WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BED? Harlequin Intrigue mystery romantic/suspense by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook
G-EXCERPT # 1: (opening-Brandi runs for her life)
Brandi Doyle glanced back over her shoulder. Panic surged through her body, a panic driven by fear. The rain pelted against her face, stinging her skin. Had she managed to elude her pursuer? The stalker everyone kept telling her didn’t exist? The person who was only a figment of her imagination?
The very real man who just a few hours ago had abducted her?
She dug her shoes into the slippery mud as she fought to maintain her footing in the drenching downpour. Her heart pounded. Her chest heaved with each gulp of air she sucked into her lungs, but she didn’t dare slow down.
It seemed as if it had been hours since she’d managed to escape from her abductor’s car when he’d stopped for gas at the small service station on the mountain road—hours that she had been running through the woods. But a quick glance at her watch told her it had only been thirty minutes. Intellectually, she knew the rain would obscure any trace of her tracks, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that her abductor was only a few feet behind her and closing in.
She headed in the direction where she thought the lake and some cabins were, a place where she might be able to get some help. It was an area where she had done a lot of photography. If only she could be sure of her exact location. If only she hadn’t been blindfolded. A shiver rippled through her body, part anxiety and part chill. She was soaked to the skin without even a jacket to provide a modicum of warmth.
It would be dark soon and she needed to find some sort of shelter. She forced herself onward, ignoring the ache in her legs. She had to put as much distance as she could between her and her abductor—and as quickly as possible.
Another hundred feet she came to a fire road. She ran parallel to the road, staying in the woods, hidden from view. Shrubbery attacked her legs and arms. Bushes scratched her face and hands, but she knew she didn’t dare venture out into the open—she didn’t dare expose herself to her abductor.
Then she spotted it through the trees—a cabin at the edge of the fire road. A little tremor of excitement tried to take hold.
WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BED?, a Harlequin Intrigue by Shawna Delacorte, has been reissued in ebook available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com (do search for author name Shawna Delacorte). Also available at Barnes and Noble in NookBooks www.bn.com and Amazon for Kindle at www.amazon.com. Information is available on my website www.shawnadelacorte.com
After a long day, the last thing private eye Reece Covington expected to find was a beautiful stranger hiding out in his remote mountain cabin. And when she awoke and told him she was in danger, Reece had an immediate and intense need to protect her. Who was this woman who’d turned his world upside down?
Local law enforcement claimed there was little evidence supporting the danger Brandi Doyle reported she was in. Luckily, Reece quickly discovered the stalker Brandi was running from was the same man Reece was running to…for vengeance. But would their intimate connection only give an elusive criminal more ammunition for murder?
For Voss, a Coletti Warlord, conquering the universe is a piece of cake. After all, he’s a master of psychic seduction; no one can resist him when he sets his mind to it.
Zoey Jones is determined to find her mother’s killer. Surrendering to a fierce Coletti warrior is the last thing on her mind. When Voss is determined to make Zoey his mate, she unleashes her own brand of whoop-ass to discourage his pursuit. When her clever disguises, skunk perfume, stun gun, and smoke bombs fail to stop the ruthless warlord, she’s forced to negotiate her surrender: she would mate with him if he would help her find her mother’s killer.
To Zoey’s surprise, Voss agrees, and the hunt is on. Their quest to bring the villain to justice leads to unlikely alliances in an interplanetary war, and more surprisingly, to love.
“Zoey, in my office now,” my father, General Thaddeus Jones, snapped over the intercom. The general made my name sound like the foulest of cuss words. I’d been a disappointment to him since I came out of my mother’s womb female.
The general figured with his mind-control abilities and Mom’s clairvoyance, they would produce a child with off-the-charts powers. He had little use for a sickly baby who showed no signs of psychic ability. Hooyah!
He was equally unhappy with my mother, Grace, for not giving him a male heir with the traditional Jones-family powers. A botched C-section during my delivery left Mom sterile, rendering her useless to the general’s plans and the Colettis’ breeding program.
My mother actually loved the general. Why? The only reason I could come up with was daddy dearest used mind control on her. Being an ace investigative reporter, she soon discovered her not so loving husband was actively searching for her replacement. Mom divorced him when I was two and took me with her on assignments.
For fourteen years I never received a birthday or Christmas gift or even a phone call from the bastard. Once a year we got a nice letter from his attorney requesting that I be retested for psychic abilities. Father of the Year he wasn’t.
When I was sixteen, the Iraq incident triggered my psychic powers. Mom had been doing a story on the Khamisal Al-Dari, and, terrorists being terrorists, they started shooting at us infidels. When I saw Mom get hit, I totally lost it. I unleashed such a burst of power that my cousin Quinn, the head of the Siren program, felt it all the way in the Bunker, Central Command’s top-secret base.
Central Command and Coletti hunters swarmed Baghdad looking for the female responsible for taking out twelve heavily armed terrorists. Sirens’ psychic abilities make them a hot commodity and prime breeding stock. The hunters were more than a bit pissed when they couldn’t locate me.
That was about the same time the general started demanding his visitation rights. He wanted to get to “know” me. My father figured if he could prove I was a Siren, I would be his ticket to a job at Central Command. The bastard got a court order forcing me to go to his military base in Arizona for two weeks a year.
That was when I came up with the wonderful idea of a grown version of the sickly child. Along with Hollywood-quality makeup that made me appear to be on death’s watch list, I added padded clothing to give me a grotesquely deformed figure. To really piss him off, I assumed the demeanor of a timid mouse who was afraid of her own shadow.
He has this vein on his forehead that pops out whenever I’m around. I love driving him nuts.
If daddy dear had done any research on me at all, he’d know what I really look like. I’m a Scottish throwback just like my cousin Quinn. Instead of red hair and green eyes, I have black hair and silver eyes. I’m pretty sure my unique psychic powers rival or exceed Quinn’s and Kaylee’s. My shields are my biggest ace in the hole. I appear to be a normal human without any abilities at all, and I used my acting skills to become whoever I need to be.
When I was eighteen, Mom obtained information that three high-ranking military men were aiding the Tai-Kok and Rodan. These traitors were giving the Tai-Kok the codes to shut down our planetary defense systems, allowing them to swoop in and slaughter thousands of people. Seems human flesh is considered a delicacy and sold for a fortune at their version of supermarkets.
We tracked the traitors to Dallas, where I met the love of my life. Paul was a fighter pilot assigned to protect Texas. The minute I saw him, Cupid struck. Paul was a tall, handsome warrior with the cutest dimples and a terrific sense of humor. After a whirlwind romance, he proposed, and I said yes. A week later we were at the base chapel, and I was about to become Mrs. Paul Hennessy, when the warning sirens sounded, and all hell broke loose.
The western US defenses had been disabled, allowing dozens of Rodan ships to attack the base. The ground shuddered under our feet as the armory blew. Paul gave me a hard kiss and said, “I will always love you, Zoey.” With a grin, he grabbed his rifle and stepped out the door. A laser beam flashed out like a fiery snake and vaporized him.
Every nerve in my body twanged with shock and denial. No! He couldn’t be gone. He couldn’t. It wasn’t possible. Mom grabbed my arm and tried to pull me to the bunker. That was when the pain hit me, and my mental howl of fury and grief was heard all the way to the moon.
Screams of terror jerked me back to reality. I bolted from the church in my white silk wedding dress and destroyed the mind of the Rodan raider trying to disembowel a panic-stricken woman. The Rodan are ugly sonovabitches. With their scaly purple skin, they kind of remind me of a weird combination of rat and dinosaur.
Unleashing my psychic power, I slaughtered every Rodan and destroyed every one of their ships. Unfortunately, my rage also brought down the Coletti hunters. How Mom managed to smuggle me out of Dallas, I’ll never know. I was almost catatonic from overusing my powers.
It took me six weeks to get back to normal—whatever that meant. My heart had been ripped from me, and all I had left was vengeance. I would find those murdering bastards no matter how long it took.
The trail went cold for almost two years until one of the traitors got drunk at a Mexican drug lord’s hacienda and hit on his wife. Not a smart thing to do. In a desperate attempt to save his life, the snake in the grass told El Jefe, the drug lord, about his dealings with the Tai-Kok. Being a splendid fellow, El Jefe decided to join forces with the traitors. The drug lord’s supermodel wife knew Mom from an interview earlier in the year and eagerly ratted the creeps out.
Mom was in Tucson following up on the promising lead when I felt her die. My mental wail of grief had every hunter in my vicinity searching for me. I was too busy evading them and the general to do a proper investigation of my mother’s car accident for almost a week.
I soon discovered her death wasn’t an accident like everyone claimed. It was murder. Mom had gotten too close, and the traitors had silenced her. Those murderous bastards had made one fatal mistake. They thought I wasn’t a threat.
“Zoey,” the general bellowed again. “Get your ass down to my office.”
My father expected instant obedience. After Mom’s murder, he used his military might to force me to live with him. Could his sudden concern for my safety have something to do with his Central Command ambitions? Ah, yeah. The fact that I was twenty and an adult didn’t matter either. Martial law gave him the right to do pretty much anything he wanted.
The only reason my timid-mouse charade worked as well as it did was Marie. She had been Mom’s photographer and best friend. Marie and her son, Alejandro, had traveled the world with us on assignments until he turned ten. That was when her jerk of an ex-husband got custody of him, and I lost my best friend.
Marie managed to get hired as the general’s housekeeper to keep an eye on me. She was afraid I’d shoot the ass. It had been close a few times. She also kept me from doing anything too stupid.
I waited to answer my father until I was sure his vein was pulsing nicely. The moron actually thought I wrote bodice-ripping romance novels. I had even decorated my room with erotic book posters and a frilly pink heart bedspread. The joke was on him. I’m an award-winning journalist and even have my own byline with New Times Weekly.
With the information my snitch gave me, I knew one of the traitors was on the general’s base, and I wasn’t leaving until I found him. My father’s demands had worked to my benefit. The only downside was the Coletti Warlords. They were persistent buggers.
“Zoey, answer me, dammit!”
I pushed the intercom button and squeaked timidly, “I’m right in the middle of a scene. Can’t it wait, sir?”
“While the rest of the Jones clan protects Earth, you write goddamned porn. You’re such a fucking waste.”
Oh, I was more than doing my part to protect Earth, including being a Siren—anonymously, of course. I wasn’t ending up as a broodmare. With a heartbroken sob, I sniffed. “I’ll leave immediately, sir.”
“You’re not going anywhere. Comb your hair and put some makeup on, for God’s sake. You’ve got five minutes before I send Ted up.”
Ted was the general’s toady and an all-out bully. “Yes, sir.” My dad only got this way when a big-shot Coletti was visiting. Got to make a good impression, you know. The only way for my father to earn another star was to get posted to Central Command.
Dropping my shields, I scanned the area and gasped in horror. Holy shit, this Warlord’s psychic powers were off the charts. Why they kept coming to look me over was a mystery. It wasn’t like I flaunted my powers. Okay, sometimes I did, but always for a good reason. Maybe I needed to up my gross factor or give them what they were looking for.
A feral smile pulled at my mouth. Why not give them Jasmine, the general’s whore? All I had to do was boost what little psychic ability she had, and they’d be all over her. The trick was not getting caught.
I widened my scan. Where was the little slut? Oh my God, she was banging Lieutenant Golf in the men’s restroom. Talk about romantic. Wonder if the general knew?
I slid easily into her mind. Yikes, the lieutenant’s itty-bitty penis wasn’t getting the job done for her. I could hear her saying, “Oh yeah, baby. That’s it. Give it to me, big boy.”
He was going to give it to her, all right. Jasmine’s mercenary thoughts were centered on how much money she could get out of him. She wanted a new party dress.
The nasty bitch was about to get her just dues. With a few adjustments, her power level and brain waves now mimicked mine. God, I loved having psychic abilities. Too bad the fix wouldn’t last long, but the resulting fireworks would be fun to watch.
Now came the hard part. I skimmed cautiously around the scarily powerful Warlord’s mind, and waited for him to notice me.
An instant later his mind struck and bounced off my shields. “Impressive shields, female,” a deep voice announced in my head.
Shit! Shit! Shit! He had been playing possum, and I had walked right into his trap. Now all I had to do was lead him into mine. Giving a little yelp of alarm, I did what he expected any reasonable person to do when confronted with a dangerous predator. I ran.
He followed me easily. “I’ve been tracking you for some time now.”
That explained why the Colettis kept coming back to the base. I had used my powers a little too much lately investigating my mother’s murder.
The Warlord commanded, “Tell me your name.”
It was a good thing mind control didn’t work on me. “Jasmine.” I led him right to the horny bitch and snapped my shields down tight.
I caught a fleeting sensation of all that power ensnaring Jasmine’s mind. A tremor shook me. If he ever got inside my head, he’d own me mind, body, and soul.
My bedroom door shuddered from a heavy blow. “Zoey, open the door.”
Ted was such an ass. Using my best whiny voice I cried, “Go away. I have a migraine.”
“You think I give a fuck?”
I flinched as the warlord’s furious mind swept the house. I was impressed. It had taken him all of thirty seconds to realize he had been tricked.
“Zoey!” Ted roared.
“I need to comb my hair,” I answered in a frightened voice.
“You’ve got five minutes,” he snarled and stomped down the stairs.
If the warlord wasn’t here, I’d give Ted a good mental shove down the stairs. I went into the bathroom and pulled out my makeup. Time to ugly myself up.
Five minutes later I limped down the stairs and came to a dead stop. Even with my psychic abilities locked down tightly, I could sense another powerful Coletti warlord inside the general’s office. Thank God it wasn’t Scary Guy. I had a horrible feeling he would know who I was the minute he saw me.
An evil grin curled my mouth. Just wait until they got a sniff of my eau de dead skunk perfume. I knocked timidly on the door.
“Come in,” my father growled.
I opened the door and got my first look at the Coletti. He was a big dude, and, to my surprise, really cute, if you were into the whole merciless-predator thing. His black battle suit displayed an amazing amount of muscles, and he wore large bronze bracelets on each arm. A bronze chain was woven into one of his ebony warrior braids. He was definitely high up on the food chain.
“Jaylan, this is my daughter, Zoey.”
The warlord’s stunned gaze swept over my greasy black hair that hung in clumps around my pale, zit-covered face, and paused for a minute on the black raccoon-like circles around my eyes. He eyed my Hunchback of Notre Dame outfit in outright horror, and his nose wrinkled in disgust as my scent hit him.
It was all I could do not to giggle. Hideous didn’t even begin to describe me. There wasn’t a man or warlord alive who would want to touch me.
“It is an honor to finally meet you, Zoey.” Baring his awesome fangs in a scarily polite smile, he held out his hand diplomatically.
What a liar. Time to get the fun started. I scuttled round the desk and hid behind the general. “Please, don’t let him eat me.”
The general gagged. “My God! What is that smell?”
“My new medicine,” I squeaked, letting the tears roll. My cheap mascara would soon be running down my face in nice black streaks.
Jaylan took a step back, and his copper-colored skin turned a ghastly green color.
I had to admit the stench was pretty horrific. I might have overdone it just a tad. Thankfully the Vapor Rub up my nose kept me from hurling. I clutched the general’s jacket. “Please, sir, don’t let him hurt me.”
My father jerked away from me and vomited into the wastebasket.
The big warlord grabbed it away from the general and puked violently.
Who knew warlords had such weak stomachs?
A beep sounded in my earpiece. Marie’s signal that Ted was coming with a tray of her nice powdered-sugar-covered cakes and coffee. My plan was coming together perfectly.
Right on cue, Ted stepped in the room. I let out a bloodcurdling shriek and ran for the door.
Jaylan instinctively leaped out of my way and crashed into Ted.
He staggered off balance, desperately trying to keep the tray from falling. I stuck out my foot and tripped him.
The tray tipped over, raining cakes and coffee all over Jaylan and my father.
A stunned look on his face, Jaylan stared at the coffee running down his spiffy boots and the pieces of smashed cake decorating his battle suit.
“Dammit! You clumsy fool, look what you’ve done!” my father bellowed, trying to brush the powdered sugar off his uniform.
I shot out of the office and ran into the parking lot. God, I hadn’t had this much fun in ages, and the looks on their faces were priceless. Grinning, I headed for my car.
“Zoey!” the general shouted.
Crap. Hunching my shoulders, I turned to face him. “I’m so sorry, sir.”
“You worthless bitch, you’re determined to destroy everything I’ve worked for!” My father punched me.
My head rocked back, the world swam dizzily around me, and I hit the asphalt.
“Your mother ruined you.”
Wiping at my bleeding mouth, I fought down the urge to kick the living hell out of the jerk. Staring up at my father’s rage-contorted face, I hissed, “You hit like a girl.”
“I’m going to beat the truth out of you.” My father pulled back his foot to kick me, and I rolled frantically to the right.
A frightening Coletti battle cry sounded, and the next instant the general flew across the parking lot and slammed into a wall.
I took one look at the ferocious expression on Jaylan’s face and quickly huddled into a fetal ball. What had the general done to piss him off that much?
The warlord stalked over to my father, grabbed him around the throat, and lifted him up. “Touch her again and you die.” He shook my dad hard. “Do you understand me? Voss has claimed her.”
His face an ominous purple, the general nodded.
“Zoey!” Marie screamed, rushing toward me in her crappy mustard-yellow maid outfit that clashed violently with her red hair. “Did that bastard hurt you, honey?”
I scrambled to my feet and ran into her outstretched arms like a scared child, and whispered in her ear, “Did you get my bag?”
“It’s stashed under the rose bush. I can’t believe he hit you,” she whispered, shooting a worried glance at Jaylan, who still held my father by the throat.
“I think Daddy just blew any chance of getting that job at Central Command.”
“What a shame.” Marie took an abrupt step backward. “Dear God! Did you use the entire bottle?”
“I guess I should have stopped with one good spray, but I wanted to make sure I grossed them out.”
“By the amount of vomit in that wastebasket, I think you succeeded.”
Immense power rippled the air around me, and the biggest, scariest warlord I’d ever seen teleported in. The guy was huge, and his battle suit fit him like a glove, emphasizing every bulging muscle. Two daggers protruded from his knee-high armored boots, and on each arm he wore a large copper bracelet. Copper chains were woven into his ebony warrior’s braids. A burn scar on the right side of his hard, chiseled face twisted his mouth into a permanent sneer.
One look at his aura of sheer menace, and I knew he was the warlord who had been chasing me.
A frightened gasp broke from Marie. “Isn’t that Voss, the Overlord’s battle commander?”
My stomach clenched. Dear God, it was him. The only logical reason for his visit was the Alliance cruiser that had blown up in Earth’s orbit a month ago. I was pretty sure the traitor I was investigating had sabotaged the spaceship, but all my research had failed to yield any hard evidence.
What had Jaylan meant when he said Voss had claimed me? We had never really met, and he didn’t know anything about me. Did he? Nah, I was probably freaking out over nothing. If he laid a hand on me, I’d kick his ass. I eyed his muscles again. Running was good too.
Marie grabbed my face and turned it toward her. “Unless you want to be a Coletti war bride, you’ll wipe that scowl off your face and start crying.”
I obediently broke into hysterical sobs.
“Better.” Marie stiffened. “Holy Mother of God, he’s headed this way.”
I took a quick peek over my shoulder. Shit! Voss’s pale amber eyes were locked on me, and I didn’t like his gotcha smile.
The Battle Commander’s baritone voice sounded in my head. “Your disguise is very effective, little one. I shall enjoy discovering what is hidden beneath it.”
“He knows,” Marie cried at the same time.
“He sure as hell does.”
“Oh yeah.” I reached into my pocket and hit my special panic button. The base alarm wailed loudly.
Voss stopped dead, shot me a suspicious look, and commanded in perfect English, “You will go to the bunkers and stay until I come for you.”
Yeah, like that was going to happen.
Copyright © Gail Koger
Christine Murphy wanted to create a unique story unlike the usual vampires, demons, angels, shape changers, and other paranormal story lines. What she accomplished was a distinctive world with powerful characters, scenic civilizations, intense conflicts, and the all-important love and passion by reaching back into the Egyptian world and its artifacts. Today there is great mystery and intrigue over how the Egyptian civilization came to be, the influences that drove them, and the fall of their civilization. All of this and more she used in the creation of the Sphinx World, the characters, and the motivations and passions that drive them.
“Readers imagination will be captured in the day to day drama Stormy must go through to adapt to the Sphinx way of life, to build her confidence in her Powers, to overcome the dangers that surround her, and to most of all win the heart of Michael, the Sphinx Leader, who is her mentor, protector, and one true love.”
Synopsis for Sphinx Resurrected:
Complex 46 located in the Yuma Desert in Arizona is the site of secret genetics research for the one woman who can sustain the Sphinx Warriors in their fight against the Wraith. Stormy, found to be a genetic match, is abducted by a team of Warriors, led by the blue eyed Sphinx leader, Michael, who starts her Transformation and must Join with her to save her life.
Stormy must deal with her new surroundings, life, and expectations as a Power Keeper and Sphinx. Michael’s guidance and care give her more confidence than she has ever had and his passion leaves her hungering for more. Michael must lead his Warriors, battle the Wraith, and protect Stormy from the dark presence existing in the Complex. He keeps the secret of their Joining from her and struggles with his desire and need for her.
Michael and Stormy’s undeniable attraction to each other will bring them closer together as nothing else can. Even with their internal struggles and the challenges they must survive, their need for each other is incredibly strong and will make them more powerful together than apart. They will need to join as Sphinx Warriors and Power Mates to beat the odds and defend against the threat of the Wraith.
Sphinx Resurrected Can Be Found At Red Sage Publishing and Christine Murphy’s Home Page:
ISBN: 9781603108256; 1603108254
About The Author:
A careerist in clinical laboratory, a wife, and mother, Christine Murphy has tackled the exciting world of the paranormal romance author. An avid romance enthusiast overall, she has long enjoyed delving into new worlds and characters through her imagination and has read hundreds of books through the years. Having had quite the imagination since childhood, she decided to put all that creativity down on paper and share it with the world.
“Traveling throughout the United States and locations throughout the world, I finally found the perfect place to call home. Looking out my back lanai, there is a small pond where the wild-life will gather and the flowers bloom in exotic pinks and purples. This is my place of peace and freedom that I have searched for and where my husband and crazy African Gray Parrot, Raider, hang out with me. It’s the place where my creativity runs wild as I spin tales of adventure and passion. I have been writing in my head since I was a teenager and I finally realized I needed to capture these unique characters, civilizations, conflict, passion, and love in writing. To capture the strong, spirited, and powerfully attracted characters and all of their adventures and share it with others who are searching for that very thing to make their lives more exciting. If I accomplish nothing else in life, I hope to share the romantically magical worlds and the lovers that I see with all of the passionate readers out there. “
Christine Murphy – Romance Author
Creator of: The Sphinx Warriors Series, The Midnight Riders Series, The Wild Clan Sagas
Check out my books at: http://www.eredsage.com/store/MURPHY_CHRISTINE.html
THE TYCOON’S SON Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook
G-EXCERPT # 1: (first meeting after fifteen years)
Each time a truck passed Vicki’s door on the way up the hill it signaled that the moment she dreaded had moved that much closer. The construction phase of the remodeling had been completed a couple of days earlier. The landscapers had finished on schedule. Moving vans had been delivering both new items and things from a storage company for the past two days. There did not seem to be anything left…only the arrival of Wyatt Edwards.
The local gossip mill had pegged his arrival for the next day, which meant that she had less than twenty-four hours to prepare herself. She did not have any idea what she would say to Wyatt Edwards or what to expect from him. He had walked out on her fifteen years ago, left while she was away for the weekend so that he did not have to face her with his decision. She had been devastated. She could still hear Henry Edwards telling her that she had driven his son away with her constant demands for his attention, until he had not been able to take it any more.
She had not understood what Henry Edwards had meant at the time. In fact, she still did not understand. It was Wyatt who had been the aggressor, who had pursued her in spite of objections from both their families. She shook her head in an attempt to shove away the bad memories. It was ancient history and no longer relevant to her life. She had a son to take care of and he was more important to her than anything else.
Vicki went about her business for the rest of the day, making a valiant attempt to put the imminent arrival of Wyatt Edwards out of her mind.
Wyatt Edwards pulled his car to the side of the road and turned off the engine. Only five more miles to the Sea Cliff turnoff. It was the first time he had been back since his father’s death ten years ago when he had inherited controlling interest in his father’s worldwide industrial holdings. He still was not sure exactly what had prompted the decision, but it was too late to turn back now. He had already spent a great deal of money on making the old house livable and preparing an office wing. He planned to conduct most of his business from there, venturing into San Francisco to the corporate headquarters only a few days a month.
He looked out over the ocean, watching as the waves crashed against the rocks just offshore, then climbed out of his car and walked to the edge of the cliff. The small sandy cove below was the place where he and Vicki Dalton had made love for the first and only time. It had been an impetuous action following a beach party. The next day they both agreed that they had acted foolishly. It had been a very profound experience for him and had solidified in his mind just how much he loved her, even though he had never told her so.
Every minute of that night remained etched in his memory and the emotions associated with it had not diminished over the ensuing years. Even though it had been fifteen years since he had seen or talked to her, he had never been able to shake Vicki from his mind…or from his heart.
He clenched his jaw. Neither could he shake the pain of returning home from a last minute emergency business trip to South America to find she had moved away without leaving him so much as a note. Then, a month later, he had heard that she was married. It was a memory that still angered him as much as it had when he first heard about it—and also filled him with sorrow for what might have been.
He picked up a rock and threw it as far out as he could, watching as it fell to the ocean below. He turned his back on the ocean view, but he could not turn his back on his memories. Finally he climbed into his car and continued down the highway.
He pulled his car into a parking space next to the post office entrance at the back of the general store. He needed to make arrangements for a post office box. He entered the building and looked around. No one was there. He walked through the connecting door to the market that occupied the front of the building.
Shock hit him smack in the face. He stopped dead in his tracks. It could not be. Vicki Dalton was standing behind the counter by the front door. It took him a few seconds to collect his wits and recover his composure. He stared at her, noting the way she bit at her lower lip. It was a nervous little habit that had always manifested itself whenever she was upset or worried about something. As he watched her, he felt a soft warmth flicker to life. She looked every bit as beautiful as the image had had carried in his mind all these years.
He quickly ducked out of sight. He certainly had not planned on this. He had been prepared for the unpleasant and awkward necessity of dealing with Willis Dalton, but not for the reality of seeing Vicki again. It was not too late; there was still time. She had not seen him yet. He could turn around and drive back to San Francisco. He drew a steadying breath. He needed to gather his wits about him. Then a surge of anger brought him back to reality.
No, he would not turn and run. She had disappeared from his life fifteen years ago and he had never known why. He clenched his jaw in renewed determination. He could not leave until he had confronted her and demanded an explanation. He wanted her to know exactly how much pain she had caused him—how much pain he had been carrying all these years. He stepped back through the door into the market.
THE TYCOON’S SON, a Harlequin Desire by Shawna Delacorte, is an ebook reissue available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com (do search for author name Shawna Delacorte). Also available at Barnes and Noble in NookBooks www.bn.com and Amazon for Kindle www.amazon.com Information is available on my website at www.shawnadelacorte.com
Years melted away the moment Vicki Bingham gazed into piercing blue eyes and took in the very gorgeous—very grown-up—version of the boy she’d once loved. The rich boy who had deserted her after a magical night of exploring caresses and explosive kisses. The millionaire who was father to her teenage son…and hadn’t a clue.
Or did he?
Because Wyatt Edwards had taken an uncanny interest in young Richie, and an even more unsettling interest in Vicki herself, the moment he’d returned to town. He seemed to want answers—and it was clear he wanted Vicki. But all that would surely change once this tycoon discovered the truth….
DEJA VU mystery romantic/suspense by Samantha Gentry
Consciously he knew he needed to back off. Intellectually he knew he didn’t dare start something that might side track him from his all-important primary agenda. But he didn’t seem to be able to stop himself from twining his fingers in her hair. He heard her quick intake of breath and saw a combination of confusion and what he hoped was desire dart through her eyes. The silky tendrils fluttered across his skin, accompanied by a tightening in his chest. His gaze dropped to her slightly parted lips, a mouth that beckoned to him. One that needed to be kissed thoroughly and often.
Gable’s grasp on his will power had been tenuous at best. In an incendiary flash, the final traces of self-control totally deserted him. He brushed his lips against hers, not knowing what to expect from her in return. There was a moment’s hesitation on her part, something more akin to surprise than uncertainty. Then he felt her soft touch on the back of his hand as it rested on her cheek. She didn’t pull away from him. It was all the encouragement he needed.
He pulled Lexi into his embrace as he lowered his mouth to hers again. It started out as a gentle kiss, one having as much of a surprisingly emotional feel to it as it did a hard rush of physical desire. Her arms wound around his neck and her mouth responded. She tasted of sweetness and passion, an enticing combination. And he wanted more.
But years of planning and preparing could not be set aside. He had initiated his carefully worked out scheme. There would be no turning back until he had achieved his goal. Nothing…and no one…would deter him.
He threaded his fingers in her hair again. As much as he needed to get on with his own business, he was not ready to stop the delicious kiss. He came within a breath of exploring the recesses of her mouth with his tongue, of tasting the tantalizing essence of the woman who had continually intruded into his thoughts from the moment the boat delivered her to his island.
He held her tighter, caressing her shoulders and running his hand down her back. Knowing he needed to step away and put some physical distance between them pulled at him equally as strong as the knowledge that he couldn’t relinquish his hold on her.
Lexi was the one to break off the kiss, but she did not step away. The spell she cast over him had not been broken. He quickly captured her mouth again, but held the kiss for only a couple of seconds before relinquishing his hold on her. Even though he took a step backward, he couldn’t bring himself to eliminate all physical contact. He continued to clasp her hand, slowly lacing their fingers together.
DEJA VU by Samantha Gentry is available in ebook and print from the Crimson Rose line of romantic mystery/suspense at The Wild Rose Press. www.thewildrosepress.com Check out my website for additional excerpts and reviews. www.samanthagentry.com
BLURB: When Alexandra Caldwell is hired by a reclusive author to research the thirty-year-old disappearance of a big name newspaper tycoon and his wife, she wasn’t sure what she would discover. As she embarks on this project, she finds herself in the middle of a series of frightening events and an unexpected attraction to Gable Talbot, the current owner of Skull Island where the disappearances occurred…a man with a magnetic sex appeal and a past as mysterious as the case she’s researching. Will she be able to do the job she was hired for, or has she stumbled too close to the truth?
FORBIDDEN ISLAND erotic romance by Samantha Gentry
Her body language told him more than her words as she nervously shifted her weight from one foot to the other. Her gaze darted around the room landing everywhere except on him. It all screamed deception.
“Don’t play games with me, Chantal.” A grin tugged at the corners of his mouth as he imagined her out of her clothes and stretched across his bed. “Unless they start with everyone being hot and naked.”
A crimson flush spread across her cheeks and forehead. Her tautly puckered nipples shoved against the soft fabric of her T-shirt, confirming what he had already noticed–she wasn’t wearing a bra. Had he touched a nerve that caused her embarrassment? Or better yet, had he hit on an interesting way of spending the day that was acceptable to her?
Heated desire spread through his body, and his cock twitched as it came to life. He was more than willing to put his curiosity about what brought her to his island on hold in favor of a far more interesting pursuit. He took a swallow of his beer and carefully studied her while waiting for a response to his blatantly suggestive remark.
He didn’t have to wait long.
A sexy smile slowly spread across her face. “What kind of hot and naked games do you like to play?”
That was all the encouragement he needed. There was no mistaking the twinkle in her blue eyes, a color nearly the same hue as her shorts and T-shirt. Her lipstick matched her fingernail polish, the same shade also decorating her toenails peeking out from her sandals. Her breasts rose and fell with her increased breathing. She had crossed his mind many times over the last ten years. And now fate had brought her to his personal piece of paradise for reasons he didn’t know…at least not yet.
No way would he allow this opportunity to get her into his bed slip through his fingers a second time. He could already taste her and feel his cock buried inside what he suspected was a hot, juicy and tight pussy. When he first met her, she had been a tempting treat. And now…somewhere during the intervening years she had turned into a tantalizing, vibrant woman whose mere presence grabbed his libido and wouldn’t let go.
He walked around the end of the bar and stood next to her. He brushed feathery wisps of her blonde hair from her cheek, then trailed a fingertip down her arm to the back of her hand. The creamy texture of her skin stimulated his senses. “If you’d like to accompany me, I’ll be glad to show you.” Holding out his hand, he tilted his head to the side and shot her a look that was half question and half challenge.
FORBIDDEN ISLAND by Samantha Gentry is part of the Destination Pleasure series of short stories at The Wilder Roses, the Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance from The Wild Rose Press. www.wilderroses.com Check my website for more excerpts and reviews www.samanthagentry.com
Where Murphy Abbott is concerned, Chantal Stevens can’t stop asking herself…what if?
Chantal met the incredibly sexy industrialist when he gave the commencement speech at her college graduation. He was polite and charming, yet the promise of ecstasy in his eyes mesmerized her. The moment he shook her hand, she knew she wanted to know him…in every way possible.
Now, ten years later, Chantal misrepresents herself to finagle an invitation to his isolated and very private Caribbean island in order to seduce him and finally discover the answer. One thing she failed to consider…Murphy might have a hidden agenda of his own.
Few ladies are luckier than those who get to attend bachelor auctions. To me, few things are sexier than bachelor auctions, men in tuxedos and betting on hunks. I touch on all of said sexy situations in my latest erotic romance Special Delivery.
This rubenesque-themed short story was inspired by my love of the bachelor auction. I’ve always wanted to bet on (and win!) a date with a stud. Plus, I just think it would be really fun to get all loud and rowdy, cat-calling at hot, young things as they strut their stuff on the runway.
Okaaaaaaaaaay, so I’ve thought about this fantasy a time or two, sue me ;).
Here’s a bit more about Special Delivery-released by Totally Bound Publishing.
Who says good things come in small packages? Corina believes beauty isn’t about size—it’s about attitude—and Zach can’t get enough of her confidence or her curves.
Curvy and proud of it, photographer Corina Saunders seeks to empower other females by shooting boudoir photos of plus-sized women in her home studio. When a charity needs a photographer to photograph twelve sexy men for a hunk-of-the-month calendar, she gladly volunteers her services. Sparks fly during the photo shoot when she snaps pictures of sexy delivery man Zach Moreno’s strategically placed “package.” When the two cross paths again at a charity ball and bachelor auction, Corina surprises everyone-including herself-when she wins a date with Zach, the sexiest bachelor up for grabs. The pair soon discovers that the attraction between them is too great to ignore and give in to their passion.
“Wow. It looks like a tuxedo model just walked in.” Anderson licked his lips.
Corina turned, following her brother’s gaze to see that it was Zach who he was staring at with unabashed lust in his eyes.
“My God, he’s hot. Too bad for me he’s straight, but it’s good news for you,” he said as he tipped his glass toward her.
She had to admit the man was even more mouthwatering in his black-tie garb, but she didn’t want to confess to Anderson how attractive she found Zach, not yet at least. She knew she’d be on the end of an interrogation once she explained the playful banter she and Zach had exchanged during the calendar photo shoot. She’d save that fun story for another time.
“How can you be so sure he’s straight?” Corina asked him with mock skepticism then sipped her champagne.
“I just know. It’s a gift, sis,” Anderson said with a wink.
Corina rolled her eyes then downed the remaining contents of her fluted glass in one unladylike gulp. Twisting the stem between two fingers, she let her gaze linger on Zach. She admired the way the tuxedo blazer hugged his wide shoulders and muscular chest. As though sensing her stare, Zach turned toward her. His eyes met hers and seemed to penetrate to her core. A slow smile spread across his lips, his dimples appearing. The muscles in her stomach clenched in response.
A woman speaking over the PA system broke the moment between them. Zach, who had been standing near the bottom of the stage, slipped behind a curtained area where, she assumed, the other bachelors were waiting to be brought out for bidding. Once Zach was out of her sight, Corina shifted her attention toward the emcee on the stage.
“Okay, ladies. Let’s loosen those purse strings. It’s time for our bachelor auction to begin.”
A series of high-pitched hoots and catcalls broke out from the estrogen-pumped crowd.
As if on cue, waiters came around once again with trays of champagne flutes, plying people with alcohol to aid in the women’s bids. Deciding to play it low-key and enjoy the show, Corina and Anderson watched from a back corner as each stud strutted his stuff on the stage in an attempt to collect as much money for the cause as they could. To pass the time, she sipped her drink and appreciatively took in each bachelor’s runway walk and the frenzied bidding among the women, who were now rowdy thanks to the liberal flow of the complimentary libations.
One by one, each man was sold to the highest bidder. Her patience and her nerves were nearly worn thin by the time, as luck would have it, Zach was announced as the final bachelor. Corina grabbed another glass of champagne and let the sweet, acidic bubbly slide quickly down her throat. Her palms began to sweat when she saw Zach take the stage.
“Oh, baby!” Anderson said. He watched Zach mosey up to the end of the catwalk. “That man is walking sex.” Anderson ground his hips seductively toward Corina.
The bidding started almost as soon as Zach had finished his sensual strut. Dollar amounts were being shouted out almost faster than the auctioneer could keep up with them.
Propelled by alcohol and the frenzied atmosphere, Corina took a step forward. Before she knew what was happening, she heard herself somewhat drunkenly shout, “Two thousand five hundred!”
The heat of shame crept across her face under Anderson’s skeptical blue-eyed gaze. He said nothing but shook his head and gave her a knowing smile. Corina turned her attention back to the auctioneer on stage and her heartbeat accelerated when another woman near the front outbid her.
“Six thousand!” Corina shouted over the din.
“Damn, somebody’s determined to get her man,” her brother said.
However, Corina barely heard his teasing remark. She held her breath as she listened to the auctioneer count backward from three then enthusiastically announce that Zach had been sold to her for the outrageous sum. She’d done it. She’d bought her sexy delivery man.
Now what? she wondered.
To celebrate TRS End of Summer Bash, I’m giving away an e-book of my newest release Special Delivery! Enter to win on the home page of the TRS party site!
My daughter’s obsession with the Bret Michael’s reality dating show on MTV at first made me chuckle. We live in central Pennsylvania, and Bret Michaels grew up in a town about 20 minutes from us. Then I realized what a fun concept a reality dating show would make for a romance novel! Combining my love of music with romance – what could be more perfect?
An imperfect hero, for one. I love slightly flawed characters who find redemption in stories. Jet Trently is just such a hero. Committed to his craft, but afraid to release his new songs, and looking for love in all the wrong places – on his reality dating show, Rock Bottom. I had such fun creating the female contestants for this fictional show! They’re an eclectic bunch, with a few surprises tucked up their frilly sleeves.
The heroine, Billie Prescott, is committed to being a hard-nosed journalist, and has long ago sworn off rock stars. Despite her best efforts, she can’t resist Jet’s charms (he has so many!). Of course the show’s contestants take an instant dislike to her – women can sense competition like that, lol. Billie dubs them The Bimbo Brigade, among other nicknames, and doesn’t take them seriously. Until one night… well, I won’t give that away. You’ll have to read it for yourself! *grins*
Billie’s a woman true to my heart. I fell in love with Paul McCartney when I was about six (yes, he just broke my heart for the third time when he announced his engagement!). The late Sixties and Seventies provided the soundtrack for my youth, and hearing that music always takes me back. Besides books, the only thing I can’t resist buying is CD’s. From all types of rock to country to those indefinable songs that resonate with me on a deep level, I love music and can’t imagine life without it. If I lived on a desert island, I couldn’t pick only five albums to bring along. I’d have to recruit a carrier pigeon to bring me new CDs, or hook up a satellite radio to listen to the new releases!
Jet’s my fantasy rock hero – handsome, intelligent, creative, hard on the outside but once you get past that defensive barrier, he’s fiercely loyal and loving. When he sings, women toss their panties onstage, he’s so inspiring, lol.
Rock Bottom is available from Kensington Publishing’s Lyrical Press imprint: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/30051
For rocker Jet Trently, success means playing the same platinum-selling hits over and over. Philly rock journalist Billie Prescott thrives on covering the latest releases. When her editor sends her to Malibu to cover Jet’s reality dating show, Rock Bottom, her blog’s success keeps her trapped there. Her life’s at Rock Bottom too, until she hears Jet’s new songs. They touch her heart as his music did when she was 15. When Jet touches her heart as well, will the reality show ruin the real thing?
The cottage appeared tiny from the outside, but actually had two stories if the bedroom loft counted. A boomerang-shaped overstuffed sofa dominated the main floor, and cabinets topped with bookshelves lined either wall. In a small nook sat a ceramic-topped iron bistro table and two chairs.
As cozy as a beach getaway.
She swung her carryon bag atop the tufted ottoman. Turning to retrieve her suitcases, she stopped short.
Jet leaned against the doorway. If his presence had been palpable in the house, he overwhelmed this small space.
His lopsided smile appeared almost shy. “Need any help settling in?”
The personal touch. If he hoped to make it literal, he could forget it. Despite her resolve, she found him overwhelmingly distracting. She had trouble recalling what she’d planned to do.
Glancing around, she thought she’d be pretty pathetic if she claimed to need help. “Nope, I think I can find everything.”
Stepping inside, he closed the door and moved toward her slowly. Purposefully.
Her pulse quickening, she tensed, but couldn’t find her voice to ask what he wanted.
He touched the cabinet. “There’s a small fridge under here. I’ll have Cindy stock it for you.”
Nodding, she tucked her hair behind her ear. “Great. Thanks.” She felt sure he must hear her heart pounding. And think her an idiot. “It’s an adorable little place. You’re saving the magazine a bundle by letting me stay here.”
When he moved closer, his crystal blue eyes felt like a laser piercing her own.
To clear her head, she turned away. “It’s situated perfectly too. Right next to the house.” Could she possibly sound any more brainless?
She sensed him directly behind her. His soft tone made her muscles go fluid. Her eyes drifted shut, imagining his famous voice singing to her alone.
“If you look out your bedroom window, you can see into mine. Right over there.” His arm lifted beside her and pointed.
His warmth penetrated her skin. He smelled like ocean and musk. An impulse struck her to guide his arm around her, fit herself against him. Fill her senses with him.
Snapping to reality, she fumed at his flirting, but made her voice sweet as honey. “Oh, over there? I appreciate you telling me.” Smiling, she turned. “I’ll be sure to keep my curtains closed.”
Tensing, he straightened, and his nostrils flared.
Her muscles drew taut in response. You shouldn’t have made him mad–not the first day.
But his eyes crinkled at the corners, and he cocked his jaw and nodded. “Billie Prescott.” He said her name with a kind of wonder.
Not quite knowing what to make of it, she gave a giddy laugh. And wanted to die. “Jet Trently. We finally meet.” As though she’d been waiting. Or it had been prearranged. By whom? The universe?
To recover her composure, she went to her bag and pulled out her laptop. “Any internet connection in here?”
He flopped onto the sofa and extended his arms across the back. “Wireless, pretty much from everywhere.” With a kind of amused curiosity, he watched her. “We need to talk.”
Her mind blanked. The way he spoke sounded so intimate, as if he wanted to discuss their relationship. His gaze seared into her, and she had trouble remembering they had no relationship. “About what?”
His mouth curled into a smile. “The show. Don’t you want to interview me?”
She felt her face flush. He played a cat and mouse game. And he’d trapped her already.
Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com, on Facebook, Goodreads and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.
Cate loves to hear from readers! Email her at: cate.masters AT gmail.com
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