Saturday, December 6, 2008

Oh Yes, Virginia by Elaina Huntley

Two men dressed in pilot whites boarded the plane and stopped to talk with Chris. They turned and looked at her. Heat crawled across her face until they resumed their conversation. All three men presented a stunning study of contrast: light, dark, tall, shorter, cropped hair, the list went on and on. Her eyes darted from man to man and she perversely tried to choose the one she thought most attractive. The feat became impossible, they all made her teeth ache.

Devastating smiles spread across both pilot’s faces when they caught her watching them. The tall, darker haired man gave an outrageous wink before they turned and entered the cockpit. Her eyes didn’t leave the men until the door closed, cutting off her view.

Chris smiled that all knowing smile of his and heat rushed across her face once more. Was it rude to ogle the men in the presence of her host? The direction her thoughts wandered while watching them would most definitely be in bad taste.

He stopped at a well stocked bar before crossing over to her, holding out a drink. Delight filled her and she beamed in approval. An apple martini, her favorite!

“Thank you,” she said. Her eyelids slid closed as the liquid pleasure caressed her throat.

“One of the perks of a private jet, no rolling cart with tiny bottles.” He smiled and raised his glass in toast. “To fulfilling Christmas wishes.”

Clinking her delicate glass against his, Virginia fought the urge to gulp the remaining contents to wet her parched throat.

“Mr. Ringle?” A voice crackled out of nowhere to break the silence. Chris pressed a small white button above his head.

“Yes, Mike.”

“We are cleared for take off, please prepare for departure.”

“Thanks, Dan.” Chris released the button and set his glass down. Reaching across Virginia’s lap, he grasped the seatbelt and pulled it across her waist, his hair tickling her chin as he fastened it. Virginia inhaled a lung full of his spicy scent. It reminded her of cinnamon mixed with evergreen. Gingerbread? No, that wasn’t it, either. The aroma changed each time she drew in another breath.

By the time he finished adjusting her lap belt, she was convinced he simply smelled of every scent she loved.

The ascent went so smooth that she barely felt a bump as they soared into the dusk filled sky. Minutes passed and the seatbelt sign flickered off. Virginia released hers with a sigh and held out her glass with a questioning smile.

“Of course,” Chris said, as he moved to the wet bar once more and mixed another martini. A man who knew his way around a mixed drink was a bonus in her book.

“Is it okay if I walk around?” Curiosity was killing her and she wanted to make the most of this chance of a lifetime. These kinds of opportunities didn’t happen to Virginia and she was damned sure it would be one to remember.

“By all means.” Chris handed her a fresh glass, before turning and busying himself once more.

She had made round one of the cabin before she caught his eye, laughing in self reproach. “You must think I am a complete hick carrying on like this.”

He shook his head and smiled. “Not at all. I like watching your face light up, it’s delightful. You notice each and every thing little here. I get used to it all and forget to stop and enjoy it sometimes.”

How anyone could get so used to this, they stopped noticing, was beyond her.

“Please, join me.” He indicated a table filled with delicious looking food. Her eyes widened in surprise. How had she missed this elaborate set up during her in-depth perusal?

As a strict vegetarian, she was used to smiling politely and declining well meaning hosts, but when she looked closer, a gasp of astonished delight flew from between her lips. Everything on the table, everything, was her favorite. From the ripe, juicy fruit arranged artfully on a silver tray, to the spinach salad with walnuts, strawberries and crumbled feta.

She looked at him in astonishment. “It’s like you know just what I want. The drink, the food…” God, she hoped not everything, those wicked little thoughts earlier involving him and the hunky pilots could prove very embarrassing.

“A good host always anticipates their guests’ needs.” His eyes burned into hers and she swallowed against the rising tide of desire. How did he do that? Just a glance and her blood turned to warm honey flowing through her veins.

Choosing a plump strawberry and dipping it into liquid chocolate, Chris lifted it to her mouth. Virginia hesitated a brief second before parting her lips, the cool, sweet fruit sliding between them. Her teeth sank into the ripe flesh and a tangy fruit mixed with the creamy sweet chocolate burst in her mouth. A trickle of juice ran down her chin and he brushed it away with his thumb. Electric currents sizzled on her skin even after he pulled away.

Each sumptuous bite slid from him to her waiting mouth, his gesture filled with erotic undertones. Giving in to the urge, her tongue darted out and she licked one of his fingers. It deftly slipped between her lips, gliding in and out, sweet with the liquid of the fruit. Her tongue rolled around it, circling and caressing until he withdrew it.

Chris’ gaze remained on hers as he reached for another strawberry and sank his teeth into the succulent flesh. She parted her lips when he lifted it to her mouth and ran the luscious berry over her lips, coating them in cool, slick juice. Leaning in closer, his tongue teased the sugary wetness from her skin. Virginia tried to coax him closer, to tempt him into the kiss she craved, but he dodged her unspoken request and continued to tease her.

“So charming,” he whispered.

His breath tickled against her sensitive flesh and she fought to remain still. Her breath came in short bursts and she blinked against the fog of desire obscuring her view. She moaned when dizzying heat spiraled outward from between her legs. The low sound filled the small cabin.

She wanted him. It wasn’t the martinis talking. No, it was the craving to find out just what the secret was dancing in his eyes, enflaming her blood beyond reason.

“Please,” she whispered. She was wet from just the touch of his tongue. The ache between her legs centered on the swollen bud pulsing with fire.

“What do you want?” he asked. The hair on her arms stood on end at the husky undertone of his voice.

Virginia’s answer lodged in her throat. She met his eyes and prayed he could read the answer within them.

She wanted him to fuck her senseless all the way to Boston.

No Ordinary Holiday by Marty Rayne

Cam lifted his gaze from Jacob to Devyn. She stood in the entryway, tray in hand, and eyes narrowed as if studying them. It made him uncomfortable. More disturbing was that he was actually attracted to her. And Jacob appeared to be very much interested in her, too.

His best friend was a single bisexual man. Why should it bother him who aroused Jacob’s attention? Ignoring the heavy sense of dismay lining his stomach, Cam smiled warmly at her.

Devyn jerked into action and walked into the room. She set the tray on the coffee table between the couch where Cam and Jacob sat and the two chairs opposite them, one of which she sat in.

“Thanks.” Cam reached for the carafe and poured coffee in all three of the cups. Without thought, he handed Jacob his, black, just the way he liked it, before adding sugar and a lot of cream to his. All the while aware of Devyn’s gaze on him. Did he have some leftover donut powder on his face? Surely Jacob would have told him, right?

“Todd said that you were coming to talk to me about purchasing some of my work, but he didn’t give me any details.” She took a sip of her own coffee. Two teaspoons of sugar and a touch of creamer, Cam took notice. “It’s two days before Christmas. What couldn’t wait until later in the week?”

Cam hadn’t seen the hurry, either, but he wasn’t about to argue about spending some alone time, a.k.a. vacation time—even if was spent working—with Jacob.

“I guess one would call this a working vacation. Cam and I are independent contractors who specialize in decorating several large hotel chains across the country. However, we’ve recently ventured into being partial owners to a group of vacation cabins that are nearly complete in the area. Of course, we’re decorating them, but we wanted to make sure we keep our initial opening date in March.” Jacob paused and sipped his coffee. He was in his businessman mode and Cam couldn’t help but be turned on.

“Ah, yes. The Parkers’ land. That sale really caused quite a stir up here. The community was apprehensive about the company who purchased it.”

“We can understand that.” Cam sat back and cradled his cup in his palms. “But really, the vacation cabins will help the community rather than hurt it. The tourists will bring more revenue.”

Devyn nodded.

“We’ve preserved most of the land, building only six cabins and one caretaker home. They are all state of the art and up to date on all the safety regulations. We’ve minimized the effect this will have on the environment as much as possible.” Jacob scooted forward until he sat on the edge of the couch. Any further and Cam was sure he slide right off onto his ass.

“Cam and I have designed a more rustic d├ęcor for the cabins, however each one will be different. We’re very interested in purchasing any of your paintings that would fit the feel of what we have in mind, along with hiring you to create the rest to suit our needs. If you’re interested, of course.” He flashed a downright sexy smile for her.

Cam’s fingers tightened on his cup. Damn. Could the man be any sexier?

“I’m flattered, Jacob. I really am. But how do you even know that you’ll like my work?”

Cam caught the way her gaze flickered from Jacob to him, then back to Jacob. He swore that her eyes wandered down both their bodies in a quick assessment. Was she checking them out? Oh, hell. Surely she wouldn’t be…but then again, why not? They were both single good-looking men in their early thirties. But would she still be interested if she knew they were both bisexual?

Time Again by Jade Falconer

“Hi,” James said a little awkwardly, standing in the doorway of one of the primary restoration rooms. “I’m updating everyone’s virus software.”

The museum was a nice place to work. Everyone was a little nerdy, and of course as part of the IT department, James fit right in with the mega-nerds. The archaeology nerds were a little different than the computer nerds, true, but they all got along pretty well. And James got on especially well with Evan. He was one of the main curators at the museum, and James stood just inside the threshold of his somewhat chaotic domain, trying to be as non-invasive as possible.

Evan stood behind a long table, and he looked up as if startled. “James! Hi! Um, sure, go ahead,” he waved at the computer on his desk with a slightly dirty hand. He wiped it on the apron he wore over jeans and a white tank top. “Can you manage? ‘Cause I’m filthy, sorry,” he grinned apologetically. The table in front of him was covered with shards of pottery of various sizes.

“Yeah, I got it,” James said, walking over to the desk. He pulled out Evan’s chair and took a seat, opening the CD tray. “Sorry for the interruption.” He could see that Evan was up to his elbows in it. The other man had such a look of intensity, passion. Not to mention arms to die for. James sighed to himself.

Evan smiled without looking up. “Oh, it’s no interruption. I won’t be using the computer for a while yet anyway.” He carefully set a piece down and picked up another. “Saves me from talking to myself, anyway. How’ve you been?” He set the shard down carefully and took pictures of it with a tiny digital camera.

James smiled brilliantly at Evan as he slid the disc into the tray. “Good. Well. Okay. What about you?” he asked. Even though he was one of the most renowned archaeologists in the country, Evan was very down to earth. James was always happy to chat with him. It didn’t hurt that he was amazingly easy on the eyes. His dark hair brushed his shoulders, and he had full lips that were quick to smile. His eyes were deep brown and expressive. His body was broad without being too muscular, and he looked solid. Evan was probably twice James’ size, and James wondered what those strong arms felt like.

Evan’s hair fell into his eyes and he flicked it out of the way with a toss of his head. “Only okay?” he asked, sounding concerned. “What’s wrong, James?”

James shrugged his shoulders as he flexed his fingers hovering above the mouse. “Nothing, really. Do you know anything about, well, this is gonna sound silly. But, well, reincarnation.”

Evan raised an eyebrow and set down the camera. He turned toward James, giving him his full attention. “Well, I know that many ancient cultures believed in some form of reincarnation,” he said evenly. “I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff, so I’m never in a hurry to discount something.”

“I went to see a psychic over the weekend. I was a little tipsy, but she said a lot of things she couldn’t have known. And then she started telling me about my previous lives. She suggested I get regressed, whatever that means.” It sounded silly now, but he was grateful that Evan didn’t seem to think he was a complete flake.

Evan’s eyes widened. “Wow. I didn’t take you for the mystical type,” he teased. “Hey, if you think there’s some truth to it, it couldn’t hurt.”

“It was fascinating,” James said, clicking the mouse a few times and leaning back in the chair. “Apparently, I have a soul mate that I keep meeting over and over. But I haven’t found them in this life yet.”

“Wow, that’s really interesting,” Evan said. “Did she give you any clues about how to find this soul mate?”

James shook his head. “She just said that remembering the past was the best way to unlock the future, and that he was nearby somewhere.” Then James bit his lip. He hadn’t meant to say it, though he didn’t really hide his sexuality.

Evan only hesitated a moment, then he said, “So you’re going to get regressed then?”

James nodded. “Yeah.” He looked down, knowing he was blushing, then realized the computer was waiting for him to select something. He looked at the monitor again and clicked through the setup. He was relieved that Evan didn’t seem put off by his slip. “My, um, my ex is dating someone new, and it kinda made me feel sorry for myself,” he said, laughing self deprecatingly.

Evan nodded. “Yeah, that’ll do it,” he agreed. “And if you don’t want drama you have to be all happy about it even though you want to slap someone,” he snickered.

“It’s not that. I mean, it’s not like I’m not over him. But I’m annoyed that he found someone before I did, you know?” he asked. He felt like he could trust Evan, even if he didn’t really know him that well. Evan was easy to talk to.

Evan nodded. “You didn’t want him to be over you so quickly,” he said gently.

James pouted. Well, that was uncomfortably perceptive. “I guess,” he said with another shrug. “Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe it’s all bullshit, anyway. Soul mates and that kinda thing.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Evan said, smiling wistfully. “I think all archeologists are romantics at heart, and I’m no exception.”

James smiled as he closed the completed install window. “I guess that makes sense. But computer geeks aren’t supposed to be romantic.” He grinned a little, and retrieved the disc. “You’re all updated. Thanks for listening to my tale of woe, Evan.”

“Any time,” Evan said. “I mean, I’m all about the past. Do I get to hear about these past lives?”

James paused, tilting his head a little. “Do you really want to?” he asked doubtfully. “I mean it’s all kind of, well, dramatic. If you’re just being polite, don’t worry about hurting my feelings,” he said, grinning.

Evan crossed his arms. “You’d better not get me all worked up about this then leave me in the dark!” he said. “I didn’t peg you as a tease.”

James laughed at that. “If you really want to hear, I’ll tell you, but I’ve got twelve more PCs to update. Maybe, um, when do you get off? We could stop at Starbucks or something.” It was almost like asking him out.

Evan put his hand over his heart. “Who told you about my Starbucks addiction? I’d pretty much agree to anything if it comes with a caramel macchiato,” he laughed. “You have a deal.”

James smiled. “All right. I get off at five PM, ‘cause we geeks only do overtime for more money. Wanna meet there? After five?” he suggested.

“It’s a date,” Evan agreed. “I’ll have to take a quick shower before you want to be seen with me in public.” He nodded toward the bathroom.

James arched an eyebrow. “Oh, I don’t know. You look kind of Indiana Jones like that,” he teased. “I’ll see you there, all right?”

“Right,” Evan smirked. “You know, I have the hat...have fun playing with the computers now.”

James had the momentary vision of Evan in the hat and nothing else, holding a whip. He cleared his throat. “See you at Starbucks.” He slipped out of the lab and made his way to his next stop.

The rest of the afternoon dragged interminably, then suddenly the last twenty minutes flew by. James pulled off his tie, leaving it at his desk as he always did, and fairly skipped out to Starbucks. He lingered outside for a few minutes, smoking a cigarette while he waited for Evan.

Evan wandered up a few moments later, hair still damp where it brushed his shoulders. “Sorry I’m late,” he smiled.

James dropped his cigarette and stamped it out with a smile. “You’re not late.” He opened the door for Evan and followed him inside.

Evan breathed deeply as he walked in and moaned. “Oh, yeah,” he said hoarsely. “I’m so addicted.”

James laughed, although the sound of Evan’s voice was downright hedonistic. “It does smell good.” He stepped up to the counter and ordered an iced coffee, then turned to Evan. “No way I’m gonna remember what you want.”

“Triple venti soy, extra hot caramel macchiato, extra caramel,” Evan rattled off, smirking at James. “Please,” he added to the lady behind the counter.

James smiled. He really did like Evan, but he seemed straight. Anyway, he wasn’t quite ready to take a chance. Not after his last experience. They paid and got their drinks, and found a corner table. “So. Past lives. Are you sure you wanna know?”

“I’m here,” Evan said, sipping at his coffee. His eyes fluttered shut. “Oh, yeah,” he purred. After another sip, he focused back on James. “Okay, I’m ready. Tell me.”

Captive of Love by Wendy Stone

His head rolled against his shoulders, a loud moan coming from his lips as consciousness beckoned him with bright lights and noises whose meaning he didn’t want to know. Opening his eyes, Ryder squinted, lifting his head to take his bearings.

His body hurt all over, a fact that he ignored for the moment as he took stock of his situation. And it wasn’t good. He was naked. The chilly breeze blowing across his chest and loins discerned that fact quicker than his eyes did. His arms were pulled above his head, held securely so that his body was almost hanging by his wrists. His feet barely touched the ground, leaving him stretched in one long line.

Glancing around through the thick tangled locks of dark hair that fell in his face, he saw the rest of the men from the hunting party he’d headed. They were in similar or worse predicaments. Across from him, his older brother was strung up in the same manner, his chest crisscrossed with wide welts that bespoke of a beating from a belt.

“Trace?” he whispered huskily, his throat raw from thirst and disuse.

There was no movement, but Ryder took comfort in the rise and fall of his brother’s chest.

“He’s awake,” said a decidedly feminine voice.

“Katrina will be pleased. She’s been anxious over this one, though I told her his wounds were superficial. She’s worried about him recovering from the drug.”

Ryder turned, his eyes seeking the owners of the voices. Standing near the door, he found them and stared with shock. Two women, dressed as warriors with chain mail specially fitted to their trim and supple forms, stood staring back at him. Their eyes of gold seemed to almost gleam in the light. Helmets rested upon dark heads and their hands rested upon swords, sheathed for the moment.

“He finds us amazing, sister,” one said, doffing her helmet and exposing intricately braided hair that hugged her head.

“As do most men, sister,” the other woman answered, laughing and stroking a hand down the fitted mail of her armor.

“Too true. I should let Katrina know her new slave has awakened and is ready to begin his training. She’ll wish to be present for the initiation.” She started to push from the wall she leaned against when her sister stopped her.

“Katrina plans on doing all this one’s training. She’s taken a special interest. I think she means to keep him to herself.”

Ryder had heard enough. His head hurt and for the life of him, he couldn’t think of how they had gotten here. The last thing he remembered was leaving the hall, passing through the massive gates of his father’s kingdom with Hunter, his favored hawk, on his arm.

“Release me!” he commanded in his most royal tone. His mother, Raven was a healer of her people, a Chee of the West, and royalty in that aspect. His father was Damien, Lord of Daring Castle and the surrounding areas. He was used to giving orders and being obeyed without question. He would take control now.

“Ah,” the woman sat her helm down and strode forward to stand before Ryder, a smile upon her face. “The mighty one speaks.”

Ryder became outraged at the laughter in her voice. No one but family was allowed to laugh at a son of the Lord. “Let me loose and you’ll see just how mighty I am. Release me now and I might allow you to live when my father takes this place apart stone by stone.”

“Your father has no idea where you are or how to find you, Ryder of Daring Castle.” The other woman stepped forward, her voice less amused and more formal. “Nor will he know how to find you until Princess Katrina is ready for him to.”

“How do you know who I am? Where in the hell am I?” He twisted against the heavy leather thongs that bound his wrists to the post above his head.

“I have known who you were for months, Ryder,” another feminine voice said. He turned his head to watch the new woman walk towards him. She was dressed differently than the other two, in a gown of pale gold. Her body was curved and lush with breasts that strained against the fabric holding them bound. Her hair was loose, fiery red with deep highlights that drew his eyes like an insect to flame.

“Who are you?” he asked, more curious than anything else.

“She is your mistress, man,” the last word spit as if it were the worst of curses. “Show some respect!”

Ryder jerked against his bindings as a blow slashed across his chest, leaving a bright red welt on his tanned skin. He glared at the woman holding the wide leather belt in her hands, not noting how the woman in the golden gown glared also, reacting as if she felt his pain.

“Hold!” she commanded. “He is mine to punish. You are not to touch him unless I order it so, Dahlia. Is that understood?”

The woman nodded, bowing before her. “Yes, Princess,” she said.

“Good. Now release his bonds and take him to my chamber. I wish to get to know this pet of mine a bit better.” Her green eyes, large and cat shaped, gazed at him, taking in every bit of his muscled form. From his mussed dark hair, which showed tiny highlights of red as the sun hit it, to the tips of his elegant feet. He was magnificent.

Katrina reached up, tracing a thin white scar that bisected his abdomen. It wasn’t an old wound but it had healed nicely, the scar adding a touch of ruggedness to his masculine beauty. His eyes were amazing against his tawny tanned skin, a blue the color of the sea where it meets pale sand. A hint of green turned them turquoise, a color not found amongst her people. They flashed in anger now as she ran her hands across his body with a seeming familiarity he scarcely felt.

“You shall get used to my hands, pet. Before we are through, you shall even come to beg for my touch.” She said it with a false bravado that had him narrowing his gaze at her. As if to prove her words, she let her palm lie flat against his hard lower stomach, stroking the line of hair that ran down from his navel to where it widen at his groin, brushing over the soft flesh of his cock.

It stirred against his will, twitching as if coming awake. Ryder jerked, trying to dislodge her hand from his body.

“I am no woman’s pet,” he hissed. That this woman could make him feel desire while tied naked to a post in the most humiliating of ways added anger and a surge of hatred to his tone. .

“You doubt me now, Ryder of Daring Castle. But once you are trained, you shall become Ryder, favored pet of Princess Katrina, a high rank that many men would give one of these for.” She reached out and cupped his balls, squeezing gently even as he tried once more to jerk away.