For Sonia, winning the Valentine's Singles Cruise is an opportunity to escape her fantasies about Chase and find a real man to fulfill them. Evan brings her screaming orgasms, inventive sex and a new appreciation of every erotic zone in her body. After just two nights with him, there isn't a part of her he hasn't licked, penetrated or tormented to fulfillment.
As the relationship builds and the sex grows hotter, she finds herself pushing away memories of Chase. But on the third night of the cruise, the night of Valentine's Day, Evan has a major surprise for Sonia--and her life is about to turn upside down.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Seductive Illusion by Allie Standifer
"Aren't you coming to the party?"
Sonia Caffey looked up from her desk as her coworker, Dan Devine, stuck his head in her door.
"In a few minutes," she told him. "I have one last report to finish."
"Leave it until later," he urged. "Come on. We're celebrating a great year despite the economy. Loosen up, kiddo. Have some fun for a change."
Fun. Sonia couldn't remember the last time she had "fun". From Day One she'd immersed herself in her work to keep at bay her rampant feelings for her boss. Being attracted to CEO Chase Malone was a losing proposition. Rich, handsome, powerful in too many ways to count, she knew she was the last person he'd ever turn his eyes to. A man who had a different piece of stick-thin eye candy on his arm every night would not in any way be interested in ordinary Sonia Caffey, who always struggled with a few curves too many.
So she used her work to build walls and mask her feelings. Going to this party meant socializing. Drinking. Letting her guard down. And she wasn't sure she could do it.
"Dan's right," said a deep voice behind her.
She hadn't heard Chase leave his office and come up behind her, but the clean linen scent of his cologne had warned her he was near. She had to stop herself from taking a deep breath to inhale the aroma that drove her hormones wild. He leaned over her shoulder and his hand reached for the folder open on her desk. In one swift movement he closed it and pointed to her computer. His other hand rested on her shoulder. She had to stop herself from shivering at even that most casual touch.
"Shut that down and lock your desk." He grinned down at her, a dimple winking at the left corner of his mouth, his coffee-brown eyes pinning her with their gaze. "I order you to have fun for the next hour."
Before she could catch her breath or get out the dozen objections knocking together in her brain, Sonia found herself being hustled out of the office--the firm masculine hand clamped around one arm sending more sizzles through her body--and guided down the hall to the conference room. Desperately she searched her mind for some excuse or project that would keep her tied to her desk.
"Quit trying to get out of it." Warm air caressed her ear as gentle lips reprimanded her softly. "You work too hard as it is. It's time to get out, let your hair down and enjoy yourself."
She managed a nod while her brain spun in dizzy directions. Relax? Enjoy herself? Sonia almost laughed out loud at the thought. How could she do either when her body dripped with desire every time Chase was anywhere near her?
After working for him for three years there was very little of the man Sonia hadn't memorized, at least with clothes on. She let her imagination take over once she mentally stripped the clothes from him. Just the image of Chase Malone naked had her cheeks heating and her thighs wet.
But now was so not the time or place to start something she couldn't finish. Two hours from now in the privacy of her bedroom, curtains drawn and the lights off, her vibrator would take care of the lingering ache.
The sounds of muffled music and laughter snapped Sonia back into reality and she made herself stop walking. "Chase, you don't have to escort me personally. I promise I'll go and I will." Anything to get away from the tempting scent of his skin--like sin on a moonlit night.
His dimple popped out at her again as a sexy slow smile curved his lips. "I always like taking a personal interest in the people who work for me."
Hand still clamped to her arm, his fingers burning her skin through her jacket and blouse, he continued tugging her down the hallway.
"I know you do," was all she had time to say before the dark, double oak doors swung inward and the noise and chaos of the party surrounded them.
Hours later after having eaten a little of everything on the sumptuous buffet, Sonia sat with the rest of her colleagues listening to Chase. He always made a point of listing those who had earned bonuses and encouraging those who didn't.
"I know all of you are anxious to get out and enjoy your weekend," he said, relaxing against the wall, "despite the enormous amount of food and drink I'm plying you with."
Laughter broke out in the crowd and there was faint applause for his generosity.
"However," he went on, "I know what you really want is to hear the name of the winner of the drawing for the company prize." He straightened his posture. "So without further ado, I'll unveil who that is."
With the press of a button on the remote he was holding, the conference room dimmed and an image started to play.
"This top prize is a first for our company. Masquerade Lines, Inc., a fleet of top-of-the-line luxury liners, has worked with us to provide a Valentine's Day treat for one lucky person. The lucky winner wins a four-day three-night Valentine's singles cruise to nowhere complete with masked balls every night."
Pictures of the luxury cabins flashed across the screen as Chase described them in detail. He added information about the head chef's gourmet credentials, entertainment imported from all over the world and Vegas-style gambling.
"There's a new twist on the cruise this year, something to make it a little more intriguing," Chase continued. "Guests on the cruise will have full face masks delivered to their cabins, masks they will be required to wear any time they step out of their cabins, day or night." A sexy smile spread over his face. "That way people will feel free to...mingle as they wish." He sent a wink to the crowd. "And if our winner is lucky enough to find somebody to put up with them we have a couples cruise geared to a second honeymoon with five-star restaurants, spa days and numerous other activities."
Sonia could imagine what kind of "mingling" was on the agenda, but for her the focus was the masked balls scheduled to be held each night. Since her childhood she had been obsessed and intrigued by fairy tales with disguises. She enjoyed the thought of falling in love without the shallow opinion of looks coming into play.
As a woman with curves she considered just a tad too much on the "lush" side, she knew the pain of snap judgments. Being passed over in bars, never getting that second-date call. But she refused to starve herself in order to fit Hollywood's idea of beauty. She enjoyed food too much to restrict herself and endanger her health to shrink her jeans size.
She certainly wasn't Chase Malone's ideal woman. And damn it, every time she saw or spoke to him her heart did a funny little hitch, her nipples hardened and moisture flooded the crotch of her panties. If she had her way the man would do more than create an ache of hunger in her life. The emptiness between her thighs fairly wept for his attention.
Just once she'd like to feel those strong muscles flex naked beneath her hands, lips and tongue. To hold his body prisoner with her arms and thighs while he pounded into her pussy, forcing her pleasure higher than she'd ever been before.
But apparently it wasn't meant to be. Maybe on a cruise like this she'd have the courage to accept the advances of a stranger. Assuming one made any.
A sharp jab to her ribs had her jolting out of her morose thoughts and back to the party around her. She looked around only to find everyone's eyes locked on her with an air of expectance.
"Honey, get your butt up there." Amy from human resources, and the source of the elbow jab, pushed her up and out of the chair.
"Go on. He called your name."
She stumbled toward the stage, feeling all kinds of clumsy. Chase held out a tanned, callused hand and Sonia clasped it while desperately trying to ignore the sparks that flashed between their bodies.
"Congratulations, Sonia." Chase leaned down and touched her lips with his in an all-too-brief kiss that had her heart pounding and her palms sweating. "I know you'll enjoy the Valentine's Masquerade Cruise for Singles. As an added bonus you'll have Wednesday off in order to get ready for the trip."
"Trip?" she asked, trying to get her bearings. One minute she'd been locked in a fantasy with Chase as the star and the next her co-workers were beaming and clapping. Not to mention the kiss from her boss. Had she stepped into an alternate world? What had she missed while dreaming of fucking Chase Malone?
"The ship sails Thursday out of Corpus Christi. Don't worry about leaving your car at the dock," Chase continued, not aware of her confused thoughts. "I'll have a car and driver pick you up that morning."
The ship? Crap on a cracker, she suddenly understood the applause and attention. Sonia had won the much coveted grand prize, a cruise. Pleasure and anticipation flooded through her. Maybe she really could cut loose and enjoy life. After all she'd worked her butt off for it. Well, not exactly worked it off, unfortunately. But maybe on this cruise there'd be a man who liked women he could sink his hands into.
Excitement bubbled up within her. This could be a real adventure for her. No one would know her on this trip. She could be as wild as she wanted to, provided she could find someone who wanted to be wild with her. Okay. She'd need a new bathing suit--preferably one that de-emphasized her extra curves--some fun and flirty cover-ups, other cruise wear. A quick glance at her toes and hands assured her a pedi-mani session should be on the agenda.
But the fun shopping binge popped like a soap bubble in her head as reality crashed down.
"Chase," she said, interrupting his onboard activities dialogue. "I can't go anywhere next week. I've got two proposals sitting on my desk, not to mention..."
A single rough finger covered her lips and Sonia had to literally bite her tongue to keep it from slipping out and tasting the heady masculine flesh so close. "You deserve this trip, Sonia. You will be on that ship when it sails if I have to put you on it myself."
She made a noise of disagreement, praying he'd keep his finger exactly where it lay. He did.
"No." He shook his head. "I know exactly what's on your desk. It's nothing that can't wait at least a week or two. You've worked your butt off for me and this company. Now it's time to take a few moments for you."
What could she do but nod her head and agree? With Chase standing close enough that his clean minty breath whispered over her face, Sonia would have promised him anything if he would only keep touching her.
Instead he dropped his hand, stepped back and smiled. "You'll have the time of your life. It will be a vacation you'll never forget, I promise."
Something in his dark eyes gleamed back at her, but before she could decipher it Amy had her arms around Sonia, squealing with happiness.
"Girl, you're going to have a blast. Think of that beautiful cruise ship, the food, the wine and all those men."