Raven by Caitlyn Willows

Raven-NoLogo

RAVEN
by Caitlyn Willows
Contemporay – Erotic Romance – Menage – BDSM
October 2012
Cover Artist – Ginny Glass

Raven is ready to hang it up as a Domme and have an ordinary life. Trouble is, she wants and needs—all right, she craves—both a Dom and a sub in her life. The sub she already has; it’s the Dom that will be harder to achieve. Especially when the Dom she wants resents the fact that she’s the trustee of his estate and business…and that she did a brief stint years ago as his father’s Domme.

Ben never met a woman he wanted more than Rachel. He’s made sure over the years that his Sledge is more than a match to her Raven. Then the truth comes out, dowsing those fires that ran deep when they first met. Fires that refuse to be denied. Obstacles are tricky little bastards.

It’s a golden opportunity for Will to get the two people he cares most about in the world together…with him. Using a few skills of his own, this contented sub knows how to weave the threads that will bind them all as one. That’s when Rachel and Ben learn who’s really in control. But will there be room for him once the flames ignite?

Related stories are:
Maneater
Soleil
Raven
Oliver

BUY LINKS

REVIEW:

4.5 STARS! I love a good menage a trois. And this one does not disappoint. What I personally loved so much is that there is SO MUCH CHEMISTRY! Sometimes it felt like I shouldn’t be reading it because it was so private and intimate. But I think what I loved about this one the most is that it felt real. I’ve read many menages before, but Raven was the first one that showed how it really should be. There is feeling and emotion, and not just on her part. Yes, there is jealousy; the men are secretly jealous of one another. That there is time where Rachel can be with one of the men and the other can have some alone time. And there is doubt. That is what made it real to me. It wasn’t just about the sex with this novella. It showed more of a 3D side. I seriously loved this book! And I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a menage. – Hooked On Romance

EXCERPT:

How was she supposed to sleep now? Not that Rachel expected she would in the first place.

She waited until Will was out, then eased from the bed, slipped on her satiny underthings, and wandered to the living room. She’d told him she’d stay the night. This news changed things. Plus, she’d had time to process everything else.

A businessman wouldn’t issue a demand for her to appear, not when he had everything he wanted in his grasp. A Dom…that was a different story. Ben wanted her, front and center. And Will was pushing her toward him. As for Oliver…

The three of them were in cahoots. Rachel had some strong words for Oliver the next time they were face-to-face. For now, she had to decide how to deal with this. Going home was always an option. Traffic this time of night would be light. She could be in her own bed in less than two hours, still not sleeping, and still wondering if Sledge/Ben was everything she’d ever heard about and wanted.

Rachel plopped into the oversized chair and hugged her knees to her chest. He’d be perfect for you. Not words she’d wanted to hear. She wanted to remember how Ben had glared at her over the table at the reading of the will, not how her heart raced when she’d first laid eyes on him. Or how she’d tingled at the mere mention of Sledge. Distance and walls had worked well. She was free and clear of all obligations.

Damn you, Oliver. He’d known all along her interest in Sledge, her want of Ben.

Rachel could damn Oliver all she wanted, but she was the one who’d allowed him to play her. To feed her need to face Ben Welsh one last time…just to make sure he wasn’t as yummy as she remembered.

He’d be perfect for you.

Damn Will too.

Rachel clicked her nails against each other while she pondered her next move. Home or…what? This was ridiculous. She was a Domme, for crying out loud, yet she sat here paralyzed with indecision.

What was it that Will had said? That she’d always had the advantage. What the hell did that mean? She was half tempted to wake Will up and demand more information.

Rachel forced herself to shove that annoyance aside for the moment. There were more pressing issues to deal with. Ben decreed she’d stay at his house. She hated the place, always had. But…so be it. He’d learn quick enough to be careful what he wished for.

She crept back into Will’s room for her clothes and suitcase. She dressed as quietly as possible, one eye always on Will. He woke before she could wrap her fingers around the suitcase handle. The man had always been a light sleeper.

“Do you want me to go with you?” he mumbled from the depths of his pillows.

“I can handle this.”

“Play nice.” He rolled to his back and onto his elbows. “I don’t want to get caught in the middle of something.”

Rachel arched her brow with her smirk. “Really? I thought that’s exactly where you wanted to be.” She covered her hand over a feigned gasp. “Oops, sorry. You want me in the middle of you two.”

The sheet tented at his lap. Her work here was done.

“Sleep tight, love.”

Will had the good sense not to try to stop her or follow. If she had any sense, she’d head for home and not pick up the gauntlet thrown in her path. After all, she had nothing to prove. She was Raven. It was Ben’s demand that got under her skin, coupled with Oliver’s subtle manipulation and Will’s “by the way” suggestion after their playtime. She was Raven. They were all about to learn a lesson they’d never forget.

For all her bravado, though, Rachel’s hands were sweaty by the time she pulled into the long driveway leading to the sprawling mission-style home that had been in the Welsh family since Ben’s grandfather’s time. It was a hideous attempt to reproduce Spanish aristocracy. She found the inside of the manse dark and depressing, a horror movie waiting to happen. Staying here put her at a disadvantage. She wondered if Ben knew that.

Outside, though, was a different matter. A lure to the world. A here-I-am vista his grandfather had built to flaunt his success. Despite the lush greenery and greenhouses that surrounded the house, the bright white building with red tile roof stood out day and night. That, and the vineyards that rolled across the hills behind it. Sunlight brightened the sprawling two-story home during the day; security lights at night gave it a lush allure. The house sat tucked away from the bustling city at its feet. A reminder of her brief time as Roger’s Domme. A reminder of a man she couldn’t get out of her mind, no matter how hard she’d tried. A man waiting just ahead.

Her headlights swept the front windows as she pulled to a stop on the cobblestoned drive. One side of the double oak doors swung open before she could cut the engine. The security system would have alerted Ben to her arrival the minute she pulled into the driveway and through the open wrought-iron gates.

Ben stood on the threshold, dressed only in jeans. The light cast his muscles in shadow, defining every one. Long arms bracketed him in the doorway. His brown hair was tousled. Sweat glistened on his chest. Everything she remembered and more, with the brooding intensity and dark-eyed gaze that were Sledge’s trademark.

Rachel refused to allow him to intimidate her. She dropped her gaze to his crotch and the erection stretching the confines of his worn jeans. She could draw him closer, fish his cock out for her pleasure, and give him the blowjob of his life. Show him who was really in charge. A real Dom wouldn’t let her get away with it. Well, she’d see if all the rumors were true. God, she hoped so.

She wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans, cut the engine, and slipped from the car with an elegance born of countless years of practice. Because she sure as hell didn’t feel the picture of calm inside. Ben swept his gaze down her body, setting off more shivers Rachel struggled to hide.

“I understand you’ve extended your hospitality to me.” Slow steps brought her closer. It was impossible to muster sultry in sneakers. One mark against her. “How could I possibly refuse?” She waved her arm toward her car as she approached. “Be a dear and fetch my suitcase.”

Fire flared in his eyes, sending another jolt through Rachel. She held her ground, but barely.

Ben blocked her passage. “I expect a please with that order, Miss Moore.”

It was the “Miss Moore” that did Rachel in. That subtle, firm, yet strict, cultured tone delivered with precision that told her she was dealing with a true Master. There were a thousand ways she could have responded, but only one would get her what she wanted…needed.

“Please.”

* * * *

The barely whispered word empowered Ben in a way he hadn’t anticipated. Her pulse fluttered at the base of her throat, begging to be licked. There was a slow plunge along her neck as she swallowed.

She was more beautiful every time he saw her. Even more so this close, making her better than any masturbatory fantasy could ever hope to be. Long black hair, dark blue eyes, and a button nose. Plump lips.

He cursed the rise that relentlessly stirred below his belt. He needed control. Having a steel pike of an erection wasn’t going to help. But a man had needs, and Rachel had an allure about her that couldn’t be denied. He’d known that from the minute he met her.

Ben pushed away from the door, allowing her access to the house. She didn’t move until he brushed by her on his way to her car. He swore he saw goose bumps sprout on her arm at the contact. Her reaction played havoc with Ben’s control. He wanted to press her beneath him on the nearest flat surface, wrap her legs around his hips, and hump her through their clothing. His obsession added to the blood threatening to split his erection.

It grated on Ben’s nerves, frustrated the hell out of him. He could deal with it to some extent when there was the physical and legal distance between them. Now that he’d seen her again, reconfirmed how pretty she was, how great she smelled, he wanted her more than he could stand. The fact that she’d essentially turned her nose up at him this past year made it all the worse. Ben wanted to haul her over his knee and teach her a few manners, show her he was every bit her equal, dip his fingers between the wet heat of her thighs. Right here. Right now.

Rachel burrowed under his skin with every second he was near her. It didn’t help that she smelled like blackberries ripe from the bush. She made him nervous, antsy…horny as hell. Why did she have to be so damn pretty? All he could think about was Will and his monthly fuck breaks to see her. All he could think about was how jealous it made him, how much control she had over his life, how she’d been an intimate part of his father’s life and he hadn’t realized it until the very worst possible time—when he was pondering ways to get her into bed. All he could think about was peeling those figure-hugging jeans off her hips and…

He hurried to her car to retrieve her luggage. When he returned to the house, she’d gone no farther than the foyer. She hugged her midriff while she glanced around. The cathedral ceiling and sweeping staircase dwarfed her. For a minute she looked lost, until she realized Ben stood nearby watching. Her shields slipped back into place. Ben didn’t much like it either.

“You’re even more petite than I recall.” He set her suitcase on the brick-red Spanish tile near her feet.

“I might be little”—she leaned forward and grabbed her luggage—“but I’m mighty,” she finished in a deadly whisper.

The words and the promise they held coiled inside his body.

“If you’ll kindly tell me where I might find my room…”

“One would think you’d have the layout of the place memorized.”

“One would.” She sniffed, princess-like. Another dig under his skin. “Far be it for me to be presumptuous. After all, this is your home.”

“That it is, Miss Moore.” A house he could barely stand, historic as it might be. It was dark and depressing, heavy with furniture an elephant couldn’t budge. It was great for business…and pleasure, but the over-the-top attempt at Spanish mission was too much to live in. This place echoed, was too large, too cold. The only sign of life within these black-and-red walls was his father’s playroom tucked away behind the wine cellar. Ben had made the guest house by the pool his home long ago. It was where he’d stayed when he visited his father.

“Did you have sex with my father?” The question, bottled up too long, shot out of him. Rachel actually jerked from the impact. Good, he’d caught her off guard. She recovered quickly, though, releasing her hold on her suitcases. He could see her pulling in threads of control. Ben swore she stole them from him.

“As a fellow Dom, you know the answer to that—”

“Did you?” Ben wasn’t in the mood for games.

“No.” Her nose twitched, like he’d been dismissed. “Our relationship was business and very brief.”

“You have sex with Will.” And it bugged the shit out of him sometimes, only because he couldn’t.

“Our relationship isn’t business.”

“But it was.” He stalked around her, monitoring her reactions, breathing in her scent, soaking in her heat.

“At one time.” Rachel didn’t budge, but her eyes followed his every move.

“But it changed.”

“Yes.”

Ben stopped behind her, close enough to let her know he meant business, far enough away to keep her from taking over, from knowing he was hard as marble. “Why?” he demanded.

Rachel looked around and lifted those deep blue eyes to him. “Because I wanted him.”

“I see.” He passed a slow gaze over her features, looking his fill while her skin flushed and his mouth watered. “You aren’t the only one known for their control, Miss Moore.”

“Until a few hours ago, I was unaware you had any control to…master.”

Was she telling him he had her at a disadvantage, or that she’d never considered him a worthy challenge? Ben began his slow pace around her again, trying to cover his indecision, and stopped in front of her. Judging from the gleam in her eyes, it was too late. She’d seen the weakness. He had to act quickly to salvage this. Ben wasn’t going to let her go now that he was so close.

“Just how mighty are you, Miss Moore?”

She closed the gap between them, coming within inches of slithering against his body. “Very, Mr. Welsh. Would you like a demonstration?” The whispered words kissed his lips.

“I expect much, much more than that.”

“We’ll see.” Rachel gave a small laugh and patted his solid chest. “If you’re a good boy, I’ll show you what I’ve really got.” She was playing with dynamite and looked like she loved every second.

His smile was slow in forming as he leaned her way. “And if you’re a good girl, Miss Moore, I might even participate.”

“I look forward to that,” she softly replied.

Ben acknowledged the agreement with a nod. “Then by all means…let’s go.”

He sidestepped her and led her through the drawing room, the dining room, and the kitchen, then down the stairs to the steel-reinforced cellar. His insides shook. He half stumbled, head buzzing, his body urging him to hurry the fuck up.

Fuck. He dug his nails into his palms. The pain did nothing to wipe out the image of her warring with him. He couldn’t tell which of them had won the skirmish for control, because there was nothing controlled about the way he felt now. He wanted to…

He wanted her, plain and simple. Ah, hell. She’d be like a drug he couldn’t get enough of. Maybe she already was.

The wine cellar opened up to an innocuous oak door set in the concrete wall. Locked against the world, with only a trusted few possessing the key.

He turned to face her. She stood with her hands clasped, midnight-blue eyes monitoring his every move and expression. “I presume you’re ready, Miss Moore?”

A barely perceptible gulp plunged down her throat. Ben closed the distance between them and cupped his hand around her neck. Rachel’s lips parted, ready…expecting a kiss. It killed him not to give her one, but he knew one taste of her mouth and he’d be fucking her six ways to Sunday.

He burrowed his face into her neck, just below her ear, and licked down the column while he breathed deep. She trembled and crawled her fingers up his torso. He clamped his hand on her ass and hauled her close enough to feel what she did to him. Torture was pulling away when she plucked at his nipple.

“Miss Moore.” He dismissed her with a nod.

Rachel stared up at him, mouth open, lips moist. A silent battle of wills ensued. Ben nearly caved. God knew, his cock begged him to. Electricity crackled over his skin, urging his jeans to drop and his groin to tighten. Then her long eyelashes swept downward in clear and unexpected submission.

He’d won. Victory felt like shit. Ben planned to make up for it later.

Those dark eyes peered up at him again. A flush covered her cheeks. He felt her heartbeat thud against his chest. A mask descended over her expression, Raven replacing Rachel.

Ben refused to give her the upper hand. He cupped her chin. “We are equals. Understood…Mistress?”

Rachel hypnotized him with the glide of her tongue over her wet lips. “That would be Lady Raven. Understood, Sledge?”

She ran her finger up his torso, then parked it at the base of his throat. Her eyes locked on that spot, her tongue licking another path over her lips.

“What shall it be? Whip play…or sex? Or both?” she finished in a whisper.

The words did things to Ben he knew were illegal in some parts of the world, even a few counties in California. He curled his hand around hers and drew it down to his thudding heart.

“I’m shocked you would ask.”

“Somehow I doubt that.” She slipped from his arms. “I left my bag of tricks at Will’s. I do hope you don’t mind me borrowing yours.”

“It would be my pleasure.” Ben realized his mistake too late.

Rachel grinned. “It certainly will be.”

Giving her his back, Ben unlocked the playroom. Rachel ducked under his arm and pushed the door open. She flicked on the lights and walked to the padded bench that circled this end of the vast room. Observers could slip in and watch the play on the other side. Of course, there were also those who preferred to watch in stealth, and they could be tucked on the other side of one-way mirrors banking the opposing wall.

Rachel made sure her ass was lifted high while she took off her shoes and socks. His to look his fill. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear she was daring him to do something. Fuck her. Spank her. Hell, he did know better…and the temptation was too hard to resist.

Ben sidled up beside her, pressed one hand to the small of her back, and smacked the other palm against her sweet ass. Most women would shriek in protest, jerk upright, flail—if only halfheartedly—against another swat. Rachel froze.

“You’re playing with fire, Mr. Welsh.”

“I do hope so, Miss Moore.” He landed another smack.

A low groan lifted her backside. “Oh, you’re going to have to do better than that if you hope to impress me.”

Ben chuckled. “Don’t worry. You’ll get everything you need, Miss Moore.” He dipped his hand between her thighs. “And more.”

Her knees buckled, and he swore he heard a tiny whimper. Sheer willpower was all that kept him from hauling her away for an all-night fuck. A woman like Rachel—like Raven—needed so much more than that. If he expected to keep her…

Ben jerked at the errant thought. She’d snagged him from her first smile. He wasn’t willing to let her go. If she knew how much power she held over him, over his emotions, she’d walk all over his heart…and out of his life. His distraction cost him.

Rachel scrambled from his hold and peeled the T-shirt over her head. Full breasts spilled over white bra cups, the nipples a dark shadow dead center. Ripe for the plucking too. Deep cleavage promised sweet relief.

“I usually wear a leather vest for this type of activity, but this will have to do for tonight.” Rachel flipped her hair back; time slowed down.

Ben palmed his crotch and tried to find a comfortable position. He followed every strand of hair up, the purse of her lips, the lift of her breasts as she captured the black tendrils in her hands and wrangled them into a haphazard topknot. A few dared defy her, trickling down enticingly to her neck. God only knew what held her hair in place, because Ben couldn’t see a damn thing.

She gave Ben a playful smack on the shoulder. “Come on, big guy. Time to show me whatcha got.”

Sure strides took her to the far end of the room, past all the playroom equipment to the wall-sized cabinet beyond. No hesitation. Rachel knew where she was going. Ben watched her open the cabinet and peruse the selection of crops, whips, paddles, and floggers arranged inside. Her selection was quick. She tugged on leather gloves that hugged her fingers with as much perfection as her skintight jeans did her ass. It was the way she smoothed the leather into place that made him ache—stroking each finger like she’d stroke his cock.

She damn well knew it too. Ben saw her smirk reflected in the surrounding mirrors. They’d see who was smiling when she was over his lap, those tight jeans binding her knees, and her ass afire from a good paddling.

“You might want to find a safe place.” Rachel edged past him, a six-foot bullwhip looped in her right hand, a basket of white votives and tapers in the other.

Rachel randomly placed the candles around the room on equipment, benches, and the floor, then tossed the basket aside as she took center stage. The candles remained unlit. Ben leaned against the horse, out of the line of fire. He hoped.

Legs braced, fierceness etched in her face, she swung the whip over her head in elegant arcs. He anticipated the crack. Hearing it still generated a full-body gasp. It was the flex in her biceps, the mastery of her control, the power in the follow-through. The candles didn’t stand a chance. Neither did he. It was enough to make a man come all over himself.

Ben knew his crotch sported a damp shot. It was the least of his concerns at the moment. Not coming all over himself held the top spot.

He watched her nail every candle over and over again, splitting each in two. She was the whip, and it was her. Sweat glistened on her skin, trickled down her breasts. And when she’d beaten the unlit candles into submission, she swung his way. The whip curled around his feet, mere inches from his bare toes. Somehow he managed not to flinch…or to come.

“Your turn.” Rachel tossed him the handle. Ben caught it in one hand while she hopped onto the horse beside him, her ass temptingly close.

“You realize I’m going to have to top you.” And he meant that in every possible way.

She cocked her head his way. “I’d like to see you try.” Her whiskey-smooth voice held more invitation than caution.

“I do love a challenge.” Ben slipped his hand over her hip.

Rachel swung around until that hand was poised near her crotch. “So I’ve heard.”

The words seeped into Ben’s blood, raced his heart, and tightened his balls. She’d been keeping tabs on his Sledge self. He cupped her knee and slid his hand up her thigh until his fingers were scant inches from the apex. Rachel gave little away, but the fluttering pulse at her throat sure did.

“I’m waiting,” she singsonged.

Ben grinned. “For what, Miss Moore?”

A flush crawled over her face. “I think we both know the answer to that.”

Ben glided his hand upward, pressing his palm into her belly, then around until his fingers girdled her ribs and his thumb brushed the underside of her breast. He wiggled it under the bra cup and tugged it down, releasing her tit to him. Rapid yet controlled breaths shook the morsel of light brown flesh. He flicked his thumb over it, watched it harden. God, he knew what that felt like.

Rachel curled her fingers around the horse. Those long lashes swept downward. She was his. Ben prayed he didn’t screw up.

He traced his thumb over the other cup. Though he longed to watch it spill into his hand too, he kept his gaze on her face for the slightest glimpse to warn him off. The only thing that changed was her lips, parting on a gasp when his thumb grazed her hard nipple.

“I’m going to fuck you, Miss Moore.” He bent to capture his prize.

A small whimper fell against his ear. “Not if I fuck you first, Mr. Welsh.” She snagged the edges of her bra and tugged it back into place. “I’m still waiting for that demonstration of your talents.”

“You’ll be pleased, Miss Moore.” He skirted his hand down to her hip and stepped away. Only one problem remained—how he was going to maneuver with an erection wedged down one leg.

 

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Soleil by Caitlyn Willows

Soleil-NoLogo

SOLEIL
by Caitlyn Willows
Contemporary Erotic Romance – Menage
August 2010
Cover Artist – Valerie Tibbs

Lori knew their demons and desires, knew true horror firsthand. They’d shared the climatic point of that nightmare years ago. It was an event that linked Lori, Mac, and Blake forever and eventually bonded them body and soul. The heart involved, the love, was rarely mentioned. Saying it out loud threatened Lori’s control, and she was very much about maintaining control over every aspect of her life. Blake and Mac have no problem placing control in her talented hands, in and out of the bedroom, especially in the bedroom…between them…safe, comfortable, and oh-so-hot. But the demon who brought them together now threatens the control upon which their bond was built and is now set to ruin everything they’ve worked to have and hide…and them along with it.

Related stories are:
Maneater
Soleil
Raven
Oliver

BUY LINKS

REVIEWS:

This was a good story and was easy to read. Ms. Willows did a good job with character development and in writing a story that dealt with some difficult topics. I was captivated by the elements of suspense that were added to the story and was able to sympathize with Lori’s pain and anger. The main focus of the story is the relationship between the three primary characters and the author did a good job of keeping the focus there. The secondary characters were well-written and made important contributions to both the plot and storyline; I especially liked Oliver Holbrook’s part in the story. I was happy with the story’s resolution and look forward to reading more of Ms. Willows’ work. – Maria, Night Owl Reviews

FOUR STARS! I soon discovered that Soleil is part of a series offered by Ms. Willows and would recommend that you pick up that book to get a better feel for some of the characters, especially the mysterious Oliver, but this can be read as a standalone. My only initial concern was the two male leads worried me for a time when their cocks seemed to have a life of their own whenever our heroine was around. But the story soon picked up, showing the author’s skill at giving us a heroine who is trying to survive as best she can after she lived through a horrific childhood. Ms. Willows touches on some sensitive issues, such as child abuse, though I felt it was dealt with in a sensitive manner with Lori trying to comes to terms with it and Mac and Blake doing all they can to demonstrate their love, understanding and acceptance of her. Her men will do anything to help her heal and we’re able to see some closure.. I couldn’t decide which male lead I liked more, and I felt the sex between them was very sensual. – Aggie Tsirkias, Just Erotic Romance Reviews.

EXCERPT:

Waiting in breathless anticipation, Mac Jordan stood in what little shadow existed in the ballroom, trying to hide a trouser-swelling erection he knew had left a wet spot.

Lori Belcher was the most beautiful woman Mac knew, and he knew a lot of women. Dated them, fucked them, lived with one or two, even considered marrying one in an attempt at what the world considered normalcy, which had failed before he’d executed the idea. Thank God.

No one compared to Lori. She knew his demons and desires. Knew firsthand what true horror was. They’d shared the climatic point of that nightmare years ago. An event that linked him, her, and Blake Patterson forever and eventually bonded them body and soul. The heart involved, the love, was never mentioned. Saying it out loud, admitting it, threatened control — Mac’s, Blake’s, especially Lori’s — and Lori was very much about maintaining control over her life. And he and Blake loved her enough to let her have it, no matter how much they’d grown to resent her dominatrix persona.

It was probably a mistake to seek her out tonight, but Mac couldn’t help himself. He had to be with her one more time while they still had the illusion of anonymity. That would all change come morning. Maybe even sooner.

Come morning, when the news media started rehashing “the Southland’s most shocking murders,” the three of them would be front-page news. Would the limelight reveal the three were a threesome? Probably not. They had been discreet, after all. But it would make future liaisons difficult, if not impossible, for a long time to come. So Mac had to see Lori tonight. Blake wouldn’t be long in following.

A private call for her to meet them would have done the trick. Lori wouldn’t have hesitated to meet them anywhere. But since she and Mac were both scheduled to attend Oliver Holbrook’s fund-raiser for cancer research, why bother with the facade? The event was packed. Someone here was bound to make the years-old connection between him, Blake, and Lori in the days to come. A few would even know Lori as Soleil — one-third of Oliver’s triumvirate of legendary dommes, a trio now minus one since Maneater had announced her retirement the month before.

Mac shrugged. People could think what they wanted. They would anyway. Mac needed Lori in his arms, in his bed. He literally ached to have her, physically and emotionally. Ached all the more because he couldn’t do much to protect her from what was about to happen.

Hell, he couldn’t protect any of them.

Lori’s smile brightened when she spied him. How she managed to see him… Mac smiled back. The woman had excellent radar where he and Blake were concerned.

She truly did look like sunshine. “You are my sunshine.” The song would always feel like a knife to the heart in bad ways and in good.

He shook the memories away and watched her thread her way around the tables toward him, pausing every now and then when a couple on their way to the dance floor stopped to speak with her. Each time she was gracious, patient, a true lady.

A goddess.

Her long blonde hair beckoned fingers into its depths and promised gold in return. Few men knew how soft and thick it felt; only those she truly trusted were allowed the honor. Mac could count that number on one hand.

Her red silk dress draped her body, hinting at generous curves rather than broadcasting them to the world. Understated elegance, unmatched beauty. The hem rippled above her perfectly cut calves; matching red high heels showed her legs to their full advantage.

Lori walked past the last table and picked up her pace. Her smile brightened. His heart did that little hiccup, liked he’d driven over a hill too fast. Mac reached for her at the same time she lifted her arms to embrace him. Then she was flush against him. Relief flooded his senses at the connection. This wasn’t a social hug. It lasted too long, was too tight, too perfect. Anyone paying attention could see the bond between them. It was all Mac could do not to clamp his hand over her ass and grind his cock into her belly, kiss those full red lips.

“What a wonderful surprise.” Lori nuzzled against his cheek and inhaled. Mac loved when she did that, like she was reimprinting his scent on her soul. It made him feel so male.

Lori drew back but kept her pelvis pressed to his. “Is Blake with you?” Her brown eyes sparkled with affection.

Mac slipped his hands to her waist, ordering his thumbs not to wander upward to her breasts. “Soon. Right now he’s circling the wagons.”

The light in her eyes dimmed. She’d been frustratingly stubborn over this whole thing, glaring into space with jaw clenched when they tried to talk about it. Mac knew doing so resurrected the memories Lori tried to bury.

“I see,” Lori finally said. “And you?”

Mac managed a halfhearted grin. “Circling you.”

She traced the smile line bracketing his mouth. “You worry too much.” With a glimmer of mischief, she added, “Have you eaten?”

He chuckled and tapped his index finger against the tip of her nose. “Pot, kettle, black. As for eating, I could fill my answer with all sorts of naughty little innuendos –”

She feigned a gasp. “Is that what’s wedged between us? An innuendo?”

“Well, I’ve never had it called that before,” he said with a laugh.

“And certainly never little either.” Lori winked and put some distance between them. “So…have you eaten? I can have the kitchen whip you up something.”

He cupped her elbow, then tickled his fingers down her arm until he could lace them through hers. “All I want is you. I need you, Lori. Now. Tonight.” Before everything goes to hell tomorrow.

“I’ll get my purse.” No question, no hesitation — that was the nature of the relationship the three of them had. They were always there for one another. She leaned in as if to kiss him, then whispered, “How do you always know exactly when I need you?”

The emotion her words churned was almost too much to bear. He drew in the scent of her, just as she’d done with him. Words escaped him. Mac gave her another hug, kissed her cheek, and spied Oliver Holbrook headed their way, her small red purse clutched in his hand.

“Looks like Oliver’s anticipated our need.” He kept his arm loosely around her waist as she turned.

Lori’s heat shimmered around him. “Ah, he is the best.”

Mac had to agree. Oliver anticipated everyone’s needs and met them with unerring accuracy. The man was ageless. It seemed he hadn’t changed in the fifteen years they’d known him. No gray dared to pepper his blond hair. No lines crept over his tan features. He was as fit and trim as the day Mac and Blake had met him. The man oozed class, whether in a tux and diamond cuff links or jeans and a T-shirt. One of the most influential men in California, if not the world. A business nod from Oliver Holbrook meant success, and he’d nodded at Mac Jordan and Blake Patterson years ago when he suggested they open up their own security and investigation firm. It was by far one of the best moves they’d ever made.

“I thought you’d want this.” Oliver handed the purse to Lori. His subtle smile blessed their need for a private moment.

“Right as usual.” Lori kissed Oliver’s cheek. “Thank you.”

“My pleasure.” Oliver zeroed in on Mac. “I’ll have room service send up a little something. I doubt you’ve eaten much today.”

Two comments in the space of five minutes? Either they knew him too well, or he was looking emaciated. Mac had a feeling it was the former. He hadn’t eaten much. His stomach was too twisted in knots.

Lori pressed her palm to Oliver’s chest. “I’ll call down later.”

Oliver grunted a response, then lifted her fingers to his lips. “Have a good time. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call. But then, you both already know that.” He dropped a quick kiss to her hand, then walked away.

Hand against her lower back, Mac guided her toward the exit. “I understand Blake finally got you to agree to stay here for the duration?”

“I let Blake book me a suite for a couple of days to appease you both. Plus it allowed me to enjoy a glass or two of wine tonight without having to worry about the drive home.”

Oliver would have seen she’d gotten home. Mac didn’t call her on what he suspected was a half-truth. If she’d caved to Blake’s demand to lie low, maybe she was more worried about tomorrow than she let on. Or maybe she’d done it to shut them up.

“But I’m not missing work tomorrow,” she added.

Okay…perhaps not so worried after all.

He and Blake should have taken a direct stand with Lori on this, convinced her to go somewhere safe with them until the media storm was over. Instead, Mac and Blake continued the pattern so ingrained in their relationship, giving Lori the control she needed in her life. There were times when that was the hardest thing to do. Lonely times. Scary times. Like now. Damn scary. If they fucked this up, he and Blake would never forgive themselves. How hard could they hold on to her before they risked losing her completely?

Mac couldn’t bear the thought. That’s why he’d come here now, while Blake planned a full and aggressive charge for tomorrow.

“Let us at least set you up with a bodyguard to help keep the wolves at bay.”

Lori turned her head his way as they neared the elevator, where several others waited. “Don’t.” Command edged her voice. “If you came here tonight to wear down my resolve, you can leave. I agreed to the suite. Anything or anyone more is only going to draw undue attention to me. You know I can’t have that. You’re making entirely too much of this.”

She glared up at him. What was the sense in arguing? He wanted the night in her arms, not them being at odds…again.

“So what is it?” she asked. “Stay or go? I left a lovely chocolate-raspberry cheesecake back there begging for my mouth.”

Mac’s neck hairs bristled. He hated when she used her domme tone with him. He was one of her men, damn it, not a client, although he more than enjoyed when she took the lead in the bedroom. There was only so much a man could take.

He drew Lori to a stop far enough away from the elevator to avoid being overheard. “Is that what I have to do? Beg for your mouth? If Blake and I beg you to be watchful and have a bodyguard, would you finally agree?” Anger welled up. Mac couldn’t fight it. “Wait, I get it. You’re the domme. It’s your responsibility to see we get what we need. Well, we need you to –”

Lori pressed her palms into his chest, her forehead against his chin. “Not tonight, Mac. Please. I need this. I need you. I don’t want to argue anymore.”

He closed his eyes, breathing in her scent, absorbing the feel of her body next to his. “Agreed.” Mac kissed her forehead, fought the urge to pat her ass, then moved them toward the elevator once more.

“Besides,” she said in a low voice, “if it’s the domme in me you want, then I’m the one who decides what you need. Are you willing to give me all the control in the bedroom?”

Mac managed a chuckle and bent near her ear. “Don’t I always, sweetheart?”

Her sly smile chased the clouds away, and she picked up her pace, silently commanding Mac to follow.

The doors opened as they neared, and they crowded inside the elevator with ten other people. Everyone seemed to have the same destination — the twelfth floor. It made conversation impossible, but the tight quarters wedged Lori against him. She flexed her ass cheeks, somehow using the exercise to stroke his erection. He slipped his hand around her waist, splaying it over her belly, and anchored her against him. Dry humping her where they stood sounded like a damn fine option to him. Mac didn’t mind an audience. The more the merrier.

Lori subtly rocked her hips over his erection. Mac braced himself against the wall and inched his hand higher until his thumb brushed the underside of her breast. He felt more than heard her gasp and nailed her hip in place with his other hand. He indulged in a pivot of his own. She turned her face toward his and licked her lips. By the time the doors opened, her eyes glimmered with the promise of hot sex. Mac could barely see straight.

Lori led the way to her corner suite with a stride that boasted the confidence she commanded as Soleil. He’d be lying if he said she wasn’t intoxicating. Mac would never go the discipline route, but he sure as hell loved when Lori took the reins of pleasure in the bedroom. After all these years, all the times they’d been with each other, the want still existed stronger than ever. And when it was the three of them together…

A shudder down his spine threatened to make him come. Uncaring if anyone saw, Mac squeezed his cock into submission. He caught Lori’s I’m-going-to-fuck-you smile from the corner of his eye. She fished the key card from her purse and handed it to him.

“Want to stick it in?”

Another shudder quivered down his spine. “You’re evil.” He snatched the card from her.

Lori giggled and squeezed his left butt cheek. Her tongue found its way into his ear. His steady hand stabbed the key card into the lock, but his insides were mush.

She danced by when Mac shoved the door open. “I’m going to take my makeup off. I won’t be long.”

Mac admired the sway of her hips. “I’ll amuse myself while I wait.”

She spun around and kept walking backward. “Don’t amuse yourself too much.” Lori gave him her back. Her husky laughter settled in his gut, then slithered to his groin.

“Take your time, sweet cheeks,” he called out. He stroked the ridge of hard cock swelling his trousers, wishing she’d turn around, fall to her knees before him, pull his aching erection from its prison, then suck it deep into her hot mouth. Lori kept walking. He squeezed his cock, gave it a hard stroke, then slid his hand to his abdomen. “I can diddle fart with the best of them.”

“Whew…don’t I know it!” she shouted.

Mac laughed at the verbal uppercut, letting Lori win the moment.

He followed her path through the living area and into a bedroom large enough to fit three king-size beds. Lori had left the bathroom door half-open. Her dress lay in a pool of red silk on the creamy leather armchair.

Mac scooped the dress up to his face, inhaling Lori’s essence as he walked to the closet. The ache grew to a breathtaking intensity. At this rate, he wasn’t going to last long tonight.

He hung up the dress, then did the same with his suit, making sure trousers and jacket flanked the silk and hopefully absorbed Lori’s scent. Mac was down to his boxers when a pair of red heels flew out of the bathroom.

“What? Am I your maid now?” he asked.

Lori responded by throwing her red lace bra and satin panties out. Mac had no choice — he stripped his boxers off and tossed them toward the bathroom. He missed the shot by a mile. Admitting defeat, he snagged the panties on his way to a bed made for loving.

Gold braid secured black bed curtains to the floor-to-ceiling posts. It was the only flash of color in the otherwise neutrally decorated suite. Set on a platform, the king-size bed was the focal point of the room.

Mac yanked the covers down and crawled in. The mattress cradled him in comfort. His cock pointed skyward, harder than any of the four posts could ever hope to be. Mac brought Lori’s panties to his face. The smoky scent of her arousal slithered through him. He rubbed his cheek into the satin, then brushed the scrap of red down his chest, over his nipples, and tickled around his navel before twirling it around his cock.

His balls drew tighter, ready to shoot. Mac fisted satin and cock, squeezing hard to fight the rush. His hips didn’t listen. Propelled by lust, they pumped his erection into his grip. Mac snarled and jerked his hands to his sides. He flexed his fingers into the sheet, pulling in hard breaths to shore up his resolve while he counted backward from one thousand. It wasn’t easy with Lori’s panties dangling over his penis, crotch perfectly poised over the head, taunting him to come into them.

“That’s the most tempting sight I’ve seen in a long time.” Lori stalked his way, naked as the day she was born, long hair pulled over her shoulders so nothing hid her full breasts. She was fresh faced and damned sexy with curves that personified her as woman.

“I look at you, and I want to come.” The bed dipped with her weight as she crawled up between his feet.

“I know the feeling well.” Mac’s words came out shaky.

Her hair fell forward, tickling his legs. Goose bumps lifted the hairs on his body. Lori’s gaze swept over him. She dipped her head lower, draping a curtain of silky blonde over his calves. Her breasts touched Mac; he gasped. Her hard nipples dragged up his legs. His balls contracted, hard and ready to burst. Her soft hair kissed them, then brushed over his cock. She nuzzled her breasts against his thighs and rubbed upward, capturing his testicles first and then his dick between.

Mac wanted to fuck her breasts. Wanted the suction of her full lips while he did so. Wanted to shoot his jism between those beautiful tits, then rub his cum over them. Then let his semen glue them together while he fucked her again, true and hard.

“Fuck me, sweetheart.”

Lori licked her lips, gaze measuring his erection. “I decide when you get fucked and when I allow you to come.” Dipping her head, she blew a hot breath over his balls. Mac’s damned hips pushed his cock higher. The panties trickled down. Lori peeled them away and traced her tongue up the underside of his cock.

Mac groaned and beat his fists against the mattress. “Please. I swear, it’s torture tonight.”

Lori twirled the panties on her finger. Mac suspected she was giving him a chance to rein in some control. He blessed her for it.

“Is it, now? I could bind your limbs to these four posts and show you what real torture is. Pull a cock ring from my bag of tricks and leave you hard and ready for my pleasure only, until your balls turn blue from the cum trapped in them. Trapped like you’d be…at my mercy.” Her low, husky voice sank into his bones.

“God, honey.” His cock twitched, seeking her attention. A word from him and Lori would do all that and more. But for him, fantasy was so much more fulfilling than reality.

Mac snagged a strand of her long blonde hair and curled it loosely around his finger. “Softer than the finest silk.” He tickled it over her cheek, loving the way she sighed and closed her eyes.

He tugged gently, urging her nearer until her nipples brushed his chest hair. Lori moaned and rubbed through it, gasping when Mac cupped her breast and pinched her nipple.

She braced one hand on his chest and eased away. Mac was torn between reluctance and anticipation — he wanted her now, but he also knew from that damn sexy gleam in her eyes that she was planning something good.

Satin panties circled his cock. Mac spread his thighs, inviting her to love his balls with the material. Lori tied the panties around his erection instead. The double knot lay perched in his pubic hair; the ends fluttered down against his testicles.

“I can’t wait either tonight.” Lori swung astride him, aimed, and seated his penis deep inside her pussy.

Mac gripped her hips to keep her still. Fire pulsed up his cock. Tingles crawled over his balls — they loved the feel of her ass pressing down on them. Lori braced her fingers over his forearms, letting Mac have his way. He focused outward, drinking in the sight of her. How was it possible she got more beautiful with every year?

He slid his fingers upward to her breasts, thumbed her nipples until she groaned and rolled her hips. Another rush overwhelmed him. “I’m not coming without you, sweetheart.”

“Damn right you’re not. You don’t come until I’m ready.”

The command in her voice nearly made him a liar.

He brushed his hands under the curves of her breasts, over her ribs, down the stomach she worked so hard to keep flat, yet which still retained that sweet cushion of softness he loved.

Lori tensed when he neared the scars below her belly button. After all this time, she should know they didn’t matter. They never had. But they still made her self-conscious and shoved the Soleil part of Lori aside.

Mac fought memories of his own, and with them, the fear that he and Blake had almost lost her before they’d gotten the chance to know her, a chance for all this. Panic made his heart race.

Lori averted her gaze, cheeks pink with embarrassment. The want between them diminished. Mac refused to let it die.

Smiling, he brushed his thumbs against her pussy lips. Her clit rested atop the double knot — a blood ruby on a satin pedestal. Drawing her juices from her folds, Mac traced his thumbs over the peak, first one and then the other.

“Play with your tits and fuck me, gorgeous.”

“Say please,” she ordered, seizing control once more.

“Please,” he whispered.

 

Maneater by Caitlyn Willows

Maneater-NoLogo

MANEATER
by Caitlyn Willows
Contemporary Erotic Romance – Menage – BDSM
February 2009
Cover Artist – Anne Cain
Good things come to those who wait. It’s a motto Julia Green has come to live by. It keeps her world ordered and structured, and when you are a successful businesswoman by day and a well respected dominatrix by night, order and structure are paramount. But even Type A overachievers need a challenge. How can she resist the lure of three gorgeous men who want to hire all her services? Challenge? These three keep her on her toes, and give Julia much more than she bargained for: an alpha male whose natural dominance lets her submit, a protégé who wants that special lifestyle in which Julia has thrived, and a sexual submissive who craves a woman to take charge in the bedroom. Good things have come…over and over again. Julia needs them all and now that she has them, she’s never letting go, especially not the man who holds not only her body, but her heart.

Related stories are:
Maneater
Soleil
Raven
Oliver

BUY LINKS

REVIEWS:

FIVE BLUE RIBBONS! Caitlyn Willows never fails to delight her readers with unique storylines and loveable characters. MANEATER is a hot story full of sexual tension, humor and self discovery. Evan, Richard and Spencer have buried themselves in work and for the most part ignore their own needs. The dominatrix Maneater forces them to acknowledge their needs and accept who they are and what they need. On the flip side, Maneater/Julia is very confident that she knows best and isn’t used to being answerable to anyone – that is until she ticks off the men and then she learns otherwise. Ms. Willows does a beautiful job showing the various aspects of the BDSM lifestyle and how each person’s needs must be taken into consideration. I’d love to know what happens after this story ends so I’m really hopeful that we’ll be revisiting Maneater and her men. ~Chrissy Dionne, Romance Junkies

FOUR CUPS! This is an exceptionally sexual story that will have you breathing erratically and your glasses steaming up. Wonderful creative characters and a steady dialog along with a deep emotional plot are the center of this fabulous tale. This story lets your imagination run wild as you enjoy romps with these characters. It would take a mighty woman to handle three men and Maneater definitely is that woman. Explosive and very hot erotic sex scenes are the icing on this delicious story. A not to be missed book. ~Wateena, Coffee Time Romance And More

Caitlyn Willows does a good job of grabbing the attention of the reader right away, and continues with witty dialogue and clever secrets. It’s admirable to see how these three really good friends created a successful business, while being so totally different. Julia’s taking over and getting things in top shape shows off her ability to organize and manage the office, and while all the men have something to offer, she can’t help being in lust specifically with Evan. Propositions, steamy, hot sex, unexpected relationships and a fulfilling conclusion, guarantees a good read with Maneater. ~Priscilla Petty, Night Owl Romance

While MANEATER has sizzling sex and scorching BDSM scenes, the emotional interaction between the characters is what makes this tale an enthralling read. Be sure to…grab your copy of MANEATER by Caitlyn Willows. ~Holly Tibbs, RRTErotic Reviews

EXCERPT:

“I feel a shift in the Force.”

Spencer’s words might sound like bullshit, but Evan could tell by the faraway look in his eyes that he meant every word. Besides, Evan felt it too. So did the clients sitting beside their desks. Whatever had happened in the lobby was enough to halt all conversation in midstream. A flash of blonde caught his eye, then sunlight as the back door opened.

“Excuse me,” he told the supplier. “I’ll be right back.”

Panic welled up for the second time that day. Evan couldn’t believe Phoebe had made good on her threat to quit. Once he cleared the office door, he darted down the hall and out the back. Phoebe had her sneakers on and was halfway to the parking lot.

“Wait!”

She turned a smile his way and kept walking backward. “I’m going to get lunch. I won’t be long.”

“But the phone…the clients.” Had she gone nuts?

“Julia’s got that covered.” She spun around and bounced off. He’d never seen Phoebe so…buoyant.

By “Julia,” he presumed she meant Julia Green. If so, the woman was as good as her word. It’d been a little over an hour since he’d called her service, and already a temp hire was in place. The fact she hadn’t bothered to introduce herself was a little annoying; since they were up to their ears in work, he could forgive the slight. But he was still going to take a few minutes and meet her.

Evan hurried back inside. He realized the difference in the atmosphere immediately — the shift in “the Force” that Spencer had mentioned. The rock station Phoebe loved wasn’t on. Someone had replaced it with classical music and at a volume low enough to soothe and placate a person, not blast them away. He was surprised at the difference the type of music made.

He paused long enough in his office to tell his visitor he’d be “just a few minutes longer,” then went through to the waiting room. The empty waiting room. Stunned, Evan stared at the vacant chairs. A woman sitting at Phoebe’s desk, juggling phone calls while she organized stacks of mail, design concepts, and sample binders, finally caught his attention. She’d opted for a telephone headset that kept her hands free yet busy. How it managed to stay in place without messing up her French twist was, he was sure, a miracle. Of course, he’d always been mystified how women got their hair to do the things they did with it.

Evan studied her as she worked, processing one call after the other with an efficiency that made Amy’s diligence pale in comparison. Finally it dawned on him what she was wearing. He’d never seen so much brown in one place in his whole life. Everything the woman wore — everything except for those huge, black-rimmed glasses — was some shade of brown. Her faux-suede skirt hugged her hips, then flared to her shins. Her beigeish blouse looked like it was a size too large. Nails? Evan glanced at them. Natural, he decided. Buffed, but not polished.

He had an uncanny feeling that this wasn’t what Julia Green normally looked like. The word “camouflage” came to mind. Like she was trying to hide herself. Yet, while she might be trying not to stand out physically, professionally, his first impression of her was “unforgettable.” The power radiating from her sent shivers down his spine.

God, he loved women who could kick ass.

Somehow sensing his presence, she ended the call and smiled up at him. She extended her slim hand his way. “Hello, I’m Julia Green.”

Evan accepted the handshake. It was firm, confident. More pluses. “Evan Fairfax. Julia Green, as in the owner of Julia’s Gems? I never imagined –”

“Amy and I are old friends. I promised her that if you called, we would supply the very best for her team while she was gone. Needless to say, I was glad that you did. I wouldn’t want Amy to worry needlessly. She should take her time off to enjoy bonding with her baby and firming up her family unit.”

“And not worrying about us,” he added.

“Exactly.” She pulled her hand away and handed him the stack of mail. “Everything’s sorted for you.”

He wrapped his hand around the bundle. “Thanks. I’ll go through it during lunch.”

“Which will be as soon as Phoebe returns,” she answered. “She’s bringing back sandwiches. Perhaps we can all sit in the conference room and get better acquainted, go over the schedule.”

Evan’s eyes narrowed, her take-charge attitude rubbing him the wrong way a little. She was just a temp, for God’s sake, not their real office manager. “Sounds good.”

Were her eyes brown, or did he detect a hint of green there? Hard to tell with those glasses. Did she really need to wear those ugly things? Why not contacts? She was pretty enough, and it looked like she had a weak prescription. Her eyes would really stand out without them. Or was that why she opted for glasses? To help with her little-brown-mouse routine? Her skin was flawless, her makeup light. Evan sniffed. No perfume. And such a long neck. Her pulse fluttered at the base, as if begging for his lips…

Evan mentally shook his rambling thoughts aside. He jerked his head toward the empty waiting room chairs. “What happened to all the clients?”

“I handled it. It was a mix of vendors, decorators dropping off sample designs and swatches, walk-in clients who weren’t scheduled for appointments, things of that nature. I’ll bring in all the information during our lunch meeting.”

Julia turned her back on him to answer the phone. Her apparent dismissal grated on Evan’s nerves. She might be their salvation, but he’d be damned if he let her take over. He raked his gaze down her back to that shapely bottom she’d hidden behind her drab clothes. It’d been a long time since he’d had a woman over his knee. Too long.

“One moment, please.” She placed the call on hold and glanced up at him, yes bright. “Yes, sir? Was there something else?”

Sir…damn right. “No, we’re good now.” And now that he had her full attention, Evan turned his back on her. She still managed the last laugh, only she didn’t know it.

He was hard as a rock.

* * * * *

Julia pulled in a slow breath. She’d wanted a challenge. She just hadn’t expected it to be so soon and catch her so unaware. Seeing Evan Fairfax across a crowded room didn’t give justice to the full impact of the man. He reeked testosterone. The wave came close to knocking Julia to her shaking knees. She expected him to peel her panties off with his teeth and shove his face in her crotch. Even more surprising, she was perfectly willing to let him do so. He called to that submissive side Julia rarely let others see. Or rather, rarely found anyone willing to take that command.

Just a few minutes in the man’s presence and Julia could tell that Evan fit the alpha role naturally. A born leader, a Dominant in all his glory. He’d take her all right. Push her up against the wall with those firm hands, nail her there with a look, and strip her for a leisurely taste. Splay her on top of the counter before her and run his tongue over all her secret places. Then push her to all fours on the floor and stab his cock deep inside. Oh, yes. Julia found herself getting wet. And there’d be nothing she could do about it. Nothing she’d want to do about it, except take every blessed inch.

His blue eyes missed nothing, despite the dark circles under them testifying he needed a good night’s sleep. She’d sensed him delving beneath the surface of her disguise, searching for the woman hidden within. He wasn’t dumb. Evan Fairfax had caught on right away that she was more than she purported to be. She’d have to be oh-so-careful. A momentary twinge of panic hit her. Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea. She could easily assign someone else to work at Diamond Dust. She’d just tell them that she’d filled in until the temp could come on board. That was plausible. As for the issue of them wanting to hire Maneater…

Indecision plagued Julia, an even rarer event than meeting a man dominant enough to tempt her.

“You must be Julia Green.”

A hand appeared before her. Julia blinked and slipped her fingers into it, wondering how the man had managed to sneak up on her. “Yes.”

“Richard Hall. A pleasure to have you here. We were drowning. I didn’t realize how much we’d grown to depend on Amy. I hope we haven’t sent her screaming from us forever. I can hear her now, ‘I’d take twenty hours of labor over you guys any day of the week.’”

Julia laughed. She liked him instantly: his ready smile, his charm, his sparkling brown eyes. And the man knew how to dress. Where Evan oozed testosterone, Richard’s aura projected self-confidence. She’d been expecting someone self-absorbed, since Amy indicated he spent a lot of time checking his appearance when he thought others weren’t looking.

“Perhaps I can help you and your partners find some middle ground,” she said. “I understand the business has grown by leaps and bounds lately. A new game plan might be in order.”

“I agree, especially now when things are going crazy. A little self-evaluation never hurts.”

Odd that the little phrase had come her way twice today. “We can discuss a few things over lunch.”

“Wonderful. Amy’s office is the first on your right, by the way.”

A charmer with focus, one who wanted to get right down to work with few preliminaries. The pleasing-to-the-eye package hid a shark inside. Julia could appreciate that; however, a little tempering wouldn’t hurt. Then she caught the flash of pink in his cheeks. It happened so quickly, she might have missed it if she’d blinked. Richard was nervous! Hiding inside his business mode and apparent vanity were his shields. Realizing that brought her protective self to the fore.

“Richard, you are such a slave driver.” Julia started as a man appeared around the corner of her desk. “Spencer Griffith.” The last partner she had yet to meet extended his hand, which she shook. He gave Richard a look. “You could have offered her coffee or water, maybe even showed her where the restrooms are.” He gave a slight, disgusted shake of his head. But Julia saw the smile tugging at the side of his mouth and realized it was said in jest. “My apologies, Julia. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Water? Give you a quick tour of the office?”

Another protector, quickly covering Richard’s unease. A caregiver as well. He wanted everyone happy and comfortable, but he’d just demonstrated that he wouldn’t do so at the cost to his partners. For him, though, they would also be his primary concern, even above his own needs. Julia wanted to lay the world at his feet.

“I’m fine. Thank you.” Another firm handshake. “Although knowing where the bathroom is might come in handy.”

The comment earned her a polite chuckle, yet neither of them enlightened her as to the whereabouts of said restroom. Fortunately, Phoebe’s return covered any possible awkwardness.

She jerked her thumb over her shoulder — “Everything’s in the conference room” — and slipped into the seat Julia vacated.

“Excellent.” Julia gathered the work she’d collected in the short time she’d been there, hooked her purse over her shoulder, and sidestepped the men. “Gentlemen, I’ll be waiting.”

Evan cut her off before she could reach the conference room. “Did you see who delivered this?”

He waved Maneater’s signature invitation in front of her — black cardstock edged in gold. She’d calligraphed the penthouse address and time on the back in her own hand. Julia couldn’t tell whether fear or excitement lit up his face. She hated not being able to read a person. This one — Evan — definitely threw her instincts off-kilter.

“It was delivered with the mail.” She moved the heavy sample books to her other arm. “Why?”

He flicked the envelope up between two fingers. “There’s no return address. No mailing address. Just our names.”

“What is it?” Richard took the invite from him and smiled. “Well, I’ll be…”

Spencer glanced over Richard’s shoulder and flushed. “Oh.”

Julia craned her neck. “May I know –”

“No!” they all said in unison.

Trying not to laugh at them was nearly impossible.

“I was just wondering how it arrived. Thanks,” Evan muttered.

Like boys with a purloined Playboy, they ducked in to their office. The last thing Julia heard before she continued on to the conference room was, “There’s an RSVP number. Call it.”

Julia smiled when her cell phone shuddered against her ribs from inside her purse. “Here we go, gentlemen.” And she had exactly one afternoon to lock onto their personalities before Maneater met with them tonight. One afternoon to decide whether her libido needed to take a hike or go for it. Having met the three up close and personal, there was little doubt what she’d do.

She wanted them — all three of them. And she wanted them now. Julia didn’t know whether to laugh or cry over the predicament. Once Maneater took the three, any snippet of a chance with Evan disappeared for Julia. But wasn’t that doomed before it started? She didn’t realize she’d truly wanted a start with Evan until this moment. Now she was mourning the loss of something that had never been and never would be. Was it best to take what she could get rather than nothing at all?

She closed the door to Amy’s office and locked it for ensured privacy while she called Oliver. He let the phone ring four times before he answered. She sighed, growing irritated. Teaching her a lesson, no doubt. She heard the smirk in his voice when he answered. Smart aleck.

“I’m going to need a little help tonight.”

“Really? How odd.”

She reaffirmed her assessment. Smart-ass.

“What can we do to help you with your…challenge?”

Two could play this game. Julia had learned that from the master himself. “Now, dearest, don’t you always know exactly what I need?”

Oliver chuckled. “As a matter of fact, I do. The question is, are you ready to receive it?”

She was glad they weren’t face-to-face.

“I’ll see if Lori and Rachel are available. They always give a good demonstration.”

“Will you be there too?” she asked.

“I’ll be around. Discreetly, of course.” He chuckled. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

 

Into The Night by Caitlyn Willows

 

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INTO THE NIGHT
Book 2 – Into The Heart Series
by Caitlyn Willows
Erotic Romance – Paranormal – Shape-shifter
September 2008
Cover Artist – Marci Gass

It’s an experience too farfetched to be real, but Trina Tate knows she holds the memories of another woman’s soul. Memories that cry out to be with the man, the king she once loved. Drawn to the park each night Trina watches shape-shifting black jaguars running…and mating…and craves to be a part of that. Is she shifting herself or is that too only memory?

Wyatt Caldwell has resolved himself to a life without his soulmate. He’s lost the love of his life twice. Duty now occupies him — duty as head of Braden Institute, duty as leader of the shape-shifters. But once he sees Trina roaming, searching the park fully nude, body and soul calling for his touch. How could he possibly resist?

Related stories are:
Into The Lair
Into The Night
Into The Wild

BUY LINKS

REVIEWS:

BLUE RIBBON RATING 4! I enjoyed unveiling the mystery of INTO THE HEART 2: INTO THE NIGHT. The struggles within Wyatt’s pack and the dynamics of Wyatt’s relationship with Trina are just two of the areas I liked. On one hand, she is his least favorite person, but at the same time he is drawn to her in ways he doesn’t understand. Much like opposites attracting and love being the flipside of hate. Wyatt is so alpha that you don’t know if you want to slap him or snuggle with him. This is a heartwarming story of love, betrayal and new found peace. ~LadyBirdRobi, Romance Junkies

FOUR ANGELS! Into the Night is the second book of the Into the Heart series about shape-shifters by Caitlyn Willows. Both Trina and Wyatt are major secondary characters in the first book and it is the events of the first story that have lead to the strange events of this story. In this story, the physical relationships between the jaguar clan and Trina and Wyatt are much more graphic and explicit. Wyatt seduces Trina while he is still in his jaguar shape and the clan doesn’t limit sexual relations to just one-on-one male and female intercourse. If this bothers you then you probably won’t enjoy this story. Both the characters of Trina and Wyatt exhibit changes in their personalities and I think the changes in Trina are definitely for the better. She is becoming less self absorbed and more likable. The sexual relationship developing between Wyatt and Trina isn’t the only thing this story is about. The jaguar clan appears to be being stalked and hunted down one by one to be killed and the clan needs to pull together and figure out why and how to stop their enemy. Trina just may be able to offer them some insight that they need to solve the problem but can the clan learn to trust her in time? If you enjoy a good sexual shape-shifting story filled with drama and intrigue, then you will like Into the Night, but I recommend you read the first book, Into the Lair, first for some crucial stage setting! ~Stephanie B, Fallen Angel Reviews

Focusing on an unsavory secondary character from the previous story, Into the Lair, Caitlyn Willows’ Into the Night has a striking redemptive note to it. Trina is truly a reformed woman. The sex between Wyatt and Trina is scalding, but there are also male-male and ménage interactions. The plot is fairly easy to decipher, however, there is a little twist that may catch the reader by surprise. This story stands alone, but without reading Into The Lair first, Trina’s actions and transformations aren’t nearly as startling. A pleasing tale, Into the Night is a satisfying addition to Ms. Willow’s shape-shifter series. ~Chris, Joyfully Reviewed

EXCERPT:

Trina pulled in a hard breath. A thousand different scents assaulted her. She shook her head to clear it and tumbled to one side. Vertigo. Damn, it was happening again. Trina caught herself before she fell and eased down onto the cool grass. Nausea roiled in her stomach. She wrapped her arms around her midriff in a desperate attempt to keep from throwing up. The buzz in her head grew to a roar. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain she knew was coming. It slammed into the back of her skull with the force of a sledgehammer.

She tucked into a fetal position, shaking arms clutching her knees. Blackness clouded her mind, and she felt herself drop into a void. Her body convulsed, as if it were trying to leave the confines of her skin. Trina couldn’t say if the seizure was real or just the workings of her troubled mind. Finally, the sensation passed, and she peeled her eyelids open.

She was sprawled on the ground, her fingers digging into the soft grass like a lifeline. Deep gouges bloodied her forearms. She panted, as if she’d run a marathon, each hard breath amplified as the pain in her head drifted away.

Trina pushed herself upright. She felt weak now, every movement an effort. Braced against the tree once more, she hugged her knees. This was why she’d sought the jaguar shape-shifters out. She wanted answers. Needed them. Except the pull of sex, the smell of sweat and hormones, the magic of whatever they were, had taken over instead. She’d been compelled to strip off her clothes, to watch, to join them.

Then Wyatt had been upon her, tracking her, reeking of sex and maleness, asserting his dominance. And she caved, letting him do whatever he wished, take whatever he wanted. The loss of control, the total submission, affected her in ways she’d never imagined. The old Trina would have nipped that in the bud without blinking. But this person she’d become, this person she didn’t recognize…

She buried her face in her hands to squelch the rush of tears. Trina didn’t know what she’d become. She needed help — their help. Somehow she had to convince them to do so, convince them she wasn’t crazy or nosy or whatever she’d been before. She needed to convince herself, too. She didn’t know which task was harder, getting someone to believe she’d changed, or trying to believe it herself.

No, she knew what was hardest — asking for help in the first place. It’d taken her a great deal of soul-searching to get to this point — finding the clan and following them. She couldn’t let the opportunity pass now. The chances of finding them again would be few after tonight; they’d be more watchful now that she’d gotten too close. Of course, Trina could always corner Wyatt at the institute.

Just like he could corner me.

Trina’s pulse leaped at the thought. She hugged herself at the memory — the promise — of his hard, hot body looming over hers. Here was a man who took control without asking, who took it because it was his right. If he could do all this to her in the space of an hour and with an audience, what would he do if he had privacy and all the time in the world? The things he could do to her body! The things he could do to her heart.

She shook her head. No, being alone with Wyatt Caldwell was a big mistake. It was better to get this over with tonight. To make the shape-shifters listen and give her the answers she needed.

If they could.

Trina pushed to her feet and brushed her hands down her T-shirt. Her ragged nails snagged on the cotton. Her forearms stung. She didn’t want to see how much damage she’d done to herself while she was out of it. The truly bizarre thing was that, by morning, any sign of injury would be gone anyway.

It was one of those new mysteries happening to her, like how she could now see in the dark, how her body healed overnight, how her sense of smell rivaled that of a bloodhound. She’d learned to accept the enhanced abilities; after all, what other choice did she have? But the isolation, turmoil, and confusion they caused were driving her slowly insane. Or maybe she’d always been close to the edge, and these events were accelerating her decline. The last few nights she’d spent watching the jaguars was the first time she’d felt connected to anything in six months. No wonder she’d hesitated to shatter that by approaching them.

God, you’re pathetic.

Trina winced at the words her conscience threw at her. The last time she’d heard those exact words had set her on a course from which she’d sworn she’d never deviate. Never again was she going to be the victim in any way, shape, or form.

Trina sighed. That decision had isolated her as well. How ironic she’d be suffering this — she looked at her hands — whatever this was, now.

She lifted her chin and tried to catch the clan’s scent. A cacophony of smells slammed into her — the zoo, the residue from the autumn fires, the ocean, vehicle exhaust. Blood.

Fresh nausea clenched her stomach before she considered it was probably her own blood filtering into the mix. She’d only had six months to learn how to deal with a super-sensitized sniffer. Sorting smells in the rain forest was vastly different than doing so in the city.

Trina shook her head. No, this was a lot of blood. Something big had been killed and recently, too, since the stench of decomposition hadn’t set in. Now that was a smell she’d never had a problem identifying. Living in the rain forest, life and death were never more than a hundred yards away, and nature quickly reabsorbed the loss. But this…

She debated on whether to call the police. The conversation played in her mind. I think something’s dead. No, I don’t know what. I don’t know if it’s a person. No, I don’t know where. Somewhere in Balboa Park. No, I’m not a fucking psychic. This isn’t a crank call.

Trina sighed and let it go. Without specifics, there wasn’t anything she could do to help. She clenched her fist against her thigh and forced her attention on finding the clan. Except too many scents vied for her attention, making it difficult to sort them out.

Now what? Did she wander the park, hoping to run into them? Disillusioned, she wrapped her arms around her midriff as she determined her next move. Wyatt’s scent drifted upward. Trina smiled. Of course, he’d been all over her. His scent would naturally be on her.

She inhaled and felt a rush of goose bumps over her skin. Her breath hitched as her body remembered the hard thrust of his body. She scuffed her hands over her arms in a futile attempt to banish the desire burning inside and then lifted her nose to the air to catch Wyatt’s scent.

There. Trina expanded her senses and caught a whiff of the rest of the clan. They’d congregated not too far away. Pulling in a breath and warning her libido against getting sidetracked, she headed in that direction.

 

Into The Lair by Caitlyn Willows

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INTO THE LAIR
2007 Dream Realm Award
Book 1 – Into The Heart Series
by Caitlyn Willows
Erotic Romance – Paranormal
October 2007
Cover Artist – Marci Gass

Sebastian and Lauren Garner think it’s the chance of a lifetime when they are invited on a unique expedition to search for the secret of long life. But it’s an experience that holds more adventure than they anticipated. It’s a chance of a lifetime, all they have to give up is their souls. Deep in the Yucatan jungle, the Garners are running out of time to save themselves. Does the key to salvation lie in an ancient one who has cast his spell over them, or does he too have an agenda of his own? Who do they trust when all seems lost? What do they chose when the promise of the world and forever is within their grasp?

BUY LINKS

REVIEWS:

FIVE STARS! [A]n incredible book, with all of my favorite elements; love, sex, mystery, sex, adventure and, oh, did I mention sex? Lauren is a beautiful, intelligent young woman who is desperately in love with both her husband and her career. Sebastian is equally in love with Lauren, equally intelligent and a HUNK! They are having a wonderful time being back in civilization, so that they can have all the sex that they want. My, do they want a lot of sex! They have graphic, kinky, erotic and elaborate sex that they couldn–t have on the dig because there were too many people around them. I felt orgasmic just reading about their sex. Even better, they loved only each other. The many secondary characters help the plot move seamlessly along. The mystery began early in the story and continued on throughout the plot as the adventure continued. I kept thinking that I knew what was going to happen, but Ms. Willows was too good for me and did not allow me to figure out the mystery until the book’s end. Brava, Ms. Willows, you have given us another wonderful read!~Marcy Arbitman, Just Erotic Romance Reviews

FIVE ANGELS! Don’t be fooled into thinking a book about an archeology adventure or mystery will be boring or tame; this is an erotic story! Lauren and Sebastian have sex in every location, position, and opportunity they find. The couple is very creative and this is a sensual tale that will leave you needing a way to cool off as you read! But the book has more than hot sex to appeal to the reader. This is a very imaginative story that includes shape shifters, possession, and an evil plot to steal souls from someone on the expedition. Lauren and Sebastian sense that something is wrong from the beginning but they are not sure who can be trusted and who are the bad guys however, people other than them depend on the funding for their main project so they feel compelled to go and insure the continuation of their life’s work. I loved the characters of Lauren and Sebastian and hope they will appear in the sequel that is the story of two of the secondary characters from this tale. I can’t wait to read book two, titled Into the Night! Ms. Willow’s imagination is so creative and fun that I will watch for other works by her and read them. I hope she plans to write more books for this series! ~Stephanie B, Fallen Angel Reviews

This novel has it all…a loving relationship between the married characters, deceit, betrayal, long held ancient secrets, poisoned darts and deadly villains. The multiple secondary characters give great depth to the piece, helping to keep the plot interesting and suspenseful. As the story progressed, I kept wondering what the Prentices were up to and why, but Ms. Willows well written story kept me guessing until the very end. Good work! ~Pam, My Book Cravings

Oh my! Grab a fan and your man before commencing to read Into The Lair. This is one hot story. I really loved reading about a long-time married couple who were still lusting for each other as much as when they were first wed. The devotion between the two made the novel special. Solid pacing, interesting characters, and an original plot topped it off. If you enjoy erotic romance with a splash of m/f/m interaction, you’ll take pleasure in Into the Lair. ~Chris, Joyfully Reviewed

FOUR STARS! A young couple is swept into a world of danger and betrayal in this creative and entertaining story. Their chemistry is explosive, and the steamy erotic encounters are hotter than the jungle setting. The secondary characters are all well developed and add to the mystery to a plot that will keep you hooked. ~Gail Pruszkowski, Romantic Times

EXCERPT:

Prologue

He watched from the shadows that dusk cast over the land. The cool San Diego night beckoned people to the Prentice Museum in droves. What better way to camouflage one’s actions than in a crowd? The innocent and unwary wound their cars up the hill as the sun set; last rays glinting off the windshields made them look like diamonds.

Clouds in the distance hovered over the Pacific Ocean, teasing with the hint of thunderstorms that had yet to materialize. All they’d gotten during the day was sweltering August heat and humidity. Mother Nature had made up for it with a colorful display of purples, golds, and pinks against the clouds and the kiss of a cool breeze. It didn’t matter. The atmosphere was heavy with desperation and foreboding. He would have felt it in any weather.

His nostrils flared as they arrived. The perfect couple — young, intelligent, beautiful…irresistible. Tonight would be the night they’d be marked. He could smell the hunt hovering in the air. It was woven with the scent of the woman’s pussy, punctuated by the testosterone cloud hovering around the man.

He stroked the erection thrusting up insistently before him….and wanted them…wanted his life back. And they were going to help him achieve all of that.

This time, no mistakes.

Chapter One

Chillbumps dotted Lauren Garner’s skin. Her stomach tightened with the creepy-crawly feeling someone was watching her. She’d felt that way since she and Sebastian had arrived at the Prentice Museum. Which was ridiculous, because they were the guests of honor. Naturally, all attention was on them.

But this…this was different. More like something was watching, not someone.

She clutched her husband’s strong forearm and stretched to her tiptoes. He smiled when her breath caressed his ear.

“I need to go to the ladies room,” she whispered. “Come with me…please.”

He gave her a single nod and lifted his champagne flute to the ladies surrounding them. “If you’d all excuse us for just a minute…” He set the glass on the tray of a passing waiter, cupped Lauren’s elbow, and steered her toward the restrooms down the far corridor beyond their exhibit.

“What’s wrong?” he asked when they’d gotten out of earshot.

“I feel ‘off.’ Nervous. On edge. Like I’m being watched.”

“Of course you’re being watched.” His voice deepened, falling over her like a sensuous caress. “You’re the most beautiful woman in the room. Every man wants you. Every woman wants to be you.”

She turned into him and ran her fingers beneath his tuxedo jacket, felt the hard chest beneath. “Only because those women want you.”

“Mmmm…” He twisted open the door to the handicapped restroom and gently pushed her forward, locking it behind them. “Do you know how much I want to fuck you right now? I’ve had a killer of a hard-on since we walked into the place.”

“Are you sure that’s not just nervous energy?”

He grabbed her hand and placed it on his cock. “Does that feel like nervous energy to you?”

Her pussy clenched with want. Moisture soaked the cotton liner in her pantyhose. That’s what she needed — him. Now!

“I can’t let you go back out there like that, now can I?” Hiking up her silky black dress, she grabbed the waistband and peeled her pantyhose down and off one leg.

Sebastian didn’t hesitate. One hand freed his erection while the other hoisted her bare leg up and around his waist. Lauren braced herself against the sink, gasping when he impaled her. His fucking was raw, hard, fast…and just what she needed. All she could do was hold onto his massive shoulders for dear life.

He reached between them and pushed her clit against his cock. Each stroke raked over it, pulling her tighter and tighter. Orgasm rolled over her sweetly, relaxing those tense muscles, scattering her unease. He seated himself on a hard thrust and grunted with his release. They stood there for long minutes, draped around each other in the wonder of the moment.

“We really need to get back out there.” He squeezed her ass and carefully slid free.

Lauren laughed to herself. The last thing they needed was a semen stain on his dark tux or her dress.

Using wet paper towels, they cleaned up quickly.

“You okay now?” he asked as he tucked in and zipped up.

Lauren smiled and kissed his chin. “More than okay. It was just what I needed. You go on. I need to pee.”

He captured her lips in a kiss, then winked, wiped her lipstick off his mouth, and left.

Lauren locked the door behind him, laughing at that earlier creepy feeling. She was on edge, that was all. Nothing like an orgasm to settle a girl’s nerves.

She took care of her personal needs and fixed her makeup. The biggest night of their lives and she was in the bathroom having sex.

“Mom would be so proud.”

She might look killer-hot, but she felt like a freaking Barbie doll. And these pantyhose were smothering her.

“Screw it.” She peeled them off and tossed them into the trash. Of course, that also meant she was now bare-bottomed.

Wearing panties might have helped. It was one of her greatest conundrums. Panties with pantyhose? She’d always considered it redundant. If they were pantyhose, why wear panties? Out of all the things she’d ever discussed with girlfriends, the topic had never come up. Sebastian was worthless on the subject. The fewer clothes she had on, the better he liked it.

“Like anyone will notice.” The focus was supposed to be on the artifacts on display.

Clutching her tiny purse, she swung open the door and left. At the end of the corridor, she felt the first trickle make its way down her thigh. She did an abrupt about-face back to the ladies room to sop up the remnants.

Sebastian’s knowing smirk greeted her when she finally returned to the exhibit wing. He lifted his glass in a private toast. Lauren snagged a crystal champagne flute from the tray of a passing waiter and followed suit, giving him a knowing smile of her own.

Content once more, Lauren sipped her golden champagne. It was light with a hint of sweet, not too dry; the perfect complement to what she hoped would be a perfect event.

She twirled the glass between thumb and forefinger and wandered toward her favorite of all the Maya artifacts she and Sebastian had unearthed in the last two years. Restored and on display in all its glory, the blue-green jade idol gleamed as it had when first carved. The phallus was an eye-popping ten inches long and three inches in circumference, jutting out from the proud figurine that bore it — the envy of every woman at the exhibit.

The artist had shown intricate attention to detail, using the stone to its full potential. Veins of gold naturally running through it became veins of the idol’s penis. There was a slit in the glans with precum at the tip and no hint of foreskin, which made it extra unique considering its age. The scrotum was wrinkled and full, close to the body. Fingernails and toenails were present, musculature well defined, as were eyes, ears, nose, and the sloped Maya forehead prevalent for the culture at that time. The artist had even managed to capture the male’s grimace of pre-orgasmic pleasure.

The idol was made for grasping. Inspection had revealed ancient fingerprints over it, which they’d meticulously documented before cleaning. Lauren could appreciate its being well used. Once in the place it was intended, the idol looked guaranteed to provide extreme pleasure. The hilt would nudge a woman in just the right spot. A skilled lover could manipulate it to perfection, or the lady could ride the sucker like a horny cowgirl and get herself off easily.

Lauren would be lying if she’d said she wasn’t tempted to try it out — no matter how many thousands of years old it was. At those times when she thought no other members of her archaeological team were looking, she’d unwrap the statue from its protective nesting of straw and caress the bulbous head, stroke the massive erection…and wonder.

She drew in another sip and studied the gathering. Clumps of people crowded around the Maya artifacts, oohing and ahhing over it all. There was still a wealth of material trapped beneath the Yucatán soil. The problem was finding enough capital to continue the dig, and then getting back to the site before poachers took it all. Hence the exhibit of what they’d found to date.

It’d come as a surprise to them that funding was an issue. Until now the Braden Institute had been known and revered for its deep, never-ending pockets. To discover otherwise was a bit…unsettling. When the digging season ended in the Yucatán, she and Sebastian were informed there would be a showing of their discoveries to date. That was six months ago, and they’d been working nonstop in preparation for it since then. At some point money was mentioned, and the exhibit became a fund-raiser while the rest of their team waited, bags packed and ready, to return to the site and continue. And the clock was ticking. She and Sebastian felt more pressure than ever. Their dig crew was depending on them.

Considering the crowd milling about, Lauren had to admit the exhibit seemed a rousing success. Barry Page darted through the guests like a cartoon ferret OD’d on espresso.

She bit back a laugh. Barry did look like a cartoon ferret — dark hair slicked back, pointed nose leading the way, bug eyes never still as they searched out the next target. No one pursued funding for the Braden Institute more aggressively than Barry. But with each day that passed, he became a bigger pain in the ass. If she heard him say, “It takes money to make money,” one more time, she’d pop his head off.

From the beginning, she’d been more than reluctant to do this fund-raiser. Barry’s aggressive pursuit of contributions made her more so. She didn’t like crowds, and she didn’t like being the center of attention. Plus, the mere thought of leaving the quiet haven of field work made her nervous. She hadn’t worn a dress, much less high heels, since she married Sebastian five years before. And dressing up for Sebastian meant Dockers and a pullover shirt.

But, man oh man, look at him tonight.

In his black tux he looked good enough to eat. Lauren wasn’t sure who got more attention — Sebastian or her well-endowed jade friend. Considering some of the obvious touching going on, Lauren wondered if Sebastian shouldn’t have been sealed in security glass like the artifacts. Other than their dash to the restrooms, neither of them had spent a second alone since they walked into the exhibit wing. Everyone wanted to press hands with the couple who’d made the discovery — archaeology’s new rising stars.

Lauren wasn’t sure how true that was, but it was definitely a huge career boost for them. And any notoriety that helped them continue their work was fine with her. Obviously, the institute felt that way as well. Once word got out about the artifacts, the Prentice Museum offered to display them and provide the level of security necessary to protect them during their stay. Liam Prentice had spared no expense. Why he didn’t just donate the money to the dig and leave it at that…

She assumed the man had an agenda of his own. Didn’t everyone? Considering tonight’s success, the Prentices would be the talk of the town for months to come, if not years. That talk would generate more visitors to the museum. More visitors meant more money, more investors for him. She couldn’t fault a person for that; after all, wasn’t that exactly what she and Sebastian were doing tonight?

Lauren took another sip of champagne, smiling as Sebastian laughed at something a matronly redhead half his height and twice his width said. Damn, he was handsome. His skin was golden from years in the Yucatán sun. All except his cute, milk white ass. His dark brown hair was trimmed neatly for a change, rather than straggly from one of her field haircuts. Those deep brown eyes sparkled, like he was having the time of his life. No one would guess he was as nervous as she was about all this.

His long fingers cradled the crystal flute. Every so often he’d absentmindedly brush his thumb along the side, reminding her of how often they played against her breast. Need curled into her belly at the thought. After ten years they were still going strong. She prayed they never grew tired of each other.

Sebastian’s gaze shifted her way. His smile deepened into that I’m-going-to-fuck-you-until-we-both-collapse look. She swore he could will her clothes to drop with that hot glance. And they’d just had a quickie!

Wait ’til he finds out I’m bare-bottomed.

Would he scold her for being a “naughty girl” and promise a spanking later? Haul her off to the first available storage closet and give her some more quick and thorough loving? Either and both sounded good to her.

“I can remember when my wife used to watch me with hungry eyes.”

Lauren glanced up at the man beside her. She’d been so absorbed in thought she hadn’t noticed his approach, but she had no trouble recognizing Liam Prentice. Those sky blue eyes alone made him memorable. Silver blended nicely with the blond, making his hair look like precious metals had been spun there. From what she’d heard, he had the personality to back up those distinguished looks, too. He and his wife, Viola, were charming, wealthy, connected, and damned good-looking. Lauren hoped she and Sebastian were as lucky when they hit their fifties.

“Mr. Prentice, a pleasure to meet you. I’m Lauren Garner.” She offered her hand to him.

He didn’t hesitate. A handshake said a lot about a person. His wasn’t a condescending girly squeeze, or a bone crusher. He shook her hand like a colleague, someone he respected.

“Your reputation and that of your husband’s precedes you, Mrs. Garner. Everyone is talking about you.” His gaze never left hers. She wasn’t sure if she appreciated his directness, or found his steady perusal unnerving.

“Lauren…please…and thank you. It’s wonderful to know our work means so much to others.”

“Probably more than you realize. Viola and I had the chance to tour the exhibit privately this afternoon. What amazing discoveries. We’re in awe of your accomplishment.”

Coming from a man of his caliber and deeds, it was quite a compliment. “Thank you, Mr. Prentice. I’m honored you feel that way. I don’t know what to say.”

“First names with us as well, Lauren. Viola and I aren’t much on pretense. We leave the snobbish displays to some of our so-called friends.”

Lauren fanned her fingers at the base of her throat and laughed.

Liam leaned closer, humor dancing in his eyes. “If they only knew what we really thought of them.”

“Somehow I suspect you don’t waste a lot of time with them, though.” And he most probably let others do his dirty work if he was displeased. He struck her as the type of man who would smile in your face, then order your head on a platter behind your back.

“Very perceptive, Lauren.” He tapped her shoulder. “I knew I’d like you the instant I saw you across the crowded room.”

Lauren sipped her champagne as she fought the urge to give him a playful push. “Now, Liam, that almost sounds like the beginning of a very bad pick-up line.”

He tossed back a contagious laugh. “It really does. I’m so sorry. I’ve been watching your and Sebastian’s work for so long, I feel like I know you.”

Lauren was at a loss for words. She and Sebastian knew who the Prentices were — only a hermit living in a time warp wouldn’t — but they hadn’t thought much about the couple until this exhibit.

“Now you’re going to think Viola and I are stalkers.” His eyebrows scrunched together with what looked like regret. “Please don’t. We’ve continued to follow archaeological discoveries after we left the field, even built this museum to help display them. We certainly can’t begin to rival what the Braden Institute offers, but we do like to help fund those few scientists we find to be extraordinary — like you and Sebastian.”

Was he saying what she thought? That he was ready to fund their dig? She forced herself to retain some level of professional demeanor and not squeal…or get too far ahead of herself.

“Again you have me at a loss for words.”

“Then I’d say it’s the perfect time for you to tell me firsthand about your discoveries, starting with this intriguing little statue behind you. Although calling it little is definitely a misnomer.”

Lauren felt her cheeks heat. Her comfort level nosedived.

“I’m sorry. I did it again.” He cupped her elbow, gave it a quick squeeze, then swept his arm out. “Come meet Viola. Looks like she’s already waylaid your husband. It’s the perfect time.”

Lauren glanced in Sebastian’s direction. Viola Prentice had his attention, every word and action monitored by the throng growing around them. She matched Liam in looks, though hair dye most probably hid her gray. Both were fit and trim. Her calves looked like she was used to walking, well-defined with no hint of fat. Lauren couldn’t tell if her legs were really suntanned, or if that was merely the color of her pantyhose. In either event, it was too dark a color and the one thing about her that was unbecoming.

She wore a black dress like every other female there — understated elegance in the silk fabric that hugged her slender curves. An omega necklace gleamed around her throat, matching bracelets flashed around her wrists from under her long sleeves. More gold shone from her earlobes. She wore the jewelry like it was an extension of herself, like a queen. It was hard not to compare herself to the older woman. Sebastian’s smile her way told her she measured up just fine.

“Ah, yes, more hungry eyes,” Liam said with a laugh. “If only to be twenty years younger…”

She smiled up at him. “And know what you know now?”

“Exactly.” He added a nod and lifted his hand to his wife. “Viola, dear, quit hogging our good-looking friend and let the Garners give us a detailed tour of everything.”

Viola turned a sultry smile Liam’s way.

“Talk about hungry eyes,” Lauren muttered to him.

“Indeed.” Liam beamed. “Maybe your and Sebastian’s influence is rubbing off on us. One can only hope.”

* * * * *

Damn, Lauren was killer hot tonight in her little black dress and come-fuck-me black heels. Their quickie in the restroom hadn’t kept his erection away long. All he had to do was glance her way, think of those high-heeled legs tossed over his shoulders, and he was hard again. He couldn’t wait to leave this agonizing event and go home.

Though he tried to hide it, Sebastian had never felt more out of his element. He smiled, shook hands, engaged in mindless chit-chat…which he discovered was fairly easy if you could get the other person to talk about themselves. All he had to do then was smile or laugh or nod at intervals, answer a few questions.

While guests crowded him with mindless chatter, Sebastian focused on Lauren’s collarbones. On how her skin would taste when he’d trace his tongue over them. On how she’d sigh with pleasure and stretch her tight body against him. On the brush of her floaty hem against shapely legs. He couldn’t wait to peel her naked and feel her quiver beneath his touch. Couldn’t wait to see her surprise, hear her laughter, when she saw the present he’d had made especially for her.

There wasn’t a woman in the room who compared to Lauren, and Sebastian had seen every one of them close up…with the exception of Viola Prentice.

The Prentices were their benefactors for this event, though they’d never met. The institute arranged everything, with specific instructions that the Garners were to extensively woo them in the hope they’d help fund the dig. Sebastian and Lauren weren’t stupid. They knew a good thing when they saw it, but neither of them appreciated the added pressure. Pressure made more intense when the Prentices weren’t here when the Garners arrived.

Barry Page had nearly had a coronary over their absence. His heaved sigh of relief was a little too obvious when the Prentices made a quiet entrance thirty minutes later. They’d paused for a second, scanning the gathering. Body language said a lot about them, how close the two were — his arm around her back, her standing in the cove of his body. Sebastian liked to see that in a couple who’d been married a long time. It was like a glimpse of what he hoped he and Lauren would have in twenty-five years — still crazy in love, still so hot for one another the kindling could be used to start a fire.

A smile had sent the Prentices on separate paths, weaving into the crowd after they’d snagged champagne flutes from a passing waiter. Barry had wasted no time nailing Sebastian with a look that clearly told him to corner Liam Prentice. Sebastian promptly ignored it.

Barry was great at his job, but there was a time and place, and attacking Prentice the second he walked in the door wasn’t it. Sebastian had too much professional respect for Prentice to do that. After all, Prentice had paid for this event, donated a portion of his museum with extra security, even added the draw of champagne, open bar, and heavy hors d’oeuvres buffet on the patio. He deserved Sebastian’s and Lauren’s thanks, not to be hit up for more money. Sebastian planned to do just that once Lauren finished her quiet perusal of her Mr. Happy idol…and Sebastian could politely slip away from the redhead’s lengthy story of a bout with Montezuma’s Revenge on her one trip to Cabo San Lucas twenty years ago. His brain shut down amid her graphic descriptions of all the barfing and pooping she’d done. His smile frozen in place, all Sebastian could do was nod while he prayed for an opening to excuse himself.

Then he saw Liam Prentice approach Lauren. The gaggle of people perpetually gathered around Sebastian parted at the same time. The redhead’s rambling dissertation screeched to a halt the second Viola Prentice stepped forward, her smile open and welcoming. She was a striking woman, gracious in the face of the power she possessed yet didn’t flaunt here.

Sebastian thrust his hand her way. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Prentice.”

She slipped warm fingers into his, grasping them firmly as she edged closer. “The pleasure is mine. Please…first names. It makes life so much more pleasant. I read a story once about an elderly woman named Mary Grant. She was asked if there was anything she missed most, having reached ninety-five years. She responded that no one ever called her by her first name anymore…always ‘Mrs. Grant.’ I never want to be in that position or put others in it.”

Sebastian could appreciate that, though he’d never considered it before. “Then first names it is, Viola.” They dropped hands on a simultaneous nod. “My wife and I would like to express our sincere thanks for all you and your husband have done.”

“We should be thanking you.” She motioned to the displays like Vanna White turning letters. “This is a breathtaking find. Makes me crave to go out in the field for one last hurrah.”

“From what I’ve heard, you and your husband were quite a force thirty years ago, amassing a nice resume of spectacular finds.” Then they’d retired to the estate those discoveries, and an immense inheritance, had built.

“Viola, dear, quit hogging our good-looking friend and let the Garners give us a detailed tour of everything,” Liam called out, interrupting her from any reply she might have made.

“An excellent idea.” She gave her husband a sultry smile, then turned to Sebastian. “Shall we?”

“It would be my honor.” Sebastian offered his arm to escort her. Viola wasted no time looping her hand through it.

“You and your wife make a striking couple,” she said as they strolled in that direction.

He gave a soft laugh. “Thank you. I was thinking the same thing of you and Liam when you walked in.”

Laughter bubbled out of her. “Oh, goodness…it’s nice to know we’ve still got it after all these years. I imagine Lauren was excited for the chance to dress up for a change.”

Her comment nearly brought him to a halt. Viola must have noticed he faltered because she put her other hand over his arm and squeezed.

“Look how breathtaking she is.” Her gaze slowly swept over Lauren, appraising, comparing, judging. If Viola had been a man, Sebastian would have called it lecherous. “She’s probably thinking the same about you, judging from the lust in her eyes. Most men bitch about the monkey suit, but there isn’t a man alive who doesn’t look devastating in a tux. Fires up those juices. Don’t get me wrong…being able to work together day in and day out is wonderful. But being away from the grind, the grit of field work… Well, that sort of thing grows old after awhile, and we women do like a bit…more.”

Sebastian’s feel-good disappeared. Is that what Lauren wanted…more? For the first time in their ten-year history, he wondered if he’d somehow let her down. She never said. In fact, she’d seemed happy to be digging for past civilizations…didn’t she?

He took a mental step back. What had he given her? Other than their professional accolades, they had nothing to speak of. Most of the money they earned was tucked away in savings and investments, hoarded for a rainy day. They had a small apartment that was more for storage than for living. They lived out of suitcases. Correction…backpacks, duffel bags, and crates. He’d had to rent the tux, which was the norm for most men. But Lauren didn’t own pantyhose, much less a nice dress and heels, and she hadn’t been too thrilled with the idea of having to shop for those items.

Sebastian smiled her way. Seeing her killer hot took his breath away. Her long brown hair drifted down her back, gold highlights catching the light. He wanted to comb his fingers through it over and over again, mine it for gold while his cock bored a tunnel into her cunt. Sparkly rhinestones dangled from her ears, begging him to nibble. He found himself wishing he had given her diamonds, instead of a canvas tent in a sweaty jungle.

Odd how Viola’s innocent comment could knock him off-kilter and spark doubt. Now that the seed was planted…

He extended his hand to Liam Prentice as they approached. “Sebastian Garner, it’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.” He kept his smile bright, hoping it would dissipate his unease.

“Trust me,” Liam said. “It’s my pleasure. Everything you’ve uncovered…amazing. A lot of hours. A lot of hard work.”

“Definitely.” Viola extended her hand to Lauren. “I feel I know you so well through your work that I should hug you.”

“One can never have enough hugs,” Lauren said with a smile.

“My feeling exactly!” Viola tossed her arms around Lauren’s neck with no further warning.

Sebastian saw Lauren’s eyes widen with surprise. Clearly she wasn’t expecting Viola to carry through with such an exuberant embrace. All she could do was laugh with her and return the affection. As they parted, Lauren gasped and pressed her fingers against the curve of her neck.

“Oh, dear,” Viola tsked, “it looks like the catch on my bracelet scratched you. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay…really.” Lauren glanced at her fingers. It was all Sebastian could do to not pull her hair aside to see the scratch for himself, especially when the smile she gave the other woman didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“See? No blood.” Lauren lifted her fingers to show them as if to back up her words. “If it’s visible, my hair should hide it. No harm, no worries.”

The glance she gave Sebastian begged him to not make a big deal out of it. Though he agreed, giving her a slight nod, he still didn’t like it.

“Still…” Viola unlatched the heavy gold bracelet and shoved it deep into Liam’s trouser pocket. “There…that’s that. Now,” she looped her arm through Lauren’s. “Tell us everything. I want to hear about every speck of dirt you brushed away to find these treasures.”

Liam touched his wife’s shoulder. “Not every speck, dear. I believe they’re ready to open the buffet.”

Viola cast a worried frown toward the double doors leading to the large glass-enclosed patio. “A quick tour then.” She flashed him a smile and turned Lauren toward the exhibits.

Liam gave him a palms-up shrug that said, “What can a guy do?”

Sebastian smiled with his nod, and they fell in step behind the women. Barry tracked every movement. Sebastian hoped to hell he kept his distance. He and Lauren needed this moment, and not for the potential money it would bring. They needed the break from the crowd, to be able to talk quietly about their discoveries and not the mindless garble they’d had to spew since they’d arrived.

Hands clasped behind him, he was content to let Lauren take over the tour. She had a sweet tone to her voice that could mesmerize howler monkeys, squalling children, hysterical females, and rampaging men…all at the same time. One-on-one, Lauren was excellent. She froze up when she had to give group presentations, though. Just the thought of standing behind a podium made her sweat. Teach, yes. Lecture, no.

They’d finished the circuit as the caterers were opening the doors to the patio. Sebastian hated the idea of going back into schmooze mode. Judging from Liam’s resigned sigh, he did, too.

“What’s the term? ‘Into the breach’?”

Viola giggled. “Is it such a burden to be polite?”

“Sometimes,” he said with an overdramatic sigh. “Especially when we’re having such a great talk.”

“Come on.” Viola looped her arm through Liam’s and tugged him toward the patio. “I’m sure we can worm a private table for the four of us from the Mother Hen.”

Sebastian tried his best to cover his laughter with a cough into his fist. It was impossible. The description of Barry was too accurate.

Liam smirked. “Has he made your life a living hell?”

Lauren squeezed her arm around Sebastian’s waist, silently reminding him of his manners. “He’s just doing his job,” she said.

He conceded the point with a nod. “And he does do it very well, no arguing there. But Viola and I know how annoying it can be to be yanked from your element and displayed like show dogs.”

“Well, we won’t lie about that,” Lauren said. “It’s been awkward and tense.”

“And only the beginning, from what we’ve been told,” Sebastian added. “If we want to continue doing what we love.”

Liam pulled in a deep breath through his nose. “What if I were to offer you a solution?”

Sebastian wasn’t sure how to respond to that. It sounded like Liam was saying he was going to fund for the dig. But it couldn’t be as easy as all that?

“What type of solution?”

Liam paused for a sip of champagne, then smacked his lips. “Viola and I are putting together a unique expedition. We’d like you two to join us. We feel you’d mesh well with us and the rest of the potential team.”

“And how would that be a solution?”

He was glad Lauren had asked that question. Sebastian had a dozen more running through his head.

Liam smiled. “Join us for the weekend, and you’ll see. Others will be there, too. Acquaintances of yours, I believe. No strings. I’ll lay out the plan then. You have nothing to lose, and at the very least, you would have had a couple of days to relax away from our friend before returning to your dig.”

Fortunately, Liam didn’t use the spiel “you have everything to gain.” If he had, Sebastian might have walked away.

“I’m…intrigued,” he finally said.

“Hopefully we can keep you that way.” Liam grinned and hoisted his glass. “Come on. Let’s eat before the herd decides to stampede.”

Sebastian tucked his arm around Lauren’s waist as they followed the older couple out. That’s when he realized…

“You’re not wearing your pantyhose,” he whispered against her ear.

A pink flush colored her cheeks. “I’m not wearing any panties either,” she whispered back.

Now he had two intriguing possibilities to think about.