Maura wasn't expecting anything special for her birthday. So when she spots the enormous peridot lying on her coffee table, she's quite puzzled. But that stone is nothing compared to the present that shows up at her door. Antonio is a tall, smoldering hunk who seems to know her every wish and need--and how to fulfill them.
Antonio arrives at Maura's doorstep on a mission--to recover a prized peridot. High-level demon that he is, he can't afford to piss off his boss. But although Antonio's the one with magic powers, Maura has him under her spell the second he walks through her door. Sure, he'll have no problem seducing her, but can he swipe the stone and escape with his heart intact?
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Whatever Maura Wants by Mardi Ballou
When she opened her eyes, the hunk was practically in her face. He was even hotter close up. She didn't know where to look first. There was a strange man--a big, strong one--in her living room. Her condo had been filled with people earlier, but now she and he were abso-friggin'-lutely alone. Then he grabbed her in his powerful arms and dragged her down off the wall.
At which point she screamed again. Mr. Perfection's big, strong hand clamped down over her mouth. She had fleeting thoughts of getting sufficient purchase to bite him, but he held her much too tightly.
"If you cooperate, I will not hurt you." His voice was deep with just a hint of rasp and a foreign tinge that, damn it, turned her on. Of all times for horniness to strike and turn her thinking processes to mush. A gorgeous man with an erection tenting his pants that made her mouth dry and her cunt wet had his hand clamped over her mouth. Could she believe him the he wouldn't hurt her? What choice did she have?
"If I release my hand, will you refrain from screaming?"
She nodded. Sometimes lying was justified.
As soon as he'd freed her mouth, she shrieked. Before she got out enough noise to matter, the hand was back.
"You lied. I hate liars." His cock evidently didn't share this negative opinion. But his eyes fired icicles, and his mouth formed a cruel tight line. Man, was he strong. Maura tried to swallow and couldn't. She was in major trouble.
"Unlike you, I do not lie. I told you I wouldn't hurt you, which is the truth. We need to talk. Can I trust you not to scream again this time if I remove my hand?" The hint of threat sufficed to convince Maura not to scream. She'd have to think of another way to save herself. He said he wanted to talk. She was good at talking. Once she engaged him in conversation, she'd find a way to save her life.
His eyes were nearly black, and he sure could sustain a stare. She could drown in those eyes. He warily removed his hand, holding it near enough to cut off any noise she might make. Maura managed to swallow, then took the deepest breath she could manage. Her mind raced.
"I am Antonio deLuc. What is your name?"
Were they going to shake hands? She eyed his cock, still huge, still pointing at her, and she fantasized shaking it instead of his hand. Sheesh. She had to get a life. She needed to hold on to her hard edge of panic to keep alert and alive, though she realized the peak of her terror had abated.
"I'm Maura Fox. Why are you here in my condo? No one invited you. Leave immediately. If you do, I won't call the police." Her voice hardly quavered.
He smiled, which did funny things to her heart. "You are wrong there. I am evidently your designated birthday gift. When no one answered the door, I let myself in to surprise you."
He was her birthday gift? That card hadn't been a joke? Holy moly, what the hell was going on? "Who sent you?" she managed to whisper.
His shoulders sketched an elegant shrug. "I don't know. I merely accepted the assignment, and here I am." He devoured her with his gaze. When he spoke again, his voice sounded husky, giving her full-body goose bumps. "Now why don't you tell me exactly how you want to celebrate?"