Today we have a smooch from Annie West but first ... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Veronica!
Can you please contact Helen Lacey at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your copy of 'A Kiss A Dance and A Diamond..
And now for today's Sunday Smooch from THE ITALIAN'S MARRIAGE BARGAIN.
An offer to mend their marriage – or end it?
After years without contact, glamorous film star Gina Rossetti is stunned when billionaire businessman Massimo Conti stalks back into her life, demanding her help. Their short-lived marriage was a mistake she’s striving to put behind her. The last thing she needs is to open old wounds, no matter how insistent Massimo is. Especially since he’s still devastatingly dangerous to her emotions.
But Massimo has confronted the inescapable truth – that the only woman in the world he wants is his estranged wife! He concocts a daring scheme to get her back. His plan might be underhanded, it might be brazenly manipulative, but he refuses to take no for an answer. His outrageous ploy must succeed. For the alternative is to lose Gina forever.
Massimo and Gina married young and have been separated for years. Massimo, determined right past wrongs and get his wife back, knows he needs time alone with her to break through the barriers she's built against him. He blackmails her into staying with him for a week, telling her he wants her as his hostess to promote his family brand during Milan Fashion Week. Now, sharing his apartment, passions run high and he kisses her. Gina is dismayed to discover she wants her husband as much as she ever did, and that, rather than keeping her distance, she actually goaded him into kissing her.
Gina had seen it coming.
She’d seen the feral light in his eyes. Read the brutal intent in that hard body.
Had she twisted away?
Had she ducked her head?
Had she tried to placate him?
She told herself she’d done none of those because she had every right to her anger. Because it was time someone stood up to Massimo and brought him to book when he rode roughshod over them.
But as his mouth plastered over hers, his tongue sweeping past her lips in a forceful invasion that demanded everything, Gina knew the truth.
She’d goaded him. Deliberately.
She hadn’t been able to stand there, toe to toe with this man who drove her crazy in the worst and best of ways. She hadn’t had the strength to walk away.
Because she wanted this. Wanted him.
Want? Is that what you called this driving force that hammered with every pounding pulse beat?
Want was too weak a word.
Need engulfed her. It was marrow-deep. It was in every pore of every centimetre of her flesh.
She’d needed Massimo for years and she’d just given up denying it.
His tongue probed her mouth, demanding and at the same time challenging her to respond. His kiss was pure carnal invitation.
He pushed her up against the doorway so she was pinioned between it and Massimo’s hot, sculpted body. Gina went into meltdown. It wasn’t simply that she’d had no lover since him. She hadn’t wanted one. Because Massimo had always been the one she wanted, even when she hated him for making her feel that way.
For a moment Gina hovered on the brink of self-pitying tears. It was cruel that the only man she’d ever loved was so bad for her. The only logical response was to break away. Despite his imposing size and his ire he wouldn’t force her. He’d have to let her go.
But Gina hadn’t cried in years, she wasn’t about to start now. Nor would she pull away.
For she couldn’t. She simply couldn’t.
Not when being in Massimo’s embrace felt like coming home.
Through his fine suit Gina felt the outline of bone and muscle, the solid thighs, the jut of ribs, the press of that powerful chest. His heart throbbed a staccato rhythm against her. She tried to tell herself Massimo was motivated only by anger, not real desire. But already the big hands running up and down her bare arms gentled, confounding her.
He tilted his head, searching for the best angle to seduce her mouth. And he found it. Massimo had always kissed like a fallen angel, one who’d mastered both torment and bliss.
Bliss coursed through her now as she tangled her tongue against his, lifting her chin and responding in kind.
A rough sound of approval vibrated from his mouth to hers, from his chest to hers. It sent pleasure spearing to her womb, her breasts, the place inside her elbows where his thumbs brushed, making her shiver.
Gina’s hands rose to his arms, fingers digging into fine fabric and taut muscle. She needed more. Their kiss was no longer a demand but a seesawing dance of give and take.
It shouldn’t be possible to get closer to him but she tried, rising on her toes and planting her hands on his shoulders to bring her nearer his height.
Massimo’s response was to slide one arm around her waist and haul her up till her feet left the floor. She heard a shoe drop as she snaked her arms over his shoulders and clamped her fingers into the thick, dark hair at the back of his skull. Her lips welded to his as rapture beckoned.
He tasted better than the finest wines, better than fresh-picked strawberries still warm from the sun. He tasted like every dream of happiness she’d ever known, and then some.
And when he shifted against her, thrusting a thigh between her legs so she balanced astride it, Gina’s urgency took on a new dimension. One that matched his, given the unmistakeable arousal pushing against her.
Her dress rode higher as she squirmed closer, excited by the sensation of Massimo’s clothes against her bare skin.
‘Gina.’ It sounded like a plea or perhaps a vow. But Massimo’s broad hand on her leg, pushing the silky material up her thigh was as earthy as it got. She shivered as his baritone growl scraped her soul and those hard fingers curled around tender flesh.
She wanted this, wanted him so badly. How had she gone so long without his touch? Only by freezing her emotions and her needs under a blanket of ice. By living a cold, half-life these last few years.
Gina had forgotten how feminine he made her feel. Feminine and sexy and powerful, despite the shivers turning her body to putty in his hold. Turning her into a woman who’d give her all to this man.
As if sensing her capitulation, Massimo broke the kiss, lifting his head to stare down at her with eyes that glowed with silvery fire. The air was thick with the sound of their gasps and the rapid thrum of her pulse in her ears.
‘Mio dolce amore.’ It was what he’d called her when they’d been in love. When Gina had believed nothing would ever break them apart. Then he smiled. That rare, beautiful smile of welcome she’d always thought Massimo reserved just for her. Because he loved her.
Her throat shut convulsively, almost choking her.
Massimo didn’t love her. He was using her.
So if that smile wasn’t a look of love it was just part of his arsenal of seductive weapons.Gina hadn’t thought it possible to hurt more than she’d hurt before. Yet now...
It's autumn here in Australia, one of my favourite times of year. For some reason I always feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle all sorts of new projects when the seasons change. Plus there's the joy of the change of season colours in the garden and the crisp promise of new season apples to look forward to.
Do you have a favourite season? What is it you look forward to at that time of year?
Leave a comment to be included automatically in the draw to win a Kindle copy of 'The Italian's Marriage Bargain' (International Giveaway)!
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch by Kandy Shepherd will be posted!
Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver