Book of the Month

June Book of the Month

Discover the Lost and Found Sisters

May Book of the Month

Truth, dare, or Lethal Lies?

April Book of the Month

Stay behind with Master Professor...

March Book of the Month

Time for some Damage Control...

Lisa Renee Jones's sensational Dirty Money series continues!
Valentine's Bonus Treat

A Valentine’s treat for fans of Working Girl!

Enjoy this bonus scene from Shana Grey's sexy serial WORKING GIRL!
February Book of the Month

Make Me Complete...

February Book of the Month

Count down to Nine Kinds of Naughty...

January Book of the Month

Almost A Bride, always an optimist

December Book of the Month

Do some overtime with Working Girl...

Spice up your 9-5 with Working Girl...
November Book of the Month

Get caught Looking Inside...

November Book of the Month
October Book of the Month

Get a Taste of the Sweetest Taboo...

Get a Taste of the Sweetest Taboo...
October Book of the Month

All is revealed in The Exposure...

October Book of the Month
September Book of the Month

Learn to play by the Hard Rules...

Learn to play by the HARD RULES...
August Book of the Month

Feel the heat of the Burning Moon

Love your life. Chase your dreams. Dance under the stars. It's all waiting for you in BURNING MOON...
June Book of the Month

Will Riley get A Measure of Love?

Read on for an excerpt of the third in Sophie Jackson's stunning A Pound of Flesh series, A MEASURE OF LOVE...
May Book of the Month

Meet The Dark Vampire...

An intoxicating excerpt of Kate Baxter's THE DARK VAMPIRE...
May Book of the Month

Experience the Last Mile...

A gorgeous excerpt of Katie Ashley's gritty LAST MILE...
April Book of the Month

Meet Jacob in Make Me Forget...

Meet Jacob in the first of bestselling author Beth Kery's new eight-part serialisation, MAKE ME FORGET.
March Book of the Month

Discover Every Vow She Breaks...

Discover the thrilling EVERY VOW SHE BREAKS by Jannine Gallant...
March Book of the Month

Have A Covert Affair...

Don't miss an extract from Book Five in the Deadly Ops series by Katie Reus, A COVERT AFFAIR...
February Book of the Month

Sample the control of The Master...

Sample the control of The Master... in Tara Sue Me's seventh electrifying Submissive novel
January Book of the Month

Meet Max in An Ounce of Hope...

Read a gorgeous excerpt from Sophie Jackson's AN OUNCE OF HOPE...
December Book of the Month

A glimpse of Unwrap Me...

A peek at the sensually erotic and romantic story of Nikki and Damien Stark in this sizzling hot holiday novella...
December Book of the Month

A warming sneak peek of My Kind Of Wonderful...

A sneak peek of the second in the warm, funny, romantic Cedar Ridge series from bestseller Jill Shalvis...
November Book of the Month

Visit Heartsong Cottage...

A sneak peek of the heartwarming tenth novel in bestselling author Emily March's warm and uplifting Eternity Springs series...
October Book of the Month

Meet Rev in Redemption Road...

Get to know sexy biker Rev Malloy in Katie Ashley's latest Vicious Cycle novel, REDEMPTION ROAD...
September Book of the Month

A sexy peek... Under My Skin

He's the only man I've ever loved. And the one man I can't bear to lose... Return to the enticing world of Stark as J. Kenner's scorching hot, explosively emotional Stark International romance trilogy concludes with UNDER MY SKIN.
August Book of the Month

Meet the Last True Vampire ...

Deeply sensual, intensely emotional, and bursting with heartstopping action. Meet the Last True Vampire . . .
July Book of the Month

Are you ready for Second Chance Summer?

What do you do when you run into the man who broke your heart? Read on for an excerpt from Jill Shalvis' hilarious and heartwarming SECOND CHANCE SUMMER...
June Book of the Month

A sexy peek of A Pound of Flesh

Lose your heart to Wes Carter - sexy, edgy, behind bars, with emotional scars as permanent as the ink on his skin, just waiting to be healed by love...
May Book of the Month

A glittering sneak peek of Glimmer...

It began with a dazzling seduction … Beth Kery returns with GLIMMER, the passionate and intensely romantic story of Alice Reed and Dylan Fall.
April Book of the Month

Say My Name... A sneak peek

Are you ready for Jackson Steele? Return to the enticing, explosive and sexy world of Stark, with the first in J. Kenner's scorching Stark International trilogy, SAY MY NAME.
March Book of the Month

A passionate excerpt from Deep Blue Eternity

A gorgeous excerpt from Natasha Boyd's DEEP BLUE ETERNITY, the powerful and deeply passionate new novel from the acclaimed author of Eversea and Forever, Jack.
February Book of the Month

A sexy sample of Quarterback Draw

A sizzling excerpt from Jaci Burton's ninth Play-By-Play novel, QUARTERBACK DRAW, where a sexy quarterback is finally playing for keeps...
January Book of the Month

A sneak peek... Teardrop Lane

A gorgeous excerpt from TEARDROP LANE, Emily March's ninth Eternity Springs title!
December Book of the Month

A saucy sample of Owning Violet

Indulge in this steamy excerpt from the first novel in Monica Murphy's new Folwer Sisters trilogy, OWNING VIOLET.
November Book of the Month

A sensual excerpt from Have Me

A sizzling excerpt from Have Me, an e-novella in J. Kenner's Stark series.
October Book of the Month

A steamy excerpt from The Chalet

A steamy excerpt from The Chalet, an e-novella in Tara Sue Me's tantalising Submissive series. The Chalet is out on 21st October 2014.
by Beth Kery

A sizzling sample of The Affair: Week One

Indulge in this extract from Week One of Beth Kery's sizzling and totally unmissable THE AFFAIR...
August Book of the Month

A sneak peek... It's In His Kiss

Get swept up in this exclusive extract of It's In His Kiss, new this month from Jill Shalvis
July Book of the Month

July brings you two romance giants

This month we bring you excerpts from two legendary romance authors, with Jude Deveraux's For All Time and Jane Feather's Trapped at the Altar.
June Book of the Month

Things are about to get Heated

Read an extract from J. Kenner's HEATED...
May Book Of The Month

It's Kam and Lin in Since I Saw You

Read an excerpt from Beth Kery's highly anticipated SINCE I SAW YOU... *Must be over 18 to read*
April Book of the Month

It's Griffin's turn to fall in love...

Here's a peek at Jessica Clare's Once Upon a Billionaire, the latest in her Billionaire Boys Club series.
March Book of the month

Be enticed by Seduced By Fire

Daniel was standing inside the coffee shop, waiting, when Julie arrived on Thursday. She took a second to watch him from the window. Having arrived after work, he was wearing a beautiful dark suit that emphasized his blond good looks. He was drawing admiring glances from several women.
February Book of the Month

In the Green Mountain state it's time to fall in love

The short ride into town was full of awkward silence. Sensing his irritation with her, Cameron chose to stay quiet instead of peppering him with questions about the town, the state and what he might know about the Green Mountain Country Store. "You got a name?" he asked. "Cameron." "What kind of name is that for a girl?" Instantly on the offensive, Cameron glared at him."It's the kind of name my parents gave me - and I had it long before Cameron Diaz was famous." "Who?" Astounded, Cameron swiveled in her seat. "Tell me the truth - have I been abducted by aliens? It’s okay. You can give it to me straight. I can take it." “I don’t know about aliens, but I may as well tell you I have no idea who Cliff Clavin is either.” Cameron’s mouth fell open. “The know-it-all mailman from Cheers? One of the top-rated shows of the eighties and nineties?” “So you think I’m a know-it-all, huh?” “You sound rather proud of that.” “Well, you don’t have to be a know-it-all to get that wearing suede boots to Vermont in March isn’t the brightest idea you’ll ever have.” “Pardon my ignorance, but I’ve never been here before.” “All that technology laying in your lap, and you never got the 411 on the mud.” He snorted out a laugh. “Anyone ever tell you that you can be somewhat insufferable?” Arching an eyebrow, he smirked at her. “Only somewhat? I’ve fallen short of my goal.” Exasperated, Cameron shifted to look out the passenger window. “Was it something I said?” She shook her head in disbelief. The guy was too much. “What’s your name anyway?” “Will Abbott.” That got her attention. “Any relation to Lincoln Abbott?” “That’d be my dad. How do you know him?” “I don’t actually know him. Yet. I’m due to meet him tomorrow.” “For what purpose?” “To build a website for his store.” “Damn it!” Will slammed the heel of his hand on the wheel. “I can’t believe him! We told him we didn’t want it!” “We?” Cameron made an effort to keep the waver out of her voice. Would this interminable day ever end? “My siblings and I. We’re his partners.” “Oh.” Since the company had no website, she’d found precious little information about it online and had planned to start from scratch once she got to town. “Let me guess - when he hired you he never mentioned that his children voted against a website.” “Um, no, that didn’t come up.” “This is so typical. He brings one of his big ideas to us, we tell him we aren’t interested, and then he does it anyway.” “If you’re partners, how does he get away with that?” “Because he owns the majority - fifty percent. The other fifty percent is split between the ten of us. Five of us help him run the store and vote proxy for the others. The other fi ve provide a variety of products to the store.” “Ten of you?” “I’m one of ten.” “You have ten kids in your family?” “Yeah, so?” “I’ve never known anyone who had more than four kids in their family.” “Well, now you know someone who has ten.” As an only child, Cameron tried to wrap her head around what it might’ve been like to grow up with nine siblings. “What are their names?” “You want to know the names of my siblings?” he asked, as if that was the stupidest question he’d ever heard. “Yeah, I guess I do. If I’m going to be stuck in the middle of your family feud it would be good to know the people I’m dealing with.” “Feud is kind of a strong word, but we do argue. A lot.” He sighed and tightened his grip on the wheel. “Hunter and Hannah are the oldest. They’re twins.” “Ten kids and twins too?” “Two sets of twins. Lucas and Landon are second from the youngest. They’re identical twins.” “That’s so cool.” He glanced over at her, seeming confounded by her interest in his family. But to Cameron, who’d grown up painfully alone, families like his only existed on the TV shows she’d glommed on to, looking for a family anywhere she could find one. “I’m after Hunter and Hannah. Then comes Ella, Charlotte, Wade, Colton, Lucas and Landon and then Max.” “Wow. That’s a lot of kids.” “Yep.” “Is your mom in an asylum?” His bark of laughter took her by surprise. “Nah. She rolls with it all. I’ve never met anyone as quietly efficient as she is. She always made it look easy.” “How do you make ten kids look easy?” “I don’t know, but somehow she did.” “So which five are involved in the business?” “That’d be me, Hunter, Ella, Charlotte and Wade. Several of the others are involved in businesses that feed products to the store. Colton runs the family sugaring facility that makes maple syrup, and Max helps him out when he’s able to between classes. He’s a senior at UVM. Landon has a woodworking business and oversees the volunteer fi refighting department in town. Hannah makes jewelry. Lucas manages the family’s Christmas tree farm and helps Landon with the fire department. I think that’s everyone accounted for.” “Just out of curiosity— why don’t you and your siblings want a website?” “Because we don’t need one. We have a very nice business just the way it is. A website will bring a bunch of issues we aren’t interested in dealing with.” “Such as?” “We’ll have to hire people to fulfi ll orders, set up a distribution center, figure out shipping. So many headaches.” “But it could grow your business exponentially.” “We don’t want to grow our business. It’s fine the way it is.” He drove into a quaint little New England town with a signature white-steeple church, a volunteer fire department, a combination café and gallery, and there, in the middle of everything, the Green Mountain Country Store. In the dark, it was hard to see much, but it seemed small next to some of the other buildings and boasted a quaint front porch. They were past it before she could ascertain much of anything else. Will pulled into a parking lot behind a large white Victorian house. “Where are we?” “I assume you’re staying at the inn since it’s the only place in town that takes guests.” Cameron pulled out the confirmation message she had printed at home. “The Admiral Frances Butler Inn?” “That’s it.” He cut the engine and got out of the truck. By the time she emerged onto thankfully dry pavement, he’d fetched her luggage from the back. “Can you hand me the black bag? My running shoes are in there.” He retrieved the bag she pointed to and dropped it in front of her. “You don’t have to shoot the messenger, you know,” she said. “What does that mean?” “Just because you’re mad at your dad for hiring me doesn’t mean you have to be cranky with me.” “You were irritating me long before I knew my dad had hired you.” “You’re just full of charm, aren’t you?” she asked as she pulled on sneakers. “So I’m told.” “By who?” He waggled his brows at her. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” “Actually, I really wouldn’t.” “Suit yourself,” he said with a shrug as he led her into the back door of the inn. He seemed to know his way around, so she followed him through a series of hallways to the front desk where he rang the bell on the counter. The place smelled like potpourri and lemon-scented furniture polish. An older woman came through the door wearing a housecoat, pin curlers in her hair and a warm, welcoming smile on her plump face. “Hi, Will. What a nice surprise. What brings you in tonight?” “Hi there, Mrs. Hendricks. I’ve brought you a guest. Cameron . . .” “Oh,” the older woman said, resting a hand on her head as if she just remembered her curlers. “I look a sight.” “You’re pretty as a picture, just like always,” Will said. “Will Abbott,” Mrs. Hendricks said as her face turned bright red, “you could charm a bird out of a tree.” Will sent Cameron a smug smile, as if to say “Told ya so.” Cameron cleared her throat, hoping to remind Mrs. Hendricks that a paying customer was waiting to check in. “Cameron Murphy. Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Hendricks.” The other woman fi nally looked at her and gasped. “Oh my! What happened to your face?” Cameron raised her hands to her face, remembering the moment of impact and how her nose had hurt afterward. “What?” “You have two black eyes,” Mrs. Hendricks said. “And your nose . . .” Alarmed, Cameron looked around for a mirror. “What about my nose?” She walked across the small lobby to a framed mirror and shrieked at what she saw. Her nose was swollen and sure enough, dark bruises were forming under her eyes. “Oh my God!” Turning back to find Will leaning against the counter and Mrs. Hendricks looking on with concern, Cameron marched back over to confront him. “Why didn’t you tell me?” “Tell you what?” “That my face was all banged up!” “Um, maybe because I figured you’d hardly need me to tell you that something had smacked you in the face.” “It must’ve been the airbag,” she said, remembering that moment of utter blackness. Had she passed out? She’d been ignoring the pain in her face as she tried to get her bearings with Will, but now that they mentioned it, her nose was throbbing rather insistently. “The airbag would also explain the burn on your neck,” Will added. “Burn?” Her voice was a shrill squeak. “What burn?” He leaned in closer to her, and she swore her heart skipped a beat as she caught a whiff of his outdoorsy scent. The touch of his finger on her neck sent a shocking bolt of heat straight through her, landing in a tingle between her legs. What in the name of hell was that about? “There.” As if he’d touched something hot, Will pulled back his hand and straightened out of that insolent slouch he did so well.The two of them stared at each other for a long heated moment. “Was there an accident?” Mrs. Hendricks asked, interrupting the intense interlude. “She hit Fred,” Will said gravely. Mrs. Hendricks brought a hand to her ample chest. “Oh! Is he okay?” “He seemed no worse for the wear,” Will said. “Good thing it was a small car.” “It was a new car!” Cameron said, wondering if anyone in this godforsaken town would care that her adorable little car was no longer adorable. “Well, as long as he’s okay,” Mrs. Hendricks said as if Cameron hadn’t spoken. Then she turned to Cameron. “I can call Doc Edwards for you, if you’d like.” “Thank you, but that’s not necessary.” All Cameron wanted was a warm bath and an ice pack for her throbbing nose. “Could I borrow the phone to call Nolan about her car?” Will asked. “Of course.” Mrs. Hendricks handed him the portable phone, and he dialed a number from memory. While Cameron completed the check-in paperwork and handed over her credit card, Will filled Nolan in on the accident. “Yep, she ran smack into poor old Fred.” A pause. “He seemed fine, but we might want to send the doc after him in the morning to make sure.” Glowering at him, Cameron whispered, “The car. Remember the car?” He met her glower with a scowl. “Now, about the car.” Finally, Cameron thought, signing on the dotted line for Mrs. Hendricks and accepting the key to her third-floor room. Will handed the phone back to Mrs. Hendricks. “Nolan’s going to fetch the car tonight so no one hits it out on the road. He said to check in with him in the morning. The garage is across the street.” Pointing toward the front door. “That way.” “Thank you.” Cameron forced herself to look up at him and all his beauty. “I appreciate your help.” His eyes, she realized were light brown, almost gold. Why did he have to be so spectacularly gorgeous and so outrageously cranky? “You need help getting your stuff upstairs?” The idea of him following her to a hotel room sent more tingling awareness rippling through her. “I can do it.” But before the words were out of her mouth, he was already heading to the stairs with her bags. Uttering a quick thank you to Mrs. Hendricks, Cameron scurried after him. On the third floor, he deposited her suitcases outside Room 18. He stopped so suddenly that Cameron nearly ran into his broad back. Turning, he caught her inches from his chest, and the awareness that had sizzled between them downstairs chose that moment to reappear. Cameron had never experienced such an overpowering need to touch another person. She rolled her hands into fists to keep from acting on the impulse. “Listen,” he said, haltingly, “you seem like a nice enough person.” “Wow, thanks.” Charming? Whatever. His expression turned stormy. “What I was going to say is that things are apt to get a little heated tomorrow at the meeting. Don’t take it personally, okay? Our beef is with him, not you.” “I’m here to do a job. Nothing about this is personal.” “Good,” he said, apparently picking up on her double meaning as she’d hoped he would. “Let’s keep it that way.” “Fine by me.” “You might want to put some ice on your nose,” he said as he headed down the stairs. Too bad he missed the gesture she made at his retreating back.
January Book of the Month

Wanted. You Loved Damien Stark. Now Meet Evan Black.

I know exactly when my life shifted. That precise instant when his eyes met mine and I no longer saw the bland look of familiarity, but danger and fire, lust and hunger. Perhaps I should have turned away. Perhaps I should have run. I didn't. I wanted him. More, I needed him. The man, and the fire that he ignited inside of me. And in his eyes, I saw that he needed me, too. That was the moment that everything changed. Me, most of all. But whether it changed for good or for ill . . . well, that remains to be seen. Even dead, my Uncle Jahn knew how to throw one hell of a party. His Chicago lakeside penthouse was bursting at the seams with an eclectic collection of mourners, most of whom had imbibed so much wine from the famous Howard Jahn cellar that whatever melancholy they’d brought with them had been sweetly erased, and now this wake or reception or whatever the hell you wanted to call it wasn’t the least bit somber. Politicians mingled with financiers mingled with artists and academics, and everyone was smiling and laughing and toasting the deceased. At his request, there’d been no formal funeral. Just this gathering of friends and family, food and drink, music and mirth. Jahn - he hated the name Howard - had lived a vibrant life, and that was never more obvious than now in his death. I missed him so damn much, but I hadn’t cried. Hadn’t screamed and ranted. Hadn’t done anything, really, except move through the days and nights lost in a haze of emotions, my mind numb. My body anesthetized. I sighed and fingered the charm on my silver bracelet. He’d presented me with the tiny motorcycle just over a month ago, and the gift had made me smile. I hadn’t talked about wanting to ride a motorcycle since before I turned sixteen. And it had been years since I’d ridden behind a boy, my arms tight around his waist and my hair blowing in the wind. But Uncle Jahn knew me better than anyone. He saw past the princess to the girl hidden inside. A girl who’d built up walls out of necessity, but still desperately wanted to break free. Who longed to slip on a pair of well-worn jeans, grab a battered leather jacket, and go a little wild. Sometimes, she even did. And sometimes it didn’t end right at all. I tightened my grip on the charm as the memory of Jahn holding my hand - of him promising to keep my secrets - swept over me, finally bringing tears to my eyes. He should be beside me, dammit, and the swell of laughter and conversation that filled the room was making me a little sick. Despite the fact that I knew Jahn wanted it that way, it was all I could do not to smack all the people who’d hugged me and murmured softly that he was in a better place and wasn’t it wonderful that he’d lived such a full life. That was such bullshit - he hadn’t even turned sixty yet. Vibrant men in their fifties shouldn’t drop dead from aneurysms, and there weren’t enough pithy Hallmark quotes in the universe to make me think otherwise. Antsy, I shifted my weight from foot to foot. There was a bar set up on the other side of the room, and I’d positioned myself as far away as physically possible because right then I wanted the burn of tequila. Wanted to let go, to explode through the numbness that clung to me like a cocoon. To run. To feel. But that wasn’t going to happen. No alcohol was passing these lips tonight. I was Jahn’s niece, after all, and that made me some kind of hostess-by-default, which meant I was stuck in the penthouse. Four thousand square feet, but I swear I could feel the art-covered walls pressing in around me. I wanted to race up the spiral staircase to the rooftop patio, then leap over the balcony into the darkening sky. I wanted to take flight over Lake Michigan and the whole world. I wanted to break things and scream and rant and curse this damned universe that took away a good man. Shit. I sucked in a breath and looked down at the exquisite ancient-looking notebook inside the glass and chrome display case I’d been leaning against. The leather-bound book was an exceptionally well-done copy of a recently discovered Da Vinci notebook. Dubbed the Creature Notebook, it had sixteen pages of animal studies and was open to the center, revealing a stunning sketch the young master had drawn - his study for the famous, but never located, dragon shield. Jahn had attempted to acquire the notebook, and I remember just how angry he’d been when he’d lost out to Victor Neely, another Chicago businessman with a private collection that rivaled my uncle’s. At the time, I’d just started at Northwestern with a major in poli sci and a minor in art history. I’m not particularly talented, but I’ve sketched my whole life, and I’ve been fascinated with art - and in particular with Leonardo da Vinci - since my parents took me to my first museum at the age of three. I thought the Creature Notebook was beyond cool, and I’d been irritated on Jahn’s behalf when he not only lost out on it, but when the press had poured salt in the wound by prattling on about Neely’s amazing new acquisition. About a year later, Jahn showed me the facsimile, bright and shiny in the custom-made display case. As a general rule, my uncle never owned a copy. If he couldn’t have the original - be it a Rembrandt or a Rauschenberg or a Da Vinci - he simply moved on. When I’d asked why he’d made an exception for the Creature Notebook, he shrugged and told me that the images were at least as interesting as the provenance. “Besides, anyone who can successfully copy a Da Vinci has created a masterpiece himself.” Despite the fact that it wasn’t authentic, the notebook was my favorite of Jahn’s many manuscripts and artifacts, and now, standing with my hands pressed to the glass, I felt as if he was, in some small way, beside me. I drew in a breath, knowing I had to get my act together, if for no other reason than the more wrecked I looked, the more guests would try to cheer me. Not that I looked particularly wrecked. When you grow up as Angelina Hayden Raine, with a United States senator for a father and a mother who served on the board of over a dozen international nonprofit organizations, you learn the difference between a public and a private face very early on. Especially when you have your own secrets to keep. “This is so goddamn fucked up it makes me want to scream.” I felt a whisper of a smile touch my lips and turned around to find myself looking into Kat’s bloodshot eyes. “Oh, hell, Angie,” she said. “He shouldn’t be dead.” “He’d be pissed if he knew you’d been crying,” I said, blinking away the last of my own tears. “Fuck that.” I almost laughed. Katrina Laron had a talent for cutting straight through the bullshit. I’m not sure which one of us leaned in first, but we caught each other in a bone-crushing hug. With a sniffle, I finally pulled away. Perverse, maybe, but just knowing that someone else was acknowledging the utter horror of the situation made me feel infinitesimally better. “Every time I turn a corner, I feel like I’m going to see him,” I said. “I almost wish I’d stayed in my old place.” I’d moved in four months ago when Uncle Jahn’s aneurysm was discovered. I’d taken time off from work - easy when you work for your uncle. For two weeks I’d played nurse after he came home from the hospital, and when he’d been given the allclear by the doctors - yeah, like that was a good call - I’d accepted his invitation to move in permanently. Why not? The tiny apartment I’d shared with my lifelong friend Flynn wasn’t exactly the lap of luxury. And although I loved Flynn, he wasn’t the easiest person to cohabitate with. He knew me too well, and it always made me uneasy when people saw what I wanted to keep hidden. Now, though, I craved both the cocoon-like comfort of my tiny room and Flynn’s steady presence. As much as I loved the condo, without my uncle, it was cold and hollow, and just being in it made me feel brittle. As if at any moment I would shatter into a million pieces. Kat’s eyes were warm and understanding. “I know. But he loved having you here. God knows why,” she added with a quirky grin. “You’re nothing but trouble.” I rolled my eyes. At twenty-seven, Katrina Laron was only four years older than me, but that didn’t stop her from pulling the older-and-wiser card whenever she got the chance. The fact that we’d become friends under decidedly dodgy circumstances probably played a role, too. She’d been working at one of the coffee shops in Evanston where I used to mainline caffeine during my first year at Northwestern. We’d chatted a couple of times in an “extra cream please, it’s been a bitch of a day” kind of way, but we were hardly on a first-name basis. All that changed when we bumped into each other on a day when extra cream wasn’t going to cut it for me - not by a long shot. It was in the Michigan Avenue Neiman Marcus and I’d been surfing on adrenaline, using it to soothe the rough edges of a particularly crappy day. Specifically, I’d just succumbed to my personal demons and surreptitiously dropped a pair of fifteen-dollar clearance earrings into my purse. But, apparently, not as surreptitiously as I’d thought. “Well, aren’t you the stumbling amateur?” she’d whispered, as she steered me toward women’s shoes. “With a shit technique like that, it’s a wonder you haven’t been arrested yet.” “Arrested!” I squeaked, as if that word would carry all the way to Washington and to my father’s all-hearing ears. The fear of getting caught might be part of the excitement. Actually getting caught wasn’t a good thing at all. “No, I didn’t- I mean-” She cut off my protests with a casual flip of her hand. “All I’m saying is be smart. If you’re going to take a risk, at least make it worth the trouble. Those earrings? Really not the bomb.” “It’s not about the earrings,” I’d snapped, then immediately cringed. The words had been a knee-jerk response, but they were also true. It wasn’t about the earrings. It was about my dad, and the grad school lectures and the career-planning talks, and the never-spoken certainty that no matter what I did, my sister would have done it better. It was about the oppressive, overwhelming weight of my life and my future that was bearing down on me, harder and harder until I was certain that if I didn’t do something to break out a little I’d spontaneously combust. Kat had glanced at my purse as if she could see through the soft Coach leather to the contraband inside. Then she slowly lifted her eyes back to my face. The silence hung between us for a full minute. Then she nodded. “Don’t worry. I get it.” She cocked her head toward the exit. “Come on.” Relief flooded through me, and my limbs that had frozen in both fear and mortification began to thaw. She steered me to her car, a cherry-red Mustang that she drove at more or less the speed of light. She careened down Michigan Avenue, maneuvered her way onto Lake Shore Drive, and came so close to the other cars as she zipped in and out of traffic that I’m surprised her convertible didn’t lose a layer of paint. In other words, it was freaking awesome. The top was down, the wind was whipping my hair into my face and mouth, and all I could do was tilt my head back and laugh. Kat risked our lives long enough to shoot me one sideways glance. “Yeah,” she said. “We’re going to get along just fine.” From that moment on, I’d adored Kat. Now, with Jahn’s death sending my universe reeling, I realized that I not only loved her - I relied on her. “I’m really glad you’re here,” I said. “Where else would I be?” She scanned the room. “Are your mom and dad around somewhere?” “They can’t make it. They’re stuck overseas.” The familiar numbness settled over me again as I remembered my mother’s hysterical sobs and the deep well of sorrow that had filled my father’s voice when he’d learned about his half-brother. “I hated calling them,” I whispered. “It felt like Gracie all over again.” “I’m so sorry.” Kat had never met my sister, but she’d heard the story. The public version, anyway, and I knew her sympathy was real. I managed a wavering smile. “I know. That means a lot to me.” “The whole thing sucks,” Kat said. “It’s so unfair. Your uncle was too damn cool to die.” “I guess the universe doesn’t give a shit about coolness.” “The universe can be a raving bitch sometimes,” Kat said. She exhaled loudly. “Want me to crash here tonight so you won’t be alone? We could stay up late getting so wasted that there’s no way in hell either one of us will dream.” “Thanks, but I think I’ll be okay.” She eyed me uncertainly. She was one of the few people I’d confided in about my nightmares, and while I appreciated the sympathy, sometimes I wished I’d kept my mouth shut. “Really,” I said earnestly. “Kevin’s here.” “Oh, yeah? And how’s that going? Engaged yet?” “Not quite,” I said wryly. I supposed we were dating since I’d slept with him twice, but so far I’d dodged the let’s-be-exclusive conversation. I wasn’t sure why I was so reticent. The sex wasn’t mind-blowing, but it did the job. And I did genuinely like the guy. But I’d spent the last few months holding him at arm’s length, telling him I needed to keep my attention on Jahn’s surgery, then his recovery. Obviously, I hadn’t planned on his sudden death. How horrible was it of me to think that now Jahn was gone, I had no more excuses to hand Kevin? Beside me, Kat craned her neck and scoped out the crowd. “So where is he?” “He had to go take a call. Technically, he’s working today.” “What are you going to do now?” Kat asked. “About Kevin?” Honestly, I was hoping to avoid doing anything on that front for the foreseeable future. “About your job,” she countered. “About the roof over your head. About your life. Have you thought about what you’re going to do?” “Oh.” My shoulders sagged. “No. Not really.” My job in the PR department of Jahn’s company might pay my bills, but it was hardly my life’s ambition, and Kat was one of the few people to whom I’d confessed that deep, dark secret. Right then, however, that wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have. Fortunately, something across the room had caught Kat’s attention, effectively erasing my lack of direction and purpose from her mind. She stood slightly straighter and the corners of her mouth tilted a bit, almost hinting at a smile. Curious, I turned to look in that direction, but saw nothing but suits and dresses and a sea of black. “What is it? Kevin?” I asked, praying he wasn’t heading our direction. “Cole August,” she said. “At least I thought I saw him.” “Oh.” I licked my lips. My mouth had gone suddenly dry. “Is Evan with him?” I forced my voice to sound casual, but my pulse was racing. If Cole was around, it was always a good bet that Evan was, too. Then I remembered what day it was and my pulse slowed as disappointment weighed down on me. “Isn’t tonight the ribbon-cutting for the hospital wing Evan funded?” Kat didn’t even spare me a glance, her eyes still searching the crowd. “Not sure.” She shot me a quick look. “Yeah, it was. You invited me before, you know, all of this happened.” I blinked back the sudden prick of tears. “Evan’s going to hate missing this. Jahn was like a dad to him.” Beside me, Kat took a quick step backward, startling me. “What is it?” She dragged her gaze away from the crowd, then frowned at me. “I . . . Oh, shit. I have to go make a call. I’ll be right back, okay?” “Um, okay.” Who the hell did she need to call right now? That wasn’t a question I pondered for long, though, because I’d caught a glimpse of Cole. And right beside him - looking like he owned the world and everything in it - was Evan. Immediately, my chest tightened and a current of electricity zinged across my skin. Technically, I saw him first, but it was my body’s reaction that caught my attention. Only after I felt him did I truly see him. And what a sight he was. Whereas Cole might be sex on wheels, Evan Black was the slow burn of sin and seduction - and tonight he was in rare form. He must have come straight from the hospital, because he was still in a tux, and although he was clearly overdressed, he appeared perfectly at ease. Whether in a tux or jeans, where Evan was concerned, it was the man that mattered, not the garment. He had the kind of chiseled good looks that would have gotten him plucked from obscurity in the Golden Age of Hollywood, and the kind of confidence and bearing that would have made him a box-office draw. A small scar intersected his left brow, giving the angel’s face a hint of the devil. He both came from money and had made his own fortune, and it showed in the way he held himself, the way he looked around a room, managing to take control of it with nothing more than a glance. His eyes were as gray as a wolf’s and his hair was the color of cherrywood, a deep brown that hinted at golds and reds when the light hit it just right. He wore it long in the back so that it brushed his collar, and the natural waves gave it the quality of a mane - which only enhanced the impression that there was a wildness clinging to the man. Wild or not, I wanted to get close. I wanted to thrust my fingers into his hair and feel the locks on my skin. I imagined his hair was soft, but that’s the only part of him that was. Everything else was edged with steel, the hard planes of his face and body hinting at a dangerous core beneath that beauty. I didn’t know whether the danger was real or an illusion. And right then, I didn’t care. I wanted the touch, the thrill. That desperate need to fly I’d been feeling all night? So help me, I wanted to fly right into Evan’s arms. I needed the rush. I craved the thrill. I wanted the man. And it was just too damn bad that he didn’t want me, too.
December Book of the Month

Nikki and Damien continue in Take Me

I awake to an empty bed and the smell of frying bacon. I roll over to find my phone on the bedside table, then glance at the time. Not yet six. I groan and fall back among the pillows, but I don't really want to go back to sleep. What I want is Damien. I slide out of bed, then grab the tank top and yoga pants I'd left draped across a nearby armchair. I head barefoot out of the bedroom and move the short distance down the hall to the third-floor kitchen. We're standing in Damien's Malibu house, and the wall of windows that faces the ocean is wide open, the glass panels having been thrust aside to let in the breeze. The smell of the ocean mingles with the scent of breakfast and I breathe deep, realizing that I am content. Whatever demons had poked at me during the night, Damien effectively banished them. I glance toward the windows and out at the darkened Pacific. Waves glow white in the fading moonlight as they break upon the shore. There is beauty there, and part of me wants to walk to the balcony and stare out at the roiling, frothing water. But the siren call of the ocean is nothing compared to my desire to see Damien, and so I turn away from the windows and head straight to the kitchen. It is larger than the one in the condo I used to share with my best friend, Jamie, and it is not even the primary kitchen for this house. That is on the first floor, and could easily service a one-hundred-table restaurant. But this - the "small" kitchen - was installed as an adjunct to the open area that serves as a venue for entertaining, and since it is just down the hall from our bedroom, Damien and I have gotten into the habit of cooking our meals and eating in this cozier, more informal area. Usually we're joined by Lady Meow-Meow, the fluffy white cat I took custody over when Jamie moved out. I know Lady M misses Jamie, but she's also enjoying having the run of this huge house, and Gregory - the valet, butler, and all around house-running guy - spoils her rotten. Now I lean against the half wall that marks the break from hallway to kitchen. Damien is standing at the stove cooking an omelette as if he were nothing more than an ordinary guy. Except there is nothing ordinary about Damien Stark. He is grace and power, beauty and heat. He is exceptional, and he has captured me completely. At the moment, he is shirtless, and I cannot help the way my breath stutters as my eyes skim over the defined muscles of his back and his taut, strong arms. Damien's first fortune came not form business, but from his original career as a champion tennis player. Even now, years later, he has both the look and the power of an elite athlete. I let my gaze drift down appreciatively. He is wearing simple gray sweatpants that sit low on his narrow hips and cling to the curves of his perfectly toned ass. Like me, he is barefoot. He looks young and sexy and completely delicious. Yet despite his casual appearance, I can still see the executive. The powerful businessman who harnessed the world, who shifted it to his own liking and made a fortune in the process. He is strength and control. And I am humbled by the knowledge that I am what he values most of all, and that I will spend the rest of my life at his side. "You're staring," he says, his eyes still on the stove. I grin happily, like a child. "I enjoy looking at pretty things." He turns now, and his eyes rake over me, starting at my toes. "So do I," he says when his gaze reaches my face, and there is so much heat in his voice that my legs go weak and my body quivers with want. His mouth curves into a slow, sexy smile, and I am absolutely certain in that moment that I am going to melt. "You spoiled my surprise," he says, then nods toward the breakfast table where a tray sits with a glass bud vase displaying a single, red rose. "Breakfast in bed."
November Book of the Month

Ian and Francesca are back...

Read an extract from BECAUSE WE BELONG, our book of the month by Beth Kery.
October Book of the Month

Just How Long Can They Make The Pleasure Last . . .

The drive back to Nathaniel's house took longer than it should have. Or maybe it just felt like it took longer. Maybe it was nerves. I tipped my head in thought. Maybe not nerves exactly. Maybe anticipation. Anticipation that after weeks of talking, weeks of waiting, and weeks of planning, we were finally here. Finally back. I lifted my hand and touched the collar — Nathaniel’s collar. My fingertips danced over the familiar lines and traced along the diamonds. I moved my head from side to side, reacquainting myself with the collar’s feel. There were no words to describe how I felt wearing Nathaniel’s collar again. The closest I could come was to compare it to a puzzle. A puzzle with the last piece finally in place. Yes, for the last few weeks, Nathaniel and I had been living as lovers, but we both felt incomplete. His recollaring of me — his reclaiming of me — had been what was missing. It sounded odd even to me, but I finally felt like I was his again. The hired car eventually reached Nathaniel’s house and pulled into his long drive. Lights flickered from the windows. He had set the timer, anticipating my arrival in the dark. Such a small gesture, but a touching one. One that showed, like much he did, how he kept me firmly at the forefront of his mind. I jingled my keys as I walked up the drive to his front door. My keys. To his house. He’d given me a set of keys a week ago. I didn’t live with him, but I spent a fair amount of time at his house. He said it only made sense for me to be able to let myself in or to lock up when I left. Apollo, Nathaniel’s golden retriever, rushed me when I opened the door. I rubbed his head and let him outside for a few minutes. I didn’t keep him out for too long — I wasn’t sure if Nathaniel would arrive home early, but if he did, I wanted to be in place. I wanted this weekend to be perfect. “Stay,” I told Apollo after stopping in the kitchen to refill his water bowl. Apollo obeyed all of Nathaniel’s orders, but thankfully, he listened to me this time. Normally, he would follow me up the stairs, and tonight that would be odd. I quickly left the kitchen and made my way upstairs to my old room. The room that would be mine on weekends. I undressed, placing my clothes in a neat pile on the edge of the twin bed. On this, Nathaniel and I had been in agreement. I would share his bed Sunday through Thursday nights, anytime I stayed over, but on Friday and Saturday nights, I would sleep in the room he reserved for his submissives. Now that we had a more traditional relationship during the week, we both wanted to make sure we remained in the proper mind-set on weekends. That mind-set would be easier to maintain for both of us if we slept separately. For both of us, yes, but perhaps more so for Nathaniel. He rarely shared a bed with his submissives, and having a romantic relationship with one was completely new to him. I stepped naked into the playroom. Nathaniel had led me around the room last weekend — explaining, discussing, and showing me things I’d never seen and several items I’d never heard of. At its core, it was an unassuming room — hardwood floors, deep, dark brown paint, handsome cherry armoires, even a long table carved of rich wood. However, the chains and shackles, the padded leather bench and table, and the wooden whipping bench gave away the room’s purpose. A lone pillow waited for me below the hanging chains. I dropped to my knees on it, situating myself into the position Nathaniel explained I was to be in whenever I waited for him in the playroom — butt resting on my heels, back straight, right hand on top of my left in my lap, fingers not intertwined, and head down. I got into position and waited.
September Book of the Month

WHEN I'M WITH YOU - EXCERPT

A sizzling excerpt from When I'm With You, Book 2 in Beth Kery's captivating Because You Are Mine series.
August Book of the Month

You've Met The Submissive... Now Meet The Dominant

My phone gave a low double beep. "Yes, Sara?" I looked at my watch - three forty-five. Abigail was punctual. Another positive. "Ms. King is here, sir." "Thank you, Sara. I'll let you know when I'm ready for her." I disconnected. I drank some water and looked over the pages one more time. All was ready. I picked up her application and reread it, although I'm not sure why. I had it memorized. When the clock read five after four, I called Sara and told her to send Abigail in. I took a deep breath, opened a blank document on my computer, and started typing. Nathaniel West is the world’s biggest fucking idiot. What the hell do you think you’re doing? Idiot. Abigail opened the door and quietly stepped inside, closing the door behind her. Big. Fucking. Idiot. You have no business having her here. This will go down as your worst mistake ever. She walked to the middle of my office, and from my peripheral vision, I saw her stand with her hands to her sides, feet spread to the width of her shoulders. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Damn. I kept typing while I peeked at her. She took a deep breath. Her eyes were closed. Pull it together, West, I typed. She’s here for you. To be your submissive. The least you can do is not be a complete pansy ass. You’ve done this many times. She wants to be your sub. You are a dom. She’s nothing new. Nothing special. It’s very, very simple, so stop trying to make it complicated. Give her what she wants. What she needs. Take what she’ll give. And some of what she doesn’t even know she has to offer. Typing helped clear my head. Very much like playing the piano. I wrote out a few more lines, took a deep breath, and looked up. “Abigail King,” I said. She jumped. It was to be expected really. Her head was still down, but a faint tremor ran throughout her body. I wanted to reach out and touch her, reassure her I would never harm her. Instead, I picked up her application and the packet of papers I would give her if the meeting went well and tapped them together. Her head was still down. Very nice. I pushed back from my desk and walked across the floor. Her tremor intensified, but just barely. I stood behind her and reached out a hand. It was time to touch her and realize she was no more than a flesh-and-blood woman. Nothing more. Nothing less. I brushed her long, dark hair to one side and leaned in close. “You have no references.” Because it was the truth and because I wanted to see the pulse quicken at that delicate spot at the base of her throat. Yes. Just. Like. That. I leaned closer, so my lips were almost to her throat. “I would have you know that I’m not interested in training a submissive. My submissives have always been fully trained.” Would she want to know why I was making an exception in her case? Would my words have tipped her off that something was different about her? Probably not. But they should have. This was not the way I normally operated. I was changing all the rules for her. And she didn’t even know it. I took her hair and pulled. “Are you sure this is what you want, Abigail? You need to be sure.” A small part of me wanted her say no, to look up and leave. Never to return. But the biggest part of me wanted her to stay. Wanted her. She didn’t move. Didn’t leave. I chuckled and walked back to my desk. We were both so stubborn. Maybe this would work after all. Damn, I wanted it to work. “Look at me, Abigail.” Our eyes met for the first time. Hers were a deep brown and framed by thick lashes. I saw her every thought reflected in those eyes. The nervousness, the hunger, the frank assessment as her gaze traveled over me. I drummed my fingers on the desk. Her eyes darkened and she looked slightly embarrassed. Ah, she was thinking dirty, dirty thoughts. And that made me smile — but enough of that for now. “I’m not interested in why you decided to submit your application. If I select you and you are agreeable to my terms, your past won’t matter.” Because the past was no more. What mattered was now. I tapped the two reports together. “I know what I need to.” She still didn’t move. Didn’t say anything. “You have no training,” I said. “But you’re very good.” I turned to the window. Darkness cloaked the street down below, but the light from my office made the window a mirror. I could see everything Abigail did. She met my eyes for a second and then looked down. We couldn’t have that. “I rather like you, Abigail King. Although I don’t recall telling you to look away.” Yes, I thought, when her eyes met mine once more. We were going to move forward. I had her in my hands and I would not let her go. “I think a weekend test is in order.”
July Book of the Month

Complete Me: a peek at J. Kenner's explosive finale

Fear yanks me from a deep sleep, and I sit bolt upright in a room shrouded with gray, the muted green light from a digital alarm clock announcing that it is just after midnight. My breath comes in gasps, and my eyes are wide but unseeing. The last remnant of an already forgotten nightmare brushes against me like the tattered hem of a specter's cloak, powerful enough to fill me with terror, and yet so insubstantial that it evaporates like mist when I try to grasp it. I do not know what frightened me. I only know that I am alone, and that I am scared. Alone? I turn swiftly in bed, shifting my body as I reach out to my right. But even before my fingers brush the cool, expensive sheets, I know that he is not there. I may have fallen asleep in Damien’s arms, but once again, I have awakened alone. At least now I know the source of the nightmare. It is the same fear I have faced every day and every night for weeks. The fear I try to hide beneath a plastic smile as I sit beside Damien day in and day out as his attorneys go over his defense in meticulous detail. As they explain the procedural ins-and-outs of a murder trial under German law. As they practically beg him to shine a light into the dark corners of his childhood because they know, as I do, that those secrets are his salvation. But Damien remains stubbornly mute, and I am left huddled against this pervasive fear that I will lose him. That he will be taken from me. And not just fear. I’m also fighting the damnable, overwhelming, panic-inducing knowledge that there isn’t a goddamn thing in the world I can do. Nothing except wait and watch and hope. But I do not like waiting, and I have never put my faith in hope. It is a cousin of fate, and both are too mercurial for my taste. What I crave is action, but the only one who can act is Damien, and he has steadfastly refused. And that, I think, is the worst cut of all. Because while I understand the reason for his silence, I can’t quell the selfish spark of anger. Because at the core of it all, it’s not just himself that Damien is sacrificing. It’s me. Hell, it’s us. We are running out of time. His trial will begin only a few hours from now, and unless he changes his mind about his defense, it is very likely that I will lose this man. I squeeze my eyes shut, forcing the tears to remain at bay. I can push the fear back, but my anger is like a living thing, and I am afraid that it will explode no matter how hard I try to quell it. For that matter, I’m afraid that suppressing it will make the ultimate explosion all the more brutal. When the indictment came through, Damien had tried to push me away, believing that he was protecting me. But he’d been wrong—and I’d flown all the way to Germany to tell him so. I’ve been here for over three weeks now, and there has not been a day when I have regretted coming, and I do not doubt that what he said when I arrived on his doorstep is true—he loves me. But that knowledge doesn’t diminish the sense of foreboding that has been rising within me. A trepidation that is especially potent at night when I wake alone and know that he has turned to solitude and Scotch when I want him in my arms. He loves me, yes. But at the same time I’m afraid that he is pushing me away again. Not in big steps, but in little ones. Well, screw that. I peel myself away from the cool comfort of our bed and stand up. I’m naked, and I bend to retrieve the white, lush robe provided by the Hotel Kempinski. Damien brushed it back off my shoulders after our shower last night, and I left it where it fell, a soft pile of cotton beside the bed. The sash is a different story, and I have to dig in the rumpled sheets to find it. Sex with Damien is always intense, but as the trial comes closer, it has been wilder, more potent, as if by controlling me Damien can control the outcome. Idly, I rub my wrists. They bear no marks, but that is only because Damien is careful. I can’t say the same about my ass, which still tingles from the feel of his palm against my skin. I like it—both this lingering sting and the knowledge that he needs my submission as much as I need to give myself to him. I find the sash shoved down near the foot of the bed. Last night, it had bound my wrists behind my back. Now, I tie it around my waist and tug it tight, relishing the luxurious comfort after waking so violently. The room itself is equally soothing, every detail done to perfection. Every piece of wood polished, every tiny knickknack and artistic addition thoughtfully arranged. Right now, however, I am oblivious to the room’s charms. I only want to find Damien. The bedroom connects to an oversized dressing area and a stunning bathroom. I check briefly in both, though I do not expect to find him, then continue through to the living area. The space is large and also well-appointed with comfortable seating and a round worktable that is now covered with sheafs of papers and folders representing both the business that Damien continues to run despite the world collapsing around our ears, and the various legal documents that his attorney, Charles Maynard, has ordered Damien to study. I let the robe drop where I stand and pull on the stunning trompe l’oeil patterned sheath that Damien cavalierly tossed over the arm of a chair after peeling it off me last night. We’ve spent a few hours escaping reality by shopping on Munich’s famous Maximilianstrasse, and I have acquired so many shoes and dresses I could open my own boutique. I run my fingers through my hair as I cross the room to the phone by the bar. I force myself not to go into the bathroom to primp and freshen the makeup that has surely rubbed off. It’s more challenging than it sounds; the mantra that a lady doesn’t go out unfinished has been beaten into my head since birth. But with Damien at my side I have thumbed my nose at many of the tribulations of my youth, and right now I am more concerned with finding him than with applying fresh lipstick. I pick up the receiver and dial zero. Almost immediately there is an accented voice on the other end. “Good evening, Ms. Fairchild.” “He’s in the bar?” I do not need to explain who “he” is. “He is. Shall I have a phone brought to his table?” “No, that’s all right. I’ll come down.” “Sehr gut. Is there anything else I can do for you?” “No, thank you.” I’m about to hang up when I realize there is something. “Wait!” I catch him before he clicks off, then enlist his help with my plan to distract Damien from his demons. Despite the age of the building and the elegance of the interior, the hotel boasts a modern ambiance, and I have come to feel at home within these walls. I wait impatiently for the elevator, and then even more impatiently once I’m in the car. The descent seems to take forever, and when the doors finally open to reveal the opulent lobby, I aim myself straight for the Old English–style bar. Though it’s late on a Sunday, the Jahreszeiten Bar is bustling. A woman stands by the piano softly singing to the gathered crowd. I barely pay her any heed. I don’t expect to find Damien among the listeners. Instead, I wander through the wood and red leather interior, shaking off the help of a waiter who wants to seat me. I pause for a moment, standing idly beside a blond woman about my age who is sipping champagne and laughing with a man who might be her father, but I’m betting is not. I turn slowly, taking in the room around me. Damien is not with the group at the piano, nor is he sitting at the bar. And he does not occupy any of the red leather chairs that are evenly spaced around the tables. I’m starting to worry that perhaps he was leaving as I was coming. Then I take a step to the left and realize that what I thought was a solid wall is actually an optical illusion created by a pillar. Now I can see the rest of the room, including the flames leaping in the fi replace set into the opposite wall. There is a small love seat and two chairs surrounding the hearth. And, yes, there is Damien. I immediately exhale, my relief so intense I almost use the blonde’s shoulder to steady myself. Damien is seated in one of the chairs, his back to the room as he faces the flames. His shoulders are broad and straight, and more than capable of bearing the weight of the world upon them. I wish, however, that they didn’t have to. I move toward him, the sound of my approach muffled by both the thick carpet and the din of conversation. I pause a few feet behind him, already feeling the familiar pull I experience whenever I am near Damien. The singer is now crooning “Since I Fell for You,” her voice cutting sharp and clear across the room. Her voice is so mournful that I’m afraid it is going to unleash a flood of tears along with all of the stress of the last few weeks. No. I’m here to comfort Damien, not the other way around, and I continue toward him with renewed resolve. When I finally reach him, I press my hand to his shoulder and bend down, my lips brushing his ear. “Is this a private party, or can anyone join in?” I hear rather than see his answering smile. “That depends on who’s asking.” He doesn’t turn to face me, but he lifts his arm so that his hand is held up in a silent invitation. I close my hand in his, and he guides me gently around the chair until I am standing in front of him. I know every line of this man’s face. Every angle, every curve. I know his lips, his expressions. I can close my own eyes and picture his, dark with desire, bright with laughter. I have only to look at his midnight-colored hair to imagine the soft, thick locks between my fingers. There is nothing about him that is not intimately familiar to me, and yet every glance at him hits me like a shock, reverberating through me with enough power to knock me to my knees. Empirically, he is gorgeous. But it is not simply his looks that overwhelm. It is the whole package. The power, the confidence, the bone-deep sensuality that he couldn’t shake even if he tried. “Damien,” I whisper, because I can’t wait any longer to feel his name on my lips. That wide, spectacular mouth curves into a slow smile. He tugs my hand, pulling me onto his lap. His thighs are firm and athletic, and I settle there eagerly, but I don’t lean against him. I want to sit back enough that I can see his face. “Do you want to talk about it?” I know what his answer will be, and yet I hold my breath, praying that I am wrong. “No,” he says. “I just want to hold you.” I smile as if his words are sweetly romantic, refusing to let him see how much they chill me. I need his touch, yes. But I need the man more. I stroke his cheek. He hasn’t shaved since yesterday, and the stubble of his beard is rough against my palm. The shock of our connection rumbles through me, and my chest feels tight, my breath uneven. Will there ever come a time when I can be near him without yearning for him? Without craving the touch of his skin against my own? It’s not even a sexual longing—not entirely, anyway. Instead, it’s a craving. As if my very survival depends on him. As if we are two halves of a whole and neither can survive without the other. With Damien, I am happier than I have ever been. But at the same time, I’m more miserable, too. Because now I truly understand fear. I force a smile, because the one thing I will not do is let Damien see how terrified I am of losing him. It doesn’t matter; Damien knows me too well. “You’re scared,” he says, and the sadness that colors his voice is enough to melt me. “You’re the one person in all the world I cannot bear to hurt, and yet I’m the one who put fear in your eyes.” “No,” I say. “I’m not scared at all.” “Liar,” he says gently. “You forget that I’ve seen you in action, Damien Stark. You’re a goddamn force of nature. They can’t possibly hold you. Maybe they don’t know it yet, but I do. You’re going to walk away from this. You’re going home a free man. There’s no other way that this can end.” I say the words because I need to believe them. But he is right. I am desperately afraid. Damien, of course, sees through my bullshit. Gently, he tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. “You should be scared. This is the kind of case that has prosecutors salivating.” “But you were only fourteen,” I say. “Which is why they’re not trying me as an adult.” I frown because even though he was only fourteen, he’s looking at a decade in prison. “But you didn’t kill Merle Richter.” That, after all, is the most important point. His expression darkens. “Truth is a malleable thing, and once I walk into that courtroom, the truth is what the court says it is.” “Then you need to make sure the judges know the real truth. Dammit, Damien, you didn’t kill him. But even if you had, there were mitigating circumstances.” Only recently had Damien told me what happened. He and Richter fought, and when Richter fell, Damien held back, refusing to step forward to help the coach who’d abused him for so many years. “Oh, Nikki.” He pulls me against him, his arm swooping around my waist and shifting me on his lap so quickly that I gasp. “You know I can’t do what you’re asking.” “I’m not asking anything,” I say, but the words sound brittle, because of course I’m asking. Hell, I’m begging. Damien damn well knows it, too. And yet he is denying me. Anger flares within me, but before it explodes, his mouth crushes against mine. The kiss is deep and raw and all-consuming, and warm desire blooms within me. It doesn’t erase my anger or my fear, but it does soothe it, and I shift closer to him, wishing I never had to leave the safety of his arms. His body tightens beneath mine, the bulge of his erection under his jeans teasing my rear as I shift my weight and lean closer, deepening this kiss and wishing like hell we were in our suite instead of in a very public bar. After a moment, I pull back, breathless. “I love you,” I say. “I know,” he says, and though I wait for the reciprocal words to come, he doesn’t say them back to me. My heart twists a little, and I force a smile. A pageant-quality All I Want Is World Peace kind of smile. The kind of smile I show the public, but not Damien. I tell myself that he’s just tired, but I don’t believe it. Damien Stark does nothing without a purpose. And though it is impossible to truly get inside that head of his, I know him well enough to guess at his motivations, and I want to jump to my feet and scream at him. I want to beg him not to push me away. I want to shout that I get it, that he’s trying to protect me because he knows that he might lose the trial. That he might be ripped from me. But goddammit, doesn’t he know that all he’s doing is hurting me? I believe with all my heart that Damien loves me. What I fear is that love isn’t enough. Not when he’s determined to push me away in some misguided attempt to protect me. So I don’t lash out. That’s not a fight I can win, but I can play the game my own way. With renewed resolve, I kick the wattage up on my smile and slide off his lap, my hand extended to him. “You have to be in court at ten, Mr. Stark. I think you’d better come with me.” He stands, his expression wary. “Are you going to tell me I have to get some sleep?” “No.” His gaze slides over me, and my body quivers in response as if he had physically touched me. “Good,” he says, and that one simple word not only conveys a world of promises but takes the edge off the chilly fear that has filled me. I allow the corner of my mouth to quirk up into a hint of a smile. “Not that, either. Not yet, anyway.” The confusion on his face brings a genuine smile to my lips, but he doesn’t have the chance to ask, as the concierge has approached. “Everything is ready, Ms. Fairchild.” My smile broadens. “Thank you. Your timing is perfect.” I take the hand of the very confused man that I love and lead him through the lobby, following the concierge to the front of the hotel. There, parked on the street beside a very giddy valet, is a cherry red Lamborghini. Damien turns to look at me. “What’s this?” “A rental. I thought you could use a little fun tonight, and the A9’s just a few miles away. Fast car. German autobahn. It seemed like a no-brainer to me.” “Boys and their toys?” I lower my voice so that the concierge can’t overhear. “Since we already have some interesting toys in the room, I thought you might enjoy a change of pace.” I lead him closer to where the valet stands by the open passenger door. “I understand she’s very responsive, and I know you’ll enjoy having all that power at your command.” “Is she?” He looks me up and down, and this time the inspection is tinged with fire. “As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I like. Responsiveness. Power. Control.” “I know,” I say, and then slide into the passenger seat, letting more than a little thigh show as I do. An instant later, Damien is behind the wheel and he’s fired the powerful engine. “Drive fast enough, and it’s almost like sex,” I tease. And then, because I can’t resist, I add, “At the very least, it makes for exceptional foreplay.” “In that case, Ms. Fairchild,” he says, with a boyish grin that makes this all worthwhile, “I suggest you hold on tight.”
June Book of the Month

A tantalising excerpt from THE SUBMISSIVE - the seductive and scandalous erotic romance sensation

Nathaniel West was thirty-four years old. His parents had died in a car accident when he was ten. Linda Clark, his aunt, had raised him after that. Nathaniel had taken over his father's company at the age of twenty-nine. He'd taken what was already a profitable business and made it even more so. I'd known about him for ages. Knew of him in that society-page way those in the lower classes know of the upper class. The papers painted him as a hard-ass. A real bastard. But I liked to think I knew a bit more about the real man. Six years ago, when I was twenty-six, my mother had gotten into a really bad situation over credit card debt, following her divorce with Dad. She owed so much, the bank threatened foreclosure on her house. They would have been well within their rights to do so. But Nathaniel West had saved the day. He was on the bank’s board of directors and convinced them to allow Mom a way to save her house and get out of debt. She died of heart disease two years later, but for those two years, every time his name was mentioned in the papers or on the news, she would retell the story of how he’d helped her. I knew he wasn’t the hard-ass the world thought he was. And when I heard about his more . . . delicate tastes, my fantasies started. And kept on. And kept on, until I knew I had to do something about them. Which was why I found myself pulling into the driveway of his estate in a chauffeur-driven car at 5:45 that Friday evening. No luggage. No bags. Just my purse and cell phone. A large golden retriever stood at the front door. He was beautiful dog, with intense eyes that watched as I got out and made my way to the house. “Good boy,” I said, holding my hand out. I wasn’t overly fond of dogs, but if Nathaniel had one, I needed to grow used to him. The dog whined, walked toward me, and pushed his nose into my hand. “Good boy,” I said again. “Who’s a good boy?” He gave a short bark and rolled over so I could pet his belly. Okay, I thought, maybe dogs weren’t so bad. “Apollo,” a smooth voice said from the front door. “Come.” Apollo’s head lifted at his owner’s voice. He licked my face and trotted to stand beside Nathaniel. “I see you’ve made Apollo’s acquaintance.” Nathaniel was dressed casually today— a light gray sweater and darker gray pants. The man could wear a paper bag and look good. It really wasn’t fair. “Yes,” I said, standing and brushing imaginary dirt off my pants. “He’s a very sweet dog.” “He’s not,” Nathaniel corrected. “Normally, he doesn’t take kindly to strange people. You’re very fortunate he didn’t bite you.” I didn’t say anything. Nathaniel turned and walked into the house; he didn’t even look back to make sure I followed. I did, of course. “We’ll have dinner tonight at the kitchen table,” he said as he led me through the foyer. I tried to take in the decor— a subtle mixture of the antique and contemporary— but it was hard to take my eyes off Nathaniel as he strode along in front of me. We walked down a long hallway past several closed doors, and all the while he talked. “You can consider the kitchen table your free space. You’ll take the majority of your meals there, and when I join you, you may take it as an invitation to speak freely. Most of the time, you will serve me in the dining room, but I thought we should start the evening on a less formal basis. Is all this clear?” “Yes, Master.” He turned, and there was ire in his eyes. “No. You have not yet earned the right to call me that. Until you do, you will address me as ‘sir’ or ‘Mr. West.’ ” “Yes, sir,” I said. “Sorry, sir.” He resumed walking. Forms of address were a gray area, and I hadn’t known what to expect. At least he hadn’t seemed too upset. He pulled a chair out from a finely carved table and waited for me to sit down. Silently, he sat across from me. Dinner was already on the table, and I waited for him to take a bite before I ate anything. It was delicious. Someone had baked chicken breasts and topped them with a delectable honey-almond sauce. There were also green beans and carrots, but I hardly noticed them, the chicken was so tasty. It dawned on me, eventually, that there was no one else in the house, and dinner had been waiting. “Did you cook this?” I asked. He inclined his head slightly. “I am a man of many talents, Abigail.” I shifted in my seat, and we resumed eating in silence. I was too nervous to say anything. We’d almost finished before he spoke again. “I am pleased you do not find it necessary to fill the silence with endless chatter,” he said. “There are a few things I need to explain. Keep in mind, you can speak freely at this table.” He stopped and waited for my response. “Yes, sir.” “You know from my checklist I’m a fairly conservative dom. I do not believe in public humiliation, will not participate in extreme pain play, and I do not share. Ever.” The corner of his mouth lifted. “Although as a dom, I suppose I could change that at any time.” “I understand, sir,” I said, remembering his checklist and the time I’d spent completing mine. I really hoped this weekend hadn’t been a mistake. My cell phone felt reassuring in my pocket; Felicia knew to call the police if I hadn’t checked in within the next hour. “The other thing you should know,” he said, “is that I don’t kiss on the lips.” “Like Pretty Woman?” I asked. “It’s too personal?” “Pretty Woman?” “You know, the movie?” “No,” he said. “I’ve never seen it. I don’t kiss on the lips because it’s unnecessary.” Unnecessary? Well, there went the fantasy about pulling him to me with my hands buried in that glorious hair. I took a last bite of chicken as I thought more about what he’d said. Across from me, Nathaniel continued talking. “I recognize that you’re a person with your own hopes, dreams, desires, wants, and opinions. You have put those things aside to submit to me this weekend. To put yourself in such a position demands respect, and I do respect you. Everything I do to or for you, I do with you in mind. My rules on sleeping, eating, and exercise are for your benefit. My chastisement is for your betterment.” He ran a finger around the rim of his wineglass. “And any pleasure I give you”— the finger ran down the stem once and back up—“ well, I don’t suppose you have any qualms concerning pleasure.” I realized I was gaping at him when he smiled and pushed himself away from the table. “Are you finished with dinner?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” I said, knowing I wouldn’t be able to eat any more, my thoughts consumed by his remarks on pleasure. “I need to take Apollo outside. My room is upstairs, first door on the left. I will be there in fifteen minutes. You will be waiting for me.” His green eyes gazed steadily at me. “Page five, first paragraph.”