Read An Excerpt
TWELVE WICKED NIGHTS
Contemporary Erotic Romance, Erotic Romance
Was it just her, or was the thermostat set on hell? She was half naked, but she was still burning up.
Her throat was parched and she desperately wanted to retreat to the kitchen for a drink, right after she shoved her head into the freezer. Justin was teasing her—flashing that stupid, charming crooked grin of his every time he made a move, forcing her attention to the muscles that flexed in his chest. Okay, maybe he wasn’t doing it on purpose, but that still didn’t stop her from feeling as if she was being taunted every time he took his turn and put a piece down on the board.
“Izzie, it’s your turn.” He stared at her as if he worried for her sanity. He should be worried, because he was driving her crazy, and not for the usual reasons.
She put down three letters to form her word.
He frowned at her. “Izzie, are you even trying to win this game?”
She was all distracted and flustered, barely hanging in the game with her bra, tank top, and a pair of boy shorts. She thought she was over this silly crush. Had told herself many times, over many years that she was not still attracted to Justin Rourke, but maybe she’d lied.
She couldn’t keep her eyes off of him, the muscled planes of his chest and arms that rippled beneath his roughened bronzed skin. He was a handsome man—she couldn’t deny that. Still, she probably would have been able to keep her head on straight if it was just her own simmering lusts that she had to battle, but she swore every time Justin looked at her a fire leapt in his emerald eyes, before they became dark and shadowed.
She knew Justin didn’t want her—that she wasn’t his type. But she was convinced that it was not just her imagination when she caught him sliding his gaze down the length of her legs. And she swore just now, when she’d leaned forward to place her pieces, his eyes had followed her, dipping to the deep ‘v’ of her cleavage, where they’d remained for several seconds.
“I thought we weren’t playing dirty word Scrabble?”
Justin pointed to her words scattered across the board. “Everything you’ve spelled is something related to sex or a body part.”
Orifice, tongue, cream, mouth, breast, sexual. Her cheeks heated as she felt herself blush. No wonder she couldn’t focus on winning, she was too distracted by all her gutter thoughts.
“Cream isn’t a dirty word.”
His brows shot up. “Cream as in whipped cream and then there’s cream as in—um—” He cleared his throat. “—other cream.”
Their gazes locked as the air around them shifted, making her lungs ache as she tried to drag in her next breath.
“Yeah. That cream. I got it,” she managed to croak out. Damn. Had she just creamed her panties? She couldn’t take them off now.
“We can end the game now if you can’t handle it.” She probably would have thrown in her tiles had it not been for that smug grin. He seemed completely unfazed by any of this and she knew he was just trying to prove a point—that he’d been right. That playing strip Scrabble was a mistake.
“I’m fine, but if you’re having trouble then I understand.”
He shrugged, his eyes still glowing with amusement. “No. I’m good.” He leaned forward and put down his tiles to spell another word.
“That’s a proper name. You can’t use proper names in Scrabble.”
“It’s also a noun used to describe a shameless woman. You, of all people should be familiar with the word Jezebel.”
She glared at him as she reached for the dictionary. “Make jokes all you want. You still can’t use proper names.”
“You want to challenge me? You’ll lose a turn, because I’m right. Trust me.”
She snorted. Trust him, her ass. She picked up the dictionary.
Damn. He was right. She cast the dictionary aside and met his gaze.
He nodded as if to say—and now your shirt. She was supposed to be a brilliant attorney. Why couldn’t she come up with clever words like jezebel?
“Take off your shirt, Izzie,” he said in a soft, coaxing voice, and his expression was open, as he simply watched her to see what she would do next.
That’s when she realized this was truly a game to him, a battle of wills. He kept goading her so that she would cave in, but she had no intention of ending this game until he threw in the towel first.
She glanced at him, and he mistook her hesitation. The arrogant grin on his face told her that he thought he’d already won, that he’d succeeded in making her nervous, had already forced her out her element. Well, he was wrong. She returned his grin with one of her own and delighted when his cocky grin faltered.
She may lose this game, but there was no way she was going to let him win in this battle of wills between them.
She shrugged off her shirt, and tossed it toward him. She smiled when it landed atop his head.
Justin might not have known it yet, but the gloves were coming off.
He was in big trouble.
He knew it the moment her shirt landed on his head. He sensed a change in her, just before he glimpsed a wicked glimmer in her eyes. It was as if she’d switched strategies and now had her game face on.
He tugged her shirt from his head and threw it aside. He slid his gaze over her, trying to remind himself that this was Izzie he was ogling even as his eyes dipped to the swells of her breasts that spilled over the tops of her pale pink bra. He was a bit surprised to see the soft, lacy cups, with a tiny pink bow in the center. He’d never figured Izzie would be one for dainty under things.
“Nice,” he said. “Although, I would have thought you were a red satin or black lace kind of girl.”
He smiled when she followed his direct gaze, and crimson splotches stained her smooth cheeks.
Isabella cleared her throat loudly. “It’s your turn.”
Fortunately for her, his next word was only seven points, too, forcing him to abandon his sweats, which only made it harder to hide the evidence of his arousal that pressed against his boxers.
He had to get her out of this game, and soon, before he embarrassed himself. He was convinced that no matter what Izzie said, there was no way she was going to strip naked before him. All he had to do was win the next round and she would throw in the towel.
They went round after round, until he finally got her.
“What the hell?” she said. “Where do you come up with this crap?”
“It means a promiscuous woman.”
She gave him a scathing look. “I know what it means. I’m just trying to figure out how you’ve been coming up with this stuff. If you weren’t half naked I’d say you had some tiles up your sleeves.”
His lips twitched as he fought to hold back a grin. She hated to lose almost as much as he did. “I’m trying to figure out which one I want first. That girlie bra or those boy shirts.”
Still seated on the sofa, she settled back against the cushions with her legs crossed and her arms folded across her breasts.
“It’s your call, Justin. Pick your poison.”
He dug his hands into the carpet, fighting the heat that roared through him. She was calling his bluff—or at least she was pretending to. He wondered how far she would go before she gave up this charade. Well, there was only one way to find out.
“Your boy shorts are cute. I think I want to see you in them a little bit longer, so that bra has got to go.”
She lifted one brow. “Are you sure?”
Hell no. “Positive.”
She held his gaze as she reached behind her back, and he almost choked on his next breath as it lodged deep in his chest.
“I need your help. I can’t get it.”
He grinned. She was chickening out. “I understand Izzie. It’s okay. You can keep your bra on.” He stood and turned toward the kitchen. As expected, she’d caved. He’d won. The game was over.
“No, I’m serious. It’s stuck.”
He turned around to face her. “Izzie, give it up. I know you’re chickening out. Game over.”
Her expression was incredulous, as if that was the last thing she would do, which made him nervous all over again. If she wasn’t giving up, then her bra really was stuck.
“This game is not over. We agreed to play until one of us was butt naked and I intend to finish, but if you can’t handle it I completely understand.”
Was that a smirk on her face? It was. She really thought he couldn’t see right through her. It was so obvious that she was bluffing.
“Stand up.” He marched toward her. “Turn around,” he said when she stood before him.
He grasped the bra clasp in his hand, his fingers brushing against her smooth skin as he studied it.
“The clasp looks fine to me.”
“Well then take it off.”
He couldn’t see her face because she didn’t turn all the way around, her head just tilted slightly to the side, while her silky hair brushed against his fingertips.
Her sultry laugh was like silk, and he knew then that he’d been baited. Her bra had never been stuck, it was just a ploy to get him over there, a dare to see how far he would go.
Well if she was prepared to go all the way, then so was he.
Three hooks. He undid each one slowly. His heart pumped faster and if she had dared to look over her shoulder she would have seen the effect she was having on him, tenting against his boxers.
“Last chance, Izzie,” he said in a hoarse voice that was foreign to his own ears.
“I don’t know what you’re waiting for.”
There was not the slightest hesitation in her voice. Was he really going to do this? Was she really going to let him?
He released the last hook and her bra instantly snapped apart.
He stood there frozen in a trance, his gaze gliding over the smooth, creamy flesh of her back.
He didn’t realize he was touching her until he heard her soft gasp. He ran his fingers across her bare skin, the rough pads of his fingertips gently caressing her back.
She turned then, still clutching her bra to her chest. He let his hand fall back to his side as he met her gaze. What he saw in her eyes made him still as heat crawled inside his gut, inflaming his skin before dipping dangerously lower to harden his body. Her hazel-hued eyes were wide, brimming with desire, and he found himself unable to tear his gaze away.
It wasn’t until she shifted before him, that he finally let his gaze travel down. She still held her bra against her, but he’d barely formed that thought in his head when she relaxed her arms and let it drop.
Copyright © Nadia Aidan, 2010