(also available in the print anthology Tease Me, Please Me)
by Kate Davies
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
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This book has been previously released with a different cover.
When the stakes are high, she's ready to shed more than her inhibitions-but will the man of her dreams rise to the challenge?
Dani's been in love with Carter forever. But she's nothing like the women he dates-glamorous, exciting, spotlight-ready. Instead, she's stuck in the 'best friend' role and can't seem to find a way out of it. Until a scheduling mix-up finds her enrolled in a strip aerobics class. Now this buttoned-down wallflower is finding her wicked side-and liking it!
What in the world happened to Carter's best bud? She's gone from sweet to sexy in ten seconds flat-and Carter's lucky enough to be around for the ride of a lifetime. But he knows from past experience that relationships don't last. He's got to get things back on track before the most important friendship in his life is damaged forever.
Problem is, Dani has no intention of going back to being "just friends". It's about time someone challenged Carter's assumptions about love and friendship-and Dani's just the woman to do it!
For Lucy Monroe-the best mentor, supporter, critique partner, taskmaster, and cheerleader a girl could have. I'm so lucky to call you my friend.
© 2007 Kate Davies
It was her. Of course it was her. He'd left her in this room not an hour earlier, and everyone else had gone home. It had to be Dani.
He just wasn't sure when the aliens had abducted her and replaced her with this—this living, breathing embodiment of sex.
He'd poked his head in the door, meaning to check on how she was doing. But instead of finding her squinting at a TV monitor, half a step behind as she unraveled the secrets of aerobics, he'd walked in on her taking her clothes off to the beat of the music.
She stood there now, eyes wide with horror. "What are you doing here?"
He simply stared. It was all he was capable of doing. Where did she get that figure? And how in the hell had he never noticed it before?
Dani's cheeks flushed and she crossed her arms over her chest, trying to hide the fact that she was wearing just a sports bra and he was holding her shirt. "How long have you been standing there?"
A heartbeat. A lifetime. Dropping her shirt on the ground, he muttered, "Long enough."
Then he strode across the room and kissed her.
It was a crazy, impulsive act, but the minute his lips touched hers he knew it was the right thing to do.
She tasted like sex and sin and forbidden fruit, and he couldn't get enough.
Which was crazy, because this was Dani, his buddy, his pal, someone he'd never even considered kissing before. But from the moment he'd seen her tight little ass thrust up toward him like an offering from the gods, he couldn't wait to get his hands on her.
Threading the fingers of one hand through her hair, he tilted her head a little. Without conscious thought, he stroked his tongue into her mouth, and after a moment's shocked stillness Dani met the invasion with enthusiasm.
Oh, thank God.
Smoothing his hand down her back, he cupped her backside in his palm and urged one leg up and around his waist. Pulling her closer, he angled his hips so his aching cock was pressed right between her thighs. He groaned at the contact. Only a few thin layers of fabric separated them, and by the breathy little gasps she was making, he guessed that Dani hated those layers as much as he did.
Carter wasn't sure what he'd been expecting, but it sure as hell hadn't been this enthusiastic response. Her hands were everywhere, on his shoulders, stroking his biceps, clutching the fabric of his shirt. Her body rubbed up against his as she kissed him back, her lips voracious, her tongue hot and wicked in his mouth.
Sliding his hands up her sides, he caught the edges of her bra with his thumbs and tugged, breaking off the kiss long enough to strip it off of her and toss it away. Her eyes slid closed and her head tilted back as he cupped her breasts, his thumbs strumming the nipples to tight little buds.
It was too tempting. He leaned down and sucked one into his mouth.
"Carter," she breathed, one hand tangled in his hair, holding him closer as he laved the sensitive flesh. He drew a path across her chest with his tongue, tracing around her other nipple before clamping his lips over it as well.
Her hands tugged blindly at his shirt, trying to pull it up and off him. He stepped back just long enough to oblige her, wanting the sensation of skin on skin as desperately as she did. They both sucked in a breath as his hair-roughened chest brushed against her sensitive breasts.
"Damn," he whispered. Her hips arched against him in time with the music, bringing him to the ragged edge of his control.
It wasn't enough. He needed more.
The elastic waist of her shorts was easily breached, and he slid his hand inside. "God, you're wet," he groaned, stroking one finger through her damp folds. She was tight, so tight, and he clenched his jaw against the hot pleasure of her inner muscles gripping him.
Dani squirmed in his arms, planting breathless kisses everywhere she could reach. Her response pushed him even higher, spiraling out of control until it was all he could do not to take her right here, right now.
"Carter," she whispered, her lips hot against his ear. "More."
"I need you." Her hands slid beneath the waistband of his shorts. "Need you."
"Dani." He took her wrists in both his hands, holding her still. "Are you sure?"
"Mm-hmm." She tugged ineffectually at his grip, licked the whorl of his ear. "Very."
He shivered. "Um, okay, why don't we throw some clothes back on you, head over to my place…"
"No." This time, she bit his earlobe. "Here. Now."
She tugged one hand free, slid it down inside his shorts, and curled around his…
He stepped back, gasping for air. She still gripped him, her hand sliding up and down his shaft with just the right amount of pressure. If she didn't stop now, he was going to come without her.
That would never do.
Drawing on the last of his reserves, he lifted her hand away, regretting the loss of her touch on his naked skin more than she'd ever know.
"Wait here," he ordered, his voice raspy with need. "I'll be right back."
Then, before she could protest, he took off out the door at a dead run.