Pout Erotica

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

On the fourth day of Kissmas...Mary Winter

by Mary Winter
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Contemporary Erotic Romance
RELEASE DATE: November 9, 2007
Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Reba Dailey thought she had everything she wanted…until a heart attack brought her face-to-face with death. No longer able to continue her high-powered, high-stress job as an advertising executive, her weakened body and near-empty bank account challenge her to discover what—and who—she really wants.

Disappointed more than once by modern medicine, Todd Thorpe owns Healing Hands, a natural healing center where he helps people make the most of their natural energy. People like Reba Dailey. One heated kiss a few years ago told him they’d be explosive together. And he’s hungered for her ever since.

Now she’s returned, and Todd aims to prove love and happiness are far more fulfilling than money and success. He also plans to teach her how good natural healing can make her feel. One carnal night at a time.

“Todd, I’m not the same woman you met at Hope’s Christmas party. Back then I was working my way up the corporate ladder, sending out feelers to see if I could start my own business. Four months after we shared that kiss, I had a heart attack. A near-fatal one. If I hadn’t been at the office, I probably would have died.” Her voice grew soft. “The very thing that nearly killed me saved my life.” She released a breath in a whoosh of air.

“I didn’t know,” he said quietly. “Hope had mentioned you were having some health issues, but nothing that bad. I’m sorry.” He reached forward and cupped her shoulder. “If there’s anything I can do, please let me know.”

He meant it. Reba blinked. “After the way I treated you?” The question popped out of her mouth before she could censor it.

Todd chuckled. “Look, the past is the past. Neither one of us can change it…all we can do is look forward. You were busy, and then you went through a life-changing experience. I was busy too, getting my business up and running.” He shrugged. “Things happen.”

“Yeah, they do,” Reba agreed. She swiveled to face him. “The thing is, as much as I want to pick up where we left off, I’m not sure I can. My health is tenuous at the moment. I haven’t even discussed with my doctor whether or not I’m able…to be intimate.” She blushed slightly, swallowed hard and waited for him to run.

He didn’t. His hand still rested warm and comforting on her shoulder, his green eyes holding not the pity she expected, but compassion. “Then maybe that should be the first thing you do. I’m still very attracted to you. I won’t run, Reba. Not this time.”

His words sent shivers of promise down her spine. She nodded, her throat too constricted for words.

“What about you, Reba? Will you run?” he asked after long moments of silence.

She shook her head. “No, I won’t run,” she whispered. Picking up the mug, she sipped the cooling tea, thankful to have something to occupy her hands. Returning the topic back to his metaphysical theories seemed far safer than discussing their relationship. “I’m not sure I believe in all of that New Age stuff, though.” She met his gaze, a shade of the tough advertising executive in her eyes. “We make our own realities and our own truths,” she said, setting her mug down once again.

“I won’t argue with that, but don’t you think we do so in accordance with some grander plan, some larger cycle of life?” Reaching out, he caressed her lower lip with his thumb.

The soft caress sent flutters to her womb. For a moment she stiffened. Hadn’t she just told him she hadn’t discussed sex with her doctor? But sitting here on the couch wasn’t having sex. Perhaps she should just loosen up. Breath catching, she slipped her tongue between her lips to caress the edge of his blunt digit.

His thumb stilled. “We move in shades and patterns. It’s up to us to discern the larger picture.”
Reba closed her lips and leaned away, breaking contact. “I never had much time for pictures.” Not even my own. Her lips twisted, turned sad, and she shoved regrets aside. Too late for regrets now, when her heart fluttered in her chest and the frailties of her flesh had gotten her into this situation in the first place. Todd had her so shaken she didn’t know which way was up anymore. “And now I have too much time.” She reached for her tea.

Todd closed his fingers around her wrists. “Isn’t there something you’ve always wanted, yet never reached out and grabbed?”

His question probed too close to wounds she’d picked at during her convalescence. The image of her latest painting, half-finished and probably always would be, leaning against an easel in her bedroom filled her mind. “I’ve taken everything I wanted, and I’m damn proud of it. Or at least I am when I don’t think too much.” Chin lifting, she stared at his fingers against her wrist. Her pulse pounded, thoughts of the one thing she wanted—yet had been too chicken to act upon in his office—swirling in her head. No one ever called Reba Dailey scared. Not when she faced down tight-fisted executives across the boardroom table, and certainly not in pursuit of a handsome man. A smile curved the corner of her lips. “Is there something you want?”

“We’re not discussing me.”

“No, you’re discussing me, but one thing I’ve learned is that people generally find failings in others that they also have in themselves.” On the offensive, Reba faced him. Curling her toes into the plush carpet, she contemplated walking them up Todd’s leg, curling her digits over the ridge she saw in his jeans and seeing if he was as hard and thick as he looked. Two could play the “what do you want” game, and she had no doubt in the end she’d win.
“So what do you want, Reba?”

His husky voice scraped across nerve endings worn raw from her unfulfilled desires and her need to change her life. She tensed her thighs, thinking of rising up to push him back, straddle him and show him exactly what she wanted. Here, in his home, the intimate atmosphere bound them together far closer than his office could have.

“What do you want?” Reba asked. She reached for him, smiling when her fingers connected with the soft knit of his sweater. In his living room, the woman with a heart condition ceased to exist. This dance she’d played before, and her body screamed that it was time to resume the steps.

Todd grabbed her other wrist. In a flash he pulled her arms over her head and pushed her back against the arm of the couch. His body covered hers, shielding her from the sight of anything but his broad chest. “If I take what I want, will you go after what you want?” He lowered his head, his lips just inches from hers. Each breath scraped her breasts against his chest, and even through layers of clothing electricity zinged between them. She snaked a leg around his hip, her heel pressing against the back of his thigh. “You want me to bare my soul and get all touchy-feely, all New Age? I don’t work that way, Todd. I’m a little more real, a little more now. Almost dying does that to you.”

She’d discarded her shoes at the door and as her sock-clad toes curled into a buttock, she watched a shudder race through him. The woman crawling out of her skin reveled in the release from hibernation.

“I’m not going to fuck you. Not tonight and not until you talk to your doctor.” He eased his grip but didn’t release her.

“Why not? Are you afraid?”

A husky chuckle worked its way from his throat. “No, I’m not afraid. And I have no doubt we’ll have sex. But you’re using this to avoid the issue. And the issue is—what does Reba Dailey want, both in life and love?” He released her and sat back on his side of the couch. “And until you answer that question, whatever this is between us goes no further.”

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  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger sydney molare said…

    ANyone wanna pluck a bulb or two off besides me? Thank you Mary for "lighting up my life" with you hot excerpt.

  • At 9:00 AM, Blogger Wanda D. Hudson said…

    One carnal night at a time?



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