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, screenwriter and filmmaker who has worked with producers and studios on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to his own original work, Adam has adapted a number of comic books and novels for the screen, including the forthcoming film version of David Mitchell's novel, Number9Dream. 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.

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 MIDAS LEGACY is the twelfth 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.

Brian Freeman

Brian Freeman is the author of several acclaimed psychological suspense thrillers. His novels have been sold in forty-six countries and twenty languages. His debut, IMMORAL, won the Macavity Award and was a finalist for the Edgar and Dagger Awards for best first novel. His novel SPILLED BLOOD won the International Thriller Writers' Best Hardcover Novel Award.Brian and his wife Marcia live in Minnesota.

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.

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.

Felicia Yap

Felicia Yap grew up in Kuala Lumpur. She read biochemistry at Imperial College London, before achieving a doctorate in history (and a half-blue in competitive ballroom dancing) at Cambridge University. She has written for The Economist and The Business Times. She has also worked as a radioactive-cell biologist, a war historian, a Cambridge lecturer, a technology journalist, a theatre critic, a flea-market trader and a catwalk model. Yesterday is her debut novel.

J. S. Law

J. S. Law started in the Royal Navy as an apprentice engineer and worked his way up through the ranks. He has worked on helicopters, ships and, towards the end of his naval career, submarines. In that time he has experienced first-hand the phenomenal pressures placed upon women and men in working in the military. He is a passionate advocate for education and now works providing nuclear training and education to the defence and civil sectors. The Fear Within is the second thriller in the Lieutenant Dani Lewis series.

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.

Jo Davis

Bestselling author Jo Davis is the author of the popular Firefighters of Station Five series, written as Jo Davis, and the dark, sexy paranormal series Alpha Pack, written as J. D. Tyler. Primal Law, the first book in her Alpha Pack series, is the winner of the National Reader's Choice Award in Paranormal. She has also been a multiple finalist in the Colarado Romance Writers Award of Excellence and 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. She's had one book optioned for a major motion picture.Visit her website at www.jodavis.net, follow her on Twitter at @JoDavisAuthor and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Jo-Davis-109547185743800/.

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.

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.

Lee Francis

Lee Francis worked for several years in the world of film, TV and advertising as a script reader and assistant director. PLAYING WITH DEATH, written with his former lecturer Simon Scarrow, is his first novel.

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.

Mark Mills

Mark Mills graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. He has lived in both Italy and France, and has written for the screen. His first novel, THE WHALEBOAT HOUSE, won the 2004 Crime Writers' Association Award for Best Novel by a debut author. His second, THE SAVAGE GARDEN, was a Richard and Judy Summer Read and a No. 1 bestseller. Under the name Mark B. Mills, he has written the comic novel, WAITING FOR DOGGO. He lives near Oxford with his wife and two children.

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.

Mary Torjussen

Mary Torjussen grew up in Stoke-on-Trent. There was no television in her family home so books have always been her escape - she spent hours reading and writing stories as a child. Mary has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University, and worked as a teacher in Liverpool before becoming a full-time writer. She has two adult children and lives on the Wirral, where her debut novel, GONE WITHOUT A TRACE, is set.

Michelle Adams

Michelle Adams grew up in the UK and now lives in Cyprus, where she works as a part-time scientist. She read her first Stephen King novel at the tender age of nine, and has been addicted to suspense fiction ever since. MY SISTER is her first novel.