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The Dare

Cover by Scott Carpenter

The Dare

Erotic Romantic Suspense

July 21, 2015



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Mousy and just plain boring...

Tired of self-denial and being cloistered by her father's over protectiveness, wealthy painter Isabella takes a vacation alone.

Tough and way too cocky...

Police officer Luca Angello is self-confident, powerfully sexual, and on the trail of a serial killer.

Isabella thinks Luca is shallow and only out for a good time. Luca thinks Isabella needs some loosening up.

Fear brings them together...

When danger throws her into his arms, she discovers that he can reach her depths in ways she never could have imagined.

Bella thought she could finish drying the car before Luca appeared again. No such luck. He strode out of his house a few minutes later, his expression reserved. She’d never guess in a million years this was the man who had kissed her into the next century and set her blood on fire.

Nope. Cool as fresh watermelon, his gaze said he was all business. His wet hair and change of clothes told her he’d taken a shower. He wore a plain green T-shirt and a pair of jeans. The snug fit of his T-shirt showed his wide shoulders to perfection. His almost-new-looking jeans skimmed his lower body affectionately but without a tight fit. If Bella thought his ravenous kiss and brazen attitude would turn her off, she’d discovered that she couldn’t be more wrong. Her body still throbbed and tingled in places she didn’t want to think about, and she knew if she looked in a mirror right now, her lips would be red and a bit swollen. She sucked in a breath as he arrived in front of her.

He held a black wallet out to her. “My identification.”

Bella took the leather wallet reluctantly. Flipping it open, she saw it held the usual ID, including a driver’s license that declared his name to be Luca Thomas Angello. Next to that she found an ID card proving he was a detective with the Piper’s Grove Police Department. After examining the badge attached to the inside of the wallet, she also glanced at his vital statistics. Thirty-seven years old, six feet four inches tall, and two hundred pounds. Black hair, black eyes, and the sexiest aura on the planet.

Uh-huh. As if it said that on his ID.

“Do I pass muster?” he asked.

She frowned as she handed the wallet back to him. “Great. So you’re a cop.”

“Now you know you can trust me.”

She crossed her arms and shook her head. “I think we’d better keep our distance. If you’ll excuse me, I have things to do.”

With an indulgent smile, he reached into his wallet and pulled out a business card. “Here. My cell number is at the bottom.”

Bella knew she had to make a fast escape, or this man would take hold of her senses once again. Before she could move a foot, his hand clasped her upper arm gently.

“Look, I’m sorry about what happened earlier. I was a dick. I didn’t mean to scare you or come on so strong. If you see or hear anything suspicious, or if you’re ever frightened, call me on the cell phone. It’s on all the time.”

He walked back to his condo without another word.

Surprised by the apology, she stood there a minute. After she rewound the garden hose, she gathered up the car-washing items and carried them into the small utility room in the condo. Her entire body seemed to be trembling. Disgusted with her lack of control, Bella decided she would do something to get her mind off the exasperating man. She went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator to get iced tea. After pouring herself a tumbler of tea, she pressed the ice-cold glass against her face and tried to regulate the pounding of her heart. What on earth had happened in the past few hours?

Had she ever experienced quite this much fire and fury with one man? She thought about it, staring into nothingness as she sipped her tea. She’d left Denver to avoid complications, and somehow they found her anyway. Because he was a cop, part of her longed to tell him what happened to her in Denver; the other part of her said she didn’t have concrete proof of anything.

No, better to keep quiet about the reason she’d left her father’s estate.

Involuntarily, she glanced through her kitchen window. No one was out there watching her. She rushed over to the window and drew the cellular shade down as apprehension touched her. She leaned against the counter while her stomach roiled. Wanting to control the fear, she closed her eyes and thought instead of the weird combination of trepidation and safety she felt when Luca was nearby. Mad at herself for giving in to anxiety, she lifted the shade. She looked at Luca’s kitchen window again. Bella almost expected to see Luca standing in his kitchen, buck naked.

Heat filled her face. She must do something to take her mind off the past few hours. She scanned the house, aware for the first time that the rental didn’t say comfort so much as it said mediocre. The modern paintings on the walls and the chrome-and- glass furniture screamed impersonal. Her room at her father’s estate had every luxury a woman could ask for—whirlpool tub, giant shower, huge mirrors, large walk-in closet. You name it, she owned it.

Even there, though, she’d felt detached and as if she didn’t belong anywhere.

Tears prickled her eyes, and she blinked. Bella felt adrift and uncomfortable with the raging desire and confusion rising inside her. She slumped on the couch and stared at the white walls, the entertainment center with the large television, the tile floor, and the elegant throw rugs. The place didn’t speak to her, nor did the silence.

She needed something to release the real Isabella Markham.

But what?

That’s why I came here. To seek and find the answers. What do I want to do with the rest of my life? How can I resolve the feeling that something horrible hovers just outside my knowledge, waiting to pounce?

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