Authors: Tonya Ramagos
Homicide Detective Megan Pontius hungers for a dark side of sex she’s never experienced, and she knows the man to give it to her, if only he didn’t scare her to her toes. She’s kept her distance from aquarist Drake Allen, knowing one kiss could be dangerous to her body and heart. But when a mutual friend is killed and Drake is the primary suspect, she finds herself wondering if she’s submitting to the domination of a murderer.
Drake wants Megan under his control, and he wants her forever. He’s bided his time, waiting for her to be willing to set her inner lustful demon free. That time has come, and he’s ready to deliver her pleasures more exotic than any she’s ever known. But when he finds himself accused of murder, he discovers he needs Megan more than just in his bed. She’s his only hope of proving his innocence, but does she believe him?
Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Siren Publishing, Inc.
A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Erotic Romance
Copyright © 2012 by Tonya Ramagos
First E-book Publication: October 2012
Cover design by Harris Channing
All cover art and logo copyright © 2012 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
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Copyright © 2012
Desire rode on a hot tide of imagined pleasure as Megan Pontius peered through the office glass of the M.P. Colton Aquarium. Visitors swarmed the lobby below, excitement evident on their faces. But one body stood out in the crowd.
Her heart rate climbed with her gaze as she started at his bare feet and worked her way up his black, skin-tight wetsuit. Strongly defined calves led her gaze to the backs of his powerful thighs. Her attention paused on his delectable ass, and desire looped through her, tightening its hold on her like a satin ribbon. Wetness slickened her pussy lips as she continued her upward assessment to his narrow waist, broad shoulders, and ebony hair. No doubt about it, the man was pure temptation wrapped in a six-foot-one package of sheer sex appeal, and she wanted him. Oh, how she wanted him.
“He’s still single.”
Megan startled at the statement and quickly averted her gaze from the glass to find Paul Colton standing beside her, a world of knowledge and amusement swirling in his otherwise troubled eyes.
Paul rested an aging hand on the windowsill, the corners of his lips twitching, causing the wrinkles around his mouth to stand out. “And, unless something has changed since I saw you last, you are, too.”
No, nothing had changed. She had been living the single life for nearly a year now. It was partly by choice and, though she hated to admit it, partly because of the man below now disappearing through the employee doors at the back of the lobby.
“You should go talk to him, ask him on a date. Isn’t it socially acceptable these days for the woman to make the first move?”
Megan gave a half laugh as she turned from the glass and leaned against the windowsill. “I thought you frowned upon your employees socializing while they’re on the clock.”
“I do. So wait until he is off the clock.” Paul sighed and raked a hand over his balding, gray head. “Although, at the rate things are looking today, that may not be until sometime tomorrow.”
Megan lifted a brow. “Working your employees around the clock now? That’s not like you. Want to tell me what’s going on?”
Paul shook his head and walked to his desk. He snagged a cigarette out of the pack on the desktop, lit it, and took a deep drag.
Megan folded her arms beneath her breasts and studied her old friend and former boss. She had noticed he wasn’t looking too hot when she had first entered the office. The confidant, ambitious, determined man she had always admired seemed to be surrendering to stress and depression.
“Weren’t you supposed to quit smoking over a year ago?”
“Let’s just say that backfired.”
“And increased,” she pointed out mildly. “That’s your third one since I walked into this office less than a half hour ago. When I add that to your current mood, I would say quitting smoking isn’t the only thing that has backfired on you.”
Paul flicked ashes in a nearby ashtray as he rounded his desk and settled in the swivel chair behind it. “And you would be right. This whole damn place is going wrong on me.”
Megan shot a quick glance behind her, noting once again the crowded lobby below. “Business looks good.” She hadn’t been to the aquarium in a while, but she couldn’t remember ever seeing so many people here at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon.
Paul frowned. “It’s not good enough. I’m struggling everyday to keep this place open, Megan.”
Megan angled her head and drew her brows together. “I would have thought all the tourist action this area sees these days would’ve increased business by a truckload. I know the casinos are the biggest draw to the Biloxi strip, but people don’t gamble the entire time they’re here.”
“Those damn casinos are the bane of my existence. It’s not enough to have a facility centered around the marine life anymore. People want all the flash and glam to go along with it. They want bigger and better.” He adjusted his face to one an excited patron might make and raised his voice a full octave, adding his best girly imitation to it. “Oh, that shark just swims around a tank? Show me how vicious he can be. I want to watch him bite someone in half.”
Megan laughed. “Come on, Paul. You know that’s not what people want to see.”
“It might as well be.” Paul sighed. “I would like to give them what they want. Well, not the whole shark-biting-a person-in-half part, but the bigger and better shows. I know how to make this facility compete with the best aquariums across the country. Having the finances to make it happen, however, is the problem.”
“And the partners aren’t willing to invest what is necessary to make the improvements.” Megan understood now. Paul was the majority owner of the M.P. Colton Aquarium, but he had three partners with smaller investments in the company as well. She didn’t know much about Brandon Easley, Walter Samuels, or Joan Baxter, but the little she had gathered about them over the years had told her the aquarium meant far more to Paul than Walter or Joan. She put Brandon in a close second.
“Just the opposite. They want to sell it.”
Megan straightened, utterly shocked. “Sell it? You’re kidding, right?”
Paul huffed a breath. “I wish I was. We’ve been offered a sizeable amount for this place.”
Paul waved a frustrated hand in the air. “Some highfalutin suits from Vegas. They don’t want the aquarium. They want the land.”
“So they can tear down the facility and build another casino.” With the legalization of gambling in Biloxi, land on the main strip had become a hot commodity. Flashy neon lights and pristine architecture now decorated much of the city, stealing what had once been a beautiful Southern belle town.
“I’m wiped out, Megan. I’m in personal debt to my eyebrows. There is no way I can come up with the money to save this place without help from Brandon, Joan, and Walter.”
Surprise rendered Megan speechless. Paul had always been a fighter, adamant about making his dreams come true. Was he telling her those dreams were now crumbling around him? Surely he had enough fight left in him to keep that from happening?
Paul picked up a sheet of paper from the desktop, scowled at it, then put it back down. “Then I’ve got employees doing their damnedest to sabotage the main attractions I have left.”
Surely he didn’t mean Drake. The man was a class-A aquarist and cage diver with the degrees to back him up. As far as Megan knew, he was the most qualified employee Paul had on staff to tend to the marine life kept in the tanks.
“Who are you talking about?”
Paul opened his mouth to answer, but shut it again when someone knocked on the closed office door. The door opened slowly, and his nephew, Robert Warren, peeked his head inside.
“You wanted to see me, Uncle Paul?”
“Get in here.” The change in Paul was instantaneous. Anger pumped off the man in waves, hitting Megan with an almost tangible force.
Oh, Robert. What have you done this time?
Megan sighed inwardly as she watched Robert shuffle his clown-sized feet forward until he stood just inside the doorway. Paul had broken his personal rule when he hired Robert, allowing the young man to work for him despite the fact that he was family. Of course, Paul had broken the rule years before when he had hired Megan, too. She wasn’t family, but Paul’s devoted friendship with her parents for most of her life made her close enough to family that few people would argue.
“What’s up?” Robert asked.
The way he was fidgeting with the zipper of his wetsuit told Megan he had a good indication of what was up, but had decided to play it dumb.
Not a good move, dude.
The man had potential. At twenty-four with a biology degree under his belt and an uncle in the perfect position to turn that degree into a real career, the man could have reached for the deepest seas and floated right back to the surface. Unfortunately for Robert, and Paul, Robert rarely took anything seriously. She knew he had gotten that degree by the proverbial skin of his teeth and, if it weren’t for Paul’s wife, Marie, he wouldn’t have the job at the M.P. Colton Aquarium. A job Megan was strongly starting to believe to be in jeopardy.