Smoke and Mirrors
The Gifted, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Suspense
Number of pages: 241 (epub)
Word Count: 87,000
Cover Artist: Kimberly Killion (Hot Damn Designs)
Deceit and desire, and a treasure beyond price...
When struggling Scottish writer Nell Black accepts a one-off job with the police, translating for an arson suspect from the isolated ex-Soviet republic of Zavrekestan, she stumbles into a terrifying world of organized crime and paranormal abilities that turns her whole belief system upside down. Faced with an incomparable thief, hit men who spontaneously combust, gangsters, drug dealers, British Intelligence and a fiery goddess, Nell no longer knows who to trust. The man who saves her life is a criminal to whom deceit is second nature. He has more smoke screens and more plans in motion than anyone else can keep track of. He is, moreover, probably insane. Even his fellow gangsters are afraid of him. So why is he the one man Nell wants to touch her?
Rodion Kosar is in trouble. His convoluted plans all lead to one goal - the retrieval of his treasure - and to achieve that, he needs Nell to believe he isn't the bad guy. He has many reasons beyond his own desires to make love to her. Especially when a plan goes wrong and he has to play dead before someone really kills him - either the police, the menacing Russian crime lord known as the Bear, or the powerful Guardian of the Gifted whom he's defied once too often. Nell's burgeoning gift of second sight could be his best route to the treasure, and yet keeping her with him spells danger. For Nell has her own agenda, her own mission, and she could just as easily cause his final downfall.
Just walking across the beach and onto the cliff path made her sweat inside her borrowed oilskins, so she pulled her raincoat off and let the chilly breeze cool her down. A moment later, she realised Rodion was striding easily along beside her, and found her voice, small, hard, and definite.
“You’re wrong on two counts, Rodion Andreyevich. For the record, I don’t sleep with men on whims, however tempting they might imagine themselves. And even if I did, that wouldn’t and couldn’t help you find your treasure.”
For a moment, he said nothing. She wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d sped up and left the others to make sure she followed him back to the house. It was the kind of reaction she usually got to such a speech—a hasty backing off with the unspoken subtext: Whoops. Easy lay’s off. Try someone else.
But Rodion neither broke nor increased his stride. “What about fun?” he said.
She glanced at him, frowning. “What?”
He met her gaze in the darkness. “Do you ever sleep with a man for fun?”
“Do you imagine I close my eyes, grit my teeth, and think of England?” she retorted, although in some cases, it had come depressingly close. “Or Scotland…”
“I don’t know. And neither do you.” His teeth gleamed in the darkness. His fingers touched her wrist, a glancing, gliding caress that caught at her breath. “Not with me.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said loftily.
“I’ll show you.” Without warning, he nudged her off the path.
She staggered, but he held her upright with both hands at her waist, and pushed her two steps farther until her back came up against a tree. His hands were warm on her waist, and they stood breast to chest, his hips deliberately touching hers. Between, she could feel him growing and hardening, and heat flooded her. The heat of embarrassment and fear and, God help her, a shocking, raging lust.
“Fun,” he repeated. “You and me, having sex for fun. What would you think of that?”
For the space of several heartbeats—her heart was beating very fast—she stared up into his stormy blue eyes. Her stomach lurched, for there was real emotion there. She’d no idea what it signified, but it was profound, intense, and dangerously exciting.
“Are you actually offering to show me a good time?” she managed. “After lying to me, getting me shot at, kidnapping me, and forcing me on a drug smuggling trip?”
“Yes,” he said softly and bent his head so close she could feel his breath on her lips, her cheek. “What do you say, Nell? You and me, just for the fun of it.” He began to sway subtly against her, while his hands stroked her hips through her jeans. His breath stirred her ear. “I have this feeling—such a warm, sexy feeling—that we’d be good together. So awesomely good…”
All she could manage was, “You’re kidding yourself.”
“Am I? I want you very badly, Yelena Black.”
She closed her eyes, as if that could blot out the temptation of his soft, sexy voice. It did things to her she didn’t want to think about.
“Tough. I don’t want you,” she said brutally.
It didn’t faze him, didn’t stop his hips from pressing her into the tree or his face from sinking ever closer to hers. “Yes, you do. I’ve seen it in your eyes when I touch you. I could see it there now if you’d just open them.”
She opened her eyes and glared. But he only smiled, and that didn’t help at all. His erection pressed between her thighs with just the right amount of pressure to be gloriously exciting without any overt threat. Her whole body trembled, melting against his. Every time he moved, brushing against her nipples like a caress, she tingled. She couldn’t break eye contact, didn’t want to, although his own gaze kept dropping to her lips and back to her eyes, tantalizing, forcing her to wonder again with new desperation, how did he kiss?
She just bet he’d be good at it. She was already so aroused, her stomach would do backflips at the first touch of his lips. If she let it. If she let him.
“Yes, there it is,” he said huskily. A smile, curiously warm and tender sprang into his eyes. “Don’t look so alarmed. One kiss and then I’ll stop.” He brought up his hand and traced the shape of her upper lip with his forefinger.
There was no way she could explain her real terror, that one kiss with him and she wouldn’t be able to stop. She tried to speak, but the words dried in her desperate throat. She grabbed at the tree to stop herself holding on to him and saw the smile flicker across his face. One kiss and then I’ll stop. He bent even closer until she felt his breath on her lips, as he whispered, “If you want me to.”
His mouth closed on hers.
Marie Treanor lives in Scotland with her eccentric husband and three much-too-smart children. Having grown bored with city life, she resides these days in a picturesque village by the sea where she is lucky enough to enjoy herself avoiding housework and writing sensual stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.
Marie Treanor has published more than twenty ebooks with small presses, (Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Changeling Press and The Wild Rose Press), including a former Kindle bestseller, Killing Joe. Blood on Silk: an Awakened by Blood novel, was her New York debut with NAL.
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