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Authors: Tina Donahue

WickedTakeover

BOOK: WickedTakeover
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Wicked Takeover

Tina
Donahue

 

She’s just inherited a tattoo
parlor, and the hunk who comes with it.

Lauren’s in a helluva mess. Not
only has she lost her corporate job, her long-absent father just left her a
struggling tattoo parlor along with the virile dude who runs it. Dante’s
sinfully hot with a killer smile and inked biceps. Lauren’s full-figured, sorta
pretty and wanting him badly. Dream on. She’s here to sell the place as quickly
as possible for some much-needed cash.

Dante sees the heat in Lauren’s
eyes despite her conservative appearance. He recognizes the dynamite woman she
could be if she’d just loosen up and have some wicked fun. Dominance and
submission. Making love in a public place. Having her lush body always
accessible to and ready for his.

Carnal games seduce them until lust
turns to surprising need and friendship to something much deeper.

 

A Romantica®
contemporary erotic romance
from
Ellora’s Cave

 

Wicked Takeover
Tina Donahue

 

Dedication

 

To fans who make writing so worthwhile.

 

Author Note

 

I’ve always loved the thought of a Plain Jane snagging a
hunk. In
Wicked Takeover,
Lauren is actually hotter than she believes.
She’s certainly the kind of woman Dante craves—voluptuous and smart with a kind
heart and a sense of adventure when it comes to carnal play. What happens
beneath a banyan tree and a carousel in the park is only the beginning of their
wicked fun.

 

Chapter One

 

Lauren Simms dug through her purse frantically for her
smartphone. Minutes earlier the damn thing had rung just as she’d pulled away
from a light. If not for the heavy traffic then, she would have answered the
call.

Parked safely now, she grabbed her phone and took a deep
breath. Her hands still shook. “Please, let this be it,” she whispered.
“Please.”

When she’d been sixteen, her plea would have been to have a
boy call her for a date. Any boy, as long as he didn’t mind that she was
painfully shy, only mildly pretty and indisputably full figured. Definitely not
a guy magnet.

At twenty-seven, Lauren no longer hoped for everlasting
romance and men. Now, she needed cold hard cash. Specifically, a job. Laid off
from her human resources position nearly six months ago, she’d sent out
hundreds of resumes and snagged a few interviews where she’d been grilled
harder than a radical nominee for the Supreme Court.

Not one of those HR people had wanted to hire her. She was
about to run out of unemployment benefits, a measly two hundred bucks a week.

It was beginning to seem like a million.

A dribble of sweat ran down her neck. The inside of her
Honda was warmer than a sauna from the muggy Florida weather. Lauren would have
sold her soul to turn on the air conditioner, but that ate up too much gas.
Perspiring badly, she held her breath and checked her voicemail.

Please, let this be—

“Do you need affordable healthcare and dental insurance?”
the automated voice asked.

Whimpering, she deleted the robocall and checked her email.
All of the messages were from useless job boards advertising the same crappy
positions. None from people who’d interviewed her.

You’re doomed.

She slumped in her seat. Another few months of this and
she’d blow through her meager severance and tiny 401(k) to make her car, condo
and utility payments that were coming up again in a few days. Oh wait. She’d
forgotten about her student loans. Nearly seventy thousand dollars worth so
she’d have a solid practical career in human resources.

None of the lenders had warned that her job would be
outsourced like everyone else’s.

Lauren bit her lower lip and considered her last option that
she’d kept trying to avoid.

Sticking out of her purse was the attorney’s letter she’d
received weeks ago, stating that she’d come into an inheritance from Frank.
Technically, he was her father.

Lauren had last seen him when she was five.

The car vents blew humid air, ruffling the edges of the
letter. Lauren stared at those papers as though they might wound her as he had.

She recalled the attorney’s words when he’d called.

“Your dad left his business to you.”

Lauren hadn’t been able to believe the man had actually
remembered her. As her shock had drained away, she’d told herself she wouldn’t
feel anything when it came to him. He’d made his decision concerning her a long
time ago. She’d be as brutally indifferent as he’d been.

His disinterest in her had lasted twenty-two years.

She managed her hard-nose attitude for two seconds, quickly
asking the attorney what happened. “I’m not being nosy,” she’d assured. “It’s
really none of my business. However, I…well…that is…you see, I was wondering…”
She’d continued to stammer then finally blurted, “How did he go? You know, pass
away. What happened?”

“Heart attack,” the attorney had said then soothed. “From
what I understand, it was mercifully quick and relatively painless.”

Spoken like someone who hadn’t died.

Seamlessly, he continued, “His life insurance paid for all
the taxes, staff salaries and other expenses for the next several months.”

“And after that?” she asked.

For the first time, he hesitated. “With proper management,
the business could generate a modest profit.”

Or it could suck her deeper into debt. She’d asked the
attorney to sell it. Sounding delighted, he detailed his outrageous fee to
handle the transaction. Money he’d get whether the sale went through or not.

Uh-huh. She was short on hope, not brains. Not liking the
odds he’d proposed, Lauren had told him to forget it. She’d find a buyer
herself. Right after she checked out the place, which her father had named
Wicked Brand. A freaking tattoo parlor. What had he been thinking, leaving it
to her, Ms. Practicality?

Clearly, he hadn’t considered the problem it would create in
her life. Even after all these years, dear old Dad hadn’t changed.

Lauren had. She wasn’t a frightened kid any longer. She was
a desperate adult.

Go on, get on with this. No one’s going to hire you.

She’d interviewed earlier today. While Lauren had been
inside the conference room, answering a barrage of questions about what she’d
been doing while unemployed, three more candidates had shown up, looking
self-assured and nearly bored, because they probably still had jobs.

On a heavy sigh, she left her vehicle and wilted at the heat
that was worse without the car fan blowing on her. It was only May but already
in the mid-eighties with punishing humidity. Dingy clouds blanketed the sky. A
few tourists milled about, their complexions ruddy from sunburns or the steamy
air.

Lauren checked the letter for the parlor’s address,
wondering if he’d gotten it wrong. This area of West Palm Beach was known as
Northwood Village, an historic area with hip watering holes, ethnic restaurants
and funky shops. Storefront after storefront boasted neon-colored
facades—fuchsia, coral, yellow, lime green. Bamboo chairs with bright blue and
pink cushions invited patrons to take a load off.

An artist had set up her easel on the sidewalk. Sweating
worse than a disgraced politician at a news conference, she painted away,
smiling at the few people who passed. They’d all dressed down in tees, shorts,
sandals. A few of them flicked their attention to Lauren’s navy business suit,
white blouse and sensible heels, which oddly enough made them glance away
quickly. As though they were afraid she was selling religion.

She checked the numbers over the doors and kept trudging
down the walkway that was surprisingly lovely. Scores of tropical plants and
flowers in a rainbow of colors fluttered in the balmy breeze. Reaching a
Jamaican restaurant, Lauren slowed at the heavenly scents of garlic, beef,
curry chicken. Her stomach rumbled. A departing patron opened the door, allowing
the sounds of reggae music and laughter to pour out.

Lauren caught a quick peek of the patrons, many of them
young. Months ago, she might have gone inside, chowed down and had a good time
even if it was by herself.

Not today. Counting pennies, she trudged on then stopped
abruptly at the sight of a detached building painted bright red with black
lightning bolts zigzagging across it. Waxy green plants surrounded the
structure, which had a mural of a woman on the front door. The female image was
dressed in cut-offs and a tank top that dipped low in the back with her
glistening raven hair pushed to one side. Emblazoned across her shoulders was a
tattoo that read
Wicked Brand.

A bold sign to be sure, but surprisingly unique and
artistic.

Lauren wondered if Frank had painted that. If he’d been an
artist.

She hadn’t a clue and stepped closer only to stop once more
as a young woman exited the parlor. Looking to be in her late teens, she wore
an outfit remarkably similar to the babe in the mural and was built like a
Barbie doll. Huge breasts, no hips, impossibly long legs. Her features were
lovely and Latina, possibly Cuban, her hair auburn rather than black and worn
in a ponytail. Her youthful skin was tawny, most likely from the sun, and bore
no tattoos. Unless the scant clothes she wore hid them.

She jogged down the street, her low-top sneakers slapping
the pavement.

Lauren envied the young woman’s energy and outstanding
figure. Could be she’d paid for her boob job—they couldn’t be real—by posing
for the mural. Reaching the front door, Lauren warned herself not to expect too
much from the inside. Possibly crappy furniture like you’d find in an auto
repair shop, along with biker types. Shaved heads, tattoos to spare, low-slung
jeans, crude language and weapons.

She should have let the attorney handle this.

Before she lost her nerve, Lauren slipped inside and blew
out all of her breath at the cold air washing over her. Damn, it felt nice.
Latin music pumped from the sound system, its beat strong and sultry, though
not loud. More like the volume you’d hear in a high-class restaurant. The black
tile floor sparkled with cleanliness, the same as everything else, the air
freshened with a faint cinnamon scent. Three black leather sofas were to the
right in the spacious front area. Photos of tattoos hung on the stark white
walls, along with an array of tees for sale. Everything in order and
surprisingly nice.

No one was behind the glass-and-chrome front counter.
Outside of her, the place seemed to be deserted. She wondered if the young
woman who’d just left worked here.

Lauren was about to turn to the door when one of the photos
caught her attention. Her hand went to her throat at a man’s tongue tattooed
with Michelangelo’s
Creation of Adam.
Good god, the details were amazing
and strikingly beautiful.

She regarded the next photo. A woman had her lids tattooed
with large, cartoon-like irises that made her look as though she was staring
even when she had her eyes closed.
Eww.
Edging away from the picture,
Lauren gaped at a tattoo of a monster’s head on a man’s groin. The guy’s
amazingly long cock was inked to look like the monster’s tongue. Frowning, she
leaned closer and sucked in a breath. Even his balls had tats on them.

Good god.
She didn’t want to know how much that must
have hurt.

At a sound from behind, she turned. A guy came down the
hall, his attention on the clipboard he held.

Lauren’s heart stalled then raced.

She guessed him to be in his early thirties, a mountain of a
man, possibly six-three, not a trace of fat on his hard body, just smooth
bronze skin and slabs of muscles.
Lord, lord, lord.
He wore faded jeans
and a gray sleeveless tee. His bulging biceps sported tats. The one on his
right arm was an armband of what appeared to be thorns. The design on his left
arm had a tribal look about it, possibly Celtic, a series of thick black swirls
that intertwined.

Lauren pressed her toes into her heels to keep from swaying
or moving closer.

His hair was shoulder length, like a pirate’s, a dark-brown
color, thick and silky that encouraged a woman to run her fingers through it to
ease those strands away from his gorgeous face. Masculine. Decidedly Latino.
Virile to the extreme. Even though it was barely two o’clock, he already had
five o’clock shadow and more testosterone pumping through him than the law
should have allowed.

She imagined him nude. Hell, she imagined both of them
naked, his bristly cheeks tickling the insides of her thighs, his tongue
lapping her cleft, settling on her clit but not rushing her climax. No damn
way. Lauren figured a guy who looked as great as he did wouldn’t let her come
quickly. He’d make her wait for pleasure. Once she was blubbering in delight,
he’d bend her over the front counter and warn her to behave, which meant she
couldn’t moan too loudly as he spanked her. Her cries of delight would come
later when he plunged his meaty cock into her juicy cunt, taking what he
wanted, because that’s the kind of man he was.

Uninhibited. Alpha to the core.

Lauren whimpered.

Despite the strains of Spanish guitars flowing from the
sound system, he’d obviously heard the noise she’d made. Halting suddenly, he
lifted his face, his dark-brown eyes meeting hers. He smiled easily,
confidently.

Her bones went soft.

“Hey,” he said.

Lauren’s belly fluttered at his deep, rich baritone.

Noting her office wear, he put the clipboard on the front
counter and moved closer, his stride smooth and assured. His fragrance wafted
toward her. Something clean and citrusy that reminded Lauren of summer days, an
ocean breeze, sun baking naked skin.

She locked her knees to keep her balance. Her attention
inched from his impressive Adam’s apple to his luscious mouth, his full,
kissable lips.

“Did you lose your way?” he asked.

With him, any woman would. Not only was he beautiful,
intelligence burned in his eyes and reflected in his surprisingly educated
speech. “I’m sorry, what?”

He regarded her suit and heels. “Are you looking for another
shop?”

“No.”

Surprise registered on his face. “You’re here for a tat?”

Lauren stared at the ones on his biceps, unable to help
herself. Damn, they were hot. “Not exactly.”

He nodded. The ends of his hair swayed over his broad
shoulders. Mesmerized, Lauren watched.

“A piercing?” he asked.

“What?”

“Are you here for a piercing?” He gestured to another wall
filled with pictures. The muscles in his upper arm flexed.

Lauren bit back a sound of approval at that and the silky
dark hair in his pit. She pictured her face pressed to it as she smelled his
wonderful, male scent.

“You can see what we offer in those photos,” he said. “We
also have binders of what we’ve done for past clients to give you an idea of
what you might like.”

Lauren nodded absently, wondering if he was dating the young
woman who’d left here earlier. If not, the spring in her step was probably from
him inking a hidden part of her. “Do people really get their tongues tattooed?”

He grinned, showing perfect teeth. “You bet.”

“Why?”

He shrugged good-naturedly. “Why not?”

Clearly, he wasn’t uptight as she’d always been. How Lauren
envied that. “Have you?”

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