It was five minutes. His hand on the small of her back. His eyes watching like there was no one else in the crowded club. His body a breath away from hers. A kiss full of heat and need and promise.
But then the stranger disappears. And Charlotte Emory can’t forget him. Worse, according to the dating Rules she and her four best friends swear by, all she can do is post an ad online. No names, no numbers. Just a missed connection – and the hope he’ll meet her, and see where another dance leads.
Except Mr. Mystery has his game, too, and he isn’t playing for only one night. He tempts Charley into a daring exploration of power, lust, and suspense, where even the most innocent requests sound indecent…and the indecent ones make her burn all night.
If she plays by the Rules, they’ll never get past teasing each other. But rules were made to be broken…
~ 1 ~
The problem with martinis is, although they look and taste fabulous—plus low carb, if done right—the steep slope of the glass makes them easy to spill. Disaster in the making.
Particularly on the second round.
Being a cautious sort, if only in this arena, I sipped at mine before taking another step and used the opportunity to survey the club’s offering of masculine company. And to let them get a good look at me. Take the spotlight when you can because there’s always someone meaner ready to upstage you. The bright bounce of lights glanced off a good set of shoulders here—and ooh, a very nice ass in black jeans there. A table of guys gave me a long look as I passed and I pretended not to notice, though the dark-haired one could be a possible.
“Any likelies?” Amy asked, taking the fresh drink from me as I got to our table, blowing me a kiss of thanks. She wore a lacy black sheath she’d designed in her spare time and made from remnants at her job—and she made it look like couture, the talented bitch.
I set down my own glass. “Nobody stands out as fabulous. But the table over your right shoulder might have potential.”
“The night is young,” Ice observed, scanning the dance floor below with dark eyes. She’d refused another round, as had Julie. Both of them still nursed their first drink, though Ice—Anaisa, though only her professors called her that—was theoretically not supposed to drink alcohol. She made a regular practice of doing all the things her family disapproved of, which was fairly easy since most of them lived elsewhere, some of them in India. Marcia didn’t drink at all and she clutched her seltzer, clearly wishing to be at home. It was a rare Friday night that I didn’t have a show, Julie wasn’t slaving in her restaurant, and everyone else was free, too, so we’d talked Marcia into coming out with us instead of staying behind in our empty house. But no one could force her to have fun.
Believe me, I’d tried. My own personal sacred mission. Saint Charley, that’s me.
“I gave the bartender Marcia’s number though,” I added, because I couldn’t resist. The girl needed poking. “He said he wanted a virgin sacrifice for some shamanistic ritual.”
“Oh, ha ha.” Marcia at least transferred her black look from the seltzer to me. “There’s nothing wrong with saving myself.”
“Saving is economical.” Amy nodded, making a serious face.
“A virtue, even.” Julie licked off the end of the plastic gecko tail the Lizard Club used for drink stirrers. “Unless you count hoarding. Then it turns ugly.”
“Oh my god. That show is riveting.” Ice shuddered. “I’m horrified but I can’t look away. Even in reruns.”
“It’s a disease.” I deflected Marcia’s glower of warning with my best Julia Roberts angelic smile. It’s a good one. I’ve practiced it. “You can’t judge people like that—just give them your compassion and try to help. Or refer them to social services.”
“Charlotte Emory, I’m going to crawl across this table and strangle you if you don’t shut up,” Marcia growled.
I batted my lashes at her. “What? I’m just trying to help.”
“Well, you’re not. I’ll find the right guy sooner or later.”
“Sooner is more likely with you pried out of the house,” Ice noted.
“And later than anyone we know,” Amy toasted her with a martini already half gone.
“Than the rest of the known universe.” Julie poked Marcia with the gecko tail, which at least diverted Marcia’s attention onto her.
“I hate all of you.” Marcia folded her arms. “Why don’t you go dance already?”
“Hello, ladies.” Ooh, right on cue, Mr. Dark Hair had come through. His gaze fell on me and I returned his very charming smile. “Wanna dance?” he asked me.
Yes. Yes, I did.
About the Author
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.
Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and the third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind May 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, and was followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.