Related to: 'The Deep'

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."

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Adam Hamdy

Adam Hamdy is an author and screenwriter who works with producers and studios on both sides of the Atlantic. Prior to becoming a writer, Adam was a strategy consultant and advised global businesses operating in a wide range of industries. Adam lives in Shropshire with his wife and three children.Follow Adam on Twitter @adamhamdy

Alexandra Ivy

Alexandra Ivy is a New York Times bestselling author of romantic suspense, paranormal and erotic romance. She has also written Regency historicals under the name Deborah Raleigh. A five-time Romantic Times Book Award Finalist, Ivy has received much acclaim for her Guardians of Eternity, ARES Security, Immortal Rogues and Sentinels series. She lives with her family in Missouri and can be found online at AlexandraIvy.com.Connect with her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/alexandraivyfanpage and on Twitter @AlexandraIvy

Amanda Reynolds

Amanda Reynolds teaches Creative Writing in Cheltenham, where she lives with her family. Close To Me is her debut novel.

Andy McDermott

Andy McDermott is the bestselling author of the Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase adventure thrillers, which have been sold in over 30 countries and 20 languages. His debut novel, THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS, was his first of several New York Times bestsellers. THE SPEAR OF ATLANTIS is the fourteenth book in the series, and he has also written the explosive spy thriller The Persona Protocol.A former journalist and movie critic, Andy is now a full-time novelist. Born in Halifax, he lives in Bournemouth with his partner and son.

Chris Kuzneski

Chris Kuzneski is the international bestselling author of numerous thrillers featuring the series characters Payne and Jones, including THE SECRET CROWN and THE EINSTEIN PURSUIT. He is also the author of THE HUNTERS, the first novel in an electrifying series that continues with THE FORBIDDEN TOMB and THE PRISONER'S GOLD. Chris's thrillers have been translated into more than twenty languages and are sold in more than forty countries. Chris grew up in Pennsylvania but currently lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

David Gibbins

David Gibbins is the author of twelve novels that have sold over three million copies in thirty languages. He has been on both the New York Times and the Sunday Times top ten bestseller lists, and he has been a Newsweek number one bestseller in Poland. As well as nine novels in his Jack Howard series of archaeological thrillers, he has written two novels set in the world of ancient Rome. David has a PhD in archaeology from Cambridge University, is a passionate diver and derives much of the inspiration for his novels from the many expeditions he has led around the world to investigate ancient shipwrecks and other archaeological sites. His awards have included a Fellowship and Medallion from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. For his latest discoveries and more about David and his novels, visit www.davidgibbins.com and www.facebook.com/DavidGibbinsAuthor.

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is an international household name whose novels have sold many millions of copies worldwide and have appeared on national and international bestseller lists, selling millions of copies each year. He lives with his wife Gerda, their dog Anna and the enduring spirit of their dog Trixie in southern California.

Jack McDevitt

Jack McDevitt is a former naval officer, taxi driver, English teacher, and motivational trainer, and is now a full-time writer. Eleven of his novels have been Nebula finalists, and SEEKER won the award in 2007. In 2015 Jack won the Robert A. Heinlein Award, given an author of outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space. McDevitt was selected as the winner in recognition of his body of work, which includes over 21 novels and 81 short stories.McDevitt lives in Georgia with his wife Maureen.

James Patterson

James Patterson is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. Since winning the EdgarT Award for Best First Novel with The Thomas Berryman Number, his books have sold in excess of 300 million copies worldwide and he has been the most borrowed author in UK libraries for the past eight years in a row. He is the author of some of the most popular series of the past two decades - the Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club, Detective Michael Bennett and Private novels - and he has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers. He lives in Florida with his wife and son. James is passionate about encouraging children to read. Inspired by his own son who was a reluctant reader, he also writes a range of books specifically for young readers. James is a founding partner of Booktrust's Children's Reading Fund in the UK.

Jenny Blackhurst

Jenny Blackhurst grew up in Shropshire where she still lives with her husband and children. Growing up she spent hours reading and talking about crime novels - writing her own seemed like natural progression. Inspired by the emotions she felt around her own son's birth, How I Lost You is Jenny's thrilling debut crime novel.

Jonathan Kellerman

Jonathan Kellerman is the No. 1 international bestselling author of more than three dozen bestselling crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, THE BUTCHER'S THEATRE, BILLY STRAIGHT, THE CONSPIRACY CLUB, TWISTED and TRUE DETECTIVES. With his wife, bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, he co-authored DOUBLE HOMICIDE and CAPITAL CRIMES. With his son, bestselling novelist Jesse Kellerman, he co-authored THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD and THE GOLEM OF PARIS. He is also the author of two children's books and numerous non-fiction works. He has won the Goldwyn, Edgar and Anthony Awards and has been nominated for a Shamus Award. Jonathan and Faye Kellerman live in California, New Mexico and New York.

K. J. Howe

K. J. Howe is the Executive Director of ThrillerFest, the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers, and a three-time Daphne du Maurier winner. Due to her father's career in international telecommunications, K. J. Howe lived in Africa, Puerto Rico, Austria, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia. K. J. Howe now lives in Canada. To learn more, follow her on Twitter at @KJHoweAuthor or visit her website: kjhowe.com

Karen Rose

Karen Rose was introduced to suspense and horror at the tender age of eight when she accidentally read Poe's The Pit and The Pendulum and was afraid to go to sleep for years. She now enjoys writing books that make other people afraid to go to sleep. Karen lives in Florida with her family, their cat, Bella, and two dogs, Loki and Freya. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, and her new hobby - knitting.

Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author. Her FBI Profiler novels include SAY GOODBYE, GONE and THE KILLING HOUR. Her Detective D.D. Warren series includes THE NEIGHBOUR, which won the International Thriller Writers' Award in 2010, CATCH ME, CRASH & BURN and FIND HER. Lisa lives with her family in New England.

Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty novels. There are now more than twenty-five million copies of her books in print, and she is published in over thirty countries. She has been awarded the Edgar Award for crime fiction, and the Cosmopolitan Fun Fearless Female Award. In addition, Lisa writes a weekly column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as a number of non-fiction titles with her daughter, Francesca Serritella. Lisa is a former trial lawyer and lives in Philadelphia with an array of disobedient pets.

Martina Cole

Martina Cole is the acknowledged queen of crime drama with more than twenty novels to her name, of which over a dozen have been No.1 bestsellers.Several of Martina's novels have been adapted for the screen, including The Take and The Runaway which were shown on Sky 1 to remarkable reviews. In addition, Two Women and The Graft have been adapted for the stage; both were highly acclaimed when performed at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, which also staged Dangerous Lady in 2012, celebrating twenty years since Martina's debut novel was published.Martina Cole is a phenomenon. She continues to smash sales records with each of her books, which have sold thirteen million copies. In 2011 Martina surpassed the £50 million sales mark since records began and was the first British female novelist for adult audiences to achieve this - and she has spent more weeks in the No. 1 slot on the original fiction bestseller list than any other adult novelist. Her hard-hitting, uncompromising and haunting writing is in a genre all its own - no one writes like Martina.

Max Manning

Max Manning worked as a crime reporter for several years, before moving on to Fleet Street, where he worked on several international newspapers - including the Daily Telegraph, where he was a news sub-editor for sixteen years. Max is now a full-time writer living in Essex. He is married and has three grown-up children.

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is the author of over thirty acclaimed books and graphic novels for adults and children, including AMERICAN GODS, STARDUST, CORALINE and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. His most recent novel for adults, THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE was highly acclaimed, appeared on the hardback and paperback Sunday Times bestseller lists and won several awards, including being voted Book of the Year in the National Book Awards 2013: 'Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul' Joanne Harris. The recipient of numerous literary honours, Neil Gaiman's work has been adapted for film, television and radio. He has written scripts for Doctor Who, collaborated with authors and illustrators including Terry Pratchett, Dave McKean and Chris Riddell, and THE SANDMAN is established as one of the classic graphic novels. As George R R Martin says: 'There's no one quite like Neil Gaiman.'Originally from England, Neil Gaiman now lives in America.