One of the top Erotic Romance Authors today is Julie Kenner and man does she deliver. If you’ve never read her before now is the perfect opportunity to start as the first book in her new series has just been released, and Julie is sharing a snippet from it with us today.
Apparently, Bruiser wanted more than a tease, because he moved in. He smelled of alcohol and tobacco and lust, and though I wasn’t the least bit interested in getting naked with him, I was more than happy to dance-flirt, feeling my blood pumping in my veins. Feeling alive. Because I was tired, so damn tired, of feeling numb, and when he put his hands on my waist and tugged me close, I closed my eyes and gyrated to the music. I wasn’t there with this guy. I was somewhere else. With someone else.
Hell, maybe I even was someone else.
Because that was the trick, wasn’t it? When I let myself go, I was getting out of my skin. Shedding the guilt and the pain and all the damn secrets and—fuck it.
With desperate abandon, I pressed my body hard against his. He let out a low moan of pleasure and cupped my ass, pulling me tight against him so that there was no mistaking his arousal.
I drew in a breath and tilted my head back. I saw the lust in his eyes. Saw the way his lips curved. He was bending close, either to claim my mouth or to whisper that we needed to get the hell out of there. I didn’t want him, this stranger. I wanted everything I’d lost and everything I couldn’t have, and I just wanted to run away.
But how can you run from yourself?
I stiffened, anticipating his words, and knowing damn well that I’d say yes to whatever he suggested—and then hate myself tomorrow.
And then it all shattered.
I heard myself cry out as the bruiser was shoved roughly aside—and then heard my gasp of surprise when I saw the man who’d so cavalierly tossed him away. Evan.
I stood there, completely frozen, as Evan stepped closer to me, his expression thunderous. But beneath the anger in his eyes I saw a heat that shot through my belly to settle between my thighs. Holy shit. This was it, my fantasy, and while part of me leaped with celebration, another part wondered when the hell I’d started hallucinating. Because this couldn’t be real. How the hell could this possibly be real?
“What the fuck, friend?” Bruiser snarled, giving Evan’s shoulder a shove and soundly destroying my theory that I was living in some sort of dream state. “You wanna get away from my girl?”
I started to say that I was most definitely not his girl, but the brimstone rose in Evan’s eyes and I opted for the wiser course and stayed quiet.
“She’s not your girl,” Evan said mildly. “And I’m not your friend.”
Bruiser’s eyes narrowed and I saw the fingers of his right hand curl into a fist. “I think you need a lesson in manners, pretty boy.”
Evan glanced down at the now-fisted hand, then back up to the man. “I’d think twice if I were you.”
“Fuck you,” Bruiser retorted, sending the fist flying as fast as the words.
In a move worthy of James Bond, Evan shifted, blocking the punch entirely. “I wouldn’t try that again.” He appeared casual and cool—and yet there was something in his manner that announced that he was the biggest badass in the room. And that he’d prove it to anyone who crossed him.
Bruiser’s balance had been thrown off and he stumbled a bit, eyeing the nearby dancers who’d finally clued in that there was trouble. He licked his lips, and I could see common sense warring with bravado. Finally, his face went slack and he carelessly rolled a shoulder. “Whatever, man. Bitch isn’t worth the trouble, anyway.”
Faster than I would have imagined possible, Evan reached out, snagged the guy’s collar, and hauled him close. “Apologize to the lady,” he said, his words like ice. “And maybe you’ll get to walk out of here on your own power.”
As I watched, the blood drained from Bruiser’s face, giving him a gaunt, half-dead appearance. “Sure. Sure, shit. I didn’t mean anything by it. Just being an asshole. Sorry, babe.”
His pleading eyes shifted back to Evan who, with a look of total contempt, gave him one quick shake and turned him loose. “Get the hell out of here.”
As soon as Bruiser disappeared into the wash of bodies, I rounded on Evan. “What the fuck?”
Evan stood as calm as if he were standing in a lecture hall giving a presentation. “He’s an asshole.”
“So?” I mean, I was hardly going to argue the point. “I was dancing with him, not marrying him.”
He took a step closer to me, and despite my irritation, my pulse kicked into high gear. “And now you’re not doing either,” he said.
“Oh.” The word escaped my lips, more breath than sound. It wasn’t even the sound I wanted to make. What I wanted, was to ask why. Why was he there? Why had he shoved the guy away? He’d followed me here, of course. The odds that this was a coincidence were simply too astronomical to fathom. But why? Did he regret walking away from me on the roof? Was he jealous of Kevin? Or, for that matter, of Bruiser?
Or was he simply watching over me? Looking out for me the way that Jahn had said he always would?
“He was dangerous, Angie,” Evan said, leading me to the edge of the dance floor. “And what the fuck are you doing here, anyway?”
My eyes snapped to his face, and the words were out before I could think better of them. “Maybe I like dangerous men.”
He hesitated only a heartbeat before replying, but even if he’d planned the words for a year, he couldn’t have cut me deeper. “Maybe you shouldn’t.”
Without thinking, I lashed out, intending to slap his face. I didn’t make it. He caught my wrist and pulled me close until I was mere millimeters from him, the heat from our bodies so intense I feared I might spontaneously combust.
He stood a full head taller than me, and he had me so close that my lips were almost pressed to the indentation at the base of his neck. He smelled like sin and despite how riled up I was, I had to fight the urge to sneak my tongue out and taste him.
He bent his head, his breath brushing over the top of my ear as he whispered to me. “I get it,” he said simply.
I went completely stiff. “What exactly do you get?”
“That you’re still crying for him.”
I felt frozen and my breath caught in my throat. Somehow, I managed to force my words out. “What do you mean?”
Something brushed my hair, and though I couldn’t know for certain, I imagined it was his lips. For a moment he didn’t answer, just held me. The thrum of the music pounding through me had nothing on the surge of blood through my veins. I wanted to stay like that forever. Lost in a forest of the senses. Lost in his arms.
This was what I’d craved—why I’d come out tonight. Not the club or the music or the alcohol, but this. The numbness vanquished, my senses on overdrive.
I’d known that the music and the dancing would get me there. That I’d be able to thrust my hand through the curtain and draw in at least a moment or two of real, solid sensation, even if most of it slipped through my fingers like trying to clutch sand.
But I’d never imagined this. Never imagined that I even had it in me to feel so much all at once. To know—to really and truly know—that I was alive.
I swallowed again. Part of me was afraid to speak for fear of breaking this spell. But another part of me had to know. “Evan?” I finally whispered, not at all certain he’d be able to hear me over the roar of the club around us. “What do you get?”
“You,” he said simply, and though it couldn’t possibly be true, right then it was the best thing he could have said to me.
“I miss him,” I said hoarsely, as if that explained why I was going wild in a sleazy club instead of curled up under a blanket sipping hot cocoa and crying.
“I know,” he said, and I felt a shiver run through me because I knew it was true. He knew. Not about the numbness. Not about the times I couldn’t take it anymore and had to fight through the fog. But about tonight and my grief and everything that I’d lost. About the fact that being here in this anonymous crowd with music pumping through my veins took the edge off just a little. It filled up the black hole of grief and loss. Made it bearable.
I didn’t understand how, but he got it. Everything that Kevin couldn’t see in me, Evan did.
I eased back so that I could tilt my head up, and found those gray eyes on me. Wolf’s eyes, I’d thought earlier, and the analogy was even more apt now. I saw danger there. Hunger. As if he would gleefully eat me alive.
And oh, dear god, I wanted him to. “Why are you here?” I whispered.
“You wanted to fly. I wanted to make sure you didn’t crash.”
“So you’re just looking out for me?” I held his eyes, drawing courage from the need I saw reflected back at me. “Or are you interested in helping with liftoff?”
His words were slow and measured. “It’s never wise for a princess to tease a dragon.”
“Who says I’m teasing?”
“It’s not wise to tempt one, either.”
“Why not?” My voice was breathy and full of need.
“Dragons burn. And the wounds leave scars.”
“What if I don’t care?”
He didn’t answer, but his eyes darkened and I knew damn well that he wanted this, too.
“Evan.” I didn’t realize that I’d spoken his name aloud until I heard my own voice, soft and low like a plea.
He shook his head slowly. “No.”
The word was firm and insistent—and I didn’t believe it for a second. This was my chance. My one shining, sparkling moment. I shouldn’t push—I knew that. Hadn’t I already told myself that this was a line I shouldn’t cross? That I needed to keep myself in check. That I needed to not push that envelope.
But dammit all, when I looked at his face, I knew without a doubt that I could fall with Evan. If he would make the jump with me, I was absolutely certain that he wouldn’t let me get hurt. He’d said it himself—he knew how to keep control. And I so desperately wanted to let go of it.
Fear and desire and an odd unwelcome shyness twisted inside of me. I was risking everything but I couldn’t stop. I had to have him. At the very least, I had to try. “Please,” I said simply.
“I stopped being reckless years ago,” Evan said, his tone firm and determined. “That shit gets you in trouble.”
I swallowed. Every ounce of reason told me that he was right, that I needed to take a step back. That I needed to stop, to go home, to count to ten. To calm the fuck down.
I didn’t do any of that. Instead, I took a step closer. “So now you’re all about control?”
A muscle in his cheek twitched. “Yes,” he said simply, but I knew that he was fighting to hold it together. I could see the tension in him, and a surge of feminine satisfaction cut through me because I knew with absolute certainty that if I pushed him, he would break.
I reached out, then gently pressed my palm to his chest. I felt wild. Hell, I felt reckless—and the irony really wasn’t lost on me. “All right,” I said, tilting my head up to meet his hard, heated gaze. “In that case, control me.”
He is everything I crave, all I desperately want—and he is everything I can’t have.
Evan Black embodies my every fantasy. He is brilliant, fierce, and devastatingly handsome. But he is also headstrong, dangerous, and burdened with secrets.
My family warned me to stay away, that I could never handle Evan’s dark dealings or scarred past. Maybe I should have listened. Maybe I should have run. But our desire is undeniable, and some temptations you just can’t fight.
And from the moment we touch—the passion between us consuming us both—I know that I will never be the same.
Wanted is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.
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