Live and Yearn


Charles Roussel knows he can hardly expect Nanette Vicknair to greet him with open arms. After all, not only did he abandon her twelve years ago, but now he's the reason her home is in jeopardy. Still, he desperately wants to fix things for her, for them.

Then a car accident flings Charles into a nether world, neither alive nor dead. And he's not finding it so bad....

Especially when he discovers he can visit ...

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Charles Roussel knows he can hardly expect Nanette Vicknair to greet him with open arms. After all, not only did he abandon her twelve years ago, but now he's the reason her home is in jeopardy. Still, he desperately wants to fix things for her, for them.

Then a car accident flings Charles into a nether world, neither alive nor dead. And he's not finding it so bad....

Especially when he discovers he can visit Nan's bed every night and seduce her in her sleep.

Nanette might have been able to withstand Charles's sexual assaults in the flesh, but when he infiltrates her dreams, she's powerless to resist. She wants Charles. She's always wanted Charles. But can Nan bring him back before it's too late? And considering how mind-blowing their sex life has been recently, is she even sure she wants to?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373794256
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Series: Harlequin Blaze Series, #421
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Award-winning author Kelley St. John's previous experience as a senior writer at NASA fueled her interest in writing action-packed suspense, although she also enjoys penning steamy romances and quirky women's fiction. Since 2000 St. John has won over fifty writing awards, including the National Readers' Choice Award, and was elected to the Board of Directors of Romance Writers of America.

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Read an Excerpt

Nanette Vicknair eyed her bed with equal parts anxious trepidation and heightened exhilaration. Trepidation, because ever since that impromptu kiss from Charles Roussel two weeks ago, she hadn't been able to sleep without repeating the experience in her dreams.
And exhilaration for the same reason.
She needed a restful night of sleep, and she hadn't had one since Roussel had pressed her against his car and made her momentarily forget who she was, where she was, or what he was—a first-class jerk. Tomorrow was the first day of school at Gramercy High, and an exhausted English teacher would be easy prey for a fresh group of ninth graders, many of whom would test her limits from the get-go. She loved her job, loved the teens she taught, but the first day of high school—and particularly, their first day in her class—was one that established the groundwork for all the days that followed. Having a fitful night of sleep due to dreaming about marathon sex sessions with a man she despised wouldn't keep her on top of her game.
Yet, climbing under the covers, Nanette knew there was nothing in the world she could do to stop it. She stretched and yawned, tried to keep her eyes open a little longer and make sure she was as tired as she could be. She'd worked on the house all day; presumably she should drop off to a dead sleep and not remember a thing until morning.
Like that would happen.
Her vision blurred; she couldn't fight the inevitable any longer. Unfortunately, before her eyes slid shut, they focused on the only item that adorned her wall, a framed poster that she should have thrown away years ago. Twelve years ago. The festival portrayed on thatposter came to life in her mind. The Ferris wheel, the carousel and off to the side, barely noticeable to most people but dominating the scene to Nan—the house of mirrors. She yawned again, knowing that her thoughts of that poster, and of everything it symbolized, would now control her night.
So much for a restful sleep.
Sighing deeply, she nestled her head into the pillow and didn't fight the pull any longer. It'd happen tonight, like it always did. Whether in a fantasy, or a memory, Charles Roussel would gain control like he always did….
She'd been eighteen; he'd been twenty-two. Nanette had worn a red dress, customary attire for Red-Hot Night at the Old Louisiana Fair grounds. But she hadn't worn the dress for the fair; she'd worn it for Charles Roussel. Charles's grandparents had owned the plantation next to the Vicknair plantation and many of Nanette's teen fantasies had been inspired by their oldest grandson, who'd spent a good deal of time working in their cane fields. Nanette's third-floor bedroom had offered a perfect vantage for watching him labor, shirtless and beautiful, on those hot Louisiana summers.
Eventually, she'd worked up the nerve to venture over to the Roussel property and speak to the object of her affection. Then she'd learned that he wasn't only gorgeous, he was also incredibly charming, particularly when he smiled and that cute dimple dipped in his left cheek.
Nanette's fantasies had quickly turned from dreams of first kisses to much more.And after he'd left for Mississippi State and she'd only seen him in the summers, her desire for the boy—man—next door had only increased. She'd wanted to win his heart and become Mrs. Charles Roussel. They'd have three kids, two boys and a girl, and live in the Vicknair plantation or the Roussel plantation, if he'd rather.
By eighteen, she'd decided it was time to make something happen. Charles was taking a summer break between obtaining his bachelor's degree and starting the master's program at Mississippi State, and after five years of loving him from a distance, Nanette had finally captured his attention as more than a kid. The way he'd looked at her that summer told her he finally saw her the way she wanted, as a woman. And if everything went the way she planned, Charles Roussel would be her first lover.
She was more than ready.
"I've always liked the carousel, but never as much as right now." His voice was deep, much deeper than it'd been earlier tonight, and the warmth of his breath tickled her ear as he nudged her hair out of the way.
Scents of the fairgrounds, sweet cotton candy and heavily buttered popcorn, joined Charles's tantalizing musk scent and made Nanette light-headed, euphoric.
The carousel continued to circle, blending their surroundings into a colorful blur, so she found it even easier to focus on one thing, the man sitting behind her and softly kissing her neck. "I'm glad you're here with me, Nanette."
They'd been together every night since she'd first seen him at the Fourth of July fireworks on the levee, and it was nearly mid-August, not long before he'd leave again for Mississippi State. Nanette pushed that thought away. She didn't want anything negative getting in the way tonight, not when she'd made up her mind.
After a generous amount of time had passed, the music softened to a lull, and the carousel stopped. She sat in front of Charles on the black stallion and felt a distinctive hardness against her behind. Charles wouldn't climb off this horse with ease. She twisted in the seat and smiled. Charles didn't say a word, but his face told her that he knew she'd felt the hard length between his thighs.
"Are you scared, Nanette?"
She wasn't going to pretend that he was talking about the merry-go-round. And she wasn't going to lie, either. "No, I'm—" She tried to find the right word. Excited? Eager? Nervous? "I'm ready."
Charles's gray eyes had deepened to a smoldering storm, and Nanette gasped when he nudged his hips forward, deliberately pressing that impressive bulge against her. "Let's ride again." The warm words teased her ear and sent a shiver down her arms. He must have noticed. He brought his hands to her shoulders, then rubbed them down to her wrists, and back up again.
Nanette's shivering only intensified. She'd never felt desire quite like this, and she didn't know how to go about telling him what she wanted, what she needed.
She vaguely noticed that the fair was closing; one by one, the lights at each of the booths dimmed, while the carousel continued to circle. Nanette leaned back against Charles, listened to his laughter as the breeze blew her hair into his face, then felt his hand gently move the strands to one side so he could nuzzle her neck. The warm air was perfect, the starlit sky was perfect, the man with her was…perfect. This was her dream. It was happening now, and she wanted to enjoy every second as much as possible. Which meant she shouldn't ask any questions about the future. She shouldn't risk ruining what was about to happen.
But Nanette, being Nanette, couldn't resist.
"Mmm?" He nipped her earlobe, and his hands slowly eased from her arms to the tops of her legs.
She was suddenly very aware of the breeze, lifting the hem of her dress above her knees as the carousel turned. It was warm and intensely erotic, as were his hands, gliding down her thighs and causing the whisper-soft fabric of her dress to rub against her legs in a very interesting way. She heard a soft sound, and realized it'd come from her throat. She swallowed, then tried again. "Charles?"
His hands paused in their progress. "It's okay, chère. I've just wanted you, wanted to touch you, for so damn long. For years, if I'm going to be honest."
He exhaled thickly. "Oh, chère, you were so tempting, but so young. And now—"
"Now I'm not too young," she whispered.
"No, and I've fought how much I want you, Nanette Vicknair, for a very long time. I'm afraid it's hard for me to hold back. But I won't rush you."
No. He'd misunderstood, and Nanette wasn't advanced enough in all of this to know how to straighten things out.
But she did have something to ask him, something that would help her decide, help her know, how far this should go.
"Will you come back?"
When he didn't readily respond, she added nervously, "I mean, are you going to stay away again while you're at school, or do you think—is there any reason that might find you coming back more often?"
She felt his smile against her neck. "Nanette, I'll admit I didn't plan to come back until Christmas, and then again at the end of the year, like I've been doing."
"But?" she asked, hoped.
"But after spending so much time with you, chère, getting to know you even more—" he paused "—wanting you even more… I won't stay away. I can't. I don't know if I'll make it back every weekend, but I'll come as often as I can. If that's what you want. Whatever you want, tell me. I just want to be with you, chère."
"I want to be with you here."
"At the fair?" he asked, his surprise evident. But Nanette heard something else in his tone, too—excitement. Excitement for her.
"Yes," she said, tingling all over from the rush of doing something so unexpected, so wild. She didn't want to wait, didn't want to drive to the levee or even the cane fields nearby. And she didn't want her first time to be in a car. She wanted it to be unique, something they would always remember. She scanned the fairgrounds and saw the perfect place. "In there." She pointed, and he looked toward the place she'd indicated. "What do you think?"
He whistled. "Hell."
"Too risky?" she asked, disappointed.
"No, chère. Perfect."
They waited for the fairgrounds to clear, everyone moving to the fields nearby to watch the fireworks customary on the last night of the fair. Then they snuck back into the darkened grounds and headed to the mirrored house.
"Hey, what do you two think you're doing? The fair is closed."
Nanette turned toward the older man. She didn't want anything to ruin this moment, this night. She wouldn't let anything ruin it. "I think I left my keys in there," she lied. "Can we go look?"
The man tilted his head skeptically. "That so?" He looked at Charles.
Charles withdrew his wallet, fished out several bills. "Tell you what. I know people have to pay to go in, so let me pay for us to go search for her keys. How much time will this get us?"
The guy fingered through the bills. "Hell, this is more than I made all night."
"So how much time?" Charles asked.
"Stay as long as you need," he said, his gray brows high. Then he paused. "Another fifty and I won't come back until after the fireworks."
Charles handed him the cash. "Thanks."
Laughing, Nan and Charles dashed into the mirrored house.
"You were pretty quick with the lost keys thing," he said.
She giggled, holding his hand as they moved deeper into the maze of mirrors. "You were pretty quick to literally buy more time."
He grinned. "Just polishing up on my future attorney skills."
"Planning to pay off judges?"
"Planning to ask for more time when I need it," he answered. "And we'll need plenty of time, chère."
They finally stopped, far enough inside that they weren't easily visible from the outer walls. Without the bright lights of the fair, the glass ceiling was even more magical, spilling moonlight in that reflected their images on the surrounding walls.
Charles turned her so her back was against his front, and she felt that hard presence against her bottom. "Look at us, Nanette."
Their reflection was mirrored from all directions, and she gasped at the thrill of what they were about to do. With all of the mirrors, there was no way she wouldn't see everything. No way she wouldn't remember everything.
Charles's hands gently eased her thighs apart, then slid the fabric of her skirt up to her waist. His mouth nipped along her jaw, and Nanette tilted her face, bringing her mouth to meet his, then she hummed her contentment when his tongue parted her lips while his fingers slipped inside her panties.
She was wet, very wet, and he obviously noticed, because he also hummed his satisfaction when he touched her there.
"Nanette," he said, easing one finger inside her opening while she closed her eyes and tried to tattoo everything her body was feeling on her mind, so she could revisit this night, this moment, forever. "Have you ever been with a man, Nanette? Slept with a man?"
She wasn't going to play games now. There was no reason to hide anything from him. He'd know soon enough, anyway. She shook her head. "No. I was waiting…for you."
If possible, his erection seemed to grow even harder as it pressed against her bottom, and Nanette wanted more than anything to learn what that felt like, to have that part of him within her, deep within her, right where he was touching her now.
His thumb slid up her folds and rubbed that tiny, burning spot, and she gasped against his throat, her body on fire and needing to set that fire free, let it go.
"What about this?" he asked, and she sensed his possessive tone. He'd be her first, her last, her only. This night was the beginning of forever, their forever. She was eternally glad that she'd waited. "Has anyone ever done this to you before, Nanette? Has anyone ever made you come?"
She didn't know how to answer the question. Her mind was all foggy, in a hot and heated pre-orgasmic existence that could barely put two thoughts together. Should she tell him the truth? Would he think she was strange? Or was it normal? She'd never really asked anyone, and had never thought it'd be a topic of discussion, especially not in the midst of her body losing complete control at the beckoning of Charles's talented fingers. "I—I—" She was so close it hurt. Why couldn't he just keep going, and faster, and let her have that climax that was almost there, and then they'd talk about this later?
"Nanette." His fingers slowed, and she looked at their reflection. Her skirt above her waist. His hand inside her panties. She wanted, needed, burned for more, but he was slowing down. She wanted to scream.
"Has anyone ever made you come?" he asked.
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