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By Jenna McCormick
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Jenna McCormick
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Gen, what should we order tonight?"
Genevieve Luzon twisted her hair and fastened it up with a starburst-shaped clip so it spilled like a dark fountain around the back of her head. Not exactly a sexy look, but tonight was all about creature comforts and self-indulgence. Her friend Gia had just gotten back from her latest training exercise, and they both needed to unwind with a good old-fashioned girls' night in.
Nodding at her reflection, she called to her friend, "Whatever you want, Gia. Pizza would be stellar." Then again ... She lifted her baggy T-shirt and frowned down at the bulge last night's cheesecake had put there. Maybe she ought to skip dinner and take a few laps around the Central Park holographic track instead.
"Ah, who am I kidding?" Disgusted with her lack of willpower, Gen dropped her shirt and slid her feet into cobalt-blue sparkly slippers. She scuffed down the hall to where Gia clicked the vid phone off.
Gia's blond brows drew together. "Is that what you're wearing?"
"What, do you think I'll offend the pizza delivery guy? You've been flying training missions out along the rim too long. This is New New York, hon. I'm sure he's seen worse than my plaid pajama pants. I'll toss him an extra dozen credits and he won't even remember."
"No way." Gia poured the sparkling red wine into a glass and handed it to Gen. "This one is on me."
Gen accepted the glass and smiled at her friend. "That's really sweet of you, but I can pay my own way. So I got fired today. It's not like I'm destitute or anything." Just too close for comfort. Pushing the unwelcome thought aside, she offered another bright smile. "What's on the schedule for this evening's entertainment?"
Gia's eyes sparkled mischievously as she took a drink. "It's a surprise. First, though, I have got some oh-so-shocking news. You remember Alison Cartwright?"
Gen tapped her chin. At least there was only one to tap. Maybe she could have pizza after all. "From high school? Quiet girl with bad teeth and a gland problem?"
"Exactly. Well, I bumped into her at the flying coffee cart at the corner of Lexington and Fifth, and oh my fracking God, Gen, has she ever changed. Take a look at her card." Gia rummaged around in her purse and then held up a metal business chip. The 3-D holograph that popped up showed a scantily clad blond bombshell with bedroom eyes and a to-die-for curvy body encased in a formfitting sheath one shade darker than her golden skin tone.
"Wow. If I were a guy, I'd totally pop a woody right now." Gen read the printing that flowed across Alison's impressive C-cups, hoisted high by an antigrav corset. "Illustra? Are you fracking shitting me?"
Gia shook her head. "I shit you not. It's like a really fractured fairy tale. Ugly duckling blossoms into a fornicating swan."
"I wonder what that would be like?" Gen tilted her head, examining Alison's card. "Do you think she likes being a pleasure companion?"
"She seemed content enough, if a bit short on time." Gia swirled her wine in her glass, studying the contents. "Do you ever think that maybe you would try it?"
Gen choked as the liquid went down her windpipe. "You mean, try a career in the skin trade? Nuh-uh. No way."
"Why not? It's a perfectly acceptable occupation. More lucrative than most, actually."
Gen didn't want to explain her archaic mind-set to her friend, so she quipped, "Think how exhausting it would be to fake all those orgasms."
Gia's eyes narrowed. "Have you ever actually had an orgasm?"
"Of course. Every time I eat triple turtle cheesecake with fudge sauce. Speaking of food, did the pizza place say how long it would be?"
Gia opened her mouth but was cut off by the dulcet programmed voice of the intercom. "Pardon me for interrupting, but there is someone at the door for you."
"Dinner is served." Gia hopped off the barstool and scooted to answer the door.
Gen didn't bother to argue over the bill. She'd pay Gia back as soon as she found a new job. Closing her eyes, she allowed herself a moment to wallow in her failure. Damn Mrs. Delevopia for getting on board the wrong off-world shuttle! Was it her fault the stubborn octogenarian refused to wear her reading glasses? But no matter how many times Gen had tried to explain, Mr. Parks had booted her sorry ass to the curb because she'd ruined his reputation. Three years she'd given that place, more time than she'd ever invested in a relationship. Was this the reward for her loyalty and hard work? If so, somebody goofed.
"Gen?" Gia called from the entryway. "Could you come here?"
Gen opened her eyes and sighed. "That means I have to get up."
"Trust me, it'll be worth it." Mischief laced her friend's words.
Eh, I need more wine anyway. Gen pushed herself off the couch and shuffled out to the hallway.
"What's so damn important—" Gen stopped talking, her mouth hanging open as she observed the pizza guy. Tall and broad shouldered with his dark hair held back in an elegant ponytail. His cashmere coat and tailored slacks made her acutely aware of her own shabby ensemble. Big hands held a vintage black leather satchel. Pretty fracking high-end for a pizza warmer.
"Gen, this is Franco, your evening's entertainment." Gia bounced on her toes like a giddy schoolgirl, a big grin plastered on her elfin face.
Franco bowed—a courteous old-world gesture that appeared so out of place in Gen's raggedy apartment. He clasped her hand and brought it to his lips. "The pleasure, I assure you, is all mine."
Her heart thumped against her rib cage. Damn, he smelled good, like a combination of a fresh breeze blowing off the ocean and clean mountain air. Firm, masculine lips pulled into a seductive smile, and Gen's mouth went dry. Her skin tingled where he touched her hand. She wanted to say something savvy, but nothing came to mind.
The three of them stood awkwardly in the doorway until Gia announced, "Well, I'm gonna scoot."
"Scoot?" The word hit Gen like a cattle prod, and she pulled her arm back from Franco's mesmerizing hold. "Gia, I need to talk to you a second."
She pushed her friend down the hallway into her sister's bedroom. "What the hell is going on? You just got back. I thought we were going to hang out."
Gia held her hands out and shrugged. "Don't be mad, but I got asked out on a date. I didn't want to just bail on you and thought you could use a pick-me-up. Franco's from Illustra. You said I should order whatever I wanted, and I want you to get laid."
"You got me a man whore?" Gen yelped. Sure, people did it every day, but she had never been comfortable with the idea of paying someone to touch her. "Are you out of your ever-loving mind?"
Gia's gaze softened. "Face facts, sweetie. You've been depressed for a while now, ever since your sister dropped out of school and disappeared. You have no job, no social life, and you hardly ever leave your apartment."
"Not true. I visit my grandparents in Connecticut. Sometimes I'll go to the cabin upstate. And I have you," Gen argued, but she could hear how feeble her protest sounded. "It may not seem like much of a life, but it's still a life."
Gia gave her a quick, sisterly hug. "Of course. But there are some gaps even I can't fill." She chuckled at the double entendre before she asked, "How long since you last had sex?"
Gen bit her lip but admitted the truth. "I don't remember."
"Well, I'd hazard a guess that after tonight, you will have absolutely no trouble remembering." Gia winked and gave her a little wave. "Toodles."
"Wait! I ..." Gen searched for something to say to combat the growing panic. "I'm not dressed for a man whore."
Gia rolled her eyes. "You're not supposed to dress for a man whore—you're supposed to undress for him. Better yet, let him undress you. With his teeth."
"Is there a problem, ladies?" Franco called from the foyer. His rich accent was melodic and cultured, and Gen couldn't help but sigh. Maybe this wasn't such a horrible idea.
Gia studied her face with her sharp green gaze. "Look, if you're really uncomfortable with this, we can send him away, get a pizza, and watch an old movie. Is that what you want?"
Gen stared down at her petite friend. Gia was trying to do something nice for her, something to help her break out of the malaise of her current life. She could have just called and canceled, but instead, she came up with plan B—a night with Boy Toy. It would be rude to return her gift. Especially without trying it on to see if it fits. "Well, he is pretty hot. And he smells divine."
Gia flashed her even white teeth. "Good, it's settled, then."
They marched back into the living room where Franco had made himself at home. He'd crouched down in front of her glass coffee table and lit a bloodred candle. He must have brought it with him, because candles were ungodly expensive, way out of Gen's tax bracket. The wick ignited, and he set it on a glass dinner plate. Gia donned her coat and then reached out to shake his hand. "Show her a grand time, Franco."
Gen noticed the flat glowing spot embedded right beneath the skin in the back of his hand. It went from a pulsing red to a throbbing green when Gia's thumb landed on it. A biomechanical credit payment strip. With one quick handshake, Gia paid Franco for services he was about to render. The technology was extremely new and expensive. He must be doing all right in his chosen line of work. The thought made her shiver in anticipation.
Gia's steps faded and the door clicked shut behind her. The auto lock would engage until someone on the inside pressed a thumb against the metal plate to open it. They were officially alone in her quiet apartment. She bit her lip and stared at the glowing light of the candle, almost afraid to meet his gaze. What the hell do you say to the man who's being paid to fuck you?
"Why don't you come a little closer?" Franco shrugged out of his coat and draped it over the back of her squat eggplantcolored couch. He unfastened his belt buckle, and her heart rate kicked up to a frantic pounding. This was happening much too fast, and she still wasn't entirely sure she wanted it to happen at all.
"I've never done this before," she blurted out.
He didn't seem startled by her outburst. A small smile played across his lips. "Do you mean having sex or hiring a male companion for the evening?" Rising up to his full height, which was an impressive several inches taller than her own five-foot-eleven stature, he strode toward her.
Note to self—he probably doesn't want to be called a man whore. "No, I've had sex. Just not with anyone else in a while. But I've never ..." She trailed off as his scent enveloped her senses, his large frame blocking out the rest of the world as though it had never existed.
He loomed over her but not in a threatening way—more like a conquering warlord about to claim his prize. "Never been pleasured by a professional. A novice, splendid. The very first thing you need to do is activate your health guard. Safety first." His melodic voice crooned in her ear.
Swallowing, she did. Pressing down on the small transmitter on the inside of her elbow, Gen activated her germ shield. There was a soft hum as the invisible shielding snapped into place to prevent fluid transfer.
He nodded in approval and reached behind her to unfasten the clip at the crown of her head. Dark hair fell in a wild, unruly riot down to the middle of her back. His scent engulfed her, and she bit back a moan when he ran his fingers through her hair. "You are lovely."
"I'm in my jammies," she protested.
"Not for long." Eyes fixed on her face, as though reading her mood, he slid his hands down over her back to the gap where her shirt and pants met. Dipping his head, he kissed her neck, just a soft peck at the same moment his fingers touched bare flesh.
Gen let her eyes drift shut, enjoying his practiced touch. He was good, thorough, not rushing the encounter, but not dragging his feet either. His hands stroked over her bare skin in a silken caress, relaxing her body to accept whatever he had in store.
"How do you feel?" His hand stroked up beneath her shirt, cupping her unfettered breasts. Her nipples pebbled at the contact, and her body grew wet and needy.
She sighed out a shaky breath and stared up at him. The fact that a total stranger was touching her so intimately both excited and frightened her. "I'm ... not really sure."
Dark eyebrows drew together, and he glanced over his shoulder at the candle burning on the coffee table before looking back to her. "Tell me what you want."
How could she tell him when she didn't really know herself? Yes, his touch excited her, and she wanted to be petted and stroked, comforted. But how could she say all these things to a total stranger without dying from embarrassment? The thought of taking off all of her clothes in the well-lit room, having him look at her naked body, unnerved her. But she wanted to peruse his body, to know if he appeared as magnificent without his trendy clothes. "I want to see you, all of you."
He didn't hesitate as he untucked his shirt and started working the buttons, feeding them through the buttonholes with agonizing slowness. She bit her lip, greedy for her first real look at him. Palms itching to smooth their way over those broad shoulders, down the trail of dark hair peeping out at her from between the parting fabric, and then lower to explore his sex. Yes, that's what she craved, to touch him freely and not worry about what he thought of her.
The last button came undone, and he moved with graceful ease, shrugging it off, tossing it on top of his jacket. His health guard snapped to life, emitting a soft blue glow that was reflected in the windows. In the distance, a noise ordinance horn blatted out a warning, popping her fantasy bubble with the sharp pinprick of reality.
"Uh, we should probably move back to my bedroom." The last thing she needed was a rap on the window from the neighborhood decency patrol telling her to shut her broken blinds.
"If that is your desire." Franco toed off his shoes, then picked up the candle and his bag. Gen started down the hallway but stopped and turned to face him. "What about you?"
He blinked at her. "What do you mean?"
She waved her hands in small helpless circles. "Well, how about what you desire? I think sex is better when there is mutual satisfaction."
A smile broke out across his face. "You are an unusual woman, Genevieve. I assure you, before the night is over, I will have found my own slice of bliss." His words made a sensual promise and she shivered.
Not bothering to turn the light on in her room, lest he see the piles of discarded lingerie and other feminine paraphernalia, she took the candle from his hands and set it down on her nightstand. Something about it mesmerized her, the way the flame danced as though performing just for her, and she forgot about Franco, her nervousness, and the rest of the universe, totally lost in the moment.
Warm hands cupped her breasts from behind, and she sighed, allowing her head to fall back onto his shoulder as he kneaded her aching flesh. Wet slickness pooled between her thighs while he murmured soothing words of praise and soft encouragements. The candle seemed to wink at her, conveying a message that this was exactly where she was supposed to be, and everything would be okay.
His clever fingers unknotted the drawstring on her pajama bottoms with ease, and before her mind could form a protest, he slipped the fabric over her hips until it pooled around her feet.
Pushing gently but insistently on her back, he urged her up onto the bed until she was poised on all fours. "Stay exactly like that." The order held the ring of command, and she shivered again, growing even wetter in anticipation. Her channel ached, greedy for his penetration. The only thought in her head was that it had been too long, and she needed the invasion now.
The rustling of fabric and her ragged breaths were the only sounds. She was a light sleeper and had searched for an apartment with an utterly soundproof bedroom to help her rest peacefully at night. Now, the quiet created an isolated little cocoon where anything was possible, where she could be free and greedy in her carnal needs. "What are you doing?"
He tapped her lightly on the ass. "I didn't say you could talk."
Did she like his domineering attitude? Not so much, but it did take the pressure off of her to do anything but follow his lead. "Sorry."
Excerpted from No Limits by Jenna McCormick Copyright © 2012 by Jenna McCormick. Excerpted by permission of APHRODISIA 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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