Book two in the Planetary Bodies series.
A deal is a deal.
But when that deal includes appearing in Tomas Thorne's office ready to offer herself for his...consumption, Shan Rayner runs, hides and has no intention of going through with it. That is until she's hit by sheen, a turbulent force from the Uranian lower atmosphere. A force that brings her darkest desires to the surface.
Need swamps Shan and she finds herself outside Tomas' office, all too ready to agree to anything he wants. Absolutely anything.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Friction by Kim Knox
Thorne's lips twitched. "You've finally come to your senses then?"
"I'm not here out of choice, Thorne."
His finger curled away from his mouth and a faint line creased his forehead. "Sheen?"
Shan's fingers itched, but she resisted the urge to rub them together. She'd been trained from a young child never to show her nerves. Confidence at all times. Even when Thorne's deal beat at the forefront of her brain. If she entered his office, then she was his.
She glanced at the smooth blue-green atmosphere of the planet hanging over them. It was all its fault. "So it would seem." She paused. He didn't appear surprised. Little hints of anger in the tightness around his eyes, the slight pursing of his lips said he wasn't pleased about it. "You believe me."
Thorne stood and her nerves kicked hot through her blood. The need to run almost choked her. She fought it. She was here. She would see the deal through and go back to her life.
Shan watched him close the distance between them. His immaculate suit, from the material and cut, screamed it came bespoke from Earth. He could afford the best. She couldn't take her eyes off him, his stark, lethal elegance drawing her as it always had.
"Oh sheen is real." A dark smile touched his mouth and Shan ignored the hot little curl low in her belly. "Whether it's due to planetary intelligence--as the cultists claim--or simply a physical reaction to something in the atmosphere, my scientists have not yet ascertained."
He stopped, close enough that if she reached out she could touch him. She didn't. And she stopped her fingers from pressing into her palm. She had to stay relaxed and calm, even if his voice threaded delicious heat through her body.
He brushed a quick finger along her shoulder, flicking away...something. The light sound, his touch, the brief scent of his cologne threw her memory back five years to when she had last stood in his office.
"If it affects the running of this operation, I investigate, yes."
Shan wet her lips and Thorne's eyes fixed on her mouth. They'd only kissed, but she'd never forgotten his scent, his incredible taste, the feel of him pressed against her, the promise of just how good it would be to have him, fuck him hard on his desk... She swallowed and her cheeks burned. "We should get this over with."
"So I'm something that must be...endured, Shankara."
"Never just Shan."
Her skin prickled at the dark timbre of his voice. "Sheen hit the Theseus. It brought me here, and I have to work it out of my system."
Thorne's gaze narrowed. "And you think you'll be able to walk away afterward?"
"I know I can. I did before."
"Ah, the stubbornness of the Rayners." His finger traced her cheek, not quite touching, the sense of it driving warmth and need down into her flesh with a sharpness that surprised her. "In you, it's also been mixed with fierce pride."
"And your arrogance is legendary."
Thorne inclined his head, his slight smile deepening.
"That wasn't a compliment."
"I hold together the exodus of the human race from the solar system. Don't you think I have the right to be arrogant?"
Shan pushed down a growl and stepped back from him. She tugged at the first ornate hook of her jacket, easing the pressure of the corset constricting her ribs. The first full breath she'd taken in what felt like hours eased the fast prick of her anger. "We fuck, deal done. The sheen is resolved and you and I agree--"
"No." He caught her fingers on the second hook, his hand warm and firm. "Our families bound our bloodlines. Like it or not, we're married in their eyes."
She wanted to yank his hand free, but that would involve touching him. The heat of his skin, the press of his knuckles through the thin silk of her clinging shirt already had her heart beating too hard. "What century do you live in? I agreed to come out here, agreed to their deal, because I wanted the chance to work, to use my training. I did not ship out to be your trophy and broodmare."
He said her name unlike anyone else. She had to admit that his voice had pulled her to the Uranian system just as much as the promise of work and adventure. Not that she had any plans to go through with their families' idea of a marriage. None, even when he'd pushed her up against the edge of his desk and taken her mouth...
She blinked. "What?"
Thorne slipped his hand under the pale silk of her shirt, his palm hot against her stomach. She pulled in a quick breath, startled by the sudden intimacy. He took a step closer. "It's a right for which a husband can ask." Passion heated his gaze and she couldn't deny the desire pushing through her own body, deepened by the slow, slow circles Thorne drew against her skin. "And I know you're curious."