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Here is a short sample from the book:
The first time I saw him, when he looked back at me, a thrill of energy blazed through every nerve in my body. It was a tingling flash, gone in an instant, leaving me hyper-aware of his presence, and every detail I could detect across a dim, crowded room.
He stood by the bar, one arm resting on the polished surface, his shirt collar open under his jacket in a casual way, putting me in mind of a businessman relaxing on his way home from work. Was his tie in his car? I felt sure he was wearing a tie before he decided to stop for a drink.
His dark hair was brushed back from a wide and manly forehead. I couldn’t tell the exact color of his eyes. Dark. I was sure his eyes were dark.
He had a fine Roman nose and a clean-shaven square jaw. Classically handsome, he would be called. He was tall, powerful-looking and muscular, though not in a bulky way. Something about him seemed familiar. Had I met him before? No. I would remember meeting this man.
There was no telling what he did for a living, but his appearance suggested a professional of some sort. I also couldn’t be sure of his age, and guessed he was approaching forty.
But guessing certain details wasn’t important at that time. There was only one thing I truly wanted to know.
When he looked back at me, at that first moment when our gazes met, did he experience the same jolt of connection as I?
Nothing in his demeanor suggested he felt anything at all. He simply stood there and looked back at me, not in a blank way, but in a thinking, contained way. If his nerves were jangled like mine, he didn’t show it.
And then, too soon, the tingles and questions were ruined, obliterated by my friend, Sherry, who half-yelled in my ear, “See something you like?”
I blinked. Something I like? I turned to my friend. And just like that, the moment when I first saw The Businessman was over.
I played it light. “And what if I have?”
She raised her glass to me. “Good for you!” She called to our two other friends, her loud voice easily carrying over the blaring music. “Attention, ladies! Our freshly-minted divorcee here is officially ready to move on. She’s spied a candidate for some single-time-to-mingle action. Raise your drinks!”
They laughed. We clinked glasses, and I played along with their ribbing since it was why we were here — to celebrate my divorce. Toast to a fresh start. Why the hell not.
They teased me about the hot men I could have with a free conscience, but I couldn’t focus on what they said. They trashed my ex, declared him a loser and me a lucky lady to be through with him, my future wide open, etc., etc. Basically, it was everything we’d been saying since my husband and I split nine months earlier. The only difference now was that the split was official. I signed the papers that morning.
This chatter about my circumstances and about my ex-husband, we had hashed and rehashed so often I could have recited what everyone said before they actually said it. Normally, I enjoyed shredding my ex-husband’s character, or lack thereof. But not tonight. Tonight I experienced something new. Instant attraction. With a stranger in a bar. How odd … and thrilling.
I couldn’t pay much attention to my friends because it took the majority of my mental effort to keep from searching out The Businessman, as I thought of him now, to verify he still stood by the bar. Finally, I gave in and looked his way, only a furtive glimpse so I could quickly look away should he catch me searching for him.
Ah, there he was, still standing where I last saw him, but he wasn’t looking my way. He was talking to someone, an older man.
My friend Jackie poked me in the arm. “Hey! We’ve called your ex enough names for one night. Why don’t you get on over there to Mr. Sexy and stake your claim.”
I only smiled.
“I’m just saying, if you don’t do it, one of these young blondies trolling around here will beat you to it.”
I shrugged. “If he wants young blondes, he’s welcome to them.”
My friends laughed at me. They always knew when I was full of shit.
“Go on,” said Sherry. “Go say hi. He won’t bite.”
“Or maybe he will,” said Gail.
Jackie waggled an eyebrow. “I can tell he’s got a taste for fresh hot divorcees on the prowl.”
They continued in this fashion, fully enjoying themselves, until I couldn’t take it anymore and escaped with the classic line of “I’ve got to use the restroom.”
They didn’t buy it, but the restroom excuse is sacred, and there was nothing they could do but heckle my back as I fled into the crowd.
I had to walk by The Businessman to reach the restroom and I couldn’t resist, on my way, trying to catch his eye. He did glance my way as I passed, but not at my face. He gave my body a quick and intimate once-over. Feet to chest, and there he stopped.
I should have been insulted, but I wasn’t. Maybe it was because I’d had three stiff drinks. Most likely, it was because I hoped he liked what he saw. If he’d been some smelly jerk lingering on a street corner, my reaction would have been a biting, vocal opposite.
By the time I reached the hallway that led to the bathrooms, my face was hot from embarrassment. I spent several minutes in the ladies room, standing at the lavatory getting myself together, reminding myself what I was doing. I was having fun, that was all. I remembered how to have fun, didn’t I? Oh, hell, who knew.
Did I ever have fun, even before my marriage? Regardless, now was the time to start.
I told myself that, as soon as I left the restroom, I would introduce myself to The Businessman. I would do it. I would. Go girl.
I checked myself one last time in the mirror before I charged into my mission. Look out, sexy stranger, I thought. Here comes a woman with a plan. I pulled the door open.
But I didn’t get the chance to put that plan into action.
The Businessman stood in the hallway.
He leaned against the paneled wall, his arms crossed casually. Up close like this, he was taller than I thought he’d be. He was powerfully built, solid under his suit jacket and open-collared shirt. He had sexy, half-lidded eyes as he gave me another once over, then met my gaze.
That strange energy thrummed through me, similar to the one before. My brain seemed to stop working, as if I could only experience the world through this sensation, this sensual connection that coiled between me and The Businessman.
No, that’s not right. To be fair, my brain still worked. I simply ignored it. My brain told me to get the hell out of the hall. It warned that I wasn’t ready for whatever this stranger offered, or for what he might take. It ordered me to run away from the dangerous character. Forget about fun. Think about what you’re doing.
My tingling body, however, told me I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Let the moment play out. Forget about caution and explore the possibilities. I was free and pushing 30, and I didn’t need anyone else’s permission to do what I wanted. This man was without doubt the most magnetic, sexy man I’d ever seen. And if I weren’t mistaken, he was interested in me, too.
With three drinks of buzzed confidence and freshly-signed divorce papers whispering permission, my body made a far more appealing argument than my brain.
Then The Businessman smiled a small, knowing smile. His half-grin was an invitation. It said, come on, do you dare?
It was as if a haze rose in the hallway, and the only thing I could see clearly was the powerful man with the wicked smile. My awareness of him was acute, intense. Something about him. Something.
I knew I wanted him. I wanted to kiss that grin and taste exactly what it was he offered, what he might take.
When he held out a hand to me, I stepped forward and grasped it, and he led me past the ladies room, farther down the hall, into a darkened corridor which branched to the right off the main hall. I could make out a closed door at the end of the corridor, but couldn’t see clearly with the only lighting coming indirectly from the main hall. We stopped about halfway to the closed door.
Had I gone insane? What was I doing? We hadn’t even spoken to one another and here I was following him into the shadows of a noisy old bar. But I wasn’t much attending any of the thoughts that I should have been attending. My body had triumphed over my brain, and I wasn’t heeding reason. My senses were focused on the man holding my hand. Even the loud music from the bar faded into the distance.
Anyone walking to the end of the main hallway could have seen us back there, a pair of dark silhouettes moving in the shadows. The Businessman pulled me to him, held my face and leaned down to kiss me. His lips barely touched mine. It seemed he was breathing me in and I did the same.
We brushed lips and he tasted of clean freshness and of the bourbon he’d been drinking. I smelled the spicy scent of his cologne and I laid my hands against his hard chest. His masculine fragrance mingled with the other smells in the corridor, grainy spilled beer and the tang of pine paneling, the bite of the dust we stirred up from the old carpeting.
Our kiss slowly grew more intense. I opened my mouth and he entered it with a hard tongue. One of his arms slipped around my waist, behind my back, pulling me closer while I raised my arms to his shoulders and wrapped them around his neck.
This kissing was a feral thing, out of control. On my part, at least. For The Businessman, I thought not.
I didn’t question anything. I didn’t worry about people walking down the main hallway and seeing me. I didn’t fret over being alone, necking with a stranger. I was of the moment and my body felt alive in a way it never had. My heart raced as he kissed me in what felt increasingly like a claim. We weren’t kissing each other. He was claiming me.
His mouth moved over mine with smooth and firm expertise. He held my face and took what he wanted, leaving me breathless and ready for more.
I don’t know how long we did this. I was lost. And so when everything changed, it took me a while to catch up.
We’d been kissing, so close and tight together, my breasts mashed against his hard chest, my fingers groping at the sinewy toughness of his back. And then it all changed.
In a swift and smooth movement, he pushed away from me, seized my hands and raised them over my head. In another movement, he turned me around and shoved me into the wall, front-first, my hot cheek pressed against the cool paneling.
It seemed only a microsecond passed until he smashed his body against the back of mine to hold me still, while at the same time he secured my hands to a fixture on the wall, above my head.
Just like that, I was bound … and nearly helpless. I felt his warm breath on my ear. I wasn’t sure what had happened. I twisted and bent my head back far enough to see my restraints. There it was, wrapped around my wrists. The Businessman’s tie.
I stupidly thought, “So that’s what he did with it.”
My reaction after that, though, was instinctual. I pulled. I pulled, and my breath which was already shortened from The Businessman’s kisses became rough and ragged from a ripening panic. I didn’t want to be helpless. I had to get away. I may have said no. I don’t know why I didn’t yell, but I’m certain I didn’t.
I didn’t want to be tied up by a stranger. I pulled harder but was unable to gain purchase because of his hard weight pressed against my back. My panic increased.
Before it went full-blown, The Businessman spoke his first words to me.
His voice was deep and soothing. “I’ll let you go if that’s what you want.”
I slowed my frantic pulling. He … would let me go … if I want? I made a few more weak pulls as I considered what he said. What was this? A trick?
He trailed his fingertips down the sides of my raised arms, so very, very slowly, raising goosebumps as he went. Then he continued down both sides of my body, past my breasts, down my waist and hips, and onward to my upper legs. And there he stopped, toying with the bare flesh of my thighs, millimeters below the hem of my skirt.
“I’ll let you go, if you want,” he said.
I shuddered lightly.
His words fell on my sensitive skin in a heated tickle. “But I don’t think that’s what you want.”
I shuddered again as his fingertips played up and under the bottom of my skirt, climbing higher, my nerves dancing under his touch.
I stopped trying to free myself. My breath slowed as if I were holding it in anticipation of where his fingers might travel next. My panic morphed into desire, wanting him to touch more.
He took a half-step back to give himself room to explore. When his fingertips of fire reached the bottom curve of my buttocks, and my breath audibly caught in my throat, he stopped moving, leaned over so I could see into his dark eyes. “Are you afraid of me?”
I swallowed the lump his words raised in my throat, and answered with a weakness I didn’t expect. “Yes … no.”
“Good. Do you want me to let you go?”
I shook my head.
“Say the words,” he said.
I knew I would say the words. I knew I would say just about anything he wanted me to say, with his fingers lightly touching the bottom of my ass, right at the edge of my panties and on the verge of heading I hoped I knew where.
“I don’t want you to let me go,” I said.
“Good.” His only response.