Friday, August 17, 2012

Jaded Hearts

Protected federal witness Carlos D’Alejandro and Special Agent Jade Lazlow–Whinton have had a relationship of convenience over the years. Jade’s retired, but when her estranged husband needs her, he uses her attachment to the enigmatic Carlos to lure her back into the field. When she recovers from near-fatal wounds and discovers the deceit, she goes to the one man who will never lie to her. Carlos.

The idyllic Pacific island paradise D’Alejandro calls home is the stuff of fantasy, but it isn’t long before reality knocks on the door and shatters their peace. The news is grim. People they loved have been killed, and these two unlikely lovers are forced to face a truth neither of them has been willing to examine too closely—that their passion is more than intense attraction.


“What do you want, Jade?”

The words were soft but held no discernible emotion. She peered more intently at him, saw the lines that had settled around his eyes and the weariness that emanated from him now, blunting the unmistakable aura of sensuality that was a natural part of his being. She moved slightly, stood at his back and slid her arms around his waist, letting her fingers drift across well-remembered contours, caressing softly as she pressed her cheek to the broad expanse of his back.

“What do you want, Jade?” he repeated, holding her hands still but making no movement to dislodge her from her place behind him. “I know this isn’t social. It never was with you. I seem to have that kind of luck with the women I trust.” The last was said with faint bitterness and she pulled away, taking the step back to his side that would allow her to face him.

“What if I just wanted to see you, Carlos?” she challenged softly. “It could be as simple as that.”

He laughed, and she was enchanted by the low rumble of sound. There was distinct mockery in his voice when he answered. “It could be, but is it?”

She debated a lie, then chose the truth. He not only deserved it, he’d gotten to know her so well she was certain he’d hear the deceit in her voice if she tried to mislead him.

“Yes,” she nodded, then added, “and no, as well.”

He turned his back to the astonishing view and crossed his arms over his chest.

“I’m waiting,” he prompted after a few moments passed in silence.

“You’re very distracting, Carlos,” she murmured, her gaze drifting over him, drinking in every nuance of his presence. His long legs were slightly spread and the lightweight cotton of his pants was pulled taut across his hips. She knew there was nothing under the pants but bare skin. That knowledge was creating a disturbing lack of focus, as well as a distressing internal trembling. A condition that would soon become an undeniable and visible confirmation of just how deeply his physical presence affected her. And Carlos being Carlos would not overlook the reaction once he’d spotted it.

She dragged her gaze from the endless length of his legs and met his thoroughly amused smile when she faced him again. He reached out and hooked the index finger of his right hand into the strip of material that held her bikini bra together, then he tugged her toward him until she stood between his legs and her eyes were level with his.

“You haven’t answered me,” he observed in a low growl.

Her gaze dropped to his hands and she stared in helpless fascination as his thumbs glided along the sides of her breasts while his splayed fingers held her firmly where he wanted her. The circles of motion expanded slowly, sensually until—finally—the pads of his thumbs brushed a feathery stroke over the rigid, thrusting tips of her nipples, clearly outlined by the thin white nylon of her bikini top.

“What was the question?” she murmured, the query disintegrating into a gasp of erotic pleasure when he bent forward and closed his teeth on one hard bud. The pressure of his tongue made the material between them even more irrelevant. She kissed the top of his head and her arms went around his neck, pressing him tighter to her. “God, Carlos, that feels incredible!” She was talking to him about what was happening as it happened, she thought with a flicker of irony. This was the only man she’d ever known who asked her what she wanted, what she liked and how she liked it. Then he’d given her everything she needed and more. All the time making her talk to him as they shared their passion.

The catch on the bikini top was opened with a careless flick of his fingers and he smiled as he pulled back to look at her. The bikini didn’t fall away, her fully bared skin still hidden from his sight until he decided to peel aside the material. He watched her, challenge in his dark eyes, making no further move until he was sure she wanted him to continue.

“What do you want?” he purred softly. “That was the question, honey.”

She traced the fullness of his lips with her fingertip and smiled when he sucked the slender digit deep into his mouth and swirled his tongue around it, licking suggestively.

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