Jon Walker and Night Thomas lived their childhood in a cult. They embraced the lifestyle, and it was there that they were trained as BDSM Masters. Only when the cult was infiltrated by undercover agent Reilly did the boys learn of the cult's seedy underside, and help to destroy it.
Nearly fifteen years later, Jon's job as a high school teacher--and his lust for the school's gorgeous secretary, Carly--bring him close to the normal life he's always craved. Just when that life is within his grasp, Reilly returns. An incarnation of the cult has resurfaced with Jon's evil mother at the helm, and Reilly wants Jon and Night to go undercover to stop Cassandra Walker once and for all.
Shocked by his mother's return and his BDSM past come back to haunt him, Jon is terrified of Carly discovering his dark secrets. Including the darkest of all--his complex relationship with Night, and his unrelenting urge to share Carly with his best friend.
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July 21, 2009
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Excerpt from Retreat by Mari Carr
Carly was quiet as he drove her home from the football game. In fact, she'd been rather subdued ever since his impetuous kiss in the restaurant. He'd wanted to talk to her about it, but at the football game she had carved them out a place in the midst of the faculty section. Surrounded by colleagues didn't allow much opportunity for intimate conversation. Unfortunately, the long game--Lowell won in overtime--gave him too much time to worry about her response. He'd sensed she was confused and he didn't blame her. In the course of a few hours, he'd told her she was beautiful, threatened to spank her and kissed her public.
She lived close to the school and they were pulling up in front of her house before he'd had a chance to speak a word to her.
"Carly." He turned toward her as she reached for the door handle of the car.
"Jon, you don't have to say anything. I mean it was just a little kiss. Don't worry about it."
"'Worry about it'?"
"Yeah. I mean, you've been so sweet to me today, but you really didn't have to kiss me just to make me feel better about myself."
"What?" He was perplexed by her comments.
"I know I'm not exactly what you would call the most self-confident woman in the world, but I meant what I said about Adam. I'm not hurt by his decision, so you don't have to worry that I'm in denial or pining away or lonely or anything."
She thought the kiss was simply to cheer her up? A pity kiss?
She was still talking and he forced himself to tune back in to her rambling conversation. "Suppose I'm just not the kind of woman to evoke that kind of passion in a man."
"I've always been the girl next door, never the fantasy. I'm a tomboy--always have been. Guys see me as a friend, not a conquest, and there's nothing wrong with that. I mean, I think fellas are cool to hang out with. Much better than women who only ever want to shop and talk on the phone."
He shook his head, certain he hadn't heard her right. She thought that he wasn't attracted to her. That she didn't ooze passion and sex out of every pore of her delectable body.
"So thanks for the nice words and kiss, but you don't have to worry, I don't expect anything more. Nothing's changed. We're still friends."
"The hell we are!" He realized he was shouting and he spoke with more heat than he'd intended. She flinched as if he'd hit her. "Don't say another word." He opened his door and circled the car to open hers. "Get out."
She got out of the car stiffly, clearly unsure how to react to his angry response. Grabbing her hand, he half led, half dragged her to her front door, barely keeping himself in check.
"Where's your key?" He grabbed it from her when she attempted to hand it over. Her hands were shaking now but he was too far gone to care. Reilly had lured the bear out of its den this afternoon and her comments had poked it into a fury.
Once he had the front door open, he followed her in, latching it behind them.
Warily, she turned to him. "Jon?"
He didn't reply to the question in her voice. "Upstairs."
He was slightly surprised when she followed his command without refusal. Having been in her home numerous times, he knew exactly where her bedroom was. When they reached the top of the stairs, she paused until he placed his hand on the small of her back and guided her toward her room.
Upon reaching his destination, he stood in the doorway as she moved away from him to the center of the room. Obviously she'd had enough time to gather her wits and she rounded on him, fury evident in her face.
"What the hell is wrong with you today?" She yanked off her denim jacket and threw it across the room.
Still angry, he was itching for a fight. "I'll tell you what's wrong with me. You!" He pointed a finger at her before divesting himself of his own leather coat. "You're what's wrong with me, but you know what, Blue Eyes? I'm about to correct that."
"I don't know what you're talking about." She backed away slowly but he matched her step for step.
"I'm talking about the fact that you are so fucking blind to your own beauty you can't see when a man is attracted to you. That was no goddamn pity kiss and if you can't tell the difference, then it's obvious you need to be taught a lesson about kissing."
He halted her retreat by grabbing her upper arms and pulling her toward his chest.
"Lesson." His lips descended on hers in a kiss that her insecure mind could never mistake for pity or friendship. It was an outright possession, an unreserved claiming. His tongue explored her mouth and his teeth nipped lightly at her lips as his hands moved up to cup her face, holding her still for his amorous assault. And an assault is exactly what it was. He gave her no quarter, no reprieve, no opportunity to misunderstand his meaning this time. She was not going to be his friend or his girl next door.
She was going to be his.