Red Garnier | New York Times Bestselling Author
Once Pregnant, Twice Shy
Obsessed by Him
Wrong Man, Right Kiss
Bared by Him
Kept by Him
Bound by Him
Taken by Him
Claimed by Him
The Last Kiss
Paper Marriage Proposition
The Secretary's Bossman Bargain
The Feather
The Satin Sash
Color My Heart

READ AN EXCERPT from Color My Heart

Chapter One

Billy Hendricks slammed the door of his red Toyota Camry and crossed the parking lot toward the two-story apartment complex. Looked like it was about to rain. Odd for this time of summer. Clouds—heavy and angry—gathered in gray clusters above him. Good thing he’d decided not to wash the car today, he thought with a grunt, and slapped the magazine he’d picked up at the corner store to his thigh.

Taking the stairs two steps at a time, he reached the second-floor landing and heard whimpers. A figure was huddled down the hall, looking more like a sack than a human being. Frail shoulders racked with sudden, jerky movements, while sharp, heart-wrenching sobs tore into the air.

Billy moved forward, rolling the magazine into a tube and slipping it into the back pocket of his jeans. “Hey,” he said gently, on his knees as he cupped one bony shoulder in his hand. “Are you all right?”

Her head snapped back and a pair of wide blue eyes that shimmered with tears looked up at him through a fringe of wet lashes. He’d expected a kid, but he found a woman.

Young, maybe in her mid twenties, with a tiny nose and a very small, plush mouth. Her hair was cropped, so that maybe looking at her from behind, she’d be mistaken for a boy. Yet Billy found nothing boyish about her face. It was delicate. Pretty. Not sexy, not beautiful, but pretty all the same. It was smeared with mascara and moistened with tears.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

She stopped crying and gave one last sniffle before she wiped her hand across her face. “I’m fine.”

Billy required no PhD to know she was far from fine. She looked vulnerable and lost, and by the way her shoulders slumped, he guessed she was in sore need of a friend. “You don’t look fine. Can I help with anything?”

She gave him a quick once-over, as if debating whether he could deliver or not. “No, I-I’m fine. Really.”

“Do you live here? Are you waiting for someone?”

She put a thumb out and pointed farther down the hall, then grudgingly said, “I’m at 221.”

“Really? I’m 229.” Strange he’d never seen her before. Or had he? She was small, a bit on the plain side, easily overlooked perhaps.

She tried to return his smile, but hers was brief and broken, the kind you shouldn’t even bother with in the first place. “Guess I’d better get back to my place,” she said as she scrambled to her feet.

Billy followed her up, noting the top of her head didn’t even make it to his chin. Thunder rolled across the skies, the soft pitter-patter of rain hitting cement and the scent of dampened soil stirring in the air. “You sure you’re all right?” he insisted, falling into step beside her.

She nodded, and her eyelashes pointed toward the pair of old, unlaced sneakers she wore. Billy scrutinized her profile, wondering if the pain etched on her face had been put there by a man. It pressed all his buttons in the wrong way, making him want to do something violent—maybe even illegal. Her nose was tiny as a button, and her doll-like features provided an interesting contrast to the loose green cargo pants she wore.

She halted at the door, her back to him as she opened it.

Billy lingered there as she entered, waiting for some sort of indication, a sign that she’d be all right.

She turned to him slowly, her eyes downcast. Then her lashes rose and her gaze—now a vivid, electric blue—shocked the air right out of him. And then she jumped him.

Billy staggered back from the impact of her weight, her ravenous mouth all over his face at once. His mind reeled as he clamped his hands on her arms. “Whoa, now hold on a sec.”

She held on, all right. She held on tighter. Her arms firmed around his neck and her legs clenched tight around his hips, her ankles locking behind him. Her mouth—which moments ago he’d thought a tiny delicate thing—felt like it was devouring him.

Every organ inside him froze from the shock while his cock responded with a jolt. No one had ever jumped him this way. He’d had come-ons. One night stands. Plenty of girlfriends.

He was tall, well-built, had a smile his female friends claimed was an open “invitation”. But never in his twenty-nine years had he been attacked this way.

Her mouth felt hot, wet, frantic. Her hands moved up to clutch his face and hold him still for her voracious kisses. She rocked her hips against his, scraping his erection. She gripped him so tight if she’d had any more force in those slim hands, his jaw might have cracked.

And damn. She made the most amazing sounds. Little mews that put him in a fever. In sudden response to her lusty attack, every fiber in him exploded, and his body fairly screamed at him to touch and taste the wanton female against him.

“Okay, hang in there, sweetheart.”

Taking control, he grabbed a fistful of soft black hair and pulled her head back. He kissed his way up her jaw and licked her damp skin as he headed for her mouth. Hungry for it. No, starved.

Her sigh sounded almost reverent. “Oh, yes, please.”

“You afraid I’ll leave you like this?” he murmured and urged her lips apart with his. Their mouths blended and their tongues met in a decadent, calescent tangle. He pushed and retreated and then swept up to the roof of her mouth to leave no part of her untasted.

She trembled as he ran one big hand down her hips and grasped the side of her thigh. He could feel her warm flesh through the fabric of her pants, the lean muscles in her legs under his palm. Their tongues played, melted, and her smooth vanilla bean flavor warmed every cell in him to a burn. “God, you’re so sweet. I’d be a fool to walk away right now.”

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