Monday, August 15, 2011

Baby, I'll Find You by Jennifer Skully

I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the photos from RomCon! Hopefully I’ll see some of you there in the future!

I’ve got plans for another story to put up weekly on the blog, just because it was so fun with Kinky Neighbors and everyone got into discussing the story. So starting next Monday, I’ll be putting up a new serial! I’m going to keep you in suspense about what it will be until next week!

This week, I want to give you a taste of my latest Jennifer Skully release. For those of you who don’t know, I wrote as Jennifer Skully for HQN a number of years ago. The books are funny, light, mostly mystery (I usually killed someone and had to solve a murder) and had 5 releases with them. Sex and the Serial Killer (yes, it was funny despite the title) was a Romantic Times Top Pick and won the Daphne Du Maurier Award of Excellence. The sequel was Fool’s Gold. And from there, I had Drop Dead Gorgeous, Sheer Dynamite, and It Must Be Magic. Now, after an absence of 4 years, Jennifer Skully is back with Baby, I'll Find You I’m so excited to finally be out there again with something that’s a little on the lighter side, though there’s definitely a sad theme in Baby, I'll Find You. While it’ll make you cry, some of the quirky characters will make you laugh, too. Be warned, Jennifer is very different from Jasmine, but it’s still the same voice in many ways, and still sexy. Because I can’t write anything that’s not sexy!

Thanks to Rosemary Gunn for the fabulous cover. I love, love, LOVE it! Baby, I’ll Find You is available on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Right now, it's only in ebook format, but I hope to have the POD ready at a later date. Here’s more about the book!

Award-winning author Jennifer Skully is back! This time, she brings readers a poignant tale of loss and renewal. Peopled with Jennifer’s signature quirky and often hilarious characters, this story will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you ache. Step into the world of Jennifer Skully.

Baby, I'll Find You

A man without a future, a woman determined to give him one...

Jami Baylor has lost her job, her fiancĂ©, her hopes, and her dreams all on the same day. But she believes in fate and destiny, and after finding Colton Amory’s CD in a thrift store grab bag, Jami knows it’s serendipity that she’s heard his song now. “Baby I’ll Find You” speaks to her heart, right when she needs it most. So, off she goes to the wilds of Yosemite to discover why Colton Amory hasn’t written another song in seven years.

The only problem? The man who wrote such beautiful music turns out to be a self-pitying jerk. Or so it seems, until Jami digs deeper.

Seven years ago, Cole Amory had a flourishing musical career and a little girl who was his pride and joy. In one split second, he lost it all. He hasn’t written a lyric or played a note since. Buried in a small Yosemite town, he’s now a fry cook at a fast-food joint. And he doesn’t need a woman with stars in her eyes opening all his old wounds and his guilt.

Can two people with nothing left to lose find it all?

Baby, I'll Find You Excerpt
Copyright 2011 Jennifer Skully
Chapter One

Good Lord, he’d fired her. Just like that. Her boss, Richard Headley, had scapegoated her. After five years with the company, Dick Head—as Jami referred to him in the privacy of her own mind—ripped the rug right out from under her.

Jami Baylor had never been fired, not even from the paper route she’d had as a kid.

The Bay Area had a late September rain yesterday, and a damp, musty smell permeated Used But Not Abused as Jami pushed through the thrift shop’s front door. She didn’t know if it emanated from the used clothing that had been shoved to the back of someone’s closet for too long or the ancient orange shag carpet covering the store’s concrete floor. Even the books smelled musty, as if they’d lain for years lost and forlorn in somebody’s attic.

Why did that feel like a metaphor for her life right now?

The stale scent didn’t bother anyone else. The shop was sardines-in-a-can packed. Fifty-percent-off Tuesday brought out shoppers in droves. Jami could barely find a spot to eyeball the latest treasures beneath the scratched glass showcase.

Behind the counter, Olga waddled towards her. “Baby Doll, what are you doing here in the middle of a workday?”

A large woman, Olga had to suck in her stomach to get behind the counter. Her face had turned to leather from years of smoking, and when she laughed too hard, she often lapsed into a coughing fit. Yet for the five or so years Jami had frequented the second-hand shop, Olga always had a kind word and a sweet smile.

Jami gave her one in return. “I needed a Used/Abused fix.”

The woman leaned in to inspect Jami. “You okay? Your nose looks like Rudolph. Got a cold coming on?”

No. She’d been crying. In the car, once she’d left the office, it hit her hard. She’d been fired. She’d worked in Silicon Valley for thirteen years, since graduating university, the last five at Southside Manufacturing. After four years as Cost Accounting Manager, she’d made the leap to Director of Materials, a job she’d toughed out for over a year. The first female director at Southside Manufacturing.

Yet when it came time for someone to take the blame, it was her signature on that purchase order sticking the company with thousands of specially machined parts they couldn’t use when their customer canceled a million-dollar contract. Cardinal rule in Purchasing, give yourself an out. Dick Head had her sign the PO without a cancellation clause. Against her better judgment.

That fact seemed to have slipped his mind when he fired her.

“I’m fine, thanks for asking,” she said, to avoid explaining. Especially since she might start blubbering again. Really, she wasn’t cut out to be an executive. “I just felt like a day off.”

“Well, good for you, Baby Doll. And let me tell you, we got some fine pieces in this weekend that your nieces will love.”

A woman elbowed Jami out of the way. “I want to see that,” she pointed for Olga, adding another finger smirch to the glass counter.

Jami gave the other lady room. Slightly chipped crockery and fine china with the gold edging worn off filled a display cabinet, and the necklaces and earrings in the glass sideboard were more of the dimestore variety than anything one would find at a jewelry store, but Jami loved buying the trinkets for her nieces. Kids were so easy. At last count, she had five nieces but no nephews, and that lack of a male heir was the bane of her mother’s existence.

By the time Jami came along, her mother already had three girls, each a year apart. She’d wanted a boy so badly she’d actually given Jami the boy’s name she’d had picked out before having the ultrasound. When the tiny fetus turned out to have the wrong apparatus, Mom thought she’d be cute by simply dropping the es off James and adding an i. Jami often wished her mother wasn’t so cutesy. She’d grown up feeling a bit...unnecessary in the scheme of things.

Not finding a thing that would make any of her nieces absolutely hyperventilate, Jami moved on. Halloween was, comparatively speaking, just around the corner, and Used But Not Abused was like any other shop, stocking Halloween gear a month before the main event. Scratched trick-or-treat pumpkins were stacked one atop the other and next to that, an assortment of battered skeletons to hang on the front door and Frankenstein monsters to guard the stoop.

At the back of the store, where the air got a little less circulation, the mustiness was enough to wrinkle her nose. But at least the crowd had thinned out. Most patrons favored the clothing aisles. Jami wasn’t interested in clothing. She’d discovered a treasure trove on a shelf in the back corner years ago. Even if she made it to the shop only five minutes before closing, when she had a particularly hard day, or was stressed at work, or she’d had a fight with Leo, she came here.

Not that she and Leo argued a lot. Their relationship was pretty darn amicable. And comfortable. Maybe too comfortable. What if Leo never thought it was the right time for a family? Jami was thirty-five. It was time. She wanted a child so badly it sometimes felt like shrink-wrap squeezing her insides. They’d been living together for seven years. When would he make up his mind? There was always that next big promotion around the corner or one more financial goal he needed to achieve. Not to mention that their lovemaking had become increasingly perfunctory, and, to be honest, not so much about her pleasure.

Jami shivered. How was she supposed to break the job news to Leo? They lived in his condo, but she shared expenses. She had savings to live on for...well, over a year at least, but it would still be a blow to them both.

Okay, she wouldn’t think about all that now.

Jami hunkered down in front of the stapled paper bags on the bottom shelf. Grab bags. They took her back to her childhood when her favorite uncle visited, with grab bags for her and each of her sisters. Filled with junk that her sisters threw out along with the paper sack, in Jami’s mind, there was always a treasure in there, big or little. Growing up, she’d been the youngest and never learned how to scream the loudest or the longest, and her mother was often too busy dealing with someone else’s drama to notice Jami’s relatively minor problems. The fact that her uncle always knew the perfect treasure to put in that sack, one especially for her, made up for the lack of attention.

Continuing grab-bagging into adulthood was, at the very least, a little OCD, but Jami didn’t care if she had an obsessive-compulsive disorder. She loved the grab bags.

Closing her eyes, she put out a hand for a stapled bag. Best not to think or look too hard. That was the key to grabbing. If you didn’t over-think, the universe stepped in and gave you exactly what you needed.

Then someone snatched the magic bag right out of her fingers. Jami snapped her eyes open and rose to her full five foot seven plus three-inch heels. “Hey, that’s mine.”

“I saw it first.” Easily a head shorter than Jami, the elderly woman clutched the bag to her chest, her bosom heaving.

“I had it first.” Jami narrowed her eyes and secured her stance on her high heels, like a gunfighter ready to quick-draw. She’d touched it first, so she had dibs. She might not have stood up to Dick Head when he’d ordered her to sign that PO, but she’d go to the mat for that bag.

A tear trickled down onto a cheek that resembled an apple wizened in the sun. “But I need it. You don’t need it.”

Jami took in the woman’s blouse, which was literally falling apart at the seams. The torn hem of her skirt dragged on the orange shag carpet. Jami glanced at the bag. Its label read women’s clothing.

Jeez. Did it matter who’d touched it first? The grab-bag thing was about feeling better, and really, if she yanked it out of this poor lady’s hand, she’d feel lower than dirt. “You’re right. I don’t really need it.” She reached in her purse for a dollar bill and handed it to the woman. “But since I touched it first, I still have to be the one to pay for it.”

The woman beamed. She was missing a tooth. Then she snatched the dollar from Jami, pushed between two men arguing about a broken cuckoo clock that cucked but didn’t koo, and slapped the bill on the counter before Jami could change her mind. If the old lady had scammed her, she’d done it well, and Jami didn’t mind.

Instead, she bent down, reached into the maze of bags on the shelf without looking, pulled one from the last row, then made her way to the front.

The two men were still arguing about the cuckoo.

When she reached the counter, Olga patted her hand. “What’d ya get this time, Baby Doll?”

Smiling, Jami plunked down her dollar. “I have no idea. It’s a surprise.”

Olga looked at the sack’s writing through the bottom of her glasses. “It says—”

Jami stuck her fingers in her ears. “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know before I open it.”

There was a whole ritual to follow; okay, she did have OCD. She couldn’t read the writing on the outside of the bag, just stick her hand in, eyes closed. It could be clothing, jewelry or books, CDs or video tapes. She’d been known to pick men’s clothing or shoes, but there was always something worth calling treasure, even if all an item did was garner a memory of her father’s Florsheim shoes and the quarters he used to pay her as a child to keep the leather polished. Pops had passed from lung cancer ten years ago. He hadn’t smoked a day in his life.

Olga shook the bag. “It sounds like—” she singsonged in that raspy voice.

“Stop it,” Jami squealed, playing along. “I don’t want to know.”

Olga loved to tease, and they went through the same rigmarole every time. Maybe that was part of the pleasure of grab-bagging. Olga, her teasing, her smiles. Even before Jami left the shop, she always felt sunnier. A little more hopeful.

“Well, I want to hear what you find inside. If it’s really good, I think we’re going to have to consider raising prices.”

“It’s because they’re only a dollar that you even sell them and you know it.” Jami herself was probably the only one who got a big kick out of what was in the bags anyway. “Raising the price doesn’t do you a darn bit of good if volume goes down.”

“Being a high finance mucky-muck, you oughta know.”

Right. She’d been more like Dick Head’s bum girl even if she did have a title. C’est la vie. The bright side was not having to see Dick Head day in and day out. Maybe getting fired was a blessing in disguise.

Olga slammed the cash drawer. “Now get outta here, and see if you got anything fun.”

Jami waved. The bag rattled in her hand as she headed out to her SUV. It didn’t sound like jewelry. CDs, maybe videos; she rarely got DVDs, since everybody was chucking their old tapes.

The sun shone through the windshield of her white 4Runner, and once inside she was toasty despite the taste of fall chill.

“What have we got?” she whispered. Tearing out the staples, she closed her eyes and stuck her hand in.

Could be video games. She didn’t know if they came in jewel cases. She opened her eyes to find Lawrence Welk staring at her, offering his all-time favorite polkas. Oh my God, her aunt would love it! She sifted through the bag, counting nine more CDs. Maybe it was Lawrence Welk’s complete collection. One Christmas present was in the bag, no pun intended. The next one she pulled out, however, was Slim Whitman. Jami laughed out loud. Grandma in the movie Mars Attacks had played a Slim Whitman record on her phonograph and made all the Martian heads explode, thus saving the world. Jami had thought they made up Slim just for the movie, but he was an honest-to-God crooner.

Les Paul and Mary Ford were next. A married couple from the fifties timeframe, and the CD featured their Rheingold beer commercials. Hmm, okay. She found four more Lawrence Welk, big band, ballads, and standards, then the soundtrack for The Blair Witch Project—did it even have a soundtrack?—and two CDs from a guy she’d never heard of. Colton Amory. The first was called Dream Sweet and the second Dreaming of You.

She flipped over one to read the song titles on the back, and her heart simply jumped into her throat. Even in a studio portrait, Colton Amory had the most penetrating pair of blue eyes she’d ever seen, as if he were looking right into her soul. Jami held her breath for several seconds. His hair was dark brown, and though his mustache had one or two streaks of gray in it, she could swear he wasn’t more than mid-thirties. He had a cock-eyed smile that made her want to smile right back at him as if he could see her, and laugh lines around his gorgeous blue eyes.

The dollar she’d paid was worth it for Colton Amory’s photo alone. She turned over the other CD, Dream Sweet, and this time his smile was only a hint. As if he had a sexy secret. His mustache was minus the gray streaks. But damn, he was hot in both photos.

The copyright dates on the inside covers showed Dream Sweet was the earliest, nine years ago, and the second album, Dreaming of You, a couple of years later.

By now, Colton Amory probably had a paunch and a big bald spot, but she could still fantasize about what he’d looked like seven years ago. Since he’d found his way into a Used But Not Abused grab bag, however, his music was probably crap.

She started the engine, yanked his more recent CD out of its jewel case and shoved it into her player, then pulled into traffic to the opening strains of Colton Amory’s guitar. It had an odd sound. No, not odd. Not out-of-tune either. It was unique, in a different key that pulled a person’s soul right into the music. Some songs didn’t penetrate the consciousness. Usually, she’d be thinking about the million things she had to get done in the first five minutes at work and never even heard the songs on the radio. Colton Amory’s music didn’t allow her to think of anything else. It sucked her in and wouldn’t let her go.

Then he started to sing, his voice like the smooth taste of a glass of Kahlua-n-cream going down. Sweet and velvety like cream, yet rich and smoky like Kahlua. In “Baby, I’ll Find You”, he sang about dreams and soul mates and finding the perfect woman. More than a partner, the person who fulfilled you, completed you, the one who gave you synergy. Separate, you were just going through the motions, but together you were so much more than simply the sum of your separate parts. His words spoke to her inner heart; his voice mesmerized her. She ran through the tail-end of a yellow light, cutting it way too close to red.

Oh. My. God. Colton Amory was a grab-bag treasure among treasures. His lyrics made her want to reach for her dreams.

At the next light, she closed her eyes and shivered with an ache so bad, it made her insides quake. God, she wanted. Everything. A baby growing inside her, then finally, finally, that cherished little human being in her arms. Leo’s ring on her finger. His breath in her ear saying how much he loved her, wanted her, needed her. A four-bedroom house she and Leo owned together, something in the suburbs with a white picket fence and rows of hydrangea bushes. She wanted the blue ones. She wanted all the passion in that song, to rediscover it with Leo. Now. Not tomorrow or next month or next year.

The emotion Colton Amory seared into his music was more than mere words. It was a message. In that grab bag, the universe had given her exactly what she needed. Maybe the universe had been sending her a message when Dick Head fired her, too. It was time to take a stand, go for the gusto, take charge of her life, and ask for what she wanted. She’d waited seven years for Leo to make up his mind. She wasn’t getting any younger. She’d spent far too much time waiting for things to happen. It was time to let go of her fears and force them to happen.

Finding Colton Amory’s music was serendipity. Or fate. Maybe even destiny. Jami knew what she had to do.

Tonight, she’d make up Leo’s mind for him.

Chapter Two

“I hate to say it, sweetie, but no man buys the cow when he can get the milk for free.”

Jami’s shoulders tensed, then her neck, until finally a mammoth tension headache sprouted like an alien probe inside her head. With her outdated clichĂ©s, her mother was an anachronism. You’d think Mom had been raised on fifties TV shows like Father Knows Best and Leave it Beaver. She’d actually caught her mother watching old reruns on TV Land.

But Mom was right, things with Leo hadn’t gone the way Jami planned.

I hope you enjoyed this taste of Baby, I'll Find You and Jennifer Skully. I’m sure she’ll be back for more! And don’t forget, next week, the start of another serial!

Monday, August 8, 2011

RomCon 2011!

I had a great time at RomCon in Denver, saw lots of old friends, and made lots of new ones! In this blog, I’ll update you on the conference and share some of the fun photos! I attended the conference with Ellen Higuchi, my local romance readers group leader.

First, here’s a photo of Sue Grimshaw, Ellen, and Mary Jo. I hung out with these ladies a lot! And what great discussions we had!

While everything from my erotic authors panel to the erotic author mixer and the book “rumble” on Sunday was fantastic, I would have to say the highlight of the weekend was the Victorian Fashion Show put on by Deeanne Gist. She was extremely knowledgeable about the subject and the dresses were fabulous. The first portion of the event was a parade of historical authors dressed in period pieces. I’ve got a few sample photos provided by Ellen Higuchi (because I was a dork and forgot to put my camera in my bag!)

Here’s a wonderful photo of me with Jade Lee in a bathing costume. Can you believe that they even wore bustles in their bathing suit!?

I just loved this gorgeous dress. I must apologize because I can’t remember the name of the author wearing it so prettily. The eye candy on her arm is cover model Brooks Johnson, who graciously helped all the ladies get up those stairs to the stage!

And this is Delilah Marvelle in an elaborate skating costume. The whole point of skating was falling into your desired man’s arms! In this case, Brooks’.

The next two photos are off Deeanne Gist demonstrating the work Victorian ladies had getting all that clothing on. The first is of the undergarments, which included drawers, chemise, corset, and crinoline cage. By the time dressing a lady was done, they must have needed to take a nap! It’s hard work. The second photo is Deeanne all dressed up. Wow, she’s so beautiful that all the hard work was worth it!

And here’s a few fun photos of me with friends.

Me with Cyn (Mistress Kitty)

Me with Diane Smith

Isobel Carr at the book signing. She made me a lovely pin to wear with the cover of What Happens After Midnight.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What Happens After Dark

Happy August! Oh my God, where is the summer going!? I hope you’re all enjoying your summer vacations! I just had a great vacation with a visit from my friend Rita. What a wonderful time we had! But now I have to get back to work, and I started in yesterday with reading the galley of What Happens After Dark, DeKnight novel 2. Gosh, I love the cover Berkley did for the book! The galley is the proof, where I do my last check for any typos. And really, I don’t know how those typos get by me in all the other reads! Actually, this one isn’t two bad, I’ve only found two so far, like “it was all tied up in a neat little bowl.” LOL. And ugh, my wireless is giving me fits and starts! I’m thinking it’s time for a new computer. In the meantime, for your enjoyment, here’s an excerpt of what I’m currently working on. What Happens After Dark will be out in November! It continues with the characters in Past Midnight and DeKnight Gauges, Inc (DKG), this time giving you Bree Mason’s story, DKG’s accountant, a woman with a lot of secrets that no one at DKG would ever guess. BTW, as usual, it's a naughty excerpt, so really, you should be over 18 to read it.

By day she’s a mild-mannered accountant.
After dark, she’s a willing slave to his wildest fantasies.

Bree Mason longs to be a successful career woman, but secrets keep her chained to the past, afraid to take that next step. And at night, her frustrations are released by the domineering Luke Raven, who gives her what she asks for and more in a sensuous game of master and slave…

But to take control of her life, Bree will have to look within and face the demons of her past. Luke knows the ins and outs of Bree’s body, knows what makes her gasp and sigh and beg. But now he’s willing to push their relationship to the limit—to stand by her side in the light of day and take the greatest risk of all…for love.

What Happens After Dark
A DeKnight Novel, Book 2
Copyright 2011 Jasmine Haynes

He tipped his head back, savoring the feel of her mouth on him. Christ. She knew every nerve that excited him. Dropping his chin, he opened his eyes to drink in the sight of her down on her knees on the plush, navy carpet, her silky black hair cascading down the slope of her back. Red fingernails, red lips, and alabaster skin, she was more beautiful than any model gracing the cover of a fashion magazine.

He groaned as she hit a sweet spot with her tongue. His legs trembled, his tension rising, need pulling at him.

For six months, she’d been his to command. Since the night he’d won her away from Derek, her bruiser boyfriend, in a downtown club. She wasn’t made for the club scene, and he’d taken her from Derek as if she were the war prize in hand-to-hand combat, which technically she was, since he’d decked the guy to rescue her.

And what a prize she was. Squeezing his cock, she tantalized him, drove him mad. He thought his head would explode. Shoving his fingers through her hair, he pushed her back. “Not yet,” he murmured.

She gazed up at him with eyes the shade of sapphires. “Did I do something wrong, Master?” Her voice was soft, sweet, like the gentle babble of a distant brook.

She insisted on calling him Master as if he were her dom and she his submissive. He’d never gone in for the dominance and submission lifestyle, but after he found her in that San Francisco sex club, he’d read a bit on the Internet. There were aspects of it he enjoyed immensely—tying her down, blindfolding her, a good spanking, toys, forcing her to push her sexual limits—but other elements, humiliation, degradation, making her cry, giving her to another man as if she were chattel—which was what he’d caught Derek doing—that stuff, not so much. She liked to be dominated, but she needed to feel special. She needed approval. She withered when she was ignored.

He couldn’t have ignored her if he’d tried. Even when she wasn’t within sight, he fantasized about her. Hot fantasies where she was handcuffed, spread out on his bed, and begging him to crawl between her legs. Yeah, he liked the dominant role. “I told you not to make me come yet,” he said sternly.

“You should punish me for that,” she whispered. “Because I’m such a slut, and I’m bad.”

That was another thing she liked, the name-calling. Bitch, slut, even worse. At first he’d used the names because they made her wild. But they made him burn hotter, too. Being with her had taught him how sexy a little dirty talk could be. And then there was the punishment thing...

“Get on the bed, whore,” he ordered, and his erection surged, his blood pumped faster.

She bit her bottom lip, drew in a breath, her nostrils flaring with her excitement. Then she rose gracefully, her movements steady. He’d closed the blinds against the cold January night, and the soft lighting of his bedroom illuminated her slender body, the elegant curves of her back and bottom. Her limbs were long and lithe, her breasts small, the areoles dusky pink buttons. She was a tall woman at five-nine, and barefoot, she was only a couple of inches shorter than him. He’d never been worried about his height; Derek had been taller and bigger than he was, but he’d still won the girl.

She climbed onto the big bed on all fours, her ass heart-shaped.

“On your back,” he instructed. “Spread your legs and arms.”

She laid down, her pussy glistening. The rich burgundy of the bedspread made her skin glow. “I know I’ve been bad, Master. You need to punish me and call me the names I deserve.”

For her to feel that way, he’d assumed she’d had bad relationships in the past that had marked her with some deep-seated insecurities. Derek the horse’s ass certainly wasn’t the first. He also couldn’t deny his desire for a little tender lovemaking and more intimacy. He wanted to know more about her, exchange more than sex, reach a deeper level. But there was power in dominating her, too. They both excelled at dirty, nasty games. He’d bought the fur-lined handcuffs; then he’d bought the four-poster bed to attach them to. The scarves in the top drawer of his dresser—which could be used as either blindfolds or bindings—hid a variety of toys he’d used on her.

He hoped to God one of his daughters didn’t start rooting around in there during their frequent trips home from college.

“Scarves or handcuffs?” He could gauge her mood by the kind of restraints she asked for. “Which do you deserve, you dirty little bitch?”

Her lips parted; her eyes darkened. “Handcuffs,” she whispered.

She wanted things a little rougher. Something must have happened at work today. Not that she ever told him much about her life outside the bounds of their relationship. She was secretive even when he questioned her. Her evasiveness was one of the things he’d had yet to break her of, but he would, eventually. Tonight, she’d been tense when she arrived. In fact, she’d been unusually stressed for weeks, and he’d learned that the worse her day had been, the higher degree of domination she required.

“Wider, slut,” he demanded as he took one delicate ankle in his hand. She stretched for him, her scent rising, swirling around him. He was hard for her, ravenous, but the night would end quickly after he came. He wanted to stretch it out.

She’d never spent the night. They didn’t cuddle afterward. He didn’t know precisely where she lived or the name of the company she worked for, only that she was thirty-five, unmarried, no children, made her living as an accountant, and she was promiscuous. He’d gathered that the fact he’d been her only lover over the past six months was unusual.

He took it as a testament to how good he was at giving her what she needed.

She needed the trappings of submission, but what she loved best was making him climax with her mouth and swallowing his come. She relished every groan, every cry of pleasure he gave. If he didn’t make her come before he did, she wouldn’t come at all. As if she didn’t require the orgasm to be satisfied.

But in this moment, he craved her climax, her pleasure, to feel her body tremble for him.

Rounding the bed, he restrained her other ankle. Then he went to work on her wrists, anchoring them to the bedposts. He didn’t ask her if it was too tight; she would merely tell him that she would take whatever he chose to dish out.

“What are you going to do to me, Master?” Her voice quavered, but it wasn’t fear; it was need. When she was restrained, he could force her to let go.

“Would you like me to fuck you?” he murmured, climbing onto the bed, leaning close to draw in the scent of her. She made his head spin.

“I’m your whore. You can do whatever you need, Master.”

Need? Christ. He needed so much, all the things she withheld, herself. Her thoughts, her feelings, her fears, her joys, her past. Yes, all those things; but for now, he would take this, savor it, until she gave him more.

He grabbed her chin, held her, forced eye contact. “I want to hear you scream my name when you come.”

She blinked rapidly a moment, and he knew that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. She wanted his orgasm. But she was his slave, and she answered the way she had to. “I will.”

He lowered his lips to hers, though he didn’t kiss her. “I’m going to lick you, my sweet little slut. That’s how I want you to come,” he whispered against her mouth.

She tensed. He’d never gone down on her when she wasn’t restrained. He’d never made her come with his mouth, tongue, or fingers when she wasn’t immobilized and unable to fight him. He loved it that way, too, because in those moments, she was his, she let herself go. As if somehow the restraints actually set her free.

“But don’t you need to come?” Her voice rose slightly at the end as if it were a question, yet she cajoled, her voice like a siren in the night.

God yes, he needed to come inside her, or her mouth. Or by her hand. She could work him up in any way she tried. But he wanted her climax, which was tantamount to her capitulation.

“I’m going to lick you, and you’re going to scream.” He covered her, flesh to flesh, held her gaze, her eyes wide, pupils dilated, her nipples pebbled against his chest. “Right?”

She gave in. “Yes, Master,” she whispered on nothing more than a puff of air.

Then he crawled down her body, tasting her skin as he dragged his tongue over her breasts, her belly, down to the finely trimmed mound of her sex.

“You have the sweetest scent.” He breathed her in, then put his tongue to her a moment. “And the sweetest taste.” He loved her pussy; she was gorgeous, full, pink, her clit burgeoning.

He swiped his tongue across her, back and forth, swirling her taste in his mouth. God. How he loved this. She writhed against her bonds, and her soft sounds of delicious distress filled the room. He fit first one, then two fingers inside her, and played her G-spot and her clit in tandem.

She panted. Moaned. Music to his ears. Then her legs started to shake, her cries rose, she called out his name, and her body jerked. He kept at her, rode the tide of her orgasm, until she fell limp against the comforter, her dark hair splayed across his pillows.

Her taste lingered on his lips as he shimmied up her body to lay beside her. “Was it good?”

“Master, it was heaven.” She swallowed, closed her eyes.

He wasn’t looking for affirmation. There was just something too . . . fast. As if she’d wanted to appease him.

“But you didn’t come,” she added.

He gave her a long, measured look, something inside him shifting. “You didn’t come either, did you?”

She swallowed again. Like a nervous habit she’d suddenly acquired. “I did.”

“Don’t lie to your master.” He clenched his teeth against the epithet that rose to his lips. He could call her whore, slut, bitch, almost anything as he was seducing her, but the words lost their sexiness in the aftermath.

She filled herself with a great gulp of air, her chest rising, her skin tinged with pink, though not as if she’d just surrendered to a luscious orgasm. More like... nerves.

“I’m very displeased that you didn’t come.” He used language she understood and responded to.

Yet this time she evaded him. “I’ll suck you,” she whispered. Straining against the handcuffs, she tugged her wrists as if she needed to touch him. “I’ll make you come.”

A coldness spread through him. “How often do you fake it?”

“I don’t,” she whispered, looking at his nose, his cheek, his mouth, anything to avoid meeting his eyes.

But he felt her lie in the stiffening of her limbs. He wondered how many times she’d faked an orgasm, how many times he’d been so wrapped up in her, in what she made him feel, that he hadn’t realized how good an actress she was.

Fuck. He was forty-five years old, too old to get rankled, yet the fake cut him. He wanted into her life. He wanted her to know about him, his daughters, his work, even his failed marriage. And he wanted to know everything about her. There were times his gut roiled against her secrets, the way she held him emotionally at bay. But this was what they had. She phoned, came to his house, had him call her names, tie her down or cuff her, blindfold her, spank her. When she was at his mercy, he could do anything he wanted. The sex between them was fantastic, but he wanted something more authentic from her, more real, more than just bits and pieces of her life. He wanted a whole night without her rushing away. He’d wanted all that for months, but he hadn’t pushed. He’d bided his time. Only to find out she’d actually faked some of her orgasms. Damn her.

“Fuck me,” she whispered, and he recognized the deliberate seduction in it. She never said what she wanted, never asked for anything, but she could follow orders. Jesus, she could follow orders and blow his mind. This, asking for it, was different, unlike her. “I’ll make you feel good,” she added.

Sinking inside her body, he’d feel better than good. When he was buried deep, she took him to another plane of existence. No other woman had done that, not even his ex-wife when he’d still believed her to be the woman of his dreams.

He was being manipulated. She was avoiding what he really wanted from her. He climbed from the bed, stood beside it, gazing down at the perfection of her body in her supine position, losing himself in the shimmer of her brilliant blue eyes. He knew he’d fuck her. Because he wanted her, badly. He had from the moment he first laid eyes on her.

But the game would have to change, the rules revised. He wanted more than sex; he wanted everything. And he would have it. Even if he had to order her to give it to him.

After all, he was the master.

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Look for What Happens After Dark in November!

The DeKnight Novels

Past Midnight
May 2011

What Happens After Dark
Nov 2011

The Principal’s Office
April 2012

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