What do you do when the one person you thought you knew turns out to be the one you knew the least?
Twenty-three year old Marissa Chase, and soon to be college graduate, has everything going for her: wonderful friends, a lucrative degree, and a chance to explore the world. What made it even better – or so she thought – was when her path crossed with the alluring Alec Holden. Unable to stay away from him, Marissa experiences a love like no other, and falls into his world of passion and intrigue. However, things begin to shift when this path takes a deadly turn.
Her trust is put to the test when hidden dangers unfold before her, revealing secrets that have been buried for years. Secrets that were meant to stay hidden. Murder, lies, and betrayal … will Marissa figure it all out in time and escape with her life intact, or will she be too late and fall into the trap of deception?
Taking a deep breath, I turned around to face him with his hands still holding onto my arms. “Are you asking me on another date?” I asked, teasing him.
He smirked, a slow tilting of his lip that had me aching to bite it. “That’s up to you if that’s what you want to call it,” he murmured heatedly.
“What if I do want to call it that?” I asked boldly.
Alec pinned me up against the counter and placed his arms on both sides of me, locking me in to the confines of his body. His piercing blue gaze held me captive, and I was drowning, struggling to breathe as he moved closer.
Bending low, he continued his torturous teasing by breathing across my neck. My eyes fluttered closed as his lips connected with the tender flesh at my collarbone. I shivered as the chill bumps fanned across my skin and made me weak. His voice in my ear immediately counteracted the chills. “If you want to call this dating, then I think that usually requires a little bit of touching, does it not?”
My breathing accelerated as Alec’s body grew flush with mine, leaning dangerously against me. He tilted my head back slightly so I had to look into his face. Slowly, I placed my hands on his hips, and instead of touching the waist of his jeans I was met with the bare skin of his body where his shirt had lifted up.
Holy shit, his skin felt hot! I could feel the ridges on his sides where they disappeared beneath his jeans, and I wanted nothing more than to trail my tongue down the contours of his muscles.
With hooded eyes, and a raspy, breathless voice, I replied, “I’m sure it’s customary to withstand some touching, but not too much since I don’t know you very well.” I said it, but my body didn’t really mean it, and he could tell I was lying to myself.
Slowly, he brought his hand to my face and trailed one of his long, lithe fingers over my cheek and down my neck. “Like this,” he insisted, swirling his finger around my neck. “Is this the kind of touching we’re allowed to do?” Chill bumps exploded across my skin, making me shiver.
“Yes,” I breathed, relishing in the feel of his touch. “Just like that.”
Closing my eyes, I sighed as he trailed his finger further down, stopping at my navel. The heat of his breath fanned across my face as I felt him dipping lower. I didn’t dare open my eyes and risk breaking the connection, but I wanted to see the heat in his gaze. Ever so slowly, his mouth connected with mine, soft and confident. He lingered for a moment, not moving, just his lips touched lightly to mine.
I wanted more … a lot more.
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Korinne Anders had it all. She had the perfect job, the perfect house, and the perfect husband. When tragedy strikes, her world takes a devastating turn. Six months after losing her husband to a car accident, Korinne vows it to herself never to love again. If she doesn’t allow another man in her heart, then there’s no reason for her to feel the pain of loss. This plan seems to work, but is put to the test when Korinne’s best friend can’t stand to see her suffering any longer.
Korinne’s long-time friend, Jenna Perry, has an idea and it involves helping her friend find the spark of life in her soul no matter what it takes. Korinne didn’t know that Jenna’s plan meant bringing back a past love, a second chance with the man that Korinne had to leave in college, but always kept a place for in her heart.
When Galen Matthews learns of Korinne’s loss and that she’s finally moved back home, he wants nothing more than to be there for her. The love he felt for Korinne years ago has never left him, and now he’s given a second chance to not only mend her heart of her loss, but to also continue the love they shared in the past. Will his love and determination make her strong enough to give fate a second chance, or will her fear of losing another love make her run away?
What will Korinne do when she’s faced with a love so powerful that no matter what she does there’s nowhere to run from it?
With each determined step, I made my way over to the man that was beginning to steal my heart … again. Fear and desire coincided within me, but I couldn’t stop. I knew I shouldn’t let him in, but I couldn’t deny the way my heart was beating for this man. It was as if all of my desires, all of the pent up emotions and feelings in my body had me desperate for this man’s touch, Galen’s touch. The man I fell in love with years ago. His eyes grew wider the closer I got, but I knew I wasn’t going to back down. I needed to feel him in every way possible, and I needed it then. In one swift move I crushed my lips to his and wrapped my arms around his neck, holding him tight. His arms engulfed me, protecting me in his embrace, but also unsure of what to do.
“What are you doing?” he groaned, breaking away from the kiss. “I thought you wanted to take things slow.”
A fire so hot burned behind those pale blue eyes of his, and I knew taking things slow wasn’t going to happen. “I don’t think I can,” I breathed against his lips.
“Please don’t say that. I don’t think I can control myself if you let me in. I’ve wanted you from the moment I saw you, and it’s already hard enough to keep my distance.”
“I don’t want you to keep your distance.” I sighed. “I need you, Galen, and I need you now.” Those words were all it took for the fire to consume him, to consume us both.
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After a night of raw passion with the man Claire O’Briene had been secretly admiring for years, she thought their time together had come once and for all. Fate had finally brought them back to each other, but unfortunately nothing had changed. He was still the same man who ran away from relationships. Against his better judgment, Mason Bradley gave in to the temptation and allowed himself one night with the one woman he’d been too afraid to want … too afraid to need.
Six months after leaving Claire and regretting every minute of it, Mason gets called in for an undercover mission that’s not only dangerous, but brings back a past he spent years trying to forget. A past of fighting … of getting in the ring and using his fists to get what he wanted: money, women, and drugs. Now there are fighters turning up dead, and it’s Mason’s job to find out the truth.
Knowing he might not come out of the mission alive, Mason seeks out Claire to tell her how he truly feels, only to find another man competing for her love as well. Fighting is what he’s good at, and for once he will be fighting not only for justice … but for love.
I didn’t realize how much she despised me until the moment I stepped into the doorway and Claire saw me, and I saw the outright venom in her eyes. From that look alone I knew she wouldn’t take me back, but it wasn’t going to stop me from trying. I came here for a reason and I’m not leaving until I do what I told myself I was going to do. I was going to put everything on the line.
As I watched Claire turn her back on me and walk away, I had the deepest urge to handcuff her to a chair and make her listen to me. However, forcing her would only push her away even more. When I handcuffed her to anything it would be out of mere pleasure, not anger. I was determined to get her back. Rushing out of the house, I grabbed Claire’s arm before she could go any further and turned her to face me.
“Let me go, Mason,” she ordered through clenched teeth.
Her body was coiled tighter than a snake, but when I grabbed her other arm and pulled her closer, I could feel the tension in her muscles loosen and she noticed it, too. I wanted to kiss those lips of hers that tasted sweet like honey with the hint of raspberries, and feel her bare skin on my fingers. Seeing her now only reminded me of how stupid I had been to let her go, and now it was too late. Or was it?
“Please give me this chance, Claire,” I murmured in her ear. “There are so many things I need to tell you. I know you’ve moved on to someone else, and it’s kind of obvious with his name plastered all over your body, but I can’t leave here without telling you how I feel.” I paused and took a deep breath. “I’ve missed you, Claire. I missed you the moment you drove away from me at the airport four months ago.”
“Why are you doing this now?” she asked incredulously, pulling her arms out of my grasp and crossing them over her chest.
She stepped back, one small step after another, and the further she moved away the further I could feel her slipping away. A tear slid down her cheek and she wiped it away, whispering, “Things are finally going good for me, Mason. I can’t have you screwing that up.”
Nodding, I lowered my head and blew out a shaky breath. “I understand, and if you’re truly happy then what I have to tell you won’t matter at all. I have to get this out or I may never get the chance again. Claire, I …”
Unfortunately, that was as far as I’d gotten before the sound of Cooper’s truck coming down the long driveway stopped me. Are you fucking kidding me? When am I ever going to catch a break? It was perfect timing on his part, but terrible for mine. Skeptically, he glanced from me to Claire and then settled his gaze on me with a scowl on his face. It was obvious he knew who I was, and if not it was obvious he didn’t care for me. Claire glanced nervously behind her, and I knew my moment to tell her how I felt was lost. Would I get a chance to before I left? I had no clue, but I had to try. Before Cooper could get out of his truck, I stepped closer to Claire and let her see the seriousness in my eyes.
“Meet me tonight,” I muttered quickly. “You know where.”
Past her shoulder I could see Cooper approaching, but she kept her glistening blue eyes my way. If she didn’t agree to meet me tonight there was still the possibility I’d never see her again. Any time I went undercover was dangerous and I always had to accept the probability that it could be the last mission I ever went on. It was the way it worked.
“I’m sorry, Mason, but I can’t. I can’t risk everything just because you show up on my doorstep. If you want my trust or my heart you need to fight for it … you need to earn it. Until you’re willing to do that I don’t want to see you again,” she uttered boldly.
Cooper finally made it to us and put his arm around Claire’s shoulders, pulling her into his side. “Everything okay?” he asked, gazing down at her before turning a lethal glare my way.
Claire wrapped her arms around his waist and nodded, smiling up at him. “Yes, everything’s fine.” Her smile disappeared when she glanced back at me. “I was just telling Mason good-bye.”
With those last words she turned her back on me for the second time today while Cooper stayed behind. We both watched her climb into his truck and shut the door, keeping her gaze on anything but us.
“What are you doing here?” Cooper asked angrily, crossing his arms over his chest. He was a couple of inches taller than me, but height never mattered anyway. We were almost identical as far as body size, but I knew without a doubt I could take him in a fight.
“Not that it’s any of your business,” I replied with a sly grin on my face, “but if you must know I came to visit my cousin.”
Cooper scoffed. “Well, whatever the reasons are you better stay away from Claire. I know who you are and what you did to her. However, I guess I should be happy that you were such an idiot because now I have her and you don’t. So thank you for that.”
“I don’t think you’ll be thanking me when I get her back,” I warned with a smirk on my face. “I let her go once, but it was a mistake I’ll never make again. I’ll fight for her no matter what it takes. You can count on that.”
I was determined to get her back and of that I was certain.
These are the three words that Melissa Ashford wishes she could say to someone; to the one person she can fully give herself to and not worry about being betrayed. Being twenty-eight years old and divorced from a cheating ex-husband, Melissa enjoys her freedom until one night she finds herself indulging in a one night stand that changes everything.
There’s something about the alluring Brett Walker that has Melissa feeling things she’s never had with any other man; feelings that not only scare her, but push her past her limits. Just when she begins to open her soul to this new love their bond is put to the test when jealousies from the past try to break them apart.
It’s not only Melissa’s trust that’s put on the line, but Brett’s as well. Will their love be strong enough to get them through the lies? Will Melissa finally be able to say those three words she’s been dying to say? I trust you …
Three Months Ago
A night at the bar, several tequila sunrises, and a gorgeous guy staring at me from across the room … how could I resist? Talking became flirting, flirting became touching, and then the touching led me to where I was now.
There were only a couple more hours until the first rays of sunshine would alert the coming of dawn. I was angry with myself for letting things go too far with the man sleeping soundly off to my side. How could I be so stupid yet love everything I did?
Sleeping with random men was not something I would ever do, and definitely not something I should be doing now. I was twenty-eight years old and already divorced from my college love, who made the mistake of sleeping with our whore of a neighbor. She’d spread her legs for anyone. Daniel just couldn’t resist, and of course I couldn’t resist divorcing him when he begged me to give him another chance. Marrying him was a mistake, and I couldn’t believe I was stupid enough to think he would stay faithful. After all, I had known of his reputation as a wealthy playboy. He pursued me with a vengeance and I fell hard. Shame on me once, never twice.
After our divorce was final, my friends decided it was time I celebrated … and boy did I celebrate. We went out to bars every weekend and I dated many different men, which soon became tiring; they were either too wrapped up in themselves or complete douche bags. I had yet to find a man that was completely interested in who I was, and took the time to put my needs first. At least, until my gaze met the handsome stranger’s from across the room of the bar whose bed I now occupied.
My lover for the evening had drifted off to sleep not long after we spent the night rolling around the sheets. Even though he was a one night stand, he sure knew every way possible to make my body scream for his touch; it was intoxicating. It shocked me, but I indulged in the reckless fun for that short amount of time. I felt more wanted and desired in those hours of sex than I had the entire time I was married.
My ex was a good lover, but nothing compared to the passion and heat of the man off to my right. He was sleeping on his stomach, the naked flesh of his back exposed to the moonlight drifting in through the window. His muscled arm was curled under his pillow and his breathing was light and relaxed … so peaceful, and perfect. Even in his sleep he was one of the most handsome men I’d ever laid eyes on.
No, I scolded silently to myself. He may appear perfect, but I knew better than to fall into the trap of good looks and a charming smile. I will not be fooled again.
Slowly slipping out of bed, I gathered up my clothes that were strewn on the floor and quietly put them on, trying my best not to make any sound. I ran my fingers through my auburn waves, but gave up when all I felt were knots. It was going to be a bitch to brush out when I got home.
Before I snuck out of the bedroom, I took one last look at the man who had been the most aggressive and passionate lover I’d ever had. His dark, tousled hair was mussed up from my relentless tugging, and his closed eyes hid the sparkling gray color that glowed the entire time he ravished my body.
I must say … I didn’t regret what had happened with this man, and if I had the chance I’d probably do it again. He lived in a swanky condo in downtown Charlotte which I knew had to cost a fortune. Then again, my experience with wealthy men was tainted by my ex-husband … although, this man was nothing like my ex. It was clear he had money, but he never gloated about it when we talked at the bar. It was refreshing to talk to a man who was confident enough not to brag about himself the whole night.
However, no one was perfect and I knew he had to be far from it.
Shutting the bedroom door with a quiet click, I grabbed my purse off of the kitchen table and started to tiptoe to the front door, but stopped. Pulling out a piece of paper in my purse, I scribbled my number on it and laid it on the kitchen table. What am I doing?
I stared at the paper lying there and immediately thought of one word … desperate. And desperate was something I was not. Snatching the paper off of the table, I crumpled it in my hand. The guy was probably a player just like all the other men I’d come across. What made him so special that I’d give in and lower my guard?
Nothing, my mind screamed at me.
Jamming the crinkled paper into my purse, I tiptoed quietly to the front door and slipped out silently. There was one thing for certain, and my heart hated me for it. I wasn’t going to forget what happened tonight or the lover that made me orgasm more times in just a few hours than I had in the past year. The ache between my legs was going to remind me for the next couple of days what went on during this raging night of passion. As I sauntered into the elevator, my body screamed for me to go back. It wanted me to indulge in another round of a sex induced high with the man that had me panting for him like no other.
Except, I couldn’t go back … my heart wouldn’t let me.
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L.P. Dover is the bestselling author of the Forever Fae series, as well as the Second Chances standalone series, and her NA romantic suspense standalone called Love, Lies, and Deception. She lives in the beautiful state of North Carolina with her husband, her two wild girls, and her rambunctious kitten called Katrina.
Before she began her career in the literary world, L.P. Dover spent her years going to college and then graduated to cleaning teeth, which she loved doing. At least until the characters in her head called her away. She has never been the same since.
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