Saturday, September 1, 2007

Beneath the Surface - Jennah Sharpe

Beneath the Surface - Jennah Sharpe
September, 2007 - ISBN 978-1-59426-755-0
$2 eBook (five formats) - Buy Now!
Author's Backlist: Jennah Sharpe

Ella focused her flashlight well up the tunnel. It was then she noticed she no longer heard the chatter of her companions on her radio.

"Armand?" she sent out into the darkness, feeling a sudden onset of claustrophobia.

"Vanessa? Can you hear me?" No response.

Ella floated for a moment. She knew she should turn and follow the cable back to the cavern. Just a little further, she thought. Armand's up there anyway. You're not going anywhere he hasn't been already, she told herself.

She steadied her breathing and pressed on, making sure she was still tethered to the retractable line by giving it a gentle tug. Huh. It seemed loose. She pulled in the other direction to where she should have been attached to the original cavern. Nothing. It gave in her hand. She pulled desperately until she held a frayed end of cable in her hands.

How the hell did this happen, she wondered, fighting the blossoming panic in her stomach. These things don't just break. She swam forward, thinking she'd run into Armand who was ahead of her in the tunnel. Checking her wrist, she was relieved to find she still had more than enough air left. They'd only been in the tunnels for an hour.

She started. There it was again. That foot. She pushed forward quickly, forgetting her sidekick and opting for the faster and more instinctive up and down motion. The foot was decidedly male and very quickly she began to make out strong legs kicking in front of her. Wait! she wanted to call out. Who was this guy?

Within moments, she saw the grey light of the sun carving down through the silt. Had she made it back to the cavern? Oh, thank God. How in the bloody hell had she got herself so turned around?

Ella surfaced. She pulled her breathing apparatus from her mouth and lifted her mask up and over her helmet.

"Hello?" she called. "Rico? Where is everyone?"

A commotion on to her right demanded her attention. She gasped. A man was crawling from the shallows of this sinkhole to a ledge, which fronted a hole between the rocks. It was obvious from the sunlight filtering through that the hole led outside, to the surface. It didn't immediately occur to Ella that this wasn't the cavern she'd first descended into, or that her diving buddies were nowhere to be found.

The man was abnormally muscular, as if he spent his days swimming. He was deeply tanned and very tall. Ella guessed she would only measure up to his breastbone but from where she stood, chest deep in water, she could only admire his graceful form as he hauled himself from the water onto a ledge of rock. The glistening drops of water, sluiced over his taut, dark skin. Oh ... and down over his behind, a tight one at that. Intricate, black designs swirled around his bicep in the sexiest tattoo she ever seen. Her gaze traced the outlines as she moved slowly toward him.

Hearing a faint voice inside her head, that didn't sound at all like her, Ella edged closer. He's yours. Take him. Claim him, Ella.

Barely a Secret - Will Belegon

Barely a Secret - Will Belegon
September, 2007 - ISBN 1-59426-761-8
$2 eBook (five formats) - Buy Now!
Author's Backlist: Will Belegon

I made the preparations in my mind and in my medicine cabinet, and then started waiting for the right day to bring the subject up again, in a very different manner. I wanted a time during the day, when the light would be bright. I wanted a day that was empty of work and family obligations, so we wouldn't be rushed or have anything we had to hurry away and do. And most importantly, I had to wait for a day when she was in exactly the right mood.

Julie and I had been living together for almost two years. In that time, I had gotten to know many things about her. One thing I had learned would play right into my hands for this adventure.

Julie was a very complicated and eclectic lover. She liked a lot of variety in our sex life. Sometime she was all sweetness and light, looking for candlelight and roses trailed across her breasts, Champagne and strawberries. Other times she wanted it hard and fast, heavy metal music screaming in the background and her nails buried in my back. Then there was her streak of daring, when she wanted to play games in the park or give head on the freeway ... on those occasions she was often the aggressor, pushing my boundaries and unwilling to take no for an answer.

None of those facets of my love were the one I was waiting for, the one that was an absolute necessity for my plan, outweighing any other factor. Everything else was optional ... this wasn't. I needed one particular mood from her to make this work.

Finally came an appropriate day when I started receiving the right signals. It was a bright spring Wednesday. We were both off work, although we did have class. Since Julie's last period was going to be her midday dance class, it was almost perfect. The physical exertion and driving beats never failed to make her mind run in certain directions.

As we started our day, I started recognizing the hints that would make things workable. Julie was awake before I was, as usual, but she seemed unusually passive as we had to perform our normal morning struggle around the single sink in our bathroom. As I lathered up with shaving gel and grabbed a new blade for my razor, I bumped her. It wasn't deliberate, just the kind of thing that happens in tight spaces.

Instead of bumping back, Julie moved quietly to her right despite being smack in the middle of her make-up routine. Most days she would have at least given me a good-natured tease about hogging the space. Today she just slid aside. When I made eye contact with her in the mirror, she gave a little blush and a hesitant smile. Emboldened I ran my tongue across my upper lip and smiled smugly as she demurely looked down and hid her eyes. That was what I had been watching for these last few weeks.

The day couldn't go fast enough for me after that. I hurried over to meet her outside her dance class after getting out of Art History, deliberately avoiding conversations I would normally seek out.

I arrived at her dance class as they were still doing their cool down. I watched as the music slowed. She had the flush of exertion, but I could tell from looking at her and some of the other advanced dancers that they had barely cracked a sweat. That wasn't unusual this early in a quarter. It always took a couple of weeks before teachers got comfortable pushing the pace.

As the music stopped I moved away from the door and stood back on the grass, across the sidewalk. I wanted one more confirmation that today was the right day for my plans.

Julie emerged from class, the sun catching highlights in her blond hair and sparkling in her blue eyes. The light sweat that clung to her gave her skin a glow. She saw me and crossed over, stopping by my side and looking up--waiting for me to speak. All the confirmation I needed. My pulse began to race.

"You ready to go home, Julie?"