In DEVIL's DUE, by Jennifer Colgan, Ceara Landon makes a deal with soul broker Alex Quinn to save her younger brother, a promising musician, from a life of misery ruled by his addictions. In this scene, Ceara has already agreed to trade her soul for her brother’s, and after a romantically charged evening with the sexy night club owner, she prepares to seal the deal and discovers the initial price for her brother’s freedom might not be so difficult to pay.
Ceara stood at the window again, overlooking the harbor. Behind her, in the living room of the luxurious penthouse, Alex Quinn stoked a fire in the glass-fronted hearth and set a plate of aromatic chocolate truffles on the gleaming teakwood coffee table.
The evening so far had been sublime, a date any woman would have envied. Dinner had been delicious, and while they ate by candlelight in a dining room fit for royalty, Quinn had told her stories about the Kimono Club and Keb’s many adventures as his business manager. A few times she’d even laughed, telling herself her problems were solved now. Kevin would be safe, happy, able to live his life to its fullest without his dependency on Russell Hackett’s pharmaceutical brand of stress relief. If the band suffered a bit, if some of their gigs dried up, well, they’d find more. Talent and hard work would get them places deals with the Devil could not. She believed that wholeheartedly.
Alex met her at the window and offered her a chocolate. She accepted more because she wasn’t sure exactly what her role here was now. Did she have to obey his every command? She shivered at the thought, but the feeling wasn’t entirely unpleasant.
She tasted the confection and licked her lips. Smooth as silk and flavored with orange and amaretto, the candy made her mouth water for more. He held her gaze while she swirled the sweet remnants on her tongue and swallowed. “It’s very good.”
“Hmm? Let me taste.” He leaned in slowly, clearly giving her enough time back away, but something held her still, entranced by him, his size, his scent. His lips brushed hers and something in the middle of her tightened, like a rope being pulled taut. Her muscles flexed, and her back arched just slightly. Her lips parted and she let him in to taste.
He explored tentatively at first. His tongue was warm, smooth and flavored with a hint of brandy. He smelled like expensive musk and almonds and her head spun when he deepened the kiss.
Was this what losing her soul felt like? Was he controlling her reactions? For some reason she didn’t mind when his fingers slipped under the hem of her blouse and traced the waistband of her slacks. Her skin tingled, and despite her wariness of this man and her fear of everything he stood for, her nipples hardened and she let out a faint moan.
“Mmmm. It is good,” he said, pulling back just far enough to break contact. His words hummed against her lips, and she involuntarily pressed her hips against his.
He held her gaze for a moment, a question in his eyes, but the expression fled too quickly for her to form the words to ask about it. She tilted her head back as he gently pushed the blazer from her shoulders. The fire had ratcheted the temperature up just enough to make the jacket uncomfortable, so shedding it was a relief. Without the layer of wool between them, she felt naked. Her silk blouse might as well have been gossamer.
Ceara closed her eyes and waited only an instant for Alex to touch her again. He pressed his lips to her throat, pulling her collar aside to give him access to the hollow beneath her collarbone. He’d said she would burn tonight and he was right. His lips branded her, and the heat of his tongue when he flicked it over her bare skin caused every muscle in her body to tense.
A second later he’d opened the top button of her blouse. Her breath hissed out, and she put her hands on his chest. The heat of him seeped through the fabric of his shirt, and she swore his cologne took on a smoky essence. Maybe it was just the fire crackling insistently at her back or maybe it was her own self-control going up in smoke. It didn’t matter. If this was the gateway to hell, Ceara was more than ready to plunge ahead. She’d made the deal, Kevin was safe and all her problems would be nothing but ash by morning.
She was ready to burn.
Alex didn’t question Ceara’s sudden lack of will. The fight had seemed to leave her the moment she’d downed her last swallow of brandy back in the kitchen. He understood her relief and her fear, and he felt both in the tremors of her body as he scooped her into his arms and carried her to his bedroom.
He might have experienced a moment of guilt or remorse as he placed her on the down comforter that covered his bed. He might have taken a moment to explain exactly what parts of her he now owned and what parts he didn’t as he knelt over her and began to open her blouse, one small, fragile button at a time.
He could have let her know none of this was necessary before he slipped the straps of her white satin bra from her shoulders or as he slid her slim navy slacks from her legs. He could have. But he didn’t.
She didn’t protest. She didn’t whimper. She kept her eyes on his and her luscious lips slightly parted. Her breath left her in quick puffs as he freed her breasts and ran his eager hands over her flesh. She posed no argument when he lifted her hips and removed her panties, and she made no sound except an appreciative sigh when he stripped off his own shirt and lay next to her.
“You’re more beautiful than I imagined,” he sighed into her ear as he ran one finger up and down the center of her body. She trembled and bit her lower lip so sweetly when he stroked her thighs, urging them open.
“So are you…” She moaned when he touched her intimately, arching to give him better access. He smiled darkly, fully aware that he could ask anything of her right now and she would comply.
He nuzzled her neck, nipped her ear and then rose to shed the rest of his clothes. “I have condoms,” he said softly. “But they’re not really necessary. My own deal with Lucifer assures that I contract no diseases and create no offspring. You’re perfectly safe.”
She gazed at him as he moved back to the bed and lifted her arms, accepting him into her embrace. “I guess all the rules have changed for me now, haven’t they?”
Alex settled himself above her, taking his weight on one hand so he could brush a fingertip over the bridge of her nose, across her cheek and her lips. He kissed her once, deeply, before his first claiming thrust and whispered, “In more ways than you can imagine, Ceara.”
Read more about Ceara Landon and Alex Quinn in Devil’s Due by Jennifer Colgan