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Authors: Odessa Gillespie Black

Ever Tempted

BOOK: Ever Tempted
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An infinity of lives, only one eternal love . . . .

 

When Cole Kinsley asked Allie Knowles for her hand in marriage, he meant it. Death be damned. Nothing could keep them apart, not even a hundred years or more. Not even the vindictive spirit of Allie’s dead sister Grace. Released from her watery grave, she offers Cole a devil’s bargain. But to Cole, no price is too high when it comes to his beloved.

 

Allie thinks it’s almost too good to be true. A week of bliss alone with Cole. His promise kept, after all they’ve suffered at the hands of her sister. To feel the strength of his arms around her again. But when she learns of the sacrifice he made to be with her, she plunges into despair. Forever has slipped from their grasp—unless forever apart is their true destiny . .
.

 

EVER TEMPTED

Cursed Series

 

 

Visit us at
www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

 

 

 

Books by Odessa Gillespie Black

 

Cursed

Ever After

Every Bound

Ever Tempted

 

 

Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation

 

 

 

Ever Tempted

A Cursed Novel

 

Odessa Gillespie Black

 

LYRICAL PRESS

Kensington Publishing Corp.

www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

 

 

Copyright

 

Lyrical Press books are published by

Kensington Publishing Corp. 119 West 40th Street New York, NY 10018

 

Copyright © 2016 by Odessa Gillespie Black

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

 

All Kensington titles, imprints, and distributed lines are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotion, premiums, fund- raising, and educational or institutional use.

 

To the extent that the image or images on the cover of this book depict a person or persons, such person or persons are merely models, and are not intended to portray any character or characters featured in the book.

 

Special book excerpts or customized printings can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone the office of the Kensington Special Sales Manager:

Kensington Publishing Corp.

119 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

Attn. Special Sales Department. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.

 

Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

Lyrical Press and the L logo are trademarks of Kensington Publishing Corp.

 

First Electronic Edition: September 2016

eISBN-13: 978-1-60183-931-2

eISBN-10: 1-60183-931-6

 

First Print Edition September 2016

ISBN 13: 978-1-60183-933-6

ISBN 10: 1-60183-933-2

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

Dedication

 

To Shelby Witzel: You came up with the perfect name for this novel. As always, thank you for the love and dedication you show me in everything you do.

~ Mama

 

Acknowledgements

 

As always, I’d like to thank God for all the blessings that have led up to this publication of this novel. They are too many too count. Robert Howard Gillespie, Odessa Marie Dills, Anna Fuller, Christine Black, Nancy Bloomfield, Nanette Riffe, Chasity Moss, Chance Moss, Codie Black, Ceara Black, Shelby Witzel, LaceeDawn Black, Brant Black, family and friends, I’d like to thank you all for supporting me in various ways over the last two years. You’ve all done so much, it would take pages to name the ways. I love you all dearly. God couldn’t have blessed me with a better family.

To my readers, I thank you for your devotion.

Hugs to all.

 

Chapter 1

 

Cole

 

I’ve died eleven times.

Part way through round twelve, I finally found a chance to be happy, but I had to live in a shabby hotel two towns away from Allie so I could get the animal under control. I barely made it through a kiss with her without the animal threatening to rip her to pieces.

My bags made a plop on the worn carpet. From the looks of the place, at any second, a cockroach could creep from under the sagging bed and carry it into the dark shadows.

I put it on the table.

Sure, I was used to sleeping outside in whatever animal form I chose on particularly stressful days, but cockroaches were the lowest form of pest. I voluntarily shuddered at the thought of them crawling in my bags or on my clothes.

The air conditioner was too small for the room or even a closet. The knob fell off into dry-rotted clumps of plastic in my hand. At least it had turned to high before it broke. I was always a little hotter than the normal human, so if it stayed on constantly, good.

Pulling the neck of my T-shirt from the back, I tugged my shirt over my head.

A shower might help. An ice-cold one.

At the front desk, soap and towels had cost five dollars extra. The hotel owner had to make his money somehow. It sure would not come from people visiting a second time around.

A ten-minute cold shower did no good, so I got out and toweled off.

Wet, frustrated, and needing the love of my life with me, I searched for the television remote. It was under my bag on the bed earlier. In minutes, the room looked as though I’d lived in it for a week, but I had the remote in hand.

Through the static of the outdated television, I received a few channels clear enough to watch. I landed on a cosmetics commercial much like Rollins Cosmetics would have boasted.

In a restaurant surrounded by a group of her girlfriends, a dark-haired girl resembling Allie winked at the screen. “No, I’m not wearing makeup.”

The announcer added that with the product the model wore, she could lie and no one would know the difference.

It would have taken globs of makeup to look as naturally stunning as Allie Knowles. Her beauty was unsurpassed by anyone I’d seen in the endless years I’d lived. No matter what appearance she took in each life, she was always stunning.

This time around, long brown tresses framed her high cheekbones and caramel brown eyes. Her skin was a creamy sun-kissed caramel superstars of this day paid professional skin care companies millions to achieve. And it was all natural.

Every inch of her was all natural.

Her long, toned legs.

Her dark, mocha tanned shoulders and smooth arms.

The swell of her chest and the curves of her hips.

Every single aspect of her was so tempting that I couldn’t be close and know for certain I could keep my hands off.

Every show and commercial, no matter the setting, took me into thoughts of Allie. I flipped the torture device off and sprawled back on the chair covering my face.

After only a few hours in the room, it was a wreck. I straightened it up and folded my one change of clothes. They looked lonely in the drawer. A thin, worn comforter covered the bed, and the pillows were flat under its tucked edge. In amber light, wearing only my T-shirt and a smile, Allie’s form took shape. Her long legs were curled under her as she drew me toward her with her forefinger.

My blood heated to boiling and the ache in my chest intensified as it traveled south. Trembling, I clenched the chair arms. Cold sweat beaded on my forehead. Muscle and bone grated against each other, initiating the shift. Forcing the thoughts of Allie into the recesses of my mind, I held both sides of my head.

Go away. You’re not welcome when Allie is close. You’ll hurt her. I won’t allow it. She’s everything to me. All I’ve lived for, for over a hundred years. You cannot be present when she is in the same room. You have your place. It’s in the woods.

“You know you want me. Why do you fight it?” Allie’s voice was soft and sensual.

The old habit directed a burn in my joints and tore at my skin.

With a powerful swipe, I tossed the blankets off the bed and slung the mattresses against the wall.

Nothing could wipe the intimate thoughts of her from my mind. But the animal would not control me. And I’d be damned if Grace would continue to hold me prisoner from the grave.

I had to calm down and focus. I could do this. And fantasies might help. I could use them to bring myself to the edge and then pull back. With each fantasy, maybe I could push myself further until I finally had a hold on the animal
.

I pulled the mattress back to the box spring and flopped on the bed. With my trembling hands behind my head, I tried to ease into another fantasy. Controlling my breathing might keep my heart rate down. Keeping my heart rate down might stop the rage from welling inside me.

I closed my eyes and started another scenario.

Allie’s golden skin glistened as she stepped from a shower and pulled a white, plush towel around her. She wrung her long brown hair dry in a towel and let it fall in damp waves down her back. Turning to me, she gave me a fetching glance. She smelled as if she’d just stepped from a garden of spring flowers. As she took slow calculated steps, I was frozen in her path. The satin touch of her fingers met the five o’clock shadow on my jaw and pulled my face closer.

“I need you.” Her soft whisper tantalized my tongue and pulled my mouth to her neckline. My hand slipped under her towel. The animal threw every bit of its force into bending and cracking my bones into his form.

After a few seconds, my vision righted itself, and when I stretched my hands out, they were no longer human but the paws of a black panther, the shape I normally took when I fed in the wild.

Strike one.

In self-pity, I flopped onto my side thinking of every animal I’d love to tear to pieces to fill my hunger.

About thirty minutes later, I stretched back out to an upright standing human staring with pure frustration at the yellow ceiling.

And this was supposed to be a nonsmoking room.

Pacing, Allie had probably worn a rut in the marble floors and had probably stared a hole through the front door of my cottage waiting for signs of me. She’d probably plagued my poor uncle Thomas to insanity with questions as to my whereabouts.

I made him promise to assure her that I wasn’t gone for good. That it was detrimental to her safety for me to be gone a short time.

I hadn’t planned any of this through.

Leaving would upset her. Sure. But she’d understand when I came back, took her in my arms for a long overdue kiss without turning into an animal, and asked her to marry me.

As it stood, if I didn’t find a way to control my wild instincts, I would have to break her heart. I couldn’t let my curse become hers.

I’d have to leave for good.

But what if she left while I was gone? What if she got tired of waiting? What if she thought I had deserted her the way I had before?

I pulled my phone out and sat up.

No.

I tossed it. It bounced off the pillow and over the side of the bed onto the floor.

If I talked to her, I’d go back.

Her soft, pleading voice. Her brown eyes with a hint of gold begging me. Her hands wandering my body would send me into the form of an animal that couldn’t be trusted at the initiation of the shift and a few seconds thereafter.

Deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. I could do this.

The same shuddering began. Grating bones and muscles.

Dammit.

No matter what, I would not let the thought of her pouty lips and the cute way her face pinched up when I’d said just the right thing to piss her off send me into another change. And I would not dial her number.

Rolling to the side of the bed, I retrieved the phone and flipped it open. I pulled her name up on my contacts. A candid shot of her on the pool patio with her head slightly bowed as she looked at a book popped up for her profile picture.

BOOK: Ever Tempted
9.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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