Dangerous Games [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Charlene Teglia
eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
eBook Description: Drake Trahern left the dangerous world of military secrets and betrayal to express his creative genius in software. The game, Wyvern's Quest, is an enormous commercial success, but it acts as a screen for his true purpose. His secret has been safely hidden in his desert lair, unsuspected, until his security is cracked by a lone intruder. Shy Melinda Palmer has been drawn into a world of dangerous games. Computer games. Spy games. And the most dangerous game of all, sexual surrender to a dominating male who will fulfill her every desire, if she dares to submit. Leaving her sensible shoes and prim clothes at the door, she enters into Drake's game, a game of sexual enlightenment that will forever change her. But the "danger" in the game comes from a most unexpected direction as Drake tries to guard his secrets and expose all of Melinda's.
eBook Publisher: Ellora's Cave/1-4199-0211-3, Published: Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc., 2004
Fictionwise Release Date: May 2005
39 Reader Ratings:
He was a black leather-clad knight on a sleekly designed steed that whispered of Italian engineering and universal danger.
He didn't look chivalrous. He looked more the type to storm her castle and carry her off as booty than the type to wear her favor and fight for her honor. He wore leather and denim and heavy work boots. Sunglasses hid his eyes. He hadn't shaved recently. His dark hair was cut short, presumably to decrease the wind resistance when he leaned low over his mechanical charger and opened the throttle wide.
He sat looking at Melinda for an eternity while she in turn tried to keep a peripheral eye on the rough-looking motorcyclist who'd stopped beside her on this stretch of interstate highway, without seeming to look in his direction.
Instead, she looked at the red light on her dashboard and tried not to think about how the steam billowing up from the hood of her practical Nissan sedan made him look like a demon lover rising from the pit of hell, conjured by her darkest longings and come to fulfill them all.
Not that she wanted anything fulfilled but her current longing for a state trooper or a tow truck, or for the boiling cloud of steam and the red light on her dashboard to go away.
She didn't have any dark longings she wanted him to fulfill. None she intended to admit to, anyway. A man like that would know all about dark longings and how to fulfill them. But then men who looked like that were also unreliable and dangerous and probably carried knives and took drugs.
More to the point, men like that also weren't interested in women who were shy and didn't know how to flirt and wore sensible shoes. Men like that were interested in women who wore hooker shorts and leather bustiers and thigh-high leather boots with heels that rose up into the stratosphere like the tower of Babel.
Melinda formed a brief mental image of herself, transformed by thigh-high boots and short shorts and something that would make her A-cup size look like cleavage.
Then the image of her transformed self was joined by the motorcycle man giving her a knowing look that said clearly that clothes didn't make the woman. She was never going to be a temptress. Besides, they both knew she couldn't wear those shorts with underwear and Melinda would die of embarrassment if she was seen in public with everybody knowing she wasn't wearing any panties.
She was so caught up in the daydream that the knock on her driver's side window made her jump with a guilty start. She instinctively turned her head towards the noise, forgetting that she couldn't look directly at the motorcycle man or he might attack her right there on the highway, and looked straight into mirrored lenses that reflected her own wide brown eyes back at her.
It took Melinda a moment to realize he was signaling her to roll down the window. She obeyed the gesture. He looked like a man who was used to being obeyed and she wasn't any good at confrontation. If she'd been better at confrontation, she wouldn't be stuck out here in the first place.
When she got the window rolled down, the man folded his arms and bent to lean them against the glass edge, tilting his head to consider her from an entirely too intimate angle. Melinda's breath caught. If he leaned forward just a few inches, those unsmiling lips would brush against hers. His broad chest seemed to fill her vision. He was so big up close. And scarred. A jagged lightning bolt ran along his left cheek. Probably a souvenir from a gang fight.
"Open up the hood."
The low, growling voice rasped over Melinda's senses like his square, stubbled chin might rasp over her skin, making her shiver.
Then she focused on the words. Of course, she should open the hood. That was logical, practical. She would have thought of it already, but she'd been so busy wondering what he was going to do to her and hoping he'd go away before she found out that she hadn't been thinking. Melinda pulled the lever on the lower left side of the dash and popped the hood.
He stayed right where he was for a minute longer, and an earthy male scent made of sunshine and musk and something indefinable filled her nostrils.
She had a crazy urge to lean forward herself, just a little, just enough to feel that hard mouth on hers and see if his unshaven jaw scraped the way it looked like it would.
She'd never been kissed by a man who wasn't shaved smooth. Not that she'd had a lot of time to indulge in kissing. A heavy class load in college hadn't left much time for frivolity. After graduating with her master's degree, the sudden responsibility for her twelve-year-old brother had meant a pressing need to find a job instead of a lover. She'd been lucky to get hired by a growing technology company to research the viability of proposed projects and acquisitions. Buried in shyness and statistics and grief, her opportunities for kissing had not flourished.
When the man turned away, Melinda couldn't help noticing how his worn denim jeans molded themselves lovingly to his muscular butt. She watched his taut backside with avid interest as he walked around to the front of her car and lifted the hood.
It was easy to rationalize ogling him. After all, if she had to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead car and a dangerous hoodlum, she might as well enjoy the view. Besides, if she kept an eye on him she wouldn't be caught unawares if he decided to attack her.
She stifled the thought that if he did, it would probably be the most exciting thing that would ever happen to her.
Exciting just didn't describe the current state of her life. If it did, this wouldn't be the only Friday evening in recent memory when she had plans that involved leaving the house to meet a man. And it would be a purely social occasion instead of mandatory. Although in any case Melinda couldn't imagine any exciting plans that included a drive on this route after a full day at work.
The distance wasn't so terrible, it was the terrain it covered.
Hot air spilled in through the open window. Summer in Idaho's high plains desert meant temperatures that soared well over a hundred and there wasn't anything to provide shade for miles. There wasn't anything to block the winds that swept across the plains, either, and her hair blew around her face as the wind gusted in with the heat. The temperature would drop once the sun went down, but during the summer the extended daylight meant a cooling breeze was still hours away.
The only relief from the barren, rocky landscape was the river, winding along in the shape of the reptile it was named for. The highway followed the Snake River canyon, and the land scrubbed free of topsoil by the river's great flood thousands of years earlier remained inhospitable to the present day.
Maybe the intense heat had baked her brain. It would explain her crazy thoughts. Her imagination was running wild with unlikely ideas involving herself and a strange man. She shouldn't be thinking of herself as some sort of would-be seductress in impossible clothes, or a stranger in tight jeans as some sort of black knight bent on storming her castle.
This was all Mr. Drake Trahern's fault.
Melinda scowled at the thought of him and his lunatic proposal. If that man had been willing to listen to reason, she wouldn't be here now, ogling a strange man and having impractical, irresponsible, incorrect fantasies.
She shouldn't be thinking of kissing. She should be thinking of how to live up to the bizarre agreement she'd made without anything like kissing taking place this weekend. Assuming she ever made it to Trahern's high-tech fortress to keep her end of the agreement. The way her car had sounded before she'd pulled over, it didn't seem hopeful. The man wasn't likely to accept car trouble as an excuse, either.
She hoped the motorcycle man was mechanical. Maybe he could work a miracle under her hood and send her on her way.
If not, she had another problem. At best, she'd hear an "I told you so" since she'd refused to let Trahern's attorney send a car for her. Or worst case, the threat of legal action against her younger brother would be carried out.
The attorney who'd contacted her representing Mr. Trahern's case and proposed out-of-court settlement had been very clear on the terms.
Her brother Ryan had been caught red-handed breaking into the system that housed Trahern's multimillion-dollar software company. He was willing to resolve the matter without pressing criminal charges against her brother on the grounds of his youth and lack of a previous record. Also, Ryan hadn't managed to break into any sensitive information so no real theft had occurred and no damage was done.
All she had to do to make Ryan's problem go away was to spend a weekend in Mr. Trahern's company for a personal in-depth interview.
Apparently Trahern wanted to make sure there wasn't going to be a repeat incident if he showed leniency the first time. Maybe he wanted to lecture her on the responsibilities and legal obligations guardianship of a minor entailed. Maybe he was going to give her pointers on the teenage male psyche and a few ideas on how to prevent Ryan from pursuing a life of white-collar crime or juvenile delinquency. Not that she had any real worries on that score.
Getting caught had put the fear of God into Ryan, who swore he'd never done anything like that before and never would again. Since the act was completely out of character, Melinda tended to believe him.
She still had no idea what had made him do such a thing. Curiosity, or lack of good judgment in the face of a dare. He was at that age, not quite an adult, no longer a little boy. He may have felt the need to do something dangerous to prove himself. That a friend had put him up to it was no excuse.
Whatever the reason behind it, the damage was done. And Melinda was on her way to do damage control, or penance, or whatever it was Trahern wanted from her. Whatever he wanted, it wouldn't be anything exciting. On the other hand, whatever he wanted from this interview was also unlikely to be anything melodramatic. Like making her scrub the floors with a toothbrush or write "I will not let my brother hack into computer systems" over and over on a blackboard.
In any case she'd left directly from work right at five o'clock and been on her way to present herself for possible grilling and intimidation from Friday evening through Sunday, until a cloud of steam erupted underneath the hood of her car.
She wondered how bad the car situation was. She ought to check, although that meant putting herself within reach of a leather-clad stranger.
She debated that briefly.
So far her rescuer hadn't made any threatening gestures, in spite of his rough appearance. Besides, she couldn't stop him if he decided to turn threatening from inside the car any better than she could outside it. Her mind made up to risk it, Melinda released her seat belt and stepped out onto the pavement to join him.
She found him leaning under the hood. He turned his head to aim his mirrored lenses at her again. "Your temperature gauge broken?"