Arden MacCarren can’t afford to lose control. Her family’s investment house has failed, their professional reputation is all but destroyed, and it’s up to Arden to hold the line. The only distraction she allows herself is a weekly drawing class where she can forget everything. Then she meets Seth Malone. When he poses in her class, strong, mysterious, and unbearably sexy, she can’t resist him. The only thing she can do is keep it purely physical—no emotions, no strings, and definitely no telling.
Seth understands responsibilities, both Arden’s and his own. During his last tour as a Marine he lost his best friends to an IED. He has a duty to look after his buddies’ survivors. All he allows himself is the stolen moments with Arden. But as he’s drawn into Arden’s battle with her demons, he comes face-to-face with his own. Seth will have to choose between a duty he can’t ignore and the longing to inspire Arden’s every desire—mind, soul, and body…
In this scene, Arden and Seth are engaged in a “rent boy and Manhattan socialite” role play….
When she reached the living room she tossed her bag on the sofa, then turned the chair away from the windows and sat in it, easing down with her back straight and her head bent. The sunlight permeated her suit, turned it to gold, her hair to gleaming chestnut. It was a Saturday afternoon, time in abeyance by gold sunlight, gold suit, molten eyes. Where the hell had she been, dressed like that? Head cocked, she looked up at him, tucked her hair behind her ear, and crossed her legs at the knee. “On your knees, please.”
The please was a formality offered because she didn’t have to give commands to a rent boy. Or a companion. She could mask them in requests, knowing he was bought and paid for. What the hell had he been thinking when he started this?
He hadn’t been thinking. Just acting. His body knew what it wanted.
He went to his knees, thinking about all the times he’d done this with kneepads on to protect him from rocks and shrapnel and debris from bomb blasts. All the ways you tried to protect your body from injury, how ineffective they were in the end. Something bigger, stronger, meaner was always waiting.
But right now a woman drenched in gold was waiting for him to play his role. He tried to get a handle on the lust flooding his system by taking her uppermost foot in his hand and putting his fingers to the buckle.
“Leave them on,” she said.
He bent his head and kissed her instep. Eased his palm along the swell of her calf, to the pressed flesh of her crossed legs, and lifted the top one off. The tight skirt didn’t allow for much movement, so he left her knees pressed primly together and hitched the skirt up. She didn’t do anything so gauche, or helpful, as wiggle. Instead, when he got the confection of what had to be silk in some form or another to midthigh, she lifted her bottom so he could push the skirt to her hipbones.
Baring panties in the same shade of gold. Lace. The fabric laid waste to the demure construction. Without thinking, he bent forward and touched the tip of his tongue to the tiny triangle at the juncture of her thighs. He traced the edge of the leg openings from hip to thighs, heard her breath catch as he did, then release on a slow, breathy exhale as he licked and kissed his way down to her knees. Her thighs were soft; she was thin but lacked the muscle tone of an athlete. Her skin was smooth, freshly shaved, more likely waxed. The lace contained darker curls, neatly trimmed; he breathed heat and humidity into them, then pushed his tongue against the top of her cleft.
She made that soft, pleased noise again. His cock leaped in his pants, then again when she said, “Yes, please.”
There was role playing and there was ridiculous; he drew the line at removing her panties with his teeth. Instead he reached under her backside, curled his fingers into the top elastic edge, and pulled them off, letting his fists brush her bottom as he did.
She shifted, intending to kick her panties free from her ankles, but he pressed down on her knees, keeping her in place. She looked at him, one eyebrow lifted, despite their positions, imperious in her shining suit and hair. He smoothed his hands up her outer thighs, curled his fingers around to the soft inner flesh, and drew them down and open, spreading her.
Her eyelids drooped. “It would be less awkward,” she said, one ankle tugging at the entrapping panties.
“You like me like this,” he said, meaning his bared chest and jeans. “I like you like this.”
“The shoes work for you,” she said with satisfaction.
“Even more with lace panties against them,” he said, and spread her knees wide.
It was awkward, until he bent forward and set his mouth to the top of her pussy. He was looking up at her as he did, so he saw her eyes close, her teeth dent her lower lip, the faint quiver of her lashes. He wanted to grind his cock against something, but there was nothing in reach. Shifting his hips made it better and worse at once, so he sat back on his heels and focused all of his attention on her.
One of her hands gripped the edge of the seat. The other came to rest on his head, heel by his temple, her long fingers curving through his hair to press against his skull.
They all but left dents in bone when he brushed closed-mouth kisses to the soft folds, lacking urgency, teasing them open before letting them close again. Her clit was swollen, slick, he noted before he shifted to the tender skin by her thigh. She tried to squirm down and open farther. He clamped his hands around her hips and held her where she was.
“Seth,” she snapped, or tried to, except it was hard to snap when the only air you got was from panting gasps.
“I can leave any time,” he said, neatly shifting the balance of power back to something resembling level.
“Seth, please,” she tried again.
“Hush,” he said, and brushed the very top of her sex with his fingertips. “You’re distracting me.”
He went back to work with her low groan of surrender echoing in his ears, making the golden light vibrate. He rode out the furious struggle as she wriggled her feet free from her panties then slid down and lifted her leg to his shoulder. He squared up to take her weight and teased open her folds with his tongue. Her fingers curled in his hair, seeking a grip on strands he hadn’t had cut since he was discharged.
The first time he circled her clit she sighed with relief. The second time she breathed yes god yes, barely audible over the air-conditioner. The third time she lifted her hips, pleading for more, harder, with body and mouth. In response, he slid his tongue down to her opening, circled there, felt her salty slick juices coat his tongue, his chin, his lips. She arched, lifting, trying to get his mouth where she wanted it, but he flattened his forearm across her belly and used the fingers of the other to hold open the top of her folds, exposing her clit to the cool air he could feel against the hot skin of his chest and belly. Even with him holding her up and open, her thighs were quivering with tension. He wedged his shoulders more firmly between her legs and resisted the powerful urge to grind the air.
She was close, tense, quivering, the pink sex flush blooming in the deep V of her jacket and spreading up her throat. Oh yes, she was close, helpless, pleading wordlessly. He closed his eyes and licked his circles a little harder, a little tighter until she went rigid in his arms and a soft, hoarse cry tore from her throat. He held her through it, pressing gently with tongue and hands until she subsided.
When her eyes opened, they were spaced out, satisfied, clearly adrift on endorphins. He palmed her juices off his face then went to work on his belt and fly.
“Stop,” she murmured.
“What?” Incredulous, his hand halted mid-zip. Was this some kind of role-play ending in which she sent him home unsatisfied? His brain short-circuited in the overload of no meant no, but fuck if he was coming back for another round of any-goddamn-hundred-bucks-an-hour-thing if he wasn’t getting off. Playtime was fun, but he was no masochist.
She reached out and swiped her thumb across his lower lip, and Christ, the look in her eyes. “I want to draw you like that.”
I somehow missed that The Muse released! As soon as I realized this, I added it to my review schedule and I’m reading/reviewing very soon. The past two books in this series have been amazing (all book can be read as stand alones). You can read my review for The List and Evening Storm. Anne Calhoun has a terrific erotic voice.