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.

Amanda Trimble

Amanda Trimble is an award-winning copywriter. She grew up in Illinois, and now lives in San Francisco.

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.

Caprice Crane

Caprice Crane is an American screenwriter and novelist who divides her time between New York City and Los Angeles, California.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jo Barrett

Jo Barrett earned a B.A. from the University of Texas, Austin and a law degree from Georgetown. She's a former Capitol Hill staffer for a congressman and following that, she worked at a law School in New York City.

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.

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.

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

Rachel Gibson

Rachel Gibson's storytelling career began at the age of sixteen when she ran her Chevy Vega into the side of a hill, and told her parents she'd been the victim of a hit and run. They believed her, and she's been telling stories ever since. Rachel has three children and still lives in her native Boise, Idaho. When not writing, she can be found boating on Payette Lake with Mr. Gibson, shopping for shoes, or forcing her love on an ungrateful cat. Visit her at www.rachelgibson.com.

Rekha Waheed

Rekha Waheed is of Bengali origin and was born and raised in West London. Following a successful career as a corporate analyst, Rekha now makes regular appearances on the BBC Asian Network and at literary and social events to debate social issues affecting British Asians in the west.

Samantha Scott-Jeffries

Samantha Scott-Jeffries is a journalist and lives in Gloucestershire.

Suzanne Macpherson

Suzanne Macpherson was born in New Mexico and has a degree in psychology. She is married with three sons and a daughter and lives in the USA.

Swan Adamson

Swan Adamson is a writer and art critic who lives in Portland, Oregon and New York City, USA.

Valerie Frankel

If Valerie Frankel weren't a writer, she'd probably be a bag lady. Fortunately, she's found her niche, writing novels and magazine articles for women who share her somewhat dirty sense of humor. Frankel writes about sex and dieting for Cosmo, Glamour, Self, Allure, the New York Times and Marie Claire, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her two daughters and her husband.

Whitney Gaskell

Whitney Gaskell grew up in Syracuse, New York. A graduate of Tulane Law School, she worked for several years as a reluctant lawyer before ditching it all to become a writer. She lives with her husband and son Florida.