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From the New York Times bestselling author of Because You Are Mine, When I’m With You, and The Affair, comes the sequel to Glimmer, the latest novel in the suspenseful and sensual new series about power, sex, and the secrets that can tear us apart, body and soul…
Alice Reed never dreamed she’d escape the stigma of her disturbing past. That’s why she was shocked when, out of the blue, she was recruited to join the elite Durand Enterprises by the enigmatic CEO himself, Dylan Fall. The erotic charge between them was fast and deliciously forbidden. But as Alice opened up to worlds she’d never known, everything changed once again with a stunning discovery: there’s much, much more concealed in the shadows of Alice’s troubling childhood, and her life is about to change forever.
Now, with another piece of the puzzle of Alice’s identity revealed, a mysterious adversary plots to destroy it all—and Dylan is determined to protect her. But as Alice’s sexual addiction to Dylan turns helplessly to love, she can’t help but wonder: how deeply can she really trust him? What were his true motives in drawing her close to him? And what other secrets does he know about her past that even she has yet to learn?
Read an Excerpt
“I knew I would care about you. I had no idea I’d fall in love with you.”
Alice pressed her fingers against her breastbone. Her heart squeezed with anguished wonder at the memory of Dylan saying those words just hours ago, following their stormy lovemaking. The memory felt very beautiful to her: fragile and tender, new and raw, the weight of the reality of his words seemingly too big to hold inside her. She was desperate to believe him, but she wasn’t sure she could. Especially given the magnitude of all the other information she’d been told in the last few days. The nightmare from which she’d awakened brought it home to her. She was very confused.
In his sleep, Dylan shifted slightly and pulled her tighter against him. Unnamed emotion swelled in her chest, feeling like an expanding balloon. For a few panicked seconds, she couldn’t breathe from the pressure of it. Jesus. How was it possible for her to have acquired this level of feeling for him when she’d barely known he existed these last few months, and only been intimate with him for an even shorter period of time?
You’ve known him longer than a few months, that’s why. You’ve known him for most of your life, a firm, authoritative voice in her head said. She flinched instinctively at the harsh reminder, air popping out of her lungs. Alice could only withstand the truth in small, rapid doses. It was like her body and her brain weren’t entirely her own. Her weakness mortified her. She needed to do better. She needed to be stronger. Alice Reed didn’t run from the truth.
The comforter and sheet had slipped beneath her breasts. The air conditioner felt chilly against her bare skin, but Dylan warmed her backside. Alice craved the sensation of sinking deeper into his embrace, of melting into him. He made her forget everything. His heat and touch were the sweetest addiction.
But just like the first time she’d awakened in his arms, she furtively eased out of his embrace. Abandoning her defenses and submitting to comfort was something Alice had been nearly hardwired to resist. As a child, she’d forced herself to sleep with the windows open, even in the most frigid nights of a Chicago winter, warding herself against the toxic fumes inherent to Sissy’s “business.” Although the trailer resounded with the abrasive, harsh voices of her uncles and Sissy’s customers, Alice never used a fan, radio, or television to trick her brain into the safety of solid sleep. She needed to hear a threat coming to her locked bedroom, to prepare herself for a fight or an escape. A potential fire from Sissy’s meth lab was yet another nightly reality for which she had to prepare herself.
Escaping her history was proving to be a challenge.
She shivered as she stood next to the bed, and then cautiously moved through the dark room. Earlier, she’d seen Dylan hang her clothing in the bathroom. The thunderstorm had caught them in its first furious lash. They’d only arrived at the rear entrance of Castle Durand several seconds after the rain began to pour down in torrents.
Her T?shirt was still a little damp. She hauled it on nevertheless, willfully ignoring the fluffy, cozy, dry robe Dylan had bought her. Her shivers amplified as she unrolled the damp fabric over her breasts and belly. She ignored her jean shorts and sufficed with her mostly dry underwear.
When she silently exited the bathroom, she paused for a moment in the still room, listening. Everything was silent. Dylan slept on. It was for the best. He wouldn’t approve of her mission. Or at the very least, he’d insist on being there by her side while she undertook it. She vividly recalled his words during their heated lovemaking last night as the storm raged around them.
“I don’t like you being down at that camp, Alice. I can’t control what happens to you.”
“You can’t control what happens every second of my day,” she whimpered, because he’d pressed her to him, her back to his front, and was reassuring himself of her existence and safety in the most elemental way.
“Maybe not,” he rasped, running his teeth over the skin of her neck and molding her breast to his hand. “But right now I can.”
Mixed feelings of renewed arousal, irritation, and stark compassion at his concern swept through Alice at the volatile memory.
She’d struggled to be independent and self-determined for her entire life. Dylan’s proprietary attitude over her nettled a little. His possessiveness also thrilled her a lot, a fact that often had warning sirens going off in her head.
But Dylan had a right to his worry, didn’t he? He’d earned it. He’d been consumed for more than half his life at the idea of finding Alan Durand’s kidnapped and assumed-dead daughter, Adelaide “Addie” Durand. Everyone else had long ago accepted that Addie had been murdered and lay in some long-forgotten makeshift grave. It was Dylan’s unwavering conviction—a stubborn refusal to concede defeat, a bullheaded determination even against horrible odds that had been born and bred in his youth in the rough, unforgiving streets of Chicago’s West Side—that had eventually led Dylan to Addie.
But Alice had no such personal ties or strong feelings toward Adelaide Durand. To her, that privileged, adorable little girl was a distant tragedy. If anything, that child was relevant primarily because of the singular effect Addie had on Dylan’s life.
That’s what Alice told herself, anyway, as she stood in that cool dark room, chilled to the bone. She wavered on her feet, suppressing a powerful longing to get back into bed and cuddle against Dylan’s solid length. The vision of Lynn Durand’s exquisite bracelet flashed into her mind’s eye again.
Bizarre as it seemed, that bracelet was not just a random dream created by Alice’s unconscious mind. Her recollection of that bracelet was a genuine memory. Because as much as she was struggling to believe it, Dylan swore it was the absolute truth.
According to Dylan, Alice Reed and Adelaide Durand were one and the same person.
* * *
IT was the second time in a week that Dylan awoke in the dark room to find his arms empty. Instinct told him that it was still too early for him to escort Alice to the camp, a clandestine ritual they went through every morning before dawn. Neither of them wanted the Durand managers or the VP of human resources, Sebastian Kehoe, to know that Alice had taken up with the CEO of the company. What was between Alice and him was complicated and powerful. And it was their business alone.
At least for now it was.
Dylan wasn’t sure how long he could keep Alice and Durand Enterprises in separate spheres. For all intents and purposes, Alice was Durand Enterprises. She just didn’t want to—or couldn’t—accept that reality as of yet.
“She’ll let you know when she’s ready to hear certain things, Dylan. She won’t ask what she doesn’t want to know. That’s nature’s way; the unconscious mind’s attempt at shielding her from the truth until she’s ready to handle it.”
It was his friend Sidney Gates’s voice that he heard in his head. Sidney was a psychiatrist, and an old friend of Alan Durand’s. He was very familiar with Addie’s—and Alice’s—history. Dylan trusted his opinion more than anyone else’s when it came to Alice’s state of mind at that point.
The problem is, Sidney had also compared Alice to an undetonated cache of explosives. No one knew for sure what would set her off at this point.
Alarmed by the thought, he reached blindly, finding his cell phone on the bedside table. He squinted at the time. No, he’d been right. It was only a few minutes past two in the morning, way too early for Alice to be up and preparing to return to the camp.
He rose from the bed with just as much haste and alarm as that first time, but on this occasion with more certainty that he knew where to find her. The knowledge didn’t quiet his worry any. He switched on a bedside lamp and hauled on some jeans.
He found Alice standing square in the middle of the empty large bedroom suite in the west hall, her fists clamped tight at her sides. Her long toned legs were naked. They looked strangely vulnerable in the bright glow of the overhead chandelier.
Tension coiled tight in his muscles. On that other night when he’d found a disoriented Alice standing in the hallway, she’d claimed to have seen a woman; a woman Dylan knew to have been dead for nearly twenty years. It was as if her long-buried, resurging memories were too foreign for her to process, so they’d leapt into the solid surroundings of her waking world, like a weird unconscious hologram effect. Or at least that’s how Sidney Gates had tried to explain it to Dylan.
It was so hard, not knowing what to expect from her from one moment to the next. He felt like he could only be certain of her when he was making love to her, when she was entirely present in the moment with him, abandoning herself to pleasure.
“Do you remember who this room belonged to now?” he asked from behind her, his voice echoing off the bare walls of the large, mostly empty suite. She’d accused him of manipulation and lying when she’d realized he’d purposefully kept her from entering this room. That was before he’d told her the truth about her identity.
He was glad when she started slightly and turned her head, meeting his stare. She looked fully alert. Since Alice had come to Castle Durand, there were a few times when she’d go still in his presence, and it’d been like the ghosts of her past flickered in her eyes.
Is that what he was to her? A ghost?
“Was it Addie Durand’s room?” she asked slowly, her low hoarse voice causing his skin to roughen. His heart knocked against his sternum, even though he knew his appearance remained calm. No matter how hard he was trying—no matter how much he understood—he couldn’t entirely adjust to Alice’s distant, disconnected attitude about Adelaide Durand. It was . . .
He nodded and stepped toward her. “It was originally the nursery, and it had just been remodeled as a bedroom before Addie was taken. Addie’s ‘big girl’ bedroom,” he added with a small smile. “Are you remembering?” he asked her again cautiously.
She shook her head adamantly. Her short dark hair was growing. Her spiky bangs fell into her eyes. She stuck out her bottom lip and blew up on her bangs to clear her vision. The uncontrived, sexy gesture distracted him.
Just like most things about Alice did.
“I don’t remember.”
Despite her quick, firm denial, he wasn’t entirely sure he believed her. “Then why did you come here?”
“I was curious,” she replied, eyebrows arching in response to his quiet challenge.
“And how did you guess this was Addie’s room?”
She shrugged. “You tried to keep me from it. And it’s the best situated in the house, so large and airy . . .” She faded off, glancing around at the ornate crown molding, the bluish-silver-colored silk wallpaper, and the enormous bay window with a built?in curving cushioned bench that looked down on the gardens and the sharp drop off the craggy limestone bluff to Lake Michigan. Because it was night, their reflections glowed brightly in the opaque black glass. The room was nearly empty, only a few of his personal items remained from his recent occupancy. “You and Sidney had suggested how the Durands prized Addie so much, always giving her the best,” she continued. “So I guessed the best bedroom suite had belonged to her. And it belonged to you. Alan Durand prized you, as well,” she added, once again meeting his stare squarely.
Slowly, she spun to face him. She wore only the fitted T?shirt she’d worn at the bonfire and a semitransparent pair of white cotton panties. Instinctively, his gaze dropped over her, trailing over her elegantly sloping shoulders, the full thrusting breasts that stood in such erotic contrast to her slender limbs, narrow waist and hips. His gaze lingered between her thighs. Alice dyed the hair on her head to an obscuring near-black color, but her true shade was a dark red-gold, a combination of her father’s blond and her mother’s rich auburn. Despite the tension of the moment, he felt his body flicker with arousal at the vision of the auburn triangle of hair beneath the see-through fabric. There was something about the contrast of Alice’s tough-girl strength and her potent vulnerability that lit a fire in him, something elemental and strong.
He dragged his gaze to her face.
“It must be strange for you, thinking of me living in Addie’s room. Here. In the Durand’s house,” he added, taking another step toward her. He was often approaching Alice like he might a half-wild animal, highly aware that she might bolt at any moment.
He was determined to catch her, no matter what move she made.
She shook her head. She wore not a trace of makeup. Without the heavy eyeliner and mascara she often wore to hide herself or intimidate—or both—her dark blue eyes looked enormous in her delicate face. God, what he’d experienced when she’d walked into that office last May, so awkward and yet so defiant in her inexpensive new interview suit. The truth had slammed home, jarring him, rattling him to the center of his bones, even though he’d taken great pains to hide his shock. He had seen those sapphire-blue eyes before. But even if it had been the first time Dylan had ever seen her, he suspected he might have been nearly as shaken.
No wonder she’d been drawn to the eye goop. Her eyes would draw men with the noblest intentions.
And the foulest.
“No, it doesn’t seem strange to me at all. I can see you in this room. Did Alan suggest you take it?”
“He did, yes. Just before he died.”
“You moved out of it”— her chin tilted and her eyes sparked in that familiar defiant gesture—“ because of me, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t know what to expect. Sidney thought we should cautiously expose you to the surroundings,” he admitted. Sidney had suggested bringing her to the estate under the pretense of hiring her as a Camp Durand counselor when they discovered that—miraculously—she was a business major. In those circumstances, Dylan could determine what she recalled about living there—if anything—and see how she reacted to the environment. If not Dylan personally, then the two Durand security employees he’d ordered to covertly watch her while at the camp could give him insights as to her state of mind.
“I was familiar with Addie Durand’s habits,” he said slowly. “There are a few places that I worried might be more likely to trigger memories too quickly. This one, even though it’s been redecorated. Alan and Lynn’s suite. The den, the stables, the library. . . and the dining room. The entry hall, the kitchen, the living room, the terrace gardens, and the media room have been extensively renovated, so I didn’t worry as much about that. Most of the other bedrooms here weren’t used much—either by the Durands or me, so they weren’t of any concern.”
He hesitated. “I never imagined you’d inadvertently find your way into the dining room that first night at the castle. Or the stables the next day,” Dylan told her, choosing his words carefully. Alice had made it very clear to him that while she would discuss the details of Addie Durand, Addie’s kidnapping, and Dylan’s part in the tragedy, she wouldn’t talk about Addie and herself as if they were the same person. Currently, they were treading on volatile ground.
Her eyelids narrowed slightly, and he knew he’d made some kind of misstep, despite his caution.
“You suspected I was going to be in your bedroom, even before I came here? And so you moved suites, in order not to trigger any . . .” She faded off uncertainly, aware she was skimming close to the fire. Her defiant expression made a quick resurgence. “I thought you said that you hadn’t planned for anything sexual between us . . . that it just happened that morning in the stables?”
“That’s true. And since you seem to need a reminder, you’re the one who seduced me, Alice,” he said with a stern, pointed glance meant to quash her suspicion immediately. It didn’t work. He damned her defensive posture and closed the space between them. Satisfaction went through him when he took her into his arms, and the tension melted from her muscles. She pressed against him.
“If that’s what you want to call the first three seconds of what happened in those stables. It was all you after that, baby,” she grumbled under her breath.
Read the Reviews
“Glow is suspenseful, and quite eerie at times, but hella sexy and hot!”
RT Book Reviews
“Delightful and intoxicating,the happily ever after intense and beautiful”
The Romance Cafe
“I mean this as the highest compliment – reading Glow is like reading the full story of a sensational headlining news article. You get to meet all the people, get all the details, and the beautiful happy ever after.”
Heroes and Hearts
“Haunting, seductively erotic, and engrossing”
Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
“Definitely a great read for readers who enjoy a touch of erotic romance mixed with mystery and romance.”
The Good the Bad and the Unread
“A captivating story that combines sensual and arousing romance with an edge-of-your-seat suspense tale that keeps you racing through the pages to find out what is going to happen.”
4 ¾ Stars, a Reviewer Top Pick Night Owl Reviews
“Loved the entire story from cover to cover. Everything played out perfectly.”
5 Stars Once Upon an Alpha
“The romance was brilliant . . . I don’t think I could ever tire of reading about Alice and Dylan.”
The Book Pushers
And, be sure to check out Book 1,