Good, because I have some other tricks you haven’t even seen yet.
Ticklers. Handcuffs. Sex that lasts two hours at a time.
Her eyes widened. “Two hours.”
Conall shrugged, his eyes twinkling. “Or more.”
She grinned. “Bring it on
About the author:
Suspenseful, erotic, edgy, thrilling, romantic, adventurous. All these words are used to describe award-winning, best-selling novelist Denise A. Agnew’s novels. Romantic Times Magazine called her romantic suspense novels DANGEROUS INTENTIONS and TREACHEROUS WISHES “top-notch romantic suspense.” With paranormal, time travel, romantic comedy, contemporary, historical, erotica, and romantic suspense novels under her belt, she proves her gift for writing about a diverse range of subjects.
(Writing tales that scare the reader is her ultimate thrill.) Denise’s inspiration for her novels comes from innumerable sources, but the fact she has lived in Colorado, Hawaii, and the United Kingdom has given her a lifetime of ideas. Her experiences with archaeology have crept into her work, as well as numerous travels throughout England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Denise currently lives in Arizona with her real life hero, her husband.
Denise welcomes mail from readers. You can write to her c/o Ellora’s Cave Publishing at 1337 Commerce Drive, Suite 13, Stow, OH 44224.
Also by Denise A. Agnew:
By Honor Bound anthology
Deep is the Night: Dark Fire
Deep is the Night: Haunted Souls
Deep is the Night: Night Watch
Over the Line
Winter Warriors anthology
Allie Larson knew she had a soft spot for underdogs. Over the years she’d amassed quite a collection of discarded items—a poodle with a screeching bark that made everyone but the deaf shudder in pain, a bald cat named Kojack, a friend named Carlee who drove everyone but Allie nuts, including her own mother, a car that spent more time in the shop than on the road, and a long and disturbing list of ex-boyfriends.
Still, she saw no need to change it. In fact, as she stood at Case Pharmaceuticals’
Christmas party watching Lukas Brenner, resident genius, produce tears of boredom in another woman’s eyes, she found herself shifting into rescue mode…again.
Carlee caught her wrist and gave her a menacing glare. “Don’t you dare.”
Allie tried to widen her eyes to look innocent. “What?”
“You’re fluttering.” Carlee poked an index finger at Allie’s eyelids. “Liar.”
“How could I be lying? I haven’t said anything.”
“Well, I know Allie-Larson-lying-flutters when I see them.” Carlee pointed at Lukas and the woman. “Leave those two alone. It’s a party, for God’s sake! Have a drink.
“I am.” She lifted her empty glass of soda up for illustration.
Carlee sniffed the empty glass and wrinkled her nose. “There’s the problem.” She dragged Allie toward the bar. “You need something stiffer. How ‘bout a Long Island?
Less Coke, lots of alcohol.”
“Are you trying to kill me? I’ll be flat on my back in minutes if I drink one of those.”
“That’d be better than this. Look at you.”
Allie glanced down, expecting to find food on her clothes, her blouse unbuttoned, something. “What? What’s wrong with me?”
“You’ve got that I’m-gonna-rescue-the-lost-puppy-dog look.”
“Do not.” She lifted her hand to her face. “It’s called the I’m-getting-sick-from-that-appetizer look.” She shuddered for effect. “You’d think the brass could’ve hired better caterers this year. I think these guys are the same ones as last year, and you know what happened then.”
Carlee held her stomach. “Don’t remind me. I didn’t see anything but the bathroom for two days. You’re not eating the macaroni salad, just in case.”
“Haven’t touched it.” Allie forced herself to look away from Lukas and the snoring woman, but her gaze didn’t cooperate for long, and it bounced right back like one of those rubber balls on elastic strings.
“Don’t,” Carlee murmured.
She watched him as he droned on and on, his expression as flat as her own breasts…without the Wonderbra. “I won’t. I just feel bad for him. He has no idea what he’s doing. Someone needs to help him. A well-meaning friend.”
“That’s what a mother is for.”
“The man’s in his thirties. I’m sure his mother’s given up on him by now.”
“And so should you.” Carlee dumped the rest of her wine down her throat. “Have you thought that maybe he’s happy being the way he is?”
“Sure. But I don’t think he realizes something’s wrong. Without the glasses and outdated haircut and clothes, I think he’d be a real hunk. And he’s smart. He has a good job—”
“Forget it. You’re not the hostess of one of those makeover shows.” Carlee turned to the bartender. “Another glass of the Two-buck Chuck for me, and my friend’ll take a soda…with less Coke and more rum this time—”
“Just Coke, thanks.” Allie corrected. After last year’s fiasco that started with a few Fuzzy Navels and ended with her tongue in the CEO’s fuzzy navel, she’d vowed never to drink at a company party again.
Of course, she’d never know if she’d earned the promotion that had followed soon after the hard way or not. Some mysteries were better left unexplored.
As she sipped her lukewarm soda, she watched Lukas talk. The bored-to-death woman had either sleepwalked away or dropped in a cold faint somewhere, and so he’d moved on to yet another victim.
It was too bad. He really was a good-looking guy. Dark hair that looked like if it was given a toss with some hair wax it might be sexy. Without the heavy grease he used, in fact, she wondered if it might even have some blond highlights.
And without the glasses making his pale blue eyes look as wide as an owl’s, she guessed his face was proportioned real nice. High cheekbones. Square jaw. Narrow nose. A strong, masculine, manly face.
Oh, yes. There was lip-smackin’ potential in that man. She let her gaze travel south.
His clothes didn’t fit properly. They hung on him funny, like they belonged to someone else. Granted, he was big. Everywhere. But his clothes did nothing for him. She wondered how he would look in a snug sweater and khakis.
He caught her staring, and she felt her cheeks heating.
Clearly seizing the moment, the woman next to him slipped away.
Oh, boy. Now she’d done it. Now she had to talk to him. She’d made him lose his partner.
His gaze still focused on her face, he walked toward her.
“What did you do?” Carlee whispered, returning from wherever she’d wandered.
“I leave you alone for two seconds, and look what’s happened.”
“Shush! He’ll hear you.”
He made an honest attempt at a smile as he approached her, but it didn’t quite mature into a convincing one. Still, she smiled back.
“Hi,” she said, feeling instantly uncomfortable.
“Hi.” He stared in her eyes, unblinking, until she had to glance away.
“Are you enjoying the party?” She studied his shoes. Loafers like her dad wore. She always believed a man’s shoes said a lot about a guy. Loafers said “practical, responsible, dependable”. Not bad things, but not quite what she was hoping for, either.
“It’s okay. You?”
“It’d be more fun if I were loaded, but I figured I’m better off sober.” She glanced up.
Still staring, he nodded.
Didn’t the man ever blink?
She scrambled to find something to talk about. “Er…uh…how’s your latest project going? I hear good things about it.”
“It’s going well. I have identified several key impurities of my compound and have begun eliminating them. Then I can renew the animal testing. The last round of testing was disastrous, but I believe within a week I should be able to begin again, with better results.”
“Isn’t that interesting. What happened last time?”
“The rats produced anaplastic astrocytomas.”
She shuddered. “Sounds painful.”
He nodded. “It was not pleasant. They suffered vomiting, seizures, focal weakness—”
Pleasant party conversation
. She felt herself grimacing. “Those are some powerful side effects for a weight loss pill. I think if I had a choice, I’d stay overweight.”
“You’re not.” His meticulous gaze traveled up and down her body, very slowly.
And she was damn embarrassed. She was sure he could see every lump and bump hidden beneath her clothes. “Oh, I meant…if I were… I mean, who would want to face those side effects just to lose a few pounds?”
“Precisely. Although I’ve discovered a byproduct of the manufacturing process that has some interesting properties.”
She buttoned her jacket even though she was feeling mighty warm at the moment.
, a primary alcohol containing a straight chain of twelve carbons and two conjugated double bonds.”
What was that? Conjugated what?
Was he even speaking English? “Well…” She glanced around the room, feeling guilty as sin for looking for an escape route. But discussing upchucking rats and conjugating anything wasn’t doing her already bubbly 39
stomach any good. “I’ve got to go. My friend—” she pointed at Carlee, who was batting eyelashes at one of the sales guys, “—needs my help. Josh over there is married.”
“Of course.” He took a single step backward.
“It was nice talking with you.”
He nodded. “You, too.”
And as she walked toward Carlee, she glanced back, catching him retreating to the corner of the room, where he stood against the wall. Alone.
What a crying shame. All that body. All that brain. And as much sex appeal as a dead frog.
And then, as she half-listened to Carlee’s sorry attempt at flirting with Josh, she watched Lukas leave.
* * * * *
She was positively gorgeous, that Allie Larson. And she’d spoken to him, shown a genuine interest in what he was saying…until he’d gotten to the part about the rats.
Why did he always do that? Talk about such utter nonsense, it literally chased the women away?
He shrugged into his lab coat. A little playing with that new compound, the one he’d lovingly named Candy, would raise his spirits, not that they weren’t already somewhere up in the stratosphere.
She’d noticed him. She’d spoken to him.
If only there was a pill he could take to make him the smoothest talking charmer of the company! He pulled the test tube rack from the refrigerator and set it on the counter, then turned to light the Bunsen burner under the hood, but as he spun around again to grab a tube from the rack, he knocked the whole thing to the floor. It landed with an earsplitting crash.
Damn it all!
He went to the sink and pulled some paper towels from the dispenser then knelt on the floor to mop up the broken glass and the chemical compound that had him up late at night trying to discover its secrets.
Too damn bad! Now he’d have to wait until the next run of the weight loss compound before he’d get any more.
Now, with nothing to do, he took off his lab coat, returned it to its hook, tossed the last of the paper towel mess in the garbage, and headed toward the door. As he gripped the knob in his hand and pulled, John—the one guy at Case who seemed to understand him—shoved open the door.
“Are you leavin’?”
“Yeah. I just dropped the last of Candy on the floor.”
“Again? Last week, we had to close the lab for a whole day because of the mercury spill.”
“Don’t remind me.”
“Come on, let’s go get a beer on the suits. They’re paying.”
“Nah. That party isn’t my thing.”
“Oh, come on. I owe you a beer.”
“For covering for me yesterday. Thanks again.”
“Not a problem.”
John tipped his head toward the banquet-room-slash-meeting-room where the partiers were getting louder by the minute. “Sounds like the beer’s flowin’.” He pushed open the door and walked in.
Lukas followed, brushing past Judy, the company’s receptionist, on his way to the bar.
“Well, hello there!” she cooed, catching his hand and giving it a solid yank. “Where have you been, handsome?” She tucked a stray silver lock of hair behind her ear, put on her glasses, which hung from a chain around her neck, and studied him top to toe.
“Who? Me?” Lukas looked behind him. He looked over his right shoulder. No one.
He looked over his left shoulder. Still no one. He looked back at Judy.
She licked her chops and fanned herself with a hand. “Yeah, you. My goodness, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was having a hot flash. I haven’t felt like this since menopause.”
“Maybe you should go outside and get some cool air.” He tried to back away, but she wouldn’t let him go.
Instead, she draped herself over his arm like an afghan. “I’ll go anywhere you say, honey. Just lead the way. I’ve been waiting all night to get you alone.”
He sniffed her breath, expecting to get numb from the fumes. Nothing. “You…you have? Me?”
What the hell?
Feeling like he had an anchor tied to his left side, he watched as John went to the bar and ordered a beer, then turned around.
John’s eyes couldn’t get wider, and his mouth gaped.
Lukas half-dragged the clinging Judy as he continued across the floor, but navigating a crowded room wasn’t easy with one hundred and fifty pounds of woman hanging from his arm. He bumped into a couple more women, and cringed as they spun around. “I’m sorry,” he said.
Their eyes bugged and their jaws dropped, and he wondered if he hadn’t metamorphosed into some kind of hideous monster.
And then they joined Judy, acclaiming his stunning physique.