Archive for January, 2014
Friday, January 31st, 2014
The Lush series releases in Digital and print on Feb 11, 2014. If you’re interested in an Advance download be sure to comment here. There will be three chances to win, and Delilah will announce the winners on Monday!
One of the most common questions for a writer is “Where do you get your ideas?” or “What inspires you?” I find this question both the easiest thing to answer – and the hardest – because my true answers are not that romantic or inspirational.
Mostly, my ideas come from real life people – the ones I see on the streets, talk to in the mall, or read about in the news. Occasionally music or a picture will stir the muse, but basically, life inspires me.
However, being able to pay my bills at the end of each month also inspires … it inspires me to plant my butt in the chair and get my fingers dancing across the keyboard, even when it’s the last thing in the world I really want to do.
Unromantic, but it’s true.
It’s not often I can pinpoint exactly what inspired a story idea for me, but with the LUSH stories I can. The opportunity to write a single author anthology for Kensington came at the same time I wanted to shift gears a bit with my storytelling. Most of my stories tend to be on the edgy/raw side of things, but I wanted to try something …. LUSH. And yes, the title did come first.
But what is LUSH? Think erotic, romantic, decadent… that’s what I decided LUSH was. I’m a big believer that things don’t have to be explicit to be erotic. A kiss can be erotic. The brush of skin against skin, or the scent of the pillow after your lover leaves the bed, and you’re still curled up warm in bed. Those things are erotic. Those things are Lush.
With the idea of a decadent series in mind, I thought about setting. Often my stories are set in bars or cafes or retail stores…like I said, every day life. But for this, I thought an art gallery would be perfect. And not just any art gallery, but one that specialized in erotic art, and the woman who makes it happen.
I’d love to show you some of the things I found during my planning that inspired the characters and stories, but they are not for everyone’s taste, therefore, I’d like to encourage you all to surf over to my website, and visit the LUSH GALLERY built there. You can view some truly erotic photography, a sculpture that I placed in the gallery, and then follow the link to the Bookpages for some excerpts.
So, for the first time in my life, I planned a series. Yes, they are only novellas, but for a panster like me who doesn’t ever plot, this was a big deal. Okay, I admit it…I planned it pretty loosely. I just planned the character connections, and then let them run free during their stories, and I have to say, I fell in love with them all. Each story has a different feel, but they all retain the erotic decadence that defines LUSH.
Eight years ago when it released, it got fabulous reviews, but not a ton of readers because erotic romance wasn’t as prevalent as it is today, so now that I’m re-releasing them all again, I’m really hoping more readers will discover the Lush Gallery and fall in love with it, and the people who are connected to it.
Want to win an advance Download of One of these novellas? Answer this question in the comments.
If you could be an artist, what form would you work in?
Photography? Sculpting? Glass? Jewelry? Wood?
Excerpt from PASSION PLAY
I decided to give you the first meeting between the hero and heroine instead of the first chapter. I have to admit, I found this story very fun to write because both characters were very strong and came through loud and clear to me. Which is why both Dominick and Mia are in first person. Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Seriously? Why Do Authors Write So Many Series?
I was engaged in a conversation with a reviewer the other day and she asked, “Why is it so many authors are doing series nowadays?”As the author of three successful series, to which I, for some reason, keep returning, I thought this was an interesting question and deserved some exploration.
Series vs. Serial
First of all, I would like to distinguish between a book series and a serial. A series is made up of standalone books connected by something. To be truly satisfying to a reader, each book should have a complete story arc for the major characters and should, if a romance, end in a Happy Every After (HEA) or a Happy For Now (HFN). In erotic romance, an HFN is more acceptable than in a mainstream romance.
In contrast, in a serial, you will read part of a story in each installment. Both types of books have their audience, but it is important for authors or publishers to note that a book is a serial in the marketing blurb so blood isn’t spilled when a reader, expecting a happy ending, gets a cliffhanger instead.
That can be awkward.
Let’s explore some of the reasons series are so abundant…
It takes a lot of work and emotional investment to create a character. Some flow from the pen fully formed, but most emerge like the peeling of a very obstinate onion (with lots of tears). Getting personal information from others is like pulling teeth. Oftentimes, in the writing of a book, a secondary character snags our attention and we cannot help but be inspired to tell their story too. It’s easy and fun to do, because these characters already know who they are.
When I was writing Folly, my first outing in erotic Regency, this happened to me. I fell in love with James and Helena, the couple hosting our beleaguered heroine Eleanor when she needed a place to hide out. I knew I needed to write their story and toyed with giving them a break up so they could reunite in the second book.
While Helena railed at this idea (she does have a tendency to rail), James, in that dominating way he has simply crossed his arms and said, in a low authoritative tone, “I think not, Sabrina.” Needless to say, their story, Dark Fancy, ended up being a prequel to Folly. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to flout a direct order from James.
While I was writing Dark Fancy, of course, Edward (Dark Duke) and Violet (Brigand) started talking to me— Violet jabbering away about her romance with Ewan and Edward whispering into my ear about Kaitlin.
One book quickly became a series of four. Through no fault of my own.
A Familiar Place
Part of writing a great book is world building. Creating a universe readers want to visit again and again. A series provides just such a venue. I can’t tell you how many readers have told me they want to vacation on Tryst Island, the setting for my contemporary series, featuring the romances of a group of friends who share a vacation house. It’s not just because all the guys on the island seem to have cut abs and buckets of money. They want to walk on the beach, hang out at Darby’s Bar and Grill. They want to eat bacon with Holt. (Some of them—those with wilder tastes— want more from Holt.)
Readers love this “coming home” feeling, love “hanging out with old friends,” and a well written series provides that experience. The most addictive series also have, in addition to individual story arcs, an overarching series arc, with each book moving the grander story along. It’s fun to plant clues for loyal readers about what’s coming. It’s even more fun when they spot them and send me hushed emails about what they think is going to happen.
A caveat here. It is important for authors to remember, while they have loyal readers who have gobbled up every book—in order—there will be a reader who discovers the series mid-stream. References to incidents and people from previous books is exciting for the Read-In-Order crowd, it can be annoying or confusing to a first time reader. Those references belong in the book but must be carefully threaded through the story with an invisible seam.
I don’t know about you, but if a reader discovers my book, I want her to LOVE it. I want to keep her!
And I am not talking about the erotic type of passion here—I am talking about the emotional attachment to something you care about. If an author is in love with her series world and her characters, she can’t help but evoke that passion through her words. Readers will connect with that emotion and want to revisit these people and places again and again because of that attachment.
My very first series, Wired, takes place in the offices of a tech company with one rule for management—no fraternization with the staff. Imagine the difficulties that occur when our heroes, to a man, meet the woman of their dreams (each in a different book), but she’s working for the company and, therefore, off limits. I never intended to write a third book in this series, but one reader was so passionate about one of the secondary characters (and I mean, she hated him), she demanded I write his story and, by the way, he needed a spanking.
Making Over Maris—a sweet, humorous Fem Domme—was born. It wasn’t easy turning someone I’d written to be the comic relief in one book into the hero of another. But through passion, and compassion, I was able to do it. Once I knew Jack, really knew him, I had to tell his story. The reader, also a reviewer, gave the book a stellar thumbs up.
The Bottom Line
The final reason authors love series relates to all of the above. It is, in fact, the bottom line. My series have far outsold my standalones by a factor of five. It is easy to understand why. If an author is passionate enough about her world to revisit it again and again, the reader is going to want to do so as well. Beyond that, that reader is going to tell her friends about the book and insist they tell their friends.
A series can create momentum for an author, for a line and for a publisher. In fact, Decadent’s One Night Stand series has hundreds of standalone stories by as many authors.
You will continue to see series abound on the bookshelves, my friend, because they satisfy on all levels.
And isn’t that what good writing is all about? Read the rest of this entry »
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
I’m a busy girl. I rarely have the luxury of time to sit down with novel and read it cover to cover. So, it’s natural I love to read short stories. My love of reading them led me to writing them, and eventually to editing my own collections of short stories. Here’s a snippet from a short story of mine that the British publisher Black Lace published, entitled “Have Sex Will Travel.”
click on the cover to buy
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The Russian’s fingers did it for her.
As annoyed as she’d been with his arrogant set down on the train platform before they’d boarded, one look at his hands as he clutched his newspaper in front of his face and she was mesmerized, unable to drag away her gaze.
He had large hands, shaped like shovels, dark, sparse hairs sprouting below the second set of knuckles. His fingers were long—the tips blunt and thick. His nails were clean, trimmed, but not filed or buffed. He had a man’s large and capable, but unfussy hands.
Evie surreptitiously clenched her thighs. Two of those thick, blunt fingers would equal the girth of the last cock she’d had thrusting up inside her. Three would stretch her to the point of delicious pain. His palms would be slightly calloused, but she could already imagine the feel of them rasping over her breasts. Her boyfriend’s hands had been as soft as hers.
The newspaper snapped, and her gaze shot up to meet his over the top of the pages. The same narrowed glance he’d given her on the platform now seemed to hold a hint of challenge.
Evie’s cheeks grew warm. He’d caught her staring. At his hands. At the long fingers curling tighter around the paper he held in front of him. He probably knew exactly what she’d been thinking.
She glanced away, reaching for the backpack at her feet and pulled out her itinerary to review it for the hundredth time, staring at the pages, but not really reading.
Something deliciously unexpected arced in the air between them. An electric charge of sensual curiosity that didn’t dissipate the longer they sat, side-by-side, on their red-upholstered bench, pretending not to notice their deepening breaths or the number of times they restlessly shifted in their seat. It wasn’t the vibrations beneath them from the train ripping down the track, even though the steady even hum added a subtext to their restless movements.
Evie crossed her legs, wishing she’d worn something less comfortable than her favorite pair of faded blue jeans and a Three Doors Down concert T-shirt. She dressed like a grad school student in a state of arrested development, which she was. Or a teacher who’d saved her meager salary to splurge on museum tickets rather than a holiday wardrobe. Also true.
The Russian wore a dark brown business suit. A summer wool that fit him well without an overly tailored cut that would hug his frame. He’d left off the tie. His dress shirt was opened at the neck to reveal the base of his throat and give a hint of the dusting of dark hair that clothed his broad chest. Comfort seemed to be his priority over style.
The paper lowered to his lap, and Evie suppressed a groan, caught again. His gaze rested on her—telling her silently he knew she’d been watching him.
She lifted her chin. ‘It’s not as if I have anything else to do,’ she muttered, knowing he didn’t understand a word she said.
A soft snort was his response. Then he folded the paper and stuffed it into the handle of his brief bag. He crossed his arms over his chest, then began a slow perusal of her body that left her slightly outraged—and incredibly aroused—beginning with her breasts and sliding slowly down her body.
Was he truly attracted? Or did he think he could intimidate her into giving up her berth? That he hadn’t wanted to share the small compartment with her had been apparent in the low, heated argument he’d had with the attendant who checked their tickets and collected their passports.
Having been shocked that she’d been given such a nice accommodation in the first place, no doubt a mistake but one she wasn’t going to admit, they’d have to pry her cold dead fingers from the sides of the cabin door to remove her now.
She’d withstood her cabin-mate’s irritation, ignoring both men as they spoke and gestured toward her until The Russian had uttered a low curse, unmistakable by his tone, raked a hand through his straight brown hair before finally, grudgingly, taking his seat. He’d made a great deal of noise opening and slamming his case, drawing out his newspaper and raising it so high she knew he wanted to tell her she didn’t matter. He would simply ignore her.
Only it seemed he found it impossible to dismiss her. Was his predatory stare simply his new tactic to drive her out?
Oddly, Evie found herself growing amused. Let him stew. Let the tension grow so thick that neither of them could pretend something wasn’t happening here. ‘I’ll be out of your hair by morning, anyway,’ she drawled.
While his dark gaze lingered on her breasts, she eased back in the seat, straightening her shoulders so that her breasts lifted subtly. If he kept looking, he wouldn’t miss the sight of her nipples beading beneath the thin material of her bra and tee. She unfolded her legs and crossed them again, drawing his gaze down to her long legs. She might not have fully fleshed-out curves, but her slim body did manage to pull male glances everywhere she’d traveled so far.
One asset in particular seemed to hold their attention longest.
Knowing she was being a little devious, Evie bent over to rifle through her pack, pretending to reach deep for something while her cropped tee slid up her back to reveal the upper edge of her turquoise thong.
When she straightened, she caught his glance sliding away from her bottom. Feeling smug, she couldn’t help the slight smile that tugged at the edges of her lips and turned her head to lock her gaze with his, returning his challenge without blinking.
Only maintaining that stare proved hard. The longer she looked into his face the more she took note of his strong, square jaw, the dark, slashing eyebrows that overhung deep-set brown eyes, the thin sensual lips that firmed while she continued to look.
Suddenly, he stood, his height towering over her. He shrugged out of his jacket and folded it, laying it atop his brief bag. When he sat and pulled off his shoes and socks, Evie’s triumph wilted, wondering what he was up to now. Without glancing her way, he stood and opened the cabinet above her head to fold down the upper bunk.
Evie quickly ducked to keep from getting bumped. ‘You could have given me a warning,’ she said grumpily.
Another soft snort had her tilting up her face to meet his steady stare. His hands pulled open his belt, unbuttoned the top of his pants, and he efficiently pulled his shirttails free. Read the rest of this entry »
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
January’s nearly gone and I’m racing toward the finish line with two projects. Which means I have little time to spend here. I write throughout the day, trying to keep my butt in the chair although I am easily distractible. I’ve been spending my evenings unwinding with my dd’s family, enjoying the new baby, and then it’s back home where I putter for an hour or two making things in my art room. Then straight to bed.
Last night was really cold, so my cat who loves being outdoors, joined me in bed. She’s a lovey. Or rather loves to bite. Little nibbles that grow harder the more you pet her. She was a feral cat I adopted a while back. I think I told you the story about her before. I’d fed her over the fence for weeks because she was too wary to come closer. Then one night, during that huge full moon on Friday the 13th, something about that moon hadn’t occurred in hundreds of years… Anyway, I was out there at 2 AM watching that pretty moon in the middle of my driveway when I felt something furry moving in figure eights around my ankles. Scared the crap out of me. Ever since, she’d been mine and stayed close to my back door. She chose me. I call her my familiar. And I named her Pumpkin because she’s the spitting image of my very first cat, Pepita (I love Mexican spiced pumpkin seeds).
And there I thought this was going to be quick. 🙂
Monday, January 27th, 2014
First, let me thank you, Delilah, for letting me drag these two love birds over to your place for an interview. This is Eric De Marco and Amy Sizemore, the main characters from my latest release, Incidental Contact, a New Adult erotic romance, set on an eight-hundred-acre peach farm in Upstate South Carolina. Although it’s the third book in my contemporary romance series, Those Devilish De Marco Men, Incidental Contact may be read as a standalone title and is approximately 93,000 words.
Eden: What were you doing the day before your story began, Eric?
Eric: Trying to dodge a boatload of exes, all hell-bent on helpin’ me spend an insurance settlement.
Eden: Why was that a problem?
Amy: Oh, let me take that question. He’s pollinated half the flowers in the county, if you get my drift. Not one of those women could see past his pretty face, but they were sure ready to help drain his savings account. He is pretty, is he not?
Eden: Meh, if you like tall, dark, handsome blue-collar boys bulging with muscles earned from hard work, I guess he’ll do. What made you different? What did you see in him that no one else did, Amy?
Amy: Well, I’m short, round, and a stone-cold tomboy, so I know how it feels to be underestimated. Eric’s more than a pretty face. He’s smart. He should’ve been an engineer. I take that back, he is an engineer, he’s just self-taught.
Eden: So, how did the tomboy and the bad boy get together?
Amy: He, uh, made me an offer. I was temporarily homeless, so he said if I’d move in with him and help keep the vultures at bay, he’d teach me to feel sexy.
Eric: And I succeeded, too. Just look at her now.
Eden: Yes, she has changed quite a bit. We have time for one final question, Eric, rumor has it, you had a little trouble getting it up?
Eric: Damn small towns. Can’t keep a secret for nothin’. Okay, if you must know, I did have some problems keepin’ lead in my pencil, did, but not why you think. Let me explain—
Eden: I’m so sorry, Eric, Delilah’s giving me the sign that we’re out of time.
Incidental Contact (Book #3, Those Devilish De Marco Men)
What if a random kiss with the wrong woman feels like more than incidental contact? What if you sense every mistake brought you to this place, with this person? What if you know you’ll have to clean up your bad-boy past and can’t offer her much of a future, but you’re determined to win her heart? What if you’re also having…performance issues? Welcome to Eric De Marco’s world. First person to say ‘go hard or go home’ gets his ass kicked.
Cold air made an icy blanket on her wet skin. Her nipples could cut diamonds. When he lowered his eyes, anticipation sent jagged heat streaking though her, leaving thunder subsiding in her core.
She had to hold onto something, so she dared to rest her hands on his shoulders. She felt awkward, unsure what to do next.
“Let’s get that tense look off your face.” She felt his muscular thighs press against her knees, moving them wider.
She stiffened. That’s not bubbles. A strong jet of water rushed against her folds. She tried to shift away from the stream, but he held her fast.
“Relax, Amy. Let it happen.”
The jet of water felt soft, yet the slender stream flayed her clit with insistent pressure. Holding her gaze, he rubbed his lips across one extended nipple. Slowly—oh God, so slowly she thought she’d die—he rasped her aching point. Raising his head a notch, he worried the peak with the stubble on his chin. Each prickling scrape sent daggers into her core. He nipped the hard bud.
The gentle torture made her cry out with frustration until he took a warm, soothing lick. The entire time, that forceful jet of water danced over her clit. His licks mingled with nips until her sensation of being cold disappeared. All Amy could feel was the heat from his tongue and the strong ache coiling inside her—and that jet of water driving her mad.
Purchase Incidental Contact on: Amazon | B&N| All Romance | iTunes
About the Author:
Eden Connor graduated from Converse College with a degree in Psychology so long ago, her sheepskin is chiseled in stone. She’s been a graphic artist, a bridal photographer and an antique restorer. Since the death of her true love, she raised two children to adulthood and now has the time to return to writing. She writes primarily contemporary erotic romances, the odd bit of erotica and an occasional paranormal piece. Most of her writing is set where she lives, in South Carolina, so expect the handsome stranger to come equipped with a slow drawl. Addicted to hazelnut creamer, baseball and cranberry glass, she likes the music of Motown and when not writing about adults behaving badly, she takes a stab at the occasional needlepoint canvas.
Find her on:
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Sunday, January 26th, 2014
Old Habits Die Hard
I’ve been pondering some (bad) old habits lately. Not because of any resolutions I made for the new year, because I quit making resolutions I wasn’t going to keep ages ago. Just pondering in general. And not just habits, but maybe things I’ve believed about myself for such a long time that they’ve become habits. Those kinds of things don’t have to stay habits, if one really wants to change, but once a person has settled into that rut, it’s hard to get out of it.
Like meeting new people. Social situations where I don’t know many people make me uncomfortable to the point where I tend to stay to myself and the few people there I do know, whether it’s offline in my ‘real life’ or online in groups I’ve joined specifically to meet new people. Silly, right? To meet new people, you have to risk rejection, and it’s much more pleasant to avoid that altogether and just stick with people you know will treat you well, who already like you. But how many other people are missing out on making new friends because of that same ‘habit’? I’m fairly certain I’m not alone there. That is one habit I’ve determined I’m going to change, difficult as it is.
Or telling myself I’m good at last-minute desperation moments, like at work last week when we found out an unexpected delivery was coming the next day and had nowhere in the stock room to put it. By the time my shift was over, we had plenty of room for it. But I was beat, bruised and sore. And I really am too old for that crap. But other last-minute situations arise, like something for one of the kids at school, or for myself. I have to admit, however, that some of those don’t necessarily need to be last-minute situations. That one is a long-seated ‘habit’, too, since I used to wait till the night before a paper was due at school to write it, or the night before a test to start studying. Then, there are so many other, more pleasant things to do, so that icky stuff like homework, well, that’ll just wait, right? But as adults, we’re expected to make better decisions than teenagers. I wonder if it’s possible to kick habits like that? Maybe not for a teenager, but as an adult? I think it can be overcome. Eventually.
My messy work area here in the office is another bad habit I should really kick. I have a towering stack of books on one corner, and paper piles in several other places. Periodically, I do clear my space, but it never lasts. I always think I’m going to need this email, or get right back to that list, and somehow, it’s six months later and I can barely see my monitor over the mess. Too many stories waiting to be told to bother with cleaning. Too many family things to do to obsess over every speck of dust on my desk. Wherever the desk is under there. Maybe. That habit is actually on my list for this year, as in, regularly clear off the work space. It’s a really good thing there are eleven more months in the year, because I haven’t made much progress on this yet.
How many other bad habits like that are there? Probably more than I can count. How many of them am I guilty of? Probably far more than I want to admit to in a public venue.
I have a heroine in a manuscript I’m working on who is having to change her mindset about some ‘habits’ of her own, which is, I suppose, why I’ve been thinking about my own bad habits. She has gotten into a situation she never dreamed she’d be in, and her old habits are going to hold her back from getting the one thing she most wants in the world. Unless she can change her mindset.
So while I’m helping her change her mindset, I’ve got more work to do on my own. How about you? Any old habits you’re trying to break this year? Or at least modify? Maybe we can work on them together.
Hunting Medusa, 1/28/14
Saturday, January 25th, 2014
G’mornin’! I overslept. And it was totally lovely. There’s nothing better than sinking into memory foam, with a white noise machine making a soft whoosh sound to cancel out the sounds of anyone else moving around the house, to encourage one to linger. I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t afforded myself that luxury in a while.
Yesterday, I worked through the first set of copyedits for the last book in the Delta Heat series. You remember those books, right? Sultry Memphis, sex club La Forge, five best buddies who also happen to be cops and into BDSM? I had so much fun writing this series. Just the titles make me smile: Five Ways ‘Til Sunday, Fournicopia, A Perfect Trifecta, Twice the Bang… What’s not to love? The last story, Once is Never Enough won’t be out until May, but that gives you time to re-read each of the prequels, one a month until Once releases. And if you’ve missed a book, well maybe you’ll be lucky enough to score a free copy today!
Post a comment today and you’ll be entered to win a free download
of the reader’s choice from the Delta Heat series!
Playing with pain can put you in a world of hurt…or bliss.
Playing switch in front of a La Forge BDSM club audience was supposed to be a one-time fling. A favor for a friend. Instead, when Craig Eason realizes he’s caught the attention of an enigmatic, powerful Dom across the crowded room, he senses this could be the man he’s been looking for to test the boundaries of his own sexuality.
Firefighter Aiden Byrne is a very private man with strong S&M longings he keeps in check for everyone else’s safety. His sub, Jennifer Callum, thinks she likes it rough, but he can’t let go the way he’d like to. Until one defiant stare from the handsome cop on the La Forge stage causes Aiden’s most dangerous needs to uncoil from the deepest, darkest part of his soul.
With the blessing—and active involvement—of his sub, a seduction is set in motion that ends in a scene that shakes them all to the core…
Product Warnings: Contains a powerful, burly firefighter who plans to take everything a hot cop thinks he knows about himself and send it up in smoke. Please replace the batteries in all your smoke detectors before reading this book. Contains scenes with m/m/f, m/m, spanking, flogging, restraints, and one wild orgy of pleasure.
At the sound of her feminine distress, Aiden sighed, pleased with her. Surprised, too, with how well he and Craig had worked her, together.
Every bit of pride was dashed. Her body trembled uncontrollably. Right this moment, she was beaten. Remorseful for her earlier maneuvering. A sorry now wouldn’t be remiss, but he didn’t expect it. She could barely think, she was so over-stimulated and disappointed.
Now was the time to bring her back. She wouldn’t be looking for any heavy-duty pain, just release. He could be with her the way he needed, the way that didn’t scare him. And Craig would add an extra bonus to let her know that her Dom cared enough about her upset to make it up to her in a grander way.
“Roll the bed from the corner, Craig,” he murmured to the other man, softly enough she couldn’t hear over her harsh, sobbing breaths.
Craig gave a nod. His face was flushed. His body gleaming with sweat.
Aiden had yet to use him as anything other than a helper, but he supposed it was time to reward Craig for doing everything he’d asked while managing to remain suitably dominant during his interactions with Jenn. Craig appeared to naturally glide toward dominance with a woman.
While Craig rolled the bed to the center of the room, Aiden circled the bench and knelt. He unclipped the clamps and set them aside, then unstrapped Jenn’s arms and ankles. She didn’t move. Her face was pressed into the leather upholstery. Tears smeared her cheeks.
Aiden raised a hand and cupped her head, giving her hair a caress. “Are you all right?” he asked, but he knew he hadn’t pressed too far. He waited to see whether she’d lie and berate him or snuffle some more.
She surprised him by sniffing then wiping the tears from her cheeks before turning her head to meet his gaze. “I’m sorry.”
“Do you know what you’re apologizing for?”
“For trying to top you.”
He leaned close to press his forehead against hers. “I’m not angry with you. I expect it.”
Her lips curved, slightly. “And I expect punishment.” Her wet, starred lashes fanned downward.
He kissed her temple. “You’re always free to call a halt.”
“I wouldn’t. Ever,” she said breathlessly.
So she always said. She insisted on there being no safe word between them. “Just so you know you can,” he said, speaking slowly to make sure she understood.
She gave a little nod, more of kitten’s caress that rubbed against his hand. Cute. Lord, she was beautiful. Perfect for him. Why hadn’t he fallen in love with her? His chest filled. Grew tight.
He pushed up and walked behind her. He gripped the edges of the plug and slowly pulled it free. Then he opened a drawer in the bench and pulled out a packet of wet wipes. Once he’d cleaned her, he walked to the sink and washed the plug thoroughly, drying his hands on a towel before drawing deep breaths to steady himself.
He turned and faced the two who awaited his next command. She remained lying on the bench, her fingers beside her face. Her skin flushed and gleaming with a fine sheen of sweat.
Craig stood beside the bed, his head bowed, subservient now. Not a partner. By the strength of the arousal that kept his cock erect and pointing upward, he had hopes he’d be put to service in another way.
Well, it was time, wasn’t it?
Aiden schooled his face into a neutral mask, calming his expression while he forced his body, and especially his cock, to follow suit. “Boy…undress me.”
Craig’s eyes, though lowered, glittered with excitement as he strode toward Aiden. He knelt in front of him, then indicated with a hand that he wanted Aiden’s foot.
Aiden raised his foot and placed it on Craig’s naked thigh. Craig quickly unlaced the black leather work boot and pulled it off, tugged off the sock, then indicated for the other foot.
While his new boy worked, his head bent over his task, Aiden let his gaze roam over Craig. He noted the thick blond hair, broad shoulders and lean musculature. Craig was fit with nice definition in his abs. But his movie-star good looks weren’t what drew Aiden’s attention.
It was his precise attention to detail, the tension that rolled off him, as though he held back, knowing the reward would be great. He would submit because he wanted something. Not because he desired to serve.
And Aiden wanted a crack at that. Wanted to break the other man down, knowing in his gut that at the end, Craig was the kind of sub who would only serve one person—that while he played at submission, he wasn’t truly committed. He saw everything as a game with an end—turbocharged orgasms. Something Aiden wouldn’t tolerate from a sub of his own.
Craig dropped the second boot and sock then paused. His shoulders rose around a deep inhalation as he worked up his nerve. Aiden suppressed a smile and hardened his face, waiting for the moment Craig would look up.
Which he did a moment later. His glance skated up Aiden’s body, then met with Aiden’s. Aiden raised one brow.
Challenge issued, Craig’s gaze narrowed and dropped. His hands went to the button at Aiden’s waistband. He thumbed it open, gripped the tongue of the zipper and the fabric between his hands and pulled it down, careful to avoid touching Aiden’s cock. Then, inserting his fingers inside the waist of the pants, he peeled them off.
Goose bumps prickled all over Aiden’s skin at the first touch of the backs of Craig’s fingers against the sides of his thighs. He lifted his feet one at a time to pull free of the leather, then backed away from Craig and walked toward the bed where Jenn watched through the fringe of her dark lashes.
Aiden had intended that both he and Craig take turns petting and fucking Jenn, giving her everything she needed now that he’d broken her down. But it wasn’t going to be enough. Aiden wanted his own satisfaction, and that wouldn’t be achieved without pushing Craig as well. He wanted to see everything the cop brought to play. What he’d observed while Craig played the night before had left an indelible impression.
Aiden walked to Jenn and pulled her up from where she sat on the edge of the mattress. He held her face between his hands and kissed her mouth. A gentle smoothing of lips. She opened her mouth beneath his, and he gave her his tongue, gliding inward to tangle with hers.
Their tongues swept together, bodies not touching. As he drew away, he noted from the corner of his eye the pulsing of Craig’s cock. Aiden cupped Jenn’s chin and turned her head toward Craig. “I want to watch you two kiss.”