I realized I hadn’t yet put up an excerpt for Explosive even though I received the new cover. So here it is, the debut excerpt of Explosive.
EXPLOSIVE by Beth Kery
Genre: Centemporary erotic suspense
Publisher: Berkley Heat
Release Date: December 7, 2010
Format: Trade Paperback
His touch would consume her—if it didn’t kill her first…
Dr. Sophie Gable wasn’t expecting her peaceful getaway to be shattered by the arrival of a half-dazed, dead-sexy guest. Thomas Nicasio has obviously been traumatized, and Sophie thinks she knows by what. There’s something about Thomas’s father that he can’t—or won’t—remember. Something that could get them both killed. Still she can’t resist Thomas’s electrifying seduction—or her instincts to help him…
An ex-Navy explosives specialist, Thomas has never felt this type of volatile need for a woman. Even while he’s grieving the deaths of his brother and nephew, something in Sophie makes Thomas want to overtake her, and each time he does, her willing submission makes him want her all the more. But danger is lurking close by, and if he can’t face the demons of his past, he and Sophie could be the next victims in a pattern of meaningless violence…
Her fingers delved through thick, surprisingly soft hair, searching for wounds on his scalp. A shiver coursed through him when her hand reached the base of his skull. She caught his scent. Despite his obvious illness and uncharacteristic disheveled state, Thomas Nicasio smelled good.
Cautiously, she met his stare.
For a few seconds, neither of them moved. Sophie suspected neither of them breathed.
“Did you hit your head, Tom?” she asked eventually, her fingers resuming their careful search.
“I don’t think so.”
“Have you been drinking?” she asked, even though she’d inhaled his breath and already suspected that he wasn’t drunk. He shook his head.
Again, he shook his head. She pushed back his bangs. Her gaze shot to his when she saw the discoloration near his hairline on his left temple.
“You have been hit.” She reached for the wrist of his right arm, holding his stare all the while. Her mind churned when she glanced down and saw the abrasions and flecks of dried blood on his knuckle.
“You’ve been in a fight,” she stated tersely. Did a shadow of defiance cross his features, or was that her imagination? Well, perhaps she had sounded accusatory. It wasn’t her place to judge him, after all.
“Are you in any pain?”
“Sick to your stomach?”
He shrugged negligently.
“How is it that you’re here, Tom?” she asked, despite the memory of what he’d said earlier.
I came looking for you, Sophie.
He wasn’t entirely lucid, after all.
“Do you know someone who lives near here?” she prompted when he didn’t speak.
“No. I only know you.”
“Well…why did you come looking for me?” she couldn’t resist asking in an anxious rush. “Did you find yourself getting ill on the road and need a doctor? Did you remember me telling you I was vacationing here, at Haven Lake?”
A spasm went through him and he cupped his right brow with his palm.
“I’m taking you to the emergency room in Effingham,” she declared, alarmed by the sight of what must have been a jolt of intense pain going through him.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“But you’ve got to, you’re not well and—”
“I’m not going to the hospital,” he grated out between clenched teeth.
She went completely still at his harsh tone. She considered calling the police, but then he opened his eyes.
The two words leaving her own lips surprised her a little, but she felt as if she didn’t have a choice once she’d looked into those twin pools of turmoil and anguish. “You might have a concussion, but you’re feverish, as well. I’ll get you some Tylenol and then you need to rest. Will you at least promise me to do that for now?”
“I’m not sleepy,” he said hoarsely. His gaze lowered. Heat flooded her cheeks. He stared at her breasts covered in the thin bikini top. Her body responded to his blatantly sexual gaze against her will. Her nipples stiffened beneath the flimsy fabric.
He stepped toward her.
Sophie stepped back.
“You’re ill. You need to rest. Is there someone you want me to call? Will someone be missing you in Chicago? Never mind. Come on,” she said when he just stared at her. She waved her hand and led him down the dim hallway to the guest bedroom. She turned on the light and inspected the state of the room. She hadn’t been in it since early June, just after Andy and his wife Sheila had visited for a weekend.
Her mind sifted through his symptoms, trying to make sense of his bizarre presentation as she bustled around in the guest bath, laying out clean towels and getting Tylenol out of the medicine cabinet. His feverish state implied that something physical was going on, but the pain she’d seen in his eyes just moments ago argued for something psychological. The bruise on his temple wasn’t massive, but she knew the brain could sustain considerable injury from a blow without any obvious external trauma.
Of course there was no reason why his condition couldn’t be both physical and psychological, considering the amount of stress Thomas must have been under recently.
Who had he been fighting with, and why? Oddly, it didn’t surprise her to consider Thomas engaging in a brawl, despite the fact that she was used to seeing only his polished work image. She’d always sensed a rebel existed beneath the smooth exterior of his perfectly tailored suits. Maybe it was the tilt of his jaw that made her think it, or the gold flecks that flashed and burned in the deep green of his eyes; or a smile that was sweet, but just a tad cocky…slow in coming and breathtaking upon arrival.
Or maybe it was just because Sophie knew he’d spent the first years of his life in a working class Southside neighborhood far from the perfectly manicured, sweeping green lawns and multi-million dollar homes of Lake Forest, where Thomas had gone to live with the family that adopted him. A kid growing up in Morgan Park would have known how to use his fist. Besides, he’d only worked in the private sector for the past few years. Before he’d taken up the reigns of his own business, he’d been in the military, but Sophie couldn’t recall at the moment if Andy had ever mentioned in what branch he’d served or what his duties had involved.
She grimaced as she filled a glass with water from the tap. She felt guilty for not taking him to the hospital, even though the chances were that the emergency room physician would recommend nothing more than close observation of Thomas’ symptoms for the next forty-eight hours.
And either way, Thomas had flatly refused to go, so what choice did she have?
Her level of anxiety upon entering the bedroom was unprecedented since her first year of medical school.
She carried the Tylenol in one hand and the glass of water in the other. He still stood just inside the threshold of the door. She was relieved when he took the Tylenol without argument. He stood behind her while she turned down the bed, making her highly self-conscious of her bent over position.
She added his blatant sexual stare into her formulary of symptoms, even though Thomas Nicasio’s hot eyes hardly left her feeling analytical. Was he in a manic state, perhaps? That would explain his hyper-sexuality, the sudden need to impulsively escape…
…but not the bruise, fever or dazed confusion.
Was she safe with him there in the house with her? She glanced back at him and their gazes held. She exhaled slowly.
“Why don’t you get into bed?” she asked, glad to hear that her voice didn’t audibly tremble. He stepped toward her and Sophie glanced down, avoiding that laser-like stare. She knew she should have backed away, but she didn’t.
Not even when he spread one hand along her naked hip.
She held her breath and clamped her eyes shut when she felt his thumb gently rub across a dried smear of paint.
Her lungs burned by the time he bent his long legs at the knees, and he wrapped her in his arms.
He encompassed her. In that full, fertile moment, she felt Thomas Nicasio in every cell of her being.
He nudged her hair back with his nose and pressed his entire face to the side of her neck. His hardness pressed against her softness, stark and potent.
Her heart throbbed erratically in her chest at the sensation of his hot mouth moving next to her sensitive skin.
“Sleep with me, Sophie. I need your cleanness so much right now.”