All Lit Up – Cathryn Fox
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All Lit Up

Book Cover: All Lit Up
Part of the Pleasure Inn series:

Pleasure Inn, Book 3
Length: Novella

Rebuilding the fire—one kiss at a time.

When interior designer Anna Deveau is hired to create a room made for romance at a Victorian inn, she is thrilled—and a little wistful. A fairy-tale ending will never be hers, but perhaps tapping into abandoned dreams will fan the flames for someone else.

Then she learns the only bricklayer available to build the room's fireplace is Daniel Long. The sexy boy-next-door who filled her teen years with angst, broke her heart—and still colors her nights with red-hot fantasies.

Daniel never understood why Anna stopped talking to him a week before her sweet-sixteen party. Or why the wall between them remains a mile high. But now that he's back in town, he intends to figure it out once and for all. Pushing the limits of her seductive design, he sets out to prove he didn't burn her in the past.

Anna finds herself doing the one thing she swore she'd never do again: laying herself bare. Until the ghost of rumors past threatens to snuff out the fiery fantasy that, this time, Anna thought was real...

Warning: Years of sinful fantasies about the sexy boy-next-door lead to a night of wild indulgence. Be sure to keep a bevy of toys on hand when reading this tale, or better yet, get a boy-next-door of your own.

Published:
Publisher: Samhain
Genres:
Excerpt:

Now that had to be the most scrumptious ass Anna Deveau had ever set eyes on.

Tight.

Defined.

And downright squeezable.

The warm autumn sun beat down on Anna as she swiped her tongue over her dry bottom lip and zeroed in on the delectable male before her. Cripes, that man had buttocks like none other. Firm, ripe, ready for the picking.

Oh my...

As a shiver of awareness tingled deep between her legs, derailing her hard-fought ability to think straight, Anna took extra care in negotiating the cracked and pitted walkway in her thin-soled flip-flops.

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Pamina kept pace beside her—the mystical-like woman who'd hired Anna's firm to create fantasy-inspired theme rooms in the rundown Victorian inn situated on the outskirts of Mason Creek. As they strolled along the dilapidated path, Lindsay, a childhood friend and fellow colleague, caught up with them, and they all made their way to the masonry van in the driveway—where said scrumptious buns stood waiting. With the back doors spread wide open, Mr. Sex in a Pair of Jeans braced his muscular thighs against the bumper and leaned forward, presenting her with a perfect, unobstructed view of his magnificent backside.

Yummy...

His gluteus maximus muscles were perfect, all right. Perfect for pinching, or grabbing hold of and palming while he made sweet passionate love to her. A romantic at heart, Anna envisioned those strong hands of his removing her clothes, slowly, methodically, taking the utmost care with her body. Her thighs quivered as she gifted herself a moment to play out the sexy scenario—gentle fingers touching her private, intimate parts with purpose, the rough pad of his thumb working her sensitive nub into orgasmic bliss, his warm, wet mouth buried in the crook of her sensitive neck as he whispered sweet nothings in her ear. A small rapturous moan threatened to crawl out of her throat, and she promptly choked it back as the erotic slideshow played out in her mind's eye.

Taking her by surprise, small beads of moisture broke out on her forehead, and she swiped at them, but the dampness had nothing at all to do with the hot sunshine beating down on the quaint town, and everything to do with the pact she'd made with her friends. A pact she was suddenly questioning the intelligence of. Damn, it had been so long since she'd engaged in an intimate relationship that her body had turned mutinous. Deep between her legs she felt libidinous, needy and hungry.

Positively horny.

Which had her questioning the logic behind their pact, and begged the question—exactly why had they all renounced the opposite sex again?

"What do you think, Anna?" Pamina asked.

Anna turned toward the tall, willowy woman with the knowledgeable green eyes, and struggled to comprehend the question. As Pamina stared at her, obviously awaiting a response, she shifted Abra—her very overweight cat—in her long, lithe arms as the ornery feline hissed and swatted at an imaginary fly.

Lindsay shot her a questioning glance. "Yeah, what is your opinion on it, Anna?" Her friend's brow furrowed in concentration as she carefully picked her way forward in a pair of three-inch spiked heels that only a wild brazen woman like Lindsay could pull off.

Not understanding the question and feeling a bit flustered by the sexual energy zinging through her bloodstream, Anna tucked a short blonde lock behind her ear and blinked her mind into focus.

"Anna?" Lindsay asked again.

Just then one of the many skilled workers on assignment at the inn crossed in front of her, and she nearly bumped into him.

"I, uh." Goodness she'd been so caught up in lusting after Mr. Sex in a Pair of Jeans, completely preoccupied with the delicious images of his hard body climbing over hers, that she hadn't been paying any attention to their conversation, or to all the other laborers milling about in an effort to return the inn to its natural, beautiful state. Truthfully, it was hard to believe that the mere sight of a hot guy had the ability to render her senseless. She was a smart woman, logical, proper, always maintaining a professional demeanor at the workplace, so what had suddenly gotten into her? What the heck had her thinking wayward thoughts about a man she didn't even know?

Lack of sex, she supposed.

No doubt it would shock her friends if they discovered the naughty direction her thoughts had taken. Not that she would tell them. When it came to sex, unlike the bold and vivacious Lindsay, Anna was a very private person. Then again, she shouldn't be fantasizing about the laborer Pamina had hired in the first place. It was a distraction she didn't need. Especially since time was of the essence. She'd put so much work into perfecting her design that she was just beginning the renovations and Lindsay and Anna were well on their way to finishing.

From her peripheral vision, she spotted Candace, the third and final partner in their bustling interior-decoration business, Styles for Living. Candace lunged forward, stretching her muscles on the sun-crisped lawn before her habitual early-morning run. Thankful for the distraction, and deciding to take the focus off her and her current lack of communication skills, Anna gave a wave and shouted a friendly greeting. Pamina and Lindsay fixed their gazes on Candace and followed suit.

After exchanging pleasantries, Anna turned her concentration back to negotiating the walkway. Fortunately for her, Pamina and Lindsay returned to their conversation, forgetting all about Anna's opinion. Deciding to pay a little more attention, she half listened to them discuss Lindsay's BDSM room, but Mr. Sexy proved too much of a distraction, and Anna stole another glance as they closed the distance between them.

As though unaware of their presence as they approached his van, Mr. Sexy ripped off his professional polo shirt, the company name embroidered on the back, and proceeded to change into his work wear. Good Lord! His sun-kissed skin was bronzed, smooth and glistening under the morning rays. Firm shoulders tapered to a trim waist and the delectable sight had her feeling all warm and wicked inside. A fine tingle worked its way down her body and loitered around that hungry little spot between her legs. If the mere sight of his backside had the ability to rattle her like dice in a Yahtzee cup, she could just imagine what a full frontal would do to her.

Truthfully, only one other guy had ever made her feel so edgy, so sexually aroused, and she hadn't set eyes on him since high school. Nor did she have any desire to. Not after what he'd done to her. Which suddenly reminded her why she'd agreed to the pact and sworn off men in the first place. She frowned, then quickly buried those thoughts in favor of more pleasant ones.

No, it certainly wasn't the time to dredge up old painful memories of Daniel Long, the cute boy next door and Mason Creek High School sports hero who'd been coveted by all. It was time to take pleasure in the fit man before her and commit every striated muscle to memory. At least then when she was lying in bed later that night, it would give her something to fantasize about while she took the edge off. And take the edge off she would. Just because she'd sworn off men and had given up on finding her very own Prince Charming, didn't mean she couldn't dream about delicious, orgasmic sex, did it?

She absently toyed with the gold chain around her neck, bit back a chuckle and shook her head. To think that just a short while ago, she'd been both shocked and embarrassed as she stood on the sidewalk outside Toys4Gals and examined the array of sexual devices through the curbside window. Never had she thought she'd purchase such a toy, let alone use one. Now, here she was gathering quite the collection in her bedside table. Working solo wasn't normally her style. But lack of action had forced her to think outside the box—or inside the box—or... Oh hell, she didn't know what she was thinking anymore. All she knew was that she was hurting. Anna gave a quick shake of her head to clear her salacious musings and wondered if a quick shake of her hips would help push back the lust that gathered there.

As she tried to marshal her thoughts and focus on the job at hand, Pamina stepped forward and spoke to the man at the rear of the truck. Mr. Sex in a Pair of Jeans turned to face the woman who'd hired him. With his work shirt dangling in his left hand, he reached out with his right. As they exchanged greetings, Anna shot him a glance. Catching his profile, she began a leisurely inspection of his perfect physique. So much for her efforts to redirect her concentration.

Beginning with his rock-hard thighs, she let her glance wander upward, stopping to linger around that impressive bulge just below his waistband. A tremble worked its way through her body and her mind went on an erotic journey as her gaze climbed higher, to take in his handsome face and chiseled features. When her eyes met his, he angled his body, giving her a full-frontal view. As Anna took in the Grade A specimen at the back of the truck, her brain practically shut down and her jaw gaped open. It couldn't be.

Oh God, it just couldn't be.

She attempted to speak, but couldn't seem to formulate any words as the sight of the man standing before her left her speechless.

Totally and utterly speechless.

Not because of those long hewn legs of his, or how she envisioned them wrapped around her body. Not because her fingers itched to touch those tight sculpted abdominals, now damp with early-morning perspiration. And definitely not because those mesmerizing hazel eyes seemed to be staring into her soul, unearthing feelings best left buried.

Oh no, not at all. It was because the man behind those eyes was none other than Daniel Long, the high-school stud who'd destroyed her belief in Prince Charming and happily-ever-after.

He gave her a wolfish grin, flashing his perfect white teeth, as he took one measured step closer, closing the small gap between them. He dipped his head and put his mouth close to hers, and his warm breath felt more intimate than a kiss. As her body absorbed the heat radiating off his bare chest, her nipples tightened beneath her cotton sundress, and she crossed her arms over her chest, fearing he could see her ill-favored arousal.

He gave her a warm smile and a moment of silence ensued as she took a brief second to peruse the features of the man before her. Gone was the young handsome boy from high school and in his place existed a man. A real man. Tall, broad and oozing sensuality in a way the young Daniel never had. The years had definitely done him well, she decided.

"Hi, Anna." His sensuous tone curled through her body like an aphrodisiac as his familiar scent thickened her blood. Not only did that provocative aroma take her back in time, it aroused her senses and made her feel downright hot.

Edgy and distracted, her every nerve ending burned with unfettered desire. Her legs went a little rubbery and she locked her knees to keep herself upright. Once again silence hung heavy, and the tortured sound of her swallowing down the lump that had taken up residency in her throat cut through the air.

Striving for normalcy, Anna blinked her eyes tight and opened them again, convinced that she was hallucinating. Surely lack of sex had her mind conjuring up images of the guy she'd lusted after for years, because no way could her high school crush—captain of the football team and every girl's dream—be standing before her. Years previous Daniel had gone off to the city for college, and the last place she expected to see him was here in Mason Creek, Connecticut, standing behind a masonry truck, no less. As she sorted through matters, one question remained. Why had he come back after all these years?

He gave a sexy tilt of his head, his eyes assessing her. "It's nice to see you again." His voice was dark and warm, his tone husky and sensual just like she'd remembered, and despite herself, she leaned into him, momentarily forgetting past hurts.

But the ever-protective Lindsay hadn't forgotten. Not even for a minute. She cupped Anna's arm and hauled her back. Her eyes shot daggers at Daniel when she said, "I think you should leave."

Daniel continued to stare at Anna, but with her brain currently on overdrive, trying to process this unexpected turn of events, she could barely vocalize a response.

Deep smoldering eyes skated over her. "Do you want me to leave, Anna?" She didn't miss the invitation or the odd ache of longing in his voice. Nor did she miss the strange way he was looking at her.

"Do you?" he asked again.

As her brains screamed yes, her body, especially the moist juncture between her legs, screamed no. No with a capital N.

"Daniel—" she croaked out, not really knowing what she was about to say.

Discretion aside and ignoring those around them, he touched her hair and that intimate gestures spread warmth through her body. "It's been a long time."

"Yeah, a long time," she agreed, shocked that she could actually speak, let alone formulate a sentence.

"Too long." Something in his voice hitched and Anna had the distinct feeling that he wasn't at all surprised to see her, and that, unlike her, he was completely prepared for this encounter.

Was it possible that it was she who'd inspired him to come home?

She quickly dismissed that ridiculous notion as soon as it hit, and resisted the urge to slap her forehead. Good God, she'd spent years trying to get over him, and it irked her that all it took was one second in his presence to have her fantasizing about Prince Charming and happily-ever-after again. With him. Him! The guy who only thought of her as a conquest, one of a handful of high school girls he'd yet to nail. Perhaps he'd come back to try again. At that thought, Anna squared her shoulders and pulled herself together. Well he could forget it. He couldn't get into her panties back then and he certainly wasn't about to now.

"Of course she wants you to leave," Lindsay interjected and jerked her thumb out toward the road.

Feeling much more in control than she had seconds before, Anna touched Lindsay on the shoulder. "It's okay. I've got this."

"You sure?"

"Yes. Just give us a minute." With that both Lindsay and Pamina stepped aside, but not far enough that they couldn't hear their conversation, or Lindsay couldn't intervene if she felt Anna needed her assistance.

Anna turned to Daniel. He'd only been a boy when he'd given her a hard cold dose of reality, a boy who cared about his own needs. Thankfully she'd found out what he was all about before she'd handed her heart over to him. Because once she had, she was sure there'd have been no coming back from that. In fact, maybe she should be thanking him for opening her eyes to the real world, where Prince Charming existed only in Disney movies and romance novels.

"Why are you here, Daniel?"

He gestured with a nod toward the two women hovering nearby. "I was hired by Pamina to install marble around the Jacuzzi tub and to lay brick around the fireplace."

Anna gave a quick shake of her head. "No, what I mean is why are you here? In Mason Creek. I thought you'd moved away for good."

He grew quiet for a moment, as if weighing his words carefully, then stated the obvious, "I'm back."

"I can see that." She tapped a restless foot. "What I want to know is why?"

Warm heat passed over his eyes. "Because I—" He opened his mouth to tell her, then seemed to change his mind. He gave a casual shrug and in a low, controlled voice said, "I thought it was time."

"Last I heard you hated Mason Creek, and everything about it. And when you went off to college, you had no intentions of ever coming back."

He drew back looking a little hurt, like her words had triggered some dark memory. "I'm helping my brothers with their business."

Anna nodded. She'd completely forgotten that his older brothers had started the town's only masonry business, very much needed now, thanks to the growth in the housing market and the boom in new home construction. But hadn't Daniel gone to State college to get a business degree? Not that she was keeping tabs on him. Because she wasn't. Not really.

"It's crazy how much they've expanded," he added.

As she listened, she wondered what a guy with a business degree knew about masonry work.

"I take care of the office end of things," he said, answering her unasked question. Then he grinned and laughed fondly under his breath. "Mike and John have made a mess of the paperwork. Good thing I came back when I did."

Anna crossed her arms. "If you run the business end, then what do you know about laying marble and bricking around a fireplace?"

"I'm not without my own skills." He paused, then pitched his voice low. "I can do a good job for you, Anna. I promise. I'll make it good. Real good."

She swallowed hard and wondered if he was talking about laying marble or something else entirely.

Lindsay stepped in, probably catching his sexual undertones as well. "I don't think you're the man for the job."

He shrugged. "I'm all you've got." He gestured toward the house. "We're the only game in town, so if you want the work done..."

"Send someone else from the company."

"My brothers are on other jobs. Completely buried." When he turned his mesmerizing hazel eyes on her, it felt like she'd been sucker-punched. "I'm your man, Anna."

The way he'd said those four simple words caused the blood in her veins to boil. Years ago, she'd really thought he was her man. So sweet, kind, respectful and genuine. Confident, yet always a little shy around her. A real-life Prince Charming. But it was all an act to get her into his bed. She'd learned long ago that beneath that perfect package, Daniel Long was nothing but a bad apple.

And no matter how much he charmed her she would never, ever sleep with him.

She didn't think.

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