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Shades of Temptation
     

Shades of Temptation

3.5 6
by Virna DePaul
 

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Carrie Ward understands dangerous men, and she's got the scars to prove it. These days, the Special Investigations Group detective saves her risk taking for the job. But when she's asked to pursue a high-profile serial killer, she'll have to join forces with the last man she wants to depend on—Jase Tyler, an ace senior detective who's as

Overview

Carrie Ward understands dangerous men, and she's got the scars to prove it. These days, the Special Investigations Group detective saves her risk taking for the job. But when she's asked to pursue a high-profile serial killer, she'll have to join forces with the last man she wants to depend on—Jase Tyler, an ace senior detective who's as reckless as she is cautious. And despite her best intentions, the sparks begin to fly.

As Carrie and Jase race to try to save the next victim, the passion that simmers between them ignites. But a cunning killer at the top of his game is challenging Carrie to play to the very end. Now all she can count on are her instincts—and Jase, the one man daring enough to keep her safe….

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sexy, page-turning excitement."

—New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster on Shades of Desire

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780373776740
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
09/18/2012
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Special Agent Carrie Ward entered McGill's Bar to break a dry spell, but there was to be no alcohol involved. She'd just closed another difficult case for SIG, the California Department of Justice's Special Investigations Group, a five-member state equivalent of the FBI, and she intended to celebrate by ending five years of celibacy. It didn't matter that she probably wouldn't achieve climax. She rarely did with a man. But pleasure wasn't what she was really after. She just wanted physical contact. Intimacy. To be able to pretend for a few hours that she belonged—on this earth, in this city, maybe even to a man who cared about her and saw her as more than a woman trying day in and day out to get away with doing a so-called "man's" job.

Less than thirty minutes later, Carrie exited McGill's alone. Her chest ached with loneliness far greater than any she'd ever felt before. And it wasn't because she hadn't found a man to seduce but because the one man she truly wanted to seduce—no, the one man she truly wanted to make love to, if there really was such a thing as making love—was getting ready to bed another woman.

She should never have come, she thought. It was a Friday night and she'd known Jase Tyler, a fellow SIG special agent, had a date. But she couldn't have known he'd bring his date to McGill's Bar, a favorite hangout of the San Francisco P.D. She'd seen him there with women before, of course, but they'd been women he'd picked up while he was there. She'd figured he'd take a date someplace swanky and more conducive to seduction.

She'd been wrong.

Her stomach contracted as she recalled her brief conversation with Seth Roberts, an SFPD cop. He'd said something that had made her laugh just before his friend had nudged him and said "Jase Tyler" in an admiring tone. With dread, she'd turned to look. Sure enough, she'd immediately recognized the back of Jase's elegantly dressed frame, his hand pressed against the slim bare back of the woman standing next to him. His date wore a black cocktail dress more appropriate for the opera than McGill's, but who was Carrie to judge? She hadn't even bothered dolling up for her manhunt. Instead, she was still wearing her standard office attire, which made her feel as feminine as usual—which was to say, not at all.

Now, standing outside McGill's, Carrie prayed Seth hadn't noticed the devastation she'd felt upon seeing Jase with his date. The way he'd looked at her, however—with slightly softened features and a hint of pity—told her she was wasting her time. But if he dared say anything to Jase about it, she'd make him sorry. If nothing else, she'd challenge him to another racquetball match and wipe the floor with him just as she'd done the last two times they'd played. Shoving her hands into her wool peacoat, she turned to walk to her car.

"Leaving so soon, Ward?"

She froze at the sound of Jase's voice. For a half second, she wondered if she was hearing things. If she'd made him materialize from sheer desire. The true question, however, was whether he'd appeared alone or with his date.

Slowly, she faced him. He was standing a couple of feet away, hands in his pockets, his ever-present tie loose, his suit jacket left behind. His sandy-brown hair was artfully disheveled, his tall, lean body showcased to full advantage by his tailored clothes. Although Jase would bristle at any suggestion that he was a metrosexual—and making him bristle used to be one of her favorite pastimes before the sexual tension between them had grown too dangerous—even Carrie wouldn't go so far as to label him as one. He cared about how he looked more than the average male. He dressed well. Looked good. Smelled good. But he was too intense and masculine to ever fit within that category.

It was no surprise, then, that Jase liked his women purely feminine. So why was he out here with her rather than inside with his date? She frowned, not because he was alone, but because of how damn relieved that fact made her feel. "What's up, Tyler? Did your date send you out here to retrieve the rest of her outfit? She getting chilly?"

He'd been watching her with a serious expression. Now, he grinned the same grin that always made women go weak-kneed and googly-eyed, her included. Thankfully, her slip with Seth aside, she was really good at hiding it.

"I'm pretty adept at keeping my dates warm," Jase drawled, his deep voice tinged with a hint of Texas twang. "I just saw you leave and wondered why you didn't stop and say hi."

She raised a mocking brow. "Didn't I? Sorry about that. Hi, Jase. How are you? Has anything interesting happened since I last saw you…let's see…" She glanced at her watch, a plain, simple design with a sturdy black strap. It was as fashionable and gender neutral as the rest of her. "Since I last saw you an hour and a half ago at the office?"

She looked back up at him. To her surprise, he'd moved closer and was practically looming over her. He hardly ever stood this close, as if he was trying to intimidate her with his sheer masculine presence. His body heat blasted her with the intensity of a raging fire. His scent, fresh and clean but with a hint of cologne, overpowered her. Desire rushed through her veins, making her dizzy, making her panic. Automatically, she took a step back and barely stopped herself from taking another.

She pushed a wayward strand of hair back over one ear and licked her lips. "Careful, Tyler. Your date might not like it if you stand so close to me. I mean, not that she'd view me as a threat or anything, but you know how silly most women can be."

Jase's fingers flexed. Absently, she noted he'd removed them from his pockets. He had big hands. Long, elegant fingers that belonged on some kind of artist rather than a cop. He had big feet, too. Although he had more than his fair share of height, he lacked the sheer bulk of some of their teammates, especially Liam "Mac" McKenzie and Simon Granger. And while he was handsome, Jase was more pretty boy than ruthless masculinity. It often made people underestimate him, shocking them when he transformed from dazzling charmer to dangerous badass right in front of their eyes. Sometimes even Carrie forgot how ruthless he could be. When that happened, he'd inevitably remind her by apprehending a dangerous suspect or responding to one of her snarky comments with a scathing retort. Tensing, she waited for such a retort now.

It didn't come. Instead, he lifted one of those big hands of his and lightly brushed her cheek with his fingertips. Her heart beat wildly. Immediately, she was tempted to close her eyes and lean in to him. As it was, she recalled the first and only time he'd kissed her, just a week ago, when Mac's girlfriend, Natalie Jones, had been assaulted and ended up in the hospital. Jase's kiss had been one of comfort, a light, brief touching of lips, over too soon. But its effect on her had been as forceful as a blow. Just as his touch was now. She couldn't help it. She trembled, and from the way his eyes heated and narrowed, he didn't miss her reaction.

"Regina should definitely view you as a threat," he said softly.

Her eyes widened. No. Surely she'd misheard him. She tried for a mocking laugh, but it came out breathless instead.

"I want to kiss you again, Carrie," he said before she could respond. "But this time I want to do it right."

The air completely left her lungs. She stared into his eyes, searching for signs that he was drunk but finding none.

His fingers trailed down to her jaw while his thumb lightly pressed against her bottom lip. When she gasped, he gave a shaky sigh and lowered his hand to shove it back in his pockets along with the other.

"The question is, are you going to let me? Or are we going to continue playing the same tiresome game, pretending we don't want to rip each other's clothes off and screw for days?"

His crude choice of words broke the hazy spell she'd been under. Jase was a lady's man. A bona fide charmer. He didn't use words like "screw" with women, at least not outside the bedroom. But she wasn't like the women he dated. She wasn't soft or feminine, and he obviously didn't feel the need to use his normal charm and gallantry with her. Or perhaps he was just being honest. He wanted to fuck her. Why waste his time with pretty words?

He was watching her carefully, with an almost predatory glint in his eye. Over his shoulder, through the windows of McGill's, she saw his date scanning the bar as if searching for him. She was just as beautiful from the front as she had been from the back. More so. So once again Carrie asked herself—what was Jase doing outside with her, pretending a desire that couldn't possibly be real? The only explanation was he was looking for some variety in his endless stream of sex partners, but she'd be damned if she was going to be the one to give it to him.

Deliberately, she softened her expression and bit her lip, hoping it made her look appropriately receptive. "Jase," she said shakily, keeping her gaze down.

Just as she hoped he would, he bent down to bring his face closer to hers.

"What is it, Carrie?" he asked, his voice deep and dark. "Tell me."

She peeked up at him through her lashes and lightly placed her hand on his chest. She could feel his heart thudding, strong and slightly erratic. She had him rattled, and while that should have made her feel triumphant, the ache between her thighs told her to tread carefully lest she be caught in her own trap. Ignoring the inner warning, she cupped the back of his neck and leaned up until her lips touched his earlobe. "Jase," she breathed again.

His hands settled lightly on either side of her waist, then tightened. He was getting ready to pull her against him. To press her body up against his hard, delectable length, and she knew if he did that, she'd be done for. She wasn't sure she'd have the strength to pull away from him. Turning her head, her gaze once more found Jase's date inside. She'd homed in on them, and her posture told Carrie she'd be coming after him any second.

At that exact moment, Jase turned his head and brushed his lips against her jaw. A sizzling tingle shot up her spine before settling in her breasts and every other erogenous zone she possessed. She wanted to rub against him like a cat in heat. Not only that, but the temptation to fight Jase's date for the right to touch him—to love him—blindsided her.

Fool! What was wrong with her? She was teaching the guy a lesson here, not stamping her mark on him.

She kissed his jaw the same way he'd kissed hers. Then she clamped her teeth around his ear and bit him—hard.

"Shit!" Instinctively, he jerked. She immediately released him and took several steps back, this time not caring if it looked like a retreat.

Jase brought a hand up to rub his ear and glared at her. "Damn it, Carrie, what the hell was that for?"

"That," she replied breathlessly even as she continued to back away from him, "was to remind you that I'm no threat to Regina, but the same's not true for you. If you're bored with the bimbos you've been dating, then maybe there's hope for you yet. But don't waste my time by feeding me your bullshit. You don't want me. You want to beat me. Prove that you can make Special Agent Ward another notch on your bedpost. It's never going to happen."

"I don't want to beat you. At least, I didn't until you tried to take a damn chunk of my ear off, but—"

The door to McGill's opened. "Jase," a soft feminine voice called out. Regina held the door open and shot a look at Carrie, her expression one of obvious concern for Jase. "Do you need any help out here?"

Carrie actually snarled. The woman was acting like Carrie had cornered Jase and trapped him; after all, why else would he be bothering to speak with someone like her?

"Give me a second, Regina," Jase said. "I need to finish—"

"Oh, you're finished," Carrie said. She glanced at Regina. "Don't worry, I'm a cop. Jase and I work together. We were having a little disagreement, but he was just telling me how anxious he was to get back to you. So run along now, Jase. Have fun, you two."

"Damn it, Carrie—"

Ignoring him, she whirled around and walked in the opposite direction from her car. She'd come back for it later. After she'd calmed down.

After she remembered why she'd pushed Jase Tyler away rather than done what she'd really wanted to do—throw her arms around him and never let him go.

Meet the Author

VIRNA DEPAUL was an English major in college who somehow ended up with a law degree. For ten years, she was a criminal prosecutor for the state of CA. Now, she’s thrilled to be writing stories about complex individuals who overcome incredible odds for love. A national bestselling author, Virna’s blessed to write for HQN and Harlequin’s Romantic Suspense line. Virna also writes paranormal romantic suspense. She loves to hear from readers at www.virnadepaul.com.

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