Happy Middle of the week, folks, and welcome to the Tease! A few weeks back, when this story was still a work in progress, I teased from this. It was one of those stories that takes over and demands to be told.
I got the cover art this week, so naturally I had to share again from this story. You must have heard me squeal, in fact, when I opened my e-mail to reveal this cover. The cover artist did an awesome job. It wasn't an easy one, as this hero is heavily scarred, and a lot older than the heroine. On my cover art request form I suggested we place him in the shadows...
And this is what I got. Isn't it stunning, and it captures the mood of the story brilliantly.
I’m the beast, haven’t you heard….
Christmas is supposed to be a time for miracles and one will surely be needed when Emilia Duncan finds herself sold to the beast to save her father’s company. Having lusted after the much older, enigmatic man for as long as she can remember, spending the Christmas weekend as his submissive will satisfy her raging libido, but can she protect her heart?
Bear Shifter Hunter Monahan cannot stand idly by when Emilia is thrown to the wolves. There is only one shifter who will get his claws into her and that’s him. The contract ensures her submission for the weekend. Too bad his bear wants much more than that.
Hunter is used to hiding behind his gruesome scars, but in the bid for Emilia’s heart, that is not an option this time. Isolated in his cabin, it’s not just the snow that melts.
Ready for your tease? Please bear in mind this hasn't been through editing yet, and is subject to change. Emilia is just about to find out her fate...
“You should smile more, kitten.”
Hunter’s cool words shook her out of her internal musings, and her heart missed a few beats under his intense scrutiny. Stood sideway, so that his scars weren’t visible, Hunter watched her from under hooded lids with a curious lilt to his full lips. They were surrounded by several days’ worth of scruff that extended along his square jaw and disappeared into the neckline of his shirt—a pink one—much to Emilia’s amusement. His very presence pulled her under his spell. So much so that she must have missed something, if the way both her father and brother scowled at her was anything to go by.
“Have you lost your brain completely?” Leo said, and grabbed the wall for support. “Go get some coffee, thunder thighs. I need some and no doubt our beast here will want some too.”
Emilia winced at the look of utter disgust and hatred both her father and brother threw toward Hunter, and he seemed to grow taller in front of her eyes. Hands balled into fists by his side, jaws clenched, a rumble emanated from his broad chest, and Leo blanched and put his hand up in an act of surrender. Emilia was half expecting her lily-faced brother to lose control of his bodily functions, and Papa, too, looked pale under his tan. Pale and very old, as he glanced at her, and jerked his head to the kitchen in a clear demand.
“You heard your brother, coffee.”
“Please don’t trouble yourself on my account, Emilia.” Hunter gave her a grim smile, and the almost growl in his voice had every feminine cell in her body sigh in submission. She could listen to him talk all day.
“And you, pup, don’t talk to her like that in front of me. Not if you’re fond of your own teeth, that is.” Hunter took a step toward Leo, and Emilia knew her mouth had fallen open in astonishment at hearing Hunter come to her rescue.
“I talk about her any which way I fucking want, beast. She ain’t yours yet. Fail to see why you’d want her anyway.”
“Leo, enough. Let me handle this.” Papa’s stern words brought Leo’s head up and he stuck his bottom lip out in a sulk so reminiscent of the brother she used to adore as a child that emotion clogged up Emilia’s throat. She swallowed past the lump and focused on what her brother had actually said.
“What do you mean, I’m not his yet?” The earlier snatched bits of conversation she’d heard came back to haunt her, and she looked between the three men in dawning terror.
“What did you do, Leo?” she asked.
Her brother stuck his hands in his pockets, and that sulk grew. Right now he looked like a petulant child, who hadn’t gotten the toy he wanted for Christmas.
“He cheated, I’m sure.”
Again that menacing growl rumbled from Hunter, and Emilia clenched her thighs together, as he stepped close enough to her that his scent drew her in again. Waves of heat seemed to come off him, and chased away the goose bumps that had broken out on her own flesh at the underlying tension in the room.
“Watch who you’re calling a cheat, pup. I’m not the one who cannot hold his drink and threw his own sister to the wolves.”
Leo gave a humorless laugh and shrugged his shoulders.
“Says the guy who can’t get a woman to fuck unless he buys her. Have you looked in the mirror lately, beast? You…umph.”
Hunter moved so fast that Leo couldn’t even raise his fists. One well aimed punch to his solar plexus had her brother doubled over and gasping for breath, and then Hunter pinned him against the wall. Hand around Leo’s throat, he had the younger man dangling several feet of the floor, and Emilia dropped the coat she was still clutching and pulled at Hunter’s arm to get him off her brother.
“Let go, please. You’re going to kill him.”
Hunter paid her no heed. Over the rushing of blood in her ears, and the outraged shouts of her father, Leo turned blue. His legs made futile attempts at kicking Hunter, and with both hands on a death grip on Hunter’s wrist, she still couldn’t shake the much taller man off. In a last act of desperation, Emilia ducked under Hunter’s arm, earning herself a painful kick in the ribs from her brother in the process, and reaching up framed Hunter’s face in her hands.
Her breath stalled at the different textures under her fingertips. One side had smooth even skin, covered by his stubble, the other was a mass of corded, scarred, raised flesh, that felt rough and tight under her hand.
A shudder went through Hunter at her touch and he turned his head to look at her. Emilia gasped at the inhuman eyes staring back at her until he blinked, and they were once again the deep chestnut brown she was used to.
“Please, let him go. He’s my brother, please.”
Hunter shook his head and then let go of Leo. Her brother fell to the floor and Emilia let go of Hunter and scrambled to his side to help him up. Dazed as he was he still pushed her help away and let their father pull him up instead. The rejection stung and Emilia was dimly aware of Hunter’s deep sigh behind her. He bent to pick up his abandoned coat, brushed the dust off it, and stepping closer to her nudged her chin up with his knuckles.
“They don’t deserve your concern, kitten.” The ghost of a smile kicked up his mouth, and then he stepped away from her and looked the men in her family up and down.
“I’ll be outside. Let me know what your decision will be, and I’ll have my lawyers draw up the contract one way or the other, though I fear I know what it will be. Know this, however, I need to hear it from her, or the deal is off.”
With those ominous words he stalked off. The quiet thud of the front door sounded too loud in the room, and Emilia squared her shoulders and faced her father.
“What does he mean by that? What deal?” The lights of the Christmas tree danced across her father’s tired features, adding another layer of weird to this whole scenario. Papa at least looked slightly chagrined, but that just made Emilia’s apprehension grow.
“The bastard has cleaned your brother out. With Leo’s shares he’s now the majority shareholder and we’re finished unless—“
“Unless what?” she asked.
“Unless you agree to his terms. You see he’s bought either you or the company.”
This is scheduled for a December release :-)
Stay naughty, folks, and don't forget to check out the other teasers. As ever thanks to the awesome Sandra Bunino for putting us all together every week.
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Why not join us next week? You can sign up on Sandra's blog HERE.