A trio of writers explores the allure of the deliciously wicked and brings us three tales of modern love and lust—stories guaranteed to turn up the heat!
About the Author
Lynn LaFleur was born and raised in a small town in Texas. After living in various places on the West Coast for twenty-one years, she is back in her hometown. Lynn also publishes with Ellora's Cave, and when she is not writing, she loves reading, sewing, gardening, and learning new things on the computer.
Read an Excerpt
If This Bed Could Talk
By Liz Maverick
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Liz Maverick
All right reserved.
They say you only get a few seconds to make a good first impression. Vienna James needed to make a great one.
It all came down to numbers. Numbers and time. How many strikes do you have? How many years did you get? When should you make your move? How long do you give it before you run like hell?
She gazed up at the shadowy figures of the men in the glass booths encircling the top tier of the auction round. They watched her as if they were spectators at a sporting event. As if she was the sport itself—with just seconds remaining in the final period.
Numbers and time. How many men have told you in so many words that they could fix your world if you just gave them long enough? How many actually have?
The odds of finding a buyer on a three-strikes sentence were practically nil. But not impossible. Seething inside that her life had come to this pathetic crossroad—where the best possible scenario would be another human being purchasing her for unknown service—Vienna did her best to smile on the platform. Not an easy thing to do when a pissy attitude, wrist shackles, and a grubby prison uniform were your only props.
The loudspeaker instructed her to turn in a circle. Vienna did exactly what she was told, her heart rate picking up again as she finished the 360 and came back around to face the front, where a row ofgreen lights were extinguishing one by one. When the entire line of lights on the wall went out, the auction would be over. Two out of six dots left.
Smile, Vienna. Smile for the silly boys . . . oh, for God's sake. This is ridiculous!
She was just a weapons specialist. A gunrunner. A target shooter. End of story. This . . . this preening and putting her . . . girliness or whatever on display . . . it just wasn't her game. But you had to do what you had to do. Working this hard to impress men might not have been part of her old job description, but it apparently was a requirement now. And if this was what it took to convince a buyer to get her the hell out of this mess she was in, then this was what she was going to do.
Vienna looked up and scanned the booths again, noticing that in one of them, two men had leaned forward on the window and were staring intently down at her.
You there. Buy me. Buy me and you won't be sorry.
And I won't be sorry either, because once you get me away from here, I'll get away from you.
Michael and Devlin Kingston leaned against the glass of a cramped auction booth, glancing between a folder describing Docket 664291 and the woman down below—the real thing, Vienna James.
Blond, blue-eyed, and working serious bombshell curves that even the most ill-fitting uniform couldn't hide, the girl could not have been closer to the specifications of Devlin's ex-fiancée, Julia, if she'd been custom built that way.
She's perfect, Michael thought.
"She's a mess," Devlin said abruptly.
Michael glared at his brother. "Are you joking? Look closer."
Devlin folded his arms across his chest, his mouth a grim slash.
"I have a feeling about her," Michael said. "And, come on. Blond. Blue eyes. You know she's perfect." He slid the auction file over to his brother. "Vienna James."
Devlin arched an eyebrow. "How much do you want to bet it's not her real name?"
Michael chuckled. "It's the name attached to the crime, so I expect it's the only one that matters."
"Three crimes caught three times. And now she's looking at automatic execution, aka Three-Strikes policy, if somebody doesn't buy her." He tossed the folder back at Michael. "We'd be better off with somebody whose line of business had more to do with seduction than common illegal weapons handling."
"I disagree. I think Pierce would detect a professional seductress in a second."
"You don't plan to train her?" Devlin asked.
"Of course I'll train her. I'm just saying that a little rough around the edges is a good thing." He pointed at the row of green lights. "We need to make a decision."
Devlin was silent for a long time. Finally, he said, "She has Julia's coloring exactly."
Michael studied his brother's face. Though anyone else would probably miss it, he always caught the change in the set of Devlin's jaw when he said Julia's name. Julia's or Pierce Mackey's. Devlin hadn't forgotten. Hell, Michael hadn't forgotten either. And neither of them had forgiven.
Michael looked down at the girl who was busy complying with a litany of automated requests blaring from the platform speaker. She turned in a circle, modeling for the prospective buyers in a strange kind of Simon Says that would have been laughable if her life hadn't been on the line. "Maybe you need to be running the job," he suggested to his brother. "Maybe it would make more sense if you were the one with her. A kind of repeat that he wouldn't be able to resist."
Devlin winced. "I'd rather not. You're better in the field and Pierce will jump at the chance to wreck you. It would make his victory complete."
The final green dot began to pulse, indicating only thirty seconds remained in the auction. Michael picked up the red line. "I'd like an opportunity to question the prisoner on the block prior to bidding." He hung up, and a moment later an all-call message went out to the booths that a buyer was interested in one Vienna James and that the courtesy of questioning her was extended to any who were interested.
Watching her face as the guard announced buyer interest, Michael saw the moment her courage failed. As she took in the news, her lips parted in surprise. She closed them again and swallowed, and he could see uncertainty move like a shadow over her face.
Excerpted from If This Bed Could Talk by Liz Maverick Copyright © 2007 by Liz Maverick. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
So I was reading the awful When Good things happen to Bad Boys and had to put it down. And picked up this one, which may not be dazzlingly good, but was so much better than it, that I really liked it. Agent Provocateur was not as worked out in terms of world building as it could have been (setting books in the future is not enough, you need to think how this world works) but the sexual tension between the bought sex slave (her alternative would have been death) and the brother wanted to avenge his sister-in-law was decent enough. Unrequited was better, lots of sexual tension, bit of fun, as another brother-in-law falls in love for his brother's ex. Victim of Deception was the weakest for me, and I only skimmed it. So not a keeper, but not a wall banger either.
¿Agent Provocateur¿ by Liz Maverick. Brothers Michael and Devlin observe Vienna with the former saying she is perfect while the latter insists she is a mess. They know she is subject to execution under the Three Strikes crime policy unless bought. They buy and train her to seduce secrets from hard cases (no pun intended). However, her Professor Higgins (Michael that is) and she fall in love, which is lethal and ergo taboo in the world of espionage. ¿Unrequited¿ by Kimberly Dean. Trista¿s date Cliff mistakenly takes her to the Blue Moon where she sees her former brother-in-law, Ty, whom she has not seen since she and Danny divorced. Ty has loved his ex sister-in-law for years, but hid his feelings as he did not want to hurt his sibling nor his sister-in-law whom he assumed loved his brother. However, now that they are divorced and she is dating, he decides to take a chance that perhaps his high regard is requited by the woman he loves. --- ¿Victim of Deception¿ by Lynn LaFleur. In 1910 Fort Worth insane Eva kills Aaron and Mary while also cursing them to remain forever in their home near each other but just out of reach. In the present, Karessa moves into the home where the tragedy occurred almost a century ago. She begins to have erotic dreams that lead her to discover two matchmaking resident ghosts and Max, who broke her heart once before. --- These three erotic romantic speculative fiction tales include a futuristic espionage thriller (¿Unrequited¿) and two supernatural entries. Each contains strong believable protagonists starring in red hot novellas that grip readers from start to finish. Though a longer length would have better developed the support cast, sub-genre fans will still cherish this torrid collection. --- Harriet Klausner