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Excerpt: Taste Me

Book 1: Underbelly Chronicles

As Lukas left the conference room, he ran into Scarlett—literally bumping into her, full body contact. She ricocheted against the wall.

“Jesus.” He instinctively yanked her to his body as she rebounded, and every inch of her, from her knees on up to her torso, imprinted itself on his body.

The seconds hung. She finally shoved back—hard, like she'd been defibrillated—but he didn't let go of her arms. “Are you hurt?” The taste of flat orange soda swam onto his taste buds. What the hell? What happened to the mandarin champagne that tingled on his tongue whenever Scarlett was in the vicinity? She was barely registering, her energy pulsing so low he literally had not sensed her coming.

His fingers nearly met his thumb as he grasped her upper arms. When she continued to struggle, he loosened his grip slightly but didn't let go, half-convinced her knees would crumple if he did.

Lukas tried to assess her appearance objectively: the dark circles under her eyes. The freckles sprinkled across her nose, stark against her chalky pale complexion. The sagging neckline of the sweatshirt exposed collarbones pushing up against the backside of her skin. The black sweatpants she wore bagged at the ass. Even her blazing red hair seemed dim and dull.

What was wrong with her? What the hell had she been doing to wreak such damage? “Watch where you're going,” he growled, giving her a soft shake. “Did I hurt you?”

It seemed to take forever for her to lift her head and meet his eyes. And… yes, there she was. He surreptitiously swirled his tongue as mandarin oranges crept onto his taste buds, as her green eyes sparked to life. Even if her annoyance and anger were targeted at him, he'd take it. But she hadn't answered his question. “Did I hurt you?”

“No.”

“Liar.”

“Why ask if you're not going to listen to my answer? Stop manhandling me and move out of my way,” Scarlett snapped, twisting her arms out of his hands and rubbing at them. “I'm late for a meeting.”

He gestured to her damp hair, pulled back in a messy ponytail. “Yeah, I can see what a priority it was for you. Lounging in the tub, making everyone wait. Jack and Sasha have a lot more patience with your crap than I do.”

Her delicious fury spiked. She stepped up to him and poked him in the chest with a finger whose nail was bitten to the quick. “F*** you.”

His most fervent wish, put into words. Lukas grinned nastily. “Again? Hey, I'm game if you are.”

He felt his words hit, saw her lips wobble before she firmed them back up. What the hell was he doing? By unspoken accord, neither of them ever referred to the single, incendiary night they'd spent together so many years ago. Nope, it was the elephant in the living room that only they could see, and they ignored it with impunity. But with his unthinking, dick-addled words, he'd swung a f***ing sledgehammer at the foundation of their carefully constructed détente.

Instead of turning her back on him, or flipping him off and stalking down the hall, she tipped her head to the side and just gazed at him. Like she actually might be… considering it.

Sweet zombie Jesus, what had he done?

She must be at the end of her rope, absolutely exhausted, because her eyes were taking the long route over his body instead of focusing on some far point over his shoulder, like she typically did when they couldn't avoid talking to each other. Her gaze stroked him like a fingertip.

“So, you're game?” she breathed. She sidled closer, stopping when her stomach was a mere molecule away from his violently aroused flesh. Her hands lifted, poised tantalizingly over his abs.

Lukas held his breath. Was she going to do this? Was he going to let her? Yes and yes. He bit back a groan as she leaned her slight weight against him. His dick cuddled into the layers of clothing covering her flat stomach, her hipbones digging into his upper thighs like tiny fingers. As he lost the battle and reached for her ass, to drag her more firmly against him, she slithered around him instead.

“As the great philosopher Mick Jagger once said, ‘You can't always get what you want.'”

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