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LifeMate Connections : LifeMate Connections Series : Book 1 - Keri Arthur

LifeMate Connections

LifeMate Connections Series : Book 1

Paperback Published: 31st March 2007
ISBN: 9781933417233
Number Of Pages: 140

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Eryn James is a medical secretary, not a police officer, but when the police ask her to assist in tracking down a killer, she jumps at the chance. Not because she has any real desire to hunt down a killer, but because the task involves playing bait in Lifemate Connections--one of the most exclusive and expensive bars in town. In a world where men outnumber women ten to one, and long-term relationships are frowned upon, bars like Lifemate provide a safe environment for women and men to meet and "test drive" possible life mates without the initial risk of taking them home.

But five patrons of the bar have recently been murdered, and as a shifter with a keen sense of smell, it is now Eryn's task to track down the killer. But no matter how much she trusts her nose to get her out of trouble, she isn't about to go in there alone. The club is full of security, and there are cops sitting in a van, listening to her every word and move. How dangerous could playing bait actually be? Then she meets Grey Stockard--a man who oozes sex appeal and danger with every movement. A man she wants with every ounce of her being. A man she just might end up dying for?

About The Author

Keri Arthur first started writing when she was twelve years old, and to date, she's finished fifteen novels. Her books have received many nominations and prizes, including making the final five in the Random House Australia George Turner Prize. She has also been nominated in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards, received a 'perfect 10' from Romance Reviews Today, as well as being nominated for Best Shapeshifter in PNR's PEARL Awards. She's a dessert and function cook by trade, and married to a wonderful man who not only supports her writing, but who also does the majority of the housework. They have one daughter, and live in Melbourne, Australia.

Chapter One

The wind was blowing a gale and the night was not only bitter, but wet as well. Eryn swiped at the water dripping off her nose and fleetingly wished she hadn't agreed to this assignment. She would much rather be home, curled up in front of a blazing fire, book and coffee in hand, than standing here in the pouring rain, waiting for a go ahead. She shoved her freezing hands into her pockets and studied the building opposite. It was nothing out of the ordinary--just a plain brown-brick warehouse that had recently been converted into a bar. When originally built, the warehouse had sat on the edge of what had been one of the trendiest areas of town, but now, thanks to falling population numbers, it was well outside city limits. The old fashioned lantern lights on either side of the bar's red metal doors cast warm shadows across the wet night, and through the semi-fogged windows that lined the front of the old building, people were visible, laughing, dancing, and generally having a good time. She'd be warm enough once she got inside. If she ever got inside.

She raised a hand, lightly touching the silver stud in her left ear. "I'm freezing my butt off here, Jack. Are the suspects inside or not?" "One is." The deep voice practically blasted into her right ear. "We're checking for the rest." She winced and twisted the stud, adjusting the volume. "Which one is in?"

"Gray eyes." Eryn half smiled. They'd taken to calling him that simply because the man seemed to have at least five names, and none of them actually existed beyond a driver's license and a passport. There was some suspicion he might be military or covertoperations, but there was little in the way of help or information currently coming from those two areas. "Harrison and Gantry nowhere in sight?"

"Not yet." A droplet of water slid past the collar of her coat and down her neck. She shivered. "I'm going to look like a drowned mutt soon if we don't get moving." "Darlin', even drowned you'd look damn delicious."

"Gee, thanks," she said dryly. "But compliments aren't going to get you into my pants."

"Can't blame an old man for trying." Eryn snorted softly. With men now outnumbering women ten to one--thanks to the stupid one-child-per-family rule governments the world over had introduced generations ago in an effort to control population growth--trying was a good word to describe the whole male-female relationship experience. That rule no longer existed, thank God, but the damage had been done already. The only good thing about the out-of-kilter balance was that women could now pick and choose as they pleased, and female promiscuity was no longer frowned upon. In fact, it was positively encouraged. There were even some sectors of the government who were currently trying to pass a law that women could not settle down with one particular man unless they'd had at least fifteen previous partners. Talk about men being afraid of never getting their end in, she thought grimly.

This bar, LifeMate Connections, and others like it, were one of the recent solutions for those men and women who actually wanted to settle down and have a family. The three-story building was not only a bar, but a hotel, with monitored bedrooms and security close by. Women could "test drive" the various offers without having to risk taking strangers home. And, thanks to the strict medical checks everyone underwent on joining, they also knew all the men inside were not only free of disease, but extremely fertile, which was important in an age of declining fertility. Once a woman had found a man she thought might make a suitable mate, she could then explore the relationship beyond the secure realms of the bar. Only that decision had recently ended up getting five women killed.

The task force had been formed as soon as it became clear they had a serial killer on the loose, and had the brief to "do anything necessary" to catch the killer. Eryn hadn't been involved in early investigations, which wasn't a surprise since she was a medical secretary at the coroner's office, not an investigator. She was only here now because she was a shifter with a keen sense of smell. The murderer left few clues, and they needed someone with a hound's nose to sort through the scents in the victims' apartments and pick out the ones that didn't seem to belong. It wasn't the first time she'd been asked to do this, and it probably wouldn't be the last. And as long as she wasn't expected to go in when the scent of death was fresh and ripe, she was fine with it. At least it was a change from boring office duties.

But the only aroma she'd been able to pick up in all five apartments was an odd one--a springtime, blossomy sort of smell that seemed more suitable for a female than a male. Maybe their killer was bisexual, though from all accounts, neither Harrison nor Gantry were.

But the other reason she'd been selected was because she was in her late twenties, with brown-black hair and green eyes. Just the type the killer seemed to prefer. Of course, despite the "do anything" brief, they couldn't actually force her to become a decoy. Nor could they actually demand that she go into the club and flirt with men who might well be murderers. Especially when everyone knew that flirting might not be all she had to do.

So, they'd outlined their plan and given her the option to "volunteer." Which she had, all too readily. Besides the fact that she trusted her instincts and her nose to keep her out of a murderer's bed, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience what went on in the LifeMate bars without actually having to pay for it. You had to be a member to get into them, and membership was expensive. More than she could currently afford, anyway, even with the female discount. Though, like most women, she was saving for that moment in the future when she decided to settle down and have a kid.

She shifted her weight from one foot to another, then said, "Are we going or not? I've been standing here for over five minutes. If anyone happens to be watching, that's going to appear more than a little suspicious."

"The go ahead just came through, even though gray eyes is still the only suspect there. Remember to keep the mike open." "You're just a bunch of dirty old men who want to get their rocks off if I happen to get laid."

And once she'd sniffed out gray eyes, that was certainly the plan. Hell, she'd been celibate for so long she was beginning to think there was something wrong with her. The fact that most of the people she worked with were boring old scientists didn't help. Add to that the long hours she'd been working of late, and you had long term frustration. Hell, these last few days had been the first time in six months she'd come within touching distance of decent looking men--and she couldn't play with them because of the department's rule of no fraternizing. A rule she wasn't about to break, because even if the people she worked with were boring, the job itself paid well, and she wasn't inundated with a whirlwind of different scents everyday. A coroner's office might not be the best place for a shifter with a keen nose to work, but it was a hell of a lot easier to deal with than an office building filled with scent-wearing humans. Now, that was hard to cope with. So, once she'd given gray eyes the metaphorical thumbs up or thumbs down, she was going to see what offers came her way and take a few of them for a test run. The powers that be could hardly complain when that's exactly what they put her in there for. And she could always argue that she was merely ensuring her cover stayed intact.

"Listening and watching other people having sex is the only joy we old men get these days," Jack replied dryly. "Don't you know it's the only reason we arrange these little excursions?" She grinned as she crossed the road. At thirty-five, Jack could hardly be described as old, though his silvery hair gave him a distinguished appearance--at least until you looked past the hair and saw the sexy twinkle in his blue eyes, and the "come-get-me" smile. "You got a position on gray eyes?" "He's in a booth at the rear right of the bar."

"Alone?"

"For the moment, yes."

"Has he been alone all night?"

"Been up to the bar a few times, getting drinks and talking to a few of the ladies there, but otherwise, yes." "You think he's waiting for someone?" "Who knows? Besides, the bar's security cams cover the upstairs areas more than the bar itself. He might have met someone and we just didn't see it." "The bar's not fully covered because the action happens upstairs rather than downstairs."

"Not all the time, lassie." Jack's voice was filled with amusement. "Some pretty erotic things happen on the dance floor, and in those back booths." "Sounds to me like you've already got your rocks off tonight."

"I love my job," he said solemnly.

She snorted and put a hand on the door. "Heading in now. Talk to you later." She touched the right stud, turning the voice-receive off, then pushed open the heavy red door. Warmth rushed out, chasing the chill from her face, surrounding her in a honeyed heat that almost instantly made her want to shuck off her coat. She stepped inside and closed the door. It was then that the many aromas hit and giddiness rushed over her. Mix layer upon layer of perfume and aftershave with the scent of humanity, alcohol and desire, and you had a somewhat lethal combination. At least to a shifter whose sense of smell was as sensitive as hers.

She left her hand on the door, using it as a support as she battled the dizziness. Why hadn't she thought to shield her olfactory sense? God, she knew better than to walk into any public area with all senses on high--and shielding was something she'd learned to do when she was still a pup.

Maybe it was the excitement of the chase. Or maybe it was the prospect of finally being able to ease a few basic aches that had made her forget. Either way, it was stupid, because she was here to chase a killer, not just a scent, and she had to remember that at all times. And she should have thought to mention to Jack that shielding meant her sense of smell wouldn't work unless she was extremely close to the subject.

Kissing a murderer was not something she really wanted to do, but she'd do that, and more, if that's what it took to stop this sick fiend from killing again. She might not have seen the bodies, but she'd seen the photos, and that was more than enough to wash away any doubts she had about her part in this. At least she had basic cop training--all employees at the coroner's office nowadays did--and she certainly had the strength to protect herself.

And while some in the task force weren't entirely convinced that the smell she'd caught belonged to the killer, she was, if only because that springtime scent had held an undertone of death. And if the suspects didn't match that smell, then hey, she possibly had three very hunky men with which to play.

When the dizziness abated, she unbuttoned her coat and watched a security officer approach. "First time here?" he said, checking her pass, then taking her coat and offering a ticket in exchange. "Yes."

"First drink is complimentary, then. Just head on over to the bar and they'll scan your pass and give you whatever you want." She gave him a dimpled smile and watched the heat flare in his brown eyes. After six months of flying solo, it was nice to know she could still affect the opposite sex so readily. "Thanks." He nodded and walked into the cloak room. She headed down the steps, but hesitated on the bottom one, allowing her gaze to sweep the room.

A long mahogany bar dominated the right side of the room. Every woman who stood there had a good eight or nine men surrounding her. Half a dozen barpersons tended to these customers, all of them women dressed in barely there outfits. Maybe to give those gentlemen who were missing out something to look at.

Warm light infused the rest of the room, giving everything a golden glow, but leaving shadows haunting the distant corners. Tables clustered the front section near the door and windows, but these gave way to booths that lined the walls, leaving plenty of room for a dance floor.

She couldn't actually see the DJ, though she knew he was here somewhere. The music throbbing across the babble of conversation filled the air with lustful melodies designed to seduce the senses and get bodies swaying. It ran across her skin as sensually as a lover's kiss, making her tingle. Ache, almost.

She closed her eyes, took a careful breath, inhaling the muted, but nevertheless rich aromas of desire and sex. God, it had been too long since she'd indulged her sensual side. Shifters, no matter what the breed, tended to have an extremely high sex drive, and for far too long, she'd overlooked hers. Well, not tonight. Not if she had anything to say about it.

She walked across to the bar to collect her drink--choosing French champagne, which was usually way out of her price range--then moved toward the crowd edging the dance floor. At least half a dozen men immediately gravitated towards her. Knowing she couldn't head directly for gray eyes, she did nothing more than chat, enjoying their attention and their looks. Enjoying the heady smell of masculinity and arousal that swirled around her, making her pulse race. But gradually, she moved on, talking and flirting as she did so, but always heading toward the rear booths and bachelor number one.

Only she didn't have to go that far, because suddenly he was walking through the crowd towards her. She stopped, gaze widening, her heart leaping to the vicinity of her throat and seeming to lodge there. The images she'd seen of him on the com-screens never could have prepared her for the reality--the potency--of the man himself.

He was tall and powerfully built, with chiseled features and dark golden hair. He moved with the lightness of a vampire, yet instinct suggested he was a shifter, just like her. What breed of shifter she couldn't say, and right then, didn't care. Not when the sheer sexual energy radiating off him burned her skin as sharply as a flame. Their gazes met, and he paused, staring at her, his beautiful face expressionless, yet his storm-clad eyes filling with such desire it curled her toes. And all she wanted to do was reach for him, touch him, feel the warm strength of his body pressed firmly against hers.

Damn, this was unlike anything she'd ever experienced before. Lust at first sight wasn't new--hell, she was a shifter, a mutt, and instant attraction came with the territory. But this was more than that. Not just lust, but something else, something deeper. It was almost as if they were attracted on levels that went far beyond base need. In some respects, that was scary, if only because the man her hormones had latched onto with such ferocity might well be a killer. God, fate wouldn't be such a bitch, would it?

He started moving again, and her gaze traveled downwards, admiring the way his burgundy sweater clung to his body, emphasizing the width of his shoulders and his powerful arms. The way his jeans hugged his hips, highlighting not only the lean strength of his legs, but the size of his packaging. Damn, he was well built--in all areas. He stopped when there were still several feet between them, his gaze sliding casually down her body. Heat prickled across her skin, firmly igniting the deep down ache. Her nipples hardened, pressing almost painfully against the sheer material of her dress. The throbbing ache got stronger, especially when his gaze seemed to linger on her hips. For the first time she wondered just how transparent the damp dress was. Wondered if he could see she was wearing nothing underneath.

Then his gaze rose to hers again, and the desire so evident in his stormy eyes echoed right through her. Lust ignited the air between them, caressing her skin with heat until it felt like she was glowing.

He smiled slowly, intimately, and her already erratic pulse tripped into overdrive. It was the sort of smile that might be shared by two lovers after a night of incredible sex, and that was exactly the message his smile was meant to portray. And she sensed it would be extraordinary between them. That he would more than live up to the promises made by his heated gaze and sexy smile. "Grey Stockard." He offered his hand, his voice low and rich, thrumming through her as warmly as a summer breeze.

Grey? Was it merely coincidence that they'd picked his name without even knowing it? If that was his real name, of course. "Eryn James." His fingers were long and strong, and so hot they seemed to wrap hers in an inferno. And suddenly she was fighting images of those fingers sliding across her skin, exploring and caressing and teasing. Oh, how she wanted that. Wanted to be touched by this man.

She swallowed, battling to keep on an even keel, battling to remember why she was here and who he might be. "Pleasure to meet you," he said, raising her hand to his lips, his breath warm against her knuckles as he brushed the sweetest of kisses across her fingertips. God, her heart was hammering so hard it felt as if it would jump out of her chest. "Care to dance?" he continued softly

Only if dancing was a euphemism for let's get down and have wild sex. She hastily drank some champagne, but it did little to ease the dryness in her throat or the deeper down burning. "I thought you were on your way somewhere else." "Only for a drink." The smile that tugged his lips was so damn sensuous her knees threatened to give way. "And only because I had nothing better to do." Oh, she could think of lots of things he could do ... She swallowed another hasty gulp of champagne, and felt the buzz start in her head. Only she wasn't sure whether it was the alcohol or the closeness of the man.

Somehow, she managed to say, "And you've found something better now?" "I believe I might have. If she's willing."

The wicked gleam in his eyes told her he wasn't just talking about dancing, and her pulse rate soared even higher. "She is." Very willing. She finished her drink in another large gulp that made her head spin even more.

"Good." He plucked the glass from her hand, put it on a table in a nearby booth, then led her into the thick of the dance floor, right into the very heart of the crush, until it seemed everyone was pressing and touching everyone else, and the smell of desire was so powerful it was almost liquid. Heat swirled around her, through her, until it was impossible to tell whether the hunger flaming her skin was hers or his or the crowd's.

But however fiercely she wanted him, she was not so far gone that she lost all sense of danger. She had to be careful. Had to. Then he wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close, and suddenly the need to be careful was all but lost to the smell of raw virility and thick need. She closed her eyes, losing herself in the aroma, allowing it to wash through her pores and set her body alight even more.

Until she realized something was missing. His scent.

Which was ridiculous. Everyone had a scent, and it was as individual as a fingerprint. But underneath the sheer male smell, there was nothing. Maybe the heat surrounding her, drowning her, was affecting her senses.

He began to move in time to the music, and she swayed with him. But it wasn't dancing, as such. With the crowd pressed so close, true dancing had become impossible. Besides, the way their bodies brushed was far too intimate, far too erotic, to come under the label of simple dancing.

After a while, he raised a hand and brushed the strands of hair from her cheek. Her skin quivered, burned, where he touched. "Do you come here often?" I plan to come tonight, and often, she thought, but somehow kept the words inside. "First time. You?"

"Been here for just over a week."

And the murders had started just over two weeks ago. But did that put him in the clear? Especially when he might have been visiting other LifeMate bars? Damn it, had anyone bothered checking that the dead women hadn't visited any other bars? It hadn't been mentioned in the reports she'd read.

"If you've been here that long, I'm surprised you haven't been gobbled up."

His gray eyes gleamed with amusement. "Oh, a few ladies have tried that. And as much as I enjoyed the experience, they weren't what I was looking for." She had sudden visions of taking the thick hardness of his cock in her mouth, teasing him and tasting him as he teased and tasted her. Sweat prickled across her skin and the deep down ache became positively painful. And while it was against protocol to do that sort of thing here on the dance floor, she was sorely tempted to rush him upstairs and grab a room. Somehow, she managed to restrain the urge and after thrusting the enticing images from her mind, said, "So, what are you looking for?"

"I'm not really sure I'm actually looking." His hand slid from her back to her butt, branding her skin through the thin fibers of her dress and sending delicious slivers of anticipation thrumming through her.

Then he pulled her tighter against him, so close that she was breathing in as he breathed out, and the wild beat of his heart echoed hers. His body was warm and hard, and the thick heat of his erection rubbed erotically against her belly. God, how she wished they were naked. Wished he was inside, not outside.

She again managed to drag her mind from the sexual mire it was seeping into, and raised an eyebrow. "Then why are you here?" He shrugged. "I was curious."

He was also lying. Why she was so certain, she couldn't really say. She'd always been intuitive, but this went deeper. It was almost as if she tasted the lie in his words, and that was odd indeed. But if he hadn't come here to find a mate, what had he come here for? To hunt down his next victim? She didn't want to believe that--she really didn't. Yet it was a possibility she had to consider. "You're spending a lot of money just to satisfy curiosity."

He shrugged again. "If you've got it, why not use it?"

Why not indeed. And did that mean he was so rich that the price this place charged was little more than petty cash? "If you were looking, what would your type be?" His eyes gleamed with amusement. "Someone who could get me hot enough to come with just a look."

He was teasing, and avoiding the question. Obviously, a man who didn't want to be pinned down. So how did he become a member? The bar telepathically screened all applicants to ensure those applying actually wanted kids. That they weren't just using the bar as a free sex service. How did Grey slip through their nets? "And have you ever found someone like that?"

"Up until now, no." The heat in his gaze was growing in intensity, sending burning waves of desire lapping across her skin. She licked her lips, saw his gaze drop, felt the hunger sizzling the air leap several more notches. God, she wished she had a drink. Wished she could just throw caution to the wind. "So you've never actually dated any of the women here?"

His gaze jumped back to hers, the gray depths suddenly holding the chill of winter. "No. Why do you ask?" "Just curious. A few of the men I talked to earlier said they'd tried it, but it hadn't worked out in the end." "Really?"

He was suspicious. Not that it showed in his voice or his expression. It was just something she felt. Why would he be suspicious if he was innocent?

Tension slivered through her. "Yes, really." He studied her for a second, gaze steely. "You wouldn't happen to be a security officer testing me out, would you?"

She blinked. "What?"

His grip tightened on her rear, becoming almost painful. "You heard. Are you, or are you not, security?"

"Not. And why would security be checking you out?"

"Because it's policy to randomly check new applicants to ensure browsers haven't slipped through the net." By browsers did he mean those who just wanted an easy lay rather than commitment? And why would he think the club did that? She wasn't aware of it, and she'd been briefed by the manager on not only all the club's rules and regs, but on the clubs layout and security.

"Well, given that you are browsing, I can see why you'd be a little worried by the thought of me being security." His smile was a slow burn of heat, and some of the tension she'd felt in him eased. But not all. He was still wary, and she again wondered why. "A security officer is not someone I'd prefer to meet. Not until I find what I'm looking for, anyway."

And he was looking, just not for a mate or children, but something else entirely different. Entirely darker. A chill ran through her. Why was she getting these little intuitive flashes? It was not something she'd been prone to in the past. Not so clearly, anyway. "I can play a security officer, if you'd like," she said, keeping her voice light. Teasing. "Want me to haul you away and interrogate you?" His head lowered so that his breath caressed her mouth, and his lips brushed hers as he spoke. "Interrogation was not what I had in mind." Her mind was shouting Yes! Yes! even as she asked, "What did you have in mind, then?"

"This."

His mouth came down on hers. Not gently, not tentatively, but forcefully. He was a man who knew exactly what he wanted, exactly what she wanted, and his kiss reflected that. It was urgent, hungry, his mouth plundering hers as their tongues tangled, tasted, teased. And while it was everything she wanted, it also made her want a whole lot more. Made her want him more. God, the man could kiss.

After what seemed like hours they came up for air. The rapid pounding of her heart was a cadence that seemed to override the babble of voices and the heavy, erotic music that swirled around them. The scent of desire was so thick, so strong, that all she could think about was how much she needed this man to finish what he'd started. Lord, she literally ached. She needed to touch, and be touched, and she needed it as badly as she needed air.

It didn't matter that he was a suspect, that he didn't have a scent, that he'd lied to her more than once, and probably wasn't who he said he was. Lust was all consuming, and it was beginning to swamp all common sense.

"I want to fuck you," he said, his breath whispering heat across her lips. "Right here, right now." His coarse words made desire boil over. Oh God ... she so wanted the same. But while desire might be all consuming, she knew right here and right now wasn't exactly the right thing to do. "That's against the rules."

"Look around us. Others are doing it." "Just because others are doing it doesn't make it right. It could get us thrown out." And in truth, that was the only thing stopping her. She was here to do a job, and she couldn't do that job if she was banned.

"I thought you were here to get down and have wild sex?" Her gaze widened a little. She certainly hadn't said that out loud--had he read her thoughts? Or merely her body language? And if he could catch her thoughts, would that explain his sudden suspicion? Had he realized she was here for more than what she was saying? "I am here for wild sex."

"Then what's stopping you?" "I can't afford to get thrown out. I don't have the money to reapply somewhere else." "We won't get thrown out."

"You can't guarantee that." "Yes, I can."

There was something in his voice that made her want to believe him. Or was that merely her hormones willing her to listen to any lie in their quest for satisfaction? "How can you be so sure? Are you the owner?"

He grinned. "I know the owner. Trust me, she won't throw us out." The words were barely out of his mouth when he kissed her again, and whatever slivers of control she had were totally and irrevocably smashed by the force of that kiss. By the desire and passion behind it.

"Let's do it," he said into her mouth, the thick heat of his erection grinding so sensually against her belly. "Yes," she said quickly, knowing if she didn't she might well combust.

She slid her hands to his hips and pulled down his zipper, freeing him from the constraint of his jeans. He lifted her up onto him. And then he was in her, filling her, and it felt so good. So very, very good. She wrapped her legs around his waist, pushing him deeper still, until it felt as if the long length of him was going to spear right through her body. His thick groan of pleasure was a sound she echoed. God, having a man so deep inside was far better than she remembered. And definitely far better than the goddamn vibrators she'd been using as a substitute. He began to move, thrusting so deliciously deep, and thought slipped away. All she could do was move with him, savoring and enjoying the sensations flowing through her. But slow and sensuous sex was not what she wanted--or needed--right now. Not after six frustrating months of flying solo. She moved against him, taking control of the rhythm, ramping up the speed. Needing it hard, needing it fast. He matched her movements, thrusting quicker, deeper, until her whole body quivered with the force of it, and she was panting, sweating, aching with the need for completion. God, the heat of him, the feel of so much hard flesh pressed against her, inside and out, felt so good, so incredibly good, that she just didn't want it to stop. But it would stop, because the low down trembling was growing, fanning upwards from the hotspot where their bodies met, a wave of heat that seemed to suck the breath from her lungs. The sheer intensity of the sensations swamping her had her grabbing his shoulders, her fingers digging through his sweater, into his flesh.

"Oh God." Her voice was little more than a fractured whisper. "Make me come. Please make me..." The rest of her plea was lost to a kiss that was savage, urgent, and as glorious as the sex they were sharing. Their already frantic tempo increased, his penis ramming deep, so gloriously deep inside, reaching places she'd swear had never been touched before now. And then suddenly she couldn't think, couldn't breathe, couldn't do anything except merely feel as her climax came, sending her spiraling into a place that was sheer, unadulterated bliss. A second later he went rigid against her, the force of his release tearing a long, deep groan from his throat. It was yet another sound she echoed. She rested her forehead against his chest, listening to the wild beat of his heart, knowing her own was just as erratic. And in the ashes of that glorious aftermath, she hoped like hell she hadn't just fucked a murderer.

The stud in her right ear suddenly went hot. Jack, wanting to talk to her. She sighed, and raised her head.

"Well, that scratched an itch."

He kissed her nose, then released her, holding her arm until she'd found her land legs again. "Why don't we take this upstairs and ease a few more?" The burning in her ear was getting stronger. Jack, getting impatient. She wrinkled her nose and tried for a teasing smile. "It's my first night here, you know. I'd like to try a few offers, rather than settle for the first one."

His smile held a hint of arrogance. "Ah, but when you test the best first, why try anything else?" She raised an eyebrow. "But how do I know the first offer is the best until I try the others?"

"Try them tomorrow night."

"I'll go to the restroom and think about it."

"I'll book a room." "No guarantee I'll be there." Though she wanted to be. Oh, how she wanted to be. It just depended on what Jack wanted. "I'll chance that."

"It's your money." She stepped back, even though it was the last thing she really wanted to do. As sated as she was, part of her knew they'd only just scratched the surface when it came to how good they could be together. "How will I find you if I decide to take up the offer?"

"The security officer will escort you to my room." She nodded, but as she turned to go, he tugged her back towards him and kissed her. It was an affirmation of intent that left her shaken and stirred. "No promises," she said, and was a little annoyed to hear the breathless edge in her voice. Damn it, she was here to do a job, and however much this man might affect her, she had to remember he was a suspect. She had to be careful around him.

A thought that hadn't exactly worried her a few moments ago. God, what kind of fool was she?

The horny kind, that's what. And after six months in isolation, her hormones were reasserting control with a vengeance. But they might just have targeted the wrong man. "If you don't find me," he said. "I'll find you."

There was an edge in his voice that sent a tremor across her skin. But it wasn't caused so much by the passion in his voice but, rather, the almost calculating glint in his eyes. This man was definitely after something more than sex. And if that glint was anything to go by, he suspected that she was here for something more than what she was saying, too. Maybe fate could be a bitch after all.

ISBN: 9781933417233
ISBN-10: 1933417234
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 140
Published: 31st March 2007
Publisher: ImaJinn Books
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.62 x 14.12  x 1.02
Weight (kg): 0.2

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