He promised to take me as far as I could go—and I wanted to go to the edge.
My whole life has been a cover, a con, a lie. I was born into the grift, raised on the thrill of playing someone I’m not. As a rule, I never let anyone get too close—until Cole August makes it impossible for me to stay away.
Cole is tough, sexy, and intensely loyal, yet his secrets are dark and his scars run deep. Not many women can handle his past, or the truth behind his fierce demands. But something about him beckons me—and our desire is a game I must play.
I know he’s dangerous, that even his touch is trouble, but what is passion without a little risk?
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Determined or not, tonight no longer seemed like the best night for a seduction.
I drew in a breath, pushed away from the wall, and started to walk quietly toward the exit.
I’d gone only two steps when I froze, suddenly certain that Cole was behind me. I’d heard nothing. Seen nothing. But the air around me seemed to crackle, as if the remnants of Cole’s anger were making him hum like a live wire.
“I’m sorry,” I said, as I began to turn around. “I didn’t mean to—”
But the words died on my lips. He was right there, his huge frame filling the hallway, his muscles tight, his expression ferocious.
His hands were clenched in fists by his sides. I could see the effort that was required to hold himself together, and I knew that all it would take was one wrong word to completely rip him apart.
I spoke anyway.
Maybe I was trying to soothe. Maybe I wanted the explosion.
All I knew was that I wanted to hear his name on my lips and see that fierce intensity in his eyes directed at me.
I was playing with fire, and so help me, I didn’t care.
“Cole,” I said, then stopped when my voice seemed to set him in motion. His long strides brought him right in front of me. Instinctively, I took a single step back, then felt his hand close around my upper arm.
I felt the brush of his breath against my face as he issued one single command. “No.”
Heat seemed to radiate through me, spreading out from that spot where his hand remained pressed to my bare skin. I could practically smell his anger—that violent, wild fury. He was heated and unpredictable and if I had any instinct for self-preservation, I knew that I should be terrified.
Instead, my whole body tingled in reaction to the undiluted sensuality of this man, and I wanted to close my eyes and soak it in. I wanted to feel it hotter, wilder.
I wanted everything he had to give—and it pissed me off that he wasn’t giving it.
Deliberately, I turned to look at my arm. At that singular spot where he was touching me. Then I tilted my head back so that I was looking straight into his eyes once again.
“Yes,” I said, and despite the deep, fathomless brown, I could see the way his pupils dilated in response to my words.
I held my breath, wanting the touch that I was certain would come, then almost screamed in frustration when he released me.
“Go back to the party, Kat,” he said, then turned away from me and very deliberately walked back to his office.
What the fuck?
“Goddamn you, Cole August,” I shouted, ignoring the irony that it was me—not him—who’d actually popped. I hurried after him, then reached out and grabbed a handful of his T-shirt just as he reached his doorway. “Do you think I’m scared of you? Of this? I’m not.”
“You should be.” His voice was as low and as ominous as his expression.
He was on edge. I knew it. I could see it. And I really didn’t care. I was on edge, too. For that matter, I’d jumped headlong into the chasm, and now I was tumbling through space.
I didn’t know where I would land. All I knew was that I wanted Cole to be the one to catch me.
“Maybe I should,” I admitted. “But I really don’t give a damn.” And then, before I could talk myself out of it, I used my grip on his T-shirt as leverage, drew myself up on my tiptoes, and closed my mouth over his.
The kiss was like falling through hell to land in heaven. His mouth was hard at first, unyielding. Then his fingers twined in my hair and his other hand cupped the small of my back, pressing me forward until I was right against him.
I felt his erection like hard steel trapped inside his jeans, the swell of it pressing provocatively against my abdomen.
Had I really been thinking about dropping this quest? Of walking away from this man who could make me feel so incredible?
What kind of idiocy was that? And thank god I hadn’t listened to my own foolish notions.
He shifted against me, and I released a groan of pure, self-satisfied lust. The sound seemed to break something inside him, and the kiss turned wilder, our mouths joined as I wanted our bodies to be. His tongue exploring, tasting, driving me crazy and making me spin just a little bit out of myself, because otherwise how could I survive this onslaught of sensation?
He broke the kiss, then leaned back, breathing hard.
I grabbed his collar and drew him back. “Don’t you dare,” I said, not the least bit surprised that my voice sounded more like a growl than spoken words.
Because I feared his words were a protest or a dismissal, I tightened my grip on his shirt and yanked him forward, unbalancing him. He barked out a curse, and I saw the mixture of irritation and heat and lust flash across his face.
There was power there, too, but the control I’d seen earlier was gone now, replaced by a wild, determined need.
About J. Kenner
Julie Kenner (aka J. Kenner and J.K. Beck) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over forty novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations,” J.K. writes a range of stories including super sexy romances, paranormal romance, chick lit suspense and paranormal mommy lit. Her foray into the latter, Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner, is in development as a feature film with 1492 Pictures.
Her most recent trilogy of erotic romances, The Stark Trilogy (as J. Kenner), reached as high as #2 on the New York Times list and is published in over twenty countries.
J.K. lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and several cats.