Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!
Today we have a smooch from Undone By His Touch by Annie West, but first ...
the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Kaelee!
Congratulations, Kaelee! Can you please contact Michelle Douglas at
michelle (at) michelle-douglas (dot) com
and she'll send you a copy of The Man Who Saw Her beauty.
And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Undone By His Touch by Annie West ...
Cast into a world of black, Declan Carstairs is a man in torment. Consumed by guilt, he sees no way out of the darkness his world has become. Only one thing drives him – finding the woman who caused his brother’s death, and the accident that took his sight.
Housekeeper Chloe Daniels refuses to pity her devastatingly gorgeous boss, but treating him as the strong, capable man he is soon proves dangerous. As Chloe falls deeper under Declan’s spell, awakened by his touch, she forgets all about the secret she keeps that may destroy them both…
[Set-up - Declan, blinded in a recent accident, asks Chloe, his housekeeper to help him shave. has been building between them for weeks. He's sitting on a stool in the bathroom while she stands before him. She's just told him his scars aren't as awful as he thinks and, seeing his furious reaction, dropped the razor in the sink.]
He yanked her hand to his face.
A tremor hit her as he pressed her finger on the damaged flesh so she felt the ridge of healed tissue. But her overwhelming impression was of heat and excitement – an illicit thrill that skirled in her abdomen, clenching muscles.
Slowly, oh so slowly, he dragged her hand down, her fingers to the scar, her hand dwarfed by his.
Through the shaving cream, centimetre by centimetre the skin to skin contact continued. It was a punishment, a challenge, yet to Chloe it had the force of a caress. Potent, provocative, drawing out hidden longings and exposing them, raw and unvarnished, to the light of day.
His warm skin scent was inside her, his heat infused hers. The prison of his long legs evoked a delicious, terrible thrill she fought and failed to conquer.
Now her hand was beside his mouth, pressed there, feeling the supple skin stretch as he spoke.
‘You have the gall to call that character?’
She opened her mouth but before she could speak he dragged her hand away.
‘Or this?’ He slammed her hand, palm down on his thigh, right up near his hip.
Chloe’s heart galloped high in her chest as she looked at her fingers splayed under his, moulding the wide muscle of his upper leg. Her breath came in raw, shallow gasps at the intensity of the contact.
His fury. His frustration. Her regret and sorrow and still, through it all, the unrepentant hum of sexual energy that furred her nape and drew her breasts tight and full and heavy.
Under his guidance her hand slid down over soft denim that covered hot flesh and uneven scar tissue.
‘What would you call that, Chloe?’ The jeering note had faded from his voice, replaced by a weariness that betrayed the effort it took to face the world as if it was his for the taking.
Now, feeling the tremors running through his thigh, the fierce clench of his hand, she glimpsed what it cost him to appear in control.
Her heart missed a beat as another protective layer crumbled. Soon there’d be nothing left to keep her safe.
‘Well, Chloe?’ His voice dropped low, reverberating through her. ‘Is that full of character too? Should I be grateful for the accident that blinded me?’
‘Maybe it sounds trite, but there are lots of people worse off than you.’
‘You’re right,’ he snapped. ‘It does sound trite.’
‘I’m sorry.’ Not for speaking the truth, but that he obviously wasn’t ready to hear it.
His sightless eyes glittered with barely leashed emotion.
‘Do you have any idea how infuriating it is to be lectured about looking on the bright side? About how lucky I am? To have false hope of recovery held out like a holy grail?’
‘No.’ She stood stiffly.
‘No.’ His expression was grim. ‘How could you?’
Abruptly he stood. Still, he held her hand and she wondered if he’d forgotten it.
But then, with unerring accuracy, he lifted their joined hands to her cheek. Together they stroked the contour of her cheekbone and her skin came alive at the incredible intimacy of their joined touch.
‘You’re whole,’ he said, so low it was like a vibration rather than a sound. ‘Your life hasn’t turned upside down so that everything you took for granted, everything, is now exponentially more difficult if not downright impossible.’
Their hands traced down to the corner of her mouth and a ripple of awareness took her by surprise.
‘You’re not dogged by regret over what you couldn’t do, that you failed the one person who above all relied on you.’
Suddenly he loosened his hold and let her hand fall. It tingled as blood rushed back.
His tall frame crowded her into the corner, making her acutely aware of how her wayward body responded to him. Even tipping her head up to look into his face shot a tiny thrill through her.
His hand settled on her face, fingers spreading to mould her jaw.
Chloe sucked in a startled breath as he slid his hand over her, cupping her chin and circling her cheek almost as if he could picture her face through touch.
Each stroke reinforced the urgent, eager need for more. It was all she could do to stand still, not tilt her head into his hand.
‘How old are you, Chloe Daniels?’ His voice hit that low, rich note that made something curl inside her.
‘Twenty seven.’ She straightened and tilted her chin higher, only to find his hand dropping to her throat as if she’d invited his feather light caress there.
Whorls of lazy heat eddied at his touch and her head eased back.
She gulped, desperately trying to regain her composure. ‘How old are you?’
Long fingers stroked her lips, cajoling her into silence.
‘Thirty four.’ His head tipped towards her as if, even blind, it was important that he look her in the eyes.
‘Thirty four, blind and scarred. Not the man I was.’
His voice was an indictment, as if he saw himself as less a man than before.
He leaned towards her and her breath caught.
‘And you, Chloe, are smooth and young and unscarred.’ He paused while his hand traced her pedestrian nose and returned with heart-stopping intent to her mouth. Her lips felt swollen and pulsing, as if waiting for more than the touch of his hand.
Fire sparked in her veins and she found herself straining towards him.
‘You’re whole,’ he murmured, ‘and I’m…’
He shook his head, his mouth grim, even as he framed her face with his fingers, letting them slide through her hair. Tremulous delight filled her at his gentle massaging pressure.
Then, with an abruptness that floored her, his hands dropped and he stepped back, his shoulders stiff, his face a forbidding mask not even the smear of shaving cream could humanise.
‘I don’t want you here.’
The statement, so simple, so unambiguous, stuck in her dazed mind as if he spoke a foreign tongue.
When she didn’t move his brow pleated in a ferocious scowl. His hands curled into tight fists.
‘Get out of here, Chloe.’ Words spat from him like bullets. ‘Now!’
To be in the draw to win a signed copy of Undone By His Touch leave a comment to this question - Do you think a non-kiss can be as intense and an actual smooch in a romance? Can you think of any examples from books you enjoy?
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Destiny Of The Light by Louise Cusack will be posted!