In Too Deep [Secure]
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by Tori Carrington
Description: Alannah has returned to Ben's bed, just in time for spring. Can he convince her to stay for good this time, or will she break his heart again?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Mini,
eBookwise Release Date: January 2008
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [141 KB]
All formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
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She was back. Hot, fleecy-soft, and magnificently naked in his bed.
Ben Edwards knew instantly that the figure stretched out beside him wasn't his pet potbellied pig, Elvis, or, worse, his longtime butler, Newerth. Nor was the woman a figment of his imagination, a ghostly image from the past, or a manifestation of his dreams. No. It was spring, and beautiful, free-spirited Alannah White had returned in her unique way by slipping into his bed while he slept. If he had any doubt it was her, he had but to look at the single Aspidistra elatior in the clay pot sitting on the ledge of the multi-paned bedroom window, backlit by the coming dawn. Over the past four years the plant had grown taller, the pot it was in bigger. And every year Alannah took the plant—called the cast-iron plant—with her when she left, along with a huge chunk of Ben's heart.
Ben drew in a deep breath, filling his nose with the sweet scent of Alannah's skin. He barely dared to budge the hand that lay against her curvy hip for fear that he'd wake her. Afraid that the move would force him to face his own demons. Right then, he merely wanted to relish her gypsy spirit, touch her warm skin and forget that he'd determined to refuse her; told himself that this time he'd be strong enough to turn her away.
Only he hadn't planned to wake up with her already in his bed.
Giving himself over to his baser instincts, he melded his fingers to her supple flesh, oh so gently pressing her more tightly against his aroused body. He closed his eyes and groaned softly. Every year he told himself this was it, this was the time he was going to give Alannah an ultimatum: Stay forever, or don't come back. If he didn't pull away now, he knew that strength would surrender to his fundamental need of her in his life, even if only for a few hours, days, or weeks.
Alannah shifted in her sleep, wriggling her bottom tantalizingly against him.
Four years had passed since she'd swept into his life. He'd hired her to transform the plain, grass-covered lawn of his vast estate outside Providence, Rhode Island, into an English garden reminiscent of the home he had just transferred from to expand his financial consulting business across the pond. Four years since he'd first laid eyes on her, transplanting a buddleia that had been placed in the shade to a spot with full sunlight in front of his house. Her spiraling black hair had shone blue in the warm light, her long tanned legs bent under her while her breasts pressed invitingly against the soft white material of her T-shirt. Then she had turned her electric-blue eyes on him. Ben had felt as though she had somehow managed to turn the sun so it shone solely on him, setting him on fire and making England seem very far way.
And stirring in him a yearning to possess something that could never be his: her.
With agonizing care, Ben circled his hand around her slender hip, over her smooth stomach and up to cup a small breast. The peak instantly stiffened, although her breathing indicated that she was still asleep. Heat, sure and swift, filled his groin and he arched into her. Within a few hours of first meeting Alannah she'd been in this very bed. And within those same few hours, that's where he'd wanted to keep her, always.
But the only certainty in their sometimes relationship was that she would leave.
Ben moved to retract his hand. Alannah stirred and caught the limb, pressing it between her breasts.
"You're awake," he said, his heart thundering in his chest.
She shifted until she was facing him, predawn shadows softening her features and turning her eyes to liquid black. She reached up and curved her fingers along his cheek then walked the tips along the line of his jaw. "Hi."
The greeting was simple and direct and filled Ben with a need that transcended the mere physical. He longed to possess her, inside and out. Make love with her until she begged for mercy. Hold her to him until they ceased being two separate entities and instead became one.
Her plump lips bowed into a smile. "Did you miss me?"
Had he missed her? Every bloody moment of every single day. He brushed a silky black coil of hair away from her mouth. "Oh. Were you gone? I hadn't noticed."
She laughed softly then lay her head against his chest. Intense emotion seared Ben's insides, rendering him incapable of doing anything more than holding her tightly to him, his hand hot against her sleek back.
Raised an only child in a family devoid of affection, he had never known that a simple touch could communicate so much. The writer Anais Nin once said that ecstasy was born of the melding of physical need and deep love. When he'd first touched Alannah he had discovered the truth in those words. He craved her when she was here, and when she was gone, leaving him an emotional wreck, he couldn't cope with any more.
He shifted until his chin rested against the top of her fragrant curls and stared at the plant in the window and the splashes of color beyond it heralding the coming dawn. The son of a factory worker, he'd accomplished more than he'd ever dreamed of financially. Now his personal life was in dire need of attention. He found himself craving a wife. Wanting kids. He looked out over his hulking estate and longed to turn it into a home.
And nowhere in that picture did wildly sexy Alannah fit in, no matter how much he tried to make it so.
Copyright © 2002 Harlequin Books S.A.