Authors: Sommer Marsden
WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
This book is for sale to ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It contains substantial sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which may be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.
All sexually active characters in this work are 18 years of age or older.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover Design: Selena Kitt
Bittersweet © November 2009 Sommer Marsden
All rights reserved
The Good, the Sweet, and the Yummy
. Her stop. Here she went.
Come on, Ray, you can do this
. Rayka Sinclair pushed through the front door and took a deep breath. Sugar. The wonderful intoxicating smell of sugar. She needed a bribe and she needed it fast. She wasn’t much of a candy eater, but her assistant, Brazil, swore by this place. Almost weekly, she would come floating into the office with one of the candy-striped, pink bags clutched in her greedy (and yet, somehow, thin) hands. She called it her stash. The bag had to last the week.
When Rayka had admitted to pissing off a client, Brazil had instantly suggested a pound of mixed goodies from the elite shop as a peace offering. Rayka didn’t like bribes, but she did like big contracts. And big paychecks. She most certainly did not like the idea of getting a reputation as an opinionated, hard to work with designer, either.
“Out in a minute!” came muffled voice.
She didn’t answer, but she did start to browse. Oh, God. No wonder Brazil was addicted.
Hand-dipped butterscotch clusters, enrobed in dark chocolate with a petticoat of homemade caramel
, read the sign. Enrobed? Petticoat? She had no idea that fine candy had its own lingo.
The shop was small but richly decorated. A classic corner candy store/ice cream shop feel. Small tables with feminine but sturdy wrought-iron chairs. The padded seats were hot pink with tiny white polka dots. Apothecary jars lined the shelves, filled with colorful, decadent treats. Behind the shelves, the walls were mirrored, giving the illusion of a much larger space yet keeping it intimate. Whoever had done up the inside of
The Good, the Sweet, and the Yummy
had known what they were doing. The overall color scheme was hot pink, bubble gum pink, black, and white with touches of glass and metal. It was outrageously feminine and unique but didn’t seem contrived.
“Nice,” she sighed and leaned in toward the tall glass cases. “Mmmm.” Caramels. Not tiny ones either. Hearty ones. The kind she could stretch out to three or four bites. “Yum.”
“You see something you like?”
Rayka reacted to the voice first. Deep and masculine. Warm. Like whiskey burn going down your throat. He had a whiskey voice, she thought, and then wondered where the thought had come from. “I’m sorry?”
“You said, yum,” he said and took a step toward her.
Another erratic thought. That step toward her was both exciting and intimidating. “Did I?”
His mouth was moving, but Rayka wasn’t quite picking up the words. She was more interested in the sheer size of him. Well over six-foot-four, at least. Dark brown hair the same shade as a fine dark chocolate. Brown eyes a shade lighter. More of a milk chocolate. Full lips, chiseled jaw, wide shoulders, and...oh, dear God, stubble.
“What?” she said and swallowed hard. Her panic over having lost Mrs. Shapiro as a client had melted away. She seemed suddenly fixated on him.
“Look, are you okay? You seem...confused. Are you ill?”
Rayka snorted and his eyebrows went up and a small smile touched his red lips. “No. Not ill. Brain dead. Sorry. Give it to me one more time.”
Another amused look at the turn of the phrase. Dear God. Give it to me? What was she thinking?
“Sure. I’d be happy to
give it to you
. Any way you like, in fact.”
Rayka felt her face color and a blaze of heat that meant a blush traveled from her neck to her forehead. She focused super hard on what he was saying. “I said, we just received a very large shipment with some new items. What can I get for you?” He made no secret of his perusal of her. She felt her nipples tighten at the bold way he let his brown eyes slide over her. His gaze finally settled on her face, which Rayka was sure was a blazing cherry red.
“I’d like a pound of whatever you think is your best. I try not to eat sweets, so I will leave it up to your judgment.”
“Oh, come now...” he cocked his eyebrow and without thinking she filled in the blank.
“Rayka. Rayka Sinclair.”
“Deacon James,” he said with a grin. “Come now, Rayka Sinclair, you have to taste a few items. You cannot give a gift of chocolate without being able to sing its praises yourself. First hand. At least that’s what Gideon used to say.”
“Who?” Rayka was trying to look at the candy. Instead, she found herself continuously staring at his hands. His fingers. His forearms. He was leaning on the high top of the glass cabinet, arms crossed, talking to her. Heating her up with those hot chocolate brown eyes and the slight accent in his voice that she couldn’t quite place. He seemed so incongruous. Big, handsome, manly man in the middle of a hot-pink candy shop. And then it all made sense.
“My uncle. The former owner. Gideon. This was his dream store. He decorated it and stocked it with the best candy he could lay hands on. This was a man who traveled all over the globe to taste candy.”
“I take it condolences are in order?” Rayka said softly. His angular face hardened in a look of loss for just an instant and then he smiled. She was amazed at how much a smile transformed his face.
“He died about three months ago. AIDS. Well, pneumonia took him. The AIDS just weakened him slowly for years.” He shook his head, “As you can tell by the décor, Gideon wasn’t into the Hunt Club look.” He winked, and Rayka felt a warmth grow in her chest.
“I’m really sorry. I’m sure he was as lovely as his store.” She touched his arm as she said it. An innocent gesture of sorrow for loss, but it stoked the warmth in her breast. Which quickly turned to a hot blaze that shot from breastbone to pubic bone. She found herself not just confused, but irrationally turned on by the feel of his warm, muscular arm under her hand. Rayka clenched her thighs together to stave off the pulsing between her legs. It didn’t help. In fact, it added a delicious pressure that only made her want to climb over the counter and pounce on him.
“Now you look really flushed,” he said as he returned her touch. Simply settled his giant hand over her much smaller one and leaned in. An intimate move if she’d ever seen one. His full lips were so very close to hers because she had instinctually leaned in to hear him. To offer her full attention. It was a matter of good manners, she assured herself.
“I’m glad,” he said. “Now, let’s get you some samples. You need to be able to offer up your glowing endorsements of my goods.”
When he said “goods” it sounded dirty. When he touched the rough pad of one big finger to the very center of her lower lip, it was sinful. Rayka had never had a single touch shoot through her body like a starburst before. She clenched her thighs tighter and swallowed a moan. Because, just like a few minutes before, the clenching only made the wanting that much worse.
She was fucking gorgeous. With her pale skin and her pink bee-stung lips and her dazed expression. Two bright spots of hot embarrassment stood out on her cheeks, and it made her blue eyes sparkle that much more. The way she struggled to maintain some semblance of control. Her blonde hair was wind-tossed and stood out in about ten different directions, and he had to clench his fists to keep from shoving his hands into that mess of hair and haul her forward. Haul her forward and kiss her until she begged him. Kiss her until she pushed against him with her impossibly lush body and surrendered that last shred of decorum.
Fuck. He had to get control of himself. Women did not usually reduce him to a hard cock and the insane caveman urge to take them right where they stood. Miss Rayka Sinclair was definitely a force of nature. A goddess of wind, and eyes the color of a November sky.
“How about we give you a taste of espresso bark.”
“Wood?” she asked and then dipped her head.
Only behind my button fly, sweetheart.
“You’ve had peppermint bark,” he said, shaking off his thought. He really did have to get a hold of his rebellious member. The last thing he needed was her spotting an eager erection with a mind of its own.
Come on, Deacon, you’re not a fifteen-year-old boy. Baseball scores, oil in the car, the cat lady who lived behind Aunt Mary. The one who never wore even granny panties when she gardened and flashed the neighborhood her—
“Sorry. Wool gathering. Come again.”
She flushed at the unintended double entendre, and he saw a chance. So he took it. He rubbed his finger over her palm as he handed her a small chip of the espresso bark. The espresso was way better than the peppermint bark.
“I said I’m not a big fan. Not much on espresso.” Her whole body seemed to react to his touch. Her nipples peaked beneath the thin black sweater she wore. She twisted her hips in a way that told him she was wet. She was wet. For him. Which made him diamond hard in his jeans. Screw it.
“Just try it.” Again, Deacon dragged out his touch. He wouldn’t even let himself imagine her the way he’d really like to see her. Tied up in pretty ribbons. On her knees for him. He swallowed the low sound that wanted to rise up and out of his throat. He snagged the shred of chocolate and said, “Put your tongue out.”
God help him, she did. She did it without thought or preamble. Her kitten pink tongue slipped out over her plump lower lip and she let him place the sliver of chocolate there. “Now in it goes,” he said, and his voice sounded gravelly and harsh to his own ears.
He watched that tongue snake back in and shoved his hands in his pockets to keep from grabbing her. Right then and there. Just take her. He was almost positive that Gideon had not bought the fancy scrolled chairs so that one day his nephew could tie a beautiful woman to one and make her do things. And was she the type? His cock said yes, his heart said please, but his mind wasn’t convinced. And yet, that tongue had popped out pretty readily. He was hard-headed and dominant, that much Deacon knew. What he wasn’t was a brute or a cretin.
He studied the glass shelves and settled on an orange cream. Not just orange, mandarin orange. Deacon wasn’t much on chocolate for the most part, but the orange creams made him a believer. Chocolate was a drug when done right. He put it on the sample plate, cut it in fours with a plastic knife, and turned his attention back to the gorgeous creature in his shop.
She nodded, her eyes still wide, her cheeks still flushed. “Excellent. That can go in the box.”
“Told you,” he mumbled, and then just to see, “Open!” he barked.
Her lips parted with a soft but audible pop, and again the image flashed through his mind. Her. Tied to one of the chairs. Ribbons and lipstick and soft moans of pleasure. Maybe some pain. His dick was so hard it hurt.
“Mandarin orange cream. My personal favorite.”
She looked surprised at that. As if she didn’t expect him to eat or like candy. “Oh, then I have to try it,” she murmured.
Deacon pushed his fingertips against her lower lip and said softly, with just a hint of bite in his voice, “I said open, Rayka.”
Her mouth only closed on the morsel of chocolate when he gave it a gentle nudge with his knuckles. When the chocolate started to melt, her eyelids lowered and she let out a low moan.
Considering what that sound did to his body, Deacon found it hard not to groan right along with her.
“Oh, yes. Yes. Those must go in the box. She’ll forgive me anything if I bring her some of those.” Her tongue darted out for just a moment and it was all Deacon could do not to lean forward and capture it in his mouth. To suck the dark chocolate off of her tongue and then strip her bare in the bright sunny store.