Today I have an excerpt from one of my older books for you. 🙂 Sins and Secrets (Ellora’s Cave) came out several years ago. The cover isn’t exactly one of my favorites because I don’t care for pod people covers, but I love the story. It’s set in my SIA series (Special Investigations Agency). Hope you enjoy the blurb and excerpt!
Geeky, cheeky, and not the least sexy.
Tara Crayton figures she knows everything about her cubicle buddy, Marcus Hyatt. Not the type of man she’d want for a date, much less a long-term relationship. Yet at night, a fearless lover tantalizes her dreams and makes her realize how much she needs the love of a man.
Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.
Special Investigations Agency operative Marcus Hyatt knows Tara thinks he’s the dullest dude on the block, and he wants to keep it that way. For if she knew the truth, her life could be in danger. Yet at night, a daring lover touches his dreams and makes him realize how he longs for true companionship.
When Tara receives a series of death threats, the only man she can turn to is Marcus, and the only way he can keep her safe is to never tell her the secrets he holds.
Shivers darted along her skin and she rubbed her arms.
She needed help. She could call the police. Then she remembered the vision of Marcus. When she had visualizations about people, they were never wrong. He might be a word processing clerk right now, but at one time he’d been a combat warrior of some kind. If he couldn’t protect her, no one could.
Impulse sent her racing down the hall to her bedroom. She grabbed her purse from where she’d dumped it by the bedside table. She fumbled through the pockets until she found the card with Marcus’s phone numbers on it, then grabbed her cell phone from her purse at the same time. She punched in his home number and realized her hands shook. Another deep breath didn’t seem to make a difference. Her entire insides quivered like gelatin.
Get control. Harness the fear.
Red digital numbers on her bedside clock said eleven o’clock. Marcus picked up the phone on the second ring, his voice clear, deep and strong. He didn’t sound like he’d been asleep.
“Marcus.” Even to her own ears, her voice sounded quivery, filled with rampant emotions so strong she couldn’t contain them. “This is Tara.”
“Hey.” He sounded almost happy, then his voice deepened with undeniable worry. “Everything all right?”
“No. Drake called me and he’s saying crazy things. I’m afraid he might be right outside my apartment.”
“Are all your doors and windows locked?” His voice took on an immediate hard edge.
She looked up at her large bedroom window, thankful for the heavy honeycomb shade. “Of course.”
“Stay right there. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Regret immediately overran some fear. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea. I’m sorry I called. I mean, I shouldn’t have imposed on you because Drake is playing games.”
“He isn’t playing games, Tara, and you know it.”
She did know it, deep inside where her instincts lived.
“Don’t hang up,” he said. “I’m going out to the car now.”
She heard him moving through his house and the quick jangling of keys. Just having him on the phone and hearing his husky voice gave her renewed calm. Her heartbeat eased and her breathing steadied. With that reassurance came the worry she’d overacted. Drake always did like to scare the crap out of her, and maybe that’s all he meant to do now.
Still, prickling awareness said her ex-husband could be waiting outside. Even though she’d told Marcus the doors and windows were locked, she scurried around the house and made certain every lock was secure.
She heard an engine starting and the sound of a car pulling away at a quick pace. Reality sank in. “Marcus?”
“I’m here. Are you all right?” He sounded anxious.
“I’m checking the doors and windows again. Everything’s locked. Maybe you shouldn’t come over. If Drake is out there, he could hurt you.”
“He can try.”
His words, spoken in a completely indomitable tone, said if Drake tried, he’d fail.
Wow. In the midst of the fear lingering around the edges, a tiny, illicit thrill stirred in her stomach. A primitive wave of heat surrounded her. Marcus was willing to risk injury for her.
She’d never known a man willing to put his life on the line for her. The reaction it set up burned in her mind and body like wildfire, momentarily erasing apprehension and replacing it with inappropriate sexual arousal.
As he drove to her house, he kept her spirits uplifted with some stupid jokes he’d heard within recent months. She giggled, then realized she’d let her guard down with him more than any man she’d known since Drake. Disturbed, she tried to rein back her enthusiasm a little. She couldn’t afford weakness.
“I’m driving up now,” Marcus said.
But he’d already hung up. Fear renewed, tightening her muscles so much her jaw ached. She heard tires crunching in the driveway and rushed to a window overlooking the front yard. She recognized his car. As he left his vehicle, she kept watch, afraid she’d see Drake rushing out of the darkness, ready to attack. Despite Marcus’s take-no-prisoners statement that Drake could try taking him out, part of her wondered if Marcus wasn’t a little too cocky. The world was populated with macho men who thought they could take on anything.
Marcus left his car and strode up the walk to the front door, his gaze vigilant and his mouth a firm line. He walked quickly toward her door, and in darkness obliterated somewhat by the porch light, she saw he wore a tank top and jeans.
When he rang the doorbell, she left her cell phone on the coffee table and headed for the small foyer. She rushed to snap on the light and the bulb went out with a pop. Damn.
Relief washed through her at thought of him being here. She opened the door immediately and stepped back for him to come inside. She quickly relocked the door. As she turned back to him, she brushed against his tall body and took in his reassuring, masculine scent. He clasped her arms gently and her hands landed on his chest.
“Are you all right?” he asked, concern blazing in his piercing eyes and a frown grooving lines between his eyebrows.
“Yes.” She clutched at his biceps, her vehemence transferring in her grip. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you to come here.”
His gaze darted around the foyer and toward the living room, as if he searched for hidden enemies. “You already said that once.”
His frown looked nothing like a geeky office boy. No siree. Marcus Hyatt had transformed into a reassuring, testosterone-filled presence. “Well, get that idea right out of your head now. I’m glad you called me.”
“Did I wake you?”
He shook his head. “I’m a night owl.” His mouth softened the slightest bit. “You’re safe now.” His fingers slipped over her arms until he cupped her face with one hand. “You’re shaking.”
A shiver worked over her body as the heat and caress from his fingers tantalized her senses.
“I am,” she said breathlessly. “I don’t know why.”
“Damn it, that bastard has you scared out of your wits.” His voice went rough and angry.
To her horror, unexpected tears welled in her eyes and threatened to spill over. Mortified by her weakness, she sniffed and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be—” She broke off abruptly, her voice quavering under the strain.
“It’s all right.” His voice, soft and rumbling, reassured her like nothing else.
He drew her close, tucking her head onto his shoulder, his fingers buried in her hair. His arm tightened around her back, and security and safety suddenly didn’t seem so far away anymore. She slipped her arms around his waist, allowing his embrace to comfort and release the trepidation one second at a time.
She registered several things at once. All of them made her breath catch. She wore nothing but a long fuchsia nightshirt that reached to mid-thigh, and a pair of skimpy matching pink bikini panties. She’d been meaning for the last two weeks to buy another robe. Her last robe had gone beyond the call of duty and ripped up a side seam. She’d tossed it in the trash.
Marcus’s big frame sheltered her with tensile strength. Tara’s heart stuttered, skipped and then rammed into overdrive. Her belly fluttered with intoxicating need rivaling any feeling she’d encountered around him before. Cradled in muscular arms and pressed against his hard chest, her emotions whipped from one extreme to the other.
Watch out, Tara. Just because he’s one hell of a nice guy, and he’s come to your rescue doesn’t mean he feels beyond ordinary compassion for a friend. Don’t make this into anything more emotional or more physical than it is.
She could explain away these feelings as unadulterated appreciation for his willingness to help. Even the kisses they’d shared earlier in the day didn’t mean anything extraordinary.
He eased her back and out of his arms. “Sit down and take it easy. We need to talk.”
Feeling shell-shocked by what happened tonight, she settled onto the couch. She curled her legs to the side.
“I’ll check the house,” he said gruffly and stalked away from her.
Check the house? Her discomfort with the situation peaked. She’d already gone all over the entire home. What more could he check? Tears of frustration and anger slid down her face. She quickly wiped them away.
A few moments later, he strode back into the room, that unconquerable gritty determination on his face. Her mouth popped open and she stared like the village idiot. Marcus might be forty years old, but he easily looked ten years younger.
A body-hugging navy blue tank top clung to his torso, lovingly embracing tight pecs and the ripple of a six-pack stomach. Chest hair peeked above the neckline and tantalized her. She didn’t understand a woman who couldn’t appreciate chest hair on a man.
His wide shoulders and long arms showed evidence of supreme physical strength. Jeans curved over his muscled, mile-long legs.
The man worked out big time, but his musculature said he could be mean in a fight rather than hampered by bulky power.
He wasn’t wearing his glasses, and the thickest eyelashes she’d ever seen on a man ringed his incredible eyes. Thick strands of wavy hair gleamed with healthy shine and fell about his shoulders. Now his nose looked regal rather then thin, and the long line of his jaw softened a little by the hair tumbling around his face.
Everything Tara and the other women in the office once thought about Marcus Hyatt was blown away in one stunning revelation. He possessed that dangerous, take-me-or-leave-me edge few men could pull off without seeming ridiculous. Simply put, he oozed sex and sins and secrets. Earlier in the day at the mall, he’d looked yummy.
Tonight he made her mouth water, her heart pound, and everything feminine inside her take notice.
Oh, God. I am in trouble now.