Cover Passionate Peridot cover Whatever Maura Wants
 
a Peridot novella by Mardi Ballou
from Ellora’s Cave

Available as an ebook, and in a print anthology with four other great stories.

Here’s an excerpt. Enjoy!

Maura couldn’t get down off the wall.

As if the strange stone, the lightning and being pinned to her wall weren’t enough, now she was hallucinating. She screamed for help, hoping, for once, her nosy downstairs neighbors would investigate the noise and tumult -- preferably before she went berserk.

A hallucination took up all the space and air in the room. Six feet plus of sheer male animal. Thick black hair crowned a perfect Michelangelo sculpture of a face, complete with dark eyes that looked capable of piercing her. He wore black from head to toe and moved with the grace of panther.

As visions went, at least she’d conjured up a winner. Maura’s mind raced. How much had she drunk? She remembered only a fast glass of wine and half a margarita, but excessive drinking could lead to memory blackouts. Still, if this was an alcohol-induced hallucination, she wouldn’t mind a few encores -- once she got down off the wall.

But then Mr. Perfection began to move toward her, his steps resolute, a scowl on his face. Leave it to her to conjure up a gorgeous but angry hallucination. She closed her eyes to clear her mind.

When she opened her eyes, the hunk was practically in her face. He was even hotter close up. She didn’t know where to look first. There was a strange man -- a big, strong one -- in her living room. Her condo had been filled with people earlier, but now she and he were abso-friggin’-lutely alone. Then he grabbed her in his powerful arms and dragged her down off the wall.

At which point she screamed again. Mr. Perfection’s big, strong hand clamped down over her mouth. She had fleeting thoughts of getting sufficient purchase to bite him, but he held her much too tightly.

“If you cooperate, I will not hurt you.” His voice was deep with just a hint of rasp and a foreign tinge that, damn it, turned her on. Of all times for horniness to strike and turn her thinking processes to mush. A gorgeous man with an erection tenting his pants that made her mouth dry and her cunt wet had his hand clamped over her mouth. Could she believe him the he wouldn’t hurt her? What choice did she have?

“If I release my hand, will you refrain from screaming?”

She nodded. Sometimes lying was justified.

As soon as he’d freed her mouth, she shrieked. Before she got out enough noise to matter, the hand was back.

“You lied. I hate liars.” His cock evidently didn’t share this negative opinion. But his eyes fired icicles, and his mouth formed a cruel tight line. Man, was he strong. Maura tried to swallow and couldn’t. She was in major trouble.

“Unlike you, I do not lie. I told you I wouldn’t hurt you, which is the truth. We need to talk. Can I trust you not to scream again this time if I remove my hand?” The hint of threat sufficed to convince Maura not to scream. She’d have to think of another way to save herself. He said he wanted to talk. She was good at talking. Once she engaged him in conversation, she’d find a way to save her life.

His eyes were nearly black, and he sure could sustain a stare. She could drown in those eyes. He warily removed his hand, holding it near enough to cut off any noise she might make. Maura managed to swallow, then took the deepest breath she could manage. Her mind raced.

“I am Antonio deLuc. What is your name?”

Were they going to shake hands? She eyed his cock, still huge, still pointing at her, and she fantasized shaking it instead of his hand. Sheesh. She had to get a life. She needed to hold on to her hard edge of panic to keep alert and alive, though she realized the peak of her terror had abated.

“I’m Maura Fox. Why are you here in my condo? No one invited you. Leave immediately. If you do, I won’t call the police.” Her voice hardly quavered.

He smiled, which did funny things to her heart. “You are wrong there. I am evidently your designated birthday gift. When no one answered the door, I let myself in to surprise you.”

He was her birthday gift? That card hadn’t been a joke? Holy moly, what the hell was going on? “Who sent you?” she managed to whisper.

His shoulders sketched an elegant shrug. “I don’t know. I merely accepted the assignment, and here I am.” He devoured her with his gaze. When he spoke again, his voice sounded husky, giving her full-body goose bumps. “Now why don’t you tell me exactly how you want to celebrate?”

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