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Hi everyone – 

 

Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter! Your support for my books means the world to me! So how about a sneak peek at the first chapter of BREATH OF PASSION.

Erato, the Muse of Erotic Poetry is alive inside of Erica, and you can imagine when she gets together with firefighter Reed McIntosh, sparks fly!

 

Can’t wait for you to read the book…

 

Lisa

BREATH OF PASSION

CHAPTER 1

 

Erica Sterling nursed her rum and Coke at the bar as she focused all her attention on the stage in the corner. Her roommate, Trinity, strummed her guitar, leaning into the mic. This was a new song, and while the melody was all Trinity, the raw, gritty lyrics were Erica’s.

They made a great songwriting team. Trin was working on another album, and the owner of the cantina on the Navy base in Crystal City was always willing to have them bounce new tunes off his patrons. And since they lived close by and had visitor’s passes to get on base, it made the cantina a very convenient venue.

Erica scanned the crowd and found that most people were bobbing their heads to the beat. So far, this one was getting a warm reception.

“This seat taken?”

She glanced up to find a familiar face. A handsome one, complete with a chiseled jaw and intense dark eyes. She smiled. “Haven’t seen you in a while. It’s Reed, right?”

He nodded, taking the barstool next to hers. “Good to see you again…Erica.”

She chuckled. “Apparently, I made an impression picking up trash during that walk on the airstrip.”

Reed was a firefighter with Federal Fire on the base. She had no trouble picturing him rescuing soldiers from fiery aircraft. There was a confidence in his stride, but no trace of arrogance in his smile. Sexy.

“Can’t imagine anyone ever forgets meeting you.” His gaze wandered over her for a moment before he glanced at Trinity.

Erica raised a brow, allowing herself another peek at his profile. “I still haven’t been properly thanked for all that bending over.”

Flirting and foreplay came easy to Erica. Before she’d turned twenty, Erato awakened inside her. Erato was the Greek Muse of Lyrics…and Erotic Poetry. She had a gift for inspiring passion.

Or a curse. It depended on who Erica was with.

Trin finished the song, and the bar erupted in applause. She lifted the guitar strap over her head and smiled at the crowd. “Thanks, everyone. I’ll be back in ten.”

Trinity went straight for the stool on the other side of Erica. Trin loved music and sharing it, but small talk made her twitchy.

Reed leaned forward to look over at Trinity. “Great song. You’re really talented.”

Erica pointed at his broad chest. “Trin, this is Reed. He’s Hunter’s friend and a firefighter on the base.”

“Federal Fire,” he clarified. His gaze locked on Erica’s for just a second, and the raw desire in his eyes had her pressing her thighs together. He focused on Trinity again. “Can I buy you a drink?”

Trinity fished through her coat and held up a water bottle. “I’m a cheap drunk. Anything stronger than water and I’ll start forgetting lyrics.” She grinned at Erica. “It’s tough to live with Erica when I mess up her words.”

Reed raised a brow, fixing his eyes on Erica again. “You write songs?”

Erica nodded, wrapping her lips around her straw. She swallowed the cold drink, but it didn’t cool the smoldering low in her belly. “You could say it’s my calling…”

Trin chuckled. “I’m running to the restroom.” Then she leaned in close to Erica and whispered in her ear, “Thought you were going to stick to the no-dating pact.”

“Callie and Mel shouldn’t be the only ones getting any action,” Erica murmured back.

Unlike her Muse sisters, Erica grew up in Crystal City. When the rest of them moved west and found one another here, Callie O’Connor, the Muse of Epic Poetry, was a natural leader, corralling them into a unified vision for the future: the reopening of the Theater of the Muses, Les Neufs Soeurs.

The no-dating pact had been Callie’s idea. Relationships would distract them from their mission. Erica had fought it at first, but when her rocky relationship ended in a restraining order, she did her best to kick her man habit.

But that had been three months ago, and there was no sign of Jack. The restraining order had expired without fanfare, and she’d learned a valuable lesson.

Relationships were not for her.

But that didn’t mean she had to spend the rest of her life just dreaming of a man in her bed.

Trin glanced at the fireman and laughed again. “Go easy on him.”

She walked away, and Erica swiveled on her stool. “Callie told me you surf like Hunter.”

The bartender delivered Reed’s drink, and the fireman smiled. “There are worse addictions than riding waves, right?”

Yeah. She could think of many.

“Were you meeting anyone here tonight?” she asked.

He searched her eyes, the corner of his mouth quirking into a crooked smile. “Callie might have mentioned you were going to be here.”

“Did she?” She wet her lips. “And she didn’t warn you about me?”

“Should she have?”

Erica finished her drink, relishing the burn in her belly and the flush of heat in her cheeks as she nodded. “Definitely.”

His gaze smoldered. “It’s a good thing danger is my calling, then.”

“Good to know,” she said with a sly smile.

Trinity returned from the restroom and headed to the small corner stage. She slung her guitar back over her shoulder. “This song is for dancing with someone you love, or at least lust after.”

Some wolf whistles came from the other side of the bar as couples moved to the dance floor. Reed held out his hand, palm up. “Dance with me?”

“I’d love to.” She took his rough, calloused hand, barely stifling the jolt of desire as she imagined those hands on her body.

He led her to the dance floor, and she laced her fingers around the back of his neck. His arms moved around her waist, and they swayed in time with the sultry melody. Reed stared down into Erica’s eyes while she enjoyed the heat coming off him, warming her right through the thin fabric of her sundress.

Leaning in closer, his breath teased her ear. “You’re too beautiful for this bar.”

She pulled back just enough to see his eyes again. “A charmer, I see.”

“It’s not flirting if it’s true.” This time his lips brushed her earlobe, sending a delicious chill up her spine. “Let’s get out of here.”

She bit her lower lip. The muse inside her ached for the sensual attention his gaze promised. Hell, all of her wanted him.

Except her heart.

She stepped back, catching his hand as she led him out of the bar. She walked him past the group of smokers on the corner near the parking lot. The yellow streetlamps cast them in a monochrome wasteland.

When they got to her car, she turned around, running her hands up his chest, admiring the hard muscles hidden by his shirt. Looking up into his eyes, she whispered, “If I take you back to my place, we’ll have a couple hours before Trin gets home. You’ll need to be gone before then.”

He raised a brow. “Is she your chaperone?”

“No.” She waited for him to look at her again. “I just want to be sure you understand the ground rules. This isn’t ever going to turn into a relationship, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you should go back inside. There are plenty of beautiful women hunting for husbands in there. You could have your pick.”

He ran a thumb along her jawline. “I’m not looking for forever, either.”

Her heart thumped in answer. “We could make ‘for now’ pretty amazing.”

“I have no doubt.”

She pulled him down to her, and her breath caught as his lips met hers. He wrapped his arms around her, his mouth demanding her submission as his tongue reached for hers. She moaned, sliding her fingers through his hair.

One of his strong hands slid down her hip, drawing her thigh up to his waist. His erection rubbed her until she wished she’d skipped underwear tonight.

He broke the kiss, resting his forehead against hers. “God, I want you.”

She nodded, breathless. “Get in the car.”

She popped the locks and got behind the wheel. Luckily, she’d had dinner before her drink. The buzz in her limbs had nothing to do with alcohol, and everything to do with the hot firefighter in her passenger seat.

“I’m just a couple blocks from the base,” she said.

“Good.”

She started the car, then reached for his hand and placed it on her leg. In her peripheral vision, he smiled. Again, her heart pounded, even though it had no business interfering in this arrangement.

For a split second, a whisper of warning cut through the haze of desire.

Reed McIntosh was best friends with Hunter, Callie’s boyfriend and Guardian. There was a better-than-average chance that Erica and Reed would see each other again. Close proximity made it easy to blur the lines between lust and…something else.

His hand slid farther up her thigh, pulling her dress with it until he was caressing her bare leg.

Screw warnings. Tonight was about surrender, and she was going to enjoy every second of it.

 

***

 

Reed ran a hand up her smooth thigh. From the moment he’d met Erica on the airstrip a few weeks before, he hadn’t been able to get her out of his head. He’d dreamed of tasting her mouth, worshiping her curves, and hearing her gasping his name, only to wake up alone.

He was treading on thin ice with this woman, like a moth drawn to a raging inferno. A single flame didn’t do her justice. She carried herself with a sexy confidence that lured him in.

Knowing she wanted him in return didn’t hurt, either.

Since that day, every time he saw Hunter and Callie, he caught himself hoping Erica might be there, too.

Dangerous.

His heart had been carved out the day he’d given up his dreams for a woman. A woman who lied more than she ever told the truth.

Fuck that shit. He’d never trust another person with his heart, or his future.

But his present was all Erica’s.

She pulled into the garage under a condo complex that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. It was way out of his price range, not that it mattered. He wasn’t moving in.

As soon as the garage door lowered, he slid his hand into her hair, drawing her in for another kiss. Her mouth tasted like sweet brandy and spice. Damn, she was delicious.

She ran her hands down his chest and tugged his shirt free from his jeans. He groaned as her cool hands explored his bare abs. His other hand wandered up from her waist, enjoying her curves until he was cupping her breast. She moaned into his mouth and arched her back into his touch, and he just about lost it right there.

He pulled back, his voice a husky whisper. “I need more room and fewer clothes.”

Her throaty chuckle had his erection pulsing, threatening to bust the damned zipper. Her eyes sparkled. “Let’s get inside.”

He followed her to the door, kissing her bare shoulder as she unlocked it and pulled him into her kitchen on the other side. He pinned her to the wall beside the doorframe, fusing his lips to hers. He couldn’t even pull away to shut the—

The door slammed. Good.

She unzipped his jeans, releasing the pressure for a split second before she grasped his shaft right through his boxers. He groaned, his teeth tugging on her lower lip. She stroked him slow and firm until his hips worked into her, despite his effort to make this last. He gripped her waist and lifted her up onto the counter, pushing her knees apart so he could get between them.

He trailed kisses down her neck while he drank in the scent of her skin. Every part of her called to him, the desire distracting him from the burning sensation shooting through the birthmark on his ankle. He could worry about that later. Much later.

She leaned back, her breasts begging for his attention. He pulled the strap off one shoulder and tugged it lower, until her nipple was exposed. Licking the tip, he ran his hands up her legs, raising her skirt around her waist.

Her fingers tangled in the back of his hair, pulling it, encouraging him as he traced the edge of her silky panties. He growled against her breast as he hooked his finger in the side of them. “I’ll buy you a new pair.”

She nodded, and he didn’t hesitate to tear them apart at the seam. “I need to taste you.”

He needed all of her.

Bending forward, he pressed hot kisses from the inside of her thigh to the juncture of her legs. Her breath caught as he caressed her core. He ran his finger along her opening and found her wet and ready. He couldn’t wait any longer.

He licked her slowly, humming at her taste, and the vibrations had her hips bucking toward him. Oh yeah, this was what he wanted. Cupping her ass in his hands, he teased her with his lips and tongue until she moaned his name.

He almost came in his pants.

So much for making the night last.

 

***

 

For a second, Erica couldn’t move. Her orgasm stole her breath and all coherent thought; it was pure surrender. How had she gone so long without?

She lifted her head, meeting his eyes. “I need you. Now. Please tell me you have a condom.”

He dug his wallet from his back pocket and pulled a foil wrapper out. As soon as he had the condom on, he slid inside her, her body stretching around him as he buried himself in her. Gods, he fit her just right.

The intensity in his gaze was still there, demanding, as he started to thrust into her. His hands grasped her hips tight, holding her steady. She wished she’d ripped his shirt off the way he’d done to her underwear so she could watch his muscles as their bodies slammed together.

Next time.

The stray thought sent a jolt through her. There wouldn’t be a next time.

He caught her chin. “Just you and me right now.” His voice was more of a growl than before. “Just us.”

Us.

She braced herself on the counter, writhing into his thrusts. He slid his hand between them and found her sweet spot, rubbing as he pushed as far as he could inside her. He erupted as her orgasm burned through her bloodstream.

He stared into her eyes, catching his breath, and without warning, he lifted her and carried her from the kitchen without pulling out of her. Erica was curvy, and while she didn’t obsess over a scale, she knew she wasn’t light, nor was this position the easiest to maneuver around.

But Reed had no trouble getting her to the sofa. He sat down with her straddling his lap. Finally, he shook his head, a smile tugging at his lips. “Two hours isn’t going to be enough time.”

She grinned, rocking her hips. “We’d better make it count.”

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