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Grace Under Pressure
By Melissa Schroeder
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2006 Melissa Schroeder
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGrace sat in the passenger seat of Ren's truck with her head back and her eyes closed. Every time he glanced at her, the streetlights cast a pallor to her skin he knew wasn't as bad in reality, but it still irritated him. Hell, anger boiled so hot in his blood he worried what he would do when he found out who had pushed her down those stairs. He pulled into his driveway. "Grace," he said in a husky whisper. "Honey, we need to get you in the house."
She smiled then opened her eyes. She looked around in confusion. "What are we doing here?"
"I think you need stay with me tonight. As soon as I get you into the house, I'll go get your mutt."
The smile returned, but a with a seductive edge. "So, you were lying to Gabriel?" It took him a second or two, then he remembered his comment about jumping her bones.
"No. It's probably safer at my house." Okay, a stupid argument, but even he could not explain the surge of protectiveness threatening to black out any of the good intentions he had. She wrinkled her nose at the stupid suggestion. Okay, so even she knew it didn't ring true. Maybe she would take pity on him, and let it pass.
"You mean your house, across the street from mine, is safer?"
No luck. He had no luck when it came to fooling women.
"Your house was broken into yesterday. You have to admit that."
That cute little crease formed between her eyebrows like every time she was thinking. Before he knew what he was doing, he leaned over and kissed the little wrinkle. Surprised, she looked up. Then, her lips curved into a smile full of warmth and sex that shot right down to his gut. Electricity crackled between them. Her lips parted as if waiting for a kiss. Craving but not taking her had been driving him insane. He wanted her with a need that bordered on sexual obsession. He was in serious trouble, but there was nothing he could do.
His hand slid to the nape of her neck, and tangled in those amber curls as he drew the two of them close. The minute his lips touched hers, he knew he'd lost the battle. Her lips were cool and dry, but this time he hadn't surprised her. She had seen the kiss coming, and returned it with enthusiasm. His tongue tickled the line of her sealed lips, and she opened them without hesitation, moaning in appreciation.
His other hand found her breast, and as he plundered her mouth, he massaged and kneaded. The fabric of her jacket hindered his exploration. Without breaking the kiss, his hand slid down the front, unbuttoning it. Once undone, his hand stole inside her jacket and he realized she wore nothing beneath but a bra, one of those lacy half-cup ones that pushed up her breasts. His finger traced the edge, while lightly skimming her flesh that pressed against it. He ignored the fact that his hand shook when he touched her. He teased her by sliding his finger into the cup and gliding it over her nipple. His balls tightened as he moved his finger to the strap, and pulled it down off her shoulder. One extra little tug, and her breast sprang free.
She broke off the kiss, allowing her head to tip back, her eyes still closed. His lips traveled down her exposed throat, flicking his tongue against her hot flesh while his finger began to trace a circle around her nipple. She moaned, an earthy, sensual sound that slid into his stomach and down his spine. Completely genuine, that one little moan was one of the most erotic sounds he'd ever heard.
He continued the descent down her neck to her chest and was within centimeters of devouring her nipple. There wasn't much light inside his truck, but he could make out the puckered bud in the weak glow from one of the nearby streetlights. Blood rushed to his cock. He groaned, and took the nipple into his mouth. He suckled and licked, and her moans increased.
A different beam of light shone through the back window of the truck. Grace let out a groan that skittered through his system. He decided to ignore it.
"Grace," a soft female voice said. "Are you in there?"
Somewhere in his hormone-soaked mind, he recognized that voice. He lifted his head and looked at Grace. Her jacket was undone, her bra half off, and her beautiful rosy-brown nipple glistened from his kiss.
Reason warred with hormones. Reason finished a distant second. He bent his head to take the nipple in his mouth again, when he heard the voice again, only much closer this time.
Then it clicked. That soft, southern voice belonged to the woman he'd rented his house from: Adrienne Michaels, with whom he'd spoken on the phone frequently enough to recognize by voice. He abruptly lifted his head.
"Grace, honey, your mother is standing at the rear of the truck with a flashlight," he said as he pulled the bra strap back up on Grace's shoulder, and had to work the cup back up over that beautiful puckered nipple. He couldn't help himself, and brushed the back of his knuckles over it, happy to see a rush of goose bumps across her chest. Hastily he buttoned her jacket, and looked at her.
"My mother?" she asked, her voice was still husky with passion. The implication of what he said registered and her eyes widened. "My mother?" Her voice raised in worry. Her smile disappeared. "What the hell is my mother doing here?" The last question came out in a whisper, and she crouched down in her seat, trying to hide.
"I have no idea."
As he reached for the door handle, her mother said, "Grace Beatrice Michaels, get out of there right now!"
Excerpted from Grace Under Pressure by Melissa Schroeder Copyright © 2006 by Melissa Schroeder. Excerpted by permission.
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