Sunday, July 26, 2009
Den of Desire by Shauna Hart
Den of Desire by Shauna Hart
Available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid
What was she doing here?
She still couldn’t believe that she’d let Lexi talk her into this. She knew that time was running out. After all, the deadline for her next erotic romance novel was only a month away, and she hadn’t written a single word. Readers expecting the next Mara Templeton novel were definitely going to be disappointed if she didn’t find some way to spark the muse. The two words that every writer dreads couldn’t have struck at a worse time.
Like the nemesis in the Harry Potter series, it was something that every writer feared but didn’t dare speak of aloud. But after a messy breakup two months ago, it had become her constant companion. She couldn’t deny that her breakup with Dan had been a shock. It wasn’t every day she found her boyfriend in bed with another woman. Still, it wasn’t like their relationship was a hot one. It wasn’t even lukewarm. After living together for four months, anything hot about their relationship had died a lonely death within the first few weeks.
So, why was she having this problem?
It was a good question.
One that she didn’t have an answer for.
Now, as she stood outside the club, she wondered if her problem wasn’t a bout of insanity. She looked up at the large X that hung over the door. At night, it would light up half of the block. But now, in the light of day, it was little more than an outline. She willed herself to knock, willed herself to be bold and brave like the characters in her books, but a part of her wavered.
When Lexi’d offered to take her to the club, she’d refused. As much as she wanted to be as wild and free as Lexi was, the truth was that they were complete opposites. She had never done anything like the things Lexi did. Until recently, it had seemed like her life was right on course. She had a successful career and a solid relationship. Now, she was beginning to see how naïve she had been.
Sensing that she was nervous about visiting the club, Lexi had set up a private walk-through with the owner during the day. She could still remember her friend’s good-natured prodding.
“What have you got to lose? Maybe if you walk around the place, you will get a few ideas. I know that I always do,” she said with a wink.
She knew Lexi was right.
What could touring the club when it was closed hurt?
She raised her hand to knock mere seconds before it was pulled open. Her gaze rose to meet an arresting pair of green eyes. One eyebrow arched.
She offered him a timid smile. “Yes, I’m here to meet…”
“Joe Gates,” he replied, holding out his hand.
She wasn’t sure what she had pictured when she thought of the man who owned the hottest sex club in town. Maybe bald, with the look of a pervert? But she definitely hadn’t expected him to be so…sexy.
Why would a guy like him be working in a place like this?
She placed her hand in his, noting how large it felt as it closed around her own. Instead of shaking it, he pulled her inside, closing the door behind them.
“Lexi said you wanted a private tour,” he said.
Despite the darkness, she could feel his eyes traveling the length of her body.
“Yes,” she managed.
He pulled a remote out of his pocket to press a button. Instantly, the room was flooded with light. Mara looked down the long narrow hall, her surprise evident. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting.
But this wasn’t it.
The place looked like little more than a glorified basement with track lighting. After everything she had heard from Lexi about how wonderful the place was, this was definitely not what she had envisioned.
He walked ahead of her, and she followed behind him.
“Normally, I wouldn’t grant a request like this, but Lexi’s a friend,” he observed.
Mara’s eyebrows arched. She couldn’t help but wonder what his definition of a friend was. Had they slept together? Her gaze fell to the way his ass filled out the pair of dress slacks he wore. The man definitely wore pants well. His black hair curled over the collar of his royal blue dress shirt, which was stretched over wide shoulders.
She could see why the place stayed in business. The man was a walking advertisement for sex, even if he did seem to have a slight attitude problem. He turned the corner, and her eyes widened. Rooms lined either side of the walls, their interior lights blinking on in chorus as she walked past. Her attention was immediately drawn to a room on the left. A circular bed rotated in the center. The interior of the room was draped in purple satin.
A glance to the right revealed a stark contrast. Chains were suspended from the ceiling and the floor. A variety of toys hung from the pegs at the back of the room. She turned to look at him only to find him watching her intently.
“I’m sorry if it’s an inconvenience,” she muttered, her brain still a little scrambled from the view. She felt his gaze on her body, and her nipples tightened against the thin material of her dress.
“I didn’t say that. I just think it’s a waste of time,” he explained casually.
Her eyes narrowed. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”
He walked over to her slowly, coming to stand before her. Reaching over, he twirled one of her blonde curls around his finger. “I don’t think you can understand what the club has to offer until you experience it firsthand.”
His words robbed the air from her lungs. She could feel the heat of his body against hers. And it felt good. Too good. Her eyes met his, and his full lips slid into a smile. Her mind went to forbidden places.
Places where naked bodies met.
She had to get a hold of herself before she did something stupid.
“Look, Mr. Gates…”
“Joe,” he corrected.
“Joe. This isn’t exactly my first book,” she reminded him curtly.
His gaze lifted to the ceiling for a moment as he replied. “Yes, I know. I’ve read them.”
Her eyebrows furrowed together. “You’ve read my books?” she asked, her surprise evident.
He stared at her but didn’t elaborate.
“And?” she prodded.
His eyebrows rose, his lips curling on a smirk. “They were…okay.”
Her eyes widened. “Okay?”
He tilted his head to the side at her reaction. “Yes.”
She drew in a deep breath in an attempt to reign in her temper. “So, you didn’t like them?”
“I didn’t say that. I just mean that it was obvious that you haven’t experimented much.”
She let out a huff of aggravation. “I’m not exactly a virgin, Mr. Gates,” she replied, her lips pursed.
His eyes traveled over her body in blatant interest. “Not exactly,” he agreed.
“Has anyone ever told you that you have a lot of nerve?” she asked, her voice laced with sarcasm.
His mischievous grin made her want to slap him. “I got the memo.”
“For your information, I’ve been with a lot of guys,” she offered.
In reality, all of three, but he didn’t have to know that.
“Really? Then I am sorry.”
She nodded. The man’s arrogance was astounding.
“I’m sorry that none of them could take you the way you want to be taken.”
“They took me just fine,” she countered defensively.
One eyebrow arched. “Not enough. And not the way you wanted them to,” he explained.
“Why do you think you’ve suddenly become such an expert on me and what I want?” she challenged.
His smug grin nearly did her in. “I read your books.”
She sighed heavily. He took a step closer, his hand coming up to curl around her nape. His thumb trailed along the line of her jaw. Her mouth parted of its own volition as he leaned in.
“You want to be taken, Mara,” he said, his breath wafting over her lips. “You want to be taken so deeply that you only exist for pleasure.”
All rational thought seemed to disappear with his nearness. As much as he irritated her, she couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like to have his lips against hers, his tongue seeking out every hidden part of her mouth.
“I…” she stuttered.
“I could show you. But not while the club is closed.”
She told herself to back away, to tell him to go to hell, but her feet stayed rooted to the floor. She couldn’t deny that she was intrigued. The smoky depth of his voice teased her with something she had fantasized about for years but never admitted out loud. True, she had been with other lovers, but none of them had been able to take her to the heights she had heard Lexi muse about. Maybe deep down she had begun to believe that she would never reach them.
But as Joe’s body pressed into hers, she wondered…
“I don’t…” she began.
His finger came up to cover her lips, effectively silencing her. “Don’t you want to know? Don’t you want to feel what your characters feel?” he taunted.
More than she could ever admit.
To herself. And to a stranger.
“Because until you do, you’re cheating yourself and you’re cheating them.”
She forced herself to look away from the smoldering heat in his gaze, and he dropped his hand.
“I appreciate the offer, Mr. Gates. But I’m just not into…” She trailed off, unable to describe the events that took place here.
His answering smile mocked her cowardice. “Yes, you are. You wouldn’t write about it if you weren’t curious.”
He took her hand, leading her over to a large picture window. Inside, a rectangular table covered in black leather was the only furniture. Straps lined the sides.
“Imagine what it would be like. Blindfolded. Strapped down. Completely bare. All you can do is feel.”
His words made her body cry out to be filled. She could feel his erection against her buttocks, and despite the warning in her head, she wanted more.
“Have you ever been taken like that? Given your body so completely to another?”
She had never thought she could or wanted to. But standing before him, feeling him against her as she listened to the husky sound of his voice, she realized that she did.
“Come to the club tonight.”
His breath teased the sensitive skin of her ear. It made her want to agree to anything he asked.
He turned her to face him. “I’m not asking you to participate, Mara. Not yet, anyway. I just want you to see it. I want you to see what people experience when they come here.”
She bit the inside of her lip. “Just to watch?”
He smiled, his gaze feeling as intimate as any touch she had ever experienced. “Nothing will happen that you don’t want to happen,” he assured her.
That, she was afraid, was the problem.
* * *
Den of Desire Available Now
The Pleasure of Sin Available Now
from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid