Related to: 'The Broken Girls'

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."

Amanda Reynolds

Amanda Reynolds lives in the Cotswolds with her family where she writes full-time. Her debut novel, Close To Me, is a #1 e-book bestseller. Lying To You is her second book.

C. L. Pattison

C. L. Pattison spent twenty years as an entertainment journalist, before embarking on a frontline career in the police force. She lives on the south coast of England.

Chris Hammer

Chris Hammer has been a journalist for over twenty-five years. He has been an international correspondent for SBS TV's flagship current affairs program Dateline, the chief political correspondent for The Bulletin and a senior political journalist for The Age. His non-fiction book, The River, published by Melbourne University Publishing in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award.

Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 14 novels including the Sunday Times bestsellers My Best Friend's Girl, The Ice Cream Girls and Goodnight, Beautiful. Dorothy's novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton. The Brighton Mermaid is her most recent novel.

Emily Gunnis

Emily Gunnis previously worked in TV drama and lives in Brighton with her young family. She is one of the four daughters of Sunday Times bestselling author Penny Vincenzi.

Harriet Tyce

Harriet Tyce grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Oxford University before doing a law conversion course at City University. She practised as a criminal barrister in London for nearly a decade, and recently completed an MA in Creative Writing - Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. She lives in north London. Blood Orange is her debut novel.

James Oswald

James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries, as well as the new DC Constance Fairchild series. James's first two books, NATURAL CAUSES and THE BOOK OF SOULS, were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. AS COLD AS THE GRAVE is the ninth book in the Inspector Mclean Series.James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.

Janet Evanovich

JANET EVANOVICH is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum novels including Hardcore Twenty-Four and Turbo Twenty-Three; the Knight and Moon novels including Dangerous Minds, co-written with Phoef Sutton; the Fox & O'Hare series - The Heist, The Chase, The Job, The Scam and The Pursuit - co-written with Lee Goldberg; the Lizzy and Diesel novels including most recently Wicked Charms, co-written with Phoef Sutton. She has won several major crime fiction awards including the CWA John Creasey Award, Dilys Award and Silver Dagger.Janet's website can be found at www.evanovich.com. She is on Twitter - @janetevanovich - and Facebook - /JanetEvanovich.

Jill Mansell

'The queen of witty, heart-warming, feel-good love stories' RedJill Mansell started writing fiction while working in the NHS, after she read a magazine article that inspired her to join a local creative writing class. She has since written over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers, including The One You Really Want and You And Me, Always, and her books have sold over 11 million copies around the world. Jill's hobbies include buying stationery, particularly magical new colours of ink for the fountain pen she uses to write all her books. She lives in Bristol with her family. Jill keeps in touch with her readers on Twitter - @JillMansell - and Facebook - /OfficialJillMansell.

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. Her debut novel The Freedom Broker won the 2018 Best First Novel Award at the International Thriller Writers awards.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 Hamilton

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy and, having now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband, she satisfies her wanderlust by exploring the world through her writing. THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND is her first novel.

Laura Griffin

Laura Griffin is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books. She is a two-time RITA Award winner as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award. Laura got her start in journalism before venturing into the world of romance fiction. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she is working on her next novel. Visit her website at www.lauragriffin.com and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LauraGriffinAuthor and Twitter @Laura_GriffTo hear about new releases, sign up for Laura's newsletter at: http://lauragriffin.com/subscribe/

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.

Marcia Willett

Marcia Willett was born in Somerset, the youngest of five girls. After training to become a ballet dancer, she joined her sister's Dance Academy as ballet mistress. She then became a naval wife and her son was born in 1970. She now lives in Devon with her husband, Rodney, who first encouraged Marcia to write, and their Newfoundland, Trubshawe.

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.

Matt Lynn

Matt Lynn is a thriller writer and financial commentator. He has written regularly for Bloomberg and The Sunday Times. His action-adventure Death Force thrillers feature a group of mercenaries fighting around the world. He is the author of Bust: Greece, The Euro and The Sovereign Debt Crisis.

Michael Jecks

Michael Jecks gave up a career in the computer industry to concentrate on writing and the study of medieval history, especially that of Devon and Cornwall. He lives with his family in northern Dartmoor.

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.

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, worked 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.

Nick Clark Windo

Nick Clark Windo studied English Literature at Cambridge University and acting at RADA. As well as writing, he works as a film producer and communications coach. He lives in London with his wife and daughter. The Feed is his first novel.