Belle is forced to mourn in secret after her lover, Attorney General Sean Ryan, is murdered in a terrorist plot. When she has an irrational, intense sexual response to the mysterious stranger Jack Caldwell, Belle wonders if it's due to delayed grief for Sean. Sean was the only man she'd ever responded to so completely, after all. When she finds herself submitting wholly to Jack's dominant, demanding manner in bed Belle begins to live on the sharp edge of doubt and uncertainty, even to the point of questioning her own sanity. Because Belle can't let go of the crazy, impossible idea that Sean Ryan and Jack Caldwell are one and the same man. But if Belle persists in her obsession about Sean, Jack will have no choice but to cut all ties with her. He wants Belle for his own...and he refuses to share her with a ghost.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Exorcising Sean's Ghost by Beth Kery
Oh. So that was the reason for her furiously frothing libido. This man reminded her of Sean. Both men were dark-skinned, tall, lean and muscular. Like this man, Sean had had hair so dark brown that it looked black in the shadows. And the striking light eyes that created such a breathtaking contrast against dark hair and skin...those were similar too.
But also different, Belle admitted. This man's eyes were colder and sharper than Sean's had ever been.
"I named him after Wellington's horse," he stated.
His deadpan answer made laughter tilt Belle's lips despite her former thoughts about his coldness. "Any particular reason for that?"
He shrugged his broad shoulders. His eyes sparkled with warmth as he took in her curving lips. "He's as big as a horse. I grew up a city kid. I didn't know that many horses' names, but I read a book about Wellington and Napoleon when I was twelve years old. So I knew the name of at least one horse."
Belle opened her mouth to question him but her attention was diverted when her usually sedate, calm dog suddenly pranced and leaped forward with a playful bark. Copenhagen loped after her energetically. Belle looked over in surprise at the man beside her and they shared a smile.
"I think your dog is seducing mine," he said quietly. "What's her name?"
"Ellie." She'd thought of defending her pet's honor but instead she just shook her head in amazement. "She really is acting like a flirt, isn't she? I've never seen her behave this way. Has Copenhagen been...neutered?"
When he didn't immediately reply she glanced over at him. His expression looked vaguely guilty. "Uh no. I kept meaning to get around to it but..."
Belle couldn't help but smirk.
"What?" he prompted with a slow grin that made her thighs clench together to still the sudden acute stab of desire between them. All that just from a smile.
She shrugged, hoping to look nonchalant, and kicked the toe of her shoe idly in the grass.
"Professional clich�. I'm a psychologist, so..."
"Oh I get it. You're going to make some annoying remark about me projecting my castration fears onto my dog. Is that it?"
She laughed, pleasantly surprised by the astuteness of his comment. "Well I did say it was a clich�. I hate to be predictable so I won't say another word. Or I'll allow you to interpret me since I have also been remiss in my pet ownership and never had Ellie spayed."
His eyebrows rose in a sardonic expression. "Guess we better keep a close eye on them or nature is going to take its natural course."
For a few seconds his heated gaze held her in a sensual spell. Her mouth fell open in deepening sexual awareness. Her tongue swept anxiously over her lower lip. She had to repress a soft moan when the man's eyelids narrowed and he trailed the movement. His eyes grew hot. She blinked once, disoriented when she realized he'd spoken again.
"What about you?"
"Excuse me?" she asked, dazed. Surely he wasn't asking her if her reproductive organs were intact or not.
"Your name. I'm Jack. Jack Caldwell."
"Oh. I'm Belle March." The early summer morning was cool but Jack Caldwell's hand was warm when he fully encompassed hers in a handshake. It struck her after a moment that he hadn't let go. She forced herself to reclaim her hand. He recrossed his arms and rocked back on his heels casually.
"Do you and Ellie walk out here often?"
"Yes. It's our regular haunt."
"But not at night."
Belle gave him a puzzled look. His tone had been almost stern. "Sometimes, but usually not this far into the park. I try to stay closer to North Avenue."
Jack frowned at her answer. "You shouldn't come into the park alone. It's dangerous."
Belle choked back laughter. Not only his words, but his sudden hard expression took her completely off guard. The thought struck her that it was the type of thing that a person said to another when they were in a relationship, not when they were complete strangers like she and Jack were. Hadn't Sean used to preach to her about where she took Ellie out at night?
"Why would you say something like that?" Belle asked with amusement tinged with wariness. "This neighborhood isn't dangerous. I've lived here for almost two years now and never seen any crime."
"The worst kind of crime is usually invisible. I wouldn't expect that you would see it," Jack answered impassively.
"Are you a cop or something?" Belle couldn't shake the idea that she knew him. How else could it possibly make sense that a complete stranger would sound so natural admonishing her for her personal habits? Not to mention that her body was responding to him as though it knew him in the most primitive way.
Jack grinned mirthlessly, adding to his piratical air. "Much worse, actually. A lawyer." Belle stilled when he pinned her with icy blue eyes and shrugged negligently. "That is, unless you have a thing for lawyers. They say some women do, despite the complete unnaturalness of it."
A whirlwind of unexpected emotions rose up through her gut and stifled her lungs, preventing her from inhaling.
"What's wrong?" Jack's expression of grim amusement vanished only to be replaced by tense alertness when he saw Belle's stricken expression. His dark brows drew together with concern when Belle suddenly moved away from his side.
"Come on, Ellie," Belle managed in a strangled voice. When the Irish setter ignored her she managed to get out a second request in a louder voice.
She didn't turn at the sound of his husky voice but busied herself with fastening Ellie's leash on her collar. "Yes?"
"I asked you a question. What's wrong?"
Belle stood up too briskly, making half of her precariously balanced hair came loose from the fastener that secured it. She muttered irritably and reached for the hair clip to release the rest of it. A curly tendril caught. She pulled at it too hard, making tears spring up in her eyes.
"Nothing is wrong. I just need to get going, that's all," she muttered as she yanked at the clip in increasing agitation.
Belle blinked and stilled. Jack Caldwell had just issued an order, no matter how softly it had been murmured.
He leaned down over her. She held her breath as her entire awareness focused on his fingers gently removing the errant tress from the teeth of the clip. For a split second his piercing eyes left his task and met hers. Knowing full well that she watched him, he glanced down at her heaving breasts.
"Nice t-shirt. Did you go to Yale?"