Cover Dark Venues
 
a Quickie by Mardi Ballou
from Ellora’s Cave

Here’s a steamy excerpt. Enjoy!


Taking one giant step, he was way inside her comfort zone. “About that chemistry we’re supposed to project…” He took her in his arms and she nearly melted. Her heart was pounding as if she’d just run a marathon in stilettos. Though her brain kept broadcasting warnings, Val shook them off with little effort. Maybe she was about to break her previous record for stupidest stunt ever, but she wasn’t going to stop him. Her nerve endings wouldn’t let her. Whatever this man did, it was going to feel frickin’ good. At least for a moment, and she was ready to settle for that.

* * * * *            

     Val was softer and more sensational in his arms than she had any right to be. Why couldn’t the actress in person live up to all the disreputable hype he’d heard? Then she would be easy to talk business with and walk away from. Without a backward glance. There was way more to this woman than what met the eye. And what met the eye turned him on and had him rock-hard.
     He seized her lips with his in a searing kiss. Tooth to toot—the fangs would come later, he thought before shutting down any interest in their mutual work—tongues exploring, breath mingling. She tasted like wine and strawberries with a hint of fine dark chocolate. She smelled of the same. He needed a deeper experience of that taste, to lose himself and thoughts of caution in the pulse of her being. He sank into her so deeply he’d surely lose his way.
     “Chemistry…” she murmured when they’d broken the first onslaught.
     “Much more than that, my lady. Where’s your bed?”
     She nodded to a doorway. He grabbed her up in his arms, caveman style, and lunged to the room she’d indicated. Big bed. Good. He dropped her on it, flung off his clothes and, when she lagged behind, tore off the scraps of lace separating them. “Bloody hell, you’re beautiful,” he breathed at the first sight of her perfect body.
     She flashed a perfect smile. He usually preferred women with a closer connection to nature, but right now his body wasn’t about to tolerate any delay. Later they’d sort it all out. Now…
     “Hugh,” she exhaled. “You really think I’m beautiful?”
     Good god, could she have any doubt on that score? A flicker of melancholy in her eyes told him she did. He sat next to her on the tousled bed. “I know you are,” he rasped, stroking her cheek with his calloused hand. Her skin was so soft, he cringed at how rough his hand must feel tracing the contour of her cheek. To his amazement, the cheek was wet with tears. “You’re crying?”
     He stilled his hand. Shit. Was she scared? Did she think he’d force her or take advantage of her in some way? “What is it, Val? Do you want me to stop?” he whispered.
     “No,” she hiccupped. “No. It’s just who you are and who I am. And that you think I’m beautiful. You know you don’t have to stay that.”
     “And I wouldn’t if it weren’t the complete truth.” He cupped her chin and tilted her face so they were eye to eye. “What’s happened to you and who’s hurt you to make you so insecure, a goddess like you.”
     She snorted at the irony of his words. “Goddess? Hardly.” She surveyed him. “You’re a pretty hot hunk for an older guy.”
     He roared with laughter at that. “What a compliment, I think. Val, maybe getting naked is a smart strategy for planning a scene. I like you a whole lot better than I did before.”
     “And I, you,” she murmured. “I like the way your hands feel. Touch me.”
     She didn’t have to ask twice. His hand closed over her huge and unnaturally perfect breasts, and with a pang of regret, he wondered what the real Val had been like. Did she even remember? He knew many actresses felt the need to have themselves artificially enhanced, and he couldn’t help regretting the forces that made them go there.
     “Do you like my breasts?” she whispered with an undertone of something—what? Fear? Tension?
     It was not the moment for brutal honesty. He’d talk to her later, encourage her to tap into what was deep and real about herself, the true self he sensed lay below. Right now, his cock urged him to achieve satisfaction. Even more, he sensed that she’d be devastated if he turned away.
     He laid her down and feasted his eyes for a moment. However she’d managed to achieve perfection, whichever parts of her were real and which weren’t, he’d savor all. He hovered over her for one moment before lowering his lips to the pulse at the base of her neck and kissing her. In his upcoming role as a vampire, the neck would be a major source of erotic pleasure for both characters. He wasn’t about to let that inhibit him right now. What happened between them tonight would be personal, nothing to do with their work or their public personas.
     He gave in to the impulse to lick her lovely beaded nipple. He’d heard that artificial breasts didn’t respond to stimuli the same way as natural ones, but Val was giving the lie to that. His erection ratcheted up higher as his lips closed around the tight pink nub. She still tasted of strawberries and what else? Flowers? Roses? He’d love to bathe in the scent. Later he’d ask her what it was. Much later when his lips weren’t otherwise occupied.
     She made a sound and ran her fingers through his hair, inviting him to press harder with his kiss.
     He licked her breasts and tongued his way down her flat stomach to the trimmed hair of her sex. Blonde there too. Could it be natural? He chuckled to himself before he made the first thrilling contact with her sweet, pulsing clit. The moment his tongue touched her erotic heat, she inhaled sharply. “Sweet lord,” she hissed.
     He swept his tongue over the slick pinkness of her intimate folds, enjoying her twitches and squirms. She opened her legs wider to accommodate and welcome him, moaning with pleasure at the feel of his mouth on her. “Hugh,” she whimpered, calling out his name again and again.
     In response, he burrowed deeper between her legs. She trembled in his arms on the verge of orgasm. Her movements became wilder and wilder as she thrashed from side to side. The way she moved, she way she felt and smelled and tasted, he was on the verge of exploding with pleasure himself.
     And then the doorbell rang, loudly, insistently. Whoever was there and the infernal noise he was making wouldn’t go away.

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