First Chapter – Twister
I wanted to post the first chapter of Misplaced Cowboy but Mari beat me to it, damn it *grin* So instead, I’m sharing with you all the first chapter of my July 3rd release, Twister, which happens to be the next book in the Party Games series. See if you can tell me what famous Australian influenced my creation of Lachlan McDermott (in fact, there’s a prize for the first person to tell me in the comments below. Hee hee hee)
The engine throbbed between Lachlan McDermott’s legs—low and powerful and animalistic. He gunned the accelerator, propelling his Ducati down the street with increasing haste. It should be a quiet street at this time of night, free of the cars currently parked along its length. However, the closer he rode to the house on the waterfront he shared with his sister and his best friend, the more it looked like Lillian had done what he’d specifically requested she —throw a party. And by the number of high-end sport and luxury cars he counted lining what was normally their quiet street, the party was big even by her standards.
Lachlan ground his teeth. He was going to kill her when he got home. Kill her then ground her then kill her again. Bloody models. Thought they could do whatever the fuck they wanted. What the hell was Mackenzie doing? How had his best friend let her do this?
This is what you get for being away on her birthday last month, you know that, right? She’s punishing you for not being with her when you promised her you would be.
Lachlan bit back a growl. He had promised his half-sister he’d spend her twenty-fifth birthday with her in New York. But damn it, he couldn’t run a global media empire without some personal sacrifices. Sometimes he just had to attend a meeting whether he wanted to or not.
But you promised her. And you didn’t keep that promise. Sounds a lot like Dad, don’t you think?
A heavy weight pressed at Lachlan’s chest at the unwelcome thought. He bit back another disgusted growl, banking his bike into the last bend before his home. He wasn’t letting guilt deflect his anger. He’d asked Lillian the night before leaving Australia not to throw a party and damn it, he expected her to obey him. She may be twenty-five but she was still his little sister. He was still the older brother. The one that made sure she was doing the right thing, even if she had decided to follow in her mother’s…dissolute…modeling footsteps. If he’d had his way, Lillian McDermott, world-famous model, would be Lilly McDermott, local bookstore owner.
Christ, Lachlan, that’s Neanderthal and arrogant, even for you.
True, but that was the way it was. His sister was too sweet, too innocent to get ensnared in such a debasing—
The thought died at the sight looming before him. His house was aglow every light in every window illuminated. Rows of lit Balinese torches lined the footpath leading up to the architecturally designed split-level, their flames dancing in the night breeze. Every door—every damn door—was open to reveal more people crammed into his home than he believed possible.
“Jesus Christ, Lil.” He shot past his home and its car-chocked driveway, grinding his teeth again. “I can’t even get into my own garage.”
Damn it, he wasn’t in the mood to deal with this. A fucked-up board meeting in New York, a drunk actress pawing at him on the flight home, his bike mysteriously damaged while it was sitting in long-haul parking, and now a party in his home when all he wanted to do was sit on his sofa, put his feet up, have a beer and watch the current cricket match between Australia and England on the television. Could the day end any worse?
Someone will die if it does.
He saw the empty parking space three houses away before the belligerent thought could finish. Revving the Ducati’s powerful engine, he opened the throttle and propelled his bike forward…just as a beautifully restored black Mini swept past him straight into the empty space.
What the fuck?
He braked beside the classic car, planted his booted feet on the ground and yanked his helmet off, glaring at the driver’s side door. Waiting for the walking corpse about to get a piece of his mind—a rather heated piece of his mind—to climb out of the car.
The door opened. The distant streetlight reflected in the black window like a crazy streaming white line and a woman straightened from the car, a tall willowy woman with short shaggy hair the colour of midnight, full lips the colour of ripe plums and skin a flawless cream. A woman dressed in a bum-hugging black leather miniskirt and a…a thing that seemed to be made entirely from one strip of shiny silver fabric clinging around her body in such a way to barely cover her breasts. Breasts, Lachlan couldn’t help but notice, that were small and pert and the perfect size for cupping and squeezing in one’s hand.
He glared at her, but the overhanging Jacaranda tree shrouded her eyes in shadows. “That’s where I was going to park.”
“Did you indicate for it?” A soft accent laced the velvet-smooth words, the kind of accent a person develops when they’ve spent most of their time travelling around the world. No longer Australian, not really anything else though either. “Pretty certain I didn’t see any flashing yellow lights on that bike of yours before I passed you.”
Lachlan ground his teeth. Awesome. Attitude. Just what he wanted.
She’s right though. You didn’t.
“Doesn’t matter. You overtook me on a residential street to get to it first.”
A low chuckle fell from those plum-coloured lips before she swung the Mini’s door closed. “Would you like to make a citizen’s arrest? Slap me in handcuffs and rough me up a bit?”
The words sent a searing jolt of tension straight into Lachlan’s groin. Unexpected and very, very appealing tension. That his bike’s engine was still thrumming in neutral between his legs only served to highlight his sudden and unwanted arousal. He ground his teeth, killing the Ducati’s motor with a flick of his wrist.
The slowing tick-tick-tick of the bike’s exhaust system filled the night, competing with the laughter, music and raucous noise wafting from his house down the street. The woman laughed again. “Oh, does this mean you are going to arrest me? Do you have handcuffs tucked away in those exceedingly well-cut Calvin Klein jeans? Or is that bulge I spy something else far more interesting?”
Lachlan blinked. And did something he hadn’t done since he was a kid. He blushed.
The woman laughed once more, a throaty sound that sent fresh licks of tension into his balls. His cock stiffened, growing at an alarming rate given his situation. What the hell was he doing?
Straddling your bike while getting turned on by a woman who stole your parking spot. The question is what are you going to do about it?
He bit back a growl. What could he do about it? He had two options—one, go find another parking spot and take out his anger on the people currently enjoying themselves in his home when he finally walked back to it. Or two, climb off his bike, walk over to the woman in the shadows, capture those fuckable lips of hers with his mouth and kiss the smug attitude right out of her.
He climbed off his bike.
She made a hmmm sound, her lips curling into a smile Lachlan could only describe as the sexiest thing he’d ever seen, and stepped out of the shadows.
A whirlwind of memories lashed through his head. Memories of a seventeen-year-old boy caught jerking off to a poster of the Australian super-model by his hedonistic model-cum-trophy-wife stepmother. Memories of said stepmother sliding her fingers down the flat plane of his stomach to the waistline of his hastily zipped jeans and asking him if he wanted to fuck her while she wore a pitch-black wig?
He focused on the woman now standing before him, her lips curled in a smile he should have recognized. After all, he’d gazed at it every night of his life for two years until that pathetic, embarrassing night. Gazed at it and fantasied about the owner of that smile. The modeling world’s newest sensation, an eighteen-year-old Australian beauty known only as Kole.
The woman before him cocked a dark, finely arched eyebrow. “Don’t tell me you’re shy?”
Lachlan clenched his jaw. “You’re the model Kole.”
She laughed, a relaxed, humoured chuckle. “No. But it’s a common error.”
Lachlan studied her. The lack of light made the inspection tricky. He had never seen Kole in person and the model herself had dropped out of the public’s eye after only a few years in the modeling world. But not before she graced the cover of every influential fashion magazine, quite a few of them owned by his father’s media company. Magazines Lachlan now owned, accrued when he had overthrown his father’s strangling reign of the company five years ago.
Still, something in his gut itched, and he’d learnt a long time ago to listen to his gut. The woman looked like an older Kole to be sure, but Kole all the same. She was either lying or he was more under the spell of a stupid adolescent crush than he realized. Either way, he wanted nothing to do with her.
When it came to models, he had a strictly no-involvement policy, no matter how stunning they were.
She studied him, a confident calm radiating from her. It unsettled him.
Unsettled? For Christ’s sake, man, it turns you on so much your dick is a hard as a pole. Model or not, she turns you on.
She did. And he was hard. Very hard. And that pissed him off. Desire was just another emotion to be acknowledged and controlled. The second he’d decided he wanted nothing to do with her any sexual interest should have ceased to exist. It was how Lachlan ran every aspect of his life. Every aspect. Acknowledgement and control.
But it seemed control was eluding him tonight.
Jetlag. You’re jet-lagged. And angry at Lil.
The woman before him raised one eyebrow. “No cuffs then? Pity.” She pouted, her voice low and laced with mirth. “In that case, if you will excuse me, I have a party to attend.”
Lachlan clenched his jaw. A party? Jesus, she was going to his house? Fantastic. Just what he wanted. “You know Lillian McDermott?”
The woman’s lips curled, the pale moon turning their rich plum shape an enticing glossy sheen. “You could say that. Do you?”
He narrowed his eyes. “You could say that.”
“Oh, that sounds so ominous.” She stepped closer to him, her eyes almost level with his, her lips still playing with a smile part seduction, part mocking tease. “And mysterious.”
A delicate scent of something exotic and sensual threaded into Lachlan’s breath and, despite himself, he swayed toward her. The urge to snake his arms around her waist and yank her to his body was damn powerful. Compelling. “Nothing mysterious about it. She’s my sister.”
“Sister?” Her shadow-shrouded eyes held him still. “So, you must be the Lachlan McDermott?”
He ground his teeth. Christ, why did his cock have to jerk so hard in his jeans at the sound of his name on her tongue?
Because you want to feel her tongue on your cock?
“I am,” he all but snarled. He hated being this…this…shit, what was he? Flustered? On edge? Unnerved?
The woman chuckled. Low. Throaty. Sensual
Lachlan’s dick responded to the sound. His dick, his balls, his pulse…everything that could get harder and faster and tighter did. “Who are you?”
Without another word, she passed him. That delicate, exotic scent—like guava and spice—teased his senses, and for the briefest moment their gazes connected. Eyes the colour of ancient glaciers spoke of wicked pleasure, and then she was gone, striding away from him toward his home, her arse bunching and flexing with sublime perfection beneath the leather of her miniskirt, her swan-like neck and subtle sway of her hips making the pit of his stomach clench.
“See you inside, Lachlan McDermott,” she threw over her shoulder. “If you’re game, that is.”
Cameron forced her shoulder to remain loose, her strides to remain easy. She could feel Lachlan McDermott’s stare on her back. It was hot and thorough. More tactile and forceful than any real physical contact she’d experienced for close to seventeen years.
She took another step, all too aware of his gaze, and a little shiver raced up her spine, familiar and yet so distant. A sexual response.
God, when was the last time she’d had a sexual response to someone?
When you first climbed out of your car and saw Lachlan straddling his bike?
That was true. And unexpected. And…nice.
Nice? Nice? How about earth-shattering? Soul-rocking? Life-changing?
No, not scary. Scary was waking up in your bed to find someone you trusted trying to pin you to the mattress. Scary was knowing the whole world wanted to watch your every move. Scary was suffocating and sour and horrible, and there was nothing suffocating and sour and horrible about the way she’d reacted to her first moment with Lachlan McDermott. Nothing.
The second he’d pulled his helmet from his head her sex had fluttered with interest, her belly had fluttered with nerves, her mouth had turned dry, her pulse had kicked up not just a notch but three, her heart had slammed into her throat and she’d resorted to the only defense mechanism she knew. Climbing from her car, she’d become the person she’d stopped being sixteen years ago.
The flirty, sarcastic, confident model, Kole.
She’d slipped into the safety of Kole and Kole’s femme fatale poise. Wore her like a suit of armour. As the first sexual innuendo had fallen from her lips she’d known there and then it was Kole Lachlan was looking at. Kole he was caressing with his eyes. Kole the fearless goddess, not Cameron the private woman. Kole he was responding to. She could see it in the tension in his body, the flaring of his nostrils and everything was turned upside down.
Everything was turned upside down, inside out and back to front, and her simple plans for the night went right out the proverbial window. Leaving her reeling.
She’d come to the party to meet Lachlan McDermott, and instead he’d met Kole, bloody Kole and, by the raw desire in his eyes, he wanted her.
Damn it. Damn it, damn it, damn it.
Her heart thumped harder in her chest. She gave her hips an extra little swing, knowing how good her backside looked in tight leather. She’d made millions from her backside. Millions. She’d been able to buy a Central Park West penthouse apartment in New York by the age of nineteen, one year into her modeling career, thanks to how good her backside looked and while she hadn’t modeled for sixteen years, she hadn’t spent those years slouching. She’d renovated houses, restored classic cars, planted gardens, walked dogs…physical and dirty and demanding activities. Activities to find who she was if she wasn’t—
A soft noise behind her made her heart thump a little harder. Lachlan had sucked in a breath. A soft one, to be sure, but a breath. A sharp one.
She’d affected him as much as he had her.
Idiot. It was Kole that had affected him, not her.
A cold numbness stole over her limbs and, for a wavering moment, she almost stopped. Almost turned around and hurried back to her beloved Mini, jumped in and drove away. None of this was what she’d planned. She’d planned to meet Lachlan, be introduced to him by Lillian and hopefully have a conversation. Instead, she was pretending to be someone she no longer was as she walked away from him.
Damn it. Again.
There wasn’t any doubt he still watched her. She could feel his gaze across the dark distance. Her nipples pinched tight and her pussy throbbed. Throbbed. Fluttered and squeezed and carried on in such a way she didn’t need to slip her fingers over her folds to know they were damp.
But was he looking at her with lust? She remembered what Lillian had told her about his strict no-model rule.
She caught her bottom lip with her teeth.
For a second back by her car she’d thought he was going to kiss her. He’d take one step toward her, an unspoken intent charging the air between them, but then stopped when she stepped from the shadows and he saw her. Then…oh, man, the expression on his face. Shock, hunger, haunted contempt finished off with studied indifference.
He’d recognized her. From her Kole days, no doubt, and in that recognition came a world of emotions she so wanted to analyse.
Unable to stop herself, she threw a quick look over her shoulder. She couldn’t help it. If the man standing behind her truly was as wonderful as Lillian said he was—in her unintentional, ironically sisterly way of course, complaining about how protective he was, how determined he was for her to have a grounded life, how focused and no-nonsense he was in his own life—Cameron wanted to do so much more than argue over a parking space with him.
Kiss him? Or even more than that?
Her gaze found Lachlan still standing by his bike, his tall, lean frame easy to make out in the shadows, and her heart beat quicker.
She saw him straighten slightly as their stares met, saw his shoulders square and his chin lift before, with a sharp shake of that dark head of his, he turned back to his bike and climbed astride its seat.
A soft sigh slipped past Cameron’s lips.
She’d unsettled him.
No. Kole had unsettled him. Not her. And Kole was a very different woman to Cameron.
And yet she’d slipped into her skin so easily. It was like she hadn’t been anyone else but the flirtatious, confident woman for the last sixteen years. What did that mean?
It meant Lachlan McDermott pushed sexual buttons she’d shunned long ago.
Why was that? The power of his presence?
She had to admit, the guy had personal intensity to spare.
And sex appeal. Big-time sex appeal. His eyes had positively smoldered with indomitable potency and challenging power. And his body…the snug jeans and black leather jacket did nothing to hide the sheer athleticism of his form.
Lengthening her stride, she made her way to his house. Funny, she’d thought of the multi-million dollar waterfront property as Lillian’s for the whole drive over, but now, after a mere minute in his company, it was Lachlan’s. Another reason to be unsettled.
This is foolish. Coming here. Being here. Dressing like you are. Behaving like you are, like Kole again. She brings nothing but—
Cameron started at the laughing shout. She watched a willowy young woman wearing a skimpy LBD leap down the stairs of Lachlan’s house and run toward her across the people-peppered front lawn.
A lithe body slammed into her, two long, almost gangly arms wrapped around her in a suffocating bear hug, and before she could do anything but laugh, Lillian McDermott—utterly delightful, monumentally innocent super model—planted her full, glossed lips on Cameron’s mouth and kissed her.
“I knew you would come.” Lillian grinned when she finally deigned it okay to let Cameron go. “All that blustered complaining and grousing about staying away from crowds didn’t fool me.”
Cameron raised an eyebrow, watching the younger woman practically quiver with nervous energy. “I’m only here for a little while,” she said, lacing her fingers through Lillian’s. “As much as you don’t believe it’s possible, I do prefer to not be around a crowd anymore.”
Lillian let out a dismissive snort. “Pft. Crowds schmowds. This is just a few close friends and work colleagues. I’m sure you know most of them. Frankie is here, by the way. She told me she wants to talk to you about the New York shoot.”
Cameron shook her head and gave Lillian a smile. “No work talk tonight. I’m not here as Cam Winters, photographer. I’m here as your friend.”
“And to check my brother out.”
Cameron’s stomach dropped. “Excuse me?”
Lillian laughed, tugging Cameron closer to her side before sliding her arm around Cameron’s shoulders. “C’mon, Cam. You think I didn’t notice?”
Cameron swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. “Notice what?”
“That every time we chat about life outside a photo shoot, you steer the conversation around to Lachlan?”
Lillian nodded, nudging her hip against Cameron’s. “You do. And you weren’t even considering coming tonight until I mentioned Lochie would be here.”
Forcing calm through her body, she cast Lillian a sideward glance. “I think you may be reading too much into things, my young apprentice.”
Lillian laughed again. “Are you quoting that movie again? The one with the space ships and light swords and Harrison Ford without wrinkles?”
Phew, she’d dodged a bullet there. Lillian may be right about her reason for coming to the party, but Cameron wasn’t prepared to discuss her burgeoning interest in Lachlan. “They’re light sabers, child,” she answered with a grin and a haughty tone, as if bestowing Lillian with an important life lesson. “Light sabers. And yes, I am. Now, take me inside and show me this grand chaos you’ve designed. I expect to be playing a game of Spin the Bottle with Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman before the hours up.”
Lillian pulled a face. “Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe? Fine, you can take the oldies. I’ll happily settle on Chris Hemsworth, thank you very much.”
Five steps later, they entered Lachlan’s house. Five after that, Lillian laughed a greeting at someone who looked a lot like Kylie Minogue and Cameron took the opportunity to slip away from her host.
She moved through the crowded house, not making eye contact with any of the other guests. She didn’t enjoy mixing with people anymore, preferring her own company. Besides, apart from Lillian there was no one here Cameron truly wanted to interact with. The only reason she was here and still hadn’t made an appearance in the house.
Perhaps he was still trying to find a space to park his bike?
The junction of Cameron’s thighs throbbed at the thought of Lachlan McDermott and his Ducati. He’d looked sexy climbing off the thing. Sexy and intimidating and powerful.
Everything she knew he was. Everything that made her nervous. So nervous she’d resorted to subterfuge to speak to him.
She slipped her way through a particularly tight knot of partygoers cheering on a game of Suck and Blow and paused for a moment when she recognized Lillian’s agent in the line. Frankie Winchester was staring with gaping shock at a tall man Cameron somehow knew. Or maybe didn’t.
She watched as the man lowered his head toward Lillian’s feisty agent, watched as his lips brushed over Frankie’s. Cameron’s pussy throbbed some more. Not because it was Frankie and a somewhat familiar guy, but because Cameron all too easily could feel Lachlan’s lips brushing over hers.
Her sex constricted. Her nipples grew tight. She’d prepared herself for a physical reaction of some kind to Lachlan McDermott, but not this. This was all a bit…a bit, damn it, this was all a bit too unsettling.
Turning from the Suck and Blow game, she continued through the house. She’d come here to do one thing. She’d come here to meet the media mogul, and by jingoes, that’s what she was going to do. Meet him, introduce herself as Cam, not Kole, and ask if she could get him a drink.
And maybe something more.
Cameron stomach clenched. She wanted to kiss him, but the trouble was who would do the kissing? Kole? Or Cameron?
She didn’t want to think about that. She couldn’t. If she did she’d probably head for her Mini and get her gazillion-dollar arse home.
Weaving her way through the raucous crowd, she found herself at the bottom of the massive sweeping staircase leading up to the house’s main bedrooms. Climbing three steps, she stopped and studied the people around her. Maybe she would find Lillian again. Or go looking for the bar. Or maybe—
“Excuse me,” a familiar deep voice rumbled behind her, “but I do believe you’re in my way.”
Her heart leapt into her throat. Her sex pulsed, her breath caught. He was behind her. After all this looking and he was now behind her.
What did she do now?
“Or maybe,” Lachlan continued, voice deeper, strained and controlled, “that was your intention?”
A teasing, sexy smile curved Cameron’s lips and, before she could consider what she was doing, she turned and gazed up at him. Up. It had been a long time since she’d needed to look up to meet a man’s gaze. A long time. Her pussy squeezed with tight heat. She liked it.
Never have before. Why now?
The question unsettled her. And made her…curious. Everything about Lachlan McDermott made her curious.
And aroused. Damn, so very aroused.
Even the arrogant way he looked at her.
He stood on the step one up from hers, his eyes still smoldering challenge. He raked a stare over her body, from top to toe and back to top again. The leather jacket was gone, but that didn’t do anything to lessen the sheer male potency radiating from him. God, he turned her on.
Or is it Kole who’s turned on? Do you really like being her, regardless of what happened to you? Do you want to be her a—
“You found a parking spot, I see?” she asked, killing the unnerving thought.
His nostrils flared at her mocking question.
“And now,” she continued, “you’re ready to play?”
He didn’t say anything, just bunched his jaw and studied her.
She let her smile move beyond teasing and sexy to downright provocative. A Kole smile through and through. “Can I interest you in a game of Suck and Blow? Seven Minutes in Heaven? Spin the Bottle?”
His nostrils flared again. Once. And then he was pushing past her, his body grazing hers as he descended the stairs. A fissure of raw sexual energy pulsed through Cameron at the brief contact and she sucked in a silent breath, watching him storm down the stairs.
He stopped at the bottom, stood motionless for a second and then, when she didn’t think he was going to, turned and looked back up at her, eyes hot with a desire she could tell he fought with every fibre in his body.
And just like that, she knew it was more than a kiss she was prepared for. So much more.