Welcome to Mid Week Tease, where myself and other author friends post a little something for you, the readers, from some of our published works, up-and-coming releases, and WIPs (Works in Progress).
I've been busy this week working on a couple of my WIPs, and thought I'd share from one. Since book two in my Bad Boy Fever series, Claimed by the Bad Boy will be coming soon (Estimated July release from Decadent Publishing) how about a sneak peek at book three, Bound by the Bad Boy?
I hope you enjoy this first-draft, unedited tease from Bound by the Bad Boy and your first look at Syn Sykes.
Noelle swallowed in an attempt to dislodge the lump lingering in her throat as she observed the back passenger door of the Bentley open and daylight slant across her bent knees. She schooled her face into the perfect mask of boredom, slipped her designer sunglasses into place, then reached and took the proffered hand of her driver.
“No need to wait, Braylen,” she said, gripping her Prada bag after exiting the automobile.
“I’m happy to wait, ma’am.”
The thwap of the car door closing behind her almost had her jumping like a frog on crack.
“I’ll call for you when my meeting concludes.”
He inclined his head. “As you wish.”
“You can do this,” Noelle mumbled the encouragement to herself from under her breath, observing Braylen take the driver’s seat.
Once the dark vehicle pulled away, she took a moment to glance up into the clear, cloudless sky. Late September in Denver wasn’t usually so, for lack of a better word, tropical. Although the fevered temperature overtaking her body might have more to do with her nerves than with the all too sunny weather.
With a careful brush of her palm over her hip she proceeded forward, watching her Manolo Blahnik’s as she followed the concrete from a private parking lot to the side of an unmarked, industrial looking, red-brick, four-story building.
When she came to the end of the walkway warmth radiated off the brick and pinged from the wide metal door, hitting her face and neck in a furnace blast of heat. She paused for a moment, tittering on the knife edge of decision. Perhaps this whole thing was a bad idea. Maybe she shouldn’t have sent her driver away.
Stop it. You’re here now.
Besides, she didn’t want to stand there and sweat, or to continue to ponder just how bad her idea was, so she pushed the intercom button mounted on the wall beside the door instead.
“May I help you?” came the question from a feminine voice.
“I have a three o’clock appointment.”
The distant street noise swirled around inside Noelle’s head, competing with the sound of her overactive heartbeat before a distinct buzz, click, followed by—“Come on in. Someone will escort you up”—reverberating from the little speaker on the device.
Refusing to let her nerves show, Noelle took a cleansing breath and reached for the hot as hell door knob. She hissed from between her teeth when it burned her fingers, so as if handling a hot potato, she opened the door with haste before stepping in—one foot. Two.
Cool air whooshed across her in an unexpected chilly caress. The change from steamy to cold had her nipples perking up and pressing hard against her bra and silky poppy-colored sheath dress.
With no time to acclimate, or take another step, a massive, Samoan looking man came toward her with a pure male “I don’t take any crap” swagger. For a split second, she considered slinking backward. Instead, she straightened her spine. She wouldn’t allow herself to be intimidated.
“Hello,” she said, “I’m—”
“Syn’s three o’clock. Follow me.”
He’d forgone any introduction or even polite niceties.
Rude much? She almost let that thought fly past her lips. Her brow crinkled. Wait. Noelle hit the rewind button in her head. The big guy called him, Syn. Shihan Sykes—Hojojutsu Master had been written on the bottom of the photographs at the dojo.
“Syn?” she questioned. She’d only been taking self defense classes at the Art of War dojo for a couple of weeks, but she was well aware everyone used proper titles for all the instructors. Heck, even lower belted teachers called higher belted teachers sensei. And higher belted teachers called lower belted teachers by their rank. “You refer to Master Sykes as Syn?”
He gave her the onceover—dark eyes glinting—a smirk forming on his lips. “‘Master Sykes’ doesn’t like to be kept waiting.” Then, Mr. Rude turned and made tracks.
“All right,” she said, not bothering to hide her snappish tone as she trailed behind him—heels click-clacking on the polished concrete beneath her feet.
As they made progress down the hall, they passed closed door after closed door. The strange thing was, they all had one of those indicators, like on an airplane, which flips from vacant to in use when you lock the door. Noelle read, vacant eight times, wondering what was up with that, but kept pace with the big guy.
They rounded a corner and came to a section of long, floor-sweeping, red velvet curtains. The curtains were closed, so she couldn’t see past what she figured to be an entrance into a space separate from the corridor she was walking. No matter how tempted she was to stop, pull back a section of curtain and peek so she could see what was on the other side, she didn’t. Instead, her gaze snapped to the brass doors on the opposite wall. Those doors sparkled almost a mirrored shine, although that’s not what snagged her attention. What had her studying them was the likeness of two crossing razorblades etched into the middle of each.
The doors shuttled open, and without so much as a glance in her direction, the man went in, turned around, and stared at her with raised brow. Since he was playing the strong and silent type—or perhaps a better explanation would be the brooding and scary type—she supposed she couldn’t just stand there staring back at him. No. If she wanted to meet master Sykes, she’d follow.
Once inside the elevator car, her escort placed a key into the wall pad, and hit the number three. Silence sliced through the enclosed space, except for the rattle of the cables. Not for the first time she considered she’d gone and slid off that precipice she seemed to live on. Yep, if the weakness assaulting the back of her knees was any indication, she was sinking fast. But, before she could hit the deep end of the abyss, or the floor of the elevator, she grabbed onto the fancy brass hand rail to her right in a white knuckle grip.
After listening to sensei Carrara talk about courage, and then seeing those traditional Japanese martial art restraint photographs hanging on the wall in one of the smaller training rooms, she went and did something crazy. And while she was the first person to admit the mainstream therapy approach hadn’t helped her, what she was doing now was…. Well, she wasn’t sure what it was. Reckless? Nonetheless, she was desperate. And everyone knows desperate people do desperate things, right?
How about insane things, Noelle?
Fine. Perhaps she was nuts, but insane or not, she was doing this, because after two and a half years of blah, blah, blah, with those degree toting quacks, and popping prescription pills and suffering with horrible side effects with no marked improvements regarding her condition—she was exhausted. Noelle had to take control of her life, even if the doing was more than a little unconventional.
When the ride stopped on the third floor and the elevator doors opened, she heard, “After you.”
She stepped out into a foyer—the big guy following her this time. And why was he trailing behind now?
Noelle took a moment to study her surroundings. To her right a rock wall with cascading water was highlighted by overhead lights. She focused on the tinkle of the water. It created a soothing rhythm over the gray-blue and slate stones, falling into a long troth-like basin flaming with fire. Wow. Talk about a feature that made an impression.
To her left was a floor to ceiling window. Beside that sunny spot, a huge planter filled with bamboo took up the corner. In front of her, a rough-honed, wood door, reminiscent of something found in a monastery stood open.
“Go on in,” said her escort.
She didn’t waste any time and walked through the open door. Two of the surrounding walls appeared to be shoji screens, only they seemed to be imprinted, or perhaps painted. The faded colors were more than shapes though. They were scenes—Japanese in origin. She blinked. Each section of screen contained couples paired up in various and explicit sexual positions. Her cheeks flushed hot in embarrassment, so she focused on something else.
In the middle of the room Bonsai trees sat on jade waist high pedestals and were positioned around two teakwood chairs and two futons which had been grouped in an intimate setting. Overhead, lantern lights dotted the exposed beam ceiling.
“Have a seat. Master Sykes will be with you momentarily,” said the big guy.
She spun around in time to see the stern, nameless man leaving.
Noelle removed her sunglasses, hung them by the arm off the strap of her bag, and took a seat on one of the plush white futons—placing her bag next to her as she crossed her feet at the ankles. While her mother would be proud she kept her posture straight, she tapped her fingers on her thighs in an unsophisticated manner.
She halted the nervous habit and curled her fingers into her palms before clasping her hands demurely in her lap.
“You must be, Ms. Graye.”
The fine hairs on the back of her neck and arms stood on end from the sound of that deep, masculine voice. She twisted to her left, and almost dropped her jaw. Shihan Sykes wasn’t the aged master she expected. Nope. The man entering the room stepped out from one of the sliding shoji screens, and he was, well, spectacular. His raven-black hair had been pulled away from his sharp chiseled face, worn in a knot on the back of his head, highlighting an exquisitely-shaped, closely shorn goatee, masculine jaw, perfect nose, full mouth, and golden-bronzed skin.
Her gaze danced over him, until she noticed his eyes. They were mesmerizing shades of amber, with long black lashes, and an exotic tilt to the outer edges, indicating Asian heritage somewhere within his background. Immediately, Noelle was struck with the image of a fierce sword wielding samurai warrior.
He came around the futon she was seated on—his movement’s quiet and fluid. Black tattoos, which appeared to be some type of writing, kissed the sweet spot beneath his ear. And both of his ears were pierced. In fact, what penetrated each lobe looked to be carved wood swirled in a fishhook configuration. Why did she want to tug his hair free from the restraint, watch it tumble around his sculpted face, and run her fingers through the dark strands?
On some level, Noelle was aware she hadn’t answered this man who took her breath away, yet she couldn’t find her voice, or encourage the movement of her frozen lips. Bad manners be damned, she just kept on with her vision quest, taking in his wide shoulders, hard, broad chest, tapered waist, long legs, then allowed her gaze to roam up, and up.
Sweet baby Jesus.
He had to be at least six-foot-four, and he was wearing loose, black, fisherman style yoga pants and a skin-tight white wife beater that stuck to every inch of his rippled torso. Oh yes. He was what most women would consider eye candy with his bulging biceps, strong forearms, and…. Her gaze shot to his feet when he stood still. Fantastic bare feet.
Without doubt, this was the most mouthwatering man she’d ever seen. E-v-e-r.
“Oh. Um….” She gathered her scattered wits as well as her composure. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to space out on you. Yes. I’m Noelle Graye.”
He was quiet. Too quiet. Some semblance of rational thought clicked, and she noticed he loomed in front of her—gazing down—attention locked upon her face. An aura of raw, leashed power rippled off him and beat against her. Okay. He was also as intimidating as heck.
Do not squirm, became her inner monologue.
“You appeared to be ravenous, Ms. Graye. Not spaced out.”
He stroked his goatee with his thumb and forefinger. “Quite.”
She waved her hand and laughed off his comment. “It’s been a long day for me, and I wasn’t expecting—”
He took hold of her hand and lightly squeezed. Oh my God. Did he know some type of ancient erotic pressure points? Because, something about the way he handled her, settled her nerves as well turned her on. However, before she could wrap her head around the combination of soothing yet lustful sensations bombarding her, he lifted her arm, bent, and brushed his warm lips over her knuckles before letting her go.
Good Lord. Not only had Noelle’s train of thought derailed, she swore she felt the brush of his mouth between her legs, which was ridiculous. She broke and did squirm back a bit. What was wrong with her?
“You weren’t expecting what, Ms. Graye?”
Her attention snapped back to him. “For you to be so….”
Hot. Scary. Gorgeous. She opted for, “Young.”
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