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.

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