Pursued by the Imperial Prince by Mina Carter

 

 

 

 

 

On the run… Hunted… by the man she once gave her heart to.

Outlawed noblewoman Jaida’s been everything from a high speed courier on Arcalis Prime to a waitress in the cloud café’s on Selenis. Different careers, different names, different identities. When a cover got easy–so easy she started to believe it herself–she knew she’d been in the same place too long and it was time to move on. Before she got comfortable and started to make mistakes. Mistakes would allow Imperial Prince Seth to find her, and if that happened, people would die…

But after five years, Seth has found her, and she can no longer outrun her destiny: she’ll be the prince’s courtesan, but he’ll never own her heart…

He wanted the one woman he couldn’t have…

Five years ago he thought he’d found his princess, the woman he wanted to be his bride and rule alongside him. But instead of accepting his betrothal bracelet, she refused him and ran. Unable to let the insult lie, he’s chased her ever since. Now he finally has her, captured while working on the docks and he can finally get his revenge on the woman who spurned him. The woman he can’t get out of his head. He’ll make her his courtesan and get her out of his system for good…

But all is not as it seems, and the truth he thought he knew turns out to be a lie. When Jaida’s life is threatened by a hidden enemy, can Seth see through the lies in time to save her… or will he lose everything to deceit?

**Please note – This title has previously been released with another publisher and has not been revised or altered significantly.**
 
Move that fucking piece of shit… Yeah, I’m talking to you buddy. Sheesh, some people really need to learn to drive.”
Jaida slumped back into the harness of her power loader and concentrated on transferring the load she was carrying from the open cargo hold in front of her to the anti-grav pallets beside it. She grumbled under her breath as she worked. Today was not a good day. The idiot-factor was so high she was virtually swimming in them.
She shook her head, her dark hair dancing about her shoulders, and issued another curse directed at idiots who wanted to load high and drive fast. Yeah, she was just as interested in her weekly bonus as anyone else, but there was no way she was risking a safety fine. Especially not when her rent was due.
She moved smoothly, arms and legs activating the sensor plates in the bi-pedal loader as she transferred her load container by container. A tired sigh escaped her lips as the last one slid into place with a heavy clunk-click. The red light on the side of the full pallet flicked to green and it moved away on automatic, a fresh one sliding into place in front of her.
“Hey chica, almost quittin’ time… You working overtime?”
Jaida turned at the voice, the feet of the loader clunking against the deck plating until she could see the voice’s owner. Felis, the only other woman on the team, smiled back at her through her front screen.
Jaida rolled her shoulders to ease the ache creeping across them. “Yeah, I am. Could do with the extra cash, and you know what’ll happen if the Galess shipment doesn’t get offloaded in good time. Hicks’ll pitch a hissy fit, and tomorrow will be down the shitter before we start.”
She smothered a sigh at her language, automatically coarse to match her cover identity. She’d been everything from a high-speed courier on Arcalis Prime to a waitress in the cloud cafés on Selenis. Different careers, different names, different identities. When a cover got this complete and easy, so easy she started to believe in it herself, she knew she’d been in the same place too long.
It was time to move on, before she got comfortable and started to make mistakes. Mistakes would allow Seth to find her, and then people would die. They always did. Trouble was she liked Felis and the guys. For the first time in years she felt at home. If a wanted woman could relax enough to feel at home anywhere.
“Jai! Boss wants to see you in the office.”
Another voice interrupted their conversation. Both loaders turned at the heavy clump-whirr-clump of an approaching crane-lifter. Jaida hid her shudder as the driver leered at them. All the women on the docks knew about Hanrahan—they’d all been subjected to his sexist and suggestive comments.
“Hey Jai, you want a hand getting out of that tin can? Perhaps a little bit of a rubdown?”
“No thanks Han, I might catch something.” She turned away in a whir of mechanics, rolling her eyes as she passed Felis. “Best see what the boss man wants. Catch you tomorrow if I’m not out before you leave.”
“Okay, good luck sweets. Mood he’s been in, you may need it.”

 

 


Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.
Author Links

 

Jennifer’s review of Exposed by Lyz Kelley

Title: Exposed

Author: Lyz Kelley

Genre: Contemporary romance

Stars: 5🛍🛍🛍🛍🛍

Exposed is the 5th book in the Elkridge series and is a fast easy read. It can be a read as a standalone (but is better as a series). This is a very sweet romance that took me on a bit of an emotional ride. The story is well written and flows very well. I love the characters and love that I have already met them in the previous stories. I am always surprised while reading Lyz Kelley. She somehow always makes the characters and scenes she writes come alive in my mind. I can always see clearly in my head the scenes she paints. The characters always feel like real life people. The emotions I feel while reading the characters feel real. She is a fantastic writer. As always with this series, bring a tissue or two while you are reading and be prepared to fall in love.

Conditioned by Liz Crowe

Title: Conditioned
Author: Liz Crowe
Genre: Erotic Romance

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Book three in the Brewing Passion series

A chance meeting. An improbable connection. An exquisite attraction.

Trent Hettinger’s turbulent formative years transformed him into a cynic—and into a man who realized he required something outside himself to control his temper. Something he found as a Dom—at least for a while. But he allowed himself to trust a woman once and was slapped back into reality with a vengeance and now devotes all his energy into building his real estate empire, raising his teenaged daughter…and avoiding anything resembling authentic attachments.

Melody Rodriguez kept her head down for years—working hard, making her own money, trying to get ahead with every deck stacked against her. She’s determined to move beyond the ugliness that haunts her without anyone’s help. When a mutual friend sets her up with Trent, she’s determined to have some fun with him and move on.A man with nothing left to lose. A woman hiding behind her past. When two lives spent in emotional denial collide, it’s a perfect match—at least on the surface. But neither Trent nor Melody is prepared for the full force of their true feelings, once fate intervenes and blows a cold breeze into their white-hot relationship.

Totally Bound

Rated R for language:

“You need to get ready,” Evelyn said. “You only have a few hours.”

I stared at the computer screen. “I’m not going.”

“The hell you aren’t.” She slapped the laptop closed. We were in the office she’d assigned to me in my new job as general manager of the Fitz Pub. “You are going. But not until you get your ass home for a clean-up.” She raised an eyebrow. “Did you ever get to my wax artist?”

I put a hand to my face.

“All right. Well. Get on home and take a shower. Do you have a nice dress? I mean, something super dressy?”

“Yes. He sent a dress. And shoes. And…a kind of a…mask.”

“All righty then. He hasn’t lost his edge. So, let’s go.” She snapped her fingers and smiled at me.

“Go where?” Panic was settling into my psyche. I’d spent a lot of energy in the last couple of days being mad at Trent. I wasn’t quite ready to let go of it.

“It’s wax time, puta.” She handed me my purse.

“We have work to do.”

“It can wait.”

“That’s not what you said to me this morning.” I crossed my arms, leaning back in my rickety chair.

“Yeah, well, scratch all that. Hang on.” She pulled her phone from her pocket. “Hey. Yeah. I gotta go help Melody with something. I’ll be back in about an hour.” Her face reddened. “Yes, I know.” She turned away from me and muttered something more, then ended the call. “Whew. All right. Come on. It won’t take long.”

Two hours later I was home, staring at myself in the mirror. I put a hand to my neck, turning my head left, then right, admiring the semi-casual updo and the subtle makeup. I held out my hands, checking out the bright red nails. Between the primping, buffing, waxing and everything else, they’d even found time to get me a shower at that crazy spa.

I glanced over at the bed, where the simple, cream silk dress lay alongside a cream-colored garter belt, real silk stockings and a gorgeous, matching bra. The shoes were a work of art—sky-high heels, open toes, satin ribbons to wrap around my ankles. Everything was the perfect size. Of course.

I sat, fingering the creamy mask. It was intimidating, yet beautiful, edged with intricate lace. My fingers trembled as I held it to my face, then dropped it onto my lap.

You wanted this, Melody. You demanded it from him. Do not be that woman who, when her man gives her what she wanted, suddenly changes her mind.

I willed myself not to cry and screw up the expensive makeup job. As I was fastening the stockings into the belt, my phone buzzed from the table next to my bed. I smiled when I saw I was Evelyn.

Mel. Just relax. It will be fine. He loves you.

I sighed and looked at the ceiling before answering. I’m not sure about all that. He wants to tie me up and spank me. That’s not love. That’s kind of crazy.

Don’t worry. If you don’t like it, tell him. He’ll stop. He’ll do anything for you. Lighten up a little.

There was a brief pause, then another text from my friend. You’re going to blow his mind, chica. Own it.

I covered my lips with my hands. There was no denying it—I was flat out terrified. I wanted this. Or I thought I wanted it. And now I definitely had to own it.

Noting the time, I stood slowly and pulled the dress with me. The fabric was like a lovely soft sheet draping my body, magically clinging to all my curves. I ran my hands across my stomach, down my hips, admiring myself in the full-length mirror.

With a frown, I started pulling at the pins and whatnot that the hair guy had used to give me the glamorous up-do. My man wanted my hair down. I ran my fingers through it, which reminded me of the way he loved to do it—gently at first, then when he’d close his fingers in it, tugging and pulling…

I shivered, and I smiled at myself, noting how my makeup looked better since I wasn’t ghostly pale behind it anymore.

We’d parted badly. And I’d taken his Jeep. Granted, I’d left it in his garage, keys in the gas door. But I had taken the man’s car. It had been a bold move. Or a shitty move. I still hadn’t decided. But now, if Evelyn was to be believed, this night would be The One. The night I would get the full force of this whole BDSM Thing. Take it or leave it.

 

Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.

Liz Crowe writes intense true-to-life stories that make you feel. Whether it’s anxiety, love, fear, hate, bliss, or loss woven into her plot lines, you will feel it deep down to your very soul.

–Audrey Carlan, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

Liz Crowe is one of those rare authors who knows how to take the emotions of her characters and make them real for her readers, binding you to the story.”

—USA Today and Internationally Bestselling Author Desiree Holt

“Liz Crowe is my drug of choice for unconventional romance that pushes the envelope of my comfort zone.”

–Bestselling Author of the Enigma Series, Ditter Kellan

The Submissive Muse by Tiffany N. York

Title: The Submissive Muse
Author: Tiffany N. York
Genre: Erotic Romance

Release Date: July 14, 2017
Cover Designer: Lawson Craighill of Blushing Books
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

One man’s misfortune is another man’s destiny.
Elizabeth Wolfe’s husband, John, had been everything to her—protector, provider, administer of pain. Still devastated, one year after his death, she decides to take her own life, but her plan is interrupted when she discovers an unconscious stranger in her barn.

Devan Carthy and John Wolfe agreed to an arrangement before he died—Devan is to seek out Elizabeth, exactly one year from his death, and bring joy to her life again, in exchange for a sizeable sum of money.

What begins as a friendship between a grieving widow and a mercurial artist blossoms into love as Devan reawakens her desire for living. His erratic mood swings and her need for pleasure and pain threaten their relationship, but it’s John Wolfe’s hold over them that may ultimately tear them apart.

Publisher’s Disclaimer: This dramatic love story contains graphic sexual scenes, as well as discipline. If either of these offend you, please do not buy the book.

A slow, sultry blues number filled the room. “Come here.” His tone had turned suddenly serious.

She was no stranger to slow dancing, having danced with John at many formal events, so when he took her in his arms, they were able to move effortlessly together. She arched her back at one point, enjoying the feeling of fluidity in her body, and when she straightened up, he pulled her tightly to him, his warm breath tickling her neck. She kept her head next to his, breathing in his smell, a potent mix of soap and musk. With his beard against her cheek and his body pressed against hers, she became lost in the moment. Lost, when he gently ran his lips along her bare shoulder. Lost, when he murmured her name with desperate yearning in his voice. Lost, when he grew hard.

They barely moved to the music. Only their hips swayed, his erection straining against the seam of his pants, causing a hunger inside her that had been absent for so long. A hunger she thought she’d never feel again.

“Liz, look at me,” he whispered.

When she did, he lowered his face to hers, their lips almost touching. He hesitated. And when she didn’t move, he pressed his mouth to hers, softly at first, and then he deepened the kiss when he felt her respond.

A moan escaped her and before she knew it, her hands were tangled in his hair. Their tongues teased and stroked and begged each other for more until Elizabeth felt the sharp pinch of her necklace digging into her skin. A painful reminder of John. She broke the kiss and pushed him away, leaving him with a dazed expression.

“I can’t do this. I’m sorry.”

Taking the coward’s way out, she left Devan standing alone and ran up the stairs to her bedroom. The last sound she heard was of shattering glass.

He wants her. She’s off limits. That’s the deal. But once the deal is fulfilled, all bets are off.

***

Can a mercurial artist bring color and passion back to a grieving widow’s world?

***

Sometimes what brings a couple together can be the very thing that tears them apart.

Tiffany N. York lives in Southern California with her spirited son, diva Chihuahua, an ever-changing number of cats, and two tone-deaf parakeets. She writes fiction to escape reality. Her two romantic comedies, The Accidental Cougar, and The Meatball Mistress are available on Amazon. The Submissive Muse, an erotic romance will be out July 14, 2017. Visit her on social media.

Jennifer’s review of Watch Over by Amy Reece

Title: Watch Over

Author: Amy Reece
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Stars: 4 🛍🛍🛍🛍
This is my first book by Amy Reece. She wrote a fantastic story!  The characters had depth and personality that made them more real and the story was well written. I thought Melanie and Finn meeting through the cat was cute and funny. The story itself mostly kept me on the edge of my chair with the twists and turns. Overall it was a great read and I am excited for the next book!
**received an advanced copy for an honest review**

Blog Tour: Famous Love by Lelly Hughes

Title: Famous Love
Author: Lelly Hughes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 3, 2017

Jessi from Goodreads – “This story had me cussing, quite a few OMG moments, was beautifully written! I cannot wait to read more by Lelly Hughes!”


Patty from Goodreads – “Oh this book was amazing. It is a wonderful romantic story. Almost like Romeo and Juliet, but maybe more or less like West Side Story with the Sharks vs Jets.”


Brianne from Goodreads – “Lelly Hughes writes a sexy, sweet, fun romance that will leave you smiling and cheering Levi and Zara on.”


Under the bright lights of Nashville, Levi Austin is a country music superstar whose life is rocked by the tragic death of his former wife, leaving him to raise their two daughters. Now faced with having to tell his girls, and making the hard decision about where they’ll live, Levi packs his bags and rushes off to Los Angeles—the last place he wants to be, but the one place where no one will recognize him.

Zara Phillips loves two things: her husband Van, and the band she created with her brother, Reverend Sister. To her, her life is perfect until she discovers that her high school sweetheart husband is cheating on her. The paparazzi are relentless, forcing a devastated and heartbroken Zara to stay hidden until the record label demands she shoot a video for the band’s new single, driving her out of seclusion.

Two people collide from opposite worlds. Neither knowing who the other is, yet both intrigued by one another. When Levi spills hot coffee on Zara, everything changes. He’s focused on his daughters, trying to do what’s best for them while Zara is determined to get away from everyone and everything in Los Angeles.

When Levi offers her sanctuary at his home in Nashville, Zara jumps at the opportunity to disappear… with the hopes that Levi comes with her.

What transpires next are the lives of two very different people finding their path along a very bumpy and unforgiving road, who are tested by their loved ones, the media and one ex that doesn’t want to go away quietly.


The only light in my room comes from my alarm clock as I lift the shirt I placed over it before going to bed. I cover the red numbers almost instantly, but not before I start to see red dots each time I blink. As I lay in bed, the faint sound of the house phone continues to ring off into the distance. My eyes try to focus on what would be my ceiling or my wall, but it’s pitch black in here and anything in front of me in purely my imagination.
It’s three a.m., and some jackass is calling my house phone. I sigh and think about how I need to change my phone number again and wonder what’s the point of having an unlisted number if people can still obtain the sacred digits. The only reason I still have a landline is that cell service is questionable on my ranch. Besides, I like the feel of a phone. I like that I have to sit down to talk to someone, giving the person calling my undivided attention.
The blackout curtains were purchased and hung by my personal assistant and publicist, Barbara, in an attempt to have my mind shut off at night. This was after she received an email from my record label informing her that my late night actions were causing the executives to have minor heart attacks when photos of me, drinking in a bar, were made public.
Her answer was to make sure I had a peaceful place to rest, that and tea. Barbara treats everything with tea. If you have a cold, she gives you tea. If you stab yourself accidentally with a rusty nail, instead of taking you to the hospital for a Tetanus shot, she asks if you want tea. I love her dearly, but tea can’t fix everything.
Ever since, I’ve been trying to play by their rules and sticking close to home. Drinking alone though isn’t as fun as when you have a crowd surrounding you, encouraging you to drink more until you’re stumbling into the bar and finding random rides back to your home by complete strangers. Who would’ve thought that they’d sell the story to the newspapers?
One mistake and I’m being labeled an alcoholic. One incident and it’s being suggested that I spend some time relaxing which is industry speak for rehabilitation. I thought about getting away, going to spend some time where no one knows who I am just to escape the scrutiny.
But doing so would mean not speaking to my daughters every day. Stormy and Willow are my life, my reason for living, and I hate that I can’t see them every day.
The phone rings again. I count each ring until they stop, only for them to start up again. I sit up and bring my pillow to my face while I tap the base of my bedside table. Slowly, I let my eyes adjust to the light before making my way toward the living room.
My house is quiet. It’s always quiet, except for the faint sounds of the wildlife that can be heard. It’s often that I can sit in the oversized chair and watch a herd of deer traipse through my yard or hear a pack of coyotes howling in the middle of the night. It was one of the selling points, that and being away from the busy city.
Sitting on twenty plus acres of land, my view over Nashville is one of the most sought after locations around. Investors want me to sell off my land for development, and each time I tell them no, they come back with a higher offer.
This is my little slice of heaven. It’s where I can come and be me without having to be the Levi Austin that fans expect every time they see me out and about. This is where my private life begins, and my public one is put on hold. Behind closed doors, I can write my music, play my guitar as loud as I want and stare at the assortment of trophies I’ve won over the years. My favorite came last year when I won Country Music’s Album of the Year. Man, to beat out the stellar artists in that category was an amazing feat and one I am so proud of.
On my ranch, I can walk around my house in my underwear while drinking beer and not have to worry about the paparazzo with their high-powered lenses trying to capture my picture, although it’s rare that the paparazzi bother me much in Nashville. It’s when I have to go to Los Angeles that they’re all over me.
But here, on my ranch, I can ride my horses, shoot my guns and go muddin’ if that is what I want to do. I can have my band over for bar-be-que and not worry about my neighbors calling the police on us for being rowdy. This is where I can relax, be free and live my life. Besides, I’m saving my land for my girls. That is something those big city developers don’t understand.
The ringing starts again, but this time I’m there to answer it quickly. “Hello?” I say, my voice somewhat hoarse from sleeping.
“Mr. Austin?” the voice on the other end says.
“Who’s calling?” I’m almost afraid to ask. Knowing my luck, it’s some sales person or a fan turned creepy stalker.
“Sir, my name is Detective Pete O’Brien. I’m with the LAPD.”
Hearing those words is enough to send chills down your spine. They cause you to tense up, shake, and maybe sweat a little, but mostly, they scare the shit out of you.
“Okay,” I say after he pauses.
“Do you know Iris Austin?”
The sound of my ex-wife’s name has me relaxing a bit. I’m not surprised that she’s been arrested or picked up for something stupid. When we got divorced, she was adamant that she be allowed some freedom since I had that every time I went on tour, and she was home raising the girls. I agreed. I was happy that the girls were going to live with me while their mother “found” herself in Los Angeles.
That was until Iris started talking to Stormy about all the amazing dance companies in L.A. and how she should move out there to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer. Stormy’s dream, of course, is to perform for hip-hop artists when they tour. As much as it pained me to let her go, I did but also didn’t like the fact that Willow would be left without a sister so both my girls went to live with their mama. It’s not what I wanted, but I didn’t want to short-change Stormy on her dream and didn’t want Willow growing up without her sister.
Iris is an amazing mother when she wants to be. But she also loves the nightlife in Hollywood, and that sometimes gets in the way of her parenting. I suppose when you’re pregnant by seventeen and married at eighteen, you start to miss your twenties and need to relive them in your thirties.
“I do,” I tell the officer with an exaggerated sigh as I wait for him to tell me how much her bail money is.
“This is never easy to say. Iris Austin was killed in a car accident earlier this evening on the interstate.”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” There is no way I heard him correctly.
He clears his throat and repeats his words verbatim as if he’s reading from a script. I let them sink in, only to realize he hasn’t said anything about my girls.
“My daughters? Were they with her?”

 

Lelly Hughes is named after her grandmothers. She’s a dreamer who writes words to tell stories about falling in love. Ocean fanatic. Loves the feel of warm sand.
FAMOUS LOVE is her first novel.

 





HOSTED BY:

Blog Tour: No Excuses by Nikky Kaye

 

 

 

 

 

Maddie’s rules for attending a work retreat:

1    Pack the right clothes. Especially extra underwear.
2    Don’t try to school your insanely hot boss on acceptable trust exercises.
3    Be prepared for the extracurricular ropes course.
4    Make sure there is a safety net when you fall, because you will fall hard

Gage doesn’t appreciate how hard it is to be his right hand woman—especially when I’m spending so much time with my own right hand, fantasizing about him. My demanding, control freak boss is testing all my limits, and I don’t know how long I can stay professional.
No Excuses is a hot, full-length contemporary romance, featuring blindfolds, rope play, food fights, and sexy architectural features like wainscoting. As in all Nikky Kaye books, cheating is not allowed, but some funny stuff and a HEA are non-negotiable.
When he took my hand, he pressed his open mouth first to my palm, then the pulse point on my wrist. I was sure it was fluttering like a freaking butterfly.
“I want to show you my playroom. It’s important to me.”
Oh god. “Um, okay.” I could do this. I could totally do this.
He led me down the hallway in his little dollhouse. Another time I would have run my hand along the banister at the top of the stairs, its patina velvety with age. Or I would have probably noticed the vintage glass doorknobs at each room. But all I could see was the bright white of his shirt like a truce flag as I trailed behind him.
He stopped us in front of a door at the back of the house, and I hesitated. Actually, we both did. Gage rubbed the back of his neck. The direct, motivated, successful billionaire was nervous—and that made my knees close to knocking together.
“This is probably the most… personal, private part of me,” he explained haltingly, his gaze penetrating me. “Someday I would like very much for you to join me in here.”
Do not hyperventilate, I told myself. You are a mature, sexually active adult with an open mind—and past rope burns to prove it. You just role-played in the office, for god’s sakes. Do not embarrass yourself.
Instinctively, I squeezed my eyes shut as he reached for the knob, and the door creaked open. When I opened my eyes to slits, it was first to look up at the exultant look on Gage’s face. Then I faced the playroom. I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath until it whooshed out of me.
“Gage, you are sick and wrong. Just no. No.”
“What?”
“How can you have Pac-Man but not Ms. Pac-Man?” I pointed to the array of arcade games lined up against the far wall. “That was clearly the better game!”
“I beg to differ.” With his arms crossed over his chest like that and his jaw looking like it had been set in concrete, there would be no persuading him.
At least he had Mortal Kombat and… was that a Dance Dance Revolution platform? It was covered in Japanese writing.
“Please tell me you have an Xbox.”
“Baby, I have everything.” He pointed to the giant beanbag and large—but not huge—television in one corner. Gage was almost glowing as brightly as the screens on the old consoles. Their sound had been muted, but the lights blinked in the background like dozens of little disco lights.
I wanted to laugh at myself for my idiotic fear. Whips and chains? Come on. I began giggling as I imagined myself bent over and tied to a bubble hockey table.
Boys and their toys. It gave a whole new meaning to “joystick.” At that ridiculous thought I bent over a little, my hands on my thighs, trying to cork up the laughter.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh god, you are.”
He stiffened, probably unused to being seen as a source of comedy. Well, it was past time to change that. Finally I managed to control my giggle fit, which was probably half due to relief.
His annoyance came out in a strange sound from deep in his throat. When I flung my arms around his waist, he felt as though made of steel. I wanted to melt him down in a fiery forge and bend him into sinuous shapes. Cradling his carved jaw in my hands, I pulled him down for a tender, apologetic kiss.
“I would love to play with you, Gage. But you should know that I take no prisoners in Mario Kart.”
He sighed against my lips, multi-tasking while devouring me. “That is one… of… the sexiest… things… I’ve ever… heard… come out… of your mouth.”
Nikky Kaye is almost my real name. I’m a former Film professor who likes more than her movies to be black and white. Sadly, the world doesn’t work that way. I have worked with movie stars, Ivy League brainiacs, and the United Nations—all of which means that I’m familiar with ass-kissing, power struggles, greed and faking it. In my spare time I parent 5 year-old twin boys, serve on the board of an independent cinema, and run a medical consulting company.