by KB Alan
Claire’s been fantasizing about the owner of her company since she first saw him. Ryan is gorgeous, confident and sexy as hell. In other words, so not her type. With the crazy life she leads, it’s best to stick to men who are happy to do what she tells them to, then disappear. Since Ryan would never abide by those terms, it’s best to keep him right where she’s got him—in her dreams.
Ryan gets up close and personal with Claire while investigating a threat to his company. Once he’s convinced she’s not out to hurt what he’s helped build, he refocuses his more-than-human energies on his intriguing employee. When she quits, insisting it’s best if she leaves town, he’s determined to convince her otherwise. At least long enough to get a taste of her. And the more he tastes, the more he touches, the more he wants. Now he just has to convince Claire that what they have is worth fighting for, and he’s more than up to the task.
An Excerpt From: KEEPING CLAIRE
Copyright © KB ALAN, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.It took two trips before they had everything transferred to the lovely nook off Jacob’s kitchen. Instead of blocking her into the middle of the bench seat, Jacob pulled a chair from against the wall and sat opposite her. She wasn’t sure she could suppress her relief so she picked up her wineglass and hid behind it.
Jacob’s sigh suggested he wasn’t unaware of her hiding.
“I think it’s time you told us what’s going on,” he said.
She put down her glass and nudged the basket of garlic bread closer to Ryan so she didn’t have to look at it.
“Fine. I grew up with bad people. Monsters. I chose to leave and they’re not happy about that, so I need to stay hidden. Simple. It’s best to stay ahead of them, trust me, so I’ll just leave here and you don’t have to worry about me, or them, anymore.”
“Monsters?” Ryan glanced at Jacob in surprise before returning his attention to her. “Demons?”
She blinked at him. “Uh. No. Murderers. Rapists. Thieves.”
“Ah.” He sat back with a smile. “We can help you with that.” He resumed eating.
Fear for them tried to intrude but she pulled on her anger instead. “No, you can’t. And you won’t. You’ll stay out of it. Stay safe. Stay away from me.”
Ryan just waved his fork at her, his mouth too full to answer.
Crossing her arms over her chest she leaned back and glared at him.
His confidence should piss her off. Did piss her off. Too bad it was also sexy as hell. A man shouldn’t look sexy eating spaghetti, damn it.
“Let me be very clear. I’m not asking for your help. I don’t want it. The only thing I need from you is to let me walk away. And if you don’t, you won’t just have the monsters to deal with, you’ll have me. If I wouldn’t put up with being ordered around and kept in place by the people who made me, you can sure as hell bet I won’t put up with it from you.”
“Of course you can leave, if you want to,” Jacob said.
Ryan opened his mouth as if to object, but remained silent.
“I would appreciate it, though, if you would tell us your family’s name, so that we might be prepared,” Jacob added.
She looked back and forth between them but neither seemed concerned. Her well-developed sense of the truth told her that Jacob meant what he’d said. So, okay, they were just going to let her go. That was good. Right.
“I’ll think about it.” She tucked back into her dinner. She’d need all the good fuel she could get as she started on the next phase of her life. And the wine didn’t hurt, either.
Jacob managed to get them chatting casually while they finished the meal, then brought out ice cream and all the fixings for sundaes. She was too tired to be more than mildly amused that the elegant man kept such items on hand. Pouring heated caramel sauce over the French vanilla ice cream, she caught Ryan’s intent gaze as he added chocolate to his own. A sudden vision of him licking the sauce from her breasts rose in her mind. Her breath caught at the vivid image and she forced her attention back to her hands, righting the jar and placing it back on the table. Ryan picked up the can of whipped cream and slowly leaned over to dispense a long layer of creamy goodness into her bowl.
She refused to meet his eyes as she picked up the maraschino cherries and spooned a couple from the jar. What the hell, she would only have this one night with him, maybe she should give in to the heat that was building between them. Though he wasn’t her usual type, there was no denying that he made her body ache. A sprinkle of nuts finished off the sundae and she picked up the bowl and moved to the living room.
A fire crackled and she headed for that, taking a seat on the raised hearth. Jacob followed her in, sitting on the large leather sofa. When Ryan joined them he moved straight toward her, sitting close enough that the heat from his thigh rivaled that of the fire. She considered giving him a good death glare before changing seats but decided she would be spiting herself more than him. The truth was she liked the feel of him next to her. She relaxed her body, letting her leg fall slightly closer to his.
The first bite of the sundae was perfect, just the right combination of ice cream and toppings. She closed her eyes and savored the treat. Her mind wandered back to the vision of Ryan licking sauce from her breasts and she moaned around the delicious coldness.
Ryan shifted restlessly next to her and she suppressed a smile. Oh yeah. One night with him would carry her through years of the dishrags she usually limited herself to. Her nipples tightened at the idea. Another cold spoonful did little to counteract the heat that was consuming her body. Next to her, Ryan was shoveling in his sundae at an alarming rate. Hiding a smile, she slowed her own pace even more, letting the spoon slide out ever so slowly between her lips, eyes closing again to fully appreciate the deliciousness.
The clatter of bowl hitting hearth made her heart beat faster but she maintained her pace, bringing another spoonful to her lips. Her eyes opened slightly when Ryan leaned into her, bracing a hand against her back. She angled the spoon toward him and he parted his lips. She made sure to get cream on his lip before allowing him to draw the spoon inside. His eyes were hot on her, full of intent and promise. A shiver raced up her spine and he pressed his hand harder into her back, his thumb taking up a circular caress.
She pulled the spoon back and he swallowed before darting his tongue out to clean the mess she’d made. Was it intentional that he left the bit at the slightly pointed bow? She hoped so. Leaning forward, she darted her own tongue out to catch the speck of whipped cream. A tiny growl came from him as she pulled back. He tightened his arm, holding her close.
“Are we going to do this?” His breath whispered against her lips. “If you want me to leave, tell me now.”
She put her hand on his thigh and slowly inched it up, eyes steady on his, lips a breath apart. Angling her hand in, she found her prize. He caught his breath as she palmed his length, hard and growing harder.
“You won’t stop me from leaving in the morning?”
“I won’t stop you.”
“You would walk away, right now?” she asked, dismayed to sound so breathless. Damn it, she was going for saucy and in control. To compensate, she squeezed, hard.
“Only if you asked me to.” He brought a hand up to her cheek, a gentle caress that had her heart clenching.
But it wasn’t her heart that she wanted clenching so she closed the tiny distance between them and captured his mouth with hers. She wanted hot, hard, fast. Now. He tasted of chocolate sauce and vanilla and met her demanding kiss thrust for thrust. Her hands scrabbled at his shirt, desperate to find a way inside and feel bare skin. He stood, pulling her up with him, then lifted her so her legs came naturally around his waist. His obvious strength should have frightened her, but she could only be thankful as he stalked out of the room, never backing away from the kiss that threatened to consume her.
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