100 Shades of Sin...
Though I held a claim over him, Dane Bax owned me. Possessed me. Call it whatever you wished, he had become my world. My lifeblood. Someone and something I couldn't exist without.
Ari cannot live without Dane. She lives him, breathes him, and aches for pleasures he gives her night after night. But not all is safe in Ari's world. When a group of vicious men hell-bent on ruining Dane shatters their bliss, Ari is left alone and bereft, save for her best friend Kyle, who has loved her since he first laid eyes on her.
Kyle knows that Ari's heart truly belongs to another, but he will still do everything he can to protect Ari...and hope that he can seduce her as he does. Kyle is loving, kind, desirable, and completely someone that Ari could fall for. But even as she and Dane are separated by the most dire of circumstances, she will not give up on the man who has shaken her to her very core...in Flash Burned by Calista Fox.
About the Author
Calista is a former PR professional, now writing fast-paced, steamy books to set your pulse racing! Her debut St. Martin’s Press trilogy opens with BURNED DEEP and concludes with a new book four, starring the trilogy’s secondary hero! She has won many Reviewer’s and Reader’s Choice Awards, as well as Best Book Awards and other competitions with publication as first prize. Calista is a Past President/Advisor of the Phoenix chapter of the Romance Writers of America national organization.
Read an Excerpt
By Calista Fox
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Calista Fox
All rights reserved.
I woke with a start and sat bolt upright, the chill still holding me hostage, despite the warmth emitted from the blaze in the hearth. I shoved perspiration-dampened, plump dark-brown curls from my face as my heavy breaths echoed in the quiet bedroom.
Heart thundering, pulse raging.
My gaze flashed to the empty side of the California king Dane and I shared. To the tall windows in his creekside house. To the clock on the nightstand next to me.
A little after three in the morning.
I barely had time to process the nightmare I'd just had — the vicious game Vale Hilliard continued to play in my mind — when Dane barreled through the double doors to our room.
"Ari." His emerald eyes were wild and filled with alarm.
"I'm okay," I quickly assured him, though I couldn't slow my breathing.
When he saw I was unharmed, he purposely schooled his hard features into softer angles. I'd witnessed his attempt to calm himself in front of me, to not be so enraged looking over what had happened in that canyon, and to not put me on-edge over the action he'd taken when he'd seen the blood on my face, my wrists bound to the rafters.
There'd been no snakes or scorpions. But I had been in Vale's clutches. That had shredded Dane.
"Ari," he repeated in a low tone. "What happened?"
"Nightmare. I woke myself. I'm all right."
I watched him try to loosen his stone jaw, with no luck. I must have screamed aloud, not just in my sleep. And it haunted him, the way the memory of that day in the half-constructed house did. The way it had torn us apart until we couldn't stand another second of the pain and I'd come to him here, making him swear we'd never be at anyone's mercy again. That we'd never be away from each other.
The latter was a necessity. We were fated, each desperately needing what the other offered. The former wasn't exactly a vow easy to make when the affluent Dane Bax was about to open the most exclusive hotel on the continent — and his former investors still wanted a piece of the pie.
I inhaled deeply, let out a long stream of air. Tried to steady myself, in hopes of wiping that guilt-ridden and tormented expression from his devilishly handsome face. "You just ... You weren't here."
I'd felt his absence at the onset of the nightmare. Perhaps that was why, this time, I'd been left alone in the house, instead of Vale being there — threatening and sinister, but eventually defeated by Dane.
Not tonight. I'd been on my own, my most menacing fears unleashed. Including a missing Dane, who was supposed to rescue me.
He crossed the room in long strides and sat on the bed. The mattress dipped with his sturdy weight and it caused me to lean toward him. I clasped one of his rock-hard biceps to stable myself. And because he was too damn tempting.
His shirt had been tossed aside long ago, when he'd made love to me before we'd curled together and I'd drifted off to sleep, naked in his arms. I'd discovered from the very first night I'd spent in his bed that nothing compared to having his heat and commanding presence surrounding me. All those muscles. He would envelop me from behind, creating a cocoon of bliss and safety.
So much so that when he slipped away in the middle of the night I sensed it subconsciously.
"You didn't mention you had work," I said as he gently stroked my hair.
"Something occurred to me, and I had to speak with Nikolai. Different time zone in Moscow. It couldn't wait and I didn't want to wake him later on."
I nodded. Dane and his legitimate investors were doing everything in their power to bring down the more corrupt members of a poli-econ secret society they belonged to, and I knew that was significant enough to weigh heavily on everyone's mind, day and night. Regardless of time zones.
"I understand." I shifted closer to him and he pulled me into his strong embrace.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
"No, it's okay. I have to get past all of this, find some way to stop freaking out every time you're not right here with me."
Granted, it wasn't as though I could seek professional help for this particular ailment. I couldn't exactly explain to a shrink that my boyfriend was part of a descendant Bavarian Illuminati faction that had turned dark and dangerous with insatiable greed. And he and some of the others fought desperately to extricate themselves from the oath they'd taken long before things had gone awry. Because, now, the actions of the corrupt members crept toward deadly — as I knew personally. Making time of the essence.
"Ari," he said against my temple. "I love you. There's nothing I want to protect more than you."
My fingers grazed his tight jaw. "I know. But there's something else that's important to remain focused on, Dane. 10,000 Lux. It's your vision, your dream. Everything you've been fighting for — something that means the world to me, too."
With an agitated sigh, he untangled himself and stood. He turned toward the windows and stared out into the inky night, jamming his hands into the pockets of his loose, pewter-colored pants. Frustration and anger rolled off him in waves.
I climbed out of bed and, from behind, wrapped my arms around him. One hand splayed over the corrugated grooves of his abdomen, the other flattened against his hard pectoral ledge. He was too magnificently built not to touch. Six-foot-three, broad shouldered, tanned and toned, with lush, strategically mussed black hair and beautiful, mesmerizing green eyes.
I leaned into him, my bare breasts pressing to his heavily muscled back. I kissed his warm skin as his hands covered mine. The chill abated.
"I know you're doing everything you can to save the Lux," I said. "You, Ethan, Qadir, and Nikolai. Even Amano."
Amano had been head of security for Dane's father. Though Dane's parents had died in a plane crash when he was just a month old, Amano had stayed on at the family estate in Philadelphia where Dane's aunt had raised him.
The others were part of the small, generational secret society Dane had broken sacred rules to tell me about. For my own good, and because I'd insisted on knowing everything he was embroiled in.
Getting involved with a mysterious billionaire had posed a huge risk from the start, but it'd proven inevitable from the moment I'd laid eyes on Dane.
"We're not far from the launch of the Lux," I said. "A little over a month. Everything's going as planned. No more mishaps. Clearly, the botching of Vale's ransom attempt, combined with whatever it is you and the others have done to stand your ground, is working."
It was two days before Thanksgiving. The grand opening of 10,000 Lux was scheduled for New Year's Eve, with a jaw-dropping list of celebrities, global political and financial leaders, and other VIPs who had already RSVP'd to the event of the decade. The Lux was the height of opulence, and memberships were costly and exclusive. In high demand.
It had been seven or so weeks since I'd been kidnapped, a pawn to get Dane to reinstate the original investment team. Since then, we'd been blessed with smooth sailing — with the exception of my occasional nightmares, which left Dane tense with fury and remorseful that I'd been caught in the crossfire.
He said, "We've come to a silent truce. But I won't take any chances."
That meant I still had a bodyguard. The six-foot-six, solidly built, dark-haired, mid-fifties, incredibly formidable Amano. A man wholly dedicated to his charge.
"I know everything will turn out fine, exactly as you want it." Dane was a perfectionist, and powerful enough to get what he wanted. "The only thing wrong at the moment is that I'm naked and you're not inside me."
He growled. A low, carnal sound that sent heat ribboning through me in the most alluring way.
He unraveled my arms from him and shoved off his pants. Lacing his fingers with mine, he led us to the bed. He climbed in first and held the covers up as I slipped in beside him.
We snuggled in the luxurious sateen bedding, facing each other.
Dane swept a curl from my temple. His touch was tender, though his eyes blazed.
"Believe me," he said in his rich, intimate voice. "It didn't go unnoticed that you were naked."
I smiled. "I know." My fingertips grazed his erection before wrapping around the base. Sliding my hand slowly up and down his thick shaft caused him to let out another seductive, sexy noise. Excitement flared low in my belly.
His lips tangled with mine. Sensuous, tongueless kisses that drew me in, so that I forgot all about snakes and scorpions and scary extortion plots.
I sighed contentedly against Dane's lips. "You make everything fade away, dissolve into the background."
"Good," he murmured as he gently tugged at the corner of my mouth with his.
I pulled in a long breath, loving the smell of him. Male heat, a hint of sandalwood, and the enticing scent I could only describe as raw virility. Maybe that didn't qualify as a fragrance, but it exuded from him, encapsulating his masculinity and power.
I breathed him in, feeling a heady rush from the intoxicating aroma. All that strength and confidence. The dark, intense beauty of him. Everything about this man permeated my senses and left me burning for his talented touch, his stirring kisses.
"Make love to me," I whispered.
"Any way you want it, baby."
Ah, decisions ...
He had a healthy sexual appetite and a clever repertoire. I was certain that even after several months together he still hadn't done to me everything he wanted.
But as my hand continued to pump, I had a change of plans.
"On your back," I quietly ordered.
He crooked a brow.
Okay, so he was the commanding one in the relationship. Dane had never once denied me anything, though. And now was no exception. I released him and he did as I asked.
I straddled his waist, my hands gliding over muscles that flexed beneath my fingertips. He clasped my hips and raised me slightly, easing me back.
"Not yet," I said, resisting him, though every fiber of my being ached to feel him thrusting deep. I had something else in mind. "You know how much I love your body."
"And you know I'm not complaining about that. But once you get me going ..."
"Yeah," I said, leaning forward and nipping his lower lip. "It gets all hot and sweaty between us."
I kissed him long and leisurely, our tongues twisting. His grip on my hips tightened. Our kiss deepened, turning provocative and passionate. I threaded my fingers through his silken hair and let him take the lead. Until I was restless and returning to my deviated plan.
Dragging my mouth from his, I kissed my way over his jaw and down the thick cords of his neck. My hands continued to caress his chest as I moved lower. He relinquished his hold on me and I licked one of his small nipples. Bit it affectionately, making his hips jerk. Then I ran my tongue along his abs, tasting him, admiring all the ridges and warm flesh.
"Ari," he muttered sexily. His hands plowed through my hair, lifting the strands up and away from my shoulders and face. His cock nudged my opening.
I grinned coyly. "I told you ... not yet."
Shifting lower, I kissed my way downward, over his pelvis. My lips brushed along him, from base to tip.
"You little tease," he ground out.
"I think you can handle it."
"Don't be so sure. Once you get started like this, it's not easy for me to stop."
I slid my tongue along the grooved underside of his smooth head, then closed my lips over him, suckling softly at first while my fist pumped again, unrushed.
"Christ, Ari." He sighed. "Baby."
Flicking my tongue over the indentation caused a bead of pre-cum to form and I licked it up. Then I took him deep and sucked hard.
His hips bucked. His fingers tightened the strands he held before he caught himself and loosened them. "Ari. You're pushing me to the edge."
I loved how he responded to everything I did to him.
My fingers unfurled and I slid my hand down to gently massage his sac, carefully rolling his balls as I took him in as far as I could again.
"Just like that," he said in a strained voice.
I worked him in the way that made his breath come in sharp pulls. My tongue caressing, my teeth ever so lightly scraping on occasion, my mouth suckling.
"That's it, baby." He groaned. "You do it just right. You could make me come in a heartbeat."
I knew he wouldn't, though. There were times when I'd get him off like this, but since I'd gone on the pill and we didn't need a condom, he preferred to come inside me. It was what I wanted, too. Needing to feel all of him, including his release deep in my core. From the first time I'd experienced the rush of heat and moisture, I'd been forever addicted.
My head bobbed a little faster and I heard the hitch in his breath. His cock pulsed in my mouth and I knew I tested his restraint.
When he was close to the boiling point, his hands shifted to my shoulders. "Don't make me lose it," he insisted. "I want to make love to you." He guided me up his body while I left feathery kisses on his skin.
He kept leading me until his head was positioned between my legs, my knees on the mattress above his shoulders. The low headboard was tufted with distressed brown leather that matched all the chairs and the sofa in the room. A wide wooden ledge held a few expensive, artistic knickknacks and above it were framed sketches of various historic transportation schematics, with lighting to showcase them that was currently turned off. The only illumination came from the embers in the fireplace.
I leaned against the pile of pillows along the headboard and propped my forearms on the ledge as Dane's mouth covered me. A raspy moan fell from my parted lips. My spine arched and my long curls tumbled down my back. Lowering my hips, I pressed myself against him.
"You get so wet for me," he whispered, his warm breath teasing my sensitive flesh.
"Impossible not to. Just thinking about what you might do excites me. Actually, just looking at you does the trick."
"But this is how you like to come. With my mouth on you."
"One of many, many ways." Everything he did was thrilling. I could never get enough of him.
His lips tugged at my slick folds, toying with me as an electric current raced through my veins.
I let out a lusty sigh. Dane got serious.
The tip of his tongue flicked over my clit as the tiny bud pulsed with an erratic beat.
"Yes." My heavy eyelids closed and I concentrated solely on how wonderful it felt to have him licking and suckling, driving me wild. He'd been the first and only man to ever pleasure me this way. Every time he did, I was so relieved he'd issued a nothing's off-limits ultimatum when we'd started our secret affair. That I'd accepted his demands.
It hadn't been easy, but now, as I climbed that beautiful peak he always took me to, I had to admit he'd freed me from my intimacy- phobic shackles.
"Dane," I whispered as the scintillating sensations heightened. "I'm so, so close."
He worked me a bit feverishly, his tongue fluttering over my clit.
"Yes," I moaned. "Christ."
I twisted slightly and slipped a finger into my pussy from behind, pumping slowly. Not to be outdone, he eased in two fingers with mine and quickened the pace.
"Oh, fuck," I gasped.
The flutter against the knot of nerves between my legs increased in tempo as well. The tension mounted.
"Come for me," he commanded. "Now."
He suckled deep. I erupted. "Oh! Dane!"
He didn't let up, and I quaked from the powerful release that went on and on. My body vibrating, my insides sizzling.
"You taste so fucking good." His words and his hot breath on my quivering skin kept my pulse jumping.
It took some time for me to be able to speak. "You want to be in me now, right?" My pussy throbbed with an incessant need for him.
I certainly wasn't above begging — had done it many times before. But Dane didn't disappoint. He withdrew his fingers and changed positions on the mattress, coming up on his knees behind me.
I returned to my propped-on-forearms position, back still bowed, my ass in the air. His supple yet strong hands cupped my cheeks, kneading almost roughly. I hadn't pinpointed which body part of mine he liked the most, since he devoted equal attention to them all and diligently admired the entire package.
He playfully smacked my ass, jolting me.
"Hey," I tossed over my shoulder. "That was for what, exactly?"
With a devilish grin and fire in his eyes, he said, "For being a bad girl and almost making me come in your mouth."
"You like it when I'm bad."
"And when you're soft and sweet."
"But that's not what you want right now."
"You want me half out of my mind while you fuck me."
My stomach flipped. The throbbing in my core intensified. "What are you waiting for?"
His fingers slid along my cleft, sweeping back and forth over my pussy lips and then massaging my clit. "I don't think you're wet enough."
"I'm plenty wet. So ready for you." Everything about the man lit me up, whether he was touching me or not. I more than wanted him — I craved him. Had to have him.
"I don't know, baby." He gazed heatedly at me. "I'm really worked up over you. You do a phenomenal job of sucking my cock."
My cheeks burned, though I should be used to his bedroom talk by now.
"I want you," I simply said.
Excerpted from Flash Burned by Calista Fox. Copyright © 2016 Calista Fox. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I read Burned Deep, there was no indication that it was the first in a series. It wasn’t until I read the Epilogue that I even suspected that there was more to come for Dane and Ari. In fact, the author ended the book in such a way that left their story open for more, yet was complete enough to stand on its own. But when I saw the Goodreads listing for Flash Burned I KNEW that it was the next book in the series – again, it was not marked as such (at the time), but Ari and Dane’s presence made it clear to me that it was the sequel. It was both a relief and a bit bittersweet when I marked Flash Burned as “currently reading” on Goodreads today because I learned that it is indeed the second book in the trilogy. I was torn between “Yay! There’s another book coming.” and “Boo! There’s only one more book.” Upon finishing Flash Burned, I’m still not sure which way I’m leaning because this installment was an action-packed thrill-ride and as much as I want to find out how it all ends, I don’t want it to end. Even though it’s only been four months since I read Burned Deep, in my world that’s well over a hundred books read since then. So I thought it best to reread the last couple of chapters in book one to refresh my memory of events and re-immerse myself in Ari and Dane’s world. This turned out to be a good thing because, oh my goodness, I forgot what Ari had endured at the hands of Dane’s enemies. It also made it so easy to be gripped by the panic and fear of her nightmare that the book opens with. Aside from Ari’s nightmares, the first part of Flash Burned is actually such a relief after what she and Dane endured in Burned Deep. The preparations for the opening of 10,000 Lux are going smoothly, with Ari’s return to her position as event planner and the end of the sabotage attempts by Dane’s enemies. Of course, Kyle is not happy that Ari has returned to Lux and Dane, but he believes it’s only a matter of time before Dane messes up and Ari will need Kyle’s support and friendship. Unfortunately for everyone, Kyle is called upon after tragedy strikes and rips Ari’s entire world apart … again. Because Flash Burned and the Burned Deep series are firmly within the romantic suspense genre, I can’t say much more about the story itself (and I consulted the blurb to make sure I didn’t reveal anything that wasn’t already alluded to within it). I will say that Ari is once again taken on a rollercoaster ride of emotions with far too many hills to climb and drops to endure. Fox does a nice job of balancing out the happy times, the sad times, and the terrifying times, within the framework of the elements of suspense (vague enough for you?) that are hounding the couple. Dane continues to work on bringing the “rogue” members down via legal channels, but they prove once again that their reach is long and deadly. Although I don’t like Kyle’s frequent attempts to discourage Ari from Dane, I did appreciate the friendship he offers her. He more than proves his loyalty to her several times over the course of the book, and I really hope that he finds someone (not Ari) to make him happy because he deserves it. There is so much more going on in this installment that I just can’t talk about – and that ending! However, I loved Flash Burned and cannot wait to get my hands on the final installment in the Burned Deep trilogy. I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
Though I held a claim over him, Dane Bax owned me. Possessed me. Call it whatever you wished, he had become my world. My lifeblood. Someone and something I couldn't exist without. Ari cannot live without Dane. She lives him, breathes him, and aches for pleasures he gives her night after night. But not all is safe in Ari's world. When a group of vicious men hell-bent on ruining Dane shatters their bliss, Ari is left alone and bereft, save for her best friend Kyle, who has loved her since he first laid eyes on her. Kyle knows that Ari's heart truly belongs to another, but he will still do everything he can to protect Ari...and hope that he can seduce her as he does. Kyle is loving, kind, desirable, and completely someone that Ari could fall for. But even as she and Dane are separated by the most dire of circumstances, she will not give up on the man who has shaken her to her very core... Review: This next installment takes off where the last one ended. Like the first book it is full of secrets, intrigue and action. Though to me this story has a more emotional quality to the story. The consuming love story between Dane and Ari is so emotional and explosive. I don't want to give away some important plot points, but there is major event and for most of the story I wanted to cry for Ari. This is a trilogy so there is a HEA for now but not a resolution to the continuing story. It looks as though the focus of the next book maybe Kyle from the epilogue. Intriguing and engrossing story and characters that I cannot wait to see what happens next! 4Stars *Received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*