Authors: Desiree Holt
Amber McCloud is taking a two-week time-out with her friend Molly to heal the wounds from a bitter divorce. The last thing she expects is to meet a sexy man like Cesario “Rio” Negron. But the attraction is instant and hot. Not only does he teach her how good sex can really be, he also introduces her to the world of BDSM, a world she takes to like a kid with candy. It helps when she learns Molly and her husband are also advocates of the lifestyle. But when the two weeks are up Amber has to decide if what’s developed between her and Rio is real or if she will turn her back on it, afraid to risk her heart again.
“Man, is it always this hot in Texas?”
Amber McCloud stowed her suitcase in the trunk of Molly Trajan’s candy-apple-red Mustang and slid into the front seat, positioning the air-conditioning vents so they blew directly on her damp skin.
Molly laughed as she pulled out into the flow of exiting traffic. “Honey, you’re spoiled by all that chilled air up north. If you’re going to be here for a couple of weeks you need to toughen up.”
Amber fanned herself. “Maybe I should have planned this visit for the winter.” She glanced sideways at her friend. “Molly, I want to be very clear about something. I really, really appreciate you letting me dump myself on you while I try to put myself back together. I need the distance from New York and…and…everything else.”
Molly reached over and squeezed her arm. “What are friends for? Sweetie, we’ve known each other for twenty-seven years, ever since freshman year in college. I would be highly offended if you chose someone else.” She paused. “Besides, been there, done that. So it’s all good.”
“Does Nick… Did you tell him what’s going on?”
Amber was totally aware of how ecstatic Molly was in her second marriage, with the man of her dreams. A
man who adored her. All the things that were missing in her first marriage, she’d found with Nick, and more.
“Only the basics,” Molly said.
Amber bit her lip. “I just don’t want him to look at me with the awful, pitying look I was getting from our so-called friends in New York.”
Molly snorted. “Let me tell you, pity is the last thing you’ll see. If I let him off the leash he’d be on the next plane east to beat the shit out of Dennis McCloud. Believe me, he thinks men like that are scum.”
Amber wouldn’t have minded getting in a few licks herself. After fifteen years of marriage Dennis had somehow woken up one day and decided she was too flawed, too shopworn, too—whatever. He needed a re-engineered model to present the right image to his high-profile clients and the moneyed crowd they ran with.
Oh, he didn’t want much. A boob job. A butt lift. A facelift. Her teeth capped. Something that would take twenty years off her age.
“Nearly all your friends have done it,” he pointed out in a reasonable voice. “They understand what’s important.”
At first she’d been so shocked she hadn’t known what to say. She hadn’t even pointed out to him that the women in their crowd were hardly her friends. In fact, if she was truthful, she couldn’t think of one real friend she’d made since moving to the city. Most of her girl talk was via telephone with Molly.
Eventually she sank into a fit of depression until anger finally took over.
“Maybe you should get yourself someone already young enough for your specifications,” she spat at him.
Which was exactly what he did after a thoroughly nasty divorce.
Now Amber was trying to pick up the pieces of her life and stitch back together her shattered self-esteem. Not only was Molly her oldest and closest friend but she’d been through the same thing herself. And come out of it a real winner. She needed Molly’s humor and common sense and cheerleading. And the isolation of her home to hide from the world while she got her act together.
“I don’t want to make any kind of plans,” she said now. “Just take it day by day. All right?”
“Sure, honey. But you know Nick and I both work from home, right?”
Nick was a highly sought-after architect and Molly had found a new career in interior design. They often worked together on projects.
“Yes, but you meet clients in the office space you share in downtown San Antonio. Right?” She didn’t think she could handle strangers being around all the time.
“Yes, of course. It’s all good. Except…” She paused.
Amber’s stomach tightened. “Except what? What’s going on, Molly?”
“I know I told you about the cocktail party we’re having, right? Tomorrow night?”
Damn! She’d forgotten all about that.
“No problem. I’ll just take myself off to the movies. Or something.” The very last thing she needed was a bunch of people staring at her with curiosity and asking questions she didn’t want to answer.
“Up to you,” Molly said, “but I’ll stick my two cents in here. It might do you some good to mingle with people who don’t know your history. People you can just be yourself with. You can’t hide from the world forever.”
“I know, I know.” Amber sighed. She leaned her head back against the seat and closed her eyes behind the big sunglasses. “I just don’t think I’m ready to face anyone yet. You can’t imagine what it was like in the city, running into people who knew the story. Or worse, those who didn’t know and asked rude questions.”
“Oh,” Molly scoffed, “I do know. Believe me.” Then her voice turned sly. “But you know, Amber, I forced myself to go to a Fourth of July picnic when I didn’t even want to leave the house. If I hadn’t I would never have met Nick.”
Amber shook her head. “I’m not interested and not looking. Can we just leave it at that?”
“Sure, sweetie.” Then she chuckled. “For now, anyway.”
Before long they exited the Interstate Highway and rode in comfortable silence along the two-lane country road. They passed through the tiny commercial section of Limerock, an exclusive Hill Country community, then they were navigating the long driveway that led to the Trajans’ magnificent glass and limestone house.
“Wow!” Amber stared, drinking in the gorgeous structure before Molly hit a button and they pulled into the wide garage.
“Exactly the way I felt the first time I saw it.” She laughed softly. “But here’s the best part of it.” She pointed through the windshield.
Standing in an open doorway that led to the house was a man Amber could only call sex on a stick. Nick Trajan was well over six feet, lean and dark with thick, wavy black hair. His soft linen shirt and jeans outlined a graceful, athletic body. He opened Amber’s door, helped her out of the car and greeted her with a warm smile.
“Welcome to Casa Trajan,” he said, giving her a light kiss on the cheek.
Amber couldn’t help but smile back at him. “Thank you. And thanks for letting me intrude on you this way.”
“Not a problem. I’m happy to have one of Molly’s friends here for a visit. She’s been really looking forward to this.”
“Well, I appreciate it. I just want you to know.”
Molly had exited the car and come to stand next to her husband. “Only the guest gets a kiss?” she teased.
Nick’s voice deepened. “You know better than that.”
He pulled his wife close to him. Watching the kiss he gave her made heat surge through Amber’s body. An unfamiliar pulse throbbed deep in her cunt and her nipples tingled. Holy cow! And she wasn’t even the one being kissed!
Nick laughed softly when he finally broke the kiss. “You’ll have to forgive us, Amber. I have a feeling when I’m ninety my wife will still have this incendiary effect on me.”
A sharp bolt of jealousy speared through Amber, one she immediately tried to suppress. She was happy for her friend, delighted that her life was so on track. But somehow it only underscored the disaster that was her own life at the moment.
She turned away and went to retrieve her suitcase, but Nick was there before she could press the trunk release.
“I’ll get that. You go on inside with Molly. I’ll bet you could use a nice chilled glass of wine about now.”
Amber forced a polite smile. “That sounds nice.”
“Come on.” Molly linked her arm through Amber’s. “It’s a good thing I have my husband to remind me of my manners. Let me show you to your room. You can take a quick shower while I get the wine and some cheese and crackers. Don’t worry. All is good.”
* * * * *
How the hell did I let myself get talked into this?
Amber stood on the patio just off the spacious great room, sipping a delicious glass of chardonnay and hoping no one would notice she’d slipped out of the crowd milling around inside. Molly and Nick had bullied her into putting on a pair of slacks and a silk blouse, piling her hair on top of her head and applying soft tones of makeup.
“I could give in and let you hide in your room,” Molly told her, surveying the finished results, “but I have a feeling I’d only be an enabler. Just come out for an hour. Meet the guests. Pretend you’re rejoining the human race. Then if it’s too difficult you can shut yourself away and I won’t say a word.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” Amber warned.
So she’d let Molly introduce her to people, made polite conversation and beaten a retreat to the patio at the first opportunity. The heat of the day had subsided and a soft breeze ruffled the leaves of the ancient oak trees that stood like sentinels guarding the property. A half-moon hung in a clear velvet sky dotted with the crystal sharpness of stars. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen a sky like this in New York.
Amber inhaled a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“The Hill Country is very beautiful, is it not?”
The voice behind her was deep, with a rich resonance that vibrated through her body. The sound startled her and she whirled, wine sloshing over the edge of her glass.
“Forgive me. I’ve startled you. “
Amber ignored the wine dripping from her hand, unable to do anything but stare at the man in front of her. He was as tall and lean as Nick, but his complexion was darker and his hair a midnight black. Thick lashes fringed even blacker eyes and deep grooves scored his cheeks and bracketed his mouth. Amber’s mouth immediately went dry.
The walking sex god gently took her glass from her fingers, dabbed at her hand with a clean handkerchief and set her glass on the table.
“I should at least introduce myself. Cesario Negron. My friends call me Rio.” He lifted her hand and brushed a kiss over her fingers, sending shivers down her spine. “I hope you will be one of my friends,
She finally found her voice. “Amber McCloud.”
His smile was enough to melt her panties. “I know. I insisted Molly tell me where she found the lovely vision who seemed so uncomfortable in the crowd.”
Lovely vision? Me?
“I’m really not much of a party person these days,” she told him. “I’m being polite to my hostess by putting in an appearance tonight but I think I’m ready to retreat to my room.”
“Already?” He lifted an eyebrow. “But we’ve hardly had a chance to get to know one another.”
Amber gave a short laugh. “I don’t think you’d find me very interesting.”
He caressed her cheek lightly with the back of his hand. “I think that’s for me to decide, don’t you? Besides, when my old college roommate told me he had a gorgeous woman coming to visit I have to say my interested was piqued.” He placed his palm against her skin. “And I wasn’t disappointed. Just looking at you makes me want to do things with you that are probably illegal in at least three states.”
But Amber could only focus on one thing. “C-college roommate?” Hell. That made him ten years younger than her. Suddenly she felt as if her entire body had collapsed into a pile of wrinkled flesh.
Rio looked at her, concerned. “Did I say something wrong? You just got the strangest look on your face. I was only saying what was in my mind. I’m sorry if I offended you but,
You’re a dream come true.”
Again his words washed over her, her mind lasering in on the one important fact. She picked up her wineglass and took a healthy sip. Liquid courage. “That makes you the same age he is, right?”
“Yes.” He frowned, obviously puzzled. “I don’t understand.”
“Rio, Molly and I were college roommates. That makes me the same age she is. I’m ten years older than you are.”
“Ah.” He smiled. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you age is a state of mind? When I see a gorgeous, sexy woman the last thing on my mind is her age. The first thing is how fast I can seduce her.”
“Shh.” He reached up and undid the hair piled on her head, letting it fall to her shoulders in soft, auburn waves. Very gently he combed his fingers through it. “Like silk,” he murmured, letting the strands fall against his skin. “Please don’t think me too forward but I’ve been wanting to do this since I first saw you tonight.”
He slid his fingers through her hair to cup the back of her head and lowered his mouth to hers. The pressure was light at first but his touch was so hot it nearly scorched her. His tongue brushed back and forth across her lips, dusting the surface and tracing the shape. When he trailed the tip of his tongue along the seam she opened for him without hesitation and he plunged inside.
If Amber thought the first touch of his mouth was hot, this was combustible. Her blood turned to liquid heat and the walls of her pussy pulsed with need. Rio banded his other arm around her, pulling her tight against his body. The pressure of his muscular chest against her nipples made them pebble and swell. Electricity crackled through her and every muscle trembled. His talented tongue coaxed a reaction from her she hadn’t even known she was capable of.
He took his time with the kiss, tasting every inch of her mouth, licking the surface as if it was a gourmet feast. Other kisses she’d had in her life hadn’t even been a warm-up for this one. She clutched his arms, holding on as the world seemed to spin around her. His body was hard against hers and she could feel the thick length of his cock pressing against the soft flesh of her tummy.