Series: Strand Brothers Series, Book 1
Author: Lora Ann
Genre: Dark Romance, Erotic Thriller
Some choices are simple, some are hard, and some leave a brand.
One unforgettable night at a masquerade changes it all.
Mogul Nik Strand is all too familiar with the curve balls life likes to throw. Believing his soul can never be restored, he covers his pain and heartbreak with money. The more the better—as his heart is nothing but ice.
Aimee Taylor makes a decision that will haunt her forever. Unfortunately life doesn’t come with a do over; therefore, she makes the best out of what she has.
An unforeseen circumstance brings these two together again, even though, neither can explain how or why the other seems so familiar. As love tries to heal this wounded couple, a common adversary seeks to destroy.
I focused on breathing and tried to keep my heart rate under control. There was no point in showing up soaked with sweat while I panted like I’d just run a marathon. I gave myself a mental pep talk: You can do this, Aimee. No worries. Everything’s going to work out fine. If I could only believe it was true. I considered praying but then thought that wasn’t such a great idea. Yes, I was only applying for an escort position; however, I knew God was fully aware of just how tempting the offer was to take it a step further. Right, nix on the praying. When the door to the limo opened, I was pulled from my musing. I stepped out onto a red carpet. Luckily, I was no one of significance or with anyone important; hence, the focus was on others that arrived at the same time. Thank goodness.
I was gathered swiftly into the throng and rushed inside. While I took in my surroundings along with all the marvelous attire, a waiter passed by with a silver tray of champagne flutes. I grabbed one and took a sip. In a matter of moments, I was swept onto the dance floor where one gentleman after another danced with me. I eventually needed a break and excused myself to the nearest powder room.
Upon my return, I did my best to observe—all to no avail. A deep voice whispered in my ear. “May I have this dance?”
A chill of awareness instantly shot up and down my spine. I swallowed the lump in my throat and fought the urge to lean into whoever he was. “Yes,” I huskily replied. What the hell is the matter with me? Never have I had such a reaction to a man. He stepped around me. Once I was in his arms, we began to waltz around the dance floor. He was extremely tall, and his broad shoulders stretched the fabric of his tux deliciously. I ran my tongue over my bottom lip. He didn’t miss the motion. Due to the full mask he wore, I couldn’t get a good look at his face. But I could see his eyes, which were a brilliant light blue. They reminded me of a glacier: sharp, intense, and very observant. There really wasn’t anything else visible on him. I did notice his hair appeared to be blond, maybe a shade or so lighter than mine, and long enough that he could tie it back with a black leather thong. Everything about the man screamed danger, so, of course, I was drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Confidence radiated off of him in waves. I was immediately reminded of how you could tell a man made love by the way he danced. Although I was not delusional, this man would not make love. No. He would fuck. The thought made me wet. All of a sudden, I became aware of several things at once: He inexorably danced me into the shadows while Michael Bublé sang, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” The actual performer was there live, and, honestly, I couldn’t imagine a better song for how I felt at that moment. The next thing I knew, he had pulled me through a door I never noticed before.
I looked up at him and inquired, “Where are you taking me?”
His lips curved up slightly as he replied, “Somewhere quiet.”
Oh, my word. I had let a complete stranger drag me away from everyone and everything. And damn, if the idea didn’t excite me more. You would think I’d be a bit more concerned about my safety. For all I knew, this guy was an axe murderer. Yet, for some reason, I completely trusted him. I knew he would never hurt me physically. Although I was quite sure, the man had left more than one broken heart in his wake.
We slipped into a small library/office. The room was dimly lit; thus, I reached over to turn on a lamp sitting on a side table.
“Don’t,” he murmured.
I really wanted to know how his voice truly sounded. So far, the few words he had spoken were all whispered; therefore, I couldn’t hear it clearly. I did catch a slight rasp with a hint of some kind of accent but nothing discernable. Gah! The man became more frustrating by the moment. I heard the door lock, and then he was in front of me. He caressed up and down my sides, nibbling along my neck. I leaned to the side to give him better access, all the while I made little mewling noises.
He suckled the tender spot just below my earlobe. “Tell me to stop if I’ve misread the attraction between us,” he demanded.
No way in hell I was doing that. The electricity was arcing between our bodies with a mind of its own. Instead, I begged for more. “Please.”
I felt his smile along my throat. “Right answer,” he groaned.