Authors: Karen Erickson
|Karen Erickson (2011)|
What's your fantasy?Stephanie Shaw's ready to experience a fantasy or two all for the sake of her job. Research for the magazine she works for could result in her own column and she wants it. Bad.Almost as bad as the gorgeous man she runs into-literally. Justin Hawkins is sinfully hot and ready to indulge in her every whim. A few stolen hours in the backseat of a car turns into the most passionate sexual encounter of her life.But Stephanie's keeping a secret. When she finds out Justin is a former pro baseball player, no way can she tell him about her job. The media-shy Justin hates being in the public eye and Stephanie's documenting their sexual encounters for the entire city to read-anonymously.A betrayal of trust hurts them both and sends them reeling. And also renders them apart. Stephanie's devastated, Justin's angry. Can this relationship be fixed?
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Copyright © 2011 by Karen Erickson
Cover by Jaxadora Design
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Stephanie Shaw plucked the yummy looking cocktail off the waiter’s tray and polished off half of it in one swallow. The alcohol blazed a path of stinging heat down her throat and she forced a smile, hoping like crazy she wouldn’t cough. “Thanks,” she croaked.
The waiter rolled his eyes and walked away.
Pursing her lips, she glanced about the crowded club. The place was packed, full of San Francisco’s young and successful and she felt totally out of place.
What else was new?
This was Stephanie’s first invitation to one of the many parties her employer
received on a daily basis. Her editor Zoe had seemed reluctant, handing the invite over after informing Stephanie of her new assignment. Her boss had even suggested she could look for potential subject matter while at the party.
And already she was failing. God she wanted to kick herself. Finally,
she’d been given an opportunity to have her own column and she was going to blow it before the article was ever written. She needed to put the invitation to good use and conduct proper, real-life research.
As in researching the top female sexual fantasies in an up close and personal way. It sounded crazy, she’d balked when Zoe suggested it but then she realized what could it hurt? She needed a little excitement in her life.
But could she go through with it?
A couple of hours ago she would’ve said no way. Now she felt as if she had no choice.
She took another, slower sip of her French Kiss cocktail. The drink was rich, creamy smooth and she could feel the potent alcohol coursing through her veins. She wasn’t a big drinker, but right now she needed it to calm her agitated nerves.
Another waiter magically appeared with a tray of appetizers in his hands. They smelled and looked delicious, spicy and succulent and she took just one though she would’ve loved to grab a handful, she was so hungry.
Considering the deathly skinny, ultra glamorous women surrounding her, she decided restraint was key tonight. Something she wasn’t normally very good at.
“Thank you,” she murmured, taking a careful bite. A medley of spicy-sweet flavors burst upon her tongue and she chewed slowly, desperate to make it last. She’d been too nervous to eat dinner and now her stomach harassed her for it.
Her gaze drifted around the cozy bar, the newest and hottest night spot to open in San Francisco. The establishment was partially backed by someone famous. She couldn’t remember who and she didn’t really care anyway. A former local who’d grown up in the Bay Area and his name alone had brought out the best the glittering young social circle the city had to offer.
Stephanie glanced down, feeling decidedly undressed. In her vintage-style red and white polka dot and floral patterned dress, she knew the other women in attendance were looking at her with disdain.
She knew that look too well—had suffered through it countless times from her overtly posh sisters and their snooty friends.
The women who surrounded her all seemed to wear silky, flashy, too-short dresses or skin tight jeans and flimsy tank tops. Their hair was perfect, makeup artfully applied, jewelry large, sparkly and expensive. One of them stared at Stephanie as she took another bite of her shrimp appetizer, the condescending look in her narrowed eyes immediately filling Stephanie with guilt.
Oh yeah, they definitely reminded her of her two older sisters. Her smart, beautiful and absolutely perfect in every single way sisters. Talk about depressing.
God, what was she doing here? Despair tinged with irritation filled her. No wonder she rarely went to these types of parties. They made her feel inferior and reminded her too much of her growing up years. She didn’t fit in, she never would. She’d definitely been fooling herself to think she could pick up a man tonight.
What a joke. It so wasn’t going to happen, at least not here. She didn’t understand how she thought it ever would.
With a loud sigh, Stephanie shoved the rest of the shrimp into her mouth and started for the exit. Gulping from her drink, she weaved through the crowd, the quick alcoholic buzz making her wobbly on her wedge-heeled feet. She set the empty cocktail glass on a passing waiter’s tray and shook her head.
There was no point hanging out here anymore. No one would even talk to her, let alone look at her. She let her self-doubt get the best of her, as always.
Her ankle suddenly twisted on an unknown object, her wedge sandal going left when her foot went right. She stumbled, a little screech escaping her and she reached blindly, anticipating the fall. It was going to be a doozy and she prayed no one would notice.
Fat chance of that happening.
But she didn’t fall. Big strong arms wrapped around her middle, keeping her from landing on the floor and Stephanie clutched at impossibly broad shoulders. Her knees gave out and she sagged against the man, her breasts mashed against a very hard, very warm chest.
Legs trembling and her breathing labored, she gazed up into the face of her savior. Sucking in an already shaky breath, her heart tripped over itself as she stared.
Goodness he was handsome, almost unbearably so. Thick dark hair pushed away from his forehead, slashing dark brows above intense green-gold eyes that were narrowed with worry. A strong nose, sharp cheekbones, firm jaw and the most luscious set of masculine lips she’d ever had the privilege to lay eyes on.
Her hands moved downward, marveling at the fine, warm fabric beneath her palms and her fingers curled into the lapels of his impeccably cut suit. The scent of pine and spice filled the air and she breathed deep, wanting more of the smell. Wanting more of him.
“Are you all right?” His voice was deep, husky and it reverberated from his chest, against her palms.
Stephanie tried to speak but her mouth gaped open, the air trapped in her lungs. He was like her every secret male fantasy come to life. And he was looking at her as if she was completely nuts.
“Hey.” Long fingers tucked beneath her chin, a calloused thumb brushed against her jaw and her skin erupted in tingles. “Are you hurt?”
She shook her head, still unable to form words. She should release her grip on him and step away. Offer up a brief thank you for saving her and leave before she made more of a fool of herself.
But she couldn’t move. She could only stare at his beautiful face and press herself even more firmly against his exquisite body. He was hot and hard and he was dressed to perfection, his snowy white button up shirt the ideal contrast against the golden color of his skin. His hair had the slightest bit of wave, it curled around the back of his neck and she fought the urge to touch it, bury her fingers in the silky looking mass.
“Can you stand on your own? Did you hurt your ankle?”
Could she say she was terribly hurt? Ask him to pick her up and carry her out of here? Or was that asking too much?
Yes, it was most definitely asking too much.
“I’m fine,” she finally said, her gaze dropping to the tanned column of his throat. He swallowed, she saw the bob of his Adam’s apple and Lord help her but she wanted to kiss him there. Slide her lips along the corded muscle of his neck, nibble and lick until she felt him shiver.
Wait a minute. One of the top female sexual fantasies on the list Zoe gave her was sex with a stranger.
Stephanie frowned. She’d always thought the idea of sex with a stranger so completely unbelievable. What if he was a rapist? A serial killer? A sick pervert who would kidnap her and hold her captive? No wonder she’d never taken such a risk. Heck, her fears never allowed her.
But this man incited immediate risk. She could only imagine how good he’d be in bed and how skilled.
His hand finally dropped away from her chin though his other arm was still firmly planted around her waist, hand splayed across her back. It felt too comfortable being in this man’s embrace, pressed so close to him she could feel his every breath and every shift of his strong legs.
All around them the party still buzzed, she could hear the low murmur of conversation, the clink of glasses and feel the occasional gust of wind from the front door opening. Yet it was as if time stood still and the two of them were aware only of each other.
She glanced up to find him watching her carefully, his brows furrowed, his sensual mouth soft, lips parted.
What would it feel like, to be kissed by that mouth? What would he taste like?
She suddenly wanted to find out. Desperately.
* * *
Justin Hawkins shifted on his feet, the delicious bundle of woman still in his arms. Her hands clutched at his jacket, her body nudged so close he could feel the firm press of her full breasts, her every inhale and exhale.
He’d been about to sneak out of the party when he spotted her, watched as her ankle twisted and she’d started to fall. Without thought, he’d lunged for her, his still quick reflexes allowed him to catch her just before she hit the floor though now his knee throbbed in pain. The grateful look she’d shot him when they’d first made eye contact had made his body tighten and his cock twitch with interest.
It was unusual. He didn’t normally react so quickly with just one glance from a pretty woman. Jaded, he knew but hell, it was the truth.
“If I let you go are you going to fall again?”
She shook her head slowly, her gaze never leaving his and he stared into her eyes. They reminded him of the ocean, a swirling mixture of blue and green and her nose and cheeks were dusted liberally with freckles. Her hair was dark, almost black and slicked back in a sleek ponytail that only emphasized her heart shaped face.
Her lips parted, as if she was about to speak and he watched, waited with baited breath. Those lips were full, downright puffy, coated in a creamy, rich red lipstick that only emphasized their lushness.
She was nothing like his usual type. At all.
“I’m not going to fall.” Her sweet voice washed over him, making his dick stand at attention and he practically shoved her away from him, not wanting her to notice his physical reaction.
Her eyes widened and she brushed at the front of her dress as if she could wipe away his touch. He checked out her legs, her swirling skirt catching his attention. Those legs were long with slim calves, trim ankles and the dangerous wedge sandals she wore were red, almost as red as her cute little toenails.