Rowena writes romance, reads thrillers and watches comedies. She likes walking through the woods but insanely loves the sea. She has a love – hate relationship with her writing and drives her dog crazy whenever she doesn’t stop writing to take him out. And yes, she bakes, bread and cakes. Apparently good ones – they’re always in demand.
Excerpt from Double-Edged (Perfect Halves, Book 1)
“Are you still there?” she asked.
“Yes, I am. I am here. And when I say here, that means here,” the reply came angrily, and then she heard heavy footsteps on the veranda surrounding the house and he came in sight shutting his phone.
Kate’s legs fell from the other chair with a resonant clank and she simply froze in place, forgetting even to hang up her phone. By rote, she managed to let it fall on the table with measured gestures, as if she were afraid her fingers couldn’t hold the cell phone anymore. Her eyes had turned into two, wide, frozen, green pools of shimmering water and she couldn’t take them off the man towering over her in an extremely foreboding manner, ready to pounce on her any second now.
Kate was aware of only one thing: she had one very huge pissed-off male looming over her and any coherent thought she’d had had melted into nothingness as everything else had ceased to exist. Her throat constricted and breathing became a serious endeavour while she took in his threatening stance.
Oh, God, he was so big! From a distance, at the hotel, he hadn’t seemed either as tall or as big as he looked that very moment. Now, she realised he had to be about six feet four at least. He’d also probably, not very far away in his past, played football for a few years, given the massive muscles he was sporting and which his shirt couldn’t even begin to hide. His fists were closed so tight that his knuckles were white and his arms were so tensed that she could see the coiled muscles playing under his skin as if he was trying hard to keep his cool with her and not explode. His dark eyes twinkled with pure thundering fury and his mouth was drawn in a tight line making the rest of his face seem rigid and unforgiving but, at least apparently, he was trying his best and he was making great efforts not to shout at or strangle her.
One moment she was sitting and staring stunned at him, a little afraid of the display of force before her eyes, truth to be told, and in the next, he reached out pulling her up like a rag doll and shaking her so forcefully that she could hear her teeth clatter.
“You stupid, stupid, little girl!”
Ryan practically growled the words through his teeth, as if it had been impossible for him to unclench his mouth and talk normally.
Witnessing such intense and hot fury, Kate thought that that was it for her, and she’d be dead right there, in a second. She knew that she couldn’t possibly fight off his obvious brutal force. However, what followed bewildered her even more. After only a few tense moments, during which he continued to shake her so badly that she could feel her bones rattle, he suddenly pulled her close and pressed her to him, holding her in a smothering bear hug and making her dizzier than before. He buried his face in her hair and inhaled her scent greedily – like a man who was looking for his next breath with everything he got.
She could feel that his body was also shaking strongly against hers and she felt completely lost as if nothing had made sense anymore and she’d fallen through the looking glass into a parallel world.
Kate could hear him whispering something to her feverishly, but as his face was buried in her hair, she couldn’t make out any of his words. Besides that, she was still stunned by his reactions, mostly because she’d expected something else when he’d showed up so mad at her. It didn’t mesh with her first impressions of him.
Altogether, everything appeared exceedingly unreal and, for an instant there, the thought that what she was experiencing might have been the result of the long flight which had fried her brain connections crossed her mind.
As she hadn’t been aware that Ryan had followed her to the house from the hotel, his presence on her deck had turned her brains to mush. That was not part of her plan and she knew she’d lost total control. Now, she could think only in interjections like “wow” and “oh, my God!” Forming any coherent phrases was as far from her as the moon. Her mind had shut down and ceased to work. Now, that was a novelty as she’d never experienced anything similar in her lifetime.
She tried to gather her wits and get back to something close to normal. Nonetheless, she realised that any rational thought she might have had had flown out the window when she’d finally seen him from up close.
His physique had stunned her and that was something she’d never imagined possible. She’d never been the type of woman to sigh or faint over big muscles and a broad chest. She’d been quite the opposite, preferring the intellectual type, but it seemed that she’d been lying to herself. Ryan’s body had basically robbed her mind of any rational thought and she felt a bit ashamed of such a girly reaction. She hadn’t ever reacted this way, not even when she was a teenager and would have been entitled to, so her response to his maleness seemed too out there and she was ashamed of herself.
More mind numbing was his strange behavior towards her. She hadn’t ever expected to see a man so entranced by holding her that he couldn’t form any coherent sentences and she found it beyond bizarre, even though she had to admit that there was a glimmer of delight in noticing that she had such power over him. This time she was positive he couldn’t have just played a part to mislead her. No one could have been so convincing, no matter how good an actor they might have been.
“Ryan!” she managed to mumble as her face was still completely buried in his chest, every breath bringing in the smell of his slightly sweaty skin and playing with her senses.
Nevertheless, Ryan didn’t answer, as if he hadn’t even heard her. He kept holding her tight against his body with his left arm, all the while trailing the contour of her face with the callous fingers of his other hand. His raspy touch left a pleasantly burning sensation in its wake making her experiencing once again that strange tingling in her lower belly. She felt his lips brushing the ridges of her ear making her shiver slightly. Now, the tingling was present everywhere, all over her body, inside her body, a myriad of unknown but painfully pleasant sensations, all of them exploding inside her.
“Ryan!” she said more forcefully, trying to get back to normal, and this time she met with some success.
“What?” he mumbled, continuing to trace the contour of her cheekbone with his fingers that were closely followed by his slightly open and wet lips.
She laughed softly, surprising herself, and then she said:
“I really think we should talk first, Ryan, don’t you?”
Kate’s words were hesitant as if she wasn’t too sure she wanted that sweet torture to end. For the first time in her lifetime she thought that talking was overrated and it was nothing wrong with letting your body feel something so electrical.
“What’s there to talk about?” Ryan asked gruffly, pulling slightly away and looking straight into her eyes. “You’re here, although we both know you shouldn’t be… I’m here… and I need you, baby, really, really bad, and right now! No more postponing, no more waiting…I can’t wait anymore! I’ve been thinking of this too much and…”
“We’ve just met, Ryan,” Kate interrupted him in a dry voice, trying to be logical and help him see reason the same time.
“But we know each other well enough, Kate, come on! We’ve known each other for long enough time and we’ve talked and argued for so many hours… No more talking or arguing would bring us closer than this, don’t you think, baby? Please, think or better don’t think!” he almost implored her and then brushed a lock of her hair aside to get to the curve of her cheek, which he cradled tenderly in his palm, and then tilting his head forward, his eyes intently on hers, to notice the slightest glimmer and reaction, he brushed her lips with his lightly, cajoling her to accept the inevitable and give in.
Kate looked at him for a few seconds and realised that there was no way she could say no to him. Actually, to be completely truthful with herself, and she always tried to be, she didn’t have any intention to say no, as her entire body was vibrating in tune with his and by now she was longing for far more than his light touches.
It was true that they didn’t really know each other but the same could have been true even if they’d met constantly and had all those conversations face to face. She still didn’t know who he was, whether he was a scammer or not but she didn’t want to think about it anymore. She was there and he was there and that was all that mattered. She’d never taken risks, but this was one of those moments in life when it seemed like it was worth jumping into the unknown.
Looking straight into his eyes, to gauge his reactions, she reached out and touched his chest tentatively trying to find her bearings in making love to him, as this was new to her. Her experience was quite limited and she’d never taken the initiative before, and she had to find her rhythm. After stroking his chest with featherlike touches, her hands slid down his torso slowly, stroke his midriff with by now shaky hands, and then stole behind his back.
She saw his pupils were already dilated and intense, and she surmised that he enjoyed her touches probably as much as she enjoyed having her hands on him. She melted into him, leaning onto his body, to align his torso to hers better and to feel much more of him. She looked up, her eyes shooting directly into his, and then her moist lips found his collarbone, leaving a trail of wet kisses on feverish, dark skin that tasted musky and manly. She traced a path from one side to the other with the tip of her tongue, enjoying the salty taste his skin left on her tongue. At the same time, her fingers burrowed into the hard muscles of his back, massaging lightly at first, and then alternating light touches with deep ones. She could feel his muscles flex and shiver under her playful fingers and a short laughter erupted from her lips, the sound surprising Ryan who arched his left eyebrow. She was also astonished how much she enjoyed feeling his body without any restrictions and playing it like a violin.
Ryan’s eyes, even half-lidded, were still keenly focused on her, as if he was trying not to miss the slightest reaction crossing her face. He licked his upper lip briefly and inhaled sharply when she reached up and the tip of her tongue licked the hollow at the base of his neck in a whorl.
“Enough teasing, baby,” he grumbled like a man at the end of his rope and then he whisked her into his arms making her cry out in surprise and to throw her arms around his neck afraid that he’d drop her.
Watching Kate’s face intently, he started towards the house with big and hurried steps, and she had the impression that he seemed in a rush to find her bedroom immediately and start feasting on her. That image made her both blush and shiver, and it prompted Ryan to smile like a wolf and his primitive streak became more apparent in his eyes, promising that a lot was about to come. For a moment, Kate was afraid that the intensity of what would come might consume her.
Kate had never thought she’d enjoy being carried away like that or that she’d be pleased to be the one fueling such a raw masculinity. Usually, she’d run away, far away, from this type of guy. Nevertheless, she couldn’t even remember now why she’d felt like that in the past as she was feeling too much and was not able to analyze her reactions. She deeply enjoyed both Ryan’s arrogance and his demonstration of physical power as they were both quintessential to the stirrings awakening in her body and rendered her a quivering mass of desire.
Instinctively, Ryan chose the correct path towards her bedroom and carried her inside after taking only a few huge steps, as he was in a hurry. There, he let her slide slowly along his body till her feet touched the floor, enjoying how she felt against him and how his skin tingled everywhere at the direct contact. He didn’t let her go. He kept holding her close for a few more seconds, his eyes searching hers as deep as possible, as if he’d wanted to make sure she was on the same page and wanted that as much as he.
Then, he pushed himself to arm’s length and allowed his eyes to roam all over her body, from head to toes. An appreciative and hungry smile formed on his lips assuring her that he was satisfied with everything he saw.
He reached behind her and found the zipper of her dress. Excruciatingly slowly, the anticipation almost killing her, he lowered it and followed the progress with his eyes: the dress was coming loose around Kate’s breasts and now he could relish in a little more than a hint of a bosom. The rosy skin beaconed to him and he didn’t even bother to fight the desire back, but traced the contour of one breast, directly on her skin with only one of his fingers. Kate could see he was deeply focused on what his finger was doing, the path it was following, as if the texture of her skin fascinated him.