Related to: 'Singletini'

December Book of the Month

Nikki and Damien continue in Take Me

I awake to an empty bed and the smell of frying bacon. I roll over to find my phone on the bedside table, then glance at the time. Not yet six. I groan and fall back among the pillows, but I don't really want to go back to sleep. What I want is Damien. I slide out of bed, then grab the tank top and yoga pants I'd left draped across a nearby armchair. I head barefoot out of the bedroom and move the short distance down the hall to the third-floor kitchen. We're standing in Damien's Malibu house, and the wall of windows that faces the ocean is wide open, the glass panels having been thrust aside to let in the breeze. The smell of the ocean mingles with the scent of breakfast and I breathe deep, realizing that I am content. Whatever demons had poked at me during the night, Damien effectively banished them. I glance toward the windows and out at the darkened Pacific. Waves glow white in the fading moonlight as they break upon the shore. There is beauty there, and part of me wants to walk to the balcony and stare out at the roiling, frothing water. But the siren call of the ocean is nothing compared to my desire to see Damien, and so I turn away from the windows and head straight to the kitchen. It is larger than the one in the condo I used to share with my best friend, Jamie, and it is not even the primary kitchen for this house. That is on the first floor, and could easily service a one-hundred-table restaurant. But this - the "small" kitchen - was installed as an adjunct to the open area that serves as a venue for entertaining, and since it is just down the hall from our bedroom, Damien and I have gotten into the habit of cooking our meals and eating in this cozier, more informal area. Usually we're joined by Lady Meow-Meow, the fluffy white cat I took custody over when Jamie moved out. I know Lady M misses Jamie, but she's also enjoying having the run of this huge house, and Gregory - the valet, butler, and all around house-running guy - spoils her rotten. Now I lean against the half wall that marks the break from hallway to kitchen. Damien is standing at the stove cooking an omelette as if he were nothing more than an ordinary guy. Except there is nothing ordinary about Damien Stark. He is grace and power, beauty and heat. He is exceptional, and he has captured me completely. At the moment, he is shirtless, and I cannot help the way my breath stutters as my eyes skim over the defined muscles of his back and his taut, strong arms. Damien's first fortune came not form business, but from his original career as a champion tennis player. Even now, years later, he has both the look and the power of an elite athlete. I let my gaze drift down appreciatively. He is wearing simple gray sweatpants that sit low on his narrow hips and cling to the curves of his perfectly toned ass. Like me, he is barefoot. He looks young and sexy and completely delicious. Yet despite his casual appearance, I can still see the executive. The powerful businessman who harnessed the world, who shifted it to his own liking and made a fortune in the process. He is strength and control. And I am humbled by the knowledge that I am what he values most of all, and that I will spend the rest of my life at his side. "You're staring," he says, his eyes still on the stove. I grin happily, like a child. "I enjoy looking at pretty things." He turns now, and his eyes rake over me, starting at my toes. "So do I," he says when his gaze reaches my face, and there is so much heat in his voice that my legs go weak and my body quivers with want. His mouth curves into a slow, sexy smile, and I am absolutely certain in that moment that I am going to melt. "You spoiled my surprise," he says, then nods toward the breakfast table where a tray sits with a glass bud vase displaying a single, red rose. "Breakfast in bed."

Allie Spencer

Allie Spencer is an author with many strings to her bow. Before becoming a full-time writer, Allie Spencer gained a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Medieval Studies, then qualified as a barrister, practising in family and matrimonial law. Her debut novel, TUG OF LOVE won the 2009 RNA New Writers' Award.

Bernardine Kennedy

Bernardine Kennedy was born in London but spent most of her childhood in Singapore and Nigeria before settling in Essex, where she still lives with her husband Ian. She also has a son, Stephen, and daughter, Kate. Her varied working life has included careers as an air hostess, a swimming instructor and a social worker. She has been a freelance writer for many years, specialising in popular travel features for magazines. Her previous novels, Everything is Not Enough, My Sisters' Keeper, Chain of Deception, Taken, Old Scores and Past Chances, are also available from Headline.

Carolyn Turgeon

Carolyn Turgeon was born in Michigan and grew up in Illinois, Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. After graduating from Penn State, she earned a Master's in Comparative Literature from UCLA, and spent several years in New York working as a writer and editor. Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story was her previous novel. She now lives in Pennsylvania, where she bellydances and plays the accordion. She loves old movies, burlesque shows, and drinking pink cocktails at the Algonquin Hotel.

Cecilia Grant

Cecilia Grant always knew she'd do something with that English degree. After waiting tables, composing software Help files, and answering the carpool-lane-violators hotline, she's delighted to be writing stories. Cecilia makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her fellow-writer husband, two bookish children, and un-literary cat and dog.Visit her website at www.ceciliagrant.com, follow her on Twitter @Cecilia_Grant and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CeciliaGrantAuthor.

Christy Reece

Christy Reece grew up in a small, quiet community in Alabama. For her, books were an entrance into far away worlds, wild adventures and fantastical journeys. If she wasn't reading, then the characters in her head entertained her, telling about their lives and amazing adventures. It wasn't until much later in life that she started writing their stories down. Now, she and her characters are thrilled to share those adventures with the world. Christy is the author of the New York Times bestselling Last Chance Rescue romantic suspense series. She also writes steamy, southern suspense under the pen name, Ella Grace. Christy lives in Alabama with her husband, five precocious fur-kids and one incredibly shy turtle.

Deborah Wright

Deborah Wright graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English Literature. She divides her time between Sutton and her writing base near Manchester. Aside from her novels, she has recently been asked to contribute a story to the Girls Night In anthology.

Debra Webb

Debra Webb, born in Alabama, wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn't until she spent three years working for the military behind the Iron Curtain - and a five-year stint with NASA - that she realised her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has penned more than 100 novels. Visit her website at www.debrawebb.com, follow her on Twitter @DebraWebbAuthor and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Debra-Webb-USA-Today-Bestselling-Author-Fan-Club-693790780634694.

Domenica De Rosa

Domenica de Rosa started her career working at the Bookseller, and went on to work in children's publishing, in publicity and in editorial. Under the name Elly Griffiths she is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling Dr Ruth Galloway series of mysteries, and the Stephens and Mephisto mysteries. Domenica is half-Italian and loves the Tuscan coast, although she mainly settles for Brighton, where she lives with her husband, their twins and their cat.

Dorothy Howell

Dorothy Howell was inspired to write her first novel, HANDBAGS AND HOMICIDE by her crazed obsession with designer purses. She lives in Southern California, where there is, thankfully, no rehab program for handbag addiction. Visit her website at www.DorothyHowellNovels.com.

Ella Grace

Ella Grace is a writer of steamy southern suspense, wife, mother of five fur-kids and one reclusive turtle. She loves to write, read, cook the occasional meal, go to the movies and travel when she can. She's thrilled to be writing a series based in her home state of Alabama.Ella Grace is the pen name for New York Times bestselling author Christy Reece.

J.D. Tyler

US bestselling author J. D. Tyler is best known for her dark, sexy paranormal series Alpha Pack, and the Firefighters of Station Five series under her pseudonym Jo Davis. PRIMAL LAW, the first book in her Alpha Pack series, is the winner of the National Reader's Choice Award in Paranormal. She's also been a multiple finalist in the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence, a finalist for the Bookseller's Best Award, has captured the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, and has been a two-time nominee for the Australian Romance Readers Award in romantic suspense. When she isn't writing, J. D.'s idea of a good time certainly isn't cleaning house (sniff), bungee jumping (not in this lifetime, or the next), or camping (her idea of 'roughing it' is a slow bellboy). She enjoys reading, being pampered like the diva she is, and spending time with her awesome family. J. D. lives in Texas, USA, with her two children. Visit her website at www.JDTyler.com, follow her on Twitter @JDTylerAuthor and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JD-Tyler-192403284107373/.

Jami Alden

Jami Alden is the Holt Medallion-nominated author for sexy romantic suspense. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her socially well-adjusted alpha male husband, her sons, and a German Shepherd who patiently listens to dialogue and helps her work out plot points.You can learn more at www.JamiAlden.com or follow Jami on Twitter @jamialden and on at Facebook.com/jamialden

Janet Mullany

Janet Mullany was raised in England by half of an amateur string quartet and now lives near Washington, DC. Persecuted from an early age for reading too long in the bathroom, she still loves books and is an avid and eclectic reader. She has worked as an archaeologist, classical music radio announcer, arts publicist, and for a small press.

Karin Tabke

Karin Tabke is the national bestselling, award-winning author of erotic romantic suspense for Pocket Trade, Berkley Heat, and Kensington Aphrodisia; historical romance and paranormal romantic suspense for Pocket Star; and erotic paranormal romance for Berkley Heat.Visit her website at www.KarinTabke.com, follow her on Twitter @KarinTabke and find her on Facebook at www.karin.tabke.harlow.

Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel contributes regularly to a variety of magazines, including People, Glamour and Health and is the "Lit Chick" on the nationally syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz. She has lived in Paris, New York, Boston and Miami and now splits her time between Orlando and Los Angeles.

Laura London

Laura London is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team Tom and Sharon Curtis. Married more than forty years, Tom and Sharon published ten historical and contemporary romance novels from 1976 to 1986, many of which have come to be regarded as classics in the genre. The Windflower is in numerous top 100 lists of best romances of the twentieth century, including on Goodreads, The Romance Reader, All About Romance, and Dear Author.Find out the latest at www.facebook.com/lauralondonauthor.

Macy Beckett

Macy Beckett has lived in two countries and eleven different states, but she abandoned her nomadic lifestyle and now resides in Loveland, 'The Sweetheart of Ohio,' with her husband and three spirited children. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas State University and resigned, after nine years of teaching, to write novels full-time.Visit her at www.macybeckett.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/AuthorMacyBeckett and on Twitter @MacyBeckett for more information.

Marisa Mackle

Marisa Mackle was born in Armagh, Northern Ireland. She is the author of Irish bestsellers MR RIGHT FOR THE NIGHT and SO LONG, MR WRONG! as well as CONFESSIONS OF AN AIR HOSTESS, THE MILE HIGH GUY and MANHUNT. She divides her time between Spain and Ireland.

Natasha Boyd

Natasha Boyd is an author with a background in marketing and public relations. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Royal Holloway, University of London and lives in the coastal Carolina Lowcountry, complete with Spanish moss, alligators and mosquitoes the size of tiny birds. She has a husband, two sons and a host of internationally scattered and scared relatives who worry the next book will be about them. She is a member of Georgia Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America and Island Writers Network, where she has been a featured speaker. Forever, Jack is the sequel to her award-winning and first full-length novel Eversea.

Polly Williams

Polly Williams launched her career as a novelist with the bestselling 'The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy'. She is a freelance journalist as well as a novelist, and is married with three children. Follow her on Twitter @pollywilliams and check out her website www.pollywilliams.com