Table of Contents
Praise for the novels of
“Deliciously erotic and completely captivating.”
New York Times
“An erotic, emotional adventure of discovery you don’t want to miss.”
—Lora Leigh, #1
New York Times
“So incredibly hot that I’m trying to find the right words to describe it without having to be edited for content . . . extremely stimulating from the first page to the last! Of course, that means that I loved it! . . . One of the hottest, sexiest erotic books I have read so far.”
Romance Reader at Heart
Sensual Romance Reviews
Midwest Book Review
“More than a fast-paced erotic romance, this is a story of family, filled with memorable characters who will keep you engaged in the plot and the great sex. A good read to warm a winter’s night.”
“Bursting with sensuality and eroticism.”
In the Library Reviews
“The passion is intense, hot, and purely erotic . . . recommended for any reader who likes their stories realistic, hot, captivating, and very, very well written.”
Road to Romance
“Not your typical romance. This one’s going to remain one of my favorites.”
The Romance Studio
“Jasmine Haynes keeps the plot moving and the love scenes very hot.”
Just Erotic Romance Reviews
“A wonderful novel . . . Try this one—you won’t be sorry.”
The Best Reviews
Berkley Books by Jasmine Haynes
MINE UNTIL MORNING
HERS FOR THE EVENING
LACED WITH DESIRE
(with Jaci Burton, Joey W. Hill, and Denise Rossetti)
YOURS FOR THE NIGHT
(with Jaci Burton, Joey W. Hill, and Denise Rossetti)
SHOW AND TELL
THE FORTUNE HUNTER
(with Susan Johnson)
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Skullestad.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
HEAT and the HEAT design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Heat trade paperback edition / May 2011
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Past midnight / Jasmine Haynes.—Heat trade pbk. ed.
eISBN : 978-1-101-51458-0
To my husband, Ole,
for all the years of believing in me
Thank you to my wonderful network of friends who support me, brainstorm with me, and encourage me: Laurel Jacobson, Bella Andre, Shelley Bates, Jenny Andersen, Jackie Yau, Ellen Higuchi, Kathy Coatney, Pamela Fryer, Rita Hogan, Terri Schaefer, and Jenn Mason. What would I do without you? Thanks also to my friends Teresa and Marty and my brother Michael for their technical help, and to Lynn for her insights. And, of course, to my agent, Lucienne Diver, and my editor, Wendy McCurdy.
JUST PAST MIDNIGHT, SHE REACHED FOR HIM IN THE DARK. A SLIVER of moonlight illuminated the bare wood bureau and blue carpet, its fingers creeping up the bedspread, ending at their feet, leaving the rest in darkness.
It was always past midnight when she turned to him, as if touching him in the daylight or at bedtime, when he wasn’t sleepdrowsed, was sacrilege. He lived for the nights she reached out, as if his flesh were touch-starved. After a year and a month, he
starving, body, mind, and soul. He slept naked, terrified of missing a single moment. They never spoke. She wouldn’t cry out even when she came, her silence as essential to her as the dark. He used to beg for a word, a sound.
Talk to me.
He would have accepted anything—her anger, her pain, her guilt, her tears. But he’d always lost her as soon as his voice broke the quiet. He’d stopped asking and took what she allowed him; this, her hands on him, her mouth, her body. Without words, sex was anti-intimacy, yet this was all he had left of their marriage, these dark moments after midnight, and he would not let them go. He would not let
Her hand skimmed over his nipple, pinching, turning the nub pebble hard. She’d always known the things that drove him crazy. Then she followed the arrow of hair down his abdomen to wrap her fingers around him. She stroked him softly, gently, to hardness. It didn’t take much, he was so on edge for her. He held his breath, afraid to disturb the silence, afraid he might cry out with the heat of her touch. Pushing the covers back, she laid her lips on his crown as the November night air rolled like a cold wave over his hot skin, the silk of her long red hair a curtain over his lap.
She engulfed him to the root. Her mouth on him was heaven and hell. God have mercy. He fisted his hands in the sheets, his body wanting to rock, thrust, drive deep into the recesses of her mouth. Yet he held still, so still but for the throbbing of his blood and the pounding of his heart. The sounds of her mouth, her tongue, her lips taking him was like a gentle melody on the wind, caressing him, stealing through his mind. She reached between his legs and squeezed the heart of his manhood, bringing him to an aching, crushing need, his body arching involuntarily. But still not a sound, not even a groan.
God, how he’d loved her, wanted her, still loved her even after all the pain, the guilt, the blame. Once upon a time he would have told her so, hauled her up along his chest to take her mouth, to taste his essence on her tongue. But those days were long gone; a year, four weeks, and a lifetime gone. Now all he could do was grit his teeth and try not to spend himself now, in her mouth. Because there was more. She would give him more, at least physically, but only in darkness and silence, only past midnight.
She shifted, then slid back with a suctioned pop as her mouth left him. A moment later, her firm thighs gripped his hips, the heat of her core close, so close he could feel her all the way up to his throat.
He didn’t enter her; she simply took him. As if he were nothing more than a solid piece of flesh to fill her emptiness and assuage her guilt and pain for this short space of time. She didn’t kiss him, didn’t brace herself on his chest to smile down at him. Their lovemaking used to be rich with talk and laughter, dirty talk, nasty talk, sexy talk, spinning ever kinkier fantasies for each other. It had been hot, exciting, priming him with the hope that someday they would act on those fantasies. Now she merely leaned back and rode him silently, hands splayed against her ass for support. For her, it was pure physicality, a way to stop the whirling thoughts and memories, the rawness of the act exhausting her into sleep.
For him, it was touch, connection, life. For a little while, he could pretend that she had forgiven him. His body rose to meet her, overcome by a blinding, aching need he dulled with physical pleasure and the remembered taste of her, the sweetness of her juice, the softness of her skin, the flowery scent of her body lotion, pungent now with her arousal.
She began to tremble with impending orgasm, her inner muscles working him. The barely there grunt of exertion remained her only sound, yet it was so erotic and beguiling in the deep after-midnight quiet.