Related to: 'Egg and Soldiers'

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."

Tinder Press

The Last Wilderness

Neil Ansell
Authors:
Neil Ansell
Headline

The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar

Matt Simon
Authors:
Matt Simon

Adam Hurrey

Adam Hurrey is a London-based football writer. He created the Football Clichés blog in 2007 while working as a TV listings editor and has since contributed articles about the unique language of football to the websites of the Guardian and the Telegraph, among others. He also had trials for Swindon Town as a youngster, but was genuinely rejected for being 'too small'.

Andrew O'Neill

Andrew O'Neill is an award-winning comedian and heavy metal guitarist.His comedy show Andrew O'Neill's History Of Heavy Metal has received universally glowing reviews in the heavy metal press, as well as rave comedy reviews.He has appeared on television in Saxondale, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, and 50 Years Of Rock Excess and his own award-winning BBC Radio 4 stand-up show Pharmacist Baffler. He has written for The New Statesman, Terrorizer and Time Out. His neck is so thick from headbanging that standard shirt sizes do not fit him.

Andy Seed

Andy Seed worked for many years as a primary school teacher in the Yorkshire Dales before setting up as a freelance writer in 2000. He now splits his work time between writing and travelling around schools running workshops and enthusing children about books and reading, as well as giving talks about his days as a young teacher in the Dales. Andy is married with three children and lives in the wilds of North Yorkshire where he finds inspiration while battling against the overgrowth of his vast, rambling garden.

Dale Shaw

Dale Shaw is a comedy writer who has written for a number of successful TV and radio things including Mitchell and Webb, School of Comedy, The Now Show, Russell Howard's Good News, The Impressions Show, Anna & Katy, Watson & Oliver, The News Quiz and some Muller Rice commercials.

Eliza Garrett

The elusive Eliza Garrett CBE (Cat/Canine Book Enthusiast) is a self-styled 'voice for the hirsute voiceless' and the esteemed authoress of the Classic Tails book series. She lives on a grand English estate with a large number of furry creatures who are very astute critics and enormously supportive of her writerly endeavours.

Emma Bridgewater

Emma Bridgewater established her successful pottery business in 1985. She found a manufacturer in Stoke-on-Trent to produce a range of mugs, jugs and teapots inspired by traditional shapes and spongeware designs. She now employs over 230 people and continues to make all her ceramics in Staffordshire, the historic home of pottery manufacture in Britain. Emma is married with four children and lives outside Oxford, where she was brought up.Follow Emma on Twitter: @EmmaBridgewater www.emmabridgewater.co.uk

Hugh Dennis

Hugh Dennis is an award-winning writer, actor and comedian best known for weekly satirical panel showMock The Week, Radio 4's The Now Show and BBC sit-com Outnumbered. He lives in Sussex with his real wife and his real children. To their annoyance he is interested in almost everything. He reads, runs, cycles, and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Kate Humble

KATE HUMBLE is a writer and presenter. Her most recent television credits include Volcano Live, Orbit: Earth's Extraordinary Journey, Lambing Live and the long running popular wildlife series Springwatch and Autumnwatch. She is a qualified commercial diver and is the second woman to be appointed President of the RSPB. Kate and Ludo launched their business Humble By Nature in 2012. Based on a working farm in Monmouthshire, they run courses in food, rural skills and animal husbandry. They live nearby on their smallholding with Badger and Bella, a hive of bees and various other hoofed, furred and feathered livestock.

Maggie O'Farrell

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of seven novels, AFTER YOU'D GONE, MY LOVER'S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award, and THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award. She lives in Edinburgh.

Matt Coyne

MATT COYNE is a 42-year-old graphic designer from Sheffield. In September 2015, Matt's life was turned upside-down by the arrival of his first child, Charlie. After three months of fatherhood, he logged on to Facebook and wrote about his experience of having to live with 'a furious, sleep-murdering, unstable and incontinent, breasts-obsessed midget lodger'. Within days, his post about surviving the first few months of parenthood became a viral sensation and was shared all over the world. He continues to impart his parental triumphs and disasters on his blog, Man vs Baby.Facebook: /manversusbabyTwitter: @mattcoyneywww.man-vs-baby.co.uk

Matt Simon

Matt Simon is a journalist who writes Wired Science's 'Absurd Creature of the Week' column. He has also edited Wired's 'This Day in Tech blog', which was compiled into the book Mad Science, and writes a second column called 'Fantastically Wrong' that explores the strangest mistakes in folklore and science. He lives in San Francisco.

Neil Ansell

Neil Ansell was an award winning television journalist with the BBC and a long standing writer for the broadsheets. He is the author of two previous books, Deep Country and Deer Island, and has contributed to nature programmes and wildlife documentaries though his main focus was news and current affairs. He has two daughters and lives in Brighton.

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.

Phil Tufnell

Phil Tufnell, aka "Tuffers", played 42 Test matches and 20 One-Day Internationals for England between 1990 and 1997. Following retirement in 2002, Tufnell became a hugely popular TV personality. He was the winner of ITV1's "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" in 2003, and enjoyed a long run in BBC1's "Strictly Come Dancing" in 2009. Current broadcasting commitments include being team captain on BBC1's "A Question of Sport" and regular features on BBC1's "The One Show". He remains a star turn on Radio 4's iconic "Test Match Special" show.

Rachel Roddy

Rachel Roddy writes a weekly award-winning column in Guardian Cook. Rachel's first book Five Quarters won the André Simon Food Book award in 2015, as well as the Guild of Food Writers' First Book award. Rachel has lived in Testaccio, a distinctive working-class quarter of Rome, for over twelve years. She shares a small flat near the food market with her partner Vincenzo and son Luca and spends part of the year in Vincenzo's family house in Gela, south-east Sicily. racheleats.wordpress.com Follow Rachel on Twitter @racheleats Follow Rachel on Instagram @rachelaliceroddy

Russell Ash

Russell Ash was best known for his annual THE TOP TEN OF EVERYTHING and other popular reference works, but he was also the author of numerous humour titles. His extensive research work encompasses biographical studies and genealogy. www.RussellAsh.com

Saira Ahmed & Andrew Crofts

Saira is a successful, independent business woman, bringing up her daughter alone. Her family still know nothing of what she has been through and names have been changed to protect Saira and her daughter from their anger. Should they find out how she has dishonoured them - they might very well decide to kill her.

Sheena Byrom

Sheena Byrom was born and brought up in North West England and has lived and worked there all her life. Sheena's career spans 35 years - and she has recently taken early retirement to complete a PhD in normal childbirth with the University of Nottingham. She is married wit hfour children, one of whom has followed her mother's footsteps in becoming a midwife lecturer.