I WANT, page 1
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Amber Quill Press, LLC
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An Amber Heat Book
This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author's imagination, or have been used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Amber Quill Press, LLC
All rights reserved.
No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review.
Copyright © 2006 by Adrianna Dane
ISBN-10 1-59279- 637-0
Cover Art © 2006 Trace Edward Zaber
Layout and Formatting
Provided by: ElementalAlchemy.com
Published in the United States of America
Also by Adrianna Dane
The Boy Next Door
Come Into My Parlor
The Diary Of Lillian Manchester, Book I: The Stranger
If You Dare...
Images Of Desire
Legend Of The Beesinger
Nights In White Satin
Primal Magic: Scent
Realm Of The Ice God
She lay upon the clear blue ocean, like a string of pearls on a silk azure sheet. And like the pearls she awaited the pleasure of those who sought her out. For one thing that could never be denied, when you visited Desirata you definitely got what you needed...not necessarily what you wanted.
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Antoinette paced the length of her office like a caged tigress, the interoffice memo crumpled into a small ball cutting into the flesh of her locked fist. She had been passed over yet again for the promotion. Endless nights of work on this last project should have garnered her the recognition she rightly deserved. Dedicating herself to its success, working night and day to see it through to completion before the deadline had all been for nothing. That bitch, Camille, had made the cut and not her.
She'd wanted that promotion--deserved it.
"Antoinette, staff meeting in twenty minutes."
She whipped around to confront the quivering woman hovering in the open doorway, pinning her in her sights like a doe with no hope of escape. Maggie had been her assistant for the last six months and now stood there wringing her hands together, a worried frown on her face.
Pitiful. How did the woman manage to survive this long in the piranha-infested waters of the business world without being eaten alive?
Antoinette didn't have much luck keeping assistants for any length of time--Maggie had lasted the longest.
"I'll be there shortly," she bit out, spearing her assistant with a hard, icy look that brooked no argument.
She saw Maggie gulp and watched with disdain as she quickly backed out of the office, closing the door softly behind her.
She spun away and continued her prowl of the confining perimeters of her office, arms folded tightly across her breasts, locking in her emotions. Like hell I'll be at that meeting and fawn over that slut. Lunging around her desk, she yanked open the bottom drawer and reached down to snap up her hand-tooled leather purse, knowing she couldn't stay in this office another second without blowing wide open. Patience had never been a part of her make up, and what little she did have could currently be counted among the dead.
A new grill had opened around the corner, and right now seemed the perfect opportunity to check out the bar.
The outer office floor was eerily silent as she strode across what felt like a football playing field length of open space to reach the bank of elevators on the other side. Their eyes latched onto her, trailing her as she left, making it feel like she was caught in the rifle crosshairs of a mob of hunters, all aimed at her, waiting for the right moment to drop her in her tracks.
Well, she wasn't going to give them an opening, that was for sure. Sonofabitch, Camille had probably fucked her way into this promotion. Literally.
Once inside the elevator, she spun around to face the front as the doors slid shut. She released the pent-up breath she'd been holding and her shoulders drooped with the burdensome weight of her failure--yet again. This was the second time she'd been passed over. What was it they'd said after the last time when she'd met with them, demanding to know why? She needed to learn to become more attuned to the other employees? She didn't bond well with her co-workers, something she needed to work on. What the hell did that mean? She knew how to get the job done. Employees were supposed to follow orders, that's what they were paid to do, weren't they? A person shouldn't have to worry about getting all caught up emotionally, and bonding with them. That was for sentimentalists--definitely not for her.
Reaching the main floor, she stumbled out of the elevator onto the marble reception area and hurried toward the revolving door that would allow her to make a quick escape. And good riddance. It was time to take stock and consider moving on. This company obviously wasn't going to get her what she wanted. She'd thought it was the type of place that recognized the determination to succeed. But apparently she was wrong. They wanted serendipitous mush, not aggressive balls. When she saw opportunity she grabbed it and ran and it didn't matter who got in the way. If they weren't with her, they were the enemy and tromped over to get where she was going. Why is it no one could see what it really took to succeed in the shark-infested waters of success? It was one of the things that had been practically beaten into her and she'd never forgotten it. Eat or be eaten.
Control or be controlled.
Her professor back in college had taught her all about the fine art of negotiation. And she'd paid dearly for that lesson. That was a long time ago and a lot of water under the bridge. No one had ever tried to dominate her since then--she was going to be the one with the power and the money. And then they'd see what she was made of. And she didn't plan to get there by way of anyone's bed to do it. She'd been that route once. Never again.
The summer sun seared her skin, yet the midday heat could not rival the blazing, frustrated anger she planned to numb with a few shots of scotch. She slowed her gait as she came closer to her destination and turned as she reached the entrance of the latest renovation on Front Street, peering up at the swirling blue neon sign about the doorway. "DreamTime Bar and Grill."
She grabbed the thick vertical, gleaming brass handle, yanked the heavy oak door open and stepped inside, bracing herself against the cold shock of the air-conditioned interior. As the door quietly closed behind her, muffling the street noises, she stood for a moment as she allowed her eyes to adjust to the dimly lit interior. Except for the old nineteenth century gaslight-styled lighting fixtures flickering around the mahogany and brass bar, it was very dark, but the subdued lighting guided her path straight to the bar. She bypassed the hostess with a wave of her hand, and headed for an empty barstool. Climbing onto the red leather seat, she plunked her purse onto the counter and surveyed the array of bottles setting on the mirrored glass shelving behind the bar. Eyeing her poison, she then searched for the bartend
Tapping her well-manicured nails impatiently against the satiny wood surface, she pointedly glared at him. Finally, he must have felt the laser of her stare and slowly turned his head. She almost choked on her own breath as she gulped in surprise. It was like colliding with a fierce front of hot tropical wind as his gaze settled on her.
Antoinette wasn't really into relationships or sex--had never found it that great an experience. But looking at the darkly bronzed, blatantly sexual male on the other side of the bar as his eyes blazed a trail through her sent an odd sense of steamy heat spiraling through her frigid bloodstream.
Quickly, she shifted her gaze and attempted to dispel the desire to shed her clothes right there and beg the delicious specimen reeking male testosterone to fuck her. Some undefined elemental electricity he exuded zapped right into her core, and she quickly came to the conclusion she didn't like the feeling. Not at all. It was as though he pulled at her control mechanism, sought the combination that unlocked the safe she kept all emotion locked behind. And it was a scary thought that he might actually have the ability to discover the right sequence of numbers to pull that door wide open.
Frantically, she grabbed her purse. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.
"What can I get you?" His voice was a blend of chocolate silk and chili peppers, making her body tingle and melt all at the same time. She was afraid to look up, to acknowledge him. What if he saw her response to him? Was she going crazy? Had she finally snapped after this last failure at work?
Slowly, she lifted her gaze to encounter-- Sonofabitch! She blinked rapidly. His eyes pinned her, appeared to pinpoint every secret trapped inside her. She could feel his clear Mediterranean sea-blue eyes penetrating into her, like a laser beam directed toward her soul. She couldn't look away, mesmerized by their liquid, rippling depths. An ache began in the pit of her stomach, tentacles of sensual feeling moving outward, downward, stroking from the inside out. His eyes--how strange. The pupils looked silver--silver flames that flickered and beckoned, shining molten pools of seduction. She attempted to speak, but couldn't find her voice. The pattern of her breaths increased until she was almost hyperventilating.
"What do you want, Antoinette?" How did he know her name? But the longer her gaze locked with his, the less she really cared how he knew. Some unheard command regulated her breathing to slower, long, deep sighs, almost as though he held some sort of hypnotic quality beneath the surface of his sensual tone.
The hard veneer of sophistication and control she always maintained eroded the longer she sat there. The sizzling hot-cold flames of his eyes clawed at the brittle surface, seeking a crack, a way to reach inside and pull out--
She blinked. Then blinked again, trying to dispel the haze of lust that seemed to consume her. She fought it, struggled to run from the foreign feeling of desire burning a hole inside her. Yet she couldn't seem to move. Her lips felt dry and parched, her throat raw and scratched, as though some long-unquenched thirst harboring inside for longer than she could remember needed to be assuaged, and she circled her tongue along their dry, needy surface.
"I-I don't know what I want," she finally managed to stutter out. "Not anymore."
Her eyes fell to the sensual curve of his full lips. They looked moist and soft. His tongue flicked out, then disappeared. She hissed in a breath as a sharp erotic pain shafted through her, and she wondered what those lips would feel like against her skin? What would he taste like? Surprisingly, she felt liquid gush from her pussy at the erotic thoughts that had begun to filter through her mind. God dammit it, what was happening to her? She felt the control on her emotions, like a slippery sunfish, slide effortlessly from her grasp.
She watched as he reached beneath the counter and then set a martini glass with a creamy, chocolate-looking liquid inside in front of her. Again she raised her gaze to his, tried to offer him her most haughty expression. But she knew it didn't work, because she couldn't break through the pleasurable haze that seemed to cling to her. Something began to nudge at her mind.
"I didn't ask for that. That's not what I wanted."
This time his lips curved into a slow grin, and the flash of perfect white teeth against dark skin blinded her. "Are you sure? Why don't you try it? You may find that it's just to your taste."
She fought the need to lift the glass, to taste its contents. But something pushed against her denial and suddenly she badly needed to drink the mixture contained in the glass. Reaching out, she lifted it, and sipped tentatively.
Spirals of pleasure swirled through her as the decadent bite of a chocolate martini slid down her throat. She took another swallow. Then another, until she had drained the glass completely.
The seductive bartender leaned closer. "What do you want, Antoinette?"
"I-I don't know what you mean."
"What do you desire?" His lips moved closer to her own. She watched them, wanted them, could smell the exotic essence of the man and she began to tremble.
"I want...I want... I don't know what I want." And she meant it. Right at that moment, she no longer knew what it was she desired. And she felt bereft, because until that moment, she'd known exactly what she wanted in her life. Now, suddenly, nothing seemed clear. She was beginning to feel again, and that frightened her. Emotions shouldn't play any part in her world as she'd packed them away along with all her old life. But something was happening and she started to panic, raising frantic eyes to his.
His transparent, hypnotic blue gaze seemed to stroke her, soothe her, and fear disintegrated.
"I'm going to help you find out what it is you want, Nettie. I hope you enjoyed the martini, but I think you need to go home now and rest. I would guess you're very tired after such a difficult day. You need to sleep, and think about what you really want...what you truly desire."
"Yes," she found herself agreeing. "I need to go home."
Slowly, she rose from the barstool, reaching for her purse as she slid unsteadily to her feet. He was right, of course, she was very tired. She opened her purse to take out her wallet. He reached across the bar to lay a hand on hers. She hissed as a jolt of electricity zipped through her at his touch and her surprised gaze snapped to his.
He shook his head. "No, Nettie. That drink was on the house. Sweet dreams, Antoinette." Then he removed his hand from hers and it felt like the back of her hand had gone from a warm, peaceful, sun-laced beach to a glacier of ice.
Rubbing at it, she turned away and walked out of the bar like a sleepwalker, unaware of anything other than the need to get home. To sleep.
She hailed a taxi and arrived back at her apartment in what seemed like record time. She was so tired. Shedding her clothes and quickly pulling on a nightgown, she folded back the bedding and slipped beneath them.
You need to sleep and think about what you want...what you really desire.
As her lids lowered, and her body relaxed into the contours of the soft mattress, his words sifted through her thoughts.
"What do I desire? " were the last coherent words she mumbled before sinking into sleep.
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Antoinette rolled over and stretched as she began to surface from sleep to full consciousness. As awareness invaded her senses, her eyes flew open. Something wasn't right. The support against her back felt all gritty, like she was lying on--
She whipped around and came up onto her hands and knees, her fingers sinking into the soft white sand she was now kneeling on. Blinking rapidly, she shook her head, tilted it back and found a vista of cloudless sapphire sky about her. Her ears caught the rhythmic movement of waves breaking against the shoreline.
She must still be dreaming, and reached up to pinch her arm in an attempt to make herself wake up. Ouch. Well, that hurt, but the scenery didn't alter. Cautiously, she swiveled to look in the opposite direction and saw palm trees and lus
And then, horror of horrors, it dawned on her that she was stark naked. Frantically, she looked around for her clothes, but not a stitch of material was anywhere in sight. What the hell had happened to her? She turned and plopped down on the sand, staring out at the horizon. It was sure beautiful, but she didn't belong here. What was the last thing she remembered? She closed her eyes, rubbed at her temples, trying to remember. Then opened her eyes to stare at the expanse of blue sea and groaned.
Oh, yes. The lost promotion, walking into the DreamTime Grill, a hot-looking bartender, and a chocolate martini. But she also remembered staggering home to her own apartment, dropping into bed, and falling asleep. So this must be a dream, right? But what the hell was she doing here naked?
"Good, you're awake."
Antoinette snapped her head around, shielding her eyes with one hand, and looked in the direction of the female voice. Her jaw dropped at the vision gliding toward her.
"Who are you?" she asked as she protectively crossed her arms over her bare breasts and scrunched her legs up close to her body.
The vision smiled a perfect smile. Her lush, wavy platinum hair hung well below her waist. The only adornment on the curvaceous beauty was a large white lily holding back one side of her center-parted hair and a vibrant flowered lei hanging around her neck.
As she reached Antoinette, she leaned forward and held out a slim hand. "Come with me."
Antoinette could only gape at her. Her focus fell to the most perfect breasts she'd ever seen on a woman--not that she really looked all that often. They were full and firmly rounded, with burgundy blushing areolas and tightly budded nipples. As she watched, the vision cupped one of her breasts with her hand and smiled at her with invitation.
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