‘You don’t need to think,’ a female voice whispered.
Euan pulled from Nick’s embrace and looked up.
His attention latched onto an apparition who stood in the doorframe. A female prodigy of indefinable value. A look of disquiet and concern was etched in her features. Kira’s eyes were serious, a reflection of the moment and the feelings that swirled around the room.
She seemed to float towards him. A fantasy in truth. An illusion made real. In her eyes he saw the beginning and end of all things. In her eyes he saw their future. Not his future, because that was over, but the future of the human race. This tenacious, driven, little platinum-blonde spitfire was going to drag humanity back into civility. Kicking and screaming.
Euan’s only job now was clear the path for her.
She stood alongside Nick. Her concentration didn’t waver. She studied him. She comprehended the character of the small, indistinguishable creatures he thought he’d hidden deep within his soul.
Euan had stood before men with weapons of steel and wood that were held comfortably in their fists. He’d taken the lives of men to save them from destruction. He’d stood on the cliff of humanity’s destruction and watched as it imploded. And yet, when he met the crystal-blue eyes of the tiny woman before him, he was naked, childlike, vulnerable.
‘Trust us,’ Nick beseeched.
Euan’s gaze flicked between Kira and Nick. He swallowed. Trust them? Could he? His stomach tightened.
Kira’s hands were now on his head. But this time, there was a sensual element. They explored his broad shoulders, his neck. They gently pried under his fingers so she could hold his hands in hers.
Then she knelt so they were eye to eye.
He was going to implode. He was. He knew it. As much as he knew that his heart was filled with the love for both of them, in this moment, his body and mind couldn’t manage the dichotomy of the love for them, and the hate for himself.
Her gaze was all encompassing. ‘We’re going to love you.’
‘No.’ His voice broke on the single word.
Her voice consumed his world. ‘You’re going to let us.’
Delicate fingers were placed over his lips. ‘I can. We can. We do.’
‘No,’ Euan mumbled as his heart shattered.
She whispered, ‘Yes.’
A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…
‘Who would you say my friends are in Dinbratten?’
Matthew was momentarily stumped by the apparent change of subject and it took him a second or two to dredge up a name. ‘Um. George, I suppose? Or Albie at the pub?’
‘I’m a trooper,’ Parks said, as though that fact had been somehow forgotten. ‘My presence tends to make people uncomfortable. Like they’re immediately looking for what the trouble or the danger is as soon as I walk in a room. I think I make them feel a bit guilty, even if they’ve never done a bad thing in their whole life. And I can’t help thinking,’ his voice dropped slightly, ‘that men in your line of work must have it something similar.’
For a moment, Matthew couldn’t think what to say in response. He’d never before encountered such an attempt at solidarity. ‘I think I understand you, Sergeant,’ he said evenly. He glanced down at the bottle in his hand and smiled. ‘Though I must say, I’ve never had anyone offer me a gift of, well, sex before.’
‘Eh.’ Parks took the bottle back. ‘People see the cassock and the collar and they forget there’s a man underneath ’em, I s’pose.’
‘But not you?’
At the question, Parks paused with the bottle partway to his mouth and gave Matthew a penetrating look. ‘I see ya.’
On the receiving end of that look, Matthew felt a little hot under the aforementioned collar and realised belatedly that he had managed to get slightly tipsy. He cleared his throat. ‘It’s Sunday tomorrow…’
‘Don’t be offended if half the town are too hungover to turn up.’
Matthew smiled at that. His face was still feeling warm. ‘I think I’ll be bidding you goodnight now, Sergeant.’
Parks crossed his arms over his chest, liquor bottle nestled in the crook of his left elbow. ‘You called me Jonah earlier.’
Had he? Yes, Matthew remembered, he had. ‘You still call me Father,’ he pointed out.
‘So I do.’ One side of Parks’ mouth pulled up in his quirky grin. When it didn’t seem likely that he was going to say anything else, Matthew took a shuffling step back toward the door.
‘Well,’ he said, ‘goodnight, then.’
‘Goodnight,’ Parks returned. ‘Matthew.’
Matthew fumbled the doorknob and took his leave.
By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now and releases 20 November.
All’s Faire in Love and War…
Sir Justin rode onto the field, his armour managing to gleam even in the overcast light. Connie applauded thunderously, pride and possessiveness welling up inside her.
‘Ouch, Foxingwood, I think thou hast ruptured mine ear drum, I can but hope that Sir Justin is not stunned after that boisterous welcome,’ the Maestro said. ‘Mayhap he is, he seems to be going the wrong way—wait a moment, what’s this? It seems our knight is stopping for a meet and greet!’
The Maestro was right. Sir Justin rode up to the barrier instead of trotting alongside it; he was walking his horse purposefully, scanning the crowd, as if he were …
‘It seems Sir Justin is looking for someone! Is that a rose in his hand?’
Connie’s heart skipped a beat.
Then, suddenly, Justin was in front of Connie, the smell of horse and leather and steel filling her nose. Her heart pounded as she looked up.
‘Lady Constance,’ Sir Justin said, his voice once again muffled behind the locked visor of his closed face helm. ‘I give you this rose as a token of my affection.’
Connie found herself grinning madly as she accepted the rose. ‘I thank my most valiant lord. But wait, sir, one moment before you go—’ Connie fumbled with the knot that held the specially made handkerchief onto her belt.
‘Speak up!’ someone behind her shouted.
‘Sir Justin, will you accept this token of my favour to carry with you today?’ Connie asked. Was the entire crowd looking at them?
‘I would be honoured, Lady Constance,’ Sir Justin replied as he took the handkerchief, which looked little more than a scrap in his large gauntlets. She could not see his face, but she felt like he might be grinning too. Thunderous applause and cheers broke out as he gently twitched the reins and Cleopatra moved off to take their place at the top of the lists. Maestro Contarini burst into rhapsodic commentary.
‘… never have we seen such gallantry, such chivalry, such perfect pageantry! Sir Justin rides like the knights of old with the token of his lady! Nowhere in the twenty-first century is there such romance as this!’
The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight is available for pre-order now, and will release 20 October 2017. One-click now!
Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…
‘Come here,’ he ordered.
Kira jerked like a startled rabbit. A tiny kit suddenly aware that the wolf was in her burrow. This time, she did attempt to take that step back, only to find herself boxed in by Nick’s finely muscled frame.
At Euan’s tone, he had moved in behind her. The need for a second serving less imperative to meeting their desires. His blond hair waywardly fell over his brow, his green eyes glittered with comprehension and sympathy. Nick still battled the demons that seared his soul with hot iron brands, but he’d set that internal torture aside, as well as his bowl of food, to meet Euan halfway to protect and nurture the woman caught between them.
Over Kira’s head, their gazes connected, clashed, tangled in an almost visceral melding of minds and understanding. After everything they’d suffered. Because of everything they’d suffered. On this, they were in agreement.
‘Both of you,’ Euan continued. ‘Come here.’
Nick nudged Kira in Euan’s direction. They moved as one until she was pressed between the two of them. Nick’s defined arms banded around her waist, while Euan’s heavily muscled limbs wrapped around both of them. It was an embrace of solidarity, one of hope, to herald the start of a relationship that, at that point, only two parties were aware of.
Euan bent and rubbed his nose, lips and chin back and forth over the crown of Kira’s head. The delicate strands of her hair caught in the bristles of his beard. Under his palms, Nick’s shoulder blades rose and fell. The mixed scent of intoxicating feminine essence and masculine exertions flooded his senses. Kira’s soft puffs of breath fluttered against the cloth of his shirt at his chest.
He wanted to protect them, shield them both from the horrors of the world they now resided in. A reality that was terribly close to their door. He’d become their safeguard, the impenetrable wall that buffered them from the truth and sheltered them from their enemies. He inhaled slowly. His eyes drifted closed while he comprehended the beauty he held in his arms. He began to unravel the thoughts that twisted in circles inside his mind ever since he’d first seen the little sprite appear out of the trees. He was old enough to know himself, to know what he wanted. He wasn’t a man who got hung up on the direction of the moral compass of a defunct society. So he knew without hesitancy, that he wanted them both.
Together. Forever. Or for as long as this life allowed.
True Refuge releases 20 September 2017.
From one-night-stand to new boss…
Alex Broadhurst. She’d known that was the new boss’s name, but she hadn’t realised he was the same Alex she’d … met all those months ago.
Maybe he didn’t remember.
Please don’t let him remember.
Ellen perched on the edge of her seat, not even remotely able to keep from studying the man in front of her. A sweep of cheekbones, long face with a straight nose, strong jaw. Crisp blue cotton shirt, red silk tie. Even from this angle, anyone could see he was gorgeous. So clean-cut, masculine and handsome, he could sell cologne for Armani.
Yes. The man was indisputably gorgeous.
Her shoulders dropped and the tightness in her chest eased just a fraction. An attractive guy with success written all over him—chances were, he went home with many, many women. And it was a while ago, their fling. Even if he recognised her, he probably couldn’t pinpoint the where and the when.
God, the how.
Not helpful, Ellen.
She tore her gaze away, searching for something apart from Alex to hold her attention, but apart from his train wreck of a desk, which held a laptop and various piles of papers dripping in red scribble, the office was bare. No photos, nothing personal.
Maybe it was because he had no personality, like everyone was saying.
When Jeremy had been boss, this office had been full to the brink—photos of Jeremy shaking hands with various important people, framed degrees, posters with witty quotes, novelty gifts. But then again, given the way Jeremy had left, that was nothing to aspire to.
And it wasn’t true that Alex had no personality. He did—and a wicked, sneaky sense of humour. He was also very … generous. She had reason to know.
The pen came to rest. ‘Right. Ellen Kennedy.’ Alex extracted a page from one of the piles—her CV, no red, thank God—and scanned it, nodding occasionally. ‘Okay.’
He dropped it on the table and looked at her. Her stomach clenched. Those eyes. Intense hazel, bright against his dark hair and olive skin. Swarthy almost, as described in the historical romance novels she liked way too much. She had no trouble recalling exactly why she’d said yes that night. At least she could credit herself with having good taste.
Heat flushed her neck and cheeks.
He must remember. No?
Deal Breaker will release 12 September 2017. One-click pre-order below:
Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…
The area was devoid of life as Euan ascended the hill to the dilapidated farmhouse. Its high-pitched tin roof and slatted, rotting wooden exterior, shattered window panes and waterlogged gutters was a stark contrast against the dew-covered pasture that grew long without domesticated animals or machinery to consume it. He took the Glock from the waistband of his pants and palmed the grip as he climbed the sun-bleached steps up to the front door.
All was silent. Not even the faint morning breeze could be heard from the small porch. The quiet was deafening, it screamed a thousand warnings and the stillness spoke its own language, one Euan could understand.
Nobody was here.
They’d all gone. Euan could only hope they’d left Nick’s body behind.
He took a deep breath, maybe the last he’d take with his heart intact, and pushed open the rotting door with his free hand. He inwardly cringed as the loud squeak wrought havoc on his already shot nerves.
Euan stepped straight into a living room. The weak morning light filtered through the gaps in the tin sheeting where the roof panels had fallen to the floor from the weather. Dust moats glinted gold in the sunlight, the stink of decay and fear stung his nose. In the shadows it was cold, but he didn’t think of that, he couldn’t.
Battered furniture had been pushed to the walls to give space for a macabre performance. A play where cruelty was its drawcard and pain was its allure. Boot-prints of black and brown, blood and earth was evidence of an audience. A destroyed dining table, torn carpet and scorched floorboards were proof they stayed for a show.
In the centre of the amateur stage, the star of the entertainment lay motionless.
Nick was as still as death, a lifeless participant surrounded by destruction.
Euan’s nightmares were confirmed.
The bile in his stomach rose up to burn his throat. He scrunched his eyes closed in devastation at what was before him. It took everything he had not to cover his face with his shaking hands and cry into the silence.
The man who had given his life meaning, given him a sense of purpose, of worth. A man who held Euan’s heart in his hands and likely didn’t even know it.
A man who now lay in a lifeless ball on the floor before him.
True Refuge releases 20 September 2017.
She looked back at him, her eyes now filled with wanton hunger. Silence fell and the atmosphere inside their bubble filled with spark and sizzle, heat and desire. She wanted him just as much as he wanted her. This was hazardous territory. The intensity of his yearning was different with other women. If he got this exquisite creature back to his suite, he would never want to let her go.
‘Well, I better grab a table before they all go. This is a popular place on the weekends … as you can see.’ Her voice was shaky, a little breathless, as she seized his gaze with her own. ‘And I’m ravenous.’
Her last word was emphasised, as her eyes remained transfixed to his for that moment too long, as though she was directing it to him, suggesting she was hungry for him. Was she? His eyes fell to her chest as he noted her breathing quicken. ‘I’ll bring your drink over to you. Or you can join me at my table, if you like.’
Before the goddess could answer, the spritely French waiter buzzed to their side with a cloth. Their sensual bubble burst. Blake wanted to tell him to bugger off, but held his tongue. Manners cost nothing. The waiter acknowledged them with a smile and in what felt like mere seconds had mopped the cocktail up. Standing as though he had been sitting on a thorn, he addressed them with a nod. ‘Can I be of any more assistance madam and monsieur?’ His eyebrows were raised so high they almost disappeared over his balding hairline.
‘No, but thank you,’ Blake replied before turning his attention back to his stunning captor. He waited patiently for her acceptance of his offer as the waiter sped off in the opposite direction.
She brought her eyes to his, and this time the look of wantonness had faded, replaced by apprehension. His heart sunk. He wanted her to trust him. Desperately. Why? He hadn’t a fucking clue.
‘Oh, thanks for the invite, but I won’t intrude.’ She pointed to a table right over the other side of the restaurant.
His already waning optimism sunk.
She smiled, but it was forced. ‘I’ll make myself comfy over there. And please don’t bother yourself with bringing it to me, just get the waiter to deliver it.’ She laughed a little uncomfortably as she looked towards the man that had mopped up her cocktail. ‘We must let him do his job. He clearly takes it very seriously.’
Blake nodded, his voice evading him. Women rarely said no to his charms. Yet the one he wanted most was knocking him back. She was going to walk away and he might never see her again. He almost fell to his knees. This beautiful woman, with flawless olive skin, long silky dark hair and piercing green eyes that dazzled like jewels upon her delicate face was a work of art—an exquisite painting but yet somehow broken beneath the exterior. A piece of art he had to make his own.
Although she was brushing him off, he intuitively knew there was a hidden meaning for her change of heart, a fear in her that he too processed. He craved to whisk her away to his suite to make her feel safe and loved, cherished and protected, while he bestowed pleasures upon her that a woman of her calibre deserved. His whole mind, body, heart and soul ached for intimacy with her, to be at one with her. He wanted to know how she tasted, how her skin would respond beneath his touch and how she sounded when she tumbled over the edge of ecstasy in rapture.
Then something stirred deep within him and took over his ability to think rationally.
He had to do something, anything, to leave a lingering within her so tantalising she went home thinking of him, wanting him, desiring him and craving him. Because he knew, if she walked away forever, he would regret it for the rest of his life.
It was now or never.
The Billionaire Cattle Baron will release 4 September 2018.
Gareth is a masseur on the luxurious Star Island. His next client is the enigmatic pop star, Briana Brite, known for her silent persona off-stage.
In his head, he pictured Briana Brite. He knew her image mostly from the smoky artwork on her indie album, a blonde beauty with a defiant jaw jut that seemed to project an image of quiet allure and confidence.
But there was something in her eyes. Hell, he was probably kidding himself, but he’d looked long and hard at Briana’s picture and with his talent for seeing below the surface he felt as though he could see past her image, down to the darker places inside that her music spoke of.
Speaking of speaking—how will we do this without talking? Gareth knocked on the ajar bungalow door, waiting in the tropical air just turning to dusk. Sometimes his clients preferred silence while he worked, but they always began with a few simple questions about pressure and injuries.
When no one answered, after a few minutes Gareth pushed the door open. ‘Hello?’
Still no response, but the door was open and he was expected, so he took it as tentative permission to enter. He followed the hall to the main living area of the bungalow, and the view took his breath away. Not the pink ocean reflecting the setting sun outside the windows, but the angel standing before him wearing nothing but a towel.
Her corn silk hair tumbled around her bare shoulders, which were dusted with tiny freckles. Her mouth parted into an alluring smile, which was quickly quashed by her teeth finding her lower lip and biting it. Delicate hands held the towel over her frame, but the material barely concealed the voluptuous body within. Instantly, Gareth knew she’d be warm and pliable to touch, her skin with heavenly give under his fingers, soft flesh ripe for gripping firmly.
She raised a hand and waved in greeting, a rosy blush rising in her high cheekbones, and the gesture went straight to his heart, shocking it into an unsteady rhythm. She was literally heart-stoppingly beautiful.
Oh no … Something was happening to him, something he’d sworn only minutes earlier never happened to him. Gareth shifted the table in front of his groin, attempting to disguise the bulge growing there. Get it together. You are a professional, and she’s a client. A gorgeous, captivating client, but still a client. Concentrating on not sounding like a squeaky-voiced teenager, he said, ‘Hey, I’m Gareth, your masseur.’
She smiled in reply but remained silent. Gareth spoke to fill the space where a normal interaction would have taken place. ‘And you’re Briana. So, now we’re introduced, I’ll set up. Where would you like me to put the table?’
With a languid wave, she gestured towards the windows. ‘Okay, great,’ said Gareth, walking forwards and trying to regain some of his professionalism while feeling distinctly shaken. ‘You’ll need to tie up your hair—I have a tie if you need one?’
Shaking her head in dismissal, she left the room, and a waft of citrus followed her. She smelled of pink grapefruit and sugar, and the sensuous combination sent another sucker-punch to his crotch. With shaking hands, Gareth opened his table and unzipped his bag, drawing out a bottle of scented massage oil. He was warming it between his palms when Briana returned, her hair now secured in an adorable top-knot.
‘I’ll just go into the other room to give you a moment to lie on the table,’ said Gareth. Privacy for most clients was still important before and after a session, no matter how much skin he saw during.
With a cat-like grin, Brianna looked back at him over her tanned shoulder. Before he could turn away, she’d lowered the towel to the line of her lower back, and stretched herself along on the table face-down. A low, happy groan rolled out from her throat, as if she really needed this.
So help him, he did too. He needed to lay his hands on her; the pull towards her body was almost supernatural. He clung to his professionalism by his fingernails, remembering to ask, ‘Do you have any injuries or sore places I need to know about?’
Face down, Brianna shook her head, her hair knot flopping back and forth. Gareth paused for a moment, admiring the sight of Briana’s back, all that exposed skin ending where her plump ass cheeks swelled, covered by the towel. His passion for healing and helping had always made his job seem effortless, but for the first time, he walked towards a client feeling as though he was divinely privileged.
Turning her head to the side, Briana caught his eyes with hers and winked. The small gesture electrified him. He definitely wasn’t imagining the silent flirtatious tone here. A bright red buzzing had begun inside his head, warning of danger. He’d relied on that buzzing before, when clients had made innuendos about ‘extra services’ or in the case of one single client in her fifties, mistaken his professional care for personal touching and decided it meant they had a deep romantic connection.
Normally if he had even an inkling of strangeness, he would relate the Star Island code of conduct in a very casual manner while preparing to start: let me know if this pressure is good, would you like music on, as part of procedure I have to let you know all Star Island spa treatments are strictly non-sexual, would you like a complimentary reflexology hand treatment…?
It’s what he should have said, but he pushed the feeling down. This was Briana Brite, the biggest superstar in the music world. She’d made a career out of being desirable, unattainable; this was probably just her being her, and him taking it the wrong way because he was going on ten months without sex. Don’t embarrass yourself.
‘Okay, I’m going to begin now,’ he said formally. Inside his head though, he was babbling. Just a client. Just another client, he tried to convince himself one last time. He poured a generous handful of oil into his palm, watching his shaking fingers descend to her smooth back. I will not enjoy this. I will not get my kicks from feeling up a vulnerable client. She’s just like anyone else.
He truly believed it. And then his hands connected with Briana’s skin, and he was hopelessly, sinfully lost.
It wasn’t her fault…
Somehow a run-in with a handsy, but influential, talk show host has landed Briana Brite in big trouble with the press, and even though it was the host that wouldn’t take no for an answer, Briana finds herself banished until the scandal blows over.
It’s not his place…
Gareth might work for some of the richest people in the world, but his job as a masseur at the luxurious Star Island resort is just that – a job. And he really needs the money and the tips and the hours. Getting involved with resort guests is grounds for immediate dismissal, so the last thing Gareth needs is a troubled pop princess making waves.
It’s not meant to be…
However, when Gareth meets Briana, he realises that she’s more than just her voice, more than the media storm, more than even her management knows. But when it comes to his job and his livelihood, how much will he risk for a holiday fling?
Baby, it’s cold outside – and we have just the excerpt to warm you up!
Head’s Up: Some NSFW language
I can’t do much but chuckle as caveman-Charlie appears. He almost drags me from the restaurant, not for the first time. They must hate us coming here. The first time I was far from sober. We were young, I’d hit on him all night, we were both way beyond horny and he looked after my needs in the best way possible. This time we’re both sober, not that being drunk bothered me before. How can you regret sex with Charlie Maxxin?
Just so you know, I don’t sleep with every hot sportsman I interview. But sportsmen have great sex drives, and I like sex. So if it happens, it happens. I never complain. And I don’t confine my exploits to men. If a hot sportswoman and I hit it off, I’m not knocking it back. This is the age of equal opportunity, right?
When we’re both inside Charlie’s huge 4WD, safe from ears and eyes, he turns on me and nails me with his stare. His great paw closes over my thigh, not at the knee as if he was a teacher, but higher because he’s claiming some rights and he’s got a big enough hand. ‘What are you asking me, Hannah?’
‘Two things.’ I lean forward, right up against his face. My nose brushes the side of his but I don’t break his gaze. ‘Are you fucking Lyle Smythe-Jones, and are you open to me joining in?’
Charlie’s gasp and withdrawal answers the first part of my question. The way his eyes flare, and his lips part, are so damn sexy. Not letting him get too far away, even in the confines of his car, I follow, brushing my lips across the gap between his.
‘It’s so fucking hot, Charlie.’ This time I swipe my tongue across his bottom lip and his hand moves higher before it tightens on my thigh.
‘I want to watch you with him. He’s your perfect foil. Small to your large, light to your dark. With youthful vigour to match your strength.’ With each word my lips rub against his, teasing us both. His lips are silken soft, snuggled inside his hairy beard, which isn’t too coarse at all. Imagining them together has me dripping with need, but knowing that they are has made me hotter than I expected. Squirming in the seat isn’t helping any, but it’s not hindering either. I’m getting wetter.
‘Han.’ He growls as his hand rubs against my cunt. Knew I shouldn’t have worn jeans, but I hadn’t come expecting sex in the car park.
‘Take me home, Charlie. I can get my car later.’
Charlie’s a great fuck. Always has been. We’re good together and bonk when we’re both free. It’s mutually beneficial, or I assume it is for him. He keeps coming back. Now that his hands are expertly massaging me, I realise he and I haven’t screwed in months, and I need him.
His curse is loud and strong.
My eyes almost drop from my head. That curse was a little inappropriate only because it snaps him from his lust-haze. His hands grip the steering wheel, leaving my cunt needy.
‘I can’t, Han. Fuck. I can’t.’ Rough and torn, that’s how he sounds. Not like Charlie at all.
Jesus. It’s serious. My eyeballs should be in my lap about now. ‘Because of him?’
She’s never been shy about what she wants – and now she wants them both…
Hannah Maynard, sports reporter, is sure it’s only her lust-filled fantasies linking Australian rugby league captain, Charlie Maxxin, with relative newcomer, Lyle Smythe-Jones. She and Charlie have shared quite a few steamy sessions over the years, so surely he’s not in a relationship with the young, unflappable player she’s dubbed Marble Boy?
Hannah lures Charlie to dinner and his reaction is all the answer she needs. But she doesn’t want to report on the biggest secret in Australian sport – she wants to take part. However, it’s not just Charlie’s decision and it can’t be just casual. If Hannah wants in, she has to be all in, with Lyle, with Charlie, and with the hottest action any of them have ever experienced.
Team Player will be released 4 August 2017.
Some choices are easy. Some choices are hard. And some choices will break our hearts…
’I didn’t expect to see you here so early this morning—isn’t there someone else who could fetch Bobbie’s coffee?’ It irked him she would forgo her own caffeine hit for Bobbie. If he had to fetch his own coffee, his pampered starlet surely could too.
Her lips tightened, and she pushed her glasses to the bridge of her nose. ‘I don’t mind. She’s my sister.’ There it was—fiercely protective with the ferocity of a mama bear protecting a cub. Putting herself second.
‘Well, she’s lucky to have your … devotion.’ He had his reservations about Bobbie Lawrence. He’d been forced to work with her, accepting the studio’s assurances that her drug and alcohol problems were in the past.
Mallory glanced at him. ‘We’re very close and it’s my job to smooth the way for her on this movie in any way I can.’
His gut tightened. He rarely second-guessed his gut these days, experience proving he never got it wrong. Apart from that one time. And the price had been devastating. ‘Is that right?’ Perhaps he was wrong about the alluring Mallory Hughes. Perhaps she acted better than her famous sister. Perhaps that tentative kiss last night was part of the act. ‘Any way?’
‘Of course.’ A confused crinkle formed between her brows and he had the insane urge to reach out a touch it, to smooth the crease from her porcelain skin.
They’d reached the back of the trailer housing wardrobe and make-up. Mallory looked up at him, her eyes wary. Her lips parted, releasing rapid breaths that whitened the air between them.
His groin stirred, tempering the black turn of his thoughts. ‘Does that include kissing the director so he won’t notice when she falls off the wagon?’ He allowed his stare to linger on the fine bones of her face, her high cheekbones, her pert nose, her delicate jaw, finishing back at her eyes, which were now sparking with indignation.
‘No.’ Her feet spread, a fighting stance. ‘My sister is firmly on the wagon, and I did that all for myself.’ She squared up to him, her chin jutting forward and her shoulders back.
Lust flared, a kick in the gut, and he dropped his gaze to the lush curve of her full mouth, his memory of it pressed to his last night too fleeting. ‘Why?’ He wanted another taste of her but he’d never allow himself to be played again. No matter how intriguing, how alluring or how ingenious this woman was.
Her half laugh was as bitter as his suspicious mind. ‘Let’s just say I was living out an ancient crush.’
She didn’t look happy about it. ‘You have a crush on me?’ Well that smacked him between the eyes—a riveting conundrum indeed. Heat raced down his spine, pooling in his groin.
Colour rushed up her neck from the fur collar of her coat. ‘Had. Long ago. And I’m over it.’
Leaning above her, he reached one hand behind her shoulder to the door handle of the trailer. She held her footing, arching her back so her upper body maintained distance from his and their eye contact held—a challenge.
Wide eyes and panting breaths. Diminutive and defensive all in one delicious package. Something primal and urgent shifted inside him.
His hand closed around the icy metal door handle, and he glanced down at her full mouth once more, recalling her hesitant kiss. ‘Shame.’