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LURE OF THE WICKED
by Karina Cooper

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

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Phin’s gaze trailed over that taut, turquoise curve, slid over the sweaty gleam of her neck. Her reddened cheeks. It centered on her nose, and the slash across it that looked somehow less aggressively uneven. Smoother.

Familiar.

A corner of his mouth kicked up. “You’ve met my mother.”

“What?” When he gestured to his nose in mirrored indication, Naomi winced. She raised her fingers, but didn’t touch the slash. “She put something on it. It feels better.”

Yes, that was Gemma all over. Unable to help herself. Phin’s smile widened. “It looks better, too. You’re supposed to be finishing up a massage right now, aren’t you?”

Her eyes narrowed. “So the schedule tells me.” Naomi turned, seized the still-swinging punching bag with both hands.

Smooth. Too smooth. Phin hoped she didn’t catch his small, rough sound of amusement. Of hunger. “Do you have something against massage?”

“Is that going to be a problem?” The cool pitch of her too-casual voice warned him off.

That glinting silver jewelry at the back of her neck made him want to beat on his chest and throw her over his shoulder. He rubbed at his forehead, black edges of humor creeping in through a haze of lust. “Not at all.”

“You’re not going to run back to my people and tell them?”

He met her appraisal directly and matched the sharp ends of her mockery with a forthright, easy smile. “You’re the one staying here, Naomi, not them. It’s your money and your call.”

Her lower lip worked, pulling to the side in a way that made Phin wonder if she had a habit of biting the inside of her lip. Telling. She had a lot of tells, he realized.

A lot of signals.

All designed to drive him crazy.

“Hmm.” It wasn’t a thank you, but he’d take it. Watching him, wary, she raised the underside of her taped forearm to her mouth and caught at the layers with her teeth.

The flash of white, of damp pink as her lip caught on the edge of pale tape, was sexier than a sweat-soaked, punch-happy troublemaking heiress had any right to be.

“Here,” he said gruffly, closing the distance between them with a few short strides. He wrapped his fingers around her sweaty wrist, gently angling her arm around so he could find the edges of the tape.

It put him too close to her. Too close to the adrenaline-fueled fragrance of her damp skin, to the smell of the soap she’d used in her hair, like spring rain and lavender.

Too close to her upturned eyes staring into his.

The sticky tape caught at his fingertips, resisted. Tore. As he unwound it, layer by layer, something in her stance changed. Shifted. He looked up, met her eyes as she stepped closer, fully into his space. Bare, taped feet to his polished shoes. Sleek, muscled thigh to his slacks.

Chest to chest.

Eye to eye.

Phin’s fingers tightened on her wrist. It was all he could do to force back the awareness, a wild temptation that unfurled in him like a banner. A silent, echoing cry. “Naomi—”

Her eyes lit. “Shut up, Mr. Clarke.”

He did. The instant she leaned forward and fused her mouth to his, he had nothing left to say.