Today we take you to the hottest winter destination in the Rockies: Aspen, Colorado for the launch of BRANDED, the third book in Golden Heart finalist Colette Auclair’s award-winning Aspen Valley series. Available exclusively from Pocket Star!
Days after leaving her own wedding, resort specialist Cordy Sims heads to Aspen for work. She meets the beyond-delicious Jack Cormier, and decides to forget her problems and let loose for once in her life. It’s Friday night, they’ve had dinner, and they’re in Jack’s luxury suite where Cordy is about to embark upon her first-ever wild weekend.
Cordy couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt her heart pound this hard when she wasn’t running, in a spin class, or riding. Jack had just closed the door behind her and she stood in the middle of one of the most luxurious hotel suites she’d ever seen. It was large, with a kitchenette, dining table and chairs, fireplace with the de rigueur armchairs and love seats, and a balcony. There was also a bottle of champagne chilling in a bucket, two flutes on a tray, and a bouquet of red roses. This puzzled her—he’d been with her all night. He must’ve left to order all this when the drunk came and sat with me. A man who thinks ahead.
She filled her lungs and blew out the breath, as though about to launch herself off the high dive. Which, in a way, she was. Good-bye, Trent. Good-bye—at least for now—Cordy-Goody-Two-shoes. Hello hot sweaty crazy sex with a man you barely know. Prepare to become a nymphet.
Jack was smack-dab in front of her now and she knew she ought to make eye contact or—hell—attack him. She chose the first option. For some reason, she couldn’t drag her eyes away from the masculine curve of his Adam’s apple, and his white collar. Would she ruin it with her lipstick? Geez, Cordy! Stop being . . . you. She could feel her chest moving as she breathed.
“Hey,” Jack said as he elevated her chin with a fingertip, forcing her to look him in the eye. Those rich, espresso-dark eyes. “One more thing.” He grabbed the champagne and filled both flutes.
“I shouldn’t drink any more tonight.”
“A sip, to toast? I’m not trying to get you drunk— you already chose option A.”
She took the flute. “Toast away.” “To you, Cordelia. And our weekend together.” “May we part better off than we met.”
“Oh, I intend to see to that.” Jack smiled a slow, devastating smile, and Cordy’s midsection clenched so that she had to concentrate just to clink glasses. I am in league with the devil.
“I guess we should start. The sex, I mean.”
Jack smiled and looked at the wall behind her, then shook his head. “We don’t have to, if you’re not sure.”
“All right. To be on the safe side, since I don’t know how far you want this to go, let’s pick a safe word.”
“I don’t have one.”
“I didn’t assume you had. Even if you did, you can make up a new one.” Cordy realized she must have looked horrified, because Jack’s expression went from amused to alarmed and he said, “I’m not planning to hurt you, but I’d feel better if we have a safe word so we’re on the same page and there are no misunderstandings. In the heat of the moment.”
“Do you have one that works well?” Suddenly she was feeling out of her depth with this apparent lothario. She worried he’d be disappointed when he discovered she wasn’t some sexual she-beast who could match him stroke for stroke. Oh God, did I really just think that? Stroke for stroke? Then again, wasn’t she lucky to have a veritable gigolo as her lover? Besides, all those other women he’d bedded weren’t here. She was. And he was hers for the night, if not the weekend. This was about her. He was doing this safe-word thing for her.
“No, cher, I don’t have one. I want you to know that nothing’s going to happen that you don’t want to happen. But you’d better think of one fast; you are quite alluring.”
“Why can’t we use ‘no’? Or ‘stop’?”
“What if you want me to keep going even if you say that?”
“Why would I say ‘stop’ if I wanted you to keep going?”
“What if you want to be pushed? Suppose you want to feel a little bit naughty? What if I do something that makes you slightly uncomfortable, but if you let me continue, you’ll feel better than ever?”
No one had ever said anything like that to her before, and as the meaning sunk in, her core quivered oh-so-slightly. In for a penny . . . “Okay. Okay. Um . . .” Nothing was coming to mind. Cordy had to hunt around in her vocabulary to find something that meant stop. “Okay. How about this? Halt at X.”
“That’s not a safe word. That’s a sentence.”
“Three words. Halt. At. X. And one of them’s a letter, so it’s really like two words, and it’s only three syllables. The other one I was thinking of was Poughkeepsie, and that’s three syllables too. Anyway, it’s my safe word. Stop judging.”
Jack smiled and Cordy felt her heart shimmy. “That’s fine, darlin’. Halt at X. Got it.”
Now that that was out of the way, she just stood there, motionless and silent. After seconds crept by, she finally said, “I . . . I’m not sure how to start.”
“You’re thinking too much,” he said as he set their flutes back on the tray. She had emptied hers in an attempt to drown her nerves in Moët et Chandon. “Well, cher, how about we start here?” He slid his hand behind her neck and kissed her just below her ear. He kissed her again and again, and she could feel his breath make the tiny hairs on her earlobe tremble. He spoke and she could feel the vibrations of his voice. “That often works as a jumping-off point. And if that doesn’t do it for you, then there’s always . . .” He shifted to the same spot, but on the opposite side of her neck. “Here.” He kissed her four or five times and she let her head fall back because it occurred to her it would be good to give him a bigger, tauter target area for those talented lips. It would also behoove her to close her eyes, so she did that, too. He skimmed his lips along the column of her neck and she was relatively certain he nipped her earlobe, next to her earring. For a moment she wondered if he would swallow it and choke. Cordy! Stop it! Enjoy this! Pretend you’re a sex-crazed nymphet. Then he touched his tongue to her ear and my, but didn’t that feel good? The nymphet idea was taking hold, even as Jack’s teeth took hold of her ear. She moaned and he said, “That’s better, cher. You just relax and let ol’ Jack take care of you.”
She needed to hear those words. That sentence that so casually slid out of Jack’s mouth flipped the switch.
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