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JinxedJINXED

Harlequin Blaze #303
July 2006
ISBN: 0-373-79265-4

Madame Karma says...
If you run away from love, you'll be cursed!

Blame It on Karma by Jacquie D'Alessandro
Coffee shop owner Lacey Perkins scoffs when a fortune-teller informs her she's destined to fall for her arrogant, but definitely hot, property manager Evan Sawyer. Lacey figures she'd rather be jinxed--until she's cursed with a case of uncontrollable, insatiable lust....

Together Again? by Jill Shalvis
Accountant Chloe Cooper can't hellp but laugh at the prediction that her life is about to be transformed by true love. But that was before Chloe walked straight into her former lover, FBI agent Ian McCall, and he showed her just how thrilling things could get....

Tall, Dark & Temporary by Crystal Green
Candy shop owner Erin Holland isn't convinced when she's told that Wes Ryan, an infamous playboy, is "The One." Erin is going on a cruise with the gorgeous day trader for one reason only: sex. But her decadent plans keep getting mysteriously, frustratingly, thwarted....

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Excerpt from JINXED

After Erin ran up to the spa to make a massage appointment for later that day, they arrived at their ship’s stateroom. Wes used his ID card to unlock it, opening the door for her and closing his eyes as he caught a whiff of her scent.

Sweet, he thought. Like raspberries, but with a little bit of something kicky, like lime. She smelled like a sorbet of mixed flavors.

“Wow,” she said, moving around the bed to peek out the long porthole window. It offered a view of the dock, the gray of the afternoon. “This room’s bigger than I thought it would be.”

“You expected a cell?”

“Sort of. I had these visions of bunk beds chained to the walls and a blue port-a-potty.”

“That shows zero trust in my tastes.”

“And I should definitely know better.”

There it was—that glowing smile. It lit up her skin with a blush, gave her gray eyes sparkle. But that was just the beginning of her appeal, really. She had blond hair chopped into layers that came to just below her chin; brown streaks made the style hip and sultry. Then came the cuteness: a button nose and a heart-shaped face that reminded him she wasn’t like a lot of the women he usually dated. His type was supposed to be sleeker, like a sports car that took curves instead of created them. But maybe that was part of Erin’s draw: her insistence on taking things slow made him want her that much more with every ticking, shuddering second.

Unable to help himself, Wes allowed his gaze to travel down her petite body—breasts that were a little too large for her stature, a tiny waist, slim hips. Even dressed in jeans and a T-shirt with a 50s-type sweater, she brought out every carnal instinct.

But wasn’t he supposed to be showing her that he was above this? That he could be more than just the go-to guy for amusement?

Damn, it was hard to be a gentleman sometimes, especially now, with her standing next to a bed that dominated the room.

She seemed to realize it, too, her gaze falling to the mattress, then lifting to him. She really blushed this time, and his groin tightened.

He needed her. In so many ways.

Their luggage had already been dropped off by the porter, and it was waiting on the bed for them to unpack. Hesitating, Erin’s hands hovered over her red alligator-scaled bag, as if she hadn’t fully committed to being here with him yet. But hadn’t he sensed this a few times before? Reluctance?

His heart sank, and it bothered him to realize that he might’ve been more taken aback by her rejection of him—not the hesitation to jump right into bed in general.

She stared at her luggage, took a breath, then unzipped her bag with a verve that seemed a little too emphatic. Her smile seemed determined, and it threw him off balance.

Not knowing what to think, Wes closed the door. “You pack pretty light. For a girl, I mean.”

“How would you know?” She playfully narrowed her eyes. “Just how many women have you traveled with?”

Enough. And they’d always gone with him on short trips that he was now regretting weren’t longer. Somehow, Wes thought that Erin had guessed this already. She had a way of seeing right into him that was uncanny. In fact, he’d never met a woman who made him feel like maybe he didn’t have to put on an act because it wouldn’t work anyway. And the thing of it was, she still wanted to be around him.

He didn’t understand any of it.

“How about we don’t talk about other women right now?” Wes said, coming closer to the bed.

She caught her breath. Knowing he had that kind of effect on her turned him on.

“How’d you fit your formal wear into one bag?” he asked.

In answer, she casually pulled out a teeny-tiny babydoll piece of fluff. Lingerie, sheer and seductive.

Imagination kicking into overdrive, Wes’s penis nudged against his fly. His throat closed up.

“Formal wear,” she said, as if musing over the very idea. “Where is my formal wear…?”

Then, she tugged a long wispy dress out of her bag—a bohemian print that was meant to retain a few wrinkles. He could tell that she’d chosen to pull out the more demure evening garb to taunt him.

Then, slowly, devilishly, she slid out another length of sinuous material.

Back to the lingerie.

Wes blew out some oxygen. It was almost like she was performing a striptease, but the opposite: she was taking things out instead of off. In essence, every movement whispered, “This is what I brought for you. Are you ready for some of it?”

When she pulled out a heart-shaped red lollipop—a treat from her candy shop, no doubt—she gave him a wicked smile and rested the candy against her lips.

He didn’t dare ask what she had in mind. In spite of all his best intentions, he got closer, reaching for the sucker.

“Hey,” she teased, raising the candy over her head. “Not so fast.”

When he didn’t say anything— couldn’t say anything—she raised an eyebrow.

“And if you don’t like lollipops, I’ve got more for you. What do you want? Taffy, chocolate…? I’ve got it all.”

Yeah, she did. By now, his penis was banging with the blood rushing to it. He wanted to feel himself inside her, pounding, surrounded by her slick heat. He didn’t want to taste sugar as much as her skin, her breasts, her sex.

Uninhibited, he reached out to run a thumb over her lower lip. Soft, warm. She closed her eyes, taking him into her mouth as she dropped her sucker-clasping hand to her side.

“Erin,” he whispered, weaving the fingers of his other hand into her hair.

She took his thumb further inside, sucking, biting. He moved his finger with her motions, entranced. His veins enlarged, forcing themselves outward until it felt like he’d explode from the pressure.

Unable to stand it, he bent to her, removing his thumb and taking its place with his tongue, sliding her a long kiss that stretched time into slow, erotic pulses. He explored her heat, pressing her body against his so she could feel his erection, feel what she did to him.

She responded with a vicious eagerness, engaging his tongue with hers, rubbing her hips against his groin until he moaned with pleasured pain. When she slid her hand between them, testing his hard-on, he clutched at her.

It seemed like he’d been waiting for this for months, not weeks. He was ready to rip off their clothes and come into her, but he didn’t want that. It couldn’t be that fast and anonymous, not this time.

“Hey,” he said against her mouth, thinking that she was different now that they were on this trip alone. Less inhibited?

She drew away, laughed, her breath warming his lips. “I’m trying to beat a curse here, ‘kay? Play along, please.”

A curse. Again, he wondered exactly what that old fortuneteller had told her—what Erin had left out earlier when she’d told him her story. What did a curse have to do with what was happening right now?

“You’re not cursed with me,” he said, smoothing his hands below her jaw to frame her face. Such a beautiful face.

Something within her eyes shifted, white flecks among the gray clicking into a different position, like lenses changing focus.

Then, with even more determination, she undid the top button of his fly.

He stopped Erin, confused not only by her, but by his own refusal to just accept the sex and move on.

“You don’t want this?” she asked.

“Hell, yeah, but…” He sucked in a breath.

She’d cupped him in her hand again. He strained to burst out of the denims.

“I’ve wanted this, too, Wes. And now’s finally the time for it.”

He couldn’t get any air into his lungs, yet he tried to talk anyway. Why was she acting like this was some sort of mission? This wasn’t like the Erin he knew—not that he was complaining. He just hadn’t expected this strong of a come on.

But it was working all the same. Was it ever.

She was moving one finger back and forth, as if experimenting with how much he could take. On the fringe of losing it, he pulled her back against him, kissing her roughly.

Then, outside of his vised brain, he heard something like a voice amplifying around him, a physical thing pressing in and trying to force him apart from Erin. Something on the loudspeaker? Hell, it wasn’t registering….

Abruptly, Erin pulled away. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Dizzy, he tried to haul her back against him again, but she shook her head, pointing to the ceiling. Eventually, the loudspeaker voice filtered through the haze of his animal need.

“…mandatory emergency drill. Please secure your lifejackets--”

“Shit,” Wes said, his erection at full rev now. “I don’t suppose we can ignore that.”

“Mandatory.”

Flushed, Erin laughed in frustration, but he sensed something else in the gesture. Relief?

What the hell?

Backing away from him, she straightened her sweater, her smile shaky. “Cursed. Didn’t I tell you the negative stuff was on its way? You’re onboard with a cursed being, Wes. You’d better bail now.”

His nethers were killing him, but cool as rain, Erin went to a corner table and lifted off the top to find the lifejackets.

Using a wall for balance, one hand holding himself up while the other pressed against his crotch, he attempted to contain the ache.

And she thought she was the one who was cursed?

 

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