Tag Archive | Ellora’s Cave

Kathleen Lash

 

TamingTheRaven'sSonPublic (4)

 

Taming the Raven’s Son

Kathleen Lash

 

Galactic Lust, Book Four

Sage needs a vacation from her grueling responsibilities as CEO. After years of service, she spends one luxurious day away before she’s kidnapped and sold into submission. The only events in her immediate future appear to be pain and torture in a dungeon of sexual perversity.

Jacob Ryker and his people have been enslaved for nearly fourteen months. In a perverse move of control, his captor gifts him with a fire-haired woman to train in the ways of submission. But Jacob plans to regain control of his remote outpost and he cannot afford to be distracted now—and Sage is nothing if not a distraction. If they are both to survive the coming days, Jacob and Sage must reach an agreement and act the part of a Master and meek under the watchful eyes of a brutal captor. As they navigate their unusual relationship, both come to realize the biggest danger to their future may just be the unexpected love between them.

A Romantica® science fiction erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Fool for Love

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to the Fool for Love bloghop. If you came by this post and were not on the hop, or if at any time you fall off the tour click HERE and you will be redirected.

 

 

Today is also the release of my new book, Love Thine Enemy, book three in the Lycan Lust series.

lovethineenemy_HiRes

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, please exit this site.

An Excerpt From: LOVE THINE ENEMY

Copyright © VIRGINIA CAVANAUGH, 2014

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

Shadeau fled quickly with his prize. He gripped her tight, careful to keep her from bouncing against his shoulder. He didn’t want any harm coming to his mate. After a hundred and seven long years of searching for her, he would let nothing stand in his way of claiming her.

He fled from the fighting, heading toward a human populated area. The snow fell in earnest, and he was lucky for the cover it provided. Streaking naked with an equally naked woman over his shoulder would definitely cause a stir. But he had to get far away from Ivan and the rest of Arik’s men.

They’d been tasked to come in and raid for females. Arik wanted to breed an army and it was the time of year that most female werewolves went into heat. Shadeau took in a deep breath, testing his mate’s scent. Her heat cycle wasn’t upon her yet, but he’d be damned if he delivered her for Arik to rut.

Mine!

No one would touch his mate. Besides, it wasn’t as if he owed any real loyalty to Arik anyway. Shadeau was strong enough to break the invisible tether that tied him to Arik. When Arik attacked the pack Shadeau had been with, Shadeau had went willing under Arik’s rule. His deceased alpha Torin had been a real asshole, so what was moving from one’s rule to the next.

At first it had been pretty sweet during the changeover. Arik had money. The new bunk house he’d been shown to was nicer than anything he’d stayed in before. The den was hidden away, deep inside Hoosier National Forest near Patoka Lake.

Arik had talked a whole construction crew of guys into being changed at the same time as he was. They’d been busy ever since creating a formidable stronghold. Apparently the company had done many projects for Arik in the past, and were quick to follow Arik and his money.

The area Arik had cleared couldn’t be seen from any road. A few rangers had wondered in and seen what was up, but before they could report in, they were taken hostage. They now awaited the next full moon, when Arik would make them one of his own.

The place wouldn’t stay a secret for long, but that wasn’t a concern of Arik’s. He planned to make war with humans. In fact, none of them had hid what they were when they attacked the packs in the Ozarks. Arik wanted to strike fear into humans—wanted them to know that the big bad wolf was lurking. The fallout would be massive. Panic would ensue.

Shadeau started having his doubts then about Arik’s leadership. The man was a dumbass new born. There were reasons that their kind had been a secret all these years. Arik had big balls, and a big pocket to back them, but would it be enough?

A low moan came from his mate. Arik didn’t matter anymore. The wolf with the soft lush curves over his shoulder was his focus now.

What a beauty she was. Long blonde hair had swayed across her back when she’d fled. Tall and lithe, her pale skin had glistened with beads of moisture as snowflakes landed on her and melted.

And her ass. His hand slid up the back of her thigh to cup one rounded globe. Her ass was the thing of dreams. His cock hardened at the thought of taking her from behind—his hips thrusting against her bottom with a satisfying slap.

He pushed away the carnal thoughts. Right now he needed to find supplies and shelter. The tranq she’d been hit with would keep her asleep for around four hours. Their plan had been to dose their captives again, but Shadeau had come in ready for combat. He hadn’t been one of those men who had been tasked with a dart gun. His only choice was to find somewhere close to hide her until he could figure out what to do next.

Near the edge of town, Shadeau spied a house with a For Sale sign in the front yard. The place looked to encompass around five acres and had a barn in the back. From what he could tell, the place looked empty.

He started for the barn. The house would have offered more comfort, but he couldn’t be sure there wasn’t a security system, or chance a realtor popping in to show the house. At least in this weather, if someone came, the out buildings wouldn’t be toured as thoroughly, if at all.

The side door opened on well-oiled hinges. He stepped inside, careful to steer his mate through the opening without causing her harm, and pulled the door closed behind them.

Outside, the wind howled as the storm picked up. Inside, the barn had been cleaned. A few broken leather straps and some old tack hung on a post in the center. Shadeau made for the stall in the corner. The dirt floor had been cleared of most its straw. He’d hoped to find something to make his mate more comfortable than the hard ground, but this would have to do.

He squatted down and laid her on her side. He couldn’t stop from pushing her hair back away from her face. She looked so peaceful in sleep. He traced a finger across one high cheek bone and then down her jaw. Her skin was so soft against his calloused digit. She was perfect. Plump breasts with dusted rose-colored tips. A handful begging for his lips.

His hand skimmed over her hip. The cold skin beneath his palm had his thoughts turning back to supplies. He didn’t have much time. Going back into the storm didn’t sound appealing, but he didn’t have a choice. He wouldn’t let his mate suffer.

Rising to his feet he left the stall, securing the door behind him. He didn’t want the wind to whip in when he opened the outer door again. With quick steps he fled the barn and headed toward town. On the way in to the raid he could have sworn he saw a dollar store on the outskirts.

Luck smiled upon him as he saw the building up ahead. The shop keepers were locking up. Forecasters had issued a severe weather warning. He could only guess that people were closing up early to avoid being stranded. The snow fall was quickly approaching white-out conditions. In fact, Arik had counted on the storm covering their tracks. Looked as if he’d get his wish. They would also help hide his mate until he could figure out what to do.

Unlike the barn, this store would definitely have an alarm system. With the road conditions and the 9-1-1 calls on people turning into wolves, he would have a max of five minutes to be in and out. He made his way to the back door and kicked the shit out of it. The hinges gave and the metal swung open with a bang.

Wasting no time, he darted inside, scooping up supplies of all types and stuffing them in a hand held basket used for shopping. Clothes, blankets, food and various other things were piled inside. When the first was filled he grabbed a second. He could move quickly with the two.

Three and a half minutes later he headed out the door. Sirens blared as he took to the trees. Thanks to his DNA, he also had great speed in his human form, which came in handy while making this getaway. He weaved a path through the dense foliage, making it harder to track where he’d been. The cops would follow the trail into the woods, and while they spent time tracking he would already be back to the barn, his trail covered by the time they looked in that direction.

The cold, wet snow felt like pins and needles to his legs and feet, but soon it surpassed the painful point and they went numb. He pushed on, anxious to be with his mate once more.

When he reached the barn he found her sleeping where he’d left her. He sat down his baskets and riffled through them. As much as he liked looking at her nude body he wanted her warm. He found sweats and socks, pulling them onto her body. After he fully dressed her, he pulled on the clothes he’d grabbed for himself.

Next he spread a blanket on the ground and laid her on it. The next one he placed over her from shoulders to toes. Once done, he sat down and watched her. He longed to hold her. Leaning forward, he took in her scent again. Such sweetness. He closed his eyes, savoring it. His for eternity.

Opening his eyes, he looked back down on her delicate features. He wondered what her name was. But he also wondered if she would be as pleased with him. He wasn’t sure how to be with her. Gentle had never been in his repertoire. The dominate wolves in Torin’s pack had taken what they wanted, and most of their females had been submissive, eager to do what was wanted to please. But this woman would be different.

He knew his dominance exceeded hers, but she by far wasn’t some wilting flower. She’d been leading those wolves on that hill. Hadn’t even paused before charging him when he’d taken a male of her pack down. His wolf clawed at him on the inside. It liked what it saw. Winning her would be a challenge, but so worth the battle.

She moaned and rolled on to her back, her arm coming to rest over her eyes. Her limbs beneath the blanket squirmed. She was waking.

“Shhh. Easy. You might be a little dizzy.”

Her arm swung out and her eyelids peeled back. Blue met gold and she released a shocked yelp as she scrambled backward. Her hands went to her head and Shadeau started forward concerned.

“Stay the hell away from me!”

Shadeau ignored the stabbing pain in his chest that her words brought. “I won’t hurt you.”

She drew up onto the balls of her feet as if ready to pounce. “Really? You only knocked my ass out and carried me to…” She looked around then back at him. “Where the hell are we?”

 

As an overall prize on the hop, I am giving away an ebook copy of Magical Kiss. Just Romance Me will pick that winner. As a bonus here, I will draw one random name from the comments below to win a T-shirt with the Love Thine Enemy cover on it. (US entries only)

So here is the question. What type of romance books do you want to see more of? (i.e. Shifter, Paranormal, vampire, historical, contemp, sci fi, etc)

Best wishes,

Virginia Cavanaugh

Love Thine Enemy

Hello Everyone!

Love Thine Enemy will release on April 4th!

lovethineenemy_HiRes

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, please exit this site.

An Excerpt From: LOVE THINE ENEMY

Copyright © VIRGINIA CAVANAUGH, 2014

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

Shadeau fled quickly with his prize. He gripped her tight, careful to keep her from bouncing against his shoulder. He didn’t want any harm coming to his mate. After a hundred and seven long years of searching for her, he would let nothing stand in his way of claiming her.

He fled from the fighting, heading toward a human populated area. The snow fell in earnest, and he was lucky for the cover it provided. Streaking naked with an equally naked woman over his shoulder would definitely cause a stir. But he had to get far away from Ivan and the rest of Arik’s men.

They’d been tasked to come in and raid for females. Arik wanted to breed an army and it was the time of year that most female werewolves went into heat. Shadeau took in a deep breath, testing his mate’s scent. Her heat cycle wasn’t upon her yet, but he’d be damned if he delivered her for Arik to rut.

Mine!

No one would touch his mate. Besides, it wasn’t as if he owed any real loyalty to Arik anyway. Shadeau was strong enough to break the invisible tether that tied him to Arik. When Arik attacked the pack Shadeau had been with, Shadeau had went willing under Arik’s rule. His deceased alpha Torin had been a real asshole, so what was moving from one’s rule to the next.

At first it had been pretty sweet during the changeover. Arik had money. The new bunk house he’d been shown to was nicer than anything he’d stayed in before. The den was hidden away, deep inside Hoosier National Forest near Patoka Lake.

Arik had talked a whole construction crew of guys into being changed at the same time as he was. They’d been busy ever since creating a formidable stronghold. Apparently the company had done many projects for Arik in the past, and were quick to follow Arik and his money.

The area Arik had cleared couldn’t be seen from any road. A few rangers had wondered in and seen what was up, but before they could report in, they were taken hostage. They now awaited the next full moon, when Arik would make them one of his own.

The place wouldn’t stay a secret for long, but that wasn’t a concern of Arik’s. He planned to make war with humans. In fact, none of them had hid what they were when they attacked the packs in the Ozarks. Arik wanted to strike fear into humans—wanted them to know that the big bad wolf was lurking. The fallout would be massive. Panic would ensue.

Shadeau started having his doubts then about Arik’s leadership. The man was a dumbass new born. There were reasons that their kind had been a secret all these years. Arik had big balls, and a big pocket to back them, but would it be enough?

A low moan came from his mate. Arik didn’t matter anymore. The wolf with the soft lush curves over his shoulder was his focus now.

What a beauty she was. Long blonde hair had swayed across her back when she’d fled. Tall and lithe, her pale skin had glistened with beads of moisture as snowflakes landed on her and melted.

And her ass. His hand slid up the back of her thigh to cup one rounded globe. Her ass was the thing of dreams. His cock hardened at the thought of taking her from behind—his hips thrusting against her bottom with a satisfying slap.

He pushed away the carnal thoughts. Right now he needed to find supplies and shelter. The tranq she’d been hit with would keep her asleep for around four hours. Their plan had been to dose their captives again, but Shadeau had come in ready for combat. He hadn’t been one of those men who had been tasked with a dart gun. His only choice was to find somewhere close to hide her until he could figure out what to do next.

Near the edge of town, Shadeau spied a house with a For Sale sign in the front yard. The place looked to encompass around five acres and had a barn in the back. From what he could tell, the place looked empty.

He started for the barn. The house would have offered more comfort, but he couldn’t be sure there wasn’t a security system, or chance a realtor popping in to show the house. At least in this weather, if someone came, the out buildings wouldn’t be toured as thoroughly, if at all.

The side door opened on well-oiled hinges. He stepped inside, careful to steer his mate through the opening without causing her harm, and pulled the door closed behind them.

Outside, the wind howled as the storm picked up. Inside, the barn had been cleaned. A few broken leather straps and some old tack hung on a post in the center. Shadeau made for the stall in the corner. The dirt floor had been cleared of most its straw. He’d hoped to find something to make his mate more comfortable than the hard ground, but this would have to do.

He squatted down and laid her on her side. He couldn’t stop from pushing her hair back away from her face. She looked so peaceful in sleep. He traced a finger across one high cheek bone and then down her jaw. Her skin was so soft against his calloused digit. She was perfect. Plump breasts with dusted rose-colored tips. A handful begging for his lips.

His hand skimmed over her hip. The cold skin beneath his palm had his thoughts turning back to supplies. He didn’t have much time. Going back into the storm didn’t sound appealing, but he didn’t have a choice. He wouldn’t let his mate suffer.

Rising to his feet he left the stall, securing the door behind him. He didn’t want the wind to whip in when he opened the outer door again. With quick steps he fled the barn and headed toward town. On the way in to the raid he could have sworn he saw a dollar store on the outskirts.

Luck smiled upon him as he saw the building up ahead. The shop keepers were locking up. Forecasters had issued a severe weather warning. He could only guess that people were closing up early to avoid being stranded. The snow fall was quickly approaching white-out conditions. In fact, Arik had counted on the storm covering their tracks. Looked as if he’d get his wish. They would also help hide his mate until he could figure out what to do.

Unlike the barn, this store would definitely have an alarm system. With the road conditions and the 9-1-1 calls on people turning into wolves, he would have a max of five minutes to be in and out. He made his way to the back door and kicked the shit out of it. The hinges gave and the metal swung open with a bang.

Wasting no time, he darted inside, scooping up supplies of all types and stuffing them in a hand held basket used for shopping. Clothes, blankets, food and various other things were piled inside. When the first was filled he grabbed a second. He could move quickly with the two.

Three and a half minutes later he headed out the door. Sirens blared as he took to the trees. Thanks to his DNA, he also had great speed in his human form, which came in handy while making this getaway. He weaved a path through the dense foliage, making it harder to track where he’d been. The cops would follow the trail into the woods, and while they spent time tracking he would already be back to the barn, his trail covered by the time they looked in that direction.

The cold, wet snow felt like pins and needles to his legs and feet, but soon it surpassed the painful point and they went numb. He pushed on, anxious to be with his mate once more.

When he reached the barn he found her sleeping where he’d left her. He sat down his baskets and riffled through them. As much as he liked looking at her nude body he wanted her warm. He found sweats and socks, pulling them onto her body. After he fully dressed her, he pulled on the clothes he’d grabbed for himself.

Next he spread a blanket on the ground and laid her on it. The next one he placed over her from shoulders to toes. Once done, he sat down and watched her. He longed to hold her. Leaning forward, he took in her scent again. Such sweetness. He closed his eyes, savoring it. His for eternity.

Opening his eyes, he looked back down on her delicate features. He wondered what her name was. But he also wondered if she would be as pleased with him. He wasn’t sure how to be with her. Gentle had never been in his repertoire. The dominate wolves in Torin’s pack had taken what they wanted, and most of their females had been submissive, eager to do what was wanted to please. But this woman would be different.

He knew his dominance exceeded hers, but she by far wasn’t some wilting flower. She’d been leading those wolves on that hill. Hadn’t even paused before charging him when he’d taken a male of her pack down. His wolf clawed at him on the inside. It liked what it saw. Winning her would be a challenge, but so worth the battle.

She moaned and rolled on to her back, her arm coming to rest over her eyes. Her limbs beneath the blanket squirmed. She was waking.

“Shhh. Easy. You might be a little dizzy.”

Her arm swung out and her eyelids peeled back. Blue met gold and she released a shocked yelp as she scrambled backward. Her hands went to her head and Shadeau started forward concerned.

“Stay the hell away from me!”

Shadeau ignored the stabbing pain in his chest that her words brought. “I won’t hurt you.”

She drew up onto the balls of her feet as if ready to pounce. “Really? You only knocked my ass out and carried me to…” She looked around then back at him. “Where the hell are we?”

Best wishes,

Virginia Cavanaugh

Welcome Dena Garson!

Hello Everyone,

Today Dena Garson visits us to tell us about her latest release and contest.

Mystic’s Touch

By Dena Garson

mysticstouch_msr

Blurb:

When Prince Ceros returns home to take his place on the throne, he falls prey to a mysterious malady that leaves him unable to speak or move, though his thoughts and awareness remain intact. Danet, a talented healer, realizes the prince is alert inside his body. The two are able to share thoughts telepathically. Unfortunately her connection with Ceros may bring unwanted attention to her abilities and result in her banishment from the city.

 

Their unique bond grows as Danet races to find a remedy for the prince’s condition. Desire turns to love, which makes Danet fear for their future when he awakens. They seek out the villain attempting to take the throne and endeavor to find a way to stay together.

 

Inside Scoop: Ceros’ secret shifter status adds complication and intrigue to their budding romance.

 

A Blush® fantasy romance from Ellora’s Cave

Blush sensuality level: This is a sensual romance (may have explicit love scenes, but not erotic in frequency or type).

 

 

Buy Links:

Ellora’s Cave  /  Amazon  /  Barnes & Noble

 

Book Trailer Video:  http://youtu.be/4rcPumYSe5w

 

 

 

You can find Dena on the web at:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | Ellora’s Cave | Amazon Author Page

 

 

<  =  =  GIVEAWAY  =  =  >

 

To celebrate the release of Mystic’s Touch, Dena is giving away lots of goodies. There will be ebooks, a Dena Garson gift basket, a grab bag of author promo items, a Love: Defined necklace, Naughty/Nice earrings, and a swirl ring made by Designs By Jewelee. See her blog for more info. The drawings will be held at the end of her book tour on March 3rd.

 

You can enter more than once! Following this link to Rafflecopter:

 

CODE BEGINS HERE

<a id=”rc-cbc5e70″ href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cbc5e70/&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

<script src=”//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js”></script>

 

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Hello Everyone!

coldoutside

Welcome to the hop. If you are old enough to watch rated R movies you may continue to read. If you came upon this post and are not on the hop, don’t miss out on the great prizes to be awarded from several awesome authors. Click HERE. At any time if you fall off the tour you can also click the link.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Decided to share some Cavemen pictures with you.

First we have our new Alpha Caveman, DeAngelo

rcon1

Here he is pictured with author Jennifer LaRose at Romanticon. If you haven’t been to this conference yet, it’s a blast. You can find out more about it at Ellora’s Cave DOT com

I don’t know about y’all, but here the weather has been pretty bipolar. One day it’s freezing and the next I can wear shorts or capris outside. But when it is cold outside, I love being able to curl up with a blanket, pillow and a good book.

My latest release is Winter’s Shadow. A steamy romantic suspense tale from Fated Desires.

AMAZON

WintersShadow (1)

You can find it on all the major sites. i.e. Amazon, Kobo, iBooks ect.

I’ve been preparing for my first grand baby to come. He should be here any day. But while we wait for him to come, I’ve been working on the next book in my werewolf series. It will now be called the Lycan Heat series and is available from Ellora’s Cave. The first book is The Fire Inside and the second book is When Lust Rules. Both are available wherever ebooks are sold. The Fire Inside is also available in print.

BUY NOW

thefireinside_msr

BUY NOW

whenlustrules_msr

The third book in this series, titled Love Thine Enemy has been contracted with Ellora’s Cave.

Soon, I will reach the book that has a character inspired by another of our Cavemen, David.

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That’s me in the pictures with him. Romanticon.

Also, for those of you that love the paranormal in all its craziness, check out the Emerald Isle Fantasies series from Ellora’s Cave I wrote a werewolf novel for this awesome multi author series. Each story takes place in the same Irish Castle turned hotel and includes different aspects of the paranormal.

tellmeyoursecrets_msr

And of course we need one more picture of DeAngelo.

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So what do you like to do when it gets cold outside?

Two people below will be picked randomly to receive a t-shirt with their choice of one of my book covers on it. (USA residents only)

Best wishes,

Virginia Cavanaugh

Release Day!

Hello Everyone!

Tell Me Your Secrets is now available from Ellora’s Cave!

tellmeyoursecrets_msr

 

 

Tell Me Your Secrets

Virginia Cavanaugh

 

A book in the Emerald Isle Fantasies series.

Jesenia North chases her writing muse all the way to Ireland. Surely Castle Tullamore will provide some inspiration for a new book. What she doesn’t expect is to become the hunted, not only by a rabid wolf, but also by a very sexy Dorian Kavanaugh.

Dorian will stop at nothing to keep his race a secret, but when the high-spirited Jesenia is chased by his rabid packmate, Dorian must find a way to redirect her attention. And he isn’t beyond using hot sex to do it.

Now he must hunt down Grady and kill him along with the mutated strain of rabies before people find out that there are shifters in the area. But touching Jesenia has a price, one he may very well pay for with his heart.

A Romantica® paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

BUY NOW

Release Day!

Hello Everyone!

When Lust Rules is now on sale!   BUY NOW

whenlustrules_msr

 

BLURB:

usty dreams of a tall muscular man with long dark hair have filled Julie’s mind for the last few months, leaving her wanting alone in her bed. It would be one thing if he was only a figment of her imagination, but he was flesh and blood, and had even asked for her phone number. But had he called? Hell no.

So when he shows up out of the blue at her job, she really wants to push him away. But there’s something primal and erotic about this man that calls to her.

Luken is reluctant to get involved with a human female, but for some reason he can’t get her out of his head. He has enough on his plate with running his new pack, but the little blonde seductress presents a temptation he can’t resist.

But when Julie’s past catches up to her, Luken is prepared to offer his protection, along with his bite, making her one of his own.

A Romantica® shapeshifter paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

 

 

EXCERPT:

Copyright Virginia Cavanaugh 2013

Chapter One

 

“Hey, waitress!”

Julie Drake ground her teeth as she tried to block the annoying man calling her. The crowd seemed extra rowdy tonight at Harry’s Bar, and Replacement Waitress Number Three didn’t seem to provide much help. Why in the hell did Tyra have to quit?

A deep breath entered her lungs as she loaded her tray with the drinks from the bar. Little skeleton straws poked out from some of them. Only another hour of this mess until last call. A pang of guilt speared her chest. She knew better than to hold a grudge against Tyra for quitting. People moved on. Some to greater things and others… Well she just had to look for the silver lining.

“Hey, Jules? You all right?”

Julie looked at the burly bartender, Mark Hinley, who stood in front of a large Happy Halloween sign. Concern flashed in his green eyes as he wiped his meaty fists on a white towel. “Yeah. I’m good. Just hoping the next hour passes quick.”

He gave a curt nod and she picked up her tray, turning from the bar and heading through the pool of bodies. Mark could be a real sweetheart and had even asked her out once. Julie wished she could have said yes, but truth be told there wasn’t any spark when she looked at him. Maybe it would’ve been different if she hadn’t been haunted by fantasy-filled dreams of a man with long dark hair and olive skin. Luken.

All she had was a first a name—no way to even look him up in the telephone book. As if she would. She didn’t want to come across as a desperate woman who couldn’t wait for him to call. But damn, it had been four months since he’d come into the bar and asked for her number. She’d been sure he’d call her. Now with Tyra gone, she didn’t have a way to ask what happened. Hell, she was even curious about what happened between Tyra and the hottie who had been sitting with Luken. But no one had heard from her since she’d quit.

That had been a strange night. The bar had been hoping and Tyra had come in with a glum look on her face, but as the night had progressed she’d started to smile. And not just the, I-need-to-make-tips-so-smiles-make-more-than-frowns kind of smile. It had been genuine. But then a really good-looking blond guy had come up to her and it had looked as if her whole world came crumbling down. She’d raced from the bar with him and had never come back.

Julie gasped, seeing the disaster coming, but unable to avoid it. Glass crashed and shattered as various glasses filled with alcohol sloshed and spilled. First one tray hit the floor and then a second. Laughter and applause filled the room at a deafening roar as Julie tried to count to ten, booze dripping from her face and soaking into her clothes. Replacement Number Three apologized profusely as she pulled sopping wet napkins from her own pocket, offering to help clean up the mess. Neither of them had managed to avoid being splattered.

Julie wasn’t mad at her directly. The girl couldn’t help that she was a klutz, but the rude patrons who seemed to get a kick out of her soaked state had pushed her limits of control.

Without a word she shoved past the people who had gathered around to witness her humiliation, and she bolted toward the back door. She just needed a minute—a breath of fresh air. A year’s time had done nothing in making this new lifestyle any easier. Country music blared in the background as she forced yet another person aside who sought a chuckle at her expense. Drunks could be such assholes. Her hands met the door and she plowed through it, seeking refuge.

Cool air danced over her wet skin and she shivered as her arms came up to hug her middle. The metal door swung shut behind her with a thud. Her gaze panned the back lot, not looking for anything particular as she tried to rein in her emotions. The trees swayed lightly in the breeze, dumping more of their golden and red leaves onto the ground.

“The money and ease of my old life isn’t worth it,” she whispered into the night as she squeezed her eyes shut, willing back the tears that made them burn. She knew this would be a better life deep down, but some nights were harder than others in believing that fact. Being the wife of a drug lord had many perks, but it was the other end of the spectrum that turned her stomach.

Her ex-husband Ivan Volkov sat in prison where he belonged. There would be no more deaths in the living room at three in the morning. No more beatings. No more bodies jerking and gasping as they died from too many drugs. And for that peace she could suffer through waiting on drunks. She just wanted to move on.

“Looks like you’re having a bad night.”

Julie whipped her head to the side at the sound of the deep rumbling voice, searching for his frame in the darkened area near the trash Dumpster. She knew that voice. Had she imagined it? Booted feet thumped the pavement a second before he stepped into view. Luken.

His long hair swayed against his broad shoulders. A few dark strands gripped the material of his jacket, freezing in place as the rest of the silken length continued its gentle movement. Kissable lips quirked up in a half smile, pulling the skin of his face just slightly tighter over his high cheek bones. The yellow glow of the security light masked the golden-olive skin she knew covered his body. Native American blood ran thick through his veins. All around, he was such a contrast in looks when compared to Ivan. Whereas Ivan was light and fair, Luken was dark and sensual. Luken stood tall and lean, his muscles toned, but not overly large. He had a very athletic build, and even though she couldn’t see through the V-neck T-shirt he wore, she figured his abs would look like a washboard. Her heart rate quickened as she stared across the space separating them. Desire began to bloom inside her, mixed with excitement. Then irritation took its place. He hadn’t bothered to call her and now he wanted to show up when she looked like a mop? “As if it matters.”

A full smile spread across his mouth as he continued to approach. “Of course it matters.”

She huffed a breath of air and turned, reaching for the handle of the back door. “I’ve got to get back inside.” It was just too much. A suck-ass cherry on her suck-ass night of a sundae. God, why did he have to show up now?

A warm hand clasped her arm before she could grip the door handle. She looked down. Strong fingers encircled her wrist. Warmth radiated into her skin from the contact and her heart rate increased. She turned and looked him in the eye.

“Don’t go yet.”

She sighed, wishing she could ignore the tingling awareness his touch brought. It radiated up her arm and settled in her chest. She recognized the fusion of hope and anticipation. Such a dangerous mix. “I’m working.”

“I meant to call you.”

She gave a half-hearted laugh. “Meant to? But didn’t. I really need to get back inside.”

“I’ve thought about you a lot.”

“Why are you saying these things now? I mean, you could’ve just called.” Damn if she didn’t hate how wounded her words sounded to her own ears. He would probably think her pathetic. She sure as hell thought of herself that way right now.

His lips scrunched into a slight grimace. “Things have been busy.”

“Well, now’s not a good time for me.” She shivered as another gust of air whirled past. According to the weather report a cold front was supposed to be moving in. Her gaze followed his to the front of her soaked T-shirt. Her nipples drew into pebbled peaks, now visible beneath the material. She pulled from his grasp and crossed her arms in front of her chest, glad the ugly yellow lighting wouldn’t show the blush rising in her cheeks.

Luken’s gaze snapped back to her face as he shrugged out of his jacket and swung it around her shoulders. He gripped the lapel and pulled it closed around her. His body heat seeped into her skin as the intoxicating scent of him entered her nose. Cologne like none she’d ever smelled before. Warm summer nights mixed with a hint of spice. Her lower tummy tingled, spreading to that spot between her legs that had her clenching her thighs together.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call.”

She met his gaze. Dark-brown eyes stared down at her. It had been awhile since she’d felt the quickening of desire that now began a slow roll through her. “Why didn’t you?”

“It’s complicated.”

She pulled back, trying to remove the jacket, but he wouldn’t release his hold on the front. “Where I come from, the translation is you have a wife.” Too good to be true as usual.

He gave a tug on the jacket, pulling her closer to his chest. “No. I don’t have a wife. Things have just been…complicated.”

Complicated was definitely something she didn’t need to add to her life right now, even if it came in such a yummy package. “Listen. Why don’t you come find me again when things aren’t so complicated?”

“And what if I want to just keep you where you are right now, complications and all?”

His whispered words fanned hot, sweet breath over her face. She felt herself leaning toward him even though the warning signals in her brain were firing off like mad. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”

His head leaned in until his lips hovered above her own. She took in a staggering breath as she wondered if he would kiss her.

“Right now it seems like an excellent idea. I want to taste you.”

She licked her lips, ready for him to close the gap. She had a feeling this would be one hell of a kiss.

“Hey! Get the hell away from her!”

Julie blinked, stunned as she pulled back from Luken. Was that a growl? Her head turned and she saw Mark approaching. Awareness hit. He’d thought Luken was trying to assault her. She quickly held up her hands and stepped in front of Luken, but he advanced, bringing his chest in contact with her back. “No, Mark. It’s fine. I’m fine.”

She could feel the tightening in Luken’s muscles behind her and knew he held Mark’s stare. Neither male said anything for a few breaths as they let their testosterone-fueled battle of wills play out. Finally Mark moved his gaze back to her, and she couldn’t miss the flash of hurt she saw in the depths of his eyes.

“I need you to come back in. The whole damn place is in an uproar and Rachel won’t stop crying.”

Julie flinched as she felt another pang of guilt for letting the new waitress take on the madness inside as she’d retreated. “Okay. I’ll be right in.”

Mark shot one last pissed look at Luken before he stomped inside. Julie released the breath she’d been holding as she turned to glance at Luken again. “Sorry, I have to go.” She stripped off the jacket and tried to hand it back to him.

“No. You keep it. Your wet shirt is clinging to your breasts, and as much as I like the view…”

She scrambled to put the jacket back on. The sleeves were too long so she shook her hands to shimmy the material down her arms. Before she could reach for the front, Luken gripped each side. Her breath caught as he slowly pulled the zipper up, his knuckles brushing across one sensitive nipple. Even through the thick fabric of the jacket the light touch made her want to moan. She bit into her lower lip, wishing she didn’t need to return inside. It had been awhile since she’d had sex and her body protested the idea of walking away from the drool-worthy man in front of her.

“When will I see you again?”

Luken shrugged. “Not sure.”

She wanted to prolong the moment, but knew she needed to get back to work. Would he kiss her goodnight? “I should go.”

Luken brushed his knuckles across her cheek bone and down the side of her neck. “Yeah, you should go.”

She shivered, her eyelids dropping to half mast as her tongue darted out to moisten her lower lip. And then he stepped back. Blinking, she slightly shook her head as she noticed his retreat. She wanted to shout her frustration as she watched him walk away. Teeth clenched, she turned and strode into the bar. How could he come here and get her all worked up and then just walk off as if it didn’t faze him? Damn, it was going to be a long night.

 

Best wishes,

Virginia Cavanaugh