Dangerous Pleasuresby Fiona Zedde
Renee Matthews is starting over. Free of a demanding ex-husband who left her feeling worthless, she's ready for a purely physical connection, on her terms. Sex in the dark with a total stranger--a night of breathless passion without complications. An online ad leads to the first of many anonymous trysts. And when/b>
No Names. No Guilt. No Boundaries.
Renee Matthews is starting over. Free of a demanding ex-husband who left her feeling worthless, she's ready for a purely physical connection, on her terms. Sex in the dark with a total stranger--a night of breathless passion without complications. An online ad leads to the first of many anonymous trysts. And when one partner takes her into a darker realm of pleasure, Renee discovers hungers she never knew she possessed.
Renee knows these encounters are risky. Nothing has ever compared to such exhilarating desire--certainly not her ex, or the "perfect" potential boyfriend her parents keep pushing her way. But as the excitement escalates, so does the danger. And walking away from her midnight lover may be more difficult than Renee ever expected. . .
"The sensuality of the narrative style, the intensity of the characters' emotions, and the complexity of the plot are all satisfying." --Eroticarevealed.com on Every Dark Desire
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By FIONA ZEDDE
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Fiona Lewis
All right reserved.
Chapter One"You should fall to your knees and thank God that you're single again."
Mayson turned away from the view of the San Diego hills, shaking long, wavy hair out of her eyes. She leaned back against the terrace wall and squinted at her best friend sitting at the nearby table.
In the sharp sunlight, she could tell that Renee hadn't slept well the night before. Faint shadows lurked under her eyes and the corners of her narrow mouth were tight with tension. But a restless evening couldn't erase her effortless beauty. The short, natural hair. Twin dimples in her cheeks. The slender body in its usual weekend sundress that left her shoulders bare.
Renee paused with the glass of grapefruit juice near her mouth and looked at Mayson, a reluctant smile on her lips. "Just like that, huh?"
A light breeze stirred up, fluttering the hair around Mayson's face. Ink-black strands against her oak-brown skin. Renee thought briefly about going inside for her camera to capture the contrasts of her friend. Beautiful/strong. Jamaican/Chinese. A centered hurricane.
"Of course," Mayson said. "Linc didn't deserve you. I told you that the first day you brought that needy fucker home." She bent down, her body supple and graceful from over ten years of practicing and teaching yoga, and grabbed another strawberry out of the almost empty bowl. "Usually divorce is a sad thing but you just dropped a big piece of shit off your shoe when you unloaded that moron."
"I loved him, though," Renee said, defensive.
She swallowed more of the tart juice, lowering her lashes against the sunlight blanketing the rooftop terrace. Her hand fumbled on the table for her sunglasses.
"You wish you loved him." Mayson sank her teeth into the deep-red strawberry, sighing in brief pleasure at the sweetness that exploded in her mouth. "One day you'll realize that it's okay not to love everyone who loves you."
The two women faced each other on the rooftop terrace of Renee's seventh-floor condo. Below them lay the city of San Diego, tumbling hills dotted with other houses, other condos, other rooftops, the green interruption of trees, the gaze rolling down the hill until it fell into the sharp blue water of the Pacific.
Remnants of their Saturday brunch—a joint effort prepared in the kitchen nearly two hours before—lay scattered on the table. A bowl that was once full of fat red strawberries now contained only their lonely stems. Two empty plates with golden crumbs from the long-gone waffles, flecks of powdered sugar, and haphazard stripes of maple syrup. A small saucer still held half a sausage patty. It sat far away from Mayson, who, though not a nazi sort of vegetarian, didn't want the meat anywhere near her. She was never in the mood to smell pork.
"It's a good thing I already love you or I'd be following your advice already." Renee gave Mayson a sour look.
Her best friend grinned. "Don't shoot the messenger, honey." Her rough-soft Jamaican accent curled lovingly around the words.
"You are being such an A-hole."
"Ooh," Mayson teased, grinning. "Are you actually cursing at me?"
Mayson stuck out her tongue at Renee and grinned. Her friend never cursed. Never. The summer they turned eleven, the two of them had gone off to camp together. One of the counselors at Camp Minnehawk had had the filthiest mouth Mayson had heard before or since. She'd stood in awe of the girl's inventiveness with the English, and some of the Spanish, language.
Renee's reaction to the girl had been just the opposite. If she'd even been thinking of uttering a curse word before hearing Contessa Stephens swear like a drunken sailor on the last day of leave, that summer had effectively cured her of every single impulse.
The warm stone of the terrace pressed against Mayson through her thin T-shirt and jeans as she leaned into it, still smiling. "What's up with Linc, anyway? I thought he was dating somebody else?"
"He is." Renee paused. "I just woke up thinking about him this morning." And those thoughts had led her to call him. Bad idea. On the phone, he'd acted as if she was the one who had asked for the divorce.
"I'll forgive your subconscious for that lapse in judgment," Mayson said.
"I can't just forget him like that. He was a big part of my life for four years. We shared a life and a mortgage."
"The house was in his name, Renee. You didn't share anything more than the burden of that pseudo-marriage."
"I'm just not there yet, Mayson. I can't see it as a complete mistake. Even after everything that happened." Her glass clinked against an empty plate as she put it back on the table. Linc was the future she had chosen for herself. At the time, her choice had felt like the right one. She looked at Mayson, then away.
"Fine. I'll let you keep your illusions. But we both know you're better off now. I'd rather you be vaguely uneasy without him than miserable with him. You may have short-term memory loss about how things were between the two of you, but I don't."
Renee winced. "Leave it alone, Mayson."
The soft voice resonated faintly with pain. And that more than the words themselves stopped Mayson. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt Renee.
"Fine. Sorry. I got carried away, as usual."
She dropped into the chair across from the bowed head, an apology on her face. "You want to go to the movies later? Djimon Hounsou is in a movie that just came out."
Renee's eyes met hers, the pain clearing from the sunlit brown. "Okay. But you're buying the tickets and the popcorn."
The pressure lifted from Mayson's chest. She sighed through her smile. "No problem. That shouldn't break the bank."
Chapter TwoMayson's booted footsteps sounded cautiously in the damp alley between First and Second streets. The three whiskeys she'd had flowed pleasantly through her system, provoking a tuneless hum, a half dance through the darker than expected night; unexpected because she hadn't planned to be out much later than sunset.
She'd dropped Renee off at her condo hours before. The movie was good and at the end of the evening her friend had been laughing again, flashing the familiar white smile. One day she'd learn to keep her mouth shut about Linc. Obviously today wasn't the day.
Mayson sighed and kept walking. Something lurked in the shadows nearby, teasing her with its definite presence. She should have been frightened. She should have walked quickly toward a better-lit street. Instead she sauntered peacefully with that presence, away from the women's bar that had been nothing but boredom, boozy girls, and too many drinks.
The soft voice—with a hint of Southern peach—sounded like a hallucination. Peaches like that didn't often fall in San Diego.
"You left the bar too soon, darling. The fun was just getting started."
She slowed down to allow the peach to catch up with her from the hidden corner of the alley. Although it was a voice she vaguely recognized, she wasn't sure from where. After a few moments waiting in the dark with nothing and no one materializing, Mayson dismissed the voice as a definite hallucination and continued on her way. Her feet itched to move.
She emerged from the dark street onto University Avenue. It was alive this time of night. Boys in tight pants, their gestures urgent and electric. Chic gay girls with their short haircuts and newsboy caps perched on one side. Stylish heels tapping like music against the sidewalk.
The voice came again, closer.
She turned around.
A woman stood under the streetlights. She had short hair just beginning to curl against her scalp, shining dark eyes, and a body like a high summer peach in the Southern California heat. Round. Firm. Delicious. The red dress she wore flattered her dark skin, fluttering around her knees as she walked. The woman came closer on high heels that brought her within kissing distance of Mayson's six-foot height.
Ah. Now she knew why she recognized that voice. This was one of her students, someone who regularly took yoga classes at Dhyana Yoga. And she'd been in the club Mayson just left. She remembered her from the bar, leaning over to get the bartender's attention as every woman nearby leaned over to check out her ass. Mayson included.
"This is a far way to walk in those heels," Mayson said.
"Not too far since I have what I want in sight."
Friday evening traffic trickled past, fluttering the hem of the woman's red dress.
"I'm Fatimah," she said.
Mayson's mouth twitched. "And I think you already know my name."
They smiled at each other.
The dress Fatimah wore was one of those wraparound kinds. It lay snugly over her breasts and the thick nipples that seemed determined to press back against the fabric. The tie at her hip fluttered in the breeze and begged to be loosened.
A wicked grin curled Mayson's mouth. She reached out her hand. Between her fingers, the fabric felt like silk. Maybe it was silk. The tie slid between her fingers, whisper-soft beneath the lazy caress of her thumb.
Under her light touch, Fatimah fidgeted, shifting from one leg to the other, rubbing her thighs together under the dress. Mayson didn't put her out of her misery. Fatimah had been so confident before. She released the bit of silk but did not step back.
"I was surprised to see you at the club tonight," Fatimah finally said.
"Why?" Mayson thought she knew the reason but wanted the other woman to say it.
"All this time I thought you were into women but I wasn't sure." Fatimah tossed her head back like she was used to having long hair. "You're always so impersonal in class."
Mayson hid a smile. She had noticed Fatimah in her classes, her subtle and not-so-subtle cues that she was available. But Mayson was very, very careful. There were always women in the studio giving those signals. But no matter what the women said with their bodies, she took care never to let her hand linger too long, avoiding the thrust of breast or curve of ass casually thrown in her way as she guided the students through their poses. Dhyana Yoga was her business, not a pickup spot.
But she and Fatimah weren't at the studio tonight.
"Just how personal did you want me to get in class?" she asked the woman.
Fatimah lowered her gaze. "There are a lot of people at the studio who'd like to have you."
"Really? I hope they come for the lessons, not just to look at me."
"Trust me, they want to do more than look." Fatimah smiled in renewed confidence, full lips parting over white teeth. "I want to do more than just look."
Mayson's smile joined hers. "Well, I'm pretty sure we can do something about that," she murmured. "Would you like to go back to my place for some coffee?"
The walk to her house was short. They didn't waste the anticipatory silence by talking, only walked close together, the backs of their hands occasionally touching, Mayson inhaling the night and becoming more sober with each step. She hadn't been looking for sex tonight, but she was glad it had found her.
It felt like a long time since she'd had a woman in her bed. But it had been only two months. Two months wasn't a long time for her to go without sex, especially when she wasn't in a relationship. The last time Nuria, her sometime lover, came into town, they'd had eight days of incredible I-can't-bear-to-leave-your-skin-much-less-the-house-for-an-hour sex that left Mayson raw and her muscles aching for days afterward. She and Nuria had had a mutually satisfying casual relationship for almost ten years now. The bloom had never gone off that rose. But Mayson knew it was only because they lived on separate coasts and saw each other only once a year.
In her house, she stood on the threshold of indecision. The kitchen for coffee or the bedroom for what they really came here for? She could feel the other woman's quiet but slightly accelerated breath near her, almost at her back. The anticipation rose inside her, flaring her nostrils, tearing her patience to shreds.
The decision made itself. "Come here."
The dress was beautifully easy to take off. With one tug the string loosened and Mayson unwrapped the body that had been promised to her. Fatimah's pleasure rumbled deep in her throat at Mayson's appreciative and hungry look.
The last time she'd had a woman in her house intent on sex, Nuria had backed her against the door as soon as they walked in and demanded that Mayson fuck her. It had been her pleasure to take the reins then, lifting Nuria against the door, tearing her panties away from the already wet and welcoming pussy, and sliding her fingers home.
But that was another time.
She and Fatimah came together, mouths, bellies, hands on skin. Through her clothes she could feel the other woman's heat. Her hard nipples. The damp skin already ready for the tasting.
"Fuck me," Fatimah hissed against her ear.
Perhaps that time and this one weren't that different after all.
She licked the soft, salty throat, gripping a fleshy hip while her fingers delved into the dense hairs to find the slick pussy. Two fingers. They both gasped and Fatimah fanned her legs wider against the back of the sofa, arms braced wide as Mayson fucked her slowly, relishing the pleasure of her pussy and the soft, sighing moans, and the hips rushing up to meet her fingers.
Her nipples were fat and eager for Mayson's mouth. Ah! She groaned into the abundant flesh, licking and sucking at the stiff nipples, fingers working, curving up, sliding deep, exploring and taking.
With one hand, she abruptly lifted Fatimah up until she sat on the back of the heavy couch, legs spread wider. Her gasp of surprise turned into a groan of pleasure when Mayson slid her fingers deeper. Her head fell back, hips diving up for Mayson's seeking fingers, her head thrown back to release a continuous chorus of moans.
"Yes! Oh yes!" She thrust up against Mayson's fingers, the juice from her cunt slick and plentiful.
Her nakedness and Mayson's clothed body. The rising heat in the room. The leap of her breasts with each movement of Mayson's fingers.
Fatimah gripped her arm, fingers sinking into the skin. That pain joined the nearly unbearable fullness between Mayson's thighs, her pussy molten from the noises the woman made. Fatimah threw her head back, screaming. Her pussy clutched and spasmed around Mayson's fingers. Thick juice rushed down her fingers.
Fatimah's breathing sounded loud in the room. "Oh my God, that was—that was perfect." She laughed into Mayson's neck.
The soft breath fanned against her sensitive skin, sending goose bumps dancing down her chest. She pulled Fatimah from the back of the sofa away from the living room and up the stairs.
"We're not done yet."
Breathless laughter bubbled again from her guest. "I hope not. I haven't gotten to touch you yet."
"You'll definitely get your chance."
Mayson pushed open the bedroom door and guided Fatimah with steady, devouring kisses—her hands on her breasts, the lush ass—into the room already glowing with light from the bedside lamp. On the bed, Fatimah twisted in her arms to turn off the light.
"Leave it on," Mayson growled.
She liked seeing what she was getting. Lights-off sex was never her scene even when she had briefly slept with men in college. The movement of light over sweating flesh was an endless source of pleasure for her. Rippling, sweat-soaked skin. Bared teeth. She liked to see the animal her lovers became in that intimate act, stripped bare of everything civilized and wanting nothing more than to satisfy that down-low ache.
"I like that you like to look," Fatimah whispered.
She flicked open the buttons on Mayson's shirt one by one, revealing skin an inch at a time. Mayson's nipples pebbled, eager for more contact, but she forced herself to be patient. Fatimah didn't seem to be in a hurry.
The woman dipped her head to enclose a newly bared nipple in her hot, wet mouth. Mayson groaned low in her throat, reveling in the tongue licking slowly at her nipples, circling the hard tips, then the mouth sucking again until she thought she would wash away on the river of lust between her legs.
"Yes ...," she hissed, gripping Fatimah's head tight against her.
She squeezed her legs together to hold the sensation close.
"No, baby. Let me in there." Fingers slipped between her parted thighs, stroking her dripping pussy.
"You're so wet." A low gasp of surprise and delight. Fingers swam inside her, playing over her clit. "You feel so damn good."
Excerpted from Dangerous Pleasures by FIONA ZEDDE Copyright © 2011 by Fiona Lewis. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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