Copyright © 2015 Jess Dee, Lexxie Couper and Sami Lee
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Afternoon Rhapsody by Jess Dee
“A pool?” He looked from her to the water and back again in disbelief. “This is your idea of exciting and stimulating?”
She grinned at him. “A cool dip on a hot day. Stimulating, for sure.”
He held up his hands in defeat and gave a soft snort. “Okay. I’ll admit it. You got me good with that one. A swim was the last thing on my mind.”
She gazed at him with wide-eyed innocence. “You thought I was referring to something else?”
He didn’t gaze back, exactly. No, she’d never describe the smoldering, sensual look he shot her as a gaze. Devastating, perhaps. A jumpstart to her libido, maybe, but not a gaze.
“Not thought. Hoped.”
“Brody…” Without realizing it, she’d placed her hand on his chest. Suddenly her palm was smoking, burning against his firm pecs and smooth skin.
Sheesh, what was it with her and touching him? She just couldn’t seem to help herself. But then his chest did feel incredible beneath her palm. Hot. Strong. Appealing.
So very, very appealing.
“Yeah?” He placed his hand over hers, holding it close to that warm, strong and appealing chest of his. His heart beat a steady rhythm beneath her hand, reminding her again of how alive she’d felt since barreling into him.
Bianca shook her head. “I have no idea what I wanted to say.” His eyes were so blue and so green and so beautiful, she found herself getting lost in them.
The air between them crackled. Well, not really, but it sure felt like it did to Bianca. Felt as if something electric zipped between them, from his chest into her hand. An awareness, a connection.
She liked the feeling. It heated her blood. Made her breasts perk up with interest and her belly flutter with anticipation.
It was Brody who broke the connection, but only to let his gaze wander away from her eyes, down past her neck and breasts…although it settled there for a few brief seconds before continuing on.
He might as well have run his hands over her skin, the way his gaze burned wherever it landed. It gave her both goose bumps and shivers at the same time, and she knew he’d see the telltale signs of her arousal in the millions of fine hairs standing to attention all the way down her arms.
What would he make of them?
His gaze landed on her left hip, and he did a double-take. “You have a tattoo?”
Bianca’s hand found it an instant after his gaze did. She yanked her fingers from his chest and traced them lightly over the stem of the tiny red rose, lying just below the strap of her bikini bottom.
She’d had it done a few months back, after she’d been living alone for a while. She’d wanted to do something crazy, impulsive. Something to show her life was changing, show she was moving on. She’d gone and done the last thing she’d ever have thought she’d do, the last thing Rick would ever have thought she’d do. “It’s new. I’m still not used to having it.”
Brody kept staring. “Is that a…bee on the petals?”
She smiled. “It is.” Her symbolic bee, with its wings spread while it stood steadily on the rose. Free to fly, yet happy to have found its feet in a safe place. “I was never into tattoos before, and the idea of getting one always scared the bejeepers out of me, but now that it’s there, well, I kinda like it.” She stroked the petals.
Brody’s face filled with appreciation. “I kinda like it too.”
“You do?” His expression made her mouth water.
He nodded. “It’s sexy.” His voice dropped about six tones. “Bloody sexy.” When he looked back into her eyes, his were the color of a polished aquamarine. They took her breath away. Or maybe the way he looked at her did. As though he’d like to get to know her tattoo a little better. A whole lot better. Quite intimately, in fact.
She couldn’t help it. She pictured him on his knees, his face by her hip, his mouth nuzzling the rose, tracing the outline of every petal.
“Brody.” His name was a whisper.
“Did it hurt?”
“The tat. The needle.”
“A little.” More than that. But pain was not topmost on her mind right now. Desire was. Her belly was a swirling mass of lust. Wet heat pooled between her legs. More than anything she wanted Brody’s tongue on her hip. Wanted to feel the scrape of his beard against her bare skin as he explored the bee.
“I would have kissed it better.” Now his voice was a whisper.
“You still could.”
“It still hurts?”
“Oh, yeah,” she lied. “Heaps.”
He reached out, brushing his fingers over the tattoo, over her fingers. “I’d kiss it here.” He traced the lone leaf on the stem. “And here.” She almost shuddered in ecstasy as he drew his finger along the tiny stem. “And perhaps I’d lick it, just…here.” He stopped at the part were petals met stem.
“Y-you’d have to concentrate real hard. The rose is small. You m-might miss the spot.”
“I’d give it my full attention. I promise.” He stepped closer, caressed the bee and rose from top to bottom. And maybe caressed a little bit of her hip as well.
“It would…” She cleared her throat. “It would require your full attention.”
Desire, red-hot and lightning-quick flooded her body. It swept her away on a tide of passion, clouding her thoughts, fogging her brain. Brody stood so close his scent drifted through her nose, his aftershave sinfully seductive: mellow notes of the outdoors and subtle suggestions of man and musk. If she could bottle his scent she would. She’d keep it beside her bed to sniff at night. And in the morning. And perhaps once or twice during the day, as well.
Then she heard it. The booming, familiar laughter. The unmistakable sound of a man’s mirth, followed by a higher-pitched feminine chuckle.
Panic hit her full in the chest.
Sunset Heat by Lexxie Couper
Kennedy Collins hated butterflies. She knew it was a stupid, ridiculous phobia, but there it was all the same. Lepidopterophobia. The fear of butterflies and moths. Not spiders or snakes or sharks or axe-wielding psychopaths, but butterflies. Freaking flittery-fluttery little winged things no one in their right mind would be scared of. Kennedy was scared of them, though. Absolutely petrified of them. And Australian butterflies were worse. Who knew if they were as deadly and dangerous as the rest of the godforsaken wildlife in the country? Which meant she ran like a demon was on her tail when the multicolored little flittery-fluttery winged thing had flittered and fluttered its malevolent way into her suite through the open patio door just as she was about to go have a shower.
Ran like the petrified lunatic she was, leaving her recently worn yoga clothes on the floor behind her, her heart racing, her mouth dry, her pulse pounding. Fled her suite like a wimp, away from the unpredictable menacing butterfly, any hope of rational thought destroyed by unhinged terror.
Unhinged terror that now saw her standing—naked as the day she was born—outside her suite. Outside her suite, for Pete’s sake. Outside her suite naked and in the direct path of two tall, stunned men. Well, one stunned man and one grinning…
Kennedy’s flustered thoughts screamed to a halt. God save her, the stunned man was Luke Beasley.
Her heart—already smashing into her throat with abject terror—smashed some more. “Luke!” she burst out, throwing herself into the massive Australian’s arms. It didn’t matter that she’d snuck out of the guy’s hotel room four months ago after a night of wild sex and hadn’t spoken to him since. It didn’t matter that he probably didn’t remember her, due to the copious number of drinks they’d consumed in the New York bar in which they’d met. It didn’t matter, because there was a goddamn butterfly in her room, a goddamn butterfly, and he was a firefighter, and firefighters saved people, and she needed saving, and he was going to save her, and she was—
Two strong hands wrapped around her upper arms, and Kennedy yelped. Her heart continued its wrecking-ball attitude in her throat and she plastered herself against Luke’s hard body. The butterfly? What if the butterfly—
“You know her, convict?”
Another voice joined Luke’s rumble, deep and cut with a crisp British accent, but Kennedy didn’t care. “Luke,” she all but cried, “there’s a…oh God, help me there’s a…” An image of the butterfly flashed through her mind, malicious and demonic and tiny and colorful, and her throat seized up. She clung to the man she’d had the most wicked one-night stand with four months ago, her mouth working but nothing coming out of it.
Serious brown eyes gazed down at her. The hands on her arms tightened. “Jesus, Kennedy, you look terrified. What’s going on?”
She tried to tell him. Tried to vocalize the words, but at the mere thought of the winged creature in her suite her belly knotted, her tongue thickened, and all she could do was shake her head and cling to him.
“Is there someone in your room?” Luke’s expression turned dark. Dangerous. “Did someone attack—” His fingers dug into her arms with brutal pressure for a split second and then he was letting her go, spinning away to barge into her suite.
Followed immediately by the other man.
Kennedy staggered back a step. Her blood roared in her ears. A rational part of her mind knew they thought she’d been attacked by a person. That they’d stormed into her suite looking for a rapist. Instead they would find a butterfly and—
Ice-cold terror sank into her belly, and she staggered back another step. Only to squeal and leap forward when her naked ass brushed against something soft and—
“Kennedy?” Luke bolted from the room, his stare swinging wildly around her. “Where is he? Where—”
She jerked her stare from the fern frond behind her and shook her head. No, her whole body shook. She stared at him, knowing she was naked, knowing she was ridiculous, but incapable of doing anything but shake. If only she could—
Luke spun to face the other man appearing at Kennedy’s suite door. “Did you find anything?”
The other man, a leaner version of Luke with dark hair instead of blond and blue eyes instead of brown, gave Kennedy a quick look. His eyebrows pulled together. “Not exactly.”
Kennedy’s belly rolled. She tried to step away, but Luke stopped her, one large, muscled arm snaking around her waist, his other covering her breasts. If she weren’t so sick with fear she’d be grateful. “What do you mean, not exactly? She didn’t just run out of her room naked for nothing.”
The other man flicked her a sorry look, his eyebrows knitting together some more. “Not for nothing, cousin.”
He lifted his arm. Kennedy cried out, fighting against Luke’s arms, squeezing her eyes shut. No. No, no, no. She had to get away. From the butterfly. From the—
“Steady, love,” the Brit said. “It’s just a towel.”
Kennedy opened her eyes and stared at the wide strip of fluffy white toweling in the man’s extended hand.
She let out a wobbly breath, reaching around Luke to take the towel. She gave the Brit a slow smile and wrapped the towel around her body. Her heart still thumped hard in her throat, her blood still roared in her ears, and her belly was still knotted so tightly she wanted to throw up. But somehow, with Luke holding her, his massive body just as hard and solid as it had been four months ago, maybe more so, she could hold her ground.
Luke’s fingers pressed beneath her chin, forcing her to look up at him. “Kennedy, what’s going on?”
Mirage Moonlight by Sami Lee
Something in Mitch’s gut clenched and the muscles around his heart squeezed tight. There goes walking and talking and generally acting like I have it all together. “Hales? Hayley Bryant?”
“Yes, Hayley Bryant, you doofus. Little Hayley, the girl I begged you to hire when she finished her degree so she could get some business experience.” Mack squinted at him. “She worked for you for over a year, remember?”
Remember he did, in vivid detail. That year wasn’t one Mitch had ever managed to forget, no matter how hard he’d tried over the past twenty-two months. Hayley Bryant. The sickening sense of loss that always swirled in his stomach at the thought of her made the strong rum-based cocktail nearly come back up the way it went down.
“She arrived just this afternoon, after you,” Mack went on, apparently unaware that Mitch’s throat had closed over, preventing him from contributing to the conversation. “She looks amazing. So different you’ll hardly recognize her.”
A picture of bouncy pale blonde curls framing a cherubic face and green eyes that sparkled with intelligence flashed in Mitch’s mind. He wasn’t sure he liked the idea of Hayley looking in any way different.
“She’s back for a visit?” he finally managed to choke out. His voice sounded raspy, so he took a swig of the drink he’d forgotten he didn’t like.
“For good, I think.” For good. Mitch’s heart started to palpitate. “It’ll be great to have her on home soil. I always worried a little about her traveling the world on her own—force of habit to worry about Hales, I suppose. I still remember her as the shy twelve-year-old I mentored through her first year of high school when I was a senior. There is one thing I will miss though, and that’s her postcards.”
Mitch had never received a postcard. Not one in twenty-two months—but who was counting? She sent some to Mitch’s headquarters in the Gold Coast because she’d made several friends there. The mementos came from America, Canada, Europe and Southeast Asia, but none had ever been addressed to him personally.
Not that he expected any, after what happened.
Memories raced through his mind before he could prepare for the effect they’d have on his body or his conscience. A sultry December night, a late meeting, boxes of Chinese takeaway laid out next to blueprints, and Hayley. Oh God, Hayley. Full of enthusiasm to impress the boss, and him behaving like every bad cliché about company CEOs and their cute, eager-to-please interns.
In his pocket, the electronic beep of Mitch’s phone sounded, shattering his dark thoughts and drawing a scowl from Mack. “Don’t. You. Dare. No business. Give me the phone.”
Mitch froze with his hand halfway to his pocket. “You’ve got to be joking, Mack.”
Brother and sister stared each other down, neither willing to back off. Mitch was reminded of Mack’s fearlessness, conditioned through years of fending off the teasing delivered by six brothers. She wouldn’t hesitate to tackle him just as though they were in their parents’ backyard playing football instead of at a swanky resort.
Mitch’s competitive streak reared. He might be five years his sister’s senior, but he wasn’t quite over the hill yet. No way can she catch me.
Mitch feinted left, then darted to the right. Mack wasn’t fooled, nor was she on her own in this battle. She called to someone behind Mitch and a moment later Mitch’s shoulder connected with something hard, and two arms banded his to his sides.
“Aidan.” No one else Mitch knew had arms the size and firmness of tree trunks. “Let me go.”
Mack pointed a finger at her fiancé. “Don’t.”
Mitch kept himself fit, but an insanely strong fireman who’d do anything for the woman he loved he could not match on physical terms. So he started doing what he did best—negotiating. “Aidan, think about what you’re doing. I’m about to become your brother-in-law.”
“Thinking tends to go out the window where your sister’s concerned,” Aidan drawled. “What exactly am I supposed to do with him, Mack?”
“Take the phone out of his pocket.”
“I am not putting my hand in your brother’s pocket. You do it.”
“Eww. I’m not putting my hand in there either, certainly not while it’s vibrating.” Mack glared at Mitch. “Take the phone out and give it to me.”
Mitch grinned. “In your dreams.”
“Fine,” Mack huffed. “I’ll get backup.”
Scanning the nearby crowd, Mack waved at someone and gestured for them to come over.
“Mack, this is ridiculous. It might not even be the office calling.”
“Sure, and you wouldn’t have that thing surgically attached to your body if you had the chance. They never leave you alone, Mitch.”
“That’s because I’m the boss.”
“What seems to be the problem?”
Mitch’s heart, which had already accelerated during the matchup against his sister and Aidan, moved into triple time. He knew that voice. It was a little richer than the last time he’d heard it, with a sardonic lilt that hadn’t been there before. But the sound of Hayley Bryant’s honeyed tones had haunted his sleep enough nights that he would have recognized them anywhere. With an unsettling mixture of reluctance and bone-deep anticipation, Mitch turned his head.
What he saw stopped his heart altogether.
She’d let her golden hair grow long, so long the ends curled over the very tips of her breasts, which looked absolutely dynamite in a low-cut green dress that perfectly matched the emerald sparkle of her eyes. Wedge heels made her slender frame appear taller than what Mitch knew was only five-foot-four. Hayley’s head barely reached his collarbones. He remembered because she’d opened his shirt and placed a kiss right there that night almost two years ago, before she’d released every other button on the garment and…
Mitch slammed his mind down on that memory because it made his cock twitch inside his pants. Aroused was not a state he wanted to find himself in with a six-foot-plus fireman plastered to his back. It would be better if Hayley Bryant got out of his sight right now so Mack wouldn’t guess the impact her friend had on him.
But right now, drinking in the long-missed sight of her, Mitch couldn’t have asked Hayley to walk away even if he still possessed the power of speech. He felt as though some maniacal hand had curled punishing fingers around his heart and squeezed. Love was not only a damned inconvenient emotion, it was an absolute killer. Oh, Hayley, how did I let you walk away from me? Why did you stay away so long?
Mitch’s heart raced so fast when he heard his sister’s next words, he thought he might suffer an infarction.
“Hales, I need you to frisk my brother.”
Series: Bandicoot Cove: The Wedding
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Format: eBook & Print/Anthology
Length: 312 pages
Published: September 22, 2015
Steamy days, sultry nights, sinful fantasies. Welcome to Bandicoot Cove.
Afternoon Rhapsody by Jess Dee
As Bianca puts her pending divorce aside to enjoy her brother’s wedding, she unexpectedly falls in lust with Brody, a gorgeous man who’s also getting a divorce. However, personal revelations change what they thought they knew about their troubled pasts. And suddenly they wonder if it’s possible to move on.
Sunset Heat by Lexxie Couper
Kennedy never thought she’d see Luke again, much less be standing in front of him naked. Not only does he still light her fire, but so does his rake of a cousin.
Luke fell for Kennedy months ago, yet he can’t stop thinking about sharing her with Addison. And Addison is shocked that he wants to know Kennedy on all levels—even the emotional kind. But desire this hot could destroy any hope of real happiness.
Moonlight Mirage by Sami Lee
At her friend’s wedding, Hayley is forced to face the former boss whose rejection sent her packing. Mitch still makes her burn. Trouble is, she already has a date.
Mitch knows pushing his former intern away was a mistake. Hayley’s “plus one” is an unexpected obstacle. Luckily, Mitch has never shied away from a little competition…
Product Warnings: There’s something about the air on this island that makes you do crazy things…like fall in love. Have wild monkey sex. Indulge in a threesome, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and a few other “isms” on the side. Best read with a frozen margarita in hand.