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Authors: Lyric James


BOOK: PhoenixKiss
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Phoenix Kiss

Lyric James


Layla Martin makes her living exposing all the wicked little
secrets of the rich and famous. Exposing Jordan Gaines, the mysterious
millionaire, is exactly the break she needs.

Jordan has spent his entire life protecting a dark secret—he’s
a phoenix shapeshifter, one of the last of his kind. When he finds Layla hiding
in his home after he shifts, he offers her a deal—he won’t call the police if
she spends one night in his bed.

Layla believes she’s stumbled onto the story of a lifetime.
Jordan thinks sleeping with Layla will discredit any exposé she plans to write.
Neither expects the hours of unrelenting, primitive passion, the fast bond that
forms between them or their fierce desire to keep the night from coming to an


Ellora’s Cave Publishing




Phoenix Kiss


ISBN 9781419937019


Phoenix Kiss Copyright © 2011 Lyric James


Edited by Carrie Jackson

Cover design by Fiona Jayde



Electronic book publication December 2011


The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.


With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.


Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or
distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without
the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including
infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is
punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. 
( Please purchase only authorized electronic or print
editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The
characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.


The publisher and author(s) acknowledge the trademark status and
trademark ownership of all trademarks, service marks and word marks mentioned
in this book.


The publisher does not have any control over, and does not assume
any responsibility for, author or third-party Web sites or their content.

Phoenix Kiss

Lyric James



As always, to Henry, my happily ever after.





I don’t think I’ve ever been edited harder and tougher in my
life than with this story but…that
a complaint. It’s a sincere
thanks to my editor, Carrie Jackson, for all her hard work and for making me a
better writer.


Chapter One


Sunk low in her car, Layla Martin scanned the dark street as
her thumbs rhythmically tapped the lower curve of her steering wheel. She
gripped each indentation. From where she sat, the neighborhood looked exactly
as it should. Half-acre lots with manicured lawns sporting elegant two- or
three-story homes lined the clean streets. It was precisely what she expected
from the filthy rich. On the outside, everything was home-and-garden

But secrets lurked behind those gilded French doors.


Kinky sex.


A place a reporter like her flourished.

Her fingers slid over and around the grooves in the wheel.
She removed her car key and tucked it into the front pocket of her dark jeans.
She opened the glove compartment, slipped her remaining keys inside and took
out her tiny digital camera.

This was the night. She felt it and grinned as excitement
and nervous energy thrummed through her veins.

Calming herself, she tilted her wrist and checked her watch.
It was now or never. With a couple of hours before the target of her next story
came home with his latest date, she had just enough time to get in, hide and
wait for the games to begin.

Breaking this exposé was almost too easy.

Of course, every scandal had its drawbacks. A rich society
matron’s addiction to crack cocaine turned out to be marijuana. Some rich old guy’s
kinky sex may only be a shoe fetish. But every now and again, a really juicy
piece of information came her way and put her on the front page of the
for a month.

If all went well, tonight was her next cover.

Gazillionaire Jordan Gaines’ kinky BDSM-ménage-sex fetish
would be all over the news and on the front page of every newspaper in a matter
of days. All because of her.

Layla Martin.

Reporter of the stars, extraordinaire.

Once this scoop came out, everyone would know her name. The
newspapers wouldn’t have a choice. They would have
to take notice and respect her for the journalist she was. Well, maybe not
her but they’d sure be mad as hell one of their reporters didn’t get the story
first and they’d wonder how the heck she did. By the time her feature hit the
stands, they’d be crawling on their hands and knees begging her to work for

As if she ever would.

Surprisingly, she enjoyed working for the
. It
wasn’t exactly what she’d expected when she graduated from college and started
looking or a job. But after a few months, she’d come into her own and found
investigating the lives of the rich and famous wasn’t so bad. No, it wasn’t the
New York Times
or the
San Francisco Chronicle
but every story the
told was fact. Okay, she needed to correct that. At least every
told was the truth.

Some reporters did tend to bend the truth a little bit,
especially with the articles about those alien babies. Unlike them, Layla was
serious about her career.

Sure, some things about people should be kept private and
personal but if you chose to live your life in the spotlight, you set yourself
up for the scrutiny of the media and the sheer nosiness of the general public.
Privacy was for regular people. Those who didn’t live in the spotlight craved
what happened inside it and wanted to know every freaking detail.

That’s where she came in.

Working for the
wouldn’t get her nominated
for a Pulitzer Prize but she staked her reputation on every piece she wrote. She
didn’t tell half-truths, didn’t fudge the data or add a little extra here and
there to get the buzz going as others did.

If what she published couldn’t be backed up with sound,
provable facts and absolute proof that couldn’t be denied, she didn’t write it.
Sometimes her editor hated her for it but they’d never gotten sued and taken to
court over anything she wrote and they never would.

Every writer she knew wanted a piece of Jordan Gaines. From
Wall Street Journal
TV Guide
, they all wanted an interview
with him. The man was movie-star gorgeous, young and successful, almost as rich
as Donald Trump. However, unlike The Donald, he never granted interviews.


All they ever got was a press release from his publicist.
The public knew next to nothing about him except the rare picture of him dating
the newest “it” girl. What they knew was when and how he made his money. And no
one ever got inside his million-dollar mansion.

Except tonight. It was his own fault really. If he weren’t
so secretive about who he was and what he did in his personal life, she
wouldn’t have to resort to something so desperate. The lack of concrete
information made her curious. Heck, it made every reporter on the face of the
planet curious.

Except she was the only one crazy enough to break in his

When Layla stepped on the driveway leading up to Jordan’s
home, she saw headlights coming from the front of the house.


No one was supposed to be here, damn it. Looking left then
right, she realized the one place she could hide was a row of bushes.

She dove headfirst into the hydrangeas. She hated the
outdoors. Any moment she was sure a spider or a snake would smell her warm
blood and slide up her pants. It gave her the creeps.

When she saw the sleek black car, she panicked. Was it
Jordan? Was her intel wrong? Had he ruined her front page story by leaving the
damn house?

She sneaked a peak as it drove by and almost laughed when
she saw the white lettering on the side of the vehicle—Merry Maids. Thank

It wasn’t just the story she was dying to get. Even she
could admit a secret thrill of lust tingled up her spine every time she saw
Jordan pull up in front of his imposing office building, which sat directly
across the street from the

The Gaines Building towered over the moderately sized
four-story, red-brick building that housed her paper. It had everything from a
coffee shop, a bank, law offices, doctor offices and the conglomerate that was
Gaines Enterprises, LLC.

Because her cubicle was right by the window, she witnessed
his daily arrival. She could set her clock to the man arriving every day
precisely at 8:45 a.m. in his super-stretch black limo. And he was always
impeccably dressed in a designer tailor-made suit in varying shades of brown,
black or blue.

It was definitely a treat to watch him. The man exuded
confidence and wore class like a second skin. His long, muscular frame
epitomized raw masculine perfection.

Layla hated to admit she made sure she was at work so she
wouldn’t miss seeing him come in each day. It was pathetic actually. But hey,
after her last breakup over six months ago, she had to get her eye candy where
she could.

Watching Jordan Gaines was unquestionably mouth-watering eye

But regrettably, she always saw him from a distance. The
thought of possibly seeing him naked, up close and personal tonight produced an
ache. Every red-blooded woman alive wondered what he was like in bed and her
blood definitely ran hot for the man, even though he did go through women like
flour through a sifter.

Unfortunately, no one ever kissed and told. They probably
signed an
I-won’t-tell c
ontract before they fucked him.

Not that she’d ever have a chance to do that. To her he was
another story, another scandal to break. Besides, she’d sworn off men for a
while after the last fiasco of a relationship she had. From now on, she would
use men strictly for sex. Wham, bam, thank you sir, that was her motto. Love
didn’t live here anymore.

On her knees in front of the bushes, she swept her ponytail
into her black baseball cap. She stayed low and sprinted along the hedges
beside the front yard until she got to the back. There, she needed no cover.
His fence was so high, no one could see into the yard.

She stopped and allowed herself to appreciate the splendor.
There was a deck, a hot tub and a pool. What she wouldn’t give to dive in and
relax. No time for that though. A garden gazebo with shimmering white curtain
panels tied at each corner sat tucked in a corner of the yard.

Creeping forward, she eased toward the door. A small bit of
digging at an alarm system company had turned up that most nights Jordan almost
never switched on his alarm but he did lock his doors.

She reached inside the back pocket of her jeans and pulled
out a small pick, which she inserted into the lock. A tweak to the left and
right then back to the left again and she heard the soft click. A little trick
she learned from an ex-boyfriend. She said a small prayer, took a big gulp and

After sixty seconds passed and she didn’t hear a supersonic
blast to her eardrums, she released a sigh of relief. But for all she knew, he
had a silent alarm as well. It gave her pause as trepidation tingled down her
spine. If she got caught in his house, her life as a free citizen and her
career would be over.

A tiny part of her wanted to snoop around, take pictures.
Shots of the inside of his home would solidify her story but again, there was
no time for that. She had to find a good place to hide. And since she assumed
all his kinky behavior happened in his bedroom, that was the room she needed to

When her cell phone buzzed against her back, she jerked
upright and almost sent a vase tumbling to the floor before she caught it.
Fingerprints. She wiped them off with her shirt before putting it back down to
look at her cell phone.

It was her editor.

She knew what he wanted, had heard the rumors swirling
around the paper. Someone was getting canned. She needed this story so it
wouldn’t be her, which was another reason she was so determined to get the
scoop on Jordan Gaines.

Peripheral shots of a large fireplace, a sixty-inch
television, hardwood floors, black granite countertops and luxurious sofas
stuck in her head as she headed for the staircase that wound up to the second
floor. She peeped in room after room until she knew she’d found his.

It was amazing.

A large masculine, mahogany-stained bed sat in the center,
anchored by two nightstands. A massive chest of drawers and a dresser sat in
opposite corners of the room and a lingering scent of him filled the air.

Sandalwood and sage. Clean and masculine.

Her breath caught at the view of the city from the balcony.
She wished she had time to stop and enjoy the late-evening spring breeze. But
she didn’t. She was on a mission.

She opened one door and found the bathroom. “To die! Man,
this guy really knows how to live.”

A quick scan of the room with its whirlpool tub and walk-in
shower didn’t reveal a good hiding place. Either he or one of his guests might
have to use the restroom anyway. Plus there was no shower curtain to hide

Opening another, she found the perfect spot. His closet. And
not just any closet. It was a room a sane woman would kill for. It had shelves,
cubby holes, drawers and spaces to hang everything imaginable in a person’s
wardrobe. The man had more clothes than a large department store.

Because of all the area, this space provided the perfect
hiding spot and there was even a quaint little stool to park her tush. Even if
he came in the closet, she could tuck herself behind a rack of clothes or slip
inside one of the other doors. She smiled.

Hopefully he’d be so involved in getting down and dirty into
kinky sex, he’d drop his clothes where he was standing and not bother with the
closet. She pulled the little chair up to the door, cracked it open an inch and
sat down to wait.

Less than an hour later, she heard…something.

A soft whoosh. But that didn’t fit quite right. She peeped
out the door and saw something flash in the sky out of the corner of her eye
and turned her head. She squinted. It looked like a large ball of fire.

“What the hell?”

It was moving.

Fast and close.


The next thing she knew, a ball of flames dropped right on
the balcony. But it didn’t look dangerous. It was dazzling. Majestic, even.
Brilliant shades of crimson and gold made her fingers itch to reach out and see
if it would be hot to the touch. Were those wings? Almost immediately, the
shimmer of light began to shift and change. Her eyes widened as it disappeared.

Layla slid forward off the stoop and blinked. “Oh my…”

In place of the brilliant, shimmering fire stood Jordan
Gaines, splendidly naked.

She inched closer to the door. “What the hell?” she

He stepped inside the French doors and stretched. Every inch
of his body seemed to ripple as the radiant shades of red and gold slowly slid
away, almost melding to his skin to reveal corded sinew and muscle.

Her gaze traveled over his broad shoulders to his
well-defined bare chest, which had a sprinkling of dark, silky hair. His abs, a
perfect six-pack, led to a thatch of curls around a magnificent, even though
not aroused, penis.

Her tongue snaked out and licked over her dry bottom lip.
My, my, my. She knew it. He was absolutely gorgeous, everything she imagined
and more. She wanted to jump out of the closet, attack him and see how long it
would take to make him aroused with a few delicate swipes of her tongue.

Okay Layla, this is not what you’re here for.

She was supposed to catch him in an illicit sex scandal, not
become a part of it. But, shit. Did she just stumble upon the biggest
story…like…ever? Was this the reason Jordan Gaines was so aloof, so secretive?

Because he was a…hell, she didn’t know what he was.

BOOK: PhoenixKiss
9.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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