I twitched in anticipation, greedy for his touch on sensitive flesh barely covered by a thin blouse and the wispiest scallop of lace. Bless Twyla’s endless supply of sexy bras.

Finally, finally his thumb scraped my nipple. I shrieked into his mouth, jerking against him. My nipple furled instantly, wordlessly urging him again, more, now.

He opened his hand and covered my breast, his heat searing. Slotting the nipple between two fingers, he began to pump and tug gently, rhythmically squeezing, pulling. I thought I’d go insane from the sweet soft tugging.

Until he replaced the hand with his mouth.

His lips closed on my erect nipple through thin blouse and bra, breath wetting the material until he could have been sucking directly on flesh. It was the dream become real; it was better. More aroused than I’d been in my life, I grabbed his ears and beat my hips into him, not thinking at all, just moving. A pressure built between my legs, a hot, heavy throbbing that made me want him on his back and me naked and clamping him between my thighs.

A ding startled me; my eyes flew open. The elevator, which had gone and come back again, disgorged half a dozen professional-looking people.



Amazon Barnes and Noble

Review
Synnove is on a mission, to get hot ad man Ric Holiday to create an ad campaign for her town.  Synnove doesn't really have experience in pitching an idea, after all she  is a doctor on a self appointed sabbatical. but that doesn't stop her on her quest.

Ric is intrigued by Synnove, she blurts out random facts , is sex on a stick, and has a way of twisting her words so that she never tells a lie.  As a vampire, he should be able to manipulate her mind, but Ric finds there is something incredibly special about Synnove and despite her best pitch, he doesn't want anywhere near her town.  Of course when one of his worst enemies puts Synnove in jeopardy, Ric will stop at nothing to protect her. 

This was pure fun and sass.  Loved that Synnove was uber intelligent and spouts off the most random medical facts.  Ric is a sensual character, he is magnetic and reluctant to get involved with Synnove even though she is too tempting to resist.  Excellent read.


Bio:
I've worked as everything from a cleaning temp to project manager for global clients. Currently I'm an author, musician, and computer consultant. I live in the United States Midwest with a basement full of spare computer parts and several musical instruments including my husband's romantic cello and my flute for playing bird parts in orchestra...ask me to tell you that story sometime :)

Hugs!
Mary


BEAUTY BITES Blurb:
Beauty Bites (Biting Love Book 6)
Beauty is skin deep…but the beast goes all the way.

When top Minneapolis ad man Ric Holiday is asked to design a campaign for a quaint little town, his first reaction is absolutely not. Meiers Corners is too near Chicago, home of the vampire who turned him as an orphaned boy. 

Then the city sends an angel-faced med student with a body made for sin to plead their case. Synnove Byornsson is the ray of sunshine Ric hasn’t felt since he was human.

Armed with determination and a micro miniskirt, Synnove is prepared to crash Holiday’s penthouse cocktail party—and to dislike him on sight. But Mr. All-Style-No-Substance turns out to have a deadly smile, a barely restrained, feral strength, and piercing blue eyes that look at her—not at her cleavage.

Unfortunately Synnove has competition in the form of a sly temptress with a counterproposal. For the first time in her life, Synnove must cash in her genetic lottery ticket and fire back with some sizzle of her own—or her beloved Meiers Corners could become the new Sin City.

Warning: Contains a doctor with a bod for sin, an ad exec with a chip on his shoulder, sarcasm, sex, and a cabin full of annoying friends. Secrets are revealed. One heart-stopping, horrific moment leads to the ultimate of happily-ever-afters.



Excerpt:
It was all fun and games until the gun hit my skull.

Thud. A bright pain cracked in my brain, telling me the mountainous hostage-taker had brought his own weapon to bear.

Almost immediately something heavy plowed into us, spinning me away from the gun. I staggered to a stop.

My sight cleared to Ric, wrestling the mountain.

The big goon seized Ric with one arm, hugging him close like he was going to give him noogies. But the gun in his noogie hand made reality more chilling.

Ric shimmered, and suddenly the mountain was holding a cloud of mist. 

Vampire fighting technique? I cheered before it occurred to me to wonder why Ric hadn’t used it before and why the shadowman helping us hadn’t used it at all.

The edge of Ric’s mist caught a stray beam of sunlight. It instantly combusted—poof. My elation turned to horror.

Ric snapped back into being like a rubber band. His cheek was seared open, exposing red muscle surrounded by blackened, bubbling skin. But he lost no time raising his bound hands, swinging, and whacked the bad guy’s head with fists like a mallet.

The mountain swayed but didn’t go down. Ric spun, once, twice, winding up his whole body behind it, and whacked him again.

Still the guy didn’t go down. My heart tripped double time. The mountain swept his gun toward Ric.

I leaped at them. Went oof when I hit the shadow’s arm, stuck out like a bar. I folded over it like a cheap towel and staggered back.

Ric slid into the rifle.

The mountainous goon opened fire as Ric knocked the gun to the side—the side where the ogre-like head hostage-taker stood.

Ogre Face ducked and covered. A spray of bullets rat-a-tat-tatted a line where his head had been.

Ric chopped his forearms across the mountain’s right wrist. The mountain howled, both arms flying up in defense, right hand dangling with a protruding lump at the wrist presenting as broken. The gun fell to hang from its clip. The mountain groped for it with his left hand.

Ric grabbed the big man’s balls.

The guy shrieked. Ric wrenched. The mountain dropped, curling on the floor like a shrimp. Apparently Ric also had a grip like a nut crusher.

“Stop!”

I whipped around. Ogre Face pointed his gun at my head. He rasped, “You’re dead.”

Terror burned that instant into my head like a snapshot. I stood facing the ogre. About ten feet separated us. Behind me was the hostage-lined bank of windows, the shadowman already running toward them. A few feet to my right, the mountain goon curled on the floor, Ric breathing deeply over him.

Both Ric and I were too far away to stop the ogre from shooting.

“Down!” The shadowman pushed hostages to the floor, starting with the ones in Ogre Face’s direct line of fire. Well, if you didn’t count me.

Ric leaped.

My knees started to bend.

Ogre Face pulled the trigger.

Ric wouldn’t hit him in time, even though he’d leaped before the ogre pulled the trigger.

The gun went off.

----------------------------------------------

I turned.

Ric Holiday in his full sizzling glory was right on top of me.

I stepped back, spine hitting the edge of the elevator shaft. My nipples reached out as if trying to stay in touch. *The erection of the mammary papilla is due to muscle contraction, like the pilomotor reflex which causes goose bumps*—Stupid nipples. “What do you want?” I spoke a bit sharply, but his heat and heady scent had goosed my frustration into borderline rudeness. I flushed but held my place. Well, fused against the corner of the shaft, I had to.

He stared down into my eyes, his own frustrated too. “I want to explain.”

“You made it clear enough. Me and Camille at the O.K. Corral, one week from today.” I looked away. The elevator was leaving.

“Synnove.” He slid two strong fingers under my chin and urged my face back to him. The blue had softened. “I’m sorry.”

“Why? There’s worse?” I scowled, but I had to work at it. Why did he have to be so gorgeous? Why did his fingers have to be so gentle, so warm? “You’re going to make us bikini mud wrestle?”

“Ouch.” He smiled slightly. “I deserve that.”

“No,” I grumped. “You don’t. But you’re getting it anyway.”

The grin slowly widened, making his whole face edible. “The vaunted Byornsson honesty. I’m beginning to see the advantages.”

And I was beginning to see the advantages of hot sexy sizzle. But no way I was admitting that to him. Not lying, just omission, which is not a lie. Mostly.
When my lips parted to say something that was not a lie and definitely wasn’t about how sexy he was, his eyes darkened. “Shh.”

He replaced the two fingers on my chin with two cupping hands, holding my face gently, like it was something precious. Like I was precious.

My lips stayed parted but no words came out.

In that moment of silence, he lowered his head. Slowly, so I could have stopped him.

Should have stopped him.

Did not want to.

*He’s nothing but image.*

*Image and intense pleasure.*

*The lips have one of the highest density of nerve endings in the body…*

*Argh. Shut up and kiss him.*

While I was arguing with myself his warm mouth settled on mine, tongue sliding deftly between my lips. It rasped my sensitive skin, rubbing my lips awake like a thorough toweling. A steamed towel, hot and wet.

Confused feelings fled. I gave a little moan and opened wider.

He swept inside, all spice and heat. He groaned, a sound of masculine hunger. His questing mouth, his hot kiss, said lust plain and clear. Yet his hands were tender on my face, his sweet caress speaking of something beyond sex, a closeness that transcended the physical.

Happiness blossomed in my heart. Our groans were intertwined, mutual. For this one moment, the battle was suspended and we were on the same side.
His fingers tunneled into my hair, holding me firmly while his tongue drove deeper. He pressed closer yet, pinning me to the edge of the elevator shaft with his body, imprinting me with every muscle, every bulge, every place he was hard and primitive under his worsted.

I rippled against him and moaned softly in response. If he could generate this kind of pressure standing, how would the weight of his body feel, pressing me into a mattress?

At the thought I nearly exploded.

He shifted me, his powerful hands urging me away from where the corner of the elevator was digging into my spine and guiding me onto the wall. There he pressed me into vinyl wallpaper and kissed me like he was starving for me. The honest hunger in his kiss undid me. I grabbed his head and kissed him back with everything I had.

A big hand slid up my ribs, sparking a trail of heat, stopping under my breast. The mound throbbed, waiting, wanting, yearning for that hot hand to slide up the curve, to touch my delicate and private flesh. To brand it as his own. My soft moans shortened to whimpers, and I arched to thrust my breast more fully into his hand.

A deep rumbling started, a lion’s purr. His hand moved, fingers barely brushing the bottom curve. I stopped breathing. His fingers skimmed higher, circling nearer, nearer to the hardening tip. I twitched in anticipation, greedy for his touch on sensitive flesh barely covered by a thin blouse and the wispiest scallop of lace. Bless Twyla’s endless supply of sexy bras.

Finally, finally his thumb scraped my nipple. I shrieked into his mouth, jerking against him. My nipple furled instantly, wordlessly urging him again, more, now.

He opened his hand and covered my breast, his heat searing. Slotting the nipple between two fingers, he began to pump and tug gently, rhythmically squeezing, pulling. I thought I’d go insane from the sweet soft tugging.

Until he replaced the hand with his mouth.

His lips closed on my erect nipple through thin blouse and bra, breath wetting the material until he could have been sucking directly on flesh. It was the dream become real; it was better. More aroused than I’d been in my life, I grabbed his ears and beat my hips into him, not thinking at all, just moving. A pressure built between my legs, a hot, heavy throbbing that made me want him on his back and me naked and clamping him between my thighs.

A ding startled me; my eyes flew open. The elevator, which had gone and come back again, disgorged half a dozen professional-looking people.


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