Logan is muscular, graceful, and deadly. A gift of pure sex appeal wrapped with a golden bow. I already don
About the Author
Mary Hughes is a computer geekette, flutist and writer. She taught Taekwondo and studied religion and physics. She has a wonderful husband (though happily-ever-after takes a lot of hard work) and two great kids. Biting Me Softly is her fourth published title.
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When I first clapped eyes on Logan, I thought, Hot damn. Look what the Sex Fairy brung me!
It was eight p.m. Sunday night, and I was at work. I do computers for the Meiers Corners Blood Center. The staff is me, the executive director and a part-time nurse named Battle. I was the only one who worked insane hours, but I was new and still trying to prove myself.
I don't know what made me look up. The cool March air, perhaps. Maybe the aroma wafting in, mystery and magic with overtones of raw sex.
Whatever it was, my eyes lifted and there he was, the most stunning male I'd ever seen. Smack-me-between-the-eyes gorgeous. Bright blond hair rippled to broad, muscular shoulders. Lean strength roped a long, lithe body. Laughter and intelligence sparked gold-flecked hazel eyes. Perfect lips curved in a smile so sensuous it made my innards go bang.
Then he opened his mouth and spoke. Talk about ruining perfection.
"Hello, gorgeous." His tone was deep and lazy. "I want to speak to the computer man in charge."
Right. Well that just spoiled everything, didn't it?
I crossed my arms under my breasts. "You're looking at him. I'm the head apple. Minus the stem, but those are overrated anyway."
My sarcasm didn't even faze the man. He tucked one spectacular ass cheek on my desk and leaned in, so close I could feel his warmth on my face. "You're L. Schmetterling? How ... fruitful. And what, my Red Delicious, does the L stand for? Laurie? Lucy? Lovely?"
All that male beauty and a tight ass on top of it. I'd been burned once by a man with a flabby butt and no hair. This man would incinerate me.
I clutched the reminder of male perfidy on my ring finger and screwed up my most forbidding expression. "It stands for Leave. As in Me Alone."
"I live to do your bidding, princess," the man crooned, his lips inches from mine. He had perfect, chiseled lips — the kind designed by Michelangelo for kissing. "But if you're L. Schmetterling, I can't leave. I have business with you."
"Look, buddy." It came out all husky-voiced. I let go of the ring and tried to work back to reasonable. "Look, I don't know you, and it's late. Business hours are nine to five Monday through Friday. Come back tomorrow." I turned to my laptop and pretended I wasn't quivering to taste those chiseled lips. "You're just lucky I was here."
"Oh, I knew you'd be in." The man stood with lazy grace, the kind latent with power. I watched him from the corner of my eye. He was really quite big and though his body was lean, his shoulders were stunningly broad. He would be immensely strong. He leaned knuckles on my desk. "You work late every night. Most nights you're here until ten or eleven. Alone." His tone held a touch of censure.
Strangely enough, I hadn't been afraid of him until then. My eyes jerked to his. Hard steel underlay his friendly expression.
I swallowed rising panic — though I was a black belt in Taekwondo, short and kicky was shit against strong and prowly. "What did you say your name was?"
"I didn't." He pulled a small leather case from his jeans pocket and tossed a business card on my desk with a careless snap of the wrist. The card should have skipped like a stone and sailed into my wastepaper basket. It landed right under my nose.
Gorgeous and talented. This guy would bear watching. Aw, shucks, my libido said. I ignored it. Eyes locked on him, I picked up the card. Dared a glance. Logan Steel, CEO Steel Security.
Smack me in the face with a Toshiba. Steel Security was the firm that installed a multimillion-dollar security system at Andersly-Dogget Distribution, my first job — one week before I was fired.
"Water under the bridge, Liese," my mother would say. "Put it behind you." Moms are always right, especially mine. But right doesn't equal easy.
I threw the card back. It hit the desk and rebounded into the trash, making my cheeks heat. "You can't be serious! Steel Security is the Ferrari of security firms. They do the biggest names in the world. Why would they be in little Meiers Corners?"
"We are here to install a system." Steel perched gracefully on my desk again. In his tight black T-shirt and open leather jacket he looked more like a well-muscled fashion model than a CEO.
"No way. Our Blood Center isn't Red Cross. Most people have never heard of the Hemoglobin Society. On the galactic scale of Steel Security, we're not even a comet."
Steel grinned at that, a smile so sharp and white that I was momentarily blinded. "Nice pun."
Wow. Mr. Fortune 500 (and Body 300) thought I was amusing?
Then reality kicked me in the teeth. I was a geek. When I talked, eyes glazed over. Amusing? Sure, and the Sex Fairy was real. "Why are you actually here?"
"Here's the work order, if you don't believe me." Mr. Logan Great-Ass pulled a paper out of his back pocket. Since his jeans were so tight they must have been painted on his incredible tush, I wondered how there could possibly have been room. He unfolded the paper and tossed it onto my desk with as much flair as the card. "You're wrong, Ms. Schmetterling. Gorgeous, but wrong."
Gorgeous? I shot to my feet. "Now I know you're lying. Fun time's over. There's the door."
Sleek eyebrows arched. "I assure you, everything's in order."
"You've forged those papers. Or ... or maybe they're real, but the company's been typed over. I don't know what your game is, Mr. Steel, but this woman's not playing."
"No games, Ms. Schmetterling." Leaning across the desk, he hooked my chin with one long finger. "Though if you want games, I could be persuaded."
And he pressed his sculpted mouth to mine.
Steel's lips were smooth and warm and he knew how to use them. His kiss was the magical brush of angel wings. Heavenly golden heat spread through me, stunned me. My eyelids fluttered closed. Excitement hit me low in the belly, hot, shocking excitement that bubbled up as a soft moan of pleasure.
At the sound, Logan licked my lips open. Angel wings became angel fire. "You taste wonderful. All hot and wet. Mmm, can't get enough." His kiss deepened, his tongue started to plunge.
Heat flamed through me, spiraling quickly past my temperate zone. I was kissing a virtual stranger but it was so good, better than seven-layer chocolate sin cake. Logan nibbled at my lips, his teeth extraordinarily sharp. Instinctively I knew I was about two seconds from clamping my ankles around his superb ass, and damn the consequences.
So I jerked back and slapped him. "D-don't you ... ever ... do that again!"
He blinked, hazel eyes shading golden with surprise. His fingers hovered over his reddening cheek. I guessed with a face and body like his, Logan Steel wasn't refused very often. Of reaction A), B) or C), my slap had probably been D) none of the above.
I tensed against the inevitable anger or cold disdain.
"Hmm," he said. "Do you always overreact like that, princess?"
I gaped at him. "Overreact? That was sexual harassment, buddy. You're lucky I didn't pepper-spray you!"
"I'm here on legitimate business —"
"After hours, without an appointment. In jeans and a T-shirt better suited to a gigolo than a CEO."
His eyes turned hard. The gold shaded eerily toward red. "Please don't interrupt. Even if I was somewhat out of line —"
"You kissed me!"
"You liked it," he shot back.
"That's beside the point. You came in here, knowing I was alone, like a stalker —"
"I'm no stalker." He snatched his card out of the wastebasket and thumped it onto the desk in front of me. "I'm here to protect you from stalkers. I'm one of the good guys, Ms. Schmetterling."
"Is that how good guys behave? Forcing themselves on lone women?"
"Oh, for the love of ..." Logan blew an exasperated breath. "I'm sorry, okay? I couldn't help myself. You're a beautiful woman and —"
"I am not beautiful!" I shouted at the top of my lungs.
My words fell into an astonished silence. Logan stared at me, a small frown creasing his brow. His eyes softened to a thoughtful hazel.
I started trembling. My heart was pounding, and I was breathing like a freight train. I wondered what the hell had just happened. I felt like I'd just fought for my life. Was Logan Steel right?
Was I overreacting?
Thankfully the phone rang, derailing my distressing thoughts. Taking a deep breath, I connected my Bluetooth headset. "Blood Center."
"Hey, sugar," a smooth alto greeted me. "It's Dolly Barton. I had a cancellation tomorrow. Want to move your appointment to six thirty?"
I winced. My appointment at the Curl Up and Dye was not for a haircut. "Sure. Yeah."
A pause. "You sound upset, sugar. Anything going on?"
"No." I sank into my chair. A gorgeous tush settled onto the desk next to me. Shizzle.
"It's not your ex-fiancé, is it?"
The last man to tell me I was beautiful. I glared at the mammoth stone on my right hand. "No."
"That Botcher. What a scumbag." Gum snapped. "Of course, office romances are thin ice anyway. You need to find someone new, sugar."
"No, I don't." Certainly not Edible Tush.
"Sure you do. A woman's got needs, if you know what I mean. It's been, what — a year?"
I flushed. "Sixteen months." Sixteen months since I had needs. Now all I had were issues.
Another crack of gum. "Well, not all men are like that, sugar. Some day you'll find the right one."
"And I'll know that, how?"
"Easy. He'll take you on a cruise to heaven."
As I hung up, I rolled my eyes. The only cruise my ex had taken me on was to the Isle of Itsucks.
A hand cupped my face. Warm lips pressed to mine, lips that circled gently, spreading heat and light. Before I could protest, they were gone.
"What the heck did you do that for?" I glowered into oh-so-innocent hazel eyes.
"You looked like you could use it." Logan picked up his work order, refolded it. "You are beautiful, you know. Hasn't anyone told you that?"
I had recovered sufficiently to snort. "Are we back to that nonsense? I may be small-town, but I'm not ignorant. I've seen world-class beauty, and I ain't it."
"Oh?" Eyes zeroed in on my mouth, Logan leaned toward me. I jerked just out of reach. He shrugged and smiled.
Sweet Stephen Hawking on a trampoline, that gorgeous flex of lips made me want to nibble him like tender cake. "Chicago has real beauties." My voice rasped, breath and every internal system I had going berserk at lips. "Long women with flowing hair and bodies so firm they could be eleven-inch dolls."
"Plastic? Ah, and manufactured. You're clever." Logan grinned like he was genuinely amused.
Pleasure warmed me, confused me. Distracted me long enough for him to palm my cheek. His big, hot hand could have melted plastic — it scorched my mere flesh. I jerked back again. The man was seriously dangerous. "They still look gorgeous."
"You are gorgeous, princess."
"Meiers Corners pretty, maybe." Blonde hair, blue eyes and generous curves from a diet of bratwurst and beer. The St. Pauli Girl-next-door. Compared to Chicago gorgeous, as exciting as a dumb terminal.
As if he read my mind, Logan said, "Beauty isn't simply physical, Ms. Schmetterling."
I made a rude noise. "Even pudgy, balding men go for butt and boobs."
"Perhaps I have different tastes." He leaned in until his tempting lips were a breath from mine.
I jerked back so hard my chair shot bang into the wall.
Logan grinned. "You're cute when you're flustered."
Cheeks flaming, other parts hot with a different fire, I scooted back into place. "It doesn't matter. If you have legitimate business, as you say, come back tomorrow during business hours."
"Sorry, can't. I have appointments all day. What does the L stand for?"
"Liese." I blinked, then swore. On top of gorgeous and talented, the man was sneaky. "Ms. Schmetterling to you."
Of course he ignored that. "Liese. Mmm." Even the prosaic Liese, purred in his luxurious voice, became incredibly sexy.
My insides clenched, parts that had lain dormant for nearly two years. Jingling jump drives, I did not want to be attracted to any male, certainly not one so casually, devastatingly sensual. "I prefer Ms. Schmett —"
"I prefer Liese. Liese." Logan repeated my name slowly, as if he were tasting it. "So melodic. I'd say beautiful, but I don't want to get slapped again. Who hurt you so badly?"
I was already off-balance. That question, coming totally out of the blue, zapped me dumb. I stared at him, trying to reboot my brain into some semblance of an answer. Finally I spat, "Right. It can't be you making me angry. It has to be me. Some deep personal trauma from my past."
Logan cupped my chin with gentle fingers. "Anger often covers hurt —"
"What are you, a fricking psychoanalyst?" Shizzle. Logan Steel thought I was a kicked puppy. He thought I needed stroking and tenderness and care.
And damn me for an idiot, I wanted that. Wanted any man but especially this gorgeous, potent male to stroke me tenderly, to care. The wanting was so strong I actually leaned into his fingers ... tilted my face toward his ... closed my eyes ...
The phone rang again. I jumped. Twisting out of Steel's fingers, I hit connect. "Blood Center."
A guy with a really bad Transylvanian accent said, "I vant to order carryout, bleh."
Carry-out from a blood center, right. Must be a Meiers Corners crazy. "Look, buddy. We aren't Der Burger Himmel. Call them for your Mount Ararat o' Onions fix."
"I do not vant onions, I vant blood. And I am not Buddy. I am Dracula. Bleh."
"Yeah, well, bleh this, Drac. We don't do carryout. If you want blood, come in and sign up like the rest of the world."
"I cannot. I am in prison, bleh."
Why was I not surprised? "Tough break. Tell you what — I'll send you the forms. Dracula, care of Castle Dracula, Transylvania?"
"Care of Meiers Corners Verk Camp."
I knew the place. Daycare for people who weren't quite in the same time zone as the rest of the Earth. "Fine." I tapped a few keys. "Papers are on their way." I hung up.
"That was nice of you," Logan said.
Another surge of warmth hit me. Immediately I quashed it. "Since when is rude and sarcastic nice?"
"You listened to him." He shrugged. "Not many people would take the time to talk with a psychotic."
"Yeah, I get the Nobel Nice Prize. What does that work order say, anyway?" I held out my hand. Business, the only solid ground in Swamp du Logan.
Logan's smile became slightly mocking, as if he knew I was running scared. But his long fingers dipped into the pocket over his superb butt (and why, oh why was I still noticing his ass?) and he pulled out the folded paper.
"It's for a full system." He passed it to me. "That's why I wanted to talk to you."
"Now I know you're lying. When you came in, you didn't even know who I was." I scanned the paper, several columns of densely packed numbers and technical terms. It was hard to read, except for the bottom line. That said five hundred thousand dollars.
"I knew I wanted L. Schmetterling." Logan's lazy shrug somehow emphasized the power in his shoulders. "I knew you worked nights. Since my appointments keep me busy all day, I was hoping you could pass a message to Schmetterling. How fortunate he turned out to be you."
"How fortunate," I echoed caustically, staring at the work order. It was hard to understand a half-million-dollar system at our Center. Not that upgrading our ancient alarm was a bad idea. Meiers Corners was as safe as Mayberry R.F.D., but occasionally I had noticed blood missing. Not a lot, but enough to start me wondering — and worrying. One of my jobs was to keep track of it. Would I get fired (again) over a few lost pints?
I needed this job, and not just for the income. "All this for a few thousand units a month? Are you sure you have the right place?"
"Call your executive director if you don't believe me."
"You think I won't?" My chin kicked up.
Logan's bright blond hair swayed as he shook his head, not in denial, but in gentle disbelief. "You really have some trust issues, don't you, princess?"
"I certainly do not." It came out too fast. I suppressed a grimace. "I just don't understand most of this order."
Excerpted from "Biting Me Softly"
Copyright © 2010 Mary Hughes.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
5 Fangs! "I absolutely love Mary’s sense of humor which comes out in the richness of her characters…At times, it’s laugh out loud funny and at others, well between all the action, danger, steamy hot hook ups, it’s also a touching renewal of faith in falling in love." ~ Reviewed by Sidhe Vicious Reviews Five Angels! Recommended Read! "I love, love, love Mary Hughes' writing style. It revs me up and keeps me going from the sheer excitement…I do believe that each time Ms Hughes delivers a new hero to her voracious fans they become hotter and sexier…Each time I think that I can love no other character as much as the previous one she gives birth to a new empyrean delight to torture and beguile the reader." ~ Reviewed by Hayley for Fallen Angel Reviews Five Cherries! "Of course, this being a Mary Hughes story, it wouldn’t be complete without hot, biting vampire sex. I recommend that this be read in front of the fan, on high, with plenty of cold drinks." ~ Reviewed by Holly for Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviews