Beth Jacobs spends her days slogging away in a corporate “fish bowl,” as the hard-working assistant for one of North America’s youngest dot-com billionaires. Aleksander “Z” Zavtra is the definition of dark and dangerous with a sexy Eastern European snarl. He’s also ruthless. Curt. Exacting. An infuriating man she loves to hate. While Beth hardly sees him, it’s as if he’s always watching her . . .
Z doesn’t do romance. But he never expected to be captivated by a whip-smart, fiery assistant who just so happens to share an uncanny resemblance to the beautiful face that haunts his dreams. He craves Beth. He wants to stroke her skin, to feel her heat beneath him. And what Z wants, he gets. And for one weekend, the lines between employer and employee are blurred as Z and Beth give themselves completely to the dark pleasures they’ve both been dreaming about.
“Kiss me,” I challenge him. He twists around words and dances from truths. But he can’t evade body language.
He gazes at me as if I’m something he’s never seen. “I tell you how I did a terrible thing, and you offer a kiss.”
“There is much you aren’t saying, so maybe we need to streamline the conversation. Your lips touching mine. What could be simpler.”
For once, I have taken him by total surprise.
“Or more destructive,” he says.
“You kiss me with your eyes every time you look at me.”
“Ah.” He goes utterly still then. “Very well, then. Yes. I think I understand.”
“I want you to do it,” I say softly, reaching out my hand. “Please. What can I call you? Aleksander?”
“No, that’s what he used to call me, the bastard who was my father. At boarding school, I was Sander, and that, too, never felt right, not exactly.”
“So what do you prefer?”
“Call me whatever you like. You are the exception to my rule. The exception to all my rules.”
“Why?” My voice is breathless, more than a little unsteady.
“If I knew that, I’d be a wiser man than I am now.” His eyes close and his next breath is long, slow, and shuddering. “If I kiss you, will you hold still?”
Hold still if he actually kisses me? The idea of his full lips slanting on mine, his hard chest pushing insistent against my breasts is enough to make me writhe all on its own. “No.”
His gaze snaps to mine.
“How can I promise such a thing? After all, a kiss isn’t one-sided, at least not a good kiss.”
He stands, wiping his hands on his suit pants, his shirt a little wrinkled.
He walks to the window and looks out at nothing but night, seeing only his own ghost face reflection, and my own behind him. He places a hand on the glass and the heat from his skin heats the pane. When he turns, it remains, a foggy imprint.
I move to the end of the bed, hang my feet off, the robe slipping off one shoulder.
He is there then. I don’t even have time to register movement. He braces his hands on either side of the mattress, on the outside of my thighs, and there is no more oxygen in the room. The flame in his expression has sucked it all out.
His lips crush mine as if time has run out. We don’t have the night, or the hours left to the weekend. There is only and ever this moment. No play-acting or showing off. No coy moves. It’s need, pure and raw, urgent and fierce. His lips are cooler than I imagined. A distant place in me registers that thought. Cool expect there is his tongue, easing against mine, and the contrast makes me sigh.
The moments when I realize I exist are infrequent. Flashes of realization that I am alive, and this is an actual life that I am living and for those few precious moments I’m on the outside, looking at my whole world and seeing it not for what it normally feels like, an all-consuming crushing adventure rather than a spider’s web tangling me.
And that’s what this. His lips. My lips. Nothing else is touching. Not hands or bodies. Not even our faces. Only our hungry mouths.
At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It’s also the last spot a “play-it-safe girl” like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she’ll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.
After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it’s up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can’t resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn’t enough.
Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected-love.