Dim the Lights: An Anthology

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9780373091447: Dim the Lights: An Anthology
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Enter the gateway to desire and celebrate the thrill and excitement of finding passion in the most exotic and unexpected places... 

Islands of Desire by Lindsay Evans 

Erica Cross's tightly scheduled Greek Island getaway is thrown into disarray by a longer-than-expected cruise off Santorini. But hard-bodied and mysterious crewman Nikolas Stephanides makes this recent law school grad forget all about timetables—and her inhibitions. Is Erica's gorgeous lover too good to be true? 

Liquid Chocolate by Velvet Carter 

Gourmet chocolatier Mika Madison is staying passionately single. Blaine Chess plans to change her mind, but she is just as determined to resist his sexy advances. Until the attraction simmering between them explodes during an unforgettable night in snowy Vail...that really melts them both! 

Her Wild and Sexy Nights by Theodora Taylor 

Janatha Simmons is jetting off to Paris solo to take her mind off a very public breakup that has left her with no love for athletes. But before the plane even lands, she's starting a sizzling fling with ruggedly sexy Mick Attwater, and he's taking her to new sky-high heights. Could this affair turn into something more—even after his secret is revealed?

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About the Author:

Jamaican-born Lindsay Evans is a traveler, lover of food, and avid café loafer. She's been reading romances since she was a very young girl and feels there is a certain amount of surreal magic in that she now gets to write her own love stories. Contact Lindsay at LindsayEvansWrites.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Erica stood on the bow of the chartered yacht, the Agape, watching the undulating blue glory of the Aegean Sea. The sunlight glittered off the waves, catching the glints of turquoise buried in the dark and compelling blue of the water. She squinted, trying to see past the haze that obstructed her view of the island formation that the vessel sailed smoothly toward.

The high wind buffeted her body, clad in a pair of white high-waisted sailor shorts and a pale yellow tank top that complemented the deep brown of her skin. Erica felt the appreciative eyes of other passengers and some of the crew wander over her slim frame as she stared out to sea.

Around her, the voices of the nine other passengers on board the one-hundred-foot yacht, headed for a three-day island excursion, rose and fell in excitement. They'd just left the port of Thira in Santorini. Excited about the journey, Erica had quickly dropped off her bag in the cabin before coming back up on deck. She'd been lucky, one of the crew told her, that she'd scored a deluxe cabin, complete with queen-size bed and close to the communal bathrooms. She'd only shrugged and accepted the unexpected upgrade with a smile.

Too bad Colette wasn't there to enjoy it with her. It should have been her room, too. Erica's mouth turned down at the thought of her good friend and fellow law school graduate. Colette had promised she'd come along with her on the celebratory trip to Greece. Law school graduated. The bar passed in two states. Then, fewer than three weeks out, her friend had canceled, confessing that her boyfriend insisted two weeks away from him was too much. It helped Colette that the boyfriend had offered to pay her back the money she'd lost from canceling the trip so late. But that didn't help Erica.

She had been disappointed, even a little angry since she'd booked the hotels with consideration for her friend's preferences. But she'd shrugged those feelings off soon enough, determined to enjoy herself on her first trip out of the country since she had enrolled in law school.

She squinted as the sun came out even more forcefully in the sky. She reached on top of her head for her sunglasses; her fingers ran over her short natural without feeling the Prada shades Colette had bought her out of guilt.

Damn! She must have left them downstairs in the cabin. Erica pushed off the edge of the boat and turned to go back belowdecks. And bumped into something. A warm, hard something.

"Sorry!" She moved back automatically, bouncing off the firm chest she found herself pressed against. "Excuse me."

Hands clasped her upper arms, steadied her. "That's all right. It was my fault." The man's voice was low and deep.

His English accented not simply with Greek, but also a touch of British stiffness. Odd. Interesting. "I was moving too fast and not looking where I was going." Twinkling brown eyes looked down into hers. A megawatt smile flashed in his brown face. "Ah..."

Erica caught her breath as she stared up into the most gorgeous face she'd ever seen. The man was young, maybe in his late twenties, and dressed in cutoff jean shorts. Nothing else. His chest rippled with muscle. His long thighs were thick and strong. An electric current of attraction jerked through her spine as his touch lingered on her arms. It had been months, her body abruptly reminded her, since she'd had a man in her bed.

She cleared her throat once, then twice. Then tried her voice again. "Please accept my apologies. I wasn't watching where I was going."

The stranger's hands fell away from her arms and she felt oddly bereft at their loss. "Now we're both sorry," he said. There was laughter in his voice and in his eyes, the impression that he saw everything around him as a joke. Another carefree pretty boy.

"Excuse me," she said. "Sorry again." Then she stepped away from him, past the built-in arrangement of padded benches and picnic-style tables, and went below to her cabin.

Away from his too-warm gaze, she pressed her hands against her face. Allowed herself a deep and admiring breath. That was a face that would drive a woman to sin. She found her sunglasses sitting on her bed, grabbed them and went back up on deck. A couple had taken a seat on one of the padded benches nearby and was sharing a pot of tea. The other bench had been taken over by a motley collection of bags.

The couple spoke what sounded like Japanese and wore matching wedding bands. They glanced at Erica as she claimed a seat next to them. She smiled at them in greeting, and they smiled back.

With the sunglasses covering her eyes, Erica looked around the boat at the other passengers. It was a nice multicultural gathering of people. A teak-complexioned woman with waist-length, straight hair and her two white traveling companions, both men. And there were three other black people in addition to Erica. One woman sat whispering to her white boyfriend. The other two looked like mother and daughter, with the same big wavy hair worn in matching ponytails, their brown faces wreathed in excited smiles as they looked around and made eye contact with everyone near them.

Erica was the only one traveling alone.

She casually regarded her surroundings, trying to convince herself that she was not looking for the bare-chested Adonis. That beautiful man who had made her feel the first touch of real attraction in almost a year. The last man she had allowed into her life had satisfied her in bed, but he had also been a cheat and a liar. Dropping hints that he wanted to marry her after law school while planning on leaving her for a pretty Spelman girl still in her junior year.

She rolled her eyes as Trevor passed through her mind. A waste of thought, energy and the nearly two years she had invested in the relationship. Good riddance.

With her elbows braced on the low backrest of the bench she sat on, Erica watched what was going on among the boat's small crew. There seemed to be at least five of them, a staff made up of two women and three men. They didn't wear any identifying clothing; it was simply how they looked as they walked around the boat, knowing and commanding. The magnificent view did not distract them as the boat sailed toward its destination.

A pretty blonde-the one who had taken everyone's tickets as they got on board-stood nearby with another member of the crew, a slim man with close-cropped hair and pale eyes, watching the passengers with a mixture of curiosity and contempt.

A movement drew Erica's eyes from the crew to the couple on the bench next to her. The woman stood up and gently placed her gigantic camera in her husband's hands. She walked to the back of the boat to the door leading be-lowdecks. As she neared the door, it opened. And Adonis stepped out.

A tiny butterfly fluttered in Erica's throat as she stared at the beautiful stranger.

He was just as breathtaking the second time around. He looked around the boat, eyes alighting briefly on her, before he spoke with the blonde. The girl nodded, and Adonis said something to her in return before walking away. Straight toward Erica.

He took the seat the Japanese woman had left even though her husband gave him a narrow-eyed stare. He was lean, and the energy of youth moved through him like electricity. His body radiated a tempting warmth as he sat close to her, his bare chest drawing her eyes with each breath he took. Her pulse thumped hard in her throat. She bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from staring at him like an infatuated ingenue. But he was hard to ignore. Her eyes flickered down to his chest again.

"Were you just staring at me?" His voice was low and teasing; his accent made the words almost a song.

Something inside her jumped at the sound of his voice. Something primal and feminine. She pressed her palms flat onto the bench on either side of her thighs.

She noticed again that his eyes were a liquid brown, soft and full of laughter. Long and wild black curls were pulled back from his face into a messy ponytail, and one of his thick eyebrows had a slashing scar through it, dangerously close to his eye. He was a strikingly beautiful man whose darker skin and curly hair set him apart from the other crew members. Africa touched his full and curving lips, the generous width of his nose.

Erica had no idea there were men this gorgeous who existed in the world. She swallowed and tried to play it cool.

"Why would you ask me something like that unless you've been staring at me?" She raised an eyebrow in his direction.

His teeth flashed brilliant white against his skin. "It seems like we're at an impasse here." The laughter rolled through his voice like music. "I'm Nikolas." He held out his hand toward her, palm up.

Erica looked down at his hand, then into his brown face, browner than the people he worked with but a lighter shade than hers. She took his hand, squeezed it and bit the inside of her lips as another current of attraction moved through her. She told him her name.

"A beautiful name to match a beautiful woman," he said.

She chuckled in disbelief at the compliment, more than aware of her average looks. Her large eyes and lush mouth were her best features in a collection that was passable at best. People who thought they had the right often mentioned that her neck was too long, while more than one lover had complained that her breasts were too small or that she was too tall.

Erica leaned close to the man. "I bet you say that to all the tourists you're hoping to get into bed."

His head jerked back in surprise, and his eyes widened. If possible, he looked even more interested than before. "Not all of them," he finally said. "Some of them are not beautiful, but there is something special about all the women who interest me."

"That's honest enough," she said. "I think."

"Excuse me." A soft voice from nearby interrupted them. It was the Japanese woman whose seat he had taken.

"My apologies, madam." Nikolas leaped to his feet with a smile. "A thousand pardons. I merely wanted to speak to this woman who has so thoroughly captured me like a fish on a line."

The Japanese woman laughed, and Erica looked at him with a considering smile. The woman settled into her seat and cuddled up to her husband, watching Erica and Nikolas with curious eyes.

"Another time, my beauty," Nikolas said.

He bowed and left, gracefully making his way through the small gathering of travelers, some seated on benches, others standing to watch the swell of blue water under the boat. Nearly all the women, and even some of the men, watched him go. Erica chuckled, reminding herself to take a photo of him so Colette could see what she'd missed by not coming on the trip.

"I think he likes you," the Japanese woman said with a friendly smile.

"I think he likes women," Erica replied, then laughed at the look on the husband's face.

The couple introduced themselves as Ren and Kyoko, honeymooning from Nagasaki. After exchanging small talk with them, Erica settled back against the bench to watch the small islands pass by.

Some of them were shrouded completely in mist. Most had only the vaguest outlines showing of the craggy cliffs, white houses and churches perched on top of the black volcanic rocks. It was all so beautiful. So amazing.

A voice over the intercom pulled her from her musings.

"Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen," the accented female voice announced. "We must apologize to you because there has been a mix-up."

The woman, who had introduced herself earlier as Celandine, went on to say that the boat had gotten different orders from what was apparently on the passenger tickets. Instead of the three-day cruise that the passengers had paid for, the boat had been sent on a four-day tour, which included a visit to a goddess's temple and an abandoned castle. They would not be arriving back at the port in Thira until Monday.

Celandine apologized again, and added that the passengers could enjoy the fourth day at no additional cost since it was the tour company that made the mistake. Ren and Kyoko looked very pleased; they spoke to each other in a rush of Japanese punctuated with smiles and kisses. They weren't the only ones who seemed happy about this change of plans. But Erica was furious.

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