She may not be what she seems...
How can a virgin seeking happily-ever-after with a hot pop star who has a penchant for threesomes win her fantasy man? Kimber Edgington desperately needs a plan to convince Jesse McCall, who’s been her secret crush since they spent a summer together as teenagers, that they are meant for each other. But all the tabloid stories about his sexual escapades make her feel oh so inadequate.
But she’s exactly what men want.
Determined to prove she’s woman enough for Jesse, Kimber turns to bodyguard Deke Trenton for sexual education. Bold and brash, Deke warns Kimber that playing with him is playing with fire. But he can’t bear to imagine the innocent beauty in someone else’s arms. So Deke and his super-sexy friend, Luc, take Kimber under their wings and dangerously close to the edge of ecstasy. Though she’s saved herself for Jesse, Kimber soon learns he’s not the man adept at stoking her aching, endless need. That’s Deke, and he can’t resist when Kimber begs for more—and more...
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Shayla Black is a pseudonym for a prolific and successful romance author who lives in Texas with her husband and daughter.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Titles by Shayla Black
Table of Contents
Also by Shayla Black
About the Author
An Excerpt from His To Take
My special thanks to two great women and writers:
NORMALLY, Kimber Edgington didn’t have problems asking for a favor. If her father happened to be in town, asking him to pick up dry cleaning didn’t disturb her. Or bugging one of her brothers to stop for milk, no problem.
Today, she wasn’t asking her family for their help. And this favor she planned to request was anything but average.
Deep breath. She could do this. No, she had to do this if she wanted to fulfill a seven-year fantasy.
Easing out of her car and into the humid afternoon, Kimber studied the red brick house. From the outside, it looked well-groomed with a riot of colorful azaleas and a well-manicured lawn. Elegant with its partial stone façade, pristine white trim, sweeping balcony, and Doric columns. And without a single noise disturbing the green East Texas countryside, the place appeared sedate.
No one would guess exactly what depravities went on here. In fact, Kimber had come to discover them for herself.
And see if she could embrace them.
Curling her shaking hand in a fist around the strap of her purse, she gathered her nerve and approached the heavy oak door. Sparing a passing thought for the beauty of the inlaid stained glass window of a seascape, she knocked.
Perversely, she hoped Deke Trenton wouldn’t answer.
Ugh! She hadn’t seen the man in . . . what? Five years? Maybe more. Kimber wished like hell she could go for another five—at least—without having contact with him. His crass, in-your-face way of doing everything made her want to grind her teeth and take him down a peg or two—or ten. When she’d been seventeen, he’d roused a curiosity that scared her, yet she’d been unable to ignore it. The one time she’d tried to act on it by starting a simple conversation, he’d rudely rebuffed her. For a long while, she’d hated him for it.
Now, instead of avoiding him, she was going to have to ask him for the favor of a lifetime. And she’d do whatever it took to make him say yes.
Tossing a stray auburn curl behind her shoulder, Kimber resisted the urge to check her lip gloss again. Her mascara wasn’t smudged; she’d glanced just minutes ago. The olive cargo pants had been a stupid choice, but one that brought her comfort. She’d offset the look with a prissy, breast-hugging white eyelet top. The low, rounded neck ought to snag his attention. She’d polished off the look with strappy white heels she knew men loved, but damn it, they made the balls of her feet ache.
There wasn’t any reason to put this task off for another minute.
With a hard swallow, Kimber knocked.
“Coming . . .” A muffled male voice announced.
Deke? It had been so long, and she’d blocked out as much of the grating man as she could. But she’d never quite forgotten his rough, gravelly voice.
A battalion of butterflies jostled in her stomach as she heard the sound of padding footsteps approaching the door. She’d rehearsed this speech. Multiple times. Deke was cut from the same military cloth as her father and brothers. They didn’t want stalling or sugarcoating. So she’d just throw it out there, hopefully without screwing it up.
Abruptly, a man jerked the door open.
He wasn’t Deke. Not even close.
Inky hair hanging loose around lean shoulders. Soulful dark eyes. A strong jaw dusted with a five o’clock shadow. A tight charcoal gray T-shirt and scrumptiously faded jeans hugged a tall, swimmer’s sort of body. The man could model and make a fortune. He looked oddly familiar, so maybe he did.
“Can I help you? I’d be glad to.” His amused smile said he was aware she’d been checking him out and didn’t mind in the least. He’d done some reciprocal scoping.
Kimber laughed. Clearly, she hadn’t been subtle, or good with her directions.
“I’m sorry. I think I’m at the wrong house. I’m looking for Deke Trenton. And I guess I’ve taken a wrong turn . . .”
“Nope. You’re at the right house. Cousin Deke will be back soon.”
“Deke is your cousin?” That possibility nearly made her jaw drop.
In terms of looks, the two men were night and day—literally. The one before her was a sultry, sexy midnight, all dark and wanton looking. Deke was tawny hair and skin, all discipline and hustle and hard noon.
He shrugged. “Second cousins. There are times I’d like not to claim him, but he does pay half the bills so he has a place to crash in between assignments. I’m—”
“Luc Traverson. Ohmigod! I recognize you from your pictures. I have several of your cookbooks.”
She sent him a self-deprecating smile. “Oh, wow! I love them . . . even though I’m still a disaster in the kitchen.”
Luc’s hearty male laugh resonated in a warm echo in her belly. She liked him right away. He was good people, down-to-earth, despite his success.
“What’s your name, sweetheart?”
“Kimber Edgington.” She held out her hand. “You’re really Deke’s cousin?”
“Whether I like it or not.” Luc took it, caressing her hand more than shaking it. “I don’t mean to keep you out on the porch. Do you want to come in and wait for him? I’d love your beautiful company while I finish tonight’s roast.”
The man was full of southern charm. Kimber felt immediately at ease. “Thanks. Do you expect him soon?”
“Yes. He called a little bit ago to say he was on the road.” Luc stepped back and opened the door to admit her.
Kimber wandered into the house, eyes wide open. Everywhere she looked classical and Italian influences reigned . . . but with an interesting mix of rustic cabin and modern technology. Distressed hardwood floors with warm-shaded plaster walls. Cognac leather chairs with wrought-iron tables—and a fifty-inch plasma TV. Tasteful and plush . . . but still very masculine.
“I suspect he’ll be here in ten minutes or so.” Luc sent her a sly grin. “Just enough time to bribe you with raspberry iced tea and fresh peach scones, so you’ll tell me what on earth that asshole has done to earn a surprise visit from a beauty like you.”
Her smile fell. The mission. How quickly a pair of magnetic dark eyes and a few suave words nearly made her forget . . .
A part of her could hardly believe her reason for coming here. It was wild. Crazy. Gutsy.
Imperative to her future.
And Luc wasn’t worming the truth out of her, no matter how delicious his scones were. Deke would probably tell Luc the minute he laughed her out the door, anyway.
“I’m just teasing. No need to be grim. You don’t have to tell me a thing,” he assured, his voice smoky and intimate. The teasing expression had been replaced by the comfort of his dark, solemn eyes.
“Sorry.” Kimber did her best to smile. “I’m a little . . .”
“Nervous?” he prompted, leading her into a bright kitchen.
“The house is gorgeous, especially the kitchen,” she observed, happy for a reason to change the subject.
Rich cherry cabinets with furniture detailing, a European feel, and stainless hardware, backsplashes, and appliances. A gorgeous mix of the old and new. The six-burner gas stove, granite countertops, and double ovens made this a chef’s dream. Luc looked perfectly at home here.
“Thanks. Deke didn’t help me decorate, in case you were wondering.” He winked.
Deke decorating? The very idea made her laugh. Deke would hang gun racks and litter the floor with shell casings. In his eyes, infrared binoculars would be the perfect coffee table conversation piece. TV trays, any old couch, and a bank of security cameras, period. He’d never need anything else for entertainment.
“That, I’d believe. You did this?”
“With a little help from a friend who’s an interior decorator.”
“It’s really lovely.”
He sent her a considering smile. “Glad you like it. Raspberry tea?”
What the heck was that expression about? “Sure. Thanks.”
Luc placed his hand at the small of her back and guided her to a wrought-iron chair with plush, mossy-shaded cushions. His touch warmed her. Kimber had no doubt that plenty of women found the well-known chef sexy. He was. But something about him also set her at ease. He cooked and decorated and made her feel immediately comfortable. Maybe he was gay. Another glance at him, and she revised that thought. Doubtful. He was just naturally polite and easygoing.
Totally unlike his cousin. Deke had always set her on edge, even before hello.
“So you know Deke?” Luc asked, handing her a tall glass.
“Oh, yeah.” She gave him a tight smile. “He and my father are in the same line of work. In fact, he used to work for my dad.” Kimber took a sip of the tea and moaned. “Wow. This is great!”
Luc frowned, then recognition dawned. “Ah, you’re Colonel Edgington’s daughter?”
She nodded. “Deke’s mentioned me?”
“Not by name. Mostly he’s talked about your father. I’ll have to kick his ass for that oversight. You’re a doll.” He sat in the chair beside hers and smiled, dripping charm. “If he was hoarding you all to himself, I’m going to be very unhappy with him.”
A heated feeling crept up her neck, to her cheeks. A blush? She never blushed. Ever! But Luc and his smooth tongue weren’t something she’d ever encountered in her years of dealing with nothing but military men.
“I’ll bet you flatter a lot of ladies right out of their panties.”
A ghost of a smile hovered around his lush mouth. But he didn’t answer. “Did Deke know you were coming today?”
“He didn’t. And he hasn’t been hoarding me. Trust me, I haven’t seen him in years. I think I was still in high school the last time we met.”
Surprise flashed across Luc’s dark, sensual features. “So out of the blue, you decide to surprise a man who, unless I’m totally off base here, you aren’t really fond of. Anything wrong?”
Kimber paled. Damn, he’d figured that out quick. “I—I just need to talk to Deke. It’s . . . urgent.”
Damn, he’d know that sweet, little-girl voice anywhere. High-pitched, lilting, usually delivered with a hint of mischief. Kimber Edgington. She made his dick itch for action. Always had. Every day he’d worked for the Colonel, he’d seen her. Just the sound of her voice had been enough to send a mad rush of blood straight to his cock. One glance from those sweet hazel eyes made him as ready as a jackhammer.
Adjusting himself, Deke grimaced. Damn it, she still had that power.
At least she wasn’t seventeen anymore, tempting a man who was old enough to know better and nearly too horny to care.
Five years ago, he’d quit working for her father before he’d done something stupid. Something he was sure he’d regret every bit as much as she would.
But why the fuck was she here now? Hell, only one way to find out . . .
She gasped as he stepped into the kitchen. Deke leaned against the kitchen island to hide his raging hard-on. By Luc’s amused smile, he knew he wasn’t fooling his cousin.
But it was Kimber’s face he focused on. More mature lines. Fuller lips. The freckles had faded. She wore a hint of makeup. The air of innocence remained, still begging corruption.
Deke would bet every last medal he’d ever earned that she was still a virgin.
Crazy. The girl had to be twenty-two, twenty-three. In his gut, though, Deke knew he was right. Shit! He had to get her the fuck out of here. Fast. Head-spinning desire and virginity were a bad combination.
“Kimber.” His voice sounded like ground-up gravel. He resisted the urge to wince.
His name fell from her glossy, rosy lips. The husky sound only made him harder. Then she bit her cushy lower lip, and all he could think about was watching his dick slide over that lip, then deep inside the wet silk of her mouth while she looked up at him with those innocent eyes.
If he didn’t stop thinking like this, he was going to have to go into the bathroom and jack off before he could have a decent conversation with the girl so he could send her on her way.
“Hi,” she murmured into the awkward silence.
“It’s been a while.”
She nodded. It was jerky, nervous. He hadn’t heard much of Luc’s conversation with Kimber, just enough to know his cousin had some whacked-out imagining that he’d been keeping the beauty to himself. And that Kimber thought she had an urgent reason to be here.
Since they only had one acquaintance in common, this had to be about the Colonel.
“Is everything all right with your dad?”
“He-he’s fine. Thanks.” She pasted on a smile. “He says some psycho ex-convict he helped bring in for a client is out now and threatening him, but that’s nothing new.”
In their line of work? “No, it’s not.”
Finally, his erection abated enough for him to cross the room and plant himself at the fussy Italian table. A smile still tugged at the corner of his cousin’s mouth, and Deke sent him a warning glare.
“I heard you tell Luc you had something urgent to talk to me about. It’s not about the Colonel?”
“No. It’s . . .” Kimber’s lashes swept toward her cheeks as she looked down, bit her lip again.
Damn it, her unconscious, innocent flirtations were making him hard all over.
Her gaze bounced back up, and he saw fortitude there. Interesting . . .
Personal? Deke had no idea what to say. She’d come to him for something personal? He’d done his best to be an ass to her when he’d worked for her father. Not too difficult when he’d been knotted up by sexual frustration on a daily basis.
A moment passed in silence. A pause.
Luc rose and approached Kimber. “I’ll give you kids a few minutes alone. I have to make a phone call, anyway. There’s more raspberry tea in the fridge. Don’t let Mr. Glower scare you off.” He grabbed her hand and kissed it. “And don’t leave without saying good-bye.”
Deke watched the exchange, and realized that he was grinding his teeth. Bastard. Kimber was everything his cousin pursued with single-minded vigor: the promise o...
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