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."

Beth Kery

Beth Kery is the New York Times ebook bestselling author of Because You Are Mine and recipient of the All About Romance Reader Poll for Best Erotica. Beth lives in Chicago where she juggles the demands of her career, her love of the city and the arts, and a busy family life. Her writing today reflects her passion for all of the above. She is a bestselling author of over thirty books and novellas, and has also written under the pen name Bethany Kane.You can read more about Beth, her books and upcoming projects at www.bethkery.com, discover her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/beth.kery, or follow her on Twitter @BethKery.

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.

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.

Ellen Shanman

Ellen was born in New York City and graduated from Northwestern University in 1999. She is a former columnist for online magazine Shinygun.com and currently writes for television. Ellen divides her time between New York and Los Angeles.

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/.

J. Kenner

J. Kenner loves wine, dark chocolate, and books. She lives in Texas with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at www.jkenner.com to learn more about her and her other pen names, to get a peek at what she's working on, and to connect through social media.

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

Jeanette Grey

Jeanette Grey started out with degrees in physics and painting, which she dutifully applied to stunted careers in teaching, technical support and advertising. Almost all of her stories include hints of either science or art. When she isn't writing, Jeanette enjoys making pottery, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and her pet frog. She lives, loves, and writes in upstate New York. Find her online at www.jeanettegrey.com, on Twitter @jeanettelgrey and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeanettelgrey.

Jill Shalvis

New York Times bestseller Jill Shalvis is the author of many romance novels including her acclaimed Cedar Ridge, Lucky Harbor and Animal Magnetism series. The RITA winner and three-time National Readers Choice winner makes her home near Lake Tahoe. Visit her website at www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog, and www.facebook.com/jillshalvis for other news or follow her on Twitter @jillshalvis.

Juliana Gray

Juliana Gray began writing as a child to relieve the tedium of being sentenced to her room, and later turned to romance to relieve the tedium of unsatisfactory suitors. Sadly, despite five years' residence in the most exclusive areas of London, she never met a single duke, though she once shared a taxi with a future baron.Visit her website at www.julianagray.com, follow her on Twitter @JulianaGray, and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JulianaGray.

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.

Kelli Maine

USA Today bestselling author, Kelli Maine, spends humid summers and frigid winters in Ohio glued to her laptop keyboard. Kelli lives in northeast Ohio with her family and a crazy cat that broke into their attic and refused to leave. Kelli loves hearing from fan and giving away TAKEN swag on her blog, www.kellimaine.blogspot.com. You can learn more by following Kelli on Twitter @KelliMaine and visiting her on Facebook.com/kelli.maine

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.

Lani Diane Rich

Lani Diane Rich is an award-winning author living in upstate New York where she, sadly, does not have a dog. Her eldest daughter is allergic. What are you gonna do? Visit her website on www.lanidianerich.com.

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.

Lorelei Mathias

Lorelei Mathias grew up in a small suburb north of London, and studied English and Philosophy at Birmingham University. After a brief spell living in Melbourne and travelling, she returned to London, where she now lives and works as a copywriter.Visit Lorelei at her website www.loreleimathias.com and her blog at www.loreleimathias.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @LoreleiMathias and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Lorelei.mathias.author.

Lucy Broadbent

Lucy Broadbent is a British journalist living in West Hollywood, California. She has worked as a columnist for the Independent, Marie Claire, She and Hello! magazine, writing about her life in LA. She also regularly contributes to other publications, such as the Times, Glamour, Eve and others.

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.

Maire Claremont

2011 Golden Heart winner Máire Claremont first fell in love with Mr Rochester, not Mr Darcy. Drawn to his darkness, she longed to find a tortured hero of her own...until she realised the ramifications of Rochester locking his first wife up in his attic. Discovering the error of her ways, Máire now looks for a real-life Darcy and creates deliciously dark heroes on the page. Oh, and she wants everyone to know her name is pronounced Moira. Her parents just had to give her an Irish Gaelic name. Follow her on Twitter @MaireClaremont and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MaireClaremont.

Marisa Heath

Marisa Heath, former teenage model, now works as a Parliamentary Officer, as well as a county councillor in Surrey.