Denial — House of Rae Book 3

Martin Bernard has spent his life becoming one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men. But that’s not helping him now that his criminal son-in-law Ned Argenta has gone rogue, putting Martin’s empire on the block in order for Martin to ensure his daughter Marie’s safety. Weeks, months fly by as Martin tries to control this nightmare, leaving his lover Mohana in the sidelines. He just wants to get control of things and then he’ll make it up to her.

Mohana James isn’t waiting any longer. At her friend Giselle’s urging, she visits the Paris House of Rae to find some pleasure. The pleasure partner there doesn’t disappoint, but the entire experience stirs up her grief about Martin. Is he ever going to call? Should she forget him? If she does hear from him, is she going to slap him and walk away? She’s pretty sure that’s all he deserves. But her heart is breaking and she’s not sure she can forget him.

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EXCERPT:

Shortly after, a man approached. She’d been staring at her hands, fighting her fear, and only noticed him when she saw his legs. Her gaze slowly lifted, taking in the tight fit of fawn-colored breeches over strong thighs and the notable bulge at his groin. A thrill shot through her before embarrassment overwhelmed her. Swiftly shifting her gaze up to his face, she found no relief from the heat scorching her cheeks as she met his amused expression.

Christ, he was gorgeous, dark expressive eyes watching her as his cruelly sensual mouth curled in a smile. He bowed, shocking her with a mocking lift of his eyebrow.

“Mademoiselle,” he said. “Bonjour. I am Henri, here to serve you. Shall we?” He waited while her mind stumbled through a thousand refusals, excuses, and worries. Finally, she placed her hand in his. He helped her stand then lifted his elbow, waiting for her to accompany him.

She licked her lips, searching for a suitable reply. She didn’t have to reply.

“Yes, merci,” she said stiffly, placing her hand on his forearm. How odd, this sampling of a former time when gentlemen served ladies in exactly such a manner. But of course it wasn’t the same. Now it was the woman who determined the partner, the time, and the nature of the exchange.

All she could think as they entered the elevator then walked down a hallway was how stunning he was with his powerful masculine physique. His dark blue cutaway coat fit him like a glove, the seams straining to enclose his wide shoulders and broad chest. A gold satin waistcoat fit snugly across his lean stomach. His high white cravat brushed his clean-shaven jawline and covered his neck, making her hungry to see the line of his throat.

All of it was silly, this entire charade of play-acting another time, an amusement for women with sufficient fortunes to pay the price not to mention sufficient brass to contemplate such an encounter. As he entered a keypad code to the door where he’d led her, she took a deep breath, fighting panic and a renewed urge to run.

Cherie, let me ease your mind,” Henri said, his voice a rich baritone that sent chills down her arms. “I am here to serve you. Whatever desires you have named, I will fulfill them. And some perhaps, that you did not name, oui?” He winked, his lips twitching with another curbed smile.

He motioned her into the room and closed the heavy door behind them before guiding her further into the room. From the far wall, muted sunlight filtered through sheer white curtains framed on either side by heavy dark gold drapes. An enormous bed with mounds of pillows and pristine white bedding perched high off the floor, its massive corner posts and headboard of dark wood. Lush carved rugs in shades of pale gold lay on either side of the bed while a sitting area around yet another rug included a settee and chairs of dark wood and gold upholstery. A large oil painting hung over a small regal fireplace featuring a nude man and woman entangled in each other amid a mass of sheets.

Mo was afraid to move. Even if she wanted to move, she didn’t know whether to just rip off her clothes and fling herself onto the bed, or wait for some instruction. Or what. She chewed her lip, aware that her hands were perspiring. Hell, she was probably perspiring all over.

How seductive, she thought bitterly. This had been a truly stupid idea.

“May I?” Henri said, taking her purse from her sweaty grip and placing in on a small table by the door.

“Oh, yes, of course,” she said, hardly aware of what words came out of her mouth.

“You are nervous,” he said softly, coming behind her to grip her shoulders with big warm hands. “I will help you relax.”

“Oh, but…”

He nuzzled her neck, holding her long dark hair to the side as he kissed under her ear. She shivered. Would she enjoy this? Or would the entire experience end up haunting her with humiliation for the rest of her life?

She stepped away from him and turned, her hands tightly clasped against her stomach. “I have never done this before,” she said in a hoarse voice. “I’m too old, I think. I should leave.”

“Too old?” Crinkles appeared at the sides of his eyes as he smiled. “Who told you that? You are perfect. Beautiful, in the full blossom of your life.” He touched her cheek then the corner of her mouth. Each spot he touched burned and tingled. “I will make you smile, ma cherie. If you will let me.”

“I – I don’t know…”

“Come. Sit with me for a moment.”

He led her to the settee then walked to a nearby chiffonier where he splashed some amber liquid into a small stemmed glass.

“This will help,” he said, handing her the glass then sitting beside her. His scent came to her, a whiff of cedarwood and perhaps a hint of lavender, but underlying that wafted a fragrance that surely was Henri alone, musky and pungent in ways that caused heat to curl down her belly.

Well, that was unexpected. Her mind stumbled for something to say. Her hand shook as she lifted the glass to her lips. The liquid rolled over her tongue and burned a path to her stomach. Sherry, one of the best she’d ever tasted. She took another bigger sip, savoring.

He brought up irrelevant subjects, whether it would rain, the latest movies. A short time later, after she had drained the glass, he took it and set it aside, then lifted her hand to kiss her palm. Little tingles of excitement raced to her stomach. She could only stare at his golden skin and long fingers, nicely manicured nails cut square and blunt.

“I’m sorry, I’m just…”

“Hush now,” he said, placing a finger on her lips. “You are wonderfully desirable. Your lips are lush, begging for my kiss.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips over hers, leaving little kisses at either corner of her mouth.

“And your breasts. So beautiful,” he said, his voice lowering as he traced a finger down the front of her blouse to slide across the tops of her breasts. “I want to taste you, Mohana. May I?”

Reprieve — House of Rae Book 2

House of Rae franchisee Marie Argenta is on the run after her estranged husband Ned inflicts unimaginable tortures. Leaving her Paris House to hide out in the U.S., she ends up at the San Francisco House to serve as temporary manager. The very first day, her gaze lands on the most arrogant man she has ever seen, Adrian Velasquez. He’s also the most compelling devastatingly attractive, over-the-top pleasure partner the universe could ever conjure, which makes her think twice about the rules forbidding employee relationships.

Adrian knows what he likes and this new House manager Marie ranks above and beyond anything he’s ever imagined. Too bad his life is already crammed too full of family troubles, work overload, and finishing his law degree to even consider stretching the rules with this irritating woman. But a touch here, a kiss there, might be too delicious to refuse and she’s, well, she wants him. He knows it.

What Marie and Adrian are soon to discover is that Ned knows where Marie has fled and plans to take her back no matter what.

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EXCERPT:

As she rounded the court in her return route toward the entry, a couple of men splashed to the edge of the pool, evidently completing a race from the other end. Laughing, they grabbed the steel ladder at the same time.

Water sluiced from the first man’s body as he slung himself up the steel ladder and onto the deck at the same moment she tried to hurry past. They slammed into each other and if he hadn’t grabbed her arms to steady her, she would have fallen. His wet chest crushed against the front of her tidy gray suit. Her pulse fluttered in her throat like a captured bird. Adrian.

Struggling to catch her breath, Marie tried to speak. But words did not form. Water dripped from his dark eyebrows as his glittering blue eyes stared at her. Her mouth went dry as she stood immobilized against the virile lines and planes of his muscled body. He was wet. Heat poured off him, warming her through every point of contact.

She wrenched away from his grip and stepped back, trying to regain her composure. But her mind blanked as her gaze haplessly skimmed down his body. Then back up. Impossibly wide shoulders tapered to trim hips. Tendons wreathed his forearms from his hands up to his bulging biceps, and from there his broad chest tempted her to touch its scattering of dark hair and tiny brown nipples. His abdomen rippled with waves of muscle, taut and smooth before leading her eyes inexorably to the tiny strip of black cloth stretched over his … Mon Dieu, son encroyable excitation.

She licked her lips at the thought of tasting him, and the monstrous prize encased there grew even larger until its continuing entrapment in that band of black fabric defied the laws of physics. Her eyes flicked up to see him watching her, a brooding fire of awareness burning in his blue eyes. Her body instantly responded with a rush of liquid heat to her center.

Gasping, she put a hand to her flaming cheek and without uttering a word, turned to hurry past him.

He grabbed her arm, his grip burning through the fabric of her clothes. “Did you see what you needed to see?” he growled, his voice vibrating through her body.

Monsieur, s’il vous plait.” Her words came out thready and weak, as if she already lay under him with nothing but hot skin between them. Her mind had reverted utterly to the French language, unable to stumble through the process of translation. Really, she seemed unable even to think of what to say next, or of how to extricate her wrist from his iron grip, or of even whether she could possibly tear herself away from him when she wanted nothing more than to be pressed against him. He was hot, hard, and towered over her like a conquering lord, his blue eyes glimmering down at her, his nostrils flared.

The corner of his mouth curled in a seductive half smile. “Do you like it?”

Mon Dieu, he must have such an ego to brag like this, to think just the sight of him would cause a woman to swoon. Never mind that she was in fact in a kind of swoon. She would not let him take advantage of the situation. This time when she jerked her arm away, he let go. She took a step back and brushed down the front of her clothing where the dark gray marks of his wet embrace remained.

Marie leveled her most chilling gaze on him, eliciting his amused grin.

“Well played,” she said, hot anger rushing up her cheeks. “That is, for someone who needs constant adoration, évidemment.”

He laughed, a deep robust laugh that sent chills down her arms and peaked her nipples. “So you adore me?”

She huffed, straightening her jacket and aligning the cuffs of her blouse. “That is not what I said,” she sputtered, “but of course you will hear what you need to hear. Coureur de jupons,” she finished under her breath as she turned to walk away.

Don’t miss this free promotion for Tangled in Two — September 7, 8, 9

This is a full length novel with plenty of sexy twists and turns, the second stunner in the Cannon Company series.

Alex Cannon confronts the worst experience of his life when he discovers money, and lots of it, is missing from company accounts. He’s a little heartbroken over the loss of Bryn in the intimate threesome he and his cousin Dan shared with her. He blames himself for being distracted so much that Cannon Company has suffered. When he hires CPA Riley Montgomery to track down the money, the last thing he expects is to find himself completely distracted by the woman.

Riley can’t afford to venture off into unethical dalliance with a client, even if the client is the devastatingly handsome Alex Cannon. She tries to stay focused on the pact she’s made with her old friend and current lover Lucy Duncan after failed relationships caused both women to swear off men. When she meets Alex, however, she discovers a man that’s a whole order of magnitude different. Whatever he says, she insists on remaining in control.

Things go from bad to worse when Riley discovers where the money trail leads and Lucy decides that the sparks flying between Alex and Riley require some friendly intervention. That’s when things get tangled!

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Salvation — House of Rae Book 1

Rae Stewart, whose mid-21st century sex houses for women have become a worldwide phenomenon, has a problem. His name is Lucas, and he is her second in command – among other things she’d rather not think about. His green-eyed potent appeal sits like a burr under her saddle especially when he tries to override her decision about a new hire, Josh Carter, who – she admits – violates all the House security protocols. She wants Josh anyway – he’s young, gorgeous, and carries exactly the kind of explosive masculine arrogance that House clientele adore.

Lucas Haverson also has a problem – how to keep Rae from endangering herself and her enterprise. He’s ready to walk away, leave Rae and their embattled relationship behind him. Forget his regular clients who depend on his intimate services and park his life in a remote cabin somewhere far away from this constant aggravation. Just a few more days and he’ll have the Homeland Security investigation he needs to expose young Carter for what he is – a terrorist.

But what if he’s not?

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EXCERPT:

He threw the rest of the whiskey down his throat and carefully set the glass on the table as her words washed through him. “Why is that Rae? Isn’t your life complicated enough? Do you truly not understand the risk?”

Predictably, her chin lifted, and he couldn’t help noticing fine lines creasing her throat. It wasn’t what he wanted to see. Maybe it was the fucking light making her look old. He’d never thought about her getting old. But shit, if he was feeling the tick of the clock, she had to be getting there, too. Her blue eyes shot fire as she stared at him. That was Rae, hot and ready to fight.

He had to admire her strength, even if she took stupid risks. Nobody needed that kid on this trip. Except Rae, of course. Rae and her unending need for conquest. Or whatever it was.

“What fucking risk?” She spread her hands on the table. “I’m satisfied he’s not a terrorist. Will you get over it? What’s he going to do?”

His temper boiled over. “What about everything else?” he shouted. “The new hit list. New Orleans. Does any of this add up for you?”

She slammed her glass down, splashing whiskey over her hand and onto the table. “Lu, I’m not here to get permission. I’m not going to be a fucking prisoner in my own house. The sons of bitches have no idea where I’ll be from one day to the next.”

She stood up with an angry jerk, stalked to the sink, and grabbed a paper towel. “I just need to get on the highway and watch the miles slip by. I need it, Lu.” She shoved the towel under the glass and cleaned the spill. She stood there with the crumpled towel in her hands, her body rigid in anger. “I have my gun. I know how to use it. Okay?”

“No!” He jumped up, knocking his chair over backwards as he stalked toward her. “Not okay. You’re being stupid. Stubborn. Why? Is it about fighting with me, like you have to have total control?”

“Ha! Only you would come up with that.” She leaned toward him, her face flushed. “It’s not about you, Lu. I know that’s a concept you might find difficult to understand. And I’m not Sara, okay?”

He felt the blood drain from his head. A roar started in his ears. “How dare you bring Sara into this?” His words came out strained.

“She’s always in it, Lu. You carry her around like some kind of fucking armor.”

“Really? Then what is this?”

He grabbed Rae’s arms, dragging her against him and crushing her lips under his as she squirmed to get away from him. “Did you forget about this? Is Sara in this?”

She cursed him, jerking her mouth away, but he took her again, his tongue pushing for an opening, forcing its way into her mouth. He stroked the velvet of her tongue in long slow thrusts.

He shuddered as his body responded to the feel of her soft breasts pressed against his chest. She softened, melding to his form. A quiet moan—his? Hers? He had no time to think, no capacity for it as he let go of her arms and pulled her tight against him. His hands roamed down her back, over her hips and soft buttocks. The kiss changed, meeting her as she responded, their lips coaxing, caressing.

He could feel the heat of her body, knew without doubt that she was wet, ready. Pressed against her belly, his cock had gone hard as granite. He shook with the need to lay her down and plunge deep into her slick warmth.

Her hands came up to his shoulders, stroking his neck, threading through the long strands of his hair. Every fiber of his body strained toward her, aching with a need that he’d tried for so long to deny. What the fuck was he doing?

He thrust her away from him, panting.

“Why Rae? Why can’t you just listen to reason? Please.”

She jerked away, wiping her mouth with the back of her wrist. “Was that just to soften me up? Goddamn it, Lu, I don’t answer to you.”

Dominatrix at Work

With everything she cared about gone, Dominatrix Macie Fitzgerald has built a new life in service to those seeking pain and submission. She takes pride in her success. So when she accepts Jarrod Bancroft’s application to her next training session, she acknowledges the risk. The ten years that have passed since he was her high school history student have only made him more magnificent in every way.

Life has been too easy for Jarrod Bancroft—rich parents, football star, law degree, high powered job, women by the score. Something is missing. He wants whatever Stonybrook Academy can dish out, much as it scares the hell out of him. And he was right to be afraid. He never imagined this. And the voice behind Madam’s mask sounds familiar, but after days of torture and deprivation, Jarrod’s only thought is to obey.

Macie faces her biggest challenge as she struggles to fulfill her professional obligation to give Jarrod what he wants. What he needs.

Will Santa leave anything under the tree for her? And if he does, can she bear to open it?

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Excerpt:

After what seemed a long time, with Jarrod straining to recognize sounds or other clues to their location, the car crunched to a stop. He heard the driver’s window run down and the beep-beep of buttons being pushed. Gate controls. The car rolled forward and after another short drive, came to a stop.

His door opened.

“You may remove the blindfold now, Mr. Bancroft,” Carson said.

Jarrod squinted against the afternoon glare as he slid the cover off his eyes. A high white sky promised snow and cast the surroundings in a garish fluorescent haze. A low gray-stone wall encircled an enormous expanse of closely trimmed lawn, in the center of which, surrounded by stately evergreens and small manicured gardens, stood a gray-stone, three-story mansion complete with a tower.

Probably a basement with iron shackles, too, he mused to himself. He managed to keep from smiling, but he felt like a little boy on Christmas Eve. Too damn good to be true.

Wind buffeted his quick walk as he followed Carson alongside the house to a side entrance hidden behind an ivy-covered stone archway. Shivering in the cold and growing anticipation, Jarrod ducked through the entry into a small warm room. Coats and hats hung from a wooden rack. A long wooden bench sat to one side.

“Set your things there,” Carson said. “Someone will be with you shortly.”

Jarrod let his bag drop on the bench and looked around as Carson quietly let himself back out the side door. High ceilings, soft green walls, lighting from a suspended old-fashioned lantern. Suitably gothic. He hung his jacket with the other coats and turned around, startled to see a woman who somehow had entered the room without making a sound. Her big brown eyes rested on him like weight. He swallowed, trying not to let his stare wander from her face, but he couldn’t avoid the obvious fact that she didn’t have on a stitch of clothing. Long brown hair brushed her shoulders and curled at the ends just above her dark nipples. Without exactly looking, he saw the hair had been removed from her pelvic area to expose puffy vulva lips and its enticing slit. His cock hardened instantly.

“Mr. Bancroft,” she said softly, “you’ll follow me.”

With pleasure, he mused, watching the flare of her hips as she led him out of the room into a shadowy hallway. They passed several doors, most of them closed but one slightly ajar enough that he could see part of a four-poster bed. He hadn’t considered accommodations, whether he’d be comfortable or well-fed. Ever since Mr. Patterson had first described Stonybrook Academy and the services offered, the only thing Jarrod could think about was the actual training. How would it be to have restraints on his body, to be whipped and subjected to extreme pain, to be taught how to respond only to commands, to subdue his autonomy? His cock stiffened even harder in anticipation. Naked female staff—could it get any better?

She opened the door to a small room. A warm fire blazed in the fireplace and a soft Persian rug nestled under his boots. A large bed stood at the far wall. With a shock, he realized that shackles and other hardware fastened to the bed posts. Quickly, he looked around the room for more evidence of what might be in store. Bars on the windows. Christ.

“You’ll remove your clothing, everything,” she said. “I’ll wait.”

A slow burn rose up his cheeks as he slipped off the boots and socks then pulled his sweater over his head. He wasn’t used to someone watching him undress, unless of course she was naked—okay, she was naked—and waiting on his bed. This one? Not so much. His breath came faster as he pulled off the t-shirt and released the buckle on his belt. He let the slacks fall to his ankles, struggling with the conspicuous fact that his erection strained the front of his shorts. Exhaling, he hooked his thumbs in either side of the waistband and slid the silk boxers down his legs.

His cock jutted forward in front of him, swelling even more in its embarrassing exposure. With clenched buttocks, he awkwardly gathered up the belongings into a halfway-folded stack before transferring them to the girl’s—woman’s—waiting arms.

“You’ll remain standing,” she added, “until your trainer arrives.” Without another word or sound, she turned and walked out, closing the door behind her. He heard the lock throw.

This wasn’t quite what he had in mind. He scanned the room looking for cameras. How would they know if he remained standing? Plenty of porn sites had crossed in front of his eyes since his adolescent years, and none of them mentioned standing naked in a room with no idea about what would happen next. Women in black corsets and black leather boots, riding crop in hand, or kneeling submissives with their hands cuffed behind their backs, yes. He blinked nervously.

Time passed, he lost track. The house had its own faint soundtrack, floors creaking overhead, the scrape of limbs against the window as the wind tugged on the bushes, the occasional snap or hiss in the fireplace. They didn’t say he had to stand in one place. He walked to the window, which looked out from what he assumed was the back of the house. A narrow paved lane led to two rambling outbuildings some distance away.

His brief examination of the window bars assured him that no one would come or go through that opening, and the massive door probably wouldn’t budge on its lock either. Somehow the knowledge that his ability to leave had been firmly removed helped him relax. Hadn’t he struggled with this decision long enough? Hadn’t he made up his mind to find out who Jarrod Bancroft really was?

This is it, fuck head. Get over it.

~~~

Love in the Moment, a short story collection

One moment she dared. Stepped outside of yesterday and tomorrow. Took what she wanted even if she didn’t want to want it.

Love in the Moment gathers eight stories of those moments, when a stranger’s smile and a glint in his eye speak to a previously undiscovered part of the soul, when each second ticks past with the wealth of a thousand years.

“Encounter at the Elevator”

I tell myself no. No, Keri Majors, no, no, no. A chorus of reasons scroll in my head—that I don’t know him, that we are standing in a hotel hallway waiting for an elevator. Anyone could walk up. Additional major point: accosting a stranger simply isn’t something I do.

Still, he’s damn fine and my body is going crazy thinking about how fabulous it would feel to be up against him.  

I argue with myself. God, what else is there to do? This elevator is taking forever.

He’s not my type. I go for the slightly shorter, less sinewy man whereas this guy looms several inches taller with an almost lanky yet muscular frame. My tastes range from blond and blue-eyed to dark and dangerous. I’ve never given much consideration to men with light brown hair and eyes that are—what, amber? I steal another glance.

Damn. He notices my brief examination. One of his eyebrows rises slightly, asking. Maybe a little amused, judging by that slight curve at the corner of his mouth. Oh God, that mouth. I quickly look down and break out in a little sweat. Damn damn damn.

The handle of my heavy briefcase itches against my sweaty palm. I could assign this momentary insanity to fatigue. Like all such conferences, this one turned into a three-day blur of classes on everything from specialty cost coding and catastrophe adjustment to the latest on defining a collapse under a property insurance policy. I’m past ready for home, a long hot soak in my tub and a mindless couch session with a bottle of wine and my cat Winston at my fingertips.

But this guy. My body responds to his attention. There’s this nonstop urge, whatever recess of hell it springs from, that causes my thighs to clench. I lick my lips, hoping my libido will tuck its tail and slink away. Maybe if I give myself a few more minutes and a couple of deep breaths…

What the hell is up with this elevator? I check my watch. It’s been two minutes.

Deep breaths? Nope. Not working. He’s still there exuding male hormones that my body seems programmed to read. Jesus, how does anyone exude such powerful sensuality?

Is he watching me? I can’t avoid another furtive glance. His lips fascinate me, halfway between full and thin, sensual with a little flare at the bow and now curling upwards at the corners. Because he sees me looking. God, I am lame.

Tan and weathered skin, prominent cheekbones and a bold jaw. Straight nose. I can’t look again to really examine the color of his eyes, but I feel them on me. Oh and his throat, which happens to be directly in my line of vision—its intriguing cords and hollows disappear into the open collar of his white shirt.

I can almost taste the salt on his skin. Feel the pulse in his throat against my lips. My mouth waters.

I realize now I’ve seen him around the hotel, once passing along the corridor when I arrived for the first day of the conference, another time on the other side of the cocktail lounge where I hid at a dark corner table and sipped my wine. He’s been alone each time. Obviously I noticed. Actually fantasized that he would appear at my table and I would allow him to join me and we would sit smiling in the dim light to pursue witty conversation with just enough innuendo. I refused to imagine what would happen afterwards, but I dreamed about him that night and woke up wet.

What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve been around. Mild wear and tear, enough to consider any potential hook-up through slightly jaded eyes. No big hope left that some special ‘one’ lurks out there for me.

Now this? I want to slap myself for being ridiculous.

But, damn, here I am at the elevator with my body disconnected from my brain and doing what it pleases no matter what I think or what kind of rules I’ve sworn to live by. I’m so wet.

Fucking elevator. I briefly consider taking the stairs, but this is like the eleventh floor and I don’t have a death wish. Maybe if the place was on fire, I go down eleven flights of stairs.

Shouldn’t I be thinking about the conference, all the new stuff I’ve learned, how to apply it to make more money? A new list is what I need, reminders to publish notice of my new training, maybe offer a workshop, stuff like that. What the fuck ever. I care nothing about my career right now.

I check my watch and think maybe it’s not working. I’ve got plenty of time to catch my flight. It’s not like I’m going to miss it.

Maybe it’s that we’re both leaving and I’ll never see him again. Really, it isn’t a choice I make. I’m standing here with my briefcase gripped in my hand and a garment bag slung over my arm, my other hand seized on the handle of my wheeled travel case so tight my knuckles ache. Hands sweating. Knees trembling. Wanting a stranger so much I’m about to embarrass myself in public.

He’s standing a couple of feet away, really kind of edging into my personal space. He’s looking up to watch the elevator numbers frozen on floor twenty. He too has a garment bag over one arm and his travel case handle in his other hand, looking so incredibly fabulous in that simple white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled halfway up those tan sinewy forearms and wearing khaki slacks that look a little wrinkled. I even check out his shoes, expensive cordovan loafers, winey brown color, well-polished and clearly loved.

I almost hear the switch flip in my head. Brain clicks off. Instinct takes over.

I turn into him holding my gear on either side of me, planting my forehead against his collar bone. Well, his white shirt. There.

Neither of us says a word. He accommodates me by holding his luggage away from his body, welcoming me to his chest. His lovely wide warm chest so hard with muscle it takes my breath. I register on his amusement, his welcome. As if we have known each other forever and this is going home.

I nestle my full length against him like I could climb into him. My lips brush against his neck, and oh god he feels so good – the smooth skin with his slightly rough beard shadow, the warmth, the beat of his pulse. At every point of contact, which actually is the entire front of me, he feels like every erotic fantasy and wet dream I’ve ever had. The strength of his thighs, the solid press of his loins and yes, his obvious arousal — oh my. His neck—Jesus Christ, he is chocolate and musky wine and that skin, that soft velvet flesh that has served its time in the sun, warm and strong and scented with a heavenly fragrance of aftershave and soap and him.

My lips savor him in that brief moment as I nuzzle. I can’t help myself. He’s right there against me, holding his own, not backing away. My lips brush along the column of his neck as if he is my last sip of water in a searing desert. In these few seconds—minutes?—that I stand there pressed against him, I have no sense of shame, no regret, no worry, no question. My mind stands still. I want never to move.

Millennia exist between us, former lives, lost memories. A tremor passes through him. Or maybe it’s me. We know each other. Nights we have held each other. The touch of his lips against mine. Joys and agonies, the raw force of life energy surging through us, time after time.

All that could ever be exists again in this moment, in us. Children. Stormy nights wrapped in his arms, soup bubbling on the stove. Old age bestowed gently as we held hands.

And then it ends. I try to adjust, accept that it’s ending. Maybe it’s the elevator. A musical ‘ding’ and we move apart. I’m in agony.

On the way down, I fight to overcome the searing embarrassment of what I’ve done. That’s what I’m supposed to feel. The rules of engagement. One minute I’m in full body contact with a man I don’t know, oblivious to anything but him, and the next minute we’re on opposite sides of the elevator with a crowd of people between us including two kids and a dog.

The elevator reaches the lobby. People file out and I don’t dare look up. I’m back in the rule book, mildly heartbroken, shaken. Wondering as I start toward the door to hail a taxi.

He’s standing there in the lobby, waiting for me as if we’d made a plan, a promise. My heart lunges against my ribs. Had we? Can it be that simple? Is this what we promised in a previous lifetime?

I pause. Will he say ‘Wait’? Touch my arm, smile, introduce himself?

No. He doesn’t move. Isn’t waiting for me. A hole expands inside me.

The doorman opens the door and I walk outside. Bright sunlight hurts my eyes. Another doorman glances my way, extends his arm to hail a taxi, and a yellow cab zooms to a stop in front of me.

Is this it? I’m heartbroken, energy draining from my body. Of course it’s been a long conference and too many brief meaningless chats with people I should remember, industry contacts and all that, but I never will remember them. I relinquish my bags to the cabbie, step toward the curb.

“Wait!”

I hear his voice. I know it’s him. Is it?

I turn, slow motion as my brain tries to process. He’s standing there then striding toward me.

“Hey,” he says, stopping in front of me, his breath heavy like he’s been running. “Got time for a cup of coffee?”

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Don’t miss this free promotion for Hers to Choose — August 17, 18, and 19. This is a full length novel with plenty of sexy twists and turns, the first in the Cannon Company series. Watch for upcoming free promos on the other books as well.

Bryn McClure is drawn to Alex Cannon from the moment their eyes meet. Dan Cannon does things to her, dirty things she craves. How can she possibly decide? She wants them both.

Bryn is running out of time. With foreclosure in the last stages, she’s about to lose the beloved twelve-hundred acre Ozark farm she inherited from her grandparents. Her desperate last hope is to sell hunting rights for deer season.

After a humiliating discovery about his wife, Dan has spiraled into a life-threatening depression. Alex hatches a brilliant idea of what might help Dan, and on advice from an old friend, contacts Bryn. A hunting trip might be the perfect route to a new outlook for Dan, especially with the extra touch Alex wants from Bryn.

When Bryn agrees to Alex’s special request, she’s thrilled not only with the promise of badly needed income, but also with the prospect of bondage and discipline. Her appetite for kink has sharpened during her lonely year of rural living. It seemed like such a good idea when she agreed to it.

But standing on her porch watching these two gorgeous men climb out of their truck and walk toward her, she thinks maybe she hadn’t fully appreciated how complicated things could become. Alex stuns her with his warmth and charm, but the cold and angry Dan is the one she’s supposed to submit to. By the second day, when the first spanking sparks her passions, she realizes she may be in for much more than she expected.

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I Miss Men

I miss men. I miss the rich baritone of their voices, the sturdy brace of their chest and shoulders, the subtle salt of their skin. Men with their sardonic grins and cocked eyebrows, men with their wide smiles and bristled cheeks, their amused expressions. Their innocence in need they can’t quite acknowledge and yet it is there, written on their faces like the eager gleam in a boy’s eyes as he surveys a display of candy.

I miss the strength of men, their physical power to lift heavy slabs of firewood or slam a splitting maul into a length of oak. Men have an energy that warms me as they stride across the ground, as they wrestle an unruly tire onto the axle. Men can do things with their bodies that I cannot, and the difference thrills me.

I miss the force of their sexuality, their straightforward desire to sink into the wet depths of a woman’s body, their unbridled pleasure in fucking. I miss the heat of their soft skin, the roughness of their hands, the smoothness of muscle bunched at their shoulders and across their chests.

At my age and state of mind, I don’t expect ever again to luxuriate in a man’s bed. I am bereft of the joy of lovemaking, grief-stricken that the wondrous beauty of his private anatomy will no longer be mine to admire or touch or lick. I miss the lovely sight of male buttocks, tight and round, flexing as he walks.

I miss those extended moments of mindless bliss that only a man can give me.

Men in general exert a calming influence on me, steady and solid, a familiar and reliable part of my life. Only lately have I noticed how many of those men are no longer here for me – two husbands, the plumber and electrician I counted on for years, the repairman. Even in cultivating working relationships with a new electrician, a new repairman, I miss the foundational presence of those who came before.

Much as I have sought independence and self-reliance through the years of my life, I have always recognized that men can do things I can’t. I treasure the skill and experience of men who know their trades, how to cut in a straight line with a paintbrush, how to change a light fixture, how to replace a broken pipe. I appreciate men seated in their heavy equipment, a backhoe leveling ground at my barn door, a bulldozer carving a new pond, a bucket truck where, lifted high above the ground, he cuts through massive trees limbs like butter and safely lowers them to the ground.

I miss the other half of my existence.

After sharing those personal thoughts with you, I will explain that this is why I read and write romance. For a time, immersed in a story, I am with a man. This is also why I conceived of a place and future time when women can go to a place and be with a man. That’s what the House of Rae series is all about.

Set in the mid-21st century when climate change has pushed world societies to unexpected extremes, the Houses of Rae stand as island of refuge, peaceful centers of women’s pleasure. Now franchised around the world, the House becomes a staging ground for the fight between overweening patriarchy and women’s freedom, but also between progressive and reactionary forces amid food shortages, endless fire, and the joy and enlightenment gained through sexual adventuring. These four novels reveal the intimate stories of people willing to break the rules and put them back together in a style more suitable for a new age.

Come meet the men at the House of Rae. At Amazon

A Memoir of Regrets and Epiphanies

Excerpt from Chapter 2:

The “facts of life” seemed an inadequately euphemistic term for the purpose of sex. “How people make babies” would have been a more honest label for the breeding act with a thousand names. But even at age fifteen, I remained abysmally ignorant of these truths.

That summer of 1962, as my quest for knowledge led me forward, dust motes danced in beams of sunlight streaming in the windows of my great aunt’s abandoned chicken house. Here and there, cracks broke the long concrete floor but at the upper end where I sat, a place had been set aside for a trunk, random chairs, a broken ottoman, an iron bedstead and various other household outcasts. The trunk contained back issues of Reader’s Digest, mostly 1940s and 1950s editions which I’d mined for days as our summer vacation passed at a glacial pace.

Our family—dad, mom, me, younger sister, and two infant brothers—were camped in my great aunt’s cabin, a relic perched a hundred feet from the main house, a stone’s throw from the chicken house and another twenty feet from the outhouse. The toilet hosted nests of angry red wasps and yellow jackets, so as our days there crept past, bodily processes became fraught with terror.

The purpose of our stay was to save my father from cigarettes. After reading the latest fad for cleansing the body from nicotine addiction, my mother had hit upon the perfect plan in her continuing effort to expand our health food diet: stay in her Aunt Golvia’s cabin, pick bushels of grapes from the nearby vineyards, and eat nothing but grapes. That would cure him.

As it turned out, it didn’t cure him but it did exacerbate my problem with the outhouse.

But that wasn’t the focus of my attention that sweltering July afternoon. As I thumbed through various articles, sweat dripping down my sides, my hands stopped on a page with fascinating drawings. These looked like – no, they were!—line drawings of male and female bodies with genitalia in anatomically correct detail. Even more fascinating was a third drawing showing the male organ inside the female’s body. An even smaller detail showed the release of sperm penetrating the cervix to fertilize the egg.

I read it and re-read it, trying to understand what it meant. My face became hot. My hands trembled.

Could this be true? It was in Readers Digest, so didn’t it have to be true?

So much suddenly made sense. All the years of my life until that point, I’d been told that when a woman loved a man ‘enough,’ a baby grew in her stomach. It was a miracle of God. I accepted that idea like I accepted that it rained.

My fevered mind raced back to my previous efforts to understand procreation. Just months prior, I stood in the cafeteria line as a group of friends whispered about a freshman classmate getting pregnant.

“She shouldn’t have done that,” JoEllen said. “She knew better.”

“They expelled her,” Marti added.

“That’s not fair. She can’t help it if she loves him that much,” I said piously.

Six sets of eyes settled on me. I squirmed uncomfortably. What?

None of them took mercy and told me the truth. Maybe they didn’t grasp that I truly didn’t know how babies were made. But a few months later as I crouched in that dusty barn staring at the page, here it was in black and white. Humiliation flooded through me.

How could I have been so stupid?!

It was now obvious my mother had lied to me and more than once. In seventh grade when my friend Joanie told a joke with the word ‘fuck’ in it, I didn’t get it. The whole point of the joke hinged on that word. I rushed home from school to ask what ‘fuck’ meant.

I ran down the alley as fast as my long lanky legs could carry me, crossed the yard, and burst in through the back door. Mom was in the kitchen, surrounded as usual by my two little brothers and a multitude of unfinished tasks. I posed my question.

“What does ‘fuck’ mean?”

Red splotches sprang onto her cheeks and her dark eyes flashed in anger.

“Jessica Hardy! Don’t you ever say that filthy word,” she said sharply. “Only filthy people say that.”

I refused to back down. “But what does it mean?”

“You don’t need to know what it means,” she said, dismissing me with a turn of her back.

Wow. Well, if she was that upset about a word, I absolutely had to find out what it meant.

Next day, my friend Joanie was only too happy to explain that ‘fuck’ was when a man put his “necessary item” inside a girl “down there” and went to the bathroom.

Oh god, the horror! Now, as I studied the detailed drawings and re-read the Reader’s Digest article, I finally got it.

MY PARENTS HAD FUCKED!

I staggered back to the cabin where my mother was in the tiny kitchen washing grapes. I shoved the open Reader’s Digest in front of her. “Is this true?”

She took the book, scanned the drawings, and angrily dropped the little publication into the trash can without saying a single word. I could tell by the red spots on her cheeks that it was true.

“Tell me!”

“Yes,” she said furiously. “Where did you get that? You’ve got no business reading such filth.”

My jaw dropped. Filth? This was how she got pregnant. Why was it filth? I couldn’t believe it. How could it be?

I wanted to scream at her. Make her admit her deliberate lies, confess her intentional failure to educate me about the most important aspect of human existence. Explain why making babies was filth. I couldn’t find words.

Instead, I raced through the cabin, climbed into the sleeping loft, and threw myself into my pillow where I sobbed my eyes out. My parents! Fucking? Each of us kids had come from fuck?

Oh, the horror. The shame. I thought I would throw up. I would never do that. Now I knew with absolutely certainty that I would never have a husband or a family because I would never let that filthy ‘fuck’ thing happen to me. The missionary thing in Africa solidified in my mind.

Months later when Bob walked up beside me in the high school band room and my knees sagged, I quickly amended my outlook. If I loved someone enough, I might let him fuck me.

from Once in a Lifetime Opportunity by Jessica Hardy. New Release at Amazon, paperback or ebook.