And once you’re done, reward yourself by dipping into this sexy excerpt from HUSH, available now from Pocket Books.
Her fingers automatically followed the path of his shirt collar, encountering both the warm skin at the nape of his neck and the short, crisp hair on the back of his head. Reluctantly she recognized how much she liked the feel of both. Along with the sturdy, shelflike quality of his broad shoulders that her arms were draped over. And his height, which had her stretching upward even with her four-inch heels. And . .
The feel of the gun beneath his jacket? Not so much.
That just underlined why she needed to be wary of him.
“I don’t dance.” Finn’s voice grated. His eyes were heavy-lidded and impossible to read as he looked down at her.
“What’s so hard about it? Put your hands on my waist and sway.” His hands found her waist even before she finished speaking, settling on either side of it at the narrowest part just above the flare of her hips. She could feel the size and shape of them holding her lightly through the stretchy knit of her dress. High-necked, with tiny cap sleeves and an Oriental vibe, it wouldn’t have been her first choice given the heat, but in conjunction with the pantyhose she was wearing it had the primary advantage of hiding most of her bruises. “You can sway, can’t you?”
“Maybe.” It seemed he could, and even pick up his feet at the same time, although recalcitrance practically oozed from his pores. “I want that SIM card, Riley.”
The sudden guilty jump of her heart was not, she reminded herself fiercely, outwardly visible. She kept calm by focusing on his use of her given name. She wasn’t positive, but she thought it was the first time he’d ever called her by it. Was swoon even a word people used anymore? Because to her surprise, and annoyance, the gravelly way he said her name made her want to.
“I can’t hear you,” she mouthed, although she could. But using the heavy-metal music as an excuse gave her a second to recover.
Looking irritated, he dipped his head—she got a whiff of soap, felt his warm breath on her ear—and repeated the demand.
As he straightened, her heart was still behaving oddly, but for an entirely different reason.
“I want a Porsche Carrera, but I doubt I’m ever going to get it,” she replied. Her eyes mocked. Never mind the fact that the chemistry between them was raising the temperature in the air. She’d made up her mind that the only thing to do was lie her butt off, and if her stomach twisted tighter than a loaf of challah bread at the prospect of lying to the man, she was prepared to ignore it.
“I’m not playing,” he warned. His jaw had hardened, and she found herself noticing with interest the faint shadow of stubble that darkened it and his cheeks. How was it that she’d ever thought she didn’t like overwhelmingly masculine men? In a possible example of the worst timing ever, she was discovering that she did.
“Me, either.” She gave a playful, one-fingered caress to the warm skin at the back of his neck, and felt every muscle in his body go taut as a bowstring in response.
Every muscle. There was enough space between them that the tips of her breasts only barely brushed the bulge in his jacket that was his gun.
Her abdomen now brushed a bulge of a totally different sort.
Big Boy was back.
Her lips parted as she made the discovery. Her gaze slid up over his face.
His mouth was grim. His eyes had a hard, restless glitter at their backs.
For a moment their eyes held.
The air around them felt like it was slowly turning to steam.
“You ever hear of iCloud?” The edge to his voice was underlined by the tightening of his grip on her waist. She could feel the blunt tips of his fingers digging into her flesh.
Another terrifying question. As she registered the possible implication of that terrifying question, her heart leaped into her throat and her knees went weak and she was very much afraid that her eyes widened in shock.
Thank God for the darkness. She hoped it was enough to hide any reactive change of expression she might have experienced. They were moving, kind of basic box step stuff, to the sexy, throbbing beat of Second City’s “I Wanna Feel.” Glancing at the gyrating throng around them in a desperate bid to give herself a moment, observing entwined couples practically making out on the dance floor on all sides without really seeing them, she focused on getting her reactions under control.
How much does he know? was the panicky question that pulsed in her brain. She tried to thrust it away but without notable success.
“I can’t hear you,” she mouthed again.
His eyes narrowed. “Funny, I can hear you.”
She shook her head in mock bewilderment, and he leaned closer to repeat the question in her ear. This time, his cheek brushed hers. The sandpaper feel of his stubble against the softness of her skin made her go all melted-marshmallowy inside.
It was almost enough to cause her to forget the clutch of fear she’d experienced when he’d asked if she’d ever heard of iCloud.
As he straightened, her reply was airy. “What about it?”
He leaned close again. This time she was prepared for the rasp of his cheek against hers, for the feel of his warm breath against her ear, for the smell of soap with a hint of menthol—a shaving cream, no doubt—and man.
“A phone like Jeff’s usually automatically uploads to it. I’ve got people checking that out now. If it did, I don’t need the SIM card. I’m giving you the chance to hand it over before I find out what was on that phone some other way.”
The wave of relief that washed over her was enormous. It cleared her head, gave her her mojo back.
He might be threatening her with iCloud, but in the context of Jeff’s phone he was threatening her with the absolute wrong thing.
He didn’t know Jeff. He had no idea of the degree of paranoia Jeff had experienced after discovering George’s iCloudstored information cache. Enough so that Jeff had taken steps to make sure that his phone would do no such thing.
Which, in turn, meant that the big, bad FBI agent was shit out of luck.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll pass,” she said as he straightened, and smiled at him.
His face darkened. His eyes flared. “I won’t make the offer again.”
In pretend deafness she asked, “What did you say?”
The hard angle of his jaw was only a little above the level of her eyes. She watched it clench, watched his mouth thin and harden. The aggravation defense: nothing she ever would have employed with premeditation, but it seemed to work. Next time she found herself on the wrong end of an interrogation, she’d remember it.
Then his arms encircled her, tightened. He pulled her fully against him and swung her around, lifting her clean off her feet in the process. It might have been a defensive move, designed to keep them from being bumped by a wildly boogying couple on their right. But she thought it was an offensive one, payback for her pretense. Whatever his motive, it was an unexpected enough move to cause her to lock her arms around his neck and cling to him, then leave her plastered right up against him like jelly to peanut butter, even after her feet were firmly back on the floor again.
It was something that, in retrospect, she would have been better off avoiding.
Who would have guessed that she was such a sucker for a big strong man who could sweep her off her feet?
Apparently she was. Once she had her feet beneath her again, she could have put some space between them. She could have unlocked her arms from around his neck and taken a half-step back.
She didn’t. She didn’t want to.
She felt as if tongues of flame were licking at her skin.
The feel of him, warm even through his clothes and all solid muscle, was intoxicating. The unyielding firmness of his chest against her breasts, the brush of his long, powerful legs in their suit pants against her nylon-sheathed, much more delicate ones, but most of all the unmistakable evidence of his arousal that was now wedged between them, made her burn, made her quake.
She never even realized her smile was gone until his eyes slid down to fasten on her mouth.
A wave of heat hit her, as tangible as if it had come rolling off a fire. Her heart pounded. Her pulse raced.
The music and darkness swirled around her, blocking out everything except him. Except them.
She watched him looking at her mouth, and her bones turned to water.
Shrouded in the deep purple gloom of the dance floor, with neon shafts of light shooting like meteors through the darkness high above his head, he looked big and dangerous and sexy as hell.
He felt big and dangerous and sexy as hell.
All of a sudden all she could think about was that blistering kiss they had shared.
What she wanted, so much that it surprised her, was for him to kiss her again.
Their eyes met. His were hooded, restless, gleaming. They made her mouth go dry. They made her insides clench. His face was close to hers. It was all she could do not to turn her head so that her mouth brushed his sandpaper cheek.
Wrapped in his arms, with the evidence of how much he wanted her right there between them and the electricity they generated throwing off sparks everywhere, she almost forgot why they were on the dance floor in the first place.