Excerpt One

"You lost, beautiful?" he questioned.

I turned around to face him, his presence dwarfed me. He was about six foot three, two hundred-plus pounds of deliciously handsome male. He had piercing blue eyes; a strong, aristocratic nose; squared jaw, and straight, even teeth as well as a devilishly handsome smile. He dominated the space, his shoulders broad and muscled, the steel-gray suit he wore sculpted to his massive frame. A crisp white shirt stretched across his muscular chest and was tucked into matching gray slacks that encased powerful thighs. His tie was composed of alternating steel-gray and ice blue diagonal stripes that accentuated the color of his eyes. His hair was cut low, almost bald, and his skin was tanned but not the artificial type; it came from spending long hours in the hot sun. His lips were a sensuous seduction; and I couldn't help wondering what they tasted like.

"Do you like what you see, chéri?"

His voice commanded my attention, the accent causing my stomach to contract with alarmingly intense pleasure. I couldn't help blushing at being caught ogling him. He seemed to delight in my inspection, as he then took his liberty in completing his own appraisal. I swear my skin burned where his eyes assessed every inch of my body, as if he had physically caressed me. The plum-colored sheath I wore molded to every curve of my five-foot-seven frame, its strapless form allowing a languorous perusal of the exposed caramel skin of my shoulders and arms. I could feel my ample bosom tighten from the effect, my nipples straining against the confines of my demi-bra. I felt feverish and unconsciously brought my hand up to massage the ache in my chest that his evaluation evoked, moving slowly to caress the sensitive skin of my throat that longed for his kiss.

His eyes flailed me with awareness, the depths of those ice-blue orbs glistening like glaciers floating in the North Sea. I could feel my core tightening-a dull ache that became a distinct throbbing that spread warmth from within. Damn! I had never been filled with such desire. My skin tingled as if an electrical The Diva and the Beast ix current traveled between us, and I took an involuntary step toward him before responding.

"Oui, tout á fait!"

His nostrils flared at my response. My French, a little rusty and colored by my Caribbean accent, brought a devious smile to his face. God! When he smiled, his face became less predatory and softened to an almost boyish appearance. The effect he had on me was swift and relentless. The nectar of my womb slowly escaping my body was testament to the smoldering passion between us. I slid my hand to my stomach, the desire so strong it caused the muscles there to clench almost painfully. The motion was not lost to him, and he took a step toward me, the predator once again apparent in his piercing glacial eyes, a color so translucent, they were almost clear.

What possessed me to flirt with this beast, I knew not; it wasn't even in my nature. I took a wary step back, the corner of his mouth lifting, knowingly, causing me to freeze where I stood. Somehow, I knew to show weakness to this man was to lose the battle completely. Battle? What the hell am I thinking? That thought ran along the lines of permanency, and I didn't even know his name. The need to flee was riding me now, but I refused to budge as he continued to scrutinize me with his captivatingly blue eyes.

Excerpt Two

Ieshelle's contact information to the hotel where she was staying. Michelle refused to give me her cell number. As I rang the hotel, I imagined that Michelle was probably calling Ieshelle to warn her. It wouldn't matter. I needed to get over her and quick. I had already lost round two, and I refused to lose the next round. Ieshelle sounded out of breath as she answered. Had I interrupted something? I suddenly envisioned her entangled with another man, and I forgot the plan to be calm and cool.

"What the hell do you mean by sending these blokes over?" I demanded, not giving her a chance to say hello.

She grew quiet, and I knew she recognized my voice. "I'm not sure what you are talking about," Ieshelle replied innocently.

"A distinct possibility," I declared. "Mon ange, you know exactly what I am talking about. Or is it that you only appear to be an angel, but in fact you are mon mégère, no?"

"Maybe I am both," she declared. I liked the fact that she continued to flirt with danger, in spite of her decision to stay clear of me.

"Mon ange, did I catch you at a bad time?" I asked, needing to know what she was doing. She sighed into the phone, as if a balloon had been deflated. "How did you get this number?"

"I have my ways. You sound tired. Have the last couple of days been that rough?"

"I've been busy with the agency."

"I've missed you, Ieshelle. Have you missed me?" I asked. I wanted her to know just how much she had affected me, and I was curious to know if I had affected her as intensely. I could hear her catch her breath, as if she was shocked by my admission. She grew quiet then, and I decided that she had missed me just as much. "Ah, I see you have. That's good. That means I was on your mind just as you were on mine. Did you dream about me?"

"What do you want, Nicolas?"

"You already know what I want, chéri, but if you wish, I shall make it plain and simple yet again. I want you." I could hear her moving around in the room. She sounded as if she was pacing, as her breath was coming in short pants. "It's okay, Ieshelle. I am willing to admit it for both of us."


Excerpt Three

"Frank has informed me of the workout schedule for today," she said. "If you're ready, I will start the deep-tissue massage before the conditioning exercises." Her voice was calm, but she did little to hide her irritation with me. I watcher her as she moved with effortless grace.

"Be gentle with me, Ieshelle. I'm hurting today." In more ways than one, I thought, shifting to adjust for the sudden swell in my groin area. I felt like a kid in a candy store - the anticipation of being with her again, of having her touch me - even in a clinical setting - was so great that it had me hard with desire.

"Where exactly are you feeling the most discomfort?" she asked before running her hands over my arm, the peppermint oil soothing the muscle and tissue. I indicated the area that was the most tender, secretly imagining her hands upon another tender part of my anatomy. Ieshelle kneaded and massaged until the muscle in my arm no longer ached, and the tissue became soft and pliant. Her hands were surprisingly strong for a woman so slight in form.

In spite of her clinical touch, it was difficult for me not to respond sexually. She smelled of citrus and spice, a heady combination. Her hair was swept back from her face in soft waves and curls, held by a thin navy-colored headband. She looked younger than before and wore no makeup today, other than a blush-pink lip gloss. Ieshelle was a complex woman, and the desire to know every facet of her only intensified during the session. I was second-thinking my ability to withstand her ministrations when she ended the session, saying she was finished. I wasn't ready for it to end, but Frank had left during the session and was now waiting in the ring out back, and I still had to put in some ring training to maintain my speed and agility.

I finished putting on my T-shirt as I watched Ieshelle pack her things. She had just returned from the bathroom where she washed her hands to remove the fragrant oil, which she used instead of liniment. I suddenly had an idea and hoped she wouldn't get too riled up at the prospect. She looked up from her bag just as I was about to make the suggestion.

"Do you need something else? Ieshelle asked.

"Yes, I actually do, Ieshelle."