Authors: Christine D'abo
Tags: #Erotica, #Fiction
A Shot in the Dark
Carter is one of the hottest men ever to walk into Paige Long’s coffee shop. The attraction is mutual, and when Carter reveals himself to be a Dom, the submissive in Paige is aroused. Yet she brushes him off—her last relationship was abusive and she’s unwilling to get involved with another Dom.
But when Carter returns the next day—in his firefighter uniform—Paige’s fantasies really heat up. She can’t resist his offer to get to know him over a drink at Mavericks, a local sex club. Their conversation quickly escalates to a session in one of the private rooms, and Paige is both thoroughly satisfied by Carter’s skills in domination, and impressed with his selflessness as a lover.
Paige is ready to move on with her life. But can she trust in herself and submit to happiness?
Book 2 of the Long Shots series.
What do you get when you cross summer with lots of beach time, and long hours of traveling? An executive editor who’s too busy to write the Dear Reader letter, but has time for reading. I find both the beach and the plane are excellent places to read, and thanks to plenty of time spent on both this summer (I went to Australia! And New Zealand!) I’m able to tell you with confidence: our fall lineup of books is outstanding.
We kick off the fall season with seven romantic suspense titles, during our Romantic Suspense celebration in the first week of September. We’re pleased to offer novella
by Marie Force as a free download to get you started with the romantic suspense offerings. Also in September, fans of Eleri Stone’s sexy, hot paranormal romance debut novel,
can look forward to her follow-up story,
set in the same world of the Lost City Shifters.
Looking to dive into a new erotic romance? We have a sizzling trilogy for you. In October, look for Christine D’Abo’s Long Shots trilogy featuring three siblings who share ownership of a coffee shop, and each of whom discover steamy passion within the walls of a local sex club. Christine’s trilogy kicks off with
In addition to a variety of frontlist titles in historical, paranormal, contemporary, steampunk and erotic romance, we’re also pleased to present two authors releasing backlist titles with us. In October, we’ll re-release four science fiction romance titles from the backlist of C.J. Barry, and in November four Western romance titles from the backlist of Susan Edwards.
Also in November, we’re thrilled to offer our first two chick lit titles from three debut authors,
Liar’s Guide to True Love
by Wendy Chen and
by Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz. I hope you’ll check out these fun, sometimes laugh-out-loud novels.
Whether you’re on the beach, on a plane, or sitting in your favorite recliner at home, Carina Press can offer you a diverting read to take you away on your next great adventure this fall!
We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your thoughts, comments and questions to [email protected] You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter stream and Facebook fan page.
Executive Editor, Carina Press
A writer never works in a vacuum. I’d like to thank my wonderful editor Deb, whose sharp eyes make my stories so much better. The fun is just starting.
A Shot in the Dark: a cup of drip coffee with two shots of espresso in it. Not for the faint of heart.
aige stood in the doorway of the kitchen and knew her mouth was hanging open. There wasn’t anything about sex that could startle her. She’d been around the block and back more than once. So it was odd that catching two of her employees fucking on the island in the kitchen threw her completely off-guard.
Granted, it had been an awfully long time since she’d seen any action herself. Her tastes tended to run a bit darker than the vanilla—although public—sex she was witnessing. Mitch and Beth still hadn’t been alerted to her presence, which was understandable given they were groaning and moaning loud enough to wake the dead. Mitch hadn’t fully removed his pants, and Paige only caught the occasional glimpse of his white ass as he thrust into Beth.
Paige disengaged from the scene unfolding in front of her. It was missing the spark she craved—all surface and no substance. Like watching a porn movie with the sound turned off.
Knowing she couldn’t let this go on much longer, yet hating to ruin their fun before she had to ruin their lives, Paige stepped back out of the kitchen and leaned up against the counter. It gave her a moment to get her head straight and her temper under control. Things would only be worse if she lost it and started yelling at the pair.
God, she hated playing everyone’s mom all the time. Every situation had her being the heavy, and damn she was getting tired of it.
Ian was forever picking fights with her, pushing her on every decision she made in regard to the business. She loved her brother and would be forever grateful to the little shit for encouraging them to start the store, but he wasn’t the one with the business degree. He always questioned why she’d want to do things a particular way. Sure, occasionally he was right. He had solid instincts when it came to what his customers wanted. Ian was also a jerk half the time.
At least Sadie wasn’t giving her any trouble. After their mom’s death and the mess with their dad, Paige had worried about her sister. Not that Paige didn’t still keep an eye on her, but Sadie was now happily settled in a relationship.
A moan from the kitchen was followed by a high-pitched squeak—and wasn’t
an embarrassing sex noise—and finally the soft muttering of voices and laughter. Closing her eyes, Paige tried to slip into that place in her mind that gave her strength. It was getting harder and harder to find her center these days, almost to the point where she didn’t think she’d be able to get there at all anymore.
Not without help.
Which she would never ask for again.
The sound of approaching footsteps had Paige straighten up and flick her long ponytail over her shoulder. She knew the image she’d be projecting. Ian would have called it her schoolteacher-from-hell glare, and it was something she’d learned to do at a young age. People didn’t bully you if they were scared to death.
When Mitch and Beth finally spilled out of the kitchen, their clothing mostly where it should be, they didn’t see her immediately. She waited, perversely enjoying the way Beth tensed and Mitch frowned before they both turned to her.
“Shit,” Mitch muttered.
“I hope you didn’t do
in the kitchen.” Paige braced her hands on her hips. “Because it would get us shut down for at least a few days with the cleanup.”
Beth sputtered for a moment before stepping between Paige and Mitch. “Paige, oh my God, we’re sorry. It was a onetime thing and I promise it will never happen again.”
“That’s right, it won’t. You’re both fired.” And once again, Paige was forced to be the bitch. “I’m sorry but this is something I can’t turn a blind eye to. Beth, I’m disappointed in you. You’ve been with us since the beginning and know how much something like this could screw up the store. The health factors alone…”
It hurt knowing that the young woman was trying to pay her way through university and needed the job. That Paige was now in a position of being forced to choose between what was right for the store—and therefore her family—and someone she considered a friend. It sucked big time. But at the end of the day, she was still the boss and had to act like it, even when the task was far from pleasant.
“Paige, this wasn’t Beth’s fault.” Mitch stepped up and put his arm around Beth’s waist. “She didn’t want to do that in there but I kept pushing. If you need to let me go, that’s fine, but please keep her on.”
“Admirable, but I can’t. As they say, it takes two.” Paige pinched the bridge of her nose and this time let the sigh slip through. “Please leave your aprons on the counter. I’ll do up your final checks and have them ready for you on Friday.”
“Paige, I’m—” Beth started, only to be tugged away by Mitch.
“Let’s go, babe.”
“No, she needs to understand—”
“She understands. Come on, I’ll take you home.”
The silence of the shop pressed down on Paige once the door had closed behind Beth’s sobs. She’d only intended to grab her bank files to work on at home. It was a rare night when all three Long siblings were off and Beth was holding down the fort. Wednesdays were normally quiet enough that Ian could be convinced to take a break. She knew he’d only be upstairs—her baby brother’s social life was as destitute as her own these days—but she didn’t want to call him down to cover the last half hour of store hours. God, he’d be pissed when he found out about Beth, and if Paige could put that encounter off a bit longer, it would be best for everyone.
That would teach her to be proactive.
Paige slipped on an apron, slapped her file folder onto the counter and flicked it open. With luck there wouldn’t be any customers, or at least, no customers with expectations beyond a simple coffee. She would have to call Ian if someone insisted on a fancy mug of something or other. Why the hell they needed a menu for coffee was still beyond her realm of understanding.
Coffee. Mug. Done.
There was little traffic this time of night, the occasional set of headlights casting wide shadows on the walls of the empty shop. The words on the page blurred as she stared too long at one spot. She should be feeling angry, furious if she gave it much thought. But all she could muster was a strong sense of disappointment and the regret at knowing she’d have to tell Ian they’d all have to work longer shifts again.
More work, less chance at a social life.
At least Sadie was getting some.
The smell of coffee couldn’t cover up the scent of sex in the room. Paige was strangely affected by it, and found herself more than a little disturbed by this. Why the hell did they have to do something so stupid in the store?
The muted sounds of chatting and laughter grew louder as a group of people pushed their way through the front door. Paige set the folder aside and plastered a smile on her face.
“Welcome to Pulled Long. What can I get for you?”
The group continued to chat as they considered their options. Most wore leather and silk, and several of them had attractive piercings. While there were many clubs in Toronto they could be heading to, if they were on foot and in this part of the neighborhood, there was little doubt they’d be on their way to Mavericks.
One man stood behind the rest, and by behind she meant towered over. His blond hair was cut close to the scalp on the sides and long enough on top to project the image of a model rather than an army grunt. Paige did her best to ignore the way he stared at her, even as she tried to sneak glances at him. Black leather pants and what had to be a navy blue T-shirt. It was hard to tell given the length of his leather jacket.
Finally, they threw orders Paige’s way. Fucking three cappuccinos, an Americano and two lattes. Paige smiled her way through their list and quickly promised herself she’d re-read Ian’s coffee guide at the next possible opportunity. Making coffee shouldn’t be this painful.
It took her longer than the other baristas to get the drinks ready, but thankfully the group didn’t seem to mind. They filtered over to the tables, enjoying the empty store as they waited.
Everyone except for him.
“You seem pretty quiet here tonight.” His voice had a smoky quality to it, like he’d spent most of the day talking. “Business is good I hope?”
“We’re doing well, thanks. Wednesday nights never seem to have much of a rush. Which is a bit of a blessing sometimes. It gives me a chance to get caught up on my paperwork.”
Not that I’m doing anything else.
“What can I get for you? Cappuccino or a latte?”
He smiled and tipped his head to the side. “This may seem like an odd request, but do you have a plain, strong coffee? Nothing fancy?”
Paige couldn’t hold back her smile. “You sound like me. Let me get you a cup.”
“You don’t like fancy things?”
My God, is he flirting?
Paige filled one of the to-go cups and slid it over to him. “Not in my coffee.”
“I promise I won’t tell your boss you said that.”
“Thankfully, I am the boss.” She grinned. “One of them at least. But if you can keep it from my brother I would appreciate it. He’s the coffee snob of the three of us.”
The man took a sip. His lips twitched and he almost lost some of the seriousness of his expression. “Ah, you’re one of the Long sisters then. If I had to guess, I’d say you were Paige and not Sadie. Am I right?”
Paige flinched before forcing her body to relax. It was hard not to be freaked out when a stranger knew who she was. “How do you know that?”
“Josh from Mavericks. He’s done nothing but sing the praises of this place since the anniversary party a few months ago. Tells people the owners are open to a variety of lifestyles and we should try and support you.”
It didn’t hurt that Josh was half in love with her sister
her sister’s boyfriend. “He’s been supportive.”
The man flicked the tail of his jacket up and slid onto the stool in front of Paige. The rest of the group came up one by one to get their drinks, each one casting him a strange look before wandering back to their table. The feeling of unease grew inside her as she finished the last drink and handed it over to a young woman whose outfit was more hooker than fetish. With nothing left to keep her busy, she was forced to focus her attention on the man.
He took another sip, his gaze slipping down her body. Paige had never been so thankful for her black barista’s apron.
“You never answered my question.”
She grabbed the cloth and began to wipe down the counter. “Which one?”
“If you’re Paige?”
She knew he wasn’t going to let this go until she relented. “Yes.”
“You’re the oldest, right?”
“I am indeed.” The next time she saw Josh, she was going to kick his ass. “I feel like I’m at a bit of a disadvantage.”
He took another large gulp of coffee before holding out his hand. “Carter.”
“Nice to meet you.”
Carter’s hand was huge as he wrapped his fingers around hers. Paige wasn’t a small woman, but she felt downright tiny compared to this man. His grip was firm and his hands were rough. He didn’t strike her as an office rat, but if he was she could tell he didn’t shy away from manual work. He projected strength and confidence, even as he sat there.
The beginnings of something tingled low in her gut. Paige pulled her hand away, the smile on her face feeling strained. “Nice to meet you,” she repeated lamely.
She turned her back on him and ducked down to check the inventory levels. It was something she would normally do after close, but there was no way she could continue to be the focus of Carter’s visual inspection. With luck, he’d take the hint and leave her in peace.
The group’s noise levels increased as they scraped the chairs along the floor. The bell above the door sounded as the group laughed and chatted their way out.
“Carter, you coming, man? Should be lots of people there now.”
“I’m not done with my coffee. I’ll catch up with you soon.”
The silence that descended on the store wasn’t as all-encompassing as it had been before. Carter said nothing, the sounds of his sipping and the weight of his stare on her back the only indications of his presence.
Paige closed her eyes and got her annoyance under control. Other than knowing her name, Carter hadn’t done anything to warrant her reaction. She’d been tense before finding Beth and Mitch, and now with the rest of her evening shot, Paige knew she’d be less than pleasant company.
Taking a breath, she stood up and faced him once more. “How’s the coffee? Can I get you anything else?”
“It’s amazing and no, thanks.” Another sip. “Trying to get rid of me?”
“Not at all. I figured you’d want to catch up to your friends. I know Mavericks starts to get busy this time of night.”
Carter nodded, but instead of moving to get up, he leaned on the counter. “It’s the same crew there as always. Josh needs to do a membership drive. Get some fresh blood into the place.”
Paige wasn’t sure why, but her pussy was starting to take notice of Carter’s intense hazel eyes. Every time she met his gaze directly, a tingle would make her clit pulse and she’d drop her gaze. Shit, she didn’t even know if he was into that. Her unconscious reaction to the powerful and in-control man annoyed her as much as it aroused.
She’d made a promise to herself she wouldn’t let herself get into the scene again, no matter how much she needed it.
“Have you been to Mavericks?”
His question caught her up short. “Yes.” She went back to counting the cup lids. “But that was years ago. I don’t do that scene anymore.”
Carter hummed. “Don’t do Mavericks, or
Okay, screw you, buddy.
“I’m sorry. I know you’re a friend of Josh and we certainly appreciate your business here, but I don’t know you and I’m not about to discuss my personal life with a stranger. If you can finish your drink and head off to your party, I need to close the store now.”
Paige stared into Carter’s eyes, ignoring the way they sparkled. It was hard to maintain the gaze, but she knew he wouldn’t leave her alone otherwise. The cocky bastard was a Dom. She should have clued in the moment he walked in the door, but she was understandably rusty.