Crossing the Line: Without a Trace series, a contemporary erotic romance novel

BOOK: Crossing the Line: Without a Trace series, a contemporary erotic romance novel
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WITHOUT A TRACE SERIES

BOOK TWO

Crossing the Line

by

Ally Bishop

©2015 Ally Bishop

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution

Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Attribution--You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

Noncommercial--You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

No Derivative Works--You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work without written consent from the author and/or publisher.

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should be directed to [email protected]

Cover Design by Ally Bishop

Edited by Patricia D. Eddy

Proofread by Audrey Maddox

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to similarly named places or to persons living or deceased is unintentional.

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To Nkanyiso Mpofu, wherever you are:

You believed I could write when I didn’t.

There’s no more precious gift than a true teacher.

Thank you.

CHAPTER 1

WHAT IF?

I’ve always believed that we have a soul mate, and that when we meet them, inside, we’ll know. Crazy, isn’t it? Surely we’d have been born with some kind of homing beacon, something to lead us to them, if that were the case?

Yet I can’t shake it. Every time I meet an old couple who’ve made it through the storms, or two people who have that unique bond where they finish each other’s sentences and seem to live only in their shared world...I’m convinced I’m right.

And I want that—the connection that draws two people together and creates love to last a lifetime.

The problem: When you’ve already tried once and had your heart broken, how do you ever try again?

“You’re sure you don’t want to join us afterwards? Meet-and-greets only take a half hour, max.” Noah glances at me from across our desks in our dining-room-turned-home-office. We run a dinner-theater company—Elementary—out of our apartment, and while we’ve got a ways to go before we’re a success, we’re finally in the black—enough that Noah and I can work for ourselves full-time, rather than have side jobs to pay the bills.

“I’ve got the meet-and-greet on the Upper East Side tonight, a marketing event in the morning, two meet-and-greets tomorrow, and last-minute planning for the party on Saturday.” I look up into my brother’s deep blue eyes, ringed with silver, just like mine. “I’m absolutely positive I don’t want to meet you and Lux at some dance club or murky bar, wherein y’all will pick up bed partners and I’ll come home alone. Weird how it just doesn’t appeal to me, eh?”

He sighs dramatically. “Sister dear, you put a little bit more effort into that sexy secretary look you’ve got going on there, and you’ll also be coming home with a little something warm for your very cold bed.” He points a finger at my nose. “And you forget, Lux is off the market. She and Evan are doing the holy handholding.”

My brother’s skepticism around romantic commitments is legendary, though I know he likes Evan. The guy’s nice enough, a sweetheart really, and a good submissive to Lux’s dominant preferences. But he’s not who I thought she’d end up with.

“My lovelies, I’ve arrived. Where’s my party?” Lux waltzes in our front door, decked out for the night in patent leather pants and a crimson corset, her jet-black hair pulled up into a high ponytail. Did I mention she’s a professional Dominatrix?

“Your party is about to start, Lulu,” Noah greets, standing to buss her cheek and using his pet name for her.

“Any chance my favorite writer is joining us?” Lux pulls me out of my chair and hugs me, enveloping me in her soft, sensual fragrance.

I squeeze her back. “I wish I could. But alas, I have to work. Someone’s gotta keep this business going.” I wink at Noah, and he grabs his chest.

“I’m injured, dear sister. How could you say such a thing?” He slaps his laptop shut and reaches for his leather jacket. “I fear I’ll need several libations to salve my wounded soul.”

I roll my eyes at his drama. “Please. Some pretty, young thing will do the job just as well.”

“Very good point,” he agrees, slinging an arm around my shoulders. “Sure we can’t change your mind?”

“Evan’s going to meet us there,” Lux interjects. “And we’ll no doubt need someone to keep your brother’s seat warm between trysts.”

Noah grins, perfectly happy with his reputation as a Don Juan.

“Nope. Already told Mr. Crane I’d be there at eight. So you two go. Tell Evan I said hi. And Lux, try to keep my brother out of too much trouble. I’d rather we not have a repeat of last weekend.” I give my brother a pointed look.

Noah’s grin fades a bit, and Lux winks at me. “I’ll do my best, but he’s your gene pool, darling. I have a feeling ‘trouble’ is in your blood.”

I snort as they close the door. If that’s the case, it certainly skipped over my DNA. I’m the furthest from trouble you can find.

I miss them as soon as the door closes behind them. They’re probably heading out to Noah’s favorite haunt, East-West. I’m pretty sure the bartender knows them on sight: Lux isn’t exactly forgettable with her viper sexuality. And while Noah’s my brother, I haven’t missed the fact that he’s hot with his dark curls and easy smile.

I’ve gone out with him and Lux often enough to know how these things go, and I love them both dearly. But I’m over the whole midweek night out. Because the three of us work non-traditional work schedules, Noah and Lux are convinced we must take full advantage of it on a regular basis.

As I pack my crossbody bag and double-check my makeup, my shadowed gaze reminds me again why I stopped “partying.” A broken heart doesn’t make for boisterous company.

Ian Crane lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, not far, thankfully, from the subway stop. One track was closed down, so I had to change trains three times just to get here. I left early enough that I’m just barely on time. I take the steps up to the front entrance, and the door opens as I’m cresting the last stair.

It’s a good thing I’d already established my footing on the landing, as otherwise I might have tripped. One of the most stunning men I’ve ever seen stands before me: deep gold, too-long hair brushes his wide jaw in a way that you typically see in magazines, a perfectly cut suit sets off his broad shoulders and narrow waist, and dear God, all I can think is that Adonis must have been reincarnated into this man.

“Mr.—” My mind goes blank, and I have to stare down at the folder in my hands to read his name. “Crane?”

“Ian, please. You must be Ella Storm.” He holds the door, beckoning me inside. “Come in.”

Even his voice is sexy, with a deep, rich tone that makes me think he could read the dictionary and I would want to listen.

His house is...well, let’s just say my Brooklyn apartment could fit in here five times and still have square footage left over. The rooms are spacious, well designed, and modern.

“You needed to see where we’re going to have dinner, right?” He quirks an eyebrow at me.

The problem with incredibly good-looking guys is that I can barely function around them. I find my tongue and push the words out. “Yes—sorry.” I pause, searching for something to say. “You have a beautiful home.”

“Thanks.” He meets my gaze with a warm smile, and I drop my eyes to my folder. I just have to get through this without embarrassing myself, like, say, slobbering over our new client.

He guides me to the dining area in the open floor plan, showing me how he hopes everyone can be seated and yet still take part in the show.

We’re used to working in typical New York City apartments: cramped, overloaded with furniture, with little room to set up props. I say as much to him. “This will feel like we’re on a Broadway stage.”

BOOK: Crossing the Line: Without a Trace series, a contemporary erotic romance novel
9.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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