When I completed and submitted my thirtieth book, I decided to celebrate by offering a taste from each one. Enjoy!
The Sheikh's Sinful Seduction is part of a series based on the seven deadly sins. I was so thrilled when they asked me to take on lust! I felt like I'd won the lottery!
Fern was raised to think of sex as sinful and Zafir could destroy his country if he follows his libido. The magic of an oasis, however, dismantles their resistance. Here he's found her swimming at dawn--where all the guards can see her.
~ * ~
Bare, tanned feet stood on the beach before her.
Her heart stalled and her soggy nightgown clung like a skin of dread. Her feet halted and her knees locked in denial.
How? No one else was up.
Her gaze climbed athletic shins to where unbleached linen board shorts ended at his knees.
Leave it to him to wear drawstring shorts that were still the epitome of class, tailored to hang low across his brown hips in the most disreputable yet erotic way. He wasn’t wearing a shirt and he was a perfect specimen of the human male. His tense, flat abs were bisected by a line of hair that flared across his brown chest. The pattern accentuated his broad shoulders and the relaxed muscles of his upper arms.
His mouth was set in a grim line, the stubble on his jaw dark making him look even more piratical and dangerous than the first glimpse she’d had of him. He had black hair, she noted. Trimmed close to keep it tight against his scalp.
His brows stayed heavy over those remarkable, glittering eyes as he opened a towel with a flick. She hadn’t noticed he was holding one. He beckoned her with two bent fingers, then hissed a word in Arabic that she’d heard Amineh use to hurry the girls.
“Now,” he said in a stern whisper. “The guards don’t need to see you like that.”
She glanced down to see her nightgown was plastered to her front, her nipples standing out from the high curves of her breasts like traffic cones. Her lack of underwear was flagrantly obvious.
The light was coming up fast with the sun. She couldn’t approach him looking like this!
Her tent looked miles away from here, however, and… Oh, help me. He didn’t wait. He waded into the water and snapped the towel around her back, barely giving her a chance to lift her arms out of the way before he closed it across her chest and tucked it tight.
She grabbed at it to finish the job herself, then brushed his hands away and glared up at him, even though she was the idiot who’d gotten herself into this mortifying position.
“I didn’t think anyone else was awake,” she hissed.
“The guards patrol around the clock.”
She scowled at the surrounding area, right up to the top of the jagged wall of the canyon, seeing no one. “Well, I wasn’t planning to swim when I came out.”
“Good thing I was.” He nodded at the towel, matching her whisper, but still managing to sound patronizing.
“I wasn’t trying to insult anyone,” she explained, upset that she’d made a cultural gaffe.
He snorted. “That was the least of my reasons for covering you.”
Again he used the tone that suggested she was a bit of a half-wit. She glared up at him, but the eye contact only sent a current of electricity through her that stayed active and hummed in her veins so her breaths stumbled unevenly. A shiver chased over her even as the burn that had kept her awake through the night rekindled.
She forced herself to look toward her tent. Told her feet to carry her in that direction, but all the illicit fantasies she’d had in there loomed large in her mind. The blood she’d cooled with her swim heated and moved with a sensual slither through her veins, creating a simmering warmth in her belly and lower. Very personal muscles clenched in anticipation.
The return to a state of receptiveness was so primeval and quick, her breath hitched in a helpless catch. How did he do this to her by only standing near? It was unsettling to have no control over her reactions.
She didn’t want to know if he knew, hoped he didn’t, but her gaze tracked to his to see.
He was waiting for her. Something fierce flashed in his eyes. This time when he stepped close and lowered his head, as proprietary as a man could get, she didn’t feel any alarm. No sense of self-preservation. Just anticipation. Please.
His lips burned on contact against her cool ones, sliding easily against the dampness left from her swim.
Her eyes closed and her senses came alive to the feel of his firm mouth settling purposefully onto hers. He parted her lips with a lick of his tongue, causing heat to flow into them so fast it stung. Her whole body came alive with a jolt of powerful excitement so intense she shuddered.
And she returned the pressure of his mouth instinctively, moving hers in a type of hungry greed, her heart pounded with excitement and fear-spiked awareness that she wanted things from him he could never give her. This was futile, but irresistible.
And so exquisite. When his tongue dashed deeper against her inner lips, both daring and deliciously stimulating, she touched her own to his. He tasted smoky and spicy, not like cigarettes, but like open fires and exotic foods. He was remarkable. The sensations he provoked in her were so sweet she wanted to moan aloud. She was drowning—
It hit her that they were still standing in the pool where anyone could see them.
Stricken, she jerked back with a splashing step.
He steadied her, mouth tightening to a harsh line as he scanned over her head. When his searing green gaze came back to hers, his eyes were brimming with frustration.
“Let’s take this to my tent,” he said in a graveled undertone.
Her heart exploded inside her chest like an overinflated balloon, bursting into ragged pieces. Hookups were just that easy? Women were, she supposed. For him. He obviously thought she was.
“Just like that?” she asked breathily, anguished that she’d dropped herself so low in his estimation.
He cocked his head, expression cynical. “You don’t want to?”
His tone was full of the knowledge that she’d kissed him back, making it doubly hard to claim she didn’t want to. Her chest was still rising jaggedly and her vision was full of a naked chest she longed to touch. She swallowed.
“I happen to like my job,” she said, hating herself for not being able to honestly say she wasn’t even tempted. She was. Deeply.
“They don’t have to know,” he said, flatly brushing that away.
“Look.” She must be glowing redder than the sky at the horizon. “I can do the math. You don’t have many options here.” She used her chin to indicate the camp. “I suppose it’s a good offer, that I should feel flattered, but I’m not in your league.”
It was a detail she’d been using in her head to counter her longing and it didn’t seem to sway him any better than it did her.
His expression hardened with derision. “We’ll be on exactly the same level once we’re horizontal.”
Nice, she mentally scoffed, taking that remark like a sword in the gut, while the thought of being horizontal, with him atop her, shorted out her brain.
She startled at the way his hand gentled on her arm as it moved in a light caress that raised prickling sensations across her shoulders and up the back of her neck. He was making no effort to temper his sexuality and was quite overwhelming. Everything about him made her heart race with both apprehension and excitement. His touch was so possessive and strong that every little caress of his thumb against her skin would stay with her for the rest of her life.
“You really want me to believe you don’t want to?” he chided.
“Of course I want to,” she admitted painfully. There was no point in denying it. She was lousy at dissembling. Stronger people walked all over her because she had few natural defenses. It made her great with children and hopeless when it came to a captivating man like him.
So she realized what a chance she was taking in revealing how attracted she was to him. If he took it into his head to pursue her, she’d have no way of stopping him.
“Then let it happen.” His reassuring caress became something more, something drugging and inducing. “I’m not going to hurt you, Fern.”
“I’ve been given to believe differently,” she protested with the caustic sarcasm she hated resorting to, but her back was to the wall. “Apparently it does hurt. The first time.”
So there, she told him with a pointed look into stunned aqua eyes. Her face ached. Yes, she mentally transmitted. No one had ever wanted her enough to take her virginity. It was lowering and painful, but it was true.
Now her feet found the ability to propel her away to somewhere dark and small. Chest aching, she let her shaky legs carry her back to her tent.
~ * ~
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