Nadia Spiceland works in the business of temptation. The confections she crafts at the Sugar and Spice Bakery and Café lure in the locals. But one customer is interested in more than just her delectable sticky buns…
Kane Sullivan teaches human sexuality at the nearby college, where coeds are clamoring for seats in his lectures. Nadia is reluctant to his advances, yet she also has needs. Who better to fulfill them than the man who’s referred to as “Dr. Sex” by his female students?
Soon Kane creates a hunger in Nadia that nothing can satiate. It weakens her, and that’s something she cannot risk. Not again. But Kane’s masterful touch might just be powerful enough to melt her heart—and free her to trust again…
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
“Girlfriend’s working a new ’do, I see,” Audie slyly observed as Nadia joined her friends at the café table. “Anything we should know?”
The other two women—Vanessa Longfellow and Nadia’s business partner, Siobhan Malloy—looked at her in expectation. “I felt like a change, is all,” Nadia told them, one hand reaching for her hair. She’d paid the stylist more money than she felt comfortable spending post-Hollywood, but couldn’t deny the results. Her no-nonsense ponytail was gone, replaced by a shoulder-length layered cut with streaks of burgundy and copper highlighting the dark brown.
“Uh-huh,” Siobhan said. “You suddenly felt like a change. Anything to do with that anniversary we just celebrated?”
“Thanks, Siobhan.” Nadia rolled her eyes. Yeah, she’d just celebrated her fourth “birthday”—four years being drug free—but she was also staring thirty in the face like a deer caught in headlights. These women made it bearable: Siobhan “Sugar” Malloy, the best business partner a girl could want, and Audie and Vanessa, two women she hadn’t known six months ago. She’d met them for the first time when she and Siobhan had decided to keep the café open late on Tuesday nights as a meeting place for a variety of support groups. It didn’t matter what the person had survived—burnout, divorce, abusive relationships, or, in Siobhan’s and Nadia’s case, drug addiction—all were welcome. It quickly became a necessary component of their week, a guaranteed time to decompress and talk about anything.
“I just think it’s time,” she finally said. “Time for a fresh start, a fresh look.”
“Which can only mean one thing!” Vanessa exclaimed. “Our girl’s ready to wade into the dating pool again.”
“About time you decide to put yourself out there.” Siobhan sipped her tea, her blue-gray eyes sparkling. “You’re too young to be a nun.”
“So are you, partner,” Nadia shot back. “Especially with all those studs at your burlesque shows standing around with their tongues hanging out like a pack of dogs fighting over a juicy steak.”
“Yeah.” Siobhan snorted. “A thirty-five-year-old steak.”
“Like they care when they see that smoking-hot bod you’ve got.” Nadia shook her head. “Anyway, I don’t think there was anything wrong with being married to the job for a little while. We had to focus on getting Sugar and Spice off the ground. It was worth all the time, blood, sweat, and tears we put into it.”
“Damn right, it was.” Audie waved her peanut butter and bacon muffin. “This is the best damn thing I’ve ever eaten, and it doesn’t even have chocolate in it!”
“No one’s saying it wasn’t,” Siobhan said. “We did what we had to do to make this place a success. I think it’s okay to ease up a little bit now. And I definitely think it’s time for you to have a relationship.”
“No! No.” Nadia waved her hands. “Sex, yes. Relationship, no. I want the feels without all the drama. Like a male escort.”
Vanessa, the proper one of the bunch, narrowed her eyes. “You do know that’s illegal, right?”
“Geesh, guys, I’m not stupid. I’m not looking for danger, but I’m not looking for true love either. I don’t even believe it exists. I just think it’s time for me, for all of us, to think about what makes us happy on multiple levels and take some time to pursue it. If we get a little something-something in the meantime, that’s just gravy.”
“You’ve obviously been thinking about this a lot,” Siobhan remarked. “So spill the secrets you saw in the tea leaves.”
Nadia ignored the sarcasm. “Yeah, I have been thinking. My track record with relationships sucks. The best one I’ve ever had was with my therapist, and all I did was talk his ear off for an hour every week. How messed up is that?”
She sighed. “So, no to relationships. But sex? Bring it on. The wilder the better.”
A wicked glint lit Audie’s eyes. At twenty-five, she was the youngest and most sexually liberated of them, sometimes overly so, which was why she’d joined their Tuesday night group. “So you want to let your freak flag fly? I betcha you can find a couple of college boys who’ll step up for fun sexy-times. I could hook you up.”
“No!” Siobhan and Vanessa said together. Vanessa put a hand on Audie’s forearm. “No offense, chica, but your taste in men needs an upgrade. Nadia doesn’t need a douche bag for this.”
Nadia laughed at Audie’s outraged expression. “No boys, no matter the stamina,” she clarified. “I want a man. A man who’s into more than vanilla sex. A man who will bend me over the sofa a time or two.”
“Go on, girl.” They leaned in closer.
Nadia’s voice rose. “I want a man who knows that The Perfumed Garden isn’t a boutique in the mall.”
“I want a man with a cock that should be classified as a weapon of mass seduction.”
“I know that’s right!”
“I want a man who doesn’t freak out when you successfully hit the male version of the G-spot while sucking him dry.”
“Okay already! We got it. God.” Vanessa swallowed some of her iced tea, then peered into the glass. “I think I need some Long Island in this tea now.”
“Sorry, Nessa.” Nadia smiled at the group. “You know I’ve just had my imagination and my B.O.B. for the last few years, and there’s only so much the battery-operated boyfriend can do. I’m ready for more. I’m going to get my happy on, dammit. And right now, being happy means no more goody-two-shoes.”
“Here’s to no more goody-two-shoes.” Siobhan raised her glass. “At least when it comes to sex.”
The others raised their cups and mugs and echoed her. “At least when it comes to sex!”
“Okay, I have a question,” Audie said as she set her mug down. “What’s this Perfumed Garden stuff? I mean, it really does sound like a store in the mall.”
“It’s not.” Nadia pushed her bangs back. “It’s basically an Arabic erotic text from the sixteenth century or so. Kinda like the Kama Sutra.”
“So, Nadia.” Vanessa’s smile was completely predatory as the other women sipped their drinks. “Got anyone in particular on your radar?”
“At the moment, no one.” Nadia cut her eyes at Vanessa, wondering at the sly grin that curved her lips. “I just made my mind up to jump into this. You know that.”
“All righty, then.” Vanessa rubbed her hands together. “I’ll make a suggestion.”
“It’s not somebody Audie’s dated, is it?”
“I don’t think so. What about the professor over there?” Vanessa tossed her chin toward the front windows, where they had several plush chairs and side tables set aside for those who liked to linger. A dark-haired man sat in one of the chairs, a tablet in one hand. He came in often, becoming a regular over the last few weeks, always ordering a matcha tea latte and a sticky bun.
“He’s a professor?” Nadia asked Vanessa, who also taught at Herscher University, the research institution that the town of Crimson Bay had been built around.
“He is. Dr. Kaname Sullivan is his name. I think he more than meets your requirements, based on what I’ve heard.”
They all leaned closer to Vanessa. “What have you heard?” Siobhan asked.
Vanessa blotted at her lips with a delicate pat of her napkin. How the bronze-skinned woman managed to eat and drink without marring her plum lipstick was a skill Nadia admired and envied. “He teaches human sexuality, and his classes are always packed. Almost all the students—the female ones, at least—call him Professor Sex. Apparently he practices what he teaches.”
“Really.” Audie’s voice had a purr to it, like a lazy cat deciding it was time to go hunting.
Vanessa shot Audie a quelling glance. “Sheathe your claws, missy,” she ordered, before turning back to Nadia. “He became a household name after consulting on a high-profile sexual predator case down in Los Angeles. He’s written a couple of successful nonfiction books and consulted with the FBI on some of their more twisted cases.”
“Wow.” Nadia sat back. “Sounds impressive.” And way out of my league.
Vanessa grinned. “More than that, I think he’s interested in you.”
“What?” Nadia spluttered into her iced latte. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I think you do,” Vanessa said in that cultured voice of hers. “He’s been in here every day we have. In the same spot. And he hasn’t taken a bite of that sticky bun in two minutes. That’s suspicious enough right there.”
Nadia refrained from looking at the man in question again. She remembered the first day he’d come into the café. He’d been upset about something—his tie partially undone, his thick hair mussed as if he’d ran his fingers through it repeatedly. She’d pointed him at a chair then brought him the sweet bun and green tea latte without asking him for his preference. He’d taken it, tasted it, and instantly transformed his mood. The smile he’d given her as he’d thanked her had elevated him from nice-looking to handsome, but that had been as far as she’d allowed herself to go back then. Now, though, was a different story.
Maybe the professor had earned his nickname. Still, there was a vast difference in being an expert on sex and an expert at sex. She darted a quick glance at the man in question, currently pretending to thumb through his tablet. Good-looking in a geeky sort of way, he seemed to be a mix of Asian and European with thick, swept-back dark hair and a goatee framing his angular face, his eyes hidden behind wire-rimmed glasses. Dressed in a navy blazer, pale blue shirt, and khakis, he was definitely not her usual type, though lately she hadn’t had a type at all.
She shook her head. “I don’t know.”
Audie bit into her muffin, suppressing a moan of pleasure. “Come on, Nadia. You just declared your sexual reawakening. You can’t chicken out now. Especially if you can get with Professor Sex.”
“I’m not chickening out. I just . . .” Her voice faded as she looked at the professor again. This time he looked back. She blinked. Whoa.
The intensity of his gaze stifled her breath and pulled her in. Everything else fell away as their gazes locked and held. She could read challenge and command in his midnight eyes even though his glasses partially concealed them. He’d gone from geeky to gawd-damn in five seconds, and her body instinctively responded, her nipples pebbling, her core clenching. Damn, it had been too long since she’d gotten laid, and she was ready, so very ready. If Professor Sex offered, she’d have to take him up on it.
He raised an eyebrow, and her breath shortened. Then he smiled, and it was so sensual, so full of promise, that she had to shift in her chair. Oh yeah, he was definitely offering. And she was definitely going to accept.
“Earth to Nadia. Come in, Nadia.”
Siobhan waved a hand in front of her eyes, breaking the mesmerizing hold Sullivan had on her. She blinked, surprised to find her friends all staring at her with matching grins. “What?”
“You know what.” Her partner laughed as she pushed Nadia out of her chair. “Professor Sex is waiting on you to check him out. Go get him.”
Kane flipped through files on his tablet to cover his chagrin. The muffin-lover had nailed him perfectly. He’d been biding his time, studying his target, playing on his unobtrusiveness while waiting for the right moment to make his move. Thanks to the redhead, he had to make his move now. At least the afternoon crowd had thinned out, limiting the witnesses to Nadia’s friends.
Nadia Spiceland. He’d wanted her ever since he’d entered the café angry over something or someone he couldn’t remember. She’d pointed him to a quiet corner then brought over a pastry of some sort and a cup of tea, a strong, bitter matcha that had reminded him of his mother. That, combined with the scent of baked goods and premium coffee, had calmed him down almost instantly, and one bite into the pastry had made him a goner. Nadia’s heart-shaped face, the ready smile on her full lips, and the way she remembered all the regulars had completely won him over. The sweet curve of her hips and high, full breasts only added to her allure. He wanted her for all that she was and for all the things she wasn’t: a student, faculty, shy, or married.
He wanted her because the look in her eyes challenged him, dared him to try to please her. He’d gone hard hearing her sexual declaration, need gripping him at the image of handling her smooth curves, bending her over a couch and fucking her until they were both too tired to stand. He wanted to feel her gripping him, milking him until he was empty. He just wanted her, period.
He gathered his things, then stood with resolve. So, sweet Nadia Spiceland was free and on the prowl. And most importantly, didn’t want vanilla sex. Good to know. He didn’t do vanilla either.
“Hi, Professor Sullivan.” Nadia gave him her best professional smile as she met him at the counter. She’d always called him “sir” before, and he’d seen no reason to correct that. “Did you enjoy the bun?”
“I think by now you can call me Kaname, or Kane,” he said, trying not to stare at her T-shirt. It looked to be a size or two too small considering the way it hugged her more-than-a-handful breasts and allowed her belly button to peek from beneath the hem. It bore the café’s strategically placed logo, two pin-up style female chefs sitting on the name Sugar and Spice, with the tag line, “Everything nice!”
He gave her a smile as he handed over a twenty. “I always enjoy your buns.”
“Ah, oh.” She grew flustered as she worked the register. “Well, I guess that’s why you’re a repeat customer, right?”
“It’s one of the reasons.” He nodded, then grinned with true appreciation. “No matter what mood I’m in, you seem to have just what I need.”
She dropped his change on the floor. He smiled as he heard her friends giggling at the table behind him.
He leaned over the counter, staring at the line of her back beneath the chocolate-colored T-shirt, the luscious curve of her butt emphasized by the tight low-rise jeans. Damn, he wanted to get his palms on that ass, lick every indentation of her spine. “By the way, I don’t like vanilla either.”
She straightened with a snap, her cinnamon brown eyes deer-in-the-headlights wide. “What?”
“I heard you say that you don’t like vanilla. Neither do I.”
Her mouth worked silently for a moment. “You . . . don’t?”
“Don’t get me wrong, vanilla done well can be extremely satisfying. But there’s nothing wrong with a little spice, some variety, extra flavor on the tongue. Don’t you think?”
She had his change in a death grip, her head down. When she looked at him again, a wicked, challenging light shone in her gaze. He was in trouble.
“I definitely believe in variety being the spice of life, Professor,” she said, her voice low and husky. “It’s why I make sure I offer a little something extra for every taste.”
Let’s see how far she’ll go, he thought. He leaned forward, dropping his voice to match hers. “I’d like to sample more of what you have to offer.”
Her nipples pebbled as he watched. He reflexively licked his lips, his hands curling against the edge of the counter in an effort to resist touching her. He had to remind himself that he was civilized, educated, a world traveler, cultured. One did not throw a woman over one’s shoulder to find the nearest flat surface in a public place. But he wanted to. Oh, how he wanted to.
He forced his gaze back to her face, just in time to see a dimple sprout on her left cheek. “Are you serious?”
“Absolutely. Would you be willing to set up a taste test?”
Her gaze roamed over him, then her lips pursed in what he steadfastly believed was approval. “Are we still talking about desserts?”
The table behind him was silent as a grave. He saw her eyes dart to her friends, then back to him.
“A taste test, huh?” She arched a brow. “I suppose you’re going to try to convince me that you have a sophisticated tongue, capable of handling whatever I decide to offer up for this test?”
He reached out, his hand covering hers. “I think my tongue and I can handle whatever you’re willing to dish out.”
Her dark eyes widened with surprise, then darkened with pleasure. “All right then. How about tonight?” She handed over his change. “I can meet you at Pascal’s, and we can see what happens.”
He took his time taking the money, fingers stroking her palm. “I’ll meet you there at seven. Should I bring my copy?”
“Your copy of what?”
“The Perfumed Garden. It’s more than archaic descriptions and colorful language, you know.”
She blinked at him. “Are you for real?”
“You’ll find out soon enough, right? See you later.”
As Sullivan strolled out of the café, he heard one of the women mutter, “Damn. Anybody got some tequila?”
“I’m so freakin’ nervous!”
Nadia stood in the center of her bedroom in the two-story condo she owned above the café. It had seemed like a great idea at the time, since she had basically lived and breathed her job for the last three years, getting up early to prepare baked goods for the breakfast rush. Now she wondered about the logistics of having a lover over for sexy-times while her employees worked below.
Of course, she had to get to the sexy-times part first.
Five minutes after Sullivan had left the café, Nadia’s friends had taken her in hand, determined to get her ready for her date. Other than her new haircut, Nadia hadn’t done much beyond the basics with her appearance—when you spent every day elbow-deep in dough, manicures were an unnecessary extravagance. It was also woefully apparent that, besides a few outfits she cycled through when hanging out with her friends, she had nothing to wear on a date and certainly nothing she could wear to upscale Pascal’s. Siobhan had sprung into action, taking charge and smoothing the way as she had since the day they’d met in rehab. At thirty-five, Siobhan had the body of a buxom twenty-five-year-old, and her golden blonde hair, creamy fair skin, and cornflower blue eyes made students and businessmen alike stop dead in their tracks when she worked the front of the café. Her looks also made her extremely popular when she performed as “Sugar” Malloy with her burlesque troupe. She was truly the sugar to Nadia’s brunette, brown-eyed, peachy-skinned spice.
“You have a right to be nervous,” Siobhan told her, laying three different dresses out on the bed. “It’s your first date in more than four years. Take it from me, though. I don’t think you have anything to worry about with Professor Sex, except for deciding which dress to wear.”
Nadia surveyed her choices, all borrowed from Siobhan and Vanessa. Nothing in her closet was even close to their impeccable taste since she’d jettisoned or sold off everything related to her time in LA in the equivalent of a bridge burning to ensure no ties remained to her previous life. The first option was a retro red polka dot sundress with a sweetheart neckline and a full skirt possessing a definite rockabilly vibe, totally Siobhan’s style. The second dress was a sleeveless, formfitting knee-skimming number in black sure to emphasize every curve and roll from her boobs to her butt but perfectly suited for Vanessa’s svelte figure. The third dress was a teal number with thin braided straps and a plunging neckline that led to a fitted waist before softly draping into a just-above-the-knee skirt. It was simple but pretty, and was sure to complement the warm golden tones of her skin. Nadia liked it the best, but she was afraid it would make her look like she was going to prom instead of on a feeler date for a lover.
Then again, the combination of innocent dress and salacious intent seemed appropriate. “The red would be great if we were going to see one of your burlesque shows, so I’m crossing that one off the list,” Nadia said, thinking out loud. “And the black is just too intimidating. I’m a little too soft in the middle to do it justice and I’m not putting on Spanx when there’s a possibility of getting some tonight.”
“The teal it is, then.” Siobhan slipped it off the hanger, then helped Nadia into it. After adjusting the choker-style collar, Siobhan stood back and observed her. “The good professor is going to lose his mind.”
Nadia stared at her reflection and had to agree. The dress was slightly loose in the bodice but actually emphasized the curve of her bust and made her waist seem smaller. Siobhan had done some makeup magic on her too, making Nadia’s eyes dark and smoky. She looked confident, sexy, ready for anything.
“I owe you big-time, Sugar. If this goes well, I might even let you take me shopping.”
“I get to drag you shopping?” Her partner grinned. “The professor better deliver or we’re going to have words. Got condoms?”
Nadia picked up her clutch. “Yep.”
“Got cash and credit?”
“Got your phone and driver’s license in case the sex is so good you forget your name and where you live?”
Nadia laughed. “If all goes well, we’re coming back here. The good professor already knows where I live and work, and besides, there’s nothing like home-field advantage. I’m in control here.” She’d need that control too. At least until Professor Sex proved he was worth losing control to.
Nadia handed her MINI Cooper off to the valet then headed up the steps to Pascal’s entrance, trying to quell the nervous fluttering in her stomach. She’d picked the nouveau cuisine eatery to meet the professor because she’d heard it had a live band, good tapas, and better cocktails, and the only college-age people were the waitstaff. If this initial sortie with the professor went well, she wouldn’t want to fill up on dinner. And if it didn’t go well, a chocolate martini beat a pint of rocky road ice cream any day.
She still had her doubts about Professor Kaname Sullivan being the one she needed. The double entendres had been fun, but could the man follow through? Would he even show up?
The restaurant’s glass door swung open. She thanked the hostess, and then looked up, stopping dead in the doorway.
Damn. The professor sure cleaned up well. Gleaming dress shoes, loose black trousers and jacket, and a cobalt blue dress shirt showed off his lanky physique and golden skin to perfection. The ambient light caused strands of his dark hair to gleam, making her want to thrust her hands deep into the thick waves. The glasses gave him a Superman double whammy of geeky-sexy but did nothing to blunt the heat in his gaze. Tonight the goatee made him devilish, or maybe that had more to do with the knowing, sensual twist of his lips.
This was not the professor. This was a dangerous man.
“Nadia.” He took her hand then kissed her cheek in greeting as if they were old friends and not potential lovers. Then he stepped back, and the toe-to-head perusal left no doubt in Nadia’s mind that he liked what he saw. “You look amazing.”
She smoothed a hand down the silk skirt. She’d lived in jeans and sneakers for years getting the café off the ground, and being in a dress this nice after so long was hard. Seeing Sullivan’s reaction made her glad she’d gone through the effort of prettying up and slipping into something a little more upscale.
And with the right incentive, she could slip right out of it too.
“You’re a beautiful woman, Nadia,” he said after a long moment. “In this dress or those fantastic jeans you were in earlier.”
She felt her brow wrinkle. “You thought my jeans were better than this dress?”
“Don’t get me wrong. You’re breathtaking in that dress. But those jeans . . . When you bent over to pick up my change, I just about lost my mind. Lucky for me, my jacket covered most of my reaction.”
“Thank you. That’s good to know since my wardrobe is just about all jeans.” Most of his reaction? She’d wanted to check out his junk back at the café, but couldn’t figure out a way to do it that wouldn’t have been obvious.
His grin told her that he knew exactly what she was thinking. “You live in a town sitting by the ocean. You can’t tell me you don’t own a swimsuit or two.”
She laughed. “That’s a requirement of living here, isn’t it? Beachwear, boards, and blonde highlights?”
He gestured to his dark waves. “Two out of three ain’t bad.”
The hostess smiled at them. “Your table’s ready. If you’ll follow me, please?”
“Shall we?” Kane’s hand settled on the small of her back then froze as he realized there was nothing but bare skin beneath his fingers. His fingertips did a slow glide down her spine before settling just above her waist, leaving a trail of heat in their wake. Her girly parts went all giddy from the contact, her breath catching at the stroke of his thumb along her spine. A good girl would have pulled away. She pressed into his hand instead.
The hostess guided them to an intimate table tucked into a quiet corner of the restaurant away from the jazz ensemble. Kane seated her like a proper gentleman, and then took his time taking his chair. Don’t look, girl, don’t look—okay, maybe just a peek. She brushed an imaginary wisp of hair out of her eyes as she surreptitiously scoped out his package. Damn loose-fitting slacks.
“Do I pass inspection?” he asked, shooting another grin her way.
“So far, so good.” She looked around the restaurant, needing a distraction from his mesmerizing gaze. Pascal’s had an Old World vibe, wine-colored brocade and dark wood, tiny jewel-toned oil lamps on the tables, rich burgundy tablecloths. “Do you get out to the beach often?”
“Not as much as I’d like to, but my condo has a decent view of the bay. With the right incentive—say, seeing a certain brunette playing volleyball in a bikini—I’d make more of an effort.”
Nadia laughed, relaxing. “If you’re challenging me to a game of volleyball, I accept.”
Their waiter arrived and recited the night’s specials. Nadia ordered a pomegranate martini, Sullivan a glass of red wine. As the waiter left, Sullivan raised an eyebrow at her. “So if I win our game of volleyball, what do I get?”
Nadia held up a hand. “Slow your roll, Professor. It’s still too cool out on the bay for volleyball on the beach, especially if you want me to play in a bikini. Besides, I’d have an unfair advantage over you, since you’d be too busy staring at my high beams to hit the ball.”
He laughed, the sound rich and warm. “True enough, especially considering the heavenly nature of said high beams.” He reached over, clasped her hand. “Do you think you can dispense with the professor stuff? I’m not at work and you’re not a student. Do you want me to call you Spiceland? Or Chef?”
Visions of South Park danced in her head. “God, no.”
His thumb stroked over her knuckles. “I could call you Spice, if you like. It fits you.”
His smile needed to be registered as a lethal weapon. “I’d rather you call me Nadia.”
“Nadia.” He said her name as if he tasted a fine wine, rolling it around in his mouth. “Is that from the Russian?”
“Yes. It means hope. Daddy Vic’s mother was from Russia, and she’d hoped for a loving, happy life for my parents and me.”
His brow furrowed. “You call your father Daddy Vic?”
“I have two fathers, Nicholas and Victor Spiceland. They had me and my two older brothers through a surrogate. They’re about to celebrate forty years together.”
“It sounds like your grandmother’s wish came true then.” He cupped his wine, warming it in his hand. “You can call me Kane, which is short for Kaname.”
“Kane.” It suited him, strong, a bite of a word. “Kaname is Japanese, right?”
He nodded. “It means vital point. My mother is Japanese.”
“My dad is Irish. He’s a foot taller than my mom is, but there’s no doubt she rules that relationship. They met in Singapore, had me in Hong Kong, and now live outside of Seattle.”
“Wow, you’re a veritable international male. How did you end up in Crimson Bay?”
“I love Seattle, but I also like sunshine. Outside of lecturing, I do on-demand profiling work with law enforcement agencies up and down the coast, and Crimson Bay is centrally located and laid back enough to suit my tastes and inspire me to write. Besides, Herscher University has a renowned Human Sexualities Studies program. Are you from here?”
Nadia drew a slow breath, captivated by the way he stroked her hand and focused on her as if no one else surrounded them. “I grew up in Sacramento and San Francisco until I decided to go to culinary school. Then I studied with pastry chefs in Paris, chocolatiers in Belgium, and finally landed a gig in Los Angeles.”
Their drinks arrived. Kane asked the waiter to return in a few minutes, and then focused on her again. “So why move here from Los Angeles?”
She fiddled with the stem of her glass, and then gave him a direct stare. “After getting out of rehab a few years ago, Siobhan and I decided we needed out of LA. She has family not far from here, and my folks are less than a two-hour car ride away. So we came here, sank all our money into the café, and finally we’re doing all right.”
He stared at her a long moment. She stared back, daring him to stay, daring him to get up and walk out. She wasn’t ashamed of her past, not really. If anything, she was ashamed of how long it took to get help and all the people she’d hurt before getting that help.
He squeezed her hand. “And now you’re wondering if I’m going to cut and run or ply you with questions you don’t want to answer.”
She blew out a breath. “Something like that, yeah.”
“I won’t. I just have one question.”
She sat back. “Go ahead.”
“It wasn’t alcohol, was it?” He canted his head toward her martini.
“No. Painkillers and sleeping pills, sometimes harder stuff.”
“All right then.” He released her hand long enough to take a sip of his wine, giving her an opportunity to taste her martini. She hadn’t had alcohol since they’d celebrated the opening of the café, and she needed to pace herself. Besides, Kane was doing a good job of making her light-headed and intoxicated on his own.
“Kane. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Have drinks with a beautiful woman? Of course.”
“Thank you, but that wasn’t what I meant.” She waved a hand between them. “I mean this. Are you sure you want to take me on?”
“Very sure. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because of my story.” She leaned forward, watching his eyes as his gaze dropped to her breasts, then back up to her face without apology. “I gave you the highlight reel, but everything you need to know about me, good or bad, you can uncover with a good Google search. Probably more than my therapist knows.”
He raised his gaze to hers. “Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to get to know my partners by actually talking to them. Face-to-face. I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet, and people tend to be less evasive when they’re one-on-one.”
Nadia shook her head. “So you’re saying I shouldn’t search for you online either?”
“It depends on whether you’re curious about my professional reputation or my sexual one.” He leaned closer. “I’m perfectly aware of my nickname. I’m sure your friends and part-timers have talked your ear off about Professor Sex.”
Her brows lifted. “Are you saying you didn’t earn it?”
“No.” He gave her a slow smile that liquefied her insides. “I lecture on sex. I write about sex. I create profiles for law enforcement based on sex. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I like having sex. A lot of sex, a lot of different ways.” One finger tapped the tablecloth. “But I don’t have sex with my students, despite the number of blogs to the contrary.”
She sighed. She couldn’t help it. The man knew what he was doing with all that allure and confidence. “Just so you know, I didn’t do a Web search on you. I didn’t have to. Not with the friends I have. They were so eager to tell me all about Professor Sex, despite my every attempt to deflect them.”
“Why deflect them?”
“I want to make up my own mind about you. They’re not your potential bed buddies, I am.” She raised a brow. “You haven’t slept with any of them, have you?”
“No.” His smiled widened.
“Why are you grinning like that?”
“Because you called yourself my potential bed buddy. That’s a step in the right direction. Means I’m doing something right.”
“I’d say you are. Maybe it’s time to step it up.” She reached into her clutch.
“I have something for you,” she said, then slid her hand across the table. Kane’s hand wrapped around hers, large and warm with a pulse of pure masculine energy that snaked up her arm and then raced right to her ovaries. He slipped the device from her fingers. His eyebrows rose as he recognized the wireless remote for a vibrator, the business end of which she’d tucked into her thong. A slow, sexy smile curved his lips.
“Nadia Spiceland, you are full of surprises,” he murmured. “Shall I tell you what this means?”
The deep tenor of his voice, combined with the knowing way he held the remote, caused her pussy to cream in anticipation. “Yes, please do.”
“Giving me this is a test. Actually, a challenge,” he said as he leaned forward. “You said you’re not into vanilla anymore, so this means you’re willing to give up control—control of your pleasure, your body, your orgasms.”
He thumbed the dial, sending a quick pulse of sensation to her clit before turning it off again with an efficient flick of his thumb. “But you don’t want to surrender to just anyone, do you? You want to make sure that the other person is worth it. Worth you, worth receiving what you have to give.”
“Damn ri—” Her voice cut off as he thumbed the dial again, increasing the intensity of the vibrations to its strongest setting. She gripped the edge of the table, trying to resist the urge to squirm as the pleasure built. Quickly.
He turned the remote off, then set it down, precisely lining it up with his dinner knife. “You’re topping from the bottom,” he observed, watching her with those deep, dark eyes. “I like it.”
“Are you sure?” she questioned. She wanted to cede control, needed to in this one thing. From her teens, she’d rigorously managed her actions and choices. Having discipline gave her the chance to hone her skills with some great but demanding pastry chefs in Europe and bring that knowledge home. Losing control had cost her a career and a very comfortable lifestyle.
Yes, regaining control had gotten her to the level of comfort and success she currently enjoyed. Sometimes though, sometimes she just really wanted someone else to make decisions for her, to take her out of her head, at least in this one area of her life. Finding the right guy she could trust enough to surrender to sexually was a fantasy she hadn’t thought she’d allow to come true.
Yet here she was with Kaname Sullivan, the professor and author known as Professor Sex, offering to give her what she wanted, the way she wanted it. If she wanted it enough.
Again that smile, the one that transformed him from professor to predator. No wonder his students were ninety percent female. “I said I like it, not that I’d allow it to continue.”
She flared at that, but subsided as soon as he put a finger on the remote. “As soon as I pass your test, and I have every intention of passing it, you will surrender to me. When you do, I will make sure that you experience all the pleasure you can handle, whether it’s acting out scenes from The Perfumed Garden or anything else we decide on.”
She sat back, vacillating between curiosity and caution. “You’re that confident of your talents?”
“I’m confident of wanting you. I’m confident that you’re curious enough to dare, and daring enough to put your pleasure in my hands.”
The boldness of his words and the frank desire in his gaze heated her insides. She almost asked him to turn on the remote, but the waiter chose that moment to return for their food order. “What do you say to just ordering tapas?”
“I think that’s a good idea. No worries about overindulging, at least in food. Allow me?” He thumbed on the controller to its lowest setting.
She bit her lip to keep from moaning as Kane calmly consulted with the waiter then ordered a variety of little plates, all the while discreetly working the mini controller. From the lightest of touches to full out, he had her pussy juicing, her blood rushing, her breath catching. Yet he somehow seemed to know when one second more would push her over the edge, and stopped the vibration altogether.
“You’re playing dirty!” she gasped as the waiter left after giving her a curious look.
“Have to level the playing field somehow.” He smiled, placing the controller beside his wineglass.
“What do you mean, ‘level the playing field’? Seems like you’re the one with the advantage here.”
“You think so?” He thumbed the dial to a medium setting. She blew out a breath and shifted on her chair as a soft vibration thrummed between her thighs. “I can do this and you can get through it without attracting too much attention. But I have no relief in sight. Everyone’s going to know that I have a problem as soon as I stand up.”
“Does that bother you?” she gasped.
“Hell, no.” He thumbed the setting off. “With you looking as hot as you do, I’m sure there are several other men here in the same predicament.”
“Thanks.” She fought to keep from squirming again. Damn, she was majorly horny. Would she be able to convince him to progress from talk to action?
He turned on the stimulator’s remote control again, snagging her attention. She took a deep breath, and his eyes immediately dropped to her cleavage. Something close to a curse slipped softly from his lips as he turned the power off. “The way your lips parted has me thinking of things best not shared in a crowded restaurant,” he admitted ruefully. “I need a distraction. So, The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delights. How did you get interested in an Arabic sex manual from the Middle Ages? I would have thought the Kama Sutra or the Joy of Sex would be more to your liking.”
“I like those too, but I discovered The Perfumed Garden during a world literature course in college.” She sipped her drink, growing more heated by watching the way he watched her lips. “I like the name, and I find it amusing how the Burton translation is so much more over the top than the original. But I still like the feelings of sensual mystery and discovery it evokes.”
“Sensual mystery and discovery.” His voice dropped to a low, sensual rumble that made her sex clench. “Like tonight.”
“Yes.” Hmm, maybe she wouldn’t have to try too hard after all. “So, I’m guessing you know a lot about The Perfumed Garden?”
He stared at her over the top of the remote. “I do indeed, among other things. It takes material from other sexual treatises that were available during the time, most notably from India, and adds stories as illustrations on some of the methods and treatments it recommends. Do you have a favorite part?”
She held her breath, but he didn’t turn the vibrator on. Bastard. “Being a college coed, of course I was focused on chapter six, ‘Concerning Everything That Is Favorable to the Act of Coition,’ and I thought it would be fun to actually try out those positions. I’m too modern a woman to do more than shake my head at some of the descriptions.”
“Oh, you mean like the qualities of a perfect woman?” Capturing and holding her gaze, he thumbed the remote to a low setting. “The sheik said, ‘Then the Almighty has plunged woman into a sea of splendours, of voluptuousness, and of delights, and covered her with precious vestments, with brilliant girdles and provoking smiles. So let us praise and exalt him who has created woman and her beauties, with her appetizing flesh; who has given her hails, a beautiful figure, a bosom with breasts which are swelling, and amorous ways, which awaken desires.’ You are definitely appetizing, Nadia Spiceland.”
He cut the device off then smiled at her, just smiled, and she was ready to take him to the floor. Or grab him and leave. She opened her mouth to suggest it but the waiter chose that moment to arrive with their appetizers. Who knew tapas could be prepared that fast? She tried not to glare daggers at the poor waiter. It wasn’t his fault that she’d given control of her clit to a professor with a sadistic streak. She reached for her water as the waiter placed everything then quickly retreated.
“You are an evil man.”
His dark eyes twinkled. “Only in the best of ways. And you’re enjoying every moment of it.”
She was, she realized. Being away from the café, all dressed up, with a man so different from her usual type was making for a most excellent evening. Still, it wouldn’t do for Kane to be too confident. She needed to turn the tables, even the score.
She reached for one of the appetizers, something with a bit of sautéed shrimp on top. Biting into it, she let out a moan as the flavors exploded on her tongue, her eyes sliding shut to enhance the tastes. “Oh, that is so good!”
Her eyes popped open. Kane stared at her, his jaw clenched, his eyes burning. “Are you okay?”
“No.” He shook his head. “I’m not okay. I just realized sitting here watching you eat is self-inflicted torture. How are you with desserts?”
“Eating them? Damn good. I’m even better at making them.” She smiled as she forked up a bite of another appetizer. His gaze focused on her lips, and she slowly withdrew the fork from her mouth, teasing him. “I test and taste every recipe I create, and if I don’t like it, I don’t make it. What about you? I bet you’ve got wide-ranging tastes.”
“The more I learn about the world, the more I learn about myself. So yes, my tastes are all over the board. Some people couldn’t handle it. Do you think you can?” He turned on the controller again, his thumb working the intensity level from soft to full out, over and over.
She closed her eyes and gripped the edge of the table as her pussy juiced. “I sure as hell want to find out.” Just a little longer . . .
The vibrator stopped. Her eyes popped open. Kane gave her an unapologetic smile. “Not yet. You need to eat, to keep your strength up for later.”
She gritted her teeth. “Clit teaser.”
“Sorry,” he said in a tone that said he clearly wasn’t. “I just want my cock in you and not a vibrator when I see you come for the first time. Is that wrong of me?”
His directness left her breathless. “N-no, but if you think we’re going there without condoms . . .”
“I believe in being safe,” he told her, “and that means no jumping without a parachute. I’m not a man-ho by any definition, but I do get tested regularly. I’m clean.”
“I’m not a ho either,” she said, trying not to sputter out her martini over the way he’d said man-ho. “After getting out of rehab, I got tested six ways to Sunday to prove that I was clean on multiple levels. I still get tested every year on my anniversary date of being clean, which was a week ago. I’ll show you my papers if you show me yours.”
“You haven’t been with anyone since you moved here?”
“Getting the café off the ground was more important,” she said. “I’ve just now decided I can make the time to have a fling. But it’s hard when I’m in the café all the time and all my customers are college students.”
He leaned forward. “You’re not in the café right now.”
“No, I’m not.”
“And, might I add, I’m not a college student.”
She gave him a long look, liking what she saw and wanting to see more of it. “No, you most definitely are not.”
They stared at each other for a long, silent moment.
“What are you thinking about?” he wondered.
“Whether you’re circumcised or not. What about you?”
“What you sound like when you come.”
She carefully returned her napkin to the table. “I think it’s time to satisfy our curiosity, don’t you?”
“Absolutely.” He stood, pulled out his wallet and tossed several bills onto the table. “Your place or mine?”
“I have both floors above the café,” Nadia said. “No one’s there at night, and I have a nice bit of soundproofing between my place and the café.”
“And it’s closer than my place.” He grabbed the remote with one hand, her wrist with the other, and then pulled her toward the entrance. “Did you drive over?”
“Would you do me the honor of letting me take you home anyway?”
They left the restaurant quickly, then made their way to the adjacent parking lot. Kane approached a dark sedan and disarmed the alarm. He reached for the passenger door, then stopped. “I need to know something.”
“Something like what?” she asked, trying not to hop from foot to foot with impatience.
“This.” In a smooth move, he snagged an arm about her waist, pulled her close, then kissed her. His mouth slanted over hers, sure, expert, causing her toes to curl in response. She thrust her hands into his gorgeous thick hair as she kissed him back with fervor and frustration and bone-deep need. His hands tightened at her waist, pulling her closer. The feel of his arousal made her groan.
Settling his hands at her waist, he turned her until her back was against the car. In her heels, she was eye level with his throat, and a wild energy filled her, making her want to unbutton his shirt enough for her to set her teeth to his collarbone.
“You’ve got that look again, Nadia,” he said, his voice a low warning.
“What look is that?”
“The look that makes me want to do things right here and right now that will get us both arrested.”
Her blood sang. “Maybe we should kiss some more instead.”
“Hell yes, we should.” He pressed against her, letting her feel the ridge of his arousal. Her mouth went dry at the sensation, the tantalizing promise that he offered. Then he cupped her cheeks in his palms, fingers splaying against the back of her neck, into her hair. His right thumb swept along the curve of her lower lip, almost as if he was readying her mouth for his. Her lips parted in anticipation, her breath light and quick as she waited for him to make his move.
Move he did, slanting his mouth over hers, his lips soft but firm. Her knees went weak as he took full command of the kiss, drawing a fevered response from her. She wrapped her arms around his waist to draw him closer, to anchor herself, to better connect with him. A moan broke from her involuntarily and he took advantage, tracing the bow of her lips with the tip of his tongue, coaxing his way inside. Another moan as their tongues slid together, tasting, teasing, meeting, parting, meeting again.
His hands dropped to her waist then skimmed up her sides, his thumbs brushing the undersides of her breasts. Electric pulses shot through her at his touch, his mouth on hers. The man knew what he was doing all right, his kisses soft then hard, yielding then demanding. She could kiss him forever, lost in the taste of him, the stroke of his tongue along her lips, her tongue.
His left hand moved up into the deep vee of her bodice, cupping her breast through the shelf bra, his fingers expertly plucking her nipple to full and painful hardness through the material. One of them groaned, or both, she wasn’t sure. She pressed herself into his hand even as she surrendered to his kiss, his touch. This was what she’d hoped for when she’d made her sexual declaration earlier that day. Someone who knew what to do with a woman’s body, who knew how to offer and receive pleasure, who knew the right buttons to push and pushed them with precision.
Her legs threatened to buckle, but Kane thrust his knee between hers, pressing against her, friction holding them up. The weight of his erection, even through the layers of their clothing, branded her. Her hips thrust forward, needing more contact with him. The stimulator in her panties wasn’t enough, would never be enough. She wanted him, wanted his cock inside her, as deep as she could take it, as much as he would give. She’d go crazy if she couldn’t have him.
She licked along his lips, the hairs of his goatee tickling her with surprising softness, then drew his bottom lip between her teeth, lightly biting down. He growled, one hand cupping her ass, bringing her even closer to his hardened length. His other hand continued to plunder her breasts, sending lightning bolts of sensation through her.
The kiss intensified as they ground together. She forgot that they were in a parking lot. Forgot that she’d wanted to reenact The Perfumed Garden. All she could think about was getting naked with him, being taken by him. At that point, he could have bent her over the hood of his car, lifted her skirt, and surged into her and she would have enjoyed every moment of it.
A horn honked, followed by ribald laughter and the standard call of “Get a room.” Only then did they break apart, a good foot of space separating them. Nadia gulped for air, her nipples painfully tight, her panties damp, her pussy so very ready, senses shattered. Kane leaned away from her then lifted his hands from her slowly, as if glue held his fingers to her skin. He took a breath, his erection pressing against her through their clothes, close, so very close. He sucked in another breath, the sound loud and harsh between them, then stepped back as if forced.
“Nadia. Damn.” He stepped back again, raking a hand through his hair. “I’m usually better than this.”
A pained laugh escaped her lips. “If you were any better, I’d be coming from just your kiss.” Laughter died as she focused on his face, the sensual edge of his mouth, the need shining darkly in his eyes, the ridge of his erection behind his zipper. “We need to go, Kane.”
What People are Saying About This
Praise for the novels of Seressia Glass
“Heart-pounding…Will keep readers riveted.”—Publishers Weekly
“Sparkling…Glass’s clean, crisp style and flowing narrative made it almost impossible to put it down.”—The Romance Reader
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Seressia Glass brings readers the first book in the new Sugar and Spice erotic romance series, Spice. To say this one is steamy is probably an understatement. Glass doesn't hold anything back in this sexy romp featuring a former addict making a success of her new business and a professor of human sexuality. Readers looking for a little kink, a lot of sexual tension and exploration will find this one tantalizing. What I liked: One of the things that I appreciated about this book was the way in which the heroine's former drug addiction was portrayed. Glass was able to show readers how devastating this kind of thing is without it becoming the main focus of the story. Nadia's past was just that, her past. She was able to get clean and get her life back on track and that is huge for anyone who has ever suffered the affects of addiction. It was good to see this story focus on the here and now and the fact that Nadia bet the odds and got her life back. Nadia was a powerful heroine in this book. She not only survived addiction but was able to move forward. She had strength, fortitude and tenacity. She was in a place in her life when the story begins that lets the reader know she is ready to start dating again to have a few of her sexual needs taken care of. In my book that's a nature progression of things. And it did feel like it was time for her to pursue that part of her life again. Finding Kane was not only perfect timing, but just the right kind of relationship she thought she was looking for. Glass gives readers a heroine to cheer for, they will find themselves not only wanting her business to succeed but her relationships as well. I enjoyed Kane. He wasn't your typical professor, that's for sure. Human sexuality is the kind of field that got him a lot of wanted and unwanted attention. He just gives off the air of mystery and the reader will feel his sexuality oozing off the pages. He didn't want a complicated relationship and he and Nadia seemed to really work. He had some kinky moments but nothing really too far out of the box. I especially liked the way he treated Nadia. He seemed to not only want to meet her sexual fantasies, but to genuinely care about who she was and what she wanted out of life. A very good hero. The sexual aspects of the book were a bit overdone for my tastes. The language and the sexual scenes are pretty hot and spicy and unfortunately they tend to take over the book a little bit. Glass doesn't give enough time to the development of the characters and their stories outside the bedroom for the reader to really connect with them. I liked Nadia and Kane, but wasn't sure they had quite enough depth to make the story come alive. Bottom Line: There is a lot of potential here. The bare bones idea of the series was good. I liked the former addiction plot line for Nadia and Kane's interesting profession. They had good chemistry but the sexual aspects of the book were a bit too overwhelming. I didn't get the character development I needed. But I think Glass definitely has a good direction to go with this series. We'll see how it goes!
I didn't favor this story as much as I thought I would, it wasn't bad and its written decently but I wasn't impressed with the character interaction. Although many of the "Spicy" scenes were as they say: Spicy... I felt there was an emotional disconnect that didn't quite pull me in to feeling for Kane or Nadia and there were many secondary scenes that I felt weren't necessary or prudent to the telling of the story and if anything were more distracting from what should have been a really hot book. I think its got quite a bit of potential to be a really great story with some minor changes but as it is I enjoyed the read and the sex was decent.