limestone

Satin and Steel

Satin and Steel

(Erotically Yours 3)

Burning Desire

(Desire, Oklahoma: The Founding Fathers 4)

Cowboys Historical Romantic Suspense Romance, with BDSM elements, light spanking, HEA

With her home burned to the ground and her family dead, Esmerelda Johnson headed to the Circle T ranch to find safety.

After riding all day and through the night, she found herself caught in a thunderstorm, which spooked her horse into throwing her and dragging her with him across the rough ground.

The men she’d seen in the distance appeared, one of them jumping from his own saddle and using nothing but brute force, forced Lucky to a halt.

Duke Faulkner held her close and rode back to the ranch to tend her injuries.

Finding it impossible to let anyone else care for her, he claimed her as his own.

Fighting his guilt for not being able to save his first wife, he found Esmerelda’s strength and bravery irresistible.

Shaken by the threat to her from the man who’d killed her family, Duke vowed to protect her—no matter the cost.

Excerpt

Esmerelda jolted upright and hurriedly covered her ankle with the hem of her muddy skirt. “It’ll be fine. I just need to rest it a bit.”

Duke wrapped a hand around her calf, trying to ignore its softness. “Let’s see if she can move it.”

“I don’t want to move it.” Esmerelda tried to pull away, but Duke held firm. “Let go.”

Dread at the pain he would be causing her filled him with a sense of helplessness that ignited his temper. “Look, Red. Either you can move it or I will. If you can move it, we know it’s a sprain and can wrap it. If you can’t, it’s broken, and Will is gonna have to set it. We gotta know one way or the other.”

Esmerelda lifted her chin, trying not to cry at the thought of them setting her ankle. “My name is Esmerelda.”

Only the tenderness in his eyes and the memory of the gentle way he’d held her gave her the courage to defy him.

Seeing him in the light, without his jacket and hat, she found herself scared to death of him.

The first thing she’d noticed about him had been his strength. He’d single-handedly caught a galloping horse and brought him to a stop using nothing more than brute strength.

Even while watching it, she hadn’t believed what she saw with her own eyes and had braced herself to be trampled by him or have him fall on her.

He’d done neither—holding on to Lucky’s bridle with a fierce determination that he would win or die trying.

The scar that ran down the side of his face should have detracted from his compelling handsome features but, instead, added a sense of danger and raw masculinity made even starker by his shaved head.

His lips thinned, and he adjusted his hold on her ankle, the little sparks of awareness travelling up her leg unnerving her. “I know what your name is. Now, are you gonna try to move your foot, or am I?”

Panicked to recognize the same determination to get his way, Esmerelda whipped out a hand. “Don’t touch it! I’ll do it.”

He nodded once, appearing relieved. “Then do it.”

The man at her side smiled encouragingly. “Real easy. No sense in making it worse. Duke and I just need to be sure.”

Duke. It suited him.

He smiled again. “By the way, my name’s Will, and that pretty lady holding on to you is Sarah.”

Duke made a noise in his throat that sent a chill down her spine. “We can make introductions later, Will. You ready, Red?”

Will sighed and smiled at Esmerelda, shaking his head. “Duke’s bedside manner stinks, but he’s a great cook, so nobody says anything.”

Duke’s gaze narrowed as he shot the other man an icy look. “We’re supposed to be helping her—not courting her.” He turned his gaze back to hers again, the anger in it confusing. “Go on, Red.”

Sucking in a breath, and aware of the tense silence and rapt attention of everyone gathered, she turned to smile her thanks at Sarah, who reached out to take her hand, before turning back to look at her swollen ankle.

Squeezing the other woman’s hand, she sucked in another breath and shifted her gaze to focus on the way Duke’s large, darker hand contrasted with her pale leg and slowly moved her ankle.

Flexing her foot proved more difficult than she would have thought, probably due to the swelling, but she did it.

Swallowing a moan of pain, she gently lowered it again, lifting her gaze again to meet Duke’s, smiling through the pain at the relief in his eyes. “I did it.”

Several shouts of excitement came from all around her, and she looked over to see a sea of grinning faces.

Duke squeezed her calf and gently lowered her foot again. “So you did.”

Will’s smile was followed by a sigh. “I can wrap that up, but we need to know where else you’re hurt.”

Not about to tell them about the raw flesh on her inner thighs and the cuts and bruises she felt on her bottom, Esmerelda shook her head, her gaze going to Sarah’s. “I’m fine. Please. Just sore.”

Sarah nodded and smiled before lifting her gaze to the tall Indian beside her. “Blade, we need to take her to our house. I can help her take a bath, and she can wear one of my dresses.” She turned to Duke. “I can check out her injuries. Please. This is the most crowded place on the ranch. Men are coming and going all day. You can’t embarrass her that way. Once she has her bath, you can give her some laudanum.”

Esmerelda stared in fascination at the sight of the hard features of the tall Indian softening at the pleading look in Sarah’s. “Please. I promise I won’t lift her or hurt myself.”

Duke straightened. “No. I’ll carry her.” He stared at Blade as if daring him to refuse.

Esmerelda reached out to Duke, pleased when he immediately turned to her. “Thank you.”

She turned to Sarah. “And thank you. Being stripped out of my clothes in a room full of men is more than I can take.”

Duke smiled and glanced at Will. “I guess that’s settled. Stay here while we get your bath ready, and I’ll come get you.”

Law of Desire

(Desire, Oklahoma 13)

Contemporary Menage a Trois Romantic Suspense Romance, M/F/M, spanking, sex toys, HEA

Krystal Kane lived with memories of the men she loved and been forced by family obligations to push away.

Her fantasies kept her going, but she knew that the two men who wanted to share her couldn’t want any more than an affair.

When her mother died, she wanted nothing more than to get away, not wanting to hear from them the words that would end the fantasy.

Needing them more than ever, she fought the overwhelming desire to call them, only to look up, and find them standing there.

Rafe Delgatto and Linc Barrett had waited for Krystal for years, unable to forget the woman who’d stolen their hearts.

They rushed to her side as soon as they learned she needed them, and quickly whisked her to the home they’d made for her.

She could heal in Desire, Oklahoma, while they proved to her that their love was real—and protect her from a threat they hadn’t anticipated.

Excerpt

Determined to put Rafe and Linc out of her mind, she focused on her mother and the memories of the past and happier times.

During the next hour, her mother’s breathing slowed even more.

Krystal focused on each breath, each time wondering if it would be her mother’s last one, sucking in another breath each time her mother did.

It hurt, but she didn’t cry.

She didn’t even know if she could anymore.

She’d known this time would come, but now that it was close, she felt so distant from it all, as if she dreamed it.

She pinched her own hand several times over the next few hours, half believing that she was dreaming and would wake up to see that her mother had woken from her nap.

She ached for Rafe and Linc, but she vowed to herself that she wouldn’t call them until she’d settled somewhere.

The doctor appeared again, using his stethoscope to listen to her mother’s heart. “Are you all right?”

Nodding, Krystal ran her thumb over the top of her mother’s hand. “I’m fine.”

“I’m sorry. You’ve been so strong.”

She felt like a fraud. She wasn’t strong at all. Lifting her gaze to his, she shook her head and forced a polite smile. “I wish I was.”

Dr. Smith smiled and lightly patted her hand. “You are. Most people wouldn’t do what you’ve done.”

“She’s my mother.”

He gestured toward her mother’s tray. “It looks like Maggie brought you some soup.”

Krystal barely glanced at it. “That was nice of her.” Turning back to her mother, she eyed Dr. Smith. “Is there any chance?”

Straightening, he tucked his stethoscope into his pocket, his sympathetic smile bringing a lump to Krystal’s throat. “I’m sorry.”

Forcing another smile, Krystal nodded. “Thank you for all you’ve done. You’ve been very kind.”

Minutes after the doctor left, Krystal’s mother drew her last breath.

Krystal waited, expecting her mother to take another as she had for the last several hours, but it didn’t come.

Her mother had passed away.

Still holding her hand, Krystal sat there, wondering why she didn’t cry.

Time stood still for her, her mind blank.

She stared at her mother’s hand in hers, suddenly feeling completely alone.

When thoughts of Rafe and Linc started to creep in, she ruthlessly pushed them back, her throat clogged with the tears she couldn’t shed.

She needed Rafe and Linc more than she’d ever needed anything in her life, but she wouldn’t call them.

Calling them would be the most selfish thing she could have done, and she wouldn’t burden them any more than she already had.

They would come if she called. All she had to do was pick up the phone and they would be on their way.

Knowing that made it even more difficult to resist calling them.

The feeling of having her entire life ahead of her hit her hard, the enormity of it overwhelming.

She couldn’t let herself think of anything except the next step.

She had to finish taking care of her mother.

She’d already pre-paid for her mother’s funeral and had only to make the arrangements.

Her mother had lost contact with all of her friends when Krystal’s father had been sick, and she didn’t really expect anyone to come.

She would get a taxi and go to the funeral home. She didn’t relish the thought of lugging her three suitcases along with her purse, but she would just have to figure out a way to do it.

She kissed her mother’s cold hand and tucked it under the covers, just as Maggie appeared on the other side of her mother’s bed. “She’s gone.”

“Yes.” Maggie tucked her mother’s other hand under the covers. “She’s at peace now.”

“I hope so. She’s earned it.”

Her mother would finally be with her father again, the man she considered her soul mate.

Krystal had never believed in such a thing, but after experiencing the kind of happiness she hadn’t known existed with Rafe and Linc, and the empty loneliness since she pushed them away, she wondered if it could be possible to have two soul mates.

“So have you.” Maggie smiled and wiped away a tear that Krystal couldn’t shed. “I hope you find the happiness and peace that you deserve.”

“Thank you.” Krystal glanced at Maggie and started to stand, surprised that her legs wouldn’t support her. “I have to go to the funeral home and make final arrangements.”

Maggie frowned and shook her head. “I wish you would call those men of yours.”

Krystal shook her head, glancing at the three suitcases that stood in the corner, dreading the thought of trying to carry them. “They’re not mine anymore.”

“We beg to differ.”

With a gasp, Krystal spun, her knees giving out at the sight of Rafe and Linc striding into the room toward her.

Night Shadows

(Night 3)

Erotic Contemporary Paranormal Menage a Trois Romance, M/FM, HEA

Serena Abbott’s relationship with Ian and Alastair Wyndham was anything but normal. Her psychic abilities presented a challenge that neither man could ignore. Her abilities grew with her confidence, and the very real threat that she could one day read their minds stood between them. Because of it, she kept a distance between them that frustrated both of them.

While their love and passion for each other continued to grow, her growing and changing abilities had begun to terrify them. Serena had begun to get into the minds of people being murdered and, to Alastair’s and Ian’s horror, when the victims died, Serena started to go with them.

They could protect her from a physical threat, but was afraid that they couldn’t protect her from the visions that threatened to take her from them.

Fearing that she could one day read their minds and change everything, she fought letting them in—something neither one of them could allow.

Excerpt

Leaning against Ian, and with Alastair rubbing her feet that he’d pulled onto his lap, Serena stared at the fire. “You two don’t have to stay up with me.”

Ian pressed his lips to her hair. “There’s no place I’d rather be.”

Lifting her head, she turned to look up at him. “Are you still mad at me?”

Gripping her chin, he ran his thumb over her bottom lip. “I was never mad at you. At times I get frustrated at the situation. But the thought of you married to someone else infuriates me.”

Cupping the back of her head, he urged her to lay her head on his chest again. “We’ll figure it out. You and I need to do some practicing, though.”

Drowsy, but afraid of falling asleep, Serena sat up again. “Aren’t you afraid that I’ll get into that hard head of yours?”

Alastair handed her the glass of brandy he’d poured for her and swirled his own. “I’m sure Ian’s head is filled with the same lecherous thoughts I have of you.”

Ian’s lips twitched. “True. That could make for some very interesting conversations.”

A sudden thought occurred to her. “When he shot me, I heard someone call my name and the barrier slammed down. Which one of you did that?”

Ian slid a fingertip down her body where her robe had slipped, lightly caressing the curve of her breast. “We both did it together. You were crying out and thrashing on the bed. Scared the fuck out of me. Both Alastair and I grabbed you, but you fought us as if it was part of your dream. I turned on the light, and we both kept calling your name, but you didn’t seem to hear either one of us.”

Alastair leaned closer to her, his fingers dancing over her hair. “We couldn’t get to you, and we both panicked.”

Laying a hand on her knee, Ian lightly caressed her. “Since we couldn’t pull you out, we slammed the door.”

Serena smiled. “And shut everything else out for me. I’m impressed. I’m just glad you waited until the end. It gave me the chance to see everything.”

Ian’s lips thinned. “If I’d known what you were dreaming, I would have slammed the fucking thing down sooner.”

Amused at his outrage, Serena laid her hand over his. “No. I need to see.”

Turning his hand, he took hers in his. “You don’t need to see that kind of ugliness. You’ve seen enough of it in your life.”

Touched, she smiled. “I appreciate your concern, but—”

“Fuck that!” Ian took her brandy from her and handed it to Alastair before pulling her back down to recline against him. “It’s more than fucking concern, and I’m not going to let you go through shit like this again.”

With a sigh, Alastair rose. “Here we go again.”

Serena scrambled from Ian’s lap, whirling around to face him. “You’re not going to let me?”

Ian raised a brow and got to his feet, his hands on his hips as he towered over her. “That’s right. I’m not going to let you put yourself through that again.”

“I need to see, damn it! There’s a reason I have this ability—”

Ian raised a brow. “I see you’re no longer calling it a gift.”

Hating the disadvantage of arguing with someone a foot taller, Serena jumped up to stand on the sofa. “I have this gift for a reason, Ian. I see what I’m supposed to see. What I need to see.”

Closing his hands on her waist, Ian steadied her. “You don’t need to see things like that. Christ, it’s worse than watching a horror movie, and you wouldn’t be caught dead watching one of them. Hell, you cry when they show the commercials about abused animals!”

“What kind of person abuses animals?”

Ian smiled. “People who don’t deserve to live. The point is, baby, you have a soft heart, and you don’t need to have the kind of dreams that scare you so much that you don’t want to go back to sleep. You’ve had enough ugliness in your life.”

Serena stomped her foot on the cushion and would have lost her balance if Ian hadn’t tightened his hands on her waist. “I need to see whatever I’m supposed to see. Maybe it would be better if I move out.”

Ian’s eyes narrowed. “I dare you to try.”

“Damn it, Ian!”

Ian gathered her close, turning and lowering them both to the sofa again, settling her on his lap. “I can’t stand to see you this way.”

“You piss me off.”

“Back atcha, baby. Don’t threaten to leave again.”

“It wasn’t a threat.”

Pulling her down to recline against him, Ian tugged her braid. “Careful.”

Alastair handed Serena her brandy and sat at her feet again, pulling them onto his lap. “Serena, neither Ian nor I can allow you to move out. We’d worry about you constantly. We can protect you here, and you know damned well you need us.”

“I’m sick and tired of needing you.” She took a large sip of brandy, coughing at the burn.

Alastair covered her with the soft throw she kept on their designer sofa, lifting a brow as he took her glass. “We need you, too.”

“I still think it might be better if I can get my own place. Maybe an apartment in the city.”

Ian pulled the throw higher and put his arms around her, lacing his fingers together and settling back. “Tying you to the bed is starting to sound better and better.”

Desire, OK Founding Fathers Trilogy

Dakota Heat Anthology 2

Collection contains:

Dakota Heat Anthology 1

Collection contains:

Dakota Heat Anthology

Dark Desire: Earning Hope’s Submission

(More Desire, Oklahoma 5)

Erotic Contemporary Consensual BDSM, M/F, HEA

Hope Tyler had married the man of her dreams–the stern-faced sheriff of Desire, Oklahoma. She loved him, and his dark desires, but feared that surrendering herself completely to him would lead to him becoming bored with her, so she challenged him at every opportunity.

Ace Tyler understood his wife’s fears, probably better than she did. He’d discovered her need to submit completely, but understood her reluctance to do so, but knew, deep down, that neither one of them would be completely happy until they each gave in to their own needs.

Her demands, and an ultimatum that sent him reeling, handed him the perfect opportunity to set his plans to earn a deeper submission from her in motion.

Dominant in ways he never had with her before, he led her deeper into the world of erotic pleasure, and to a closeness that each of them desperately needed.

Excerpt

Hope stiffened and pushed away from him, getting up from his lap and putting several feet of distance between them. “You’re rich, Ace. You own Tyler Oil with your brothers. You could work with them.”

Raising a brow at the whine in her tone, he rose and started out of the room. “If I had to work there, I’d go out of my mind.”

Following him down the hall to the kitchen, she tugged at his forearm. “Then don’t work at all! You don’t need to.”

Keeping a tight rein on his temper, he shrugged her off and reached into the refrigerator for the pitcher of sweet tea. “Not working at all would make me even crazier.”

“I can’t stand it anymore, Ace! I want you to quit.”

After filling her glass and his, he set the pitcher on the table and slowly turned to her, raising a brow. “Excuse me? Quit what, exactly?”

Hope swallowed heavily and set the plate of fried chicken on the table, taking a deep breath before lifting her chin. “I want you to quit your job as sheriff.”

“No.” He went to the refrigerator, retrieved the coleslaw, and took it to the table before looking at her again.

Hope spun, slamming the bowl of mashed potatoes on the table. “No? Just like that?”

Ace inclined his head, keeping his tone calm and controlled. “No. Just like that.”

“You won’t even discuss it?”

“We just did. You knew what I did when you married me, Hope.”

“You never got shot at before!”

He waited until she dropped into her seat before lowering himself to his. “You’re so naïve, baby. Of course I’ve been shot at before. I’ve even been shot before. It’s part of the job.”

Hope’s eyes went wide. “Well, I never knew about it, and I’m not naïve. I thought the most dangerous thing you ever did was breaking up bar fights. You handle the Dominants from the club, give out tickets, and help round up horses that have escaped.”

After setting a piece of chicken on her plate, he set one on his. “Did you ever ask about my job?”

Lowering her gaze, she shifted restless in her seat, her face flushing. “Well, no.”

“Of course not. You were more interested in making sure that I accepted you as a submissive than learning more about me. I knew you were too young, but your innocence intrigued me, and I found you too irresistible.”

Raising a brow when she gasped, he let his gaze linger on her flushed cheeks before continuing. “You were raised by a mother and three very overprotective fathers who tried to shield you and your sister from the ugly side of life.”

“Like you do?”

Ace shrugged. “It’s only natural for a man to try to protect his woman, but I’ve never lied to you. I knew who you were when I married you. I knew that you were exactly what I wanted. I love you, but I won’t quit my job, not even for you.”

Jumping to her feet, Hope stamped her foot. “Damn it, Ace!”

Ace had had enough. Pausing in the process of scooping mashed potatoes onto his plate, he clenched his jaw. “Stamp your foot at me again, and I’ll put you across my knee.”

Her eyes flared with desire, the passions inside her too strong to contain. “That’s your answer? Sex?”

Confident in his ability to handle his wife’s passions—including her temper—Ace raised a brow. “Who said anything about sex? You’re acting like a brat and obviously need to be spanked.”

Hope gasped, her eyes going wide. “A brat?”

Ace reached for the coleslaw. “A brat. You’re demanding that I quit a job I’ve had most of my adult life—a job that I love. A job that I had when you married me.”

Hope sighed. “I worry.”

Ace inclined his head. “I know that, and I do everything I can to make things easier for you.”

“Sometimes it’s not enough.”

Knowing this was an issue that couldn’t be resolved, Ace dug into his dinner. “People die in car accidents every day. Do you want me to stop driving, too? You drive like a maniac just to get my attention—an unnecessary danger that scares me but that you do on a whim.”

Hope’s face flushed again. “I won’t do it again.”

Ace nodded once, pleased that he’d made his point. “Good.”

She dropped into her seat again with a sigh. “I don’t know if I can live this way anymore.”

Fear turned his stomach to ice, and setting his silverware aside, he kept his tone low and cold. “Is that an ultimatum?”

Losing her wasn’t an option, but he couldn’t allow his wife to deliver ultimatums and expect to get away with it.

Lifting her chin, she met his gaze squarely, her bottom lip trembling. “What if it is?”

“You know that I don’t respond well to ultimatums.”

With her chin still lifted, Hope wrapped her arms around herself, the combination of defiance and defensiveness a testament to the contrary woman herself. “What if I said that I would leave you if you don’t quit?”

Sitting back, he smiled coldly. “Then I would give you the spanking you so richly deserve and tell you that you’re not going anywhere. Are you sure this is the tack you wanna take?”

More Desire, Oklahoma, Volume 1

(Includes “Desire for Three: Winning Back Jesse” and “Blade’s Desire: Adoring Kelly”)

Desire for Three: Winning Back Jesse

Living in Desire, Oklahoma, and married to two incredible men, Jesse Erickson felt her world was perfect, until she walks through the door of her home one day and has her world turned upside down.

Shocked to the core, and with her world crumbling around her, she runs, too shaken to cope.

Clay and Rio Erickson hate keeping secrets from Jesse, but didn’t have a choice

They certainly hadn’t expected their wife to assume the worst and run.

With the help of a friend, they find her, only to face the horror of almost losing her again.

Scared and shaken, they get her home, still reeling from the thought of losing her. Determined to show her the power of their love won’t be easy, but they know just how to get their wife’s undivided attention.

Allowing their dominant sides to rule, they will plow through her insecurities once and for all.

 

Blade’s Desire: Adoring Kelly

Kelly Royal has learned the pleasure of submitting under her husband’s gentle, but firm, hand, but Blade’s interest in dominating her seems to be gone forever. Going into labor a month early scared the hell out of her, and despite Blade’s efforts, he couldn’t hide his own fear—especially when things go terribly wrong.

Unable to forget the image of her pale and unmoving form in the hospital bed, Blade can’t even imagine taking her back into his playroom, and as soon as he brings her home from the hospital, he empties the room, vowing to never dominate her again. His fragile wife has been through enough, and he can’t imagine taking her the way he did before.

Kelly, though, has other plans. She wants her husband back, and frustrated that he thwarts her attempts to take her the way he did before, she takes matters into her own hands.

Excerpt

Desire for Three: Winning Back Jesse

Clay wanted nothing more than to hold his wife in his arms and comfort her, to feel her soft and warm against him so he knew she was safe. With a warning look at his brother, Rio, to keep his temper to himself, he put the phone on speaker.

“Of course we’re worried about you, baby. Please, just tell us where you are so we can come and get you.”

“No, Clay.” The trembling sob in her voice tore him up inside.

With his heart in his throat, he turned, meeting the cold, hard stare of Lucas Hart, one of the partners in Desire Security Systems—and more than that—a good friend.

Lucas had been giving him dirty looks since they’d arrived a little more than an hour ago, clearly blaming Clay and Rio for hurting Jesse.

Clay blamed himself even more.

He’d hoped, prayed, that Jesse would answer the phone and that Lucas could use some of his vast array of equipment to find her.

Clenching his jaw, Lucas motioned for Clay to keep Jesse talking.

Clay had no intention of letting Jesse hang up, especially after spending the last few hours out of his mind with worry.

“Jesse, what do you mean, no? What happened, honey? We don’t even know what’s wrong. It’s not like you not to talk to us. If you’re mad at us for something, I’d rather you just give us hell like you usually do. It’s not like you to run away.”

“I guess you’re tired of having a woman who stands up for herself.” She said it in such a low voice that Clay almost missed it, but she continued on before he could say anything.

“I’ll be back tomorrow. I just need to be alone tonight.”

“You don’t need to be alone. You need to be with us!” Clay winced inwardly as the knot in his stomach turned to ice.

He kept his voice low, struggling to speak calmly when he was anything but. “You said you’ll be back tomorrow. You didn’t say you were coming home. You’re scaring the hell out of me, Jesse. If you think I’m letting you go, you’re very much mistaken. Just talk to us. Let me explain.”

Her silence scared him, and for several heart-stopping seconds, he feared she’d hung up. When she spoke again, the weariness and distance in her tone frightened him even more.

“Clay, I really don’t want to talk about this tonight. I’ve got to go—”

“No. Don’t you hang up on me, Jesse Erickson!” He scrubbed a hand over his face, praying that Lucas would be able to pinpoint her location before she hung up. Worry for her ate him alive.

“Baby? Are you cold? You left without your coat. Please tell me you’re someplace warm, honey.”

The sob in her sigh tore at him, the effect also apparent on both Rio and Lucas as they listened.

Rio sank into a chair, hanging his head, his hair mussed from running his hands through it countless times in the last few hours.

A muscle worked in Lucas’s jaw, his steely gaze holding Clay’s and his stonelike expression even harder and more intimidating than ever.

Jesse’s voice, so sweet and with a tremble in it that brought another lump to Clay’s throat, came over the speaker, softer now than before.

“I’m fine, Clay. I’m a big girl, remember? I’m not one of those sweet little things that fall all over you. I’m used to taking care of myself, or have you forgotten?”

The reminder of the cold, withdrawn woman he’d met two years earlier, a woman that had thought herself incapable of loving or being loved, nearly took him to his knees.

“I haven’t forgotten a single thing about you.”

The ice in his stomach seemed to spread, making him cold all the way to the bone and stiff with fear.

Her tone, a tone he’d never hoped to hear again, sounded so much like the one she’d used when he’d first met her that his heart skipped a beat and he actually felt dizzy for a moment.

Losing Jesse would kill him.

He didn’t even try to keep his frustration and fear out of his voice, hoping to get through to her.

He had to get through to her.

“Jesse, of course I’m worried about you. You’re my wife. You disappeared into the night without no coat and no dinner. I’m sure you didn’t eat anything. I know you, baby. When you’re upset, Rio and I have to practically force you to eat. That means you’re cold and hungry and I can’t get to you to make you eat, or to keep you warm. You’re hurting and I can’t hold you.”

His arms ached to hold her close.

“Please tell me where you are, Jesse. We need to talk, to straighten this out. I can’t stop thinking about the way you looked at me.” That look of confusion and hurt in her eyes would haunt him forever.

Jesse’s choked sigh cut his heart to shreds. “We’ll talk, Clay. Tomorrow. Look, I’m sorry I acted like a coward and ran off that way, but it was such a shock. I’ve been stupid and never saw it coming. I should have paid more attention. I should have realized that you felt neglected.”

Her voice lowered, so low he had trouble hearing her.

“I’ve always suspected it would end some day. I knew better. I just thought I would see it coming.”

 

Blade’s Desire: Adoring Kelly

“You look very sexy tonight. Of course, you always look sexy, but when you dress for the club…”

She didn’t want to think about the women that would be there. Scantily clad, if they wore anything at all, and probably all stunningly beautiful. Thin.

“Hmm.” Blade nuzzled her neck in a particularly sensitive spot that he’d mastered long ago. “It’s nice to know my beautiful wife thinks I’m sexy, especially since I think she’s the sexiest, most desirable woman on earth.”

Turning away, she blinked back tears, angry that he would never see her as sexy again, scared that he wouldn’t be able to find the pleasure in her he had before. “Don’t patronize me, Blade. I’m fat and I waddle.”

She tried to push him away, but he cuddled her closer. “Let go of me.”

God, she wanted him so much.

It was a need that would go unsatisfied. Blade had stopped making love to her months earlier, too scared of hurting her and causing another miscarriage.

“Never.” Sliding his hands higher, he began to massage her breasts, his touch soothing on her aching body. “You’re mine forever. I’ll never let you go. Still sensitive, baby?”

Moaning at the pleasure, she slumped against him, the heat of his body against hers easing her aching body. “Hmm.” Turning her head, she lifted her face to his. “Yes, but don’t stop. I ache everywhere. I’m so fat that I can’t even get out of a chair without help. Very sexy, huh?”

Wincing at the tightening around her abdomen, she stiffened. Not wanting to worry him, she bit back a moan, grateful when it passed almost immediately. “You’ve spent months handling me with kid gloves. I was scared of you when we met, even though I was attracted to you—had feelings for you. You were so patient with me, until I could let go, and be what you needed.” Smiling she closed her eyes. “What we both needed.”

Opening her eyes again, she sighed. “But ever since I got pregnant the first time, it seems all you’ve been doing is taking care of me. Handling me as if I’ll break. I’m sure this isn’t what you expected when you married me.”

Blade rubbed her abdomen, his lips warm against her ear. “I got even more than I could have ever hoped for.”

Turning her in his arms, he frowned down at her, his eyes full of concern. “Kelly, you’re my life. You know how much I love you, don’t you?”

Love for him swelled inside her. Reaching up, she flattened her hands on his chest, flexing her fingers into the hard muscle she knew so well. “Blade, you’ve been so wonderful through my pregnancies and miscarriages. You’ve been my rock.”

Blinking back tears, she clenched her jaw when another pain hit her—like a rubber band tightening around her abdomen. “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

“You’ll never have to be without me, baby.”

Scared now, she looked up at him through her lashes, and voiced the fear that had been choking her for months. “We’re never going to be the same, are we?”

Blade stilled, his eyes narrowing. “Kelly, what the hell are you talking about?” Wrapping an arm around her, he led her to the bed, urging her to sit. “You’re tired, honey, and you’re in pain.”

Wincing at the ache in her back, she laid on her side, curling her body as she searched for a comfortable position. “I know you love me, Blade. I know how much you want this baby. I’m just afraid. You haven’t touched me in months. I see the way you look at me. Something’s missing. I miss that look.”

Blade positioned himself to lean over her protectively. “Of course I want this baby. I want you, too, Kelly. I’ve never stopped wanting you.”

Blowing out a breath, he laid a hand on her abdomen as he knelt on the floor beside her. His expression softened, but his eyes narrowed in concern. “You’re tired, baby, and uncomfortable. Just stay here. I’ll call the club and tell them—”

She didn’t want him to see her this way. She hated the fear in his eyes. Knowing he needed a break from all the tension, she forced a smile. “No. Just go. I’ll be fine. I feel better already. I’ll just lie here for a while.”

Leaning close, Blade cupped her jaw, brushing his lips over hers. “I always want you, Kelly, but we both have to be patient. You really don’t expect me to spank your gorgeous ass while you’re pregnant, do you? Or put clamps on already tender nipples?”

Kelly swallowed the lump in her throat. It had been so long since he’d done either of those things. “Blade, you love sex. Love to play, but you haven’t touched me in months. Even after I have the baby, it’ll be a while before I recover. Then, I’ll be nursing. You’re never going to want me that way again. You’re too scared of hurting me now. I see it in your eyes.”

A sob escaped before she could prevent it. “Love isn’t going to be enough for us, is it? I’m going to lose you.”

“Kelly, that’s enough.” The impatience in his tone scared her.

She’d never known Blade to be impatient about anything.

Cursing, he ran his hand over her abdomen again. Closing his eyes, he blew out a breath, before opening them again, holding her gaze with his tortured one. “You’re getting all worked up over nothing.” Frowning, he glanced at her stomach before meeting her gaze again. “You’re having contractions, aren’t you? You’re in even more pain than I thought. Were you even going to tell me?”

He shot to his feet, cursing soundly. “We’ll deal with that later. Stay here. I’m going to go call your doctor.”