Every day he puts his life on the line, what will happen when it's his heart in jeopardy?
Tall, lean, muscular—and definitely rough around the edges—Sean Walker is not your typical nightclub bodyguard. He's a controller of shadows, able to wield darkness at will. But when a mysterious woman at the club turns out to have powers greater than his own, he has no choice but seduction…
Originally released as part of THE BODYGUARD anthology, fall under the spell of Gena Showalter's paranormal romantic suspense novella "Temptation in Shadows," an exclusive standalone e-novella!
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
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About the Author
GENA SHOWALTER is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels including The Lords of the Underworld series (The Darkest Fire, The Darkest Night, The Darkest Kiss). She writes in a thrilling blend of genres: paranormal and contemporary romances, cutting edge young adult novels, and urban fantasy. She lives in the South with her family and three slobbery English bulldogs.
Read an Excerpt
Temptation in Shadows
By Gena Showalter
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2010 Gena Showalter
All rights reserved.
Gabrielle Huit blinked open her heavy eyelids and moaned. Her temples throbbed as if her brain was hooked to a generator and every few seconds the switch was thrown, electric shocks traveling from one side of her skull to the other.
Moaning again, she scanned her surroundings. She could see ... nothing. Her vision was blurred from the pain, and the shadows around her were too thick. But she wasn't home; that much she knew. The air was too dusty, too cold; she kept her place clean and warm.
She tried to shift to her side, hoping a different angle would elicit different results. Metal rattled and a hard weight pulled at her wrists, keeping her still. Metal — chains?
Don't panic. Yet. Where was she? How had she gotten here? Last thing she remembered, she'd been outside, holding a gun and fighting the urge to commit murder. Something had knocked out her targets and a second later a dark cloud had enveloped her. Then a sharp sting had torn through her neck, shooting fire and weakness through her entire body.
"I'm sorry," a deep voice had whispered. "So sorry."
She'd focused on that voice as if it were a lifeline — until she'd been unable to focus anymore. Though she hadn't seen anyone nearby, strong arms had banded around her, lifting her up and preventing her from falling as her trembling knees collapsed.
Now, she was trapped inside a ... room? A cell? She still couldn't tell. Her own panting breaths filled her ears as she tugged more forcefully at the metal. Again, the links around her wrists remained steady. She really was chained. Oh, God. Someone had knocked her out and abducted her. Someone had freaking knocked her out and abducted her.
She'd told herself not to panic, but a knot began to grow in her throat, cutting off her air supply. Someone had managed to bypass her security, both external and internal, and overpower her completely. She was now trapped. Helpless.
Calm down. Figure this out. Yes. Yes, she could figure this out. She just had to breathe. To do so, she just had to swallow the knot. Gabby forced herself to gulp, to slowly breathe in, out. In, out. Better, she thought, her lungs filling. Okay. Time to think rationally. Who would have done this? The government, maybe?
The men she'd wanted to shoot had certainly looked the part. Dark suits, sunglasses, and shiny Glocks. More, they'd known what she was capable of and had prepared for the worst. But how had they drugged her? They'd never even approached her. Someone else was responsible, then.
So ... who else had been there?
No one that she had seen, and that terrified her more than anything else. She barely managed to stop another knot from growing. Being taken like this — again — was what she'd feared her entire life. The first time, she had been studied, used. Hurt. She'd woken up strapped to a table, her head split open by a rogue agency scientist suddenly able to download computer files straight into her brain. If the government were responsible this time, how much worse would it be for her?
A moan suddenly echoed — and it wasn't hers.
Gabby scrambled backward until a wall stopped her. The erratic pounding of her heartbeat seemed loud, like a beckon to whoever lurked on the other side of the chamber.
"Hello," a male rasped groggily. Chains scraped the floor — but she hadn't moved. He was bound, too? "Anyone there?"
Her panic receded. Somewhat. "I'm here," she said, voice shaking.
There was a pause. Then a shocked, "Gabby? Is that you?"
Her jaw dropped as recognition took hold. "Sean?"
"Where are we? What's going on?" The more he spoke, the more substance his words had and the better she could hear the deep, sexy rumble that had fueled her fantasies the last few weeks. Best forgotten fantasies.
"I'm chained to the wall," she told him. "You?"
"Yeah. Me, too."
Why would someone take them both? And how terrible of a person was she, to be relieved that they were in this together?
"Do you know who has us?" she asked.
"No, sorry. Last thing I remember, I was walking out of my apartment and some guy was asking me for the time."
Okay. So. There went her government theory. Sean was the bodyguard of a nightclub owner — a nightclub owner she, too, worked for — but Sean was normal. Moody, yes, and hot as hell, but still normal. There was no reason for the government to abduct and study him.
Unless ... what if they knew how much she desired him and thought to use him against her? They could threaten to hurt him if she failed to cooperate. She groaned.
"You hurt?" he demanded in a tone mixed with equal measures of concern and anger.
Not yet, she thought, but couldn't deny that his concern warmed her. "I'm fine."
His image flashed inside her mind. He was tall, lean but muscled. His skin was sun-kissed, his chopped hair dark, and his eyes so electric a blue they shocked her every time she looked into them. Even with the black, swirling tattoos that curved around his temples, he epitomized perfection.
She'd often wondered why he'd marked himself that way, what it meant to him.
"Maybe we're going to be ransomed," he said. The prospect didn't sound like it bothered him. "I mean, we work for the same wealthy man."
"They should have taken him, then, 'cause I doubt Rowan Patrick cares about getting me back." She'd met with Mr. Patrick a few weeks ago, shortly after he'd bought the club where she worked. The next day, he'd asked her out. She'd said no. She'd already been fascinated by Sean. Then, a few days later, Mr. Patrick had asked her out again. Again, she'd said no. His frustration with her had been very clear.
"True," Sean finally replied. "You aren't his favorite person."
Was Mr. Patrick coldhearted enough to have planned this out of revenge? "Would he have done this ..."
"No. I've known him a long time and that's not his style." Sean sighed. "You wouldn't happen to be loaded, would you?"
"No." Oh, she could make money. Plenty of money. She had the means to acquire any amount of cash she desired, at any time, but she'd never done so. There was too much risk.
So what motive did that leave?
The man who'd ... enhanced her had let her go. Could he have decided he wanted her back and then hunted her down? But again, why bring Sean into it?
"We have to get out of here," she said, pulling at her chains. Her wrists were already abraded, and she winced as metal cut past skin and warm blood beaded. "Preferably before our abductor realizes we've woken up."
"Stupid asshole didn't frisk me." There was a twinge of satisfaction in his voice. "My blade is still pressed against my ankle."
Thank God for stupid assholes. "Do you know how to pick a lock?" she asked. She did, but as dark as the room was, Sean couldn't toss her the knife without the possibility of losing it.
"Oh yeah. During my misspent youth, I learned a lot of naughty skills I shouldn't have."
She heard the rustle of clothes, the slide of chain against wood, an angered, "Shit! Cut myself," then finally the clink of metal.
"One down," he muttered.
"Am." Another muttered curse, then another clink. "I'm going to kill whoever did this."
He chuckled. "Bloodthirsty, are you?" One moment he was across the room; the next his big, strong hands were on her, patting her down as he searched for her wrists. Despite the danger, she shivered. He was hot, callused ... a temptation she couldn't afford.
"Okay?" he asked.
"I can't see anything and might cut you. If I do —"
"I'll live. Promise. Just get these things off me." How long did they have before their abductor checked on them?
One of Sean's hands slid the length of her arm and stopped at the chain. He leaned in, warm breath trekking over her face, the scent of whiskey filling her nose. Thankfully he didn't cut her as he'd feared. He was infinitely gentle as he freed one wrist, then the other before clasping her hand and tugging her upright.
Her knees proved to be weak and buckled — damn drugs — but she never hit the ground. Sean's arm snaked around her waist and held her up.
"I've got you."
She shivered. "There's got to be an exit."
"There is. Look." He spun her around.
Gabby fought a wave of dizziness as she did as commanded. As thick as the shadows were, she saw only darkness. "I don't —" Wait. There, at the floor where she'd been sitting, was a thin slit of light. Once again her heartbeat sped into a gallop, this time from excitement. "A doorway!"
"Yep. Wait here."
He released her, and she stifled a whimper, already missing his strength. At least she managed to remain upright on her own this time. A moment later, the sound of metal sinking into wood reverberated. She knew the sound all too well.
"Why aren't you jimmying the lock?" That would have been quieter.
"Blade's too big to fit inside the cylinder. I'm having to detach the hinges." As he worked, he said, "Did you get a look at the person who grabbed you?"
"No. He said he was sorry, but never showed his face."
"Damn. I didn't see him, either."
She wrapped her arms around her middle. "I'm sorry you were dragged into this. I mean, this is all my fault." It had to be.
"What do you mean?"
"I don't think we're meant to be ransomed. I think —" God. Should she tell him? He deserved to know. After all, if they failed to escape, he might be tortured for information about her. Or worse, experimented on. And going into that sort of situation blind was a lot worse than knowing what to expect and why. That she knew firsthand.
Still, years of silence, of secrets and running, of hiding to stay alive, kept the truth bottled inside her. If she told him and they got out of this, she'd have to always wonder who he told.
"Nothing," she said. "I think nothing."
"No. You think something, but we'll talk about it later." The door separated from the wall, and welcome light flooded the room.
Gabby blinked against the sudden brightness, her eyes filling with burning tears. To compose herself, she turned and studied her prison. It was a small bedroom, of a type probably found in every suburban neighborhood. The walls were beige, and there was a dresser pushed against the far right. A twin-sized bed rested beside it. Only, there were no pictures, no knickknacks.
Sean peeked out. "Clear," he said. "Come on." He grabbed her arm and ushered her into the hall. Like the bedroom, it was devoid of personal effects.
Again, her government theory was shaken. She would not have been locked inside a bedroom, inside a home, with no guard posted at her door. "Is there a computer in this place?"
"I don't know, and I don't want to take the time to find out." He kept his blade at his side and tugged her around a corner, stopping to glance inside the other doorways — two bedrooms — along the way. "Clear."
"You don't understand." She dug her heels into the wood planks, bringing him to a quick halt. "I might be able to learn who abducted us and why."
"There's no time."
He faced her, expression hard as granite. "You a hacker?"
"Something like that," she said, and licked her lips nervously.
He tangled a hand through his hair. "How long do you need?"
"No more than a few minutes."
His brows furrowed together. "That quickly? How is that —"
A pained moan sounded from another room. Sean whipped around — but not before she glimpsed the murderous light in his eyes. Though she couldn't see an intruder, she prepared to attack as well. Then the shadows painted over the hallway walls seemed to suck inward, surrounding them, keeping them hidden, and she frowned. Something similar had happened a few times before. She didn't know how — unless her abilities were changing?
"This way," he whispered, and hooked her finger around his belt loop so that both of his hands could remain free. "And be quiet."
Forever they seemed to walk but she couldn't see where they were going or even what surrounded them. Odd. Still, Gabby knew how to take care of herself but couldn't deny she liked being guarded like this.
Over the years she'd taken hundreds of self-defense lessons and learned to fight as dirty as possible. She'd had to. She'd grown up on the streets, a target for every pimp in need of a fresh-faced little girl and every junkie desperate enough to steal from a starving kid.
"Bill?" Sean said, and there was a mix of confusion, anger, and upset in his voice. He crouched down.
As the shadows cleared, Gabby pulled herself from her musings and gasped. A man lay on the floor, blood pooling around him.
Sean worked frantically at the man's clothes, revealing a gunshot wound to the stomach. "What the hell happened?" Sean demanded, pressing the heel of his hand against the hole to staunch the crimson flow.
The man — Bill — grimaced. He was average height, probably late forties, with mocha skin and dark eyes that were glazed with pain.
Intending to help, Gabby rushed to the duffel bag resting on the other side of him. If medical supplies were inside ... please be inside. Her fingers shook as she unzipped it, the blood splattered across the handles smearing on her palms. This man couldn't be their abductor — could he? Sean knew him, was concerned for him. But how else would the man have known they were here?
Damn it. Only clothes rested inside the bag.
"Be ... trayed," she heard him rasp. "Came here ... free you ... run." The man's head lolled to the side. His chest ceased its shallow movements as breath escaped his cut and parted lips on a final gasp.
"Motherfucker!" Sean growled.
"I'm sorry," she whispered as she faced him, and she meant it. Losing a friend was tough. Losing a friend to violence was tougher. "You can mourn him. Later." Forget the computer. "Right now, we have to get out of here."
The anger drained from Sean's expression, leaving something hard and unreadable. "This wasn't supposed to happen. Bill wasn't supposed to die."
She opened her mouth to respond. None of this was supposed to have happened. Before she could utter a single word, however, a loud crash reverberated from around the corner.
Sean jumped to his feet. Blood coated his hands and shirt as he gazed around wildly.
"Bill's tracks end here," a new voice said from another room. Male, harsh. Determined. "Check every room. If you find the other two, you know what to do."
Sean muttered another curse under his breath and grabbed hold of her. Shadows once again seemed to suck inward, surrounding them, as he jerked her forward, to the back door.
She couldn't see anything but Sean and gloom. But she could hear hinges squeaking, feet pounding. Gabby bit her lip to keep her cry of surprise and fear inside, when Sean suddenly yanked her against his chest and stopped. More footsteps pounded, blending with the rasp of breath. From multiple people. Still, she couldn't see them. What the hell was going on?
Without a word, Sean started forward again. He kept a tight hold on her hand, and she was glad. She was still reeling. That had to be it. She'd just watched a man die, and now her mind wouldn't let her see the men hunting her.
Outside, she thought a few seconds later. She had to be outside now. Cool, crisp air caressed her. Why couldn't she at least see sunlight? Moonlight? Something? And how was Sean navigating through this?
Gabby managed to maintain his quick pace for several miles, rocks and twigs cutting into her shoes. But by then she was sweating, fighting for every burning breath, trembling. "I ... can't ..."
"Just a little further." Sean didn't even seem winded, the bastard. "You can do it."
An eternity later, he stopped and the shadows disappeared completely, revealing amber moonlight, a forest bursting with thick, lush trees and a — a car? Sure enough, he removed a leafy canopy from the frame of a two-door sedan.
"How did you know —"
"Just get in," he commanded.
She obeyed as if her feet were on fire. Now wasn't the time to chat. No one had followed them — to her knowledge — but it was better to be safe than sorry. Except when she and Sean were inside the car, he pulled a key from his pocket and used it. And it worked, the engine roaring to life. A thousand questions seemed to rush through her mind. Only one continued to echo, though. What. The. Hell?
Excerpted from Temptation in Shadows by Gena Showalter. Copyright © 2010 Gena Showalter. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Why is this not a series?! This was an awesome story. I loved it and all the characters. There was action and adventure from the very beginning and it didn't stop the very end. Each character had an ability that isn't usually featured in the paranormal romance genre. Sean is able to control the shadows around him and is pretty much a bad ass. Gabby is a human computer that's constantly on the run. Of course, when these two meet up it's not only a run for their lives, but a run towards each other. Would love to read more about this group of people. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
I have yet to read a Gena Showalter book that I am disappointed with. She is simply one of the best authors of the paranormal romance genre, and her stories are always sexy, smart and completely engrossing. This is a short story that was part of a larger anthology. Sean is a bouncer, but not just any kind of bouncer. He has special abilities that allow him to control shadows, and works undercover for an agency that is not officially sanctioned by any government. Gabby has escaped a terrible fate as a lab rat. She had been abducted by a scientist that tested her abilities, abilities that I will mention are very fascinating. But now she is on the run. She doesn’t know who to trust, and when Sean enters the picture, she obviously wary. But together, they attempt to not only free Gabby from the danger pursuing her, but also find that their attraction is undeniable. Can Sean keep Gabby safe, both her body and her mind? For a short story this one packs a punch. It immediately begins with action and doesn’t really let up the whole time. It’s an exciting read. I think part of what makes Gena Showalter such a good PNR author is that her books seem like they could take place in the real world. Even with special abilities, her protagonists do not seem manufactured or too far out there to be unbelievable. They may be different from normal people, but still operate on the same emotional wavelength as any other romance. I really like that about her. Also, it can’t be denied that her alphas are some of the best. Sean, for example, has some awesome alpha tendencies. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s hot as hell. All I’m saying is, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers unless he was better on the floor. Overall, I thought this was an excellent story. It is not very long but covers all the bases I need in order to walk away satisfied. 4.5 stars! *Copy provided for review* Reviewed by Sara Squared for Crystal's Many Reviewers
Terrific! Totally enthralling! I couldn’t put it down. I was sucked into the fascinating world of intelligence agencies and supernatural powers as only Ms. Showalter can do. I hadn’t read this when it came out in THE BODYGUARD anthology and am sorry I missed it. When it came available for review I pounced on it. I felt the ending was a little rushed but I’m sure it was just due to size limitations and really didn’t ruin my enjoyment. I do hope this will be the start of a series.
Another awesome read, I'm captivated from beginning to end!!!
Just could have been longer.... :(
Loved the book totally awesome loved the story line between Gabby and Sean loved the whole idea
It was a good read but i have read much better from her. It was only a hair over 100 pages so it was a short one.
5 stars = I freaking LOVED this book That was a quick and thoroughly entertaining read. As a child, Gabby was abducted and experimented on by a scientist convinced he could turn the human brain into a computer. In Gabby's case he was extremely successful and she is able to download files from computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. without touching them. Because of her abduction and her ability, she trusts no one and is constantly on the move to avoid detection and capture. To say hers is a lonely existence would be putting it mildly. While she longs to be able to trust and form connections, she knows she can't and has never been tempted until Sean. As cool as Gabby's ability is, I found Sean's completely fascinating and I don't know that I have ever encountered it in my reading. Sean can harness and control shadows; not blend into the shadows, but actually call them to him and have them surround him and whatever else he chooses (including the vehicle he is driving). But with his ability comes darkness that slowly suffocates those around him, so he doesn't form many attachments, especially romantic ones. And just like Gabby, he has learned to deal with his lonely existence and avoid making connections with women, until Gabby. The draw between the two is intense and when they finally give in, it makes for a spectacular sex scene - in the shower (my favorite). Temptation in Shadows is an action-packed thrill ride that is part romantic suspense and part paranormal romance that has just the right amount of sexual tension. It kept me engaged from beginning to end and I can only hope that there are more books planned for this series; seriously, Rowan deserves to have his story told and can only imagine how entertaining it would be. I will definitely be checking out Ms. Showalter's other books. I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
To SHADOWCLAN???!!!?? This is so not like Mateclan.
Temptation in Shadows was a totally unexpected stand alone gem from Gena Showalter. Sean has the ability to wield shadows. Gabby was surgically altered to interface with computers. Together they uncover plots and conspiracy that threaten both human and the their kind. A unique respect for each others abilities keeps the couples interactions interesting but the accelerating romantic tension between Gabby and Sean, creates a bond of protectiveness between the couple that is extremely steamy. Temptation in Shadows is a novella length story that packs a punch. A great adventure, suspense filled mystery, lots of action and a strong sensual vibe grab your attention from start to finish. It is rare that an author balances the story telling with the novella length, giving us a tale that feels complete but Temptation in Shadows completely pulls it off. Although, I would love to have more stories about the other members of the Rose Briar group and the missing implanted children/now adults. This is a tremendous, fast paced paranormal short read.
Fast past and fun to read. I really enjoyed it!!
Temptation in Shadows by Gena Showalter Sean Walker can control shadows. He is a member of Rose Briar, a group comprised of people with extraordinary abilities. His next assignment is to convince, Gabrielle Huit, a technopath, to join the organization. First, he’ll have to get her to trust him and prevent others from harming her. I enjoyed Sean’s character. He is a dark and mysterious hero who refuses to get to close to others fearing his shadows will drive them insane. Gabby has had a rough life and trust no one. She is amazing for everything she has been through. The two are actually very similar and complement each other well. I love their dialog and banter. Temptation in Shadows is a really great story. The technopath aspect is refreshing and new; the concept original and intriguing. The story moved quickly, and it was easy to read in one day. As always, Gena Showalter is an excellent writer. Her stories are believable and exciting. If you enjoy paranormal romance with a thriller aspect, you should enjoy this book. Complimentary copy provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 3 3/4 REVIEW: This was a quick read yet good read. I found myself drawn into this world from the get go. I mean waking up not knowing where you are or why you are chained to the wall? Who wouldn’t want to know the answers. But as the story went on I kept wondering who was behind everything. So while this was a short read I did enjoy it. If you are a fan of Ms. Showalter and did not read this story when it was included in the anthology The Bodyguard. I would suggest picking up a copy Temptation in Shadow. I would like to know if Rowan is going to be getting a story. He is such a charmer : D Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley & St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
I absolutely adore LOTU and Showalter, but this did nothing for me.
ShadowClan is the home of the feirce. The vicious. The battle-hungry, aggressive, ambitious, and cruel... however... ShadowClan is also a strong clan. Determined, proud, and loyal, ShadowClan is a good clan for cats who love to fight. ShadowClan loves lizards and frogs as food, and food is sometimes scarce. If ShadowClan is your rightful place...<p> Rules<br> Remember the goal. To be as realistic as possible. check the weather every day. There could be something different! A snow storm can hamme the forest ine day, and can clear up the next, right? Or course! You don't want ti be the only person cowering from the rain if it's acctually cleared up, would you? Also check the dissease information as well. What's going around in your clan? Med cat meetings and Gatherings will be held regularly, acording to the real moon cycle. So, on a real full moon, we will have a gathering. Leaders, post cerimonies at your designated res located at 'a' res one, which is hq. This is subject to change IF nessecary. Other rules, follow the warriors code, no goddmodding, no mating in public, and Please PLEASE have good grammar.<p> Times of the Day<bp> [These are all in easetern time. Feel free to *please* convert to your time zone.]<p> 8:00 pm- Sun Rise<br> 8:30 pm- Mid Morning<br> 9:00 pm- Sun High<br> 9:10 pm- This is the time right after sun high when cats groom each other and share the news of the day.<br> 9:30 pm- Mid Day<br> 11:00 pm- Dusk<br> 11:30 pm- Twilight<br> 12:00 am- Midnight<p> If you fail to follwo the rules...<br> The 1st Time- You will have a stren talking to by a cat, depending on your rank. Kit- Answer to the wrath of your mother! Apprentace- Your mentor will be mad... Warrior- The leader will deliver your lecture.<br> The 2nd Time- Kits will again answer to their mothers, and punishments will be given. Warriors and apprentaces will also be given punishments, by the leader.<br> The 3rd Time [and above]- Kits will stay in the nursery for two days without coming out, warriors and apprentaces must stay out of camp for three days.