Trapped behind closed doors, she is a thief caught red-handed. And he is the man willing and able to hand out sensual, erotic punishment.
Publisher's Note: This story was previously published elsewhere under the title A Dangerous Craving and has been revised for Ellora's Cave.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from To Catch a Thief by Amy Redwood
No one had ever caught her.
But when she walked through the doors of the flower shop, a slow, lopsided grin turned up one corner of his mouth.
Chloe declined his standard greeting with a shake of her head. He looked as if he knew what she was about to do, which was ridiculous.
Every space inside the shop was stacked with potted plants and large ferns, making the air earthy and humid. The mixed scent of hundreds of fresh flowers could bring her to her knees. Just one, she thought, touching the soft petals only with her gaze, just one perfect bloom. She planned to take her time, sink her nose in the soft flower heads and pick a single stem.
A hand came down on her shoulder. "Looking for anything specific?"
She gritted her teeth, hearing his deep voice. He'd never really noticed her before, so why today? She turned around slowly, looking up to meet his dark gaze. A curiously knowing spark was in his eyes.
Nervous, she took a step back as she thought on how many times she'd fantasized about his lean, muscled body and his full lips.
"Just browsing, thanks." Fantasizing was fine, but she'd rather sidestep talking to him--the risk was too great.
"Well, we'll find something to please you, I'm sure." He picked a stem out of a vase. "A tiger lily maybe?"
Water dripped down, hitting the top of her feet, and then trickled into her sandals while he held the bright orange flower under her nose and brushed her mouth with the velvety petals. She couldn't help inhaling the fragrance.
"No, thanks," she said, her stomach flipping, spreading warmth, and watched him return the flower to the vase.
"Look," he said, his fingers brushing over her cheek. She sucked in her breath at the sensation. "You have pollen from the lily clinging to your skin." He held his hand up.
Faint yellow dust clung to his long, slender fingers. She'd dreamed about feeling his fingers inside her too many times not to be unsettled if faced with the real thing. The heat from her belly moved lower, hit her core.
The entrance bell chimed. She couldn't see all the way to the front door but, clearly, a new customer had entered the shop. Maybe he'd stop focusing on her now.
"I'll be right back." Leaving her in front of the vases, he looked once more over his shoulder. "Don't you run away."
"Wouldn't count on that," she said under her breath. Peeking around the corner, she watched as he talked to a woman with a toddler hanging onto her hand.
She flexed her fingers, her palms itching to close around a flower. Her fingers wandered over the silky petals, and she gave him another glance. He wrapped a bunch of tea roses, exchanged money and, with something like impatience, showed the woman and her child out the door.
Tense, she waited with bated breath for his return. But he stepped around the counter and vanished behind a curtain where she pictured the storage room.
Quickly, she snatched a stem and tickled her nose with the dark purple petals of a tulip. The sweet perfume revived her senses, and she held the long stem more tightly in her hand. This...this was it. The shot of adrenaline pulsed through her blood, making her skin tingle and flush while her mind calculated the odds of being caught. It sent her entire body into a higher state of awareness. She would never give it up. Nothing had ever felt better. And doing it right under his nose was the jewel in the crown.
Taking long strides, she approached the door and tried to turn the handle. She rattled the doorknob. It didn't move an inch. Her heart skipped a beat. The shop sign was turned to spell Closed. Why was the shop suddenly closed?