With the Lights On
by Ayla Ruse
Word Count: 12K
Page Count: 43
Editor: Katriena Knights
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres: Erotic Romance, Novella, Guilty Pleasures (Contemporary), BDSM (light)
She won't have any place to hide once he gets his hands on her.
Tia's an intelligent, beautiful woman who'd rather remain at the sidelines of life. Including her sex life -- or lack thereof. She used to dream of finding pleasure in a man's arms, but she knows it's only fantasy. She's built different, or she's broken. Either way, it means she can't give in to the temptation to be with the man she wants.
Damien's been attracted to Tia for months, but with their differing schedules, it hasn't been easy to get close. When the perfect opportunity presents itself, he takes a leap, straight into her arms and straight toward...a lackluster coupling?
Presented with this challenge, Damien pulls out all the stops to ensure Tia has an unforgettable night, and it'll be the first of many if he has his way. Now that Tia has nowhere to hide, will she give herself over to Damien's care, or will she run away?
Tia peeked at Damien and couldn't stop a shy smile from touching her lips. He was studying her, which normally would unsettle her, but he seemed to be looking into her, not only at her outward appearance.
She took their quiet moment to return the study.
His hair was dark brown, and shots of deep auburn glinted when he moved his head toward her. He possessed a strong jaw, deep eyes the color of a wet forest and a perfectly straight nose set above full lips. He was somewhere around six feet tall. And then there was his build -- strong and athletic, the way a rower or swimmer's body might be cut. She stifled another sigh.
He'd been with the university for three months. He taught evening classes -- she thought she'd heard he still ran a practice during the day -- so their paths rarely crossed. When they did, like now, she felt like a ninny because it seemed all she could do was smile at him.
"Are you enjoying the party?" he asked.
"Umm-hmm," she nodded, noncommittal. Thankful he'd taken the reins of conversation. Besides, she couldn't just blurt out, take me to bed, could she?
"I wondered," he mused out loud. "I thought it odd to see you stuck in a corner by yourself."
"I'm not stuck in a corner," she answered, stifling her instinctive reaction to bristle. "I'm fine," she assured him. "I'm here by choice. I like being alone. It gives me time to think."
She had to give him credit for not laughing the way most men would have at that line and chime back, "Yeah, right, a blonde. Thinking." Instead, he tilted his head, and she shifted her legs again.
"What are you thinking right now?" he asked in a low voice. It was deep and hinted at a Southern drawl, but it wasn't twangy. No, it was more like warmed honey pouring slowly over her libido.
"I... um... thinking about..."
You. And me. And hot, sweaty sex.
He leaned back in his seat. "Don't worry, you don't have to tell me. Your secrets are safe from me. For now." He winked and she dropped her gaze to her drink.
"I make you uncomfortable," he stated.
"Me? No." She pulled her hands into her lap and sat up straighter.
"I'm not sure why, although I could take a good guess and I bet I'd be right. I like sitting here with you, Tia. I've wanted to get to know you since I first saw you at the new faculty introductions, but it seems like one or both of us is always going in different directions."
"I'm pretty steady," she answered.
He studied her quietly and she grew antsy.
"What if I told you I think you're on rocky ground?" he asked.
"You forget I'm a psychologist. I know a few things about you."
She wasn't sure if his comment was a good thing or not. "Hmm," she murmured, unconvinced.
"You want to hear what I know about you so far, Tia?"
She shrugged. "Go ahead. Give it a try," she challenged.
"I know you don't want to be here at this party. I know you're attracted to me, which is completely mutual. And I know you aren't sure how to bring up that last subject."
She blinked at him, speechless. Damien leaned forward, his voice barely above a whisper. "I know you'll leave here, go home and get in bed. But you won't be able to sleep because you'll wonder what it would have been like to go upstairs with me."
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