Title: Joint Venture
Series: Venture #4
Author: Kristen Luciani
Release Date: Aug 29, 2016
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Notorious celebrity playboy A.J. Morgan has more emotional baggage than notches on his well-used bedpost, but bleached blonde, silicone-enhanced three-ways and excess of whiskey are all the therapy he needs.
Live to indulge, indulge to fill the voids.
Those are his rules…. until he meets cunning financial analyst-slash-sexy club singer Lisa Embry, a woman whose heart is surrounded by more barbed wire than a high-security prison.
Rules? What rules?
One lust-filled romp with his female alter-ego turns A.J. into an addict in need of his next fix and he’ll pay any price for another hit.
But he soon finds out Lisa has her own rules… ones that can never be broken.
I’m a starving man. Get your delicious ass over here so I can feast on you.
Mmm, yes. The come hither text. Pun intended. Exactly what Lisa needed… a few steamy hours with Danny’s hot body plastered on top of her writhing one. It was a necessary diversion to close the book on this week. And after that? Vodka. Anything to numb her mind. She’d tried to focus, holed up at the office, crunching numbers until her eyes grew bleary and bloodshot, all with the hope she could ignore the painful reality that reared its ugly head every time her mother established contact.
Sex was about the only thing she was willing to offer since her emotional state was about as stable as a one-legged elephant walking a tightrope. Her story wasn’t unique – deadbeat dad took off with a busty blond mistress, leaving his wife and daughter to pick up the jagged pieces of their once-happy lives. Yep, relationships equated to devastation, and carnal urges always trumped romance.
The elevator door creaked open and she almost choked on her next breath. Holy crap on a cracker. The tiny enclosure was graced by the presence of a single passenger who could only be described as Eros personified. She allowed her eyes to rake the length of his muscular body with the ferocity of a tiger stalking its prey. Danny who?
Tall with thick, dark hair, sinful lips, and an amazing ass – that last observation courtesy of the mirrors flanking him on all sides. A tight, white T-shirt clung to his broad chest and her fingers tightened around the handle of her laptop bag, itching to trace every last ripple. Sweet Jesus, she needed to get laid.
His gaze never left the phone in his hand as she stepped inside. And damn, it was a huge, powerful hand. The other one was tucked into the front pocket of his low-rise, hip-skimming black jeans but good Lord, it would feel so nice burrowed somewhere else.
Her pulse throbbed as the car sailed toward the lobby much too quickly for her liking. A few more seconds and Adonis would wander out of her life forever, not that it mattered. His face was a mask of indifference; it never once shifted, nor did his eyes wander in her direction. Must be a model, and a gay one at that. She’d run into more than her fair share on this very elevator since one of the top agencies on the West Coast occupied a floor of the building. But she’d still give her right arm for another few seconds to indulge in the X-rated fantasies looping through her lust-tinged mind. Maybe her left arm, too.
A sudden and powerful lurch rocketed her against the back wall. She gripped the handrail, heart thundering in her chest. The lights flickered tauntingly until everything faded to blackness. What the fu--?
She blinked a few times, eyes struggling to focus. Shallow breaths escaped her lips. They were stuck in a metal box that weighed hundreds of thousands of pounds, suspended by cables that could snap at any second—Dammit! Why hadn’t she taken the stairs? Another jerk made her stomach clench. “Oh my God, oh my God,” she whimpered, clutching the rail. “I don’t want to die. Not tonight.”
“Don’t talk! You’ll use up all the oxygen.” A lump formed in her throat, each gulp of air harder and harder to pull into her lungs. Beads of perspiration formed on the back of her neck, chest tight. What if they didn’t know there were people in the elevator? And how would they get help? It was too dark to see the alarm button--
She let out a bloodcurdling scream as the car dropped what felt like a hundred feet before it yanked back upward. Elevator cables weren’t like bungee cords. There was no slack. They just snapped.
A small bright light revealed a lazy smile and deep-set eyes that could singe her insides under normal circumstances, when she wasn’t a few feet away from meeting certain fiery death at the bottom of an elevator shaft. “Relax. Just hit the alarm button.”
Teeth chattering, she shook her head. “I’m too scared to move.”
He jabbed the button and nothing. No response, except the palpitations that assaulted her heart.
Tears formed in her eyes, her breathing ragged. “It’s not working. We’re going to die in here. They’ll be too late to save us. Nobody knows we’re even in here!” She clutched her chest, squinting in the light emitted by his phone. “I’m having a fucking heart attack. I’m going to die in an elevator. God only knows if they’ll be able to recognize our mangled bodies after the crash.” The golf ball-sized lump morphed into a grapefruit with the pass of each agonizing second. “Why aren’t you talking?” she shouted.
“You told me not to.”
“So why did you listen? I’m clearly hysterical!”
Her hands grew clammy, sweat now drizzling down her back. This was it. No sex. No vodka. Just impending death. “I need to get to a hospital,” she choked. “I’m too young to survive a heart attack. I won’t make it!”
The phone light faded and they were once again immersed in blackness.
Lisa let out a gasp. “What happened to the—”
Soft, yet demanding lips pressed against hers, extinguishing all coherent thought. Sweet, sugary, bubble gum flavored lips. Strong hands caressed the sides of her face, stroking the loose strands of hair now matted to her neck. Tiny shivers danced across her damp skin as the coiling warmth of his tongue probed and plundered her eager mouth. Oh Lord, they must already be dead because this was heaven… a better one than she’d ever dreamed.
Minutes passed. Or maybe hours. Overhead light illuminated the elevator car, the motor roaring back to life. But his mouth was so insistent that she could do nothing other than comply with its very wanton wishes. Her hands tangled in his hair, pulling him close, longing to feel his--
Ding! It was the one sound that could break the intoxicating spell. He ran a hand through his tousled hair and strode through the elevator doors as they opened without so much as a backward glance. No effing way. Lisa Embry was not one to be ignored.
“Hey!” she sputtered as she followed, still breathless. “What the hell was that? You can’t just go around assaulting random helpless women!”
“You’re far from helpless. Besides, I didn’t hear any complaints when I had you pinned against the wall. Maybe you need to have a chat with that tongue of yours… and some of the other body parts that were edging in on the action.” He turned, a wicked gleam reflected in his alluringly deviant eyes.
“Whaat?” Her stilettos clicked on the marble floor as she stomped toward him. “You’re a disgusting pig. I panicked, you saw an opportunity and took it.” Two could play that insidious little game. Standing down, her lips curled into a smirk. “Poor thing. Are you really that desperate?”
“That’s supposed to be a rhetorical question, right?”
Her fists clenched at her sides, twitching, aching to knock that smug look off his beautiful face. “You’re a real asshole. Who the hell do you think you are?”
A cocky smile appeared, revealing a dimple in his left cheek. “I just prevented a heart attack. Call me God.”
Kristen Luciani is a self-proclaimed momtrepreneur, beauty product junkie, and romance author with a penchant for Christian Louboutins, Silicon Valley, plunging necklines and grapefruit martinis. As a deep-rooted romantic who prefers juicy drama to fill the lives of anyone other than her, she tried her hand at creating a world of enchantment, sensuality, and intrigue, finally uncovering her true passion. No pun intended…