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Friday, October 26, 2012

Three's Company by N.R. Walker


Three’s Company
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Genres: Contemporary, Gay, Menage, Romance
ISBN: 9781614957706
Pages: 268 pp.
Word Count: 54052
Buy here:
Buy Three's Company



Blurb:
After news that he's gay spreads though his homophobic hometown, leaving his restaurant in trouble, Wilson Curtis goes to Key West alone. He meets Simon and Adam, and is soon invited into their bed for some vacation fun.
Once isn't enough, and they get to know each other in and out of the bedroom. Ten days is all it takes to change their lives. When Wil's vacation time is up, none of them are ready to say good-bye. They'll have to conquer misunderstandings, miscommunication, and the judgment of friends and foes alike who don't understand their relationship, but these three know that what they have is worth fighting for.




Tell us about Three’s Company:
The original idea for this story came from a friend of mine, Brenda (who the novel is dedicated to) who sent me pic after pic of sexy beach/sun-kissed boys until I agreed to write it.  Originally, the concept started as some pretty cabana boys who lived a free life with little to no responsibility. Being a couple, they worked at a resort together, surfed together and partied together, and the third man was going to be a worn-out doctor or some other similar professional looking for something he didn’t know he was missing.
But that’s not how this story ended up. At all.
There are some similarities to the original concept, and the basis is the same (existing couple introduce a third man into their relationship) but that’s about where the original plot outline similarities end. In Three’s Company, Wilson Curtis travels to Key West by himself to escape a not-so-pleasant life back home. His business is in tatters, he’s suddenly single and the entire town has snubbed him.  He meets Adam and Simon, who work at the hotel he’s staying at, and they invite him into their bed.
What starts out as a one night stand, soon becomes a holiday fling and like all my stories, there is a light on angst, heavy on love, kind of sweetness.  There seems to be more sex than I remember writing... and truthfully, not much happens outside of these three boys. There’s no major external drama, it’s mostly about these three men and how they adjust to being a threesome than some huge twisted plot.

Who was the inspiration for the characters?


Wilson Curtis is a small-town with a certain naivety that makes him adorable. I pictured Luke McFarlane for Wil.







Adam Preston is the always smiling, always happy, swimmer/surfer. He’s charming, and it’s impossible not to like him.  I pictured Simon Baker for Adam.










Simon Stanford is the serious, business minded one. He’s smart, independent and oh-so lovely.  I pictured a short-haired, clean-shaven Jared Leto for Simon.








Why m/m/m?
Why not?  LOL  I never actually had any driving desire to write ménage. It wasn’t something I deliberately set out to conquer.  As previously mentioned, I’d brainstormed with a friend about three boys on some tropical secluded setting – and by brainstorming, I mean posted a ton of threesome pics and watched a LOT of “research” on the subject matter. 
But at the end of the day, it wasn’t a conscious decision. These boys had a story that was just itching to be written.
I did some research into polygamous relationships, of course, and found the dynamics fascinating.  Not so much the ones where the husband had wives he numbered One, Two and Three, but the types of relationships that evolved from being a couple, to include a third person as a permanent fixture in their lives. I loved the idea that the first couple is so secure in their relationship and where they are in their lives, that they’re not threatened by the introduction of someone new.  
I loved how there is no boundaries to love.  There’s no right or wrong, only the way they feel, and I hope I conveyed that in this story.

What’s next from N.R. Walker?
My next release is a novel length drama titled Blind Faith, and it comes out late January 2013 with Silver. I’ve written its sequel, which I’m hoping to sub soon.  I’m also participating in NaNo this year and my aim is to complete the majority of the sequel to Point of No Return. I also have some free-reads I’m getting ready to post with Silver Publishing in the next few weeks and I can divulge more info on that when I know more.


Contact Details:
Email - nrwalker2103@gmail.com
Facebook - N.r. Walker
Facebook fan page - N.R.WalkerAuthor
Twitter - @NR_Walker
Goodreads - N.R. Walker

Thanks to the lovely Sara York for having me on her blog today!! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Backlist Blog Hop


Hello everyone, I'm participating in the Backlist Blog Hop. My favorite book from my backlist is Not That Type of Guy. You can find it at Amazon, B&N and ARE.

Why should you give my blacklist a try? I know I have something you'll love. From thrillers to romance, and scifi too, there's something for everyone. You can find my backlist books on Amazon.

Now, back to Not That Type of Guy. Why should you read Aiden's story? He's hot, sexy and sweet. He's in danger and going out of his mind because he thinks he likes guys. He makes some stupid decisions on his path, like we all do, and he searches to find his way. I hope you enjoy Not That Type of Guy.

Leave a comment because I'm giving away ebooks and I'll select the winner from those who have commented.


When CIA assassin Aiden Jackson is trapped between a bathroom wall and a hard man, he chooses the hard man, much to his surprise. Aiden doesn’t want to admit he’s gay, but his first stumble into man love leaves him disoriented, searching for answers and desperate to find the truth. He covers his real desires by dating an ultra hot girl, but it’s the guy sitting a few tables away that draws his attention.

Super nice and attractive Doctor Trace Williams is so special he seems like an angel to Aiden. Their first kiss blows Aiden away. That Trace sees into his soul, even when Aiden is trying to hide everything, pisses him off. Aiden needs Trace in his life, but once Trace finds out the truth about Aiden’s job, will they have any part of their relationship left?

What would you do if your lover ripped apart the very foundation of what you believed?



Chapter One


Aiden Jackson took the disposable cell phone out of his pocket, plugged in his earpiece and answered the call. “Go.” Aiden spoke with his lips in a thin line, dark sunglasses covering his eyes as he searched the bustle of people waiting for their train at the Waterloo Station in London.
“They know someone’s here,” Chuck said, his voice whisper quiet.
“Shit, they on to me?” Aiden took off his shades and picked up a book. He leafed through the pages, acting the part of bored tourist on holiday.
“No, I can see you, and you’re good.”
Aiden put down the book and moved through the little shops, exploring the crap for sale, wishing he were anywhere else but here. Maybe on a beach, or playing golf even, though he hated the game. This close to the end of a mission always made him jumpy. If he were on a beach, he would have the satisfaction of another successful operation notched on his belt.
“You’ve got someone tailing you now.” Chuck’s voice sent a shiver through Aiden.
An untrained person would turn to find their tail or they would run. Hell, even a semi-normal person would roll his shoulders, but Aiden did nothing. After flipping a few more pages in the book, he put it down and picked up another.
“Any ideas?”
“Yeah, but you’re not gonna like it,” Chuck said.
“Tell me.”
“Fuck no; just meet me in the men’s room two stores to your left. And go with whatever I do.”
Aiden dropped the book and headed out of the store. Chuck could start a fight or act like they were old friends. Twice before he’d worked with Chuck, and everything had gone according to plan. Of course Chuck wasn’t the guy’s name. Hell, none of them knew the real identities of the other operatives, too dangerous.
He passed a group of people and a few other travellers. The eyes of his watcher were on him. The hair on the back of his neck rose as he passed by a squat stocky guy of eastern descent. Pakistani?
Aiden pushed open the bathroom door, surprised when Chuck grabbed his hand and yanked him into the back stall. Chuck turned the flimsy lock on the door, closing them in the small space. Chuck’s hands were on Aiden’s chest, caressing his nipples through his shirt. Anger brewed deep in Aiden’s belly. His phone screeched and he turned it off, checking his watch for the time.
Chuck’s tongue teased Aiden’s nipple through the cloth. Aiden wanted to yank Chuck’s blond wig, pull him away and ask what the fuck he was doing, but the main bathroom door swung open, and the clip-clop of dress shoes echoed in the tiled room.
Was it the guy following them?
Chuck gazed into Aiden’s eyes, and a small smirk tilted his lips before he slanted his mouth across Aiden’s.
What the fuck?
Aiden froze. The extensive shit he’d suffered through in SEAL training, and then with the CIA, helped him keep his cool as the guy invaded his space, kissed him and touched his body like a girl would. Chuck’s tongue probed Aiden’s lips, demanding entrance. For a moment, Aiden wavered on accepting the kiss. He couldn’t do it. It went against everything he’d fought to keep hidden.
His darkest desires were playing out in this kiss. The lust he’d kept in check, the dreams that haunted him, all here, wrapped up in this one fleeting moment of joined lips that was a joke to Chuck, but a fulfillment of desires for Aiden. His breath came in halting gasps as Chuck licked at the slit of his lips. It felt so good. Aiden opened his mouth, admitting Chuck’s thick tongue.
A hint of spice and dark chocolate fired on Aiden’s taste buds, drugging him with the heady clutch of Chuck's embrace. The kiss deepened and Aiden felt a bubble of excitement build in his chest. Mother of God, I fucking like this!
Where the prosthetics weren’t disguising Aiden’s features, the scrape of Chuck’s beard made his skin tingle. A rush of desire flooded his body and zipped straight to his cock. Their tongues warred as Chuck pulled him in close, trapping him in a cocoon of unfamiliar lust and desire.
Aiden barely registered the footsteps of the guy chasing them. He didn’t pay attention to the man outside the stall and when the door burst open from a solid kick, Aiden jumped.
Chuck broke the kiss, his glare deadly. “Do you fucking mind?” he spit out at the intruder.
Aiden kept his face adverted as shame burned through his veins. He should look at the guy, but embarrassment flooded him. Keep it hidden, deny everything. At the last minute he glanced at the guy, trying his best to keep his face covered with his hand as he studied the man following them. His muscles tightened and his cock brushed up against Chuck’s belly, leaving him confused. The shame almost overwhelmed him as his father’s bigoted accusations came back to haunt him.
Chuck pushed the door closed and fumbled with Aiden’s zipper. Cold air shocked Aiden’s senses as Chuck reached in and scooped his dick out of his-body warmed underwear.
Aiden gasped, almost choking on his own spit. Chuck dropped to his knees and sucked Aiden into his mouth. Chuck’s tongue rasped against Aiden’s foreskin, pulling it away from the tip of his uncut cock.
Aiden wanted to push Chuck away. He wanted to have the strength to demand Chuck stop, but he didn’t. Every errant desire he ever had was being fulfilled right now. Maybe it was the operation, the excitement of almost being caught by their enemies, or maybe it was the rough scrape of stubble against his thighs, or the prickle of Chuck’s fake moustache on his rod.  Whatever the reason, Aiden fingers sought out Chuck’s thick hair, recoiling a bit at the feel of the wig’s weave. He clutched onto Chuck’s ears and pushed the guys face into his crotch as he face-fucked his mission partner.
The rush of blood to his cock and balls was more powerful than when he was with a woman. His heart thundered in his ears, making him dizzy. Aiden closed his eyes and threw back his head, no longer caring a guy was giving him the best head of his life. Fuck, I’m face-fucking a guy!
His balls rose high and tightness pulled at his stomach, sending waves of hot and cold down his legs. His knees wanted to buckle, but he wouldn’t fall to the floor.
Outside the stall he heard the enemy speaking on his cell phone. “No, it’s just two faggots dicking together.”
Heat washed over Aiden’s body. It was as if his father were here, judging him of the crime. I’m not a fucking faggot.
Messing around with Chuck felt better than any girly fuck he’d ever done before. Every muscle of his body tightened, his orgasm built. He didn’t want to think about what his father would say or whom he was doing, but he couldn’t help but marvel at the strength of Chuck’s shoulders as his dick leaked pre-come down the guy’s throat.
Chuck reached around and spread Aiden’s checks, brushing his fingers along the crease of Aiden’s ass. The sensation took Aiden by surprise, causing his heart to pump wildly.
“Damn, that’s good.” Aiden felt heat creeping over his face. Why had he spoken out loud?
Then Chuck did something Aiden thought he would never be brave enough to allow anyone to do. One finger, then another, slid into Aiden’s ass, pushing past his tight ring of muscles. He gulped in a breath, shocked at the pain.
“Awe...Fuck.” Aiden couldn’t stop the rush of come jetting from his balls and down Chuck’s throat.
The guy searching for them escaped the restroom, but not before telling them to get a room.
Chuck nursed Aiden's dick, draining all of his seed and swallowing it with a satisfied moan. The man crawled up Aiden’s body, lips scorching a path over his abs and his pecs. A final kiss seared Aiden’s brain with images of scruffy beards, strong muscles and rough sex, and the taste of his own semen.
The kiss ended and Aiden checked his watch, worried they were late for their train. FuckityFuckFuckFuck. Only a minute thirty-six and he’d popped his fucking cork and shot his jizz down Chuck’s throat. How the hell had he blown his load so fast, and with a guy too?
The last time he had sex he almost thought he wasn’t going to reach orgasm. Hell, he hadn’t been with a chick in months, many months, which explained everything. The private desires he had weren’t for real, just pent up lust. The need for release had him hot and bothered. No gayness at all, just desire making his dick hard and his balls full.
Liar, liar.
He checked his watch again, sure he’d spent longer kissing the dude and letting the guy suck his rod than a minute thirty-six. Never had he blown his load under three minutes, and here he was going off like a kid in heat in half the time.
“Time to hustle.” Chuck’s voice broke into his thoughts.
Aiden shook his head and stored his package, zipping up his jeans without looking Chuck in the eye. Aiden dialed Chuck as they left the bathroom and moved to separate parts of the platform, their conversation all business, ignoring the moments earlier when Chuck had sucked Aiden off so quickly.
His training kicked in and Aiden forgot the sex, forgot the kiss, and forgot the amazing feeling that rocked through his body as another man had sucked him dry. He focused on the mission at hand. In three minutes, a train would pull into the station. He and Chuck would board and sit as close to their target as possible.
They did the impatient tourist thing again, Chuck filtering through his bag fifty feet away and Aiden browsing a newsstand. God, he wanted to lick Chuck’s neck.
“Ride’s here,” Chuck said and disconnected his phone. No more contact during the assignment. Rules were rules.
Aiden boarded the train and found his mark sitting with his three bodyguards. He sat two rows away and on the opposite side of the car, facing the guy. Aiden opened the newspaper he’d bought for this occasion. He observed Javad Shirazi without openly watching, a true art form few mastered. Any direct eye contact would alert the man to their interest, and the last thing he or Chuck wanted was for Javad to get antsy and suspicious.
The guy who’d followed them into the bathroom wasn’t on board. Aiden wondered how much security Javad had. Did he have men at every station looking for a professional hit man? Did he really think the government would be that obvious?
Javad Shirazi had been a particularly itchy thorn in the ass of the American and British governments for the last four years. He’d come onto the terrorist scene quietly, funding one bomb plot then another, till he was the head of a cell located in Germany. This week, he’d taken his family on vacation. Stupid fuck ran a legitimate medical supply business, which afforded him the opportunity to take frequent trips with his wife and daughters, a luxury the parents of babies he’d murdered would never have.
Last week, the CIA received information regarding Javad’s morning itinerary, including a brief meeting with two members of a terror cell here in London. Officially, the government didn’t want to blow their surveillance on two low level members of the London cell when there were more pressing matters at hand. The call was placed. Chuck had requested to work with Aiden.
The thought of Chuck sent heat racing to Aiden’s crotch and face. He groaned and shoved away the illicit images of Chuck wrapping salmon pink lips around his wand. The train jostled, reminding him to focus on the mission at hand.
The Vauxhall Station was less than two minutes away, which apparently was more time than it took him to come into a guy’s mouth. Aiden shook off the self-recrimination and slid the safety nub off the ring on his left hand, careful to not prick himself.
Announcements were made, and people stood. Chuck jumped up from his seat and took a step towards Javad. This is where the plan could easily go wrong. They’d spent days working out, practicing and running through how to get Javad to smoothly take the coin Chuck offered. It wasn’t a normal coin, but one covered in a film that when introduced to the subject, made the poison in Aiden’s ring more potent. The chemical on the coin had no scent, no taste and no color. The subject would never know he’d been given a doctored coin.
Chuck bent down, his face full of surprise, just like they’d rehearsed. “Wow, this is cool.”
A few people turned to check out the interruption in their boring commute. Javad didn’t move.
“Huh, interesting.” Chuck stood and moved his head to look at all the passengers.
The men with Javad were getting antsy like Aiden knew they would. Aiden hated and loved this part of their missions. Sure, it was easy to stand two thousand yards from a mark and pump lead into him, but where was the fun in that? Personally, Aiden could waste an orange at three thousand yards; a human at two was chump change. Working a person up close allowed for much more creativity, and the creative aspect of this job kept him from going crazy.
“This must be yours.” Chuck held the gold Iranian coin out for Javad to take.
The coin wasn’t anything over the top. Just a piece they’d picked up from a corrupt eBay dealer after the government had shut him down, worth about a hundred to two hundred American. Enough to make Javad want it, but not enough to make him recoil.
It was common knowledge Javad loved coin collecting and often carried pieces of his collection with him when he travelled. He would bring them out to show off, so it was reasonable to assume he might have a coin of worth in his pocket.
Javad took the bait. He fingered the gold coin, rubbing his thumb across the surface and examining the marks on the front and back. His eyes grew larger for a millisecond then he broke into a huge smile.
“Ahh, thank you very much. I seem to have lost something important this morning. Ali, give him a twenty pound note.”
“No, I don’t need anything for giving you back what was yours. It’s nothing.”
Aiden could have said Chuck’s lines for him since they’d rehearsed the interaction so many times. They knew their mark, knew what he would do when given the coin and how he would react. Chuck played the dumb American tourist to a T, reveling in the stereotypes, almost too much. Had Chuck not just sucked him off he would give into the pleasure of seeing the big guy work, but now Aiden couldn’t look at Chuck without popping wood.
“I insist.” Again, Javad didn’t stray from what they’d assumed he would do. They’d done their homework and knew the man.
The train pulled to a stop and the doors opened. Javad stood, his movements spry for a man in his sixties. But Javad didn’t go the way they'd predicted. Instead, he moved away from Aiden towards the far exit, tossing a wrench in their careful plans.
Aiden improvised. He folded his paper, careful of the poison wrapped around his ring finger. They’d joked about the delivery method. Poison wedding band, just like the real thing.
Aiden jumped up and pushed forward. Javad’s rear guard blocked the aisle. Aiden hated they were going to miss their opportunity to strike. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Chuck move and bump into the rear guard. The guard’s face went red as Chuck used his bulk to push the guard into the row of seats opposite of him.
Aiden used the opening to pass the guard and come right up on the back of Javad. Before he could deliver the poison, he tripped and fell forward. He yelped, and Javad spun around, reached out and grasped onto Aiden, supporting his body weight. Aiden purposely thought about Chuck’s mouth on his cock, forcing a blush and making him look embarrassed. He reached forward and grabbed onto Javad’s arm, letting the poison ring prick the terrorist’s skin through his coat
Javad didn’t flinch. Aiden knew exactly what the stick from the ring felt like, knew how much force to make the small needle sink into the other man’s arm through the clothing he wore. Knew exactly how to move to keep Javad unaware of the poison introduced to his system.
If Aiden had done his job right, the terrorist had no clue what really happened and, judging from the utter lack of reaction from Javad, Aiden had done exactly what he’d meant to do.
“I’m so sorry. I’m such a klutz. Pardon me,” Aiden said.
Aiden shook his head, again pushing the thought of Chuck on his knees to the front of his mind, leaving him stammering with sweat popping out on his face, the perfect reaction of embarrassment and awkwardness to cover for the cold hatred running through his blood. He struggled not to think of the fifteen women and seventy children who’d been murdered by this man’s work. He didn’t think of the pictures hung on the board in their war room. The bomb blast that killed four babies last May, which Javad had financed, didn’t cross his mind. Only Chuck, his eyes staring up at him as he opened his mouth and sucked in Aiden’s cock.
“It is fine. Are you feeling unwell?” Javad asked in perfect English.
“No, no, I’m fine. Just a bit clumsy, that’s all. I’m so sorry.”
Javad helped Aiden right himself, and waved off his angry guards.
“Be careful,” Javad said.
“Sorry.” Aiden watched as Javad and his guards moved on. He picked up his newspaper and left the train, following after Javad and his entourage. The guards glanced back, but left him alone. Aiden stopped by a support pole and mopped his brow with a hanky, playing up his role as a bumbling idiot. He took the time to place the cover back on the small needle on the ring to avoid an accidental stick, so practiced in this task; no one would have any idea what he’d done.
Aiden checked his pockets and turned around in a slow circle, acting like a lost tourist. He assumed a stupid, but pleasant look on, his face and moved towards the exit. Javad and his group were moving up another stairwell and going on their merry way. Little did they know, in less than thirty minutes Javad would suffer a heart attack, and no doctor in the ER would ever think to check for poison or look for the skin prick where the poison had been delivered.
All was well as Aiden headed to his safe house only four blocks away. He walked five blocks up and circled around, making sure he wasn’t being followed. After punching in his pass code, he entered the safe house, shucked his gear, tore off the prosthetics covering his chin and cheeks and removed the brown contacts hiding his eyes’ natural ice-blue color.
The teeth were next. Wearing the fake teeth didn’t bother him too much as long as he didn’t have to eat. He had no idea how the hell Chuck had given such good head with his disguise on. Aiden forced his mind to consume other aspects of the day and forget the blowjob. No way in hell would anyone at this safe house or at headquarters ever find out Chuck had sucked him off in a minute thirty-six today in the Waterloo Station in the middle of London.
After removing his disguise, he opened the door to the main part of the house and entered the room. Another makeup artist hired by The Company waited for him. A wig and a new nose were fitted along with a pair of glasses to match the ID he travelled home on. Never a good idea to walk around in his normal state for too long. Any pictures of him at the airport might filter back to a social media site or be viewed on the news. He couldn’t take the chance, especially when he’d left the country under an assumed name. Minimize the risk in every operation. Not only his personal motto, but a good plan too.
Aiden watched the news as he waited for his plane. His seat was business class because first would have drawn too much attention. BBC news flashed across the TV screen. Aiden adjusted his glasses, trying his best to appear like a Poindexter even with his six-two, two-ten frame packed with muscles. He felt he was doing a decent job of it since few women or men even looked at him.
Thoughts of Chuck on his knees flashed through his mind as he made his way to the restroom. His dick firmed up, causing heat to flare up his neck and face. Shit, he had to stop thinking about Chuck’s perfect mouth wrapped around his cock. As he stood in the bathroom stall, he pinched the underside of his penis hoping the pain would cause him to deflate. It worked.
A few minutes before the gate agent called for his boarding group, a story flashed up on the news, Javad Shirazi had died of an apparent heart attack in London earlier today. The funeral had already been planned for tomorrow in his home country. The medical examiner did as thorough of an investigation as possible with the restrictions placed on him by Muslim religious practices. With the heart attack confirmed, no other complications were suspected. Shirazi’s body was on a plane on the way back to Iran.
Aiden didn’t smile, didn’t change his breathing pattern, displaying no outward signs to show the elation he felt at the news the man he’d assassinated today had actually died, and apparently of natural causes. The small victories like this kept him in the job. No, he hadn’t prevented Javad’s men from killing those babies or the other children last year, but he’d prevented a corrupt man from funding any more disasters. One terrorist at a time, and they would get it done.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sea Games by H.C. Brown and KevaD


Thanks so much for hosting Sea Games, Sara. I truly appreciate it.

HC Brown and I wanted to work on a couple of projects together. We both write in a number of genres, and I had this story nearing completion, so, logic kind of dictated we start with Sea Games. HC suggested a series and that became Game Play. The second book, Night Games, an MM romance on the high seas and jungle low, is due out December 17th.

Again, thanks for letting us drop by, and I hope folks enjoy this peek at Sea Games.

Brian Bowers is a man on a mission. Revenge weighs heavy on his mind. The need to punish the woman he once loved above all others falls into tatters the moment he sets eyes on her again. Fifteen years of walking on the fine edge between love and hate ends in an explosion of lust. 

Patrice, sophisticated and wealthy, has her own agenda. She knows how to use her body to get what she wants. But Bowers knows how to play the game.

Set in a world of indulgence, Sea Games follows two hearts as they battle memories of the past. Will they win or lose a future together?

Excerpt:

Chapter 1
Through the throng of bejeweled partiers, the nasal assault of perfume and deodorants, he spotted Patrice Lampton in the corner. A sprite on a ladder-back chair throne, surrounded by her court of jesters vying for the attention being with her could bring. She sat, with her long elegant legs crossed at the knees. The electric smile on her makeup-glazed face could have powered a small town. Desire coursed through him. But for what?

Certainly not for the recognition of having been one of the many to bed her, the challenge eroded by the endless mattress party her life had become.

He visualized her body barely hidden beneath a curve-clinging red silk dress, remembered the silken touch of her pixie cut auburn hair tangled in his fingers. The musky scent of her slick, wet pussy lingered in the recesses of his mind. The taste of her hungry mouth filled his dreams.

Without warning, her hazel-eyes lowered to an unseen place, far beyond the façade of laughter and sweet aroma of champagne aimlessly fluttering in the ballroom’s thick air. She slipped a portion of her silver linked necklace to her mouth and strung it over her teeth. It was an unconscious act from another time, a place devoid of the new world around her. In that moment, he understood. His physical desire was not for the woman the public followed in the tabloids. He craved the private person, the one she once shared with him.

To regain this secret part of her would be his prize, the pinnacle no one else had scaled. When he had stolen all her deepest secrets, what little passion for life she retained, he would laugh and walk away, his need for revenge satiated.

He smoothed the jacket of his white tux and straightened the black bowtie. With a toss of his head, he gathered the arrogance he’d practiced hours on end in front of a mirror, and finally strode to her table. Her devotees moved around her with the activity of ants servicing their queen in the hope of devouring the leftover crumbs of decadence.

Patrice slowly glanced up at him, the necklace tumbling back to its rightful spot on her pale, powdered skin. No sheen painted her eyes, only the question of who this uninvited intruder might be. No doubt, his rented tux, lacking the perfect tailoring worn by her male entourage, would instantly register with her. He didn’t belong in this sphere of wealth and self-indulgence on this chartered cruise ship.
A smile wouldn’t be sufficient to stimulate her interest. The men around her fawned mouths set with fixed expressions of devotion. So he forced his face to remain stoic, bored even, as if she were the last person he would consider taking between the sheets. His heart rate kicked up a notch. He inclined his head.

“Miss Lampton, I wanted to offer this small contribution to your fundraiser. I find your efforts to stem domestic abuse most laudable.” He handed her the check, hoping his words had come out as smooth and unemotional as he’d practiced.

Without looking at the paper, she passed it to the guy standing on her left, a store mannequin of a man dressed in an immaculate black tuxedo, white shirt and rainbow tie. She raised a pencil-enhanced brow. “To whom do I express my appreciation?”

“Lancer Thompkins,” He nodded curtly and turned to leave. His nerves twisted. His gut wrenched. He’d done it!

Her curiosity would drive her insane. She would have to discover more about him. He’d studied her new persona for months and recognized her quirks, including the arched brow that had betrayed her. She’d taken the bait. He had planted the first seed.

He squared his shoulders and marched victoriously to the exit and the salty sea air.
The ship docked in Rio in a day’s time. He had until then to manipulate his way into her head. He wanted to dominate her thoughts and invade her dreams.

An older couple strolled past, arms crossed over each other’s backs, the woman’s cheek resting against her companion’s shoulder.

Guilt swept over him. His gut twisted. A new … regret … pulsed in his neck.
“That should have been us,” he whispered to no one.

And for the first time in his miserable life, he wondered if he could actually go through with his plan.