Lazy days...sultry nights...and sizzling guys with rippling muscles doing what they do best . . .
Luscious by Lori Foster
Bethany Churchill just quit her lousy job, dumped her lousy boyfriend and moved into a new apartment. She's not looking for love, but her hot new landlord, SWAT officer Lucius Ryder, aka "Luscious," is determined to change her mind. Before long, Bethany is tempted to find out if he's really as delicious as his nickname...
It's About Time by Erin McCarthy
County prosecutor Trish Jones has had it with smooth-talking, under-performing suits. And though she's never had a thing for big, brawny guys, one look at Caleb Vancouver makes her think she might have been missing out. One Harley ride later they're back at her place, and she realizes she has been missing out...on quite a lot...
Wish You Were Here by Amy Garvey
Photographer Mackenzie Pruitt knows exactly what she wants her future to look like, and this summer that means renovating a dilapidated shed into a studio. But when hunky carpenter Leo Dawson shows up, she'd much rather have his capable hands on her than on a hammer...
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July 31, 2011
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Excerpt from Bad Boys of Summer by Lori Foster
Luscious by Lori Foster
Lucius Ryder took aim at the front porch area of the home where Mary Seeder's son held her at knifepoint in the six- hour standoff. Lucius didn't want to shoot the dumb-ass punk--but he would if it came to that.
Beneath the IIIA vest, ballistic helmet, and various pads, sweat gathered, making him itch. Material clung to his flesh. The friggin' athletic cup started to chafe. Even before daybreak, the August heat rose and humidity sweltered. But on the chance this could resolve peacefully, he'd wait another six hours before taking an impatient shot.
Unless the kid started to move that knife.
Until now, the son hadn't been visible. He'd hidden in the house, and only phone calls and reports from neighbors told them how critical the situation might be. Then suddenly, under grayish daybreak and emergency lights trained on the house, Steve Seeder dragged Mary onto the rickety front porch.
Out of the corner of his eye, Lucius detected a low, slinking movement at his right. He didn't take his eyes off Steve; he didn't dare. He trusted his backup to alert him to any additional danger.
Through his radio headset, he heard, "Just a dog, Lucius. A mangy mutt, big as a horse, but it doesn't seem threatening."
A stray dog. Just what this day didn't need. If the animal got too close to him, he'd probably end up with fleas.
"Get the hell off our property or I'll kill her! I swear I will."
Speaking of animals ...Lucius narrowed his eyes over the son's rabid warning. According to neighbors, Steve Seeder had a temper, yet Mary Seeder always took him back in. This time, however, she accepted him back with conditions, which included no smoking. She'd even gone so far as to throw out his last pack of cigarettes.
To a nicotine addict like Steve, it took only that to push him over the edge. Now, thanks to his rage, Steve had added a new slew of charges to his parole revocation warrant.
Despite the expertise of the SWAT team, standoffs were always iffy. Someone could die. Lucius would do his best to ensure it wasn't Mary.
The dog leaned against Lucius's leg. "Easy, bud." Lucius didn't have the heart to nudge it away, but he couldn't divert his attention to it, either.
It circled Lucius, putting itself in his line of vision. With one quick glance, Lucius took in the bone-skinny structure with short, chocolate-brown fur that darkened to black on its face, tail, and feet. Scars, ticks, and burs marred what otherwise would have been truly beautiful coloring.
The animal smelled Lucius from every angle. Because Lucius didn't want his position pinpointed, he said to the dog, "Go on now."
That black face turned up to him, and for a split second, Lucius looked into the dog's eyes. So much expression shown there that Lucius felt oddly connected.
With an eerie vigilance, the dog turned its head and made note of Steve and Mary on the porch, then began inching forward. Oh shit.
"Come here, dog," Lucius whispered, but to no avail. The dog continued forward.
Lucius waited--tense, alert. The knife Steve held at Mary's throat would also be good for throwing. He wanted Mary safe, but not by sacrificing a dog, damn it.
The second the mutt hit the clearing, Steve stared in disbelief. To no one in particular, he shouted, "What the hell is that hound doing here?"
Lack of fat left lean muscles exposed all along the dog's frame--muscles now taut with readiness. Steve yanked on Mary, and the scruff on the dog's neck rose in warning.
"You call that a police dog? What a joke." While scoffing, Steve inadvertently eased the knife a scant half inch away from Mary's throat.
The dog quivered in anticipation before slowly sinking back on his haunches in a semi-crouch. He could have been cowering--or taking a stance.
Lucius put his money on the latter.
Gleeful at the prospect of causing more pain, Steve dragged Mary a few feet toward the porch edge, raised his booted foot, and prepared to give the dog a vicious kick.
He wasn't quick enough.
A sudden, ferocious snarl made Lucius's hair stand on end and in the next second, the dog attacked. He caught Steve's pant leg, ripping the material while jerking and growling, forcing Steve off balance.
Mary bolted, throwing herself off the porch in awkward haste. She landed on the weeded lawn, screaming and hysterical. With Mary free of the threatening hold, the SWAT team swarmed in, and Steve Seeder had no choice but to give up. The dog released him and eased away.
In seconds, the standoff ended without bloodshed.
No one touched the dog. No one had to. Black ears perked in interest, he watched the proceedings until everything calmed, then started to saunter off the same way he'd come in.
With everything now under control, Lucius gave all his attention to the animal. The poor thing had the look of a greyhound--but Lucius suspected it was starvation, not breeding, that exposed the dog's rib cage. Patches of abuse showed through the dark, matted fur. Head down in a posture that epitomized sadness, the dog retreated.
Hell, Lucius had never seen such a long face on a mutt. He couldn't bear it.
Soft and low, he whistled. The dog halted, ears perked.
Lucius hunkered down to one knee. "C'mere, boy."
Sharp shoulder blades flexed as the dog looked back with heart-wrenching hope in his mournful brown eyes.
And on that sizzling-hot August dawn, Sergeant Lucius
J. Ryder became the owner of a very heroic pooch. The knock on the door startled Bethany Churchill so that she almost fell off the couch. With blurry eyes, she squinted at the kitchen clock on the far wall. Barely seven A.M.! Another glance at her sister's bedroom door showed that Marci slept on.
Wrapping herself in the borrowed sheet, Bethany hauled herself off the couch and went to the door. She put one eye to the peephole, and moaned at the sight before her.
Big, tall, sexy male.
No, no, no. She didn't need this, not today, not right now, not before caffeine.
Without opening the door, she called out, "What do you want, Luscious?" Her teeth snapped down on her tongue and she mentally cursed. "I mean, Lucius."
At the sound of his deep laugh, her head hit the door with a thump. Damn the other women in the building for giving him that ridiculous nickname. So he was SWAT. And brave. And he looked downright luscious. Luscious Rider, they called him, a name that seemed strangely apropos to her sleepy brain.
Not that Lucius, the egomaniac, ever complained over the endearment. Nope, he soaked in female adoration as if it were his due.
"Bethany, I take it?"
How could he always tell them apart? More than one guy had been confused over time. More than one guy had insisted he didn't have a preference, as if she and her twin were interchangeable, especially if Marci proved unavailable.
But not Lucius.
He behaved very differently with each of them.
Issuing an obvious challenge, Bethany said, "Yeah, so?"
"Open the damn door."
His head hit the wood this time. "I need to see Marci. Now open up."
Of course he wanted to see Marci. The men always wanted to see Marci. Her twin had a charisma that somehow hadn't entered Bethany's gene pool. "No. She's asleep." And I'm in my underwear, and I haven't yet recouped enough from a bad week and a long night to face you.
Another couple of hours sleep, at least three cups of coffee, then she might be ready to square off with the hunky landlord.
A hesitation, then, "When did you get in, Bethany?"
Uh-oh. She knew that tone of his, a tone he never used with Marci. "Midnight. Why?"
"You realize you're breaking the rent agreement by imposing on your sister so often?"
Go screw yourself, Sergeant, she mimed to herself--but she didn't dare say the words aloud. After all, he was the landlord, and Marci really liked her apartment. "I'm only here for a few days." Or weeks. Maybe even forever, if she didn't find her backbone. "No big deal."
"It will be a big deal if you don't open the door."
"And I have an emergency."
Now more awake, Bethany put her eye to the peephole again. Lucius looked rumpled and tired, but in a good, cozy and warm way--not panicked. Definitely not injured. Her suspicions rose. "What kind of emergency?"
From behind Bethany, Marci yawned, then said, "What's going on?"
Well, shoot. They'd awakened her sister. "I don't know." She glanced over her shoulder at Marci. "It's Lucius. He wants in for some reason."
"I have an emergency," Lucius yelled, proving the paper- thin walls did little to protect privacy.
Also in a T-shirt and underwear, Marci strode forward and edged Bethany aside. As if Lucius Ryder saw her in a state of undress every day, Marci opened the locks, removed the chain, and swung the door wide without a hint of modesty.
It was then that Bethany detected the beastly howling coming from Lucius's apartment across the hall.
"What is that?" Bethany asked, at the same time Marci said, "Oh my God. That's a dog, isn't it?"
"A dog?" Wrapped in the sheet, Bethany joined Marci in the doorway so that they stood side by side.
Lucius started to explain, but his mouth snapped shut. He went on alert. His exhaustion disappeared. From Bethany to Marci and back again, his gaze went up and down one, then the other.
Finally, one brow raised, he said, "Yeah, see, I brought a dog home and--"
Shoving past him, Marci ran to his apartment, yanked open his door, and disappeared inside.
Lucius flicked one more scorching look over Bethany's sheet-covered frame, then started to follow Marci across the hall.