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by Calista Fox
Description: Too busy for romance? Every woman has been there and knows what that's like. But for workaholic Cassandra Valentine, this has become an almost permanent state. She loves her job to the point that she has forgotten about other kinds of love. Seth Bryant is about to remind her that some things are worth a little extra time. After whisking her away to a romantic weekend retreat, he'll use every available trick -- and toy -- to win her attention for good. Because when life gets too complicated, sometimes the only cure is Simply Decadent. To My Readers: It's the simple things in life that mean the most, don't you think? Sure, a dozen red roses on a special occasion makes you feel like a queen for the day, but how much more romantic is the surprise of one single red rose that comes out of the blue on a Wednesday night, no special occasion associated? An elegant dinner at the best restaurant in town is a nice treat, but spreading out a blanket on the beach or at the park for an impromptu picnic can be even more romantic than the restaurant. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for grand gestures! But it's the little things that really melt my heart. The thoughtfulness someone puts into something as simple as calling me in the middle of the day for no other reason than to say, "I'm thinking about you." Or leaving a romantic card in my laptop case for me to find when I start work in the morning. Strolling hand-in-hand on the beach.... A soft kiss at the nape of the neck?. You get my point. Those simple gestures are more profound to me because they're "everyday" gestures. No special occasion needed. No pressure for a perfect outcome. They simply say, "Thanks for being in my life," without the words even having to be said.
eBook Publisher: Red Sage Publishing/Red Sage Presents, 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [110 KB]
Reading time: 66-92 min.
"Calista Fox is skilled at describing emotion and creating beautiful, convincing settings for the reader. Add realistic characters and dialogue to the great sex and you have a winner with Simply Decadent.Rated 4 ½"--Stacey, Delightful Divas
Simply Decadent: Chapter 1
The stroke of the paintbrush was slow and languid, as though he had all the time in the world to drag the soft, crimson bristles along her skin. The sensuous touch of the wet brush and the coolness of the creamy, cherry-scented body paint on her warm flesh made her tingle from head to toe.
As the long, continuous stroke slid down her neck, pausing to fill the hollow of her throat, Cassandra Valentine's eyelids fluttered closed.
She knew the trail Seth intended to blaze with his edible paint. She knew it would be a scorcher.
"You're enjoying this." His deep, intimate tone sent a ripple of excitement through her.
"Gloat all you want," she whispered, her voice sounding sultry even to her own ears. Her eyes remained closed, but she could picture hunky Seth in her mind. Tall, tanned and muscular, dressed in nothing but a pair of faded Levi's. Dark-as-night hair. Dazzling ocean-blue eyes. A face and body that could have been sculpted by an artist.
Seth was easily the most gorgeous man she'd ever known, or slept with. He had a dark, edgy look that drove her wild. He was damn sexy. Sensuous. Sizzling.
No word seemed quite hot enough to describe Seth Bryant.
"I'm not gloating," he told her. "Now that you're so compliant, I won't even mention that little meltdown you had in the car."
"You kidnapped me!"
"I know you hate to leave town in case the boss needs to reach you. But it's a holiday weekend, babe. No one's doing business."
"I know it's a holiday weekend," she said on a sigh. "But the people I work for are still doing business. Emergencies crop up all the time, and I would hate to be out of town when Justin needs me."
Seth's tone took on a hard edge she'd not heard before. "Your boss has an entire team, Cass. Let him call someone else for a change."
He had a point. It was useless to deny it. Working for Justin McCormick was no picnic--and he did tend to send her 911 text messages at all hours of the day and night. But she had to pay her dues, right?
"Hey," Seth said, drawing her from her thoughts. His tone was lighter, as though he'd caught the strain and wanted to mend it and put them back on the track to sexual bliss. "Forget about work, sweetheart. For the next two days, you're my sex toy. I plan to worship every inch of this gorgeous body." His beautiful blue eyes instantly blazed with lust. "And I just might break the record for most orgasms delivered in a forty-eight-hour period."
As he winked at her, a shiver of exhilaration chased up her spine. The thought of being Seth's "sex toy"--the recipient of all his erotic attention--made her wet. She really did want to banish thoughts of work and give herself over to every tantalizing sensation Seth evoked, tough as it was to resist the urge to check her email. But she'd been good thus far. She hadn't consulted her Blackberry even when they'd reached the cottage and a stronger signal. Instead, she had agreed to strip down and lie on the bed, allowing Seth to play out whatever wicked game popped into his head.
Okay, she had to admit, she savored the tingling of her skin and the prickly feeling between her legs. She was enjoying the attention Seth paid her body.
She could do this.
Propped on the edge of the king-size bed, which felt more heavenly than any Heavenly Bed she'd slept in on business trips, Seth leaned over her as he oh-so-slowly spread the paint across her collarbone before the brush inched downward, gliding over her skin in a fluid motion. It dipped lower still, until she felt the soft bristles tickle the inner swell of her breast.
Her bare nipples tightened in anticipation of his touch. A breeze blowing off the bay and in through the opened patio doors swept over her dewy skin, heightening her arousal. The soft rustle of the sheer curtains billowing inward, gently flapping on the humid, salty air, was the only sound Cass heard, other than her erratically pounding heart and the soft sigh that escaped her parted lips.
As her excitement escalated, she plowed her fingers through Seth's thick hair. She tried to coax his head to her breasts, longing for the feel of his lips and tongue on every inch of her, particularly the sensitive parts.
"Uh-uh," he whispered. "Not yet."
At the very least, she wanted him to finally, finally, let the bristles sweep over her aching nipple. But Seth obviously intended to take his time pleasuring her.
As he leaned over her, Cass felt the heat he emitted. His free hand was planted next to her hip as the other hand continued to guide the brush in its sensual teasing of her flesh. When the soft bristles drew up over her breast, Cass caught her trembling bottom lip between her teeth.
He was so close!
Instinctively, she arched her back, pushing her body closer to Seth.
He chuckled. "Greedy girl." When his head dipped, his warm breath caressed her skin, setting her insides on fire. "I'm almost there."
"Hurry," Cass whispered, desire and need wrapped around that one word. She could hardly wait for Seth to reach his destination. Just an inch farther and he'd swipe the paint over her nipple, which now, she was certain, was tighter than it had ever been before.
"You have beautiful breasts." His voice, rumbling in his chest, reverberated deep within her.
"They're dying for your touch," she said in a strained voice. "Seth.... Please...."
"I like it when you beg, baby." His tone was pure sin. "Turns me on."
Cass's back arched further as her body bucked and twisted beneath him. "For God's sake. Touch me!"
Finally, the brush eased over the hard center of her breast, sweeping over the erect bud, stroking and teasing it.
Cass let out a strangled cry of pleasure. Flames of desire licked that throbbing spot between her legs, setting every inch of her ablaze. The cold liquid on her warm skin and the soft bristles on such a sensitive spot created a titillating sensation.
"Oh, that's good," she said on a sharp, lust-filled breath. She kept her fingers tangled in the long strands of his silky hair. "Lick my nipple, Seth. Suck on it."
Ignoring her plea, he dragged the brush around her areola, coating it with the goopy paint. Then, with the corner, he flicked her nipple with the bristles. The scrape wasn't sharp, but it pebbled the bud even more and sent a spark of excitement shooting through her. Her inner walls contracted as she reacted to the jolt between her legs.
His grin was a lazy one, but the wicked glint in his blue eyes told her he was as hot and bothered as she was. His sensuous game made her restless and desperately in need of him. "Damn it, Seth."
He chuckled again. "Keep squirming, baby. You're making me hard."
The cream-covered brush swirled around her nipple with just a hint of pressure. She squeezed her legs together, but it did nothing to relieve the tension building inside her.
Pausing a moment to dunk the brush in the jar of body paint, Seth resumed the path he'd charted earlier. Sweeping along the inner swell of her breast, he moved downward, zigzagging in slow motion, drawing a long "S" down to her belly, branding her. He stopped at the slight indentation at the center of her quivering stomach and dipped the wet tip in her navel before continuing on.
He repositioned himself on the bed. "Spread your legs for me. Wide."
She jerked her thighs apart, wanting Seth between them. Granting her silent wish, he settled on the bed and continued his mission with the brush. Easing down her lower belly, he made a beeline for the juncture between her legs. When the cool paint swept over the nearly bare flesh, coating her sensitive lips, Cass lost what was left of her composure.
"Stop with the teasing and fuck me already," she demanded. He was driving her wild. She cupped her aching breasts and squeezed them, pushing them together before her palms eased over the centers, one of which was coated with paint.
Seth dropped the paintbrush in the jar. Cass caught her nipples between the thumb and forefinger of each hand and pinched the hardened peaks just as his tongue slid over her slick folds.
"Oh, lord," she whispered. Her hips thrust upward off the plump mattress. She pressed herself against his mouth. Seth's hands cupped her ass as his tongue went to work on her clit.
She felt her orgasm build with rapid-fire speed. He repositioned his hands and slid one long finger deep inside her wet pussy as his tongue continued to work its magic.
"Oh, yes. You know how much I like that." She tried to draw in a full breath, but it eluded her, so electrically charged was she.
Writhing and moaning, Cass demanded more. He gave it to her. Easing two fingers inside her, he stroked with confidence and familiarity, pushing her right to the brink. She clung to the edge, though, not quite ready to barrel over it.
With his tongue, Seth flicked the sensitive nub between her legs as his long strokes inside her turned to quick, pleasure-inducing pumps. Her hands left her breasts and gripped fistfuls of rumpled sheets at her hips, too caught in the throes of passion to worry about the mess the paint made.
Her head thrashed from side to side. The tension built within her, seizing her insides as it worked toward a powerful crescendo. While Seth's fingers caressed her wet depths, he drew her clit into his mouth, sucking on it. Her orgasm hit hard, making her cry out.
"Oh, God, yes!" Her inner walls squeezed the long fingers inside her as the spasms racked her body. "Yes, yes, yes...." She moaned. Bowing off the bed, she kept herself pressed to Seth's mouth, and he continued to tease her clit as she came. She stole every ounce of pleasure from him that she could.
As the climax slowly ebbed, she released the sheets and relaxed her body, dropping back onto the soft mattress. Her hands skimmed down her stomach and twined once again in Seth's thick, obsidian hair. Her breath came in hard pulls and her body vibrated from head to toe.
"That was so good," she whispered.
Seth's head popped up. "I'm just getting warmed up, baby." Lifting a dark brow, he added, "Wait till I tie you to the bedposts."
Cass sat up in a quick, jerky move that left her a bit dizzy. She stared at Seth as shock and panic skittered through her body, threatening to chase away the erotic sensations he'd incited. Her heart hammered in her chest. "I'm sorry--what did you say?"
He grinned devilishly as he shifted on the bed, sitting up, too. Whether he was oblivious to her sudden anxiety or ignoring it, she didn't know. "It's all in good fun, baby. I promise."
Her eyes narrowed on him. "I didn't know you had a kinky side."
"It's not kinky. It's sexy."
"Well, it scares the shit out of me," she said in a frank tone. She gnawed her lower lip a moment, and then added, "I mean, really, Seth. I don't mind a little fun and games, but to be restrained.... I don't think I can do that."
"You'll love it."
"Yeah, sure. Says the one who'll be in control."
His grin deepened, the smile touching his eyes, making them crinkle at the corners. "You'll just have to trust me, sweetheart."
"Seth," she began. Her cheeks still burned from her climax, and the wispy strands of light brown hair that fell over her bare shoulders teased her skin as much as the bristles from the paintbrush had. She was still highly aroused by Seth and his creative ministrations. Yet, apprehension swirled low in her belly. "Letting you kidnap me and bring me to this cottage--which I admit is cozier than a Thomas Kincaid painting--is one thing. But you can't really expect me to let you tie me up?"
He nodded, his azure eyes glowing with mischief. And desire. "While I lick this body paint off every inch of you." Seth stared hungrily at the mess he'd made. "Think I'll start with your breasts."
"Oh...." Her breath caught at the heat that flashed in his eyes and the way he seemed to devour her with a look. "Well. Put like that...." Despite her reservations, the corners of her mouth tipped upward of their own accord. "I suppose the idea might have some merit."
Seth chuckled. "You'll enjoy it, I swear. Besides, it's the best way I can think of to keep you from reaching for your Blackberry."
"I haven't even touched it!" she countered vehemently. But she felt a twinge of guilt, because she'd already been obsessing over not checking her messages. Sure, it was early Friday evening, but business deals were still being made in other time zones. In fact, a myriad of things could be happening at the office right this very second!
Get a grip. You can take one night off.
The thought of losing her edge because she didn't know if anyone had called, texted, or emailed since she'd left Savannah, warred with her desire to focus on Seth and the incredibly delicious things he did to her body.
"You've been good so far," he conceded. "But we've only been here an hour."
"Seth, you can't expect me to forget all about work. Not for the entire weekend." She heard the extreme panic rise in her voice. This was her first professional gig since getting her MBA, and she didn't want to blow it. She was working her ass off, in fact, to prove her worth in the dog-eat-dog world of commercial real estate mergers and acquisitions. "My boss is working on a billion-dollar transaction that's kept him up every night this week. I've heard him scream over something as minor as a two-minute lapse in text response time. And that guy was going to the bathroom!"
Seth reached out to her, his fingers brushing strands of hair from her face. "This weekend is supposed to be about the two of us, Cass. Spending time alone. Without phones and emails and all the distractions we've had in our lives from the moment we met," he added with a pointed look on his ruggedly handsome face. "We never get more than an hour or two alone anymore."
"That's not true," she protested. "We're alone when you sleep over."
"We're sleeping, Cass."
"Okay, point taken." She couldn't deny it, after all. Stewing over the conversation for a few moments, she finally said, "I'll do my best not to think about work. But I will have to check my emails at some point, to be on the safe side."
She relaxed a little, but he had something else on his mind. "I want you to trust me, Cass."
"I do trust you."
"Yeah, to not screw up our dinner reservations," he countered. "I'm talking about real trust. And Larissa said--"
"Oh, my God!" Cass let out a shriek as her eyes grew wide. "You visited Larissa LaSalle's? The sex-toy store? That's where the body paint came from?"
"Actually," Seth said, his grin a wicked one, "I've got an entire goody bag filled with stuff she personally selected." He wagged his brows at her suggestively.
She was mortified. Larissa LaSalle, owner of Savannah's most controversial boutique All Things Decadent, was an authority on orchestrating erotic interludes. Cass had girlfriends who'd sought the mysterious Frenchwoman's advice to help them spice up their love lives--with great success!
Did she and Seth need spicing up? Already?
No. How could that be? It wasn't like they lacked sparkage in the bedroom. Hell, every time he touched her, she came! But she had to admit, lately things had been strained between them. Seth Bryant wasn't the type of man to sit on the sidelines while she raced around, caught up in her whirlwind career. Was her demanding job creating a rift between them?
She thought back over the past few weeks... months... and wondered if there were signs she'd failed to read. Admittedly, she had no experience balancing work and romance. It was suddenly becoming apparent to her she might be neglecting Seth. And now he'd felt compelled to drag her away from Savannah so they could... what? Reconnect?
"Larissa said," he continued as the consternation built within Cass, "that allowing someone to restrain you is the ultimate display of trust and release of inhibitions. For both participants."
Her gaze remained locked with his as she processed his words. Her mind shifted, latching onto something she'd never considered before. Finally, she said, "You think I'm inhibited?"
"Sometimes," he said, his tone honest. "You're a control freak."
Well, there's a news flash!
She sighed. "I can't help it. Really, I've tried. Runs in the family."
His thumb swept over her lower lip as he continued to gaze deep into her eyes. With his mouth mere inches from hers, he said, "I know. But sometimes, it's good to let go, Cass. Do something a little frightening. Just to remind yourself that you're alive. Young and vital." His hands cupped her face.
"I hear what you're saying, but...."
"And to prove you trust me," he said in his deep, sensual voice.
It had been that low, intimate tone that swept her off her feet nearly a year earlier and made her accept his dinner invitation the day they'd met. She hadn't been looking to hook up with anyone, having just started her job with Justin. Seth was easily the sexiest man she'd ever laid eyes on, and she'd suspected he'd be more than she could handle.
And hadn't she been right! Even so, mesmerized when he spoke to her in that seductive voice, she'd taken the plunge.
And she loved every single moment she'd spent with him.
Hell, she was as captivated by his sinfully gorgeous face and body today as she'd been when they'd accidentally collided and spilled two iced mochas all over the floor of their neighborhood Starbucks.
But that didn't make this situation any easier for her.
He said, "If you asked me to do something, Cass, I'd do it. If you asked me to stop, I'd stop."
She gave a slight shake of her head, hating the uncertainty that besieged her. She really did want to trust him. But by nature, it wasn't an easy thing for her to do. "I know you wouldn't do anything that would make me feel uncomfortable, Seth. I know you'd stop if I asked you to."
"So what's the problem?"
She considered this a moment longer. "I don't know. I mean, the thought of a little light bondage turns me on--in theory. I'd be lying if I said it didn't. But at the same time, it makes me feel so...." Her voice trailed off as she searched for the right word.
Obviously, Seth already knew it. "Vulnerable?"
"That's the whole point, Cass."
"To be at your mercy and completely unable to control the situation?" She heard the panic rise again in her voice. Damn it. She wasn't purposely trying to be difficult, but the idea of being restrained scared the crap out of her!
Seth groaned. "Again, the reasoning here eludes you." He slipped off the bed. The muscles of his broad shoulders bunched, and he rubbed the back of his neck with one hand. Shaking his head, he made a suggestion in a tight voice that hinted at his frustration with her. "Why don't we table this conversation for now? Chill out with a drink?"
He sounded irritated, and it made Cass cringe. "Seth," she began, then sighed again. What was she to say? The only way to rectify this situation was to concede to his request. And she wasn't ready to do that yet. So she said, "Fine. A drink sounds perfect." She could use one after that too-tense-for-her exchange. In fact, she resisted an innate desire to brush the back of her hand across her forehead in relief because he'd let her off the hook.
Well, not entirely.
"We're gonna have to come to an agreement on where we stand, babe. 'Cause this train has jumped the tracks."
* * * *