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Born to be BadBORN TO BE BAD

Harlequin Blaze #179
April 2005
ISBN: 0-373-79183-6

Secrets...
He's dark and he's dangerous. But reporter Gemma Duncan wants to break the story of businessman Damien Theroux's rumored underground dealings-which means she'll have todeal with the devil himself.

...lies...
Posing as a waitress, Gemma scores a job at one of Theroux's legit restaurants so she can snoop for info. When the bad boy of New Orleans takes an immediate interest in his new employee, Gemma finds herself falling under his seductive spell.

...and sex games
Soon Gemma is lost in a shadowy world of naughty sex games, acting out her wildest fantasies with this dangerous man. Part of her knows she has to get her story and get out of there ASAP.But another part wants to see just how far these games will go....

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Excerpt from BORN TO BE BAD

The door swung open, revealing Damien Thoreaux, the boss.

As Gemma slyly hid her reporter's notes, her blood twisted direction, shocking her system, leaving her weak.

Whoo, he was tall. Slim but solid enough to fill out that black suit. It wasn't hard to picture toned abs and cable-muscled arms under those fancy clothes. Unlike this afternoon, when his dark hair had been loose, he'd secured the top strands away from his face with a band, allowing the bottom to wave down to his wide shoulders.

Time to go to work again.

She forced herself to meet his blue-diamond eyes. "I'm just taking a break," she blurted.

Suave. Could her words have been any more spastic?

"Roxy says you're back here for napkins."

He leaned against the brick wall, taking his time, bracing himself with one shoulder as he ran his other hand over his angled jaw. He smoothed a gaze over her.

From her pumps.up her bare legs.over her skirt.her torso.her breasts.still on her breasts.still on her.

Gemma covered her chest with her arms, blocking him.

He smiled, doused it then glanced up at her from beneath his dark brows. "I like your pirate motif."

The skull-and-crossbones on her tank top. Right. "Don't you mean 'motifs'?"

"Those, too."

There they went--the motifs--hardening into sensitive peaks that brushed the cotton of her shirt. As she adjusted position, keeping her arms crossed and nonchalantly leaning against the shelves, her nipples scraped against the outsides of her thumbs. A flush roared over her body, prickling her skin with new sweat and heat.

"Am I disturbing you?" he asked.

She tried to stay unaffected. "You walked in the door just as I was trying to relax. Scared me half to death."

As if to prove it, she raised a hand to massage her neck again, leaving the other arm to still cover evidence of her inconvenient desire.

Thoreaux unfolded himself from the wall, stepped forward.

Fear shot through her, but not because she felt threatened. No, this was the safe fear of her fantasies, where unknown men would approach her, cover her with their shadows, slip into her then disappear into the corners of her mind.

A stirring, a warm shivering, bloomed in the pit of her stomach. She slid her palm there, liking it. Hoping it would stop.

He was still moving toward her.

The rational part of her panicked. "So do you hit on all the new waitresses, like some sort of initiation?"

Why had she said that? Because she thought it would create some kind of distance she didn't really want?

He paused, a mere foot away, his taut body remaining as still as a held breath. "If you think I'm hitting on you now, cher, you've got some lessons to learn."

Another blush prickled over her skin. "It's just. My space bubble. I don't think you're aware of the concept."

"Am I getting a little too close now?"

"For a stranger."

Tilting back his head, he surveyed her, a grin quirking his mouth. He had a full lower lip. Sensuous, soft.

"Stranger," he repeated, rolling the word over his tongue, savoring it.

That slightly exotic accent--a tinge of French?--stretched over her, bare and slick, burying her under its promising weight.

By now, Gemma couldn't contain the excited quiver traveling her limbs, settling between her legs with electric anticipation.

Thoreaux must have sensed that she'd liked the way he'd touched her this afternoon.

That she wanted to test the dark waters outside of her wading pool.

And maybe. No.

Yes. Maybe this was a good way to ask a personal question or two. It'd worked for Mata Hari.

He moved closer to her. Closer. Inches away, until he was staring down, wiry arm curved over her head as he rested on the shelves, body slightly hunched, eclipsing everything else around them.

His scent filled her--rain, brandy--making her giddy.

"A stranger?" he whispered. "I'm easy to know."

While Gemma pressed her arm against her sensitized breasts again, the hand she held against her neck tightened involuntarily. "Listen, you're not my type."

"Yeah?"

He took up where they'd left off this afternoon, with him skimming his palm up her arm to capture her hand--the one rubbing her neck. The weight of his touch reduced her next words into a quiet struggle to suck in oxygen.

"I usually.go for more.of the roses and.chocolates guy."

Thoreaux pressed his thumb up her wrist, up the middle of her palm, finding a spot that made her want to giggle, cry and rub herself against him all at the same time. He traced circles, reducing her to helplessness.

"You get that sort of pansy boy in California , for certain," he said, watching her.

She couldn't meet his gaze, not straight on, so she glanced up at him through her eyelashes. "How do you know.?" She gasped as he gave her delicate palm nerve an especially persuasive nudge. "Ah, oh. Right. You must've talked to Roxy about me."

Dammit, she was supposed to be questioning him.

"She'd know, being the boss 'round here." With unexpected care, he lowered her hand, then slid his own around her neck, massaging her tense muscles.

"Mmmm." In spite of her caution, Gemma leaned into the pressure. "And what else do you know about me?"

"Not much. Just that you follow strangers down streets and into dark bars."

"I told you I need this job."

Thoreaux kept rubbing, watching. Gemma's chest rose and fell, marking the seconds.

"Let me guess what you're about," he said. "I think you're a 'never left.' One of many who came to this place just to visit. You fell in love with the jazz, the Creole sauces, the romance of not knowing what goes on behind the lace curtains. Then, as we say, you never left."

He'd gotten most of it, except the part he'd skipped about coming here with the hopes of finding a life, too.

"And you?" she asked. "Why are you in New Orleans ?"

Thoreaux paused, then trailed his hand from her neck to her collarbone, running his fingers under her tank top's neckline until his nails smoothed against the tender skin of her upper chest. Without thinking, Gemma took her arm from her breasts, reaching out to grab his jacket's lapel, leaving herself open.

Obviously encouraged, he slid his fingers outside the material of her shirt, cupping a breast, tracing his thumb over the awakened crest of it. Gemma winced, arching into his caress. Her other hand mindlessly shot out to cover his knuckles in pleased wariness.

What the hell was she doing?

"I think maybe you like strangers," he said, ignoring her personal questions.

Not that she could remember what they'd just been talking about.

Fascinated by his aggression, her fingers moved with his as he absently toyed with her nipple.

"I think," he continued in that soft, lethal whisper, "that you aren't what you seem."

Her heart punched against her ribs, then wavered in real fear. He couldn't know she was a reporter. How.?

Thoreaux lowered his lips to her ear, his breath warm. "You tease. You act nice. But that's not what you want. A nice man."

Thank God, he didn't know. The buzz of passing danger melted downward, coating her with dampness, readiness. She wanted him to touch her there, to give her what she really wanted.

"I do want a nice man," she said. "I've been looking for one, but."

He skimmed his hand down her ribs, over the curve of her butt, the back of her thigh, searching.

".It never seems to work out."

"I wonder why."

She did, too. She did like nice guys, even if they'd never been enough to hold her interest. But that was her fault, not theirs. She'd tried a few normal, home-by-six-for-dinner relationships, tried men her family approved of.

But there was something wild in Gemma. Something that might be wired wrong in her.

Was it normal to lust after men like Thoreaux? To find yourself in a position like this?

She reached down and captured his wandering hand with hers, putting an end to the spell.

For a moment, he froze. Without moving, he created a space between them with the sting of his gaze.

"I think my break's over," she said, voice wavering. She cleared her throat. "First night. Good impression. All that."

A calculating smile settled on his mouth. Reaching up, he grabbed a packet of napkins, deposited it into Gemma's hand then backed away.

"Roxy'll wonder what took you so long," he said.

"Should I tell her?"

He was baiting Gemma, so she sent him her toughest glance. "Your call, boss."

"As I said, Roxy's in charge. I'm inconsequential to this bar."

Right, she thought, unwilling to believe a word of it. Sooner or later, she'd see exactly who was boss around here..

 

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From the book: Born to be Bad
By: Crystal Green
Imprint and Series: Harlequin Blaze
Publication Date: 04/05
ISBN: 0-373-79183-6
Copyright C: 2005
By: Harlequin Books S.A.
R and TM are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.com