V-Day / Naked Edge — An excerpt!

    Elizabeth, if you're out there, you won a copy of Extreme Exposure. Please send me your snail address as soon as possible!

    Everyone else's prizes are in the mail, including the Surrender winners on Barbara's blog.

    Only one more day to vote in the current poll.

    In case you're wondering exactly how to use this poll to your advantage, I'll explain. You just scroll down the the poll, then giggle loudly and say so that your hubby/boyfriend/significant other can hear you, "Oh, honey, come look at this!"

    Then when he looks, you give him a little affectionate nuzzle and say, "Guess how I voted?"

    This leaves him no choice but to read all the different ways you could have voted, thus giving him a solid expectation of what he now needs to do, given that we're down to the wire on Valentine's Day.

    Speaking of Valentine's Day...

    There are places in this world where the books I write — the books you read — are considered abominable filth. Women who write them are considered no better than prostitutes.

    It's no coincidence that those same countries treat women abysmally. In many of those countries, a wife is a woman who has no right to say "no" to the man she married. She has no safe place to go if he beats her, no one who will help her if he tries to kill her. He can divorce her at will, though she can't divorce him. And if they do divorce, she loses her children.

    In some of those countries, women have been sentenced to public rape as punishment for the crimes of men in their families. Some are killed by their brothers or fathers for dishonor — real or imagined — that they've brought to their families. Some have been flogged for reporting rape; when the attacker denies it but admits to "having sex" with her, she's punished for fornication.

    In some of those countries, women have no access to contraception or to skilled medical care when they're pregnant or when they give birth. They die in droves. Married off sometimes even before they reach puberty, they fear sex. Some suffer mutilation, preventing them from even being able to enjoy sex and making birth more complicated and more painful.

    The bottom line is that we are lucky to live in a place and time that allows us to live the lives we live. We are free in a way that women have never been free before. We can love whom we choose. We can read what we want. We can kiss our beloved in public. We can get married or divorced. We can have children — or we can just have sex for fun.

    My career as a journalist has largely been focused on fighting to make women's lives better. It's why I became a journalist. My own past — I was sexually assaulted as a child — made me sensitive to the suffering of women. So what's the moral of the story? What's the point of all this depressing stuff?

    Women are suffering sexual oppression and abuse around the world, so take V-Day to do something nice for your vagina!

    Here's a little V-Day treat.

    From Chapter 10 of Naked Edge...

    Kat parked her truck on the street in front of Gabe’s house, then dug the police report out of her briefcase. Careful not to leave her keys in the ignition, she stepped out into the cold wind and headed up the walkway toward his front door, trying not to notice the nervous flutter in her stomach, a part of her excited to see him again and a part of her wishing she could climb back in her truck and drive away.

    I wanted you so badly that, if you hadn’t stopped, I’m not sure what would have happened.

    She cringed inwardly at the memory of her own words, feeling exposed in a way she’d never felt before. But her feelings really didn’t matter. Her people were depending on her. Grandpa Two Crows was depending on her. She climbed his front steps, rang the doorbell, and waited.

    And waited.

    Disappointed that he wasn’t home, she headed back down the walk to her truck, planning to call and leave him a message when she got back to the office. She unlocked the door, climbed into the cab and was about to drive off when her cell phone rang. She dug her phone out of her purse and saw that the call was coming from a payphone. Hoping Pauline’s mother hadn’t kicked her out of the house again, she answered. “Katherine James.”

    But the voice she heard was not Pauline’s. It didn’t even sound human.

    Cold and mechanical, it sang in her ear. “Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians / Seven little, six little, five little Indians / Four little, three little, two little Indians / One little Indian… dead.”

    The last word lingered in a long, drawn-out exhalation that made the Kat’s pulse spike and the hair on her nape rise. Then there was silence.

    “Who is this? Who’s calling?”

    But the caller had already hung up.

    Kat drew the phone away from her ear and stared at it, stunned. Like any reporter worth his or her salt, she’d gotten death threats before, but there was something about this call, something malevolent…

    Report it to the police.

    That’s what she needed to do. But not the Boulder police. She didn’t want to have to deal with them again. She’d wait to report it till she was home in Denver. She drew a breath and glanced around her but saw no one.

    What did you expect to see, Kat? Some thug in a ski mask watching you?

    Feeling silly, she stuck her key in the ignition and started the engine.

    She’d just pulled out of the parking space, when her cell phone rang again. Her foot slammed on the brake, and for a moment she froze. Then slowly she reached over and picked up the phone—relief rushing through her when she saw Gabe’s name on the LCD display.

    She answered. “This is Kat.”

    “Hey, it’s me, Gabe. I need to see you. I need to talk to you.” His words were slightly slurred, and there was an edge to his voice that she hadn’t heard before. Was he drunk? “Can we meet someplace? I just really need to see you.”

    “Where are you?” It sounded like there was a party in the background.

    “At the West End Tavern. Been here since they opened. It’s happy hour, but they won’t serve me another drink. I guess they figure I’m happy enough.”

    So he was drunk.

    “I’m in Boulder.” She didn’t tell him she was in the middle of the street in front of his house. “Stay there, and I’ll meet you in a few minutes, okay?”

    “You’re coming here?” The surprise in his voice made him sound boyish and strangely vulnerable.

    “I’ll be there in about ten minutes.” She took her foot off the brake and pressed on the gas. “And Gabe?”

    “Yeah, honey?”

    She’d be lying if she said that hearing him call her honey had no affect on her. “Ask the bartender for a glass of water.”

    # # #

    “Here we are.” Her arm around his waist, Kat leaned Gabe against the brick wall just outside his own front door, having maneuvered him out of her truck and up the walk—no easy task when he was almost a foot taller than she and outweighed her by at least eighty pounds. Not only did the extra weight hurt her weak leg, but she was afraid she’d slip and they’d both fall. “Do you have your keys?”

    “In my pocket.” He made no move to get them, but ducked down and nuzzled her cheek, then buried his nose in her hair, breathing deep. “Mmm. God, you smell good—sweet and clean and good enough to eat. Do you know that?”

    “Um… ” Kat tried to stay focused on what she was doing, not what she was feeling, her skin burning where his lips had touched her. She reached inside his coat pockets, but found no keys. “Are you sure you didn’t leave your keys at the bar?”

    “Back pocket.” He shifted, drew her against him, almost tottering them both to the concrete as he nibbled her earlobe. “God, I want you! I want to kiss you until you can’t think. I want to kiss those perfect breasts. I want to taste you everywhere. I want to fuck you so damn bad. You don’t even know what I mean, do you?”

    Kat was forced to press herself against him to reach his back pocket, her hand sliding over the worn denim of his jeans, only butter-soft fabric between her palm and the disturbingly hard muscles of his butt. “I… I think I do know what you mean.”

    He groaned, his breath hot, his hips flexing against her, giving away his erection, his tongue seeking and teasing the whorl of her ear. “You might know what I mean, but you can’t know what I mean, not really. I mean, you’re extra virgin, honey.”

    She retrieved the keys, twisting to her left so that she could unlock the door. She tried to change the subject, this one far too unsettling, especially when he nibbled the sensitive skin below her ear. “D-do you like your coffee black?”

    “You have no idea what it’d feel like to have a my mouth between your legs. I’d suck on your clit till you came. Then I’d slide my cock inside you, and you’d be so wet and so tight!” He nipped her throat with his teeth, his big hand sliding up from her waist to cup her breast, the contact scorching even through her sweater and bra. “I’d make you come. I’d make the dignified Katherine James scream. Mmm, God, yeah.”

    His words drove the breath from her lungs, heat rushing into her cheeks. It took her a moment to realize she had no idea which key opened the door. She held up a shaking hand. “Which key… Which key is it, Gabe? Can you help me?”

    “Have you ever had an orgasm? But you don’t want… And I can’t... ” He dropped his forehead head against her shoulder, the hand that had touched her breast now balled into a fist as he drew it away. “Get a grip, Rossiter, you stupid fuck.”

    “Gabe?” If he passed out, they would both land in the snow. “Which key?”

    # # #

    Gabe woke up naked in his own bed, certain he was an inch from death. His head throbbed. His mouth was as dry as sand and thick with the sour after-taste of single malt. And his stomach…

    Oh. God!

    His skull seeming to shatter, he sat, felt his stomach revolt, and made a staggering, stumbling dash to the bathroom, where he spent the next ten minutes puking his guts out like a frat boy. When he was reasonably certain it was over, he flushed and rested his cheek against the porcelain rim.

    “Do you feel better now?” a soft feminine voice asked.


    What the hell was she doing here?

    He opened one eye, saw her standing in the doorway. And then he remembered. He’d called her from the bar. She’d come for him, driven him home and…

    I’d make you come. I’d make the dignified Katherine James scream.

    He closed his one eye, groaned.

    You’re lucky she didn’t drop you on the concrete, dickhead!

    Now, he was sprawled naked on his bathroom floor using the toilet as a pillow.

    Yeah, well, if that didn’t turn her on, nothing would.

    He heard the sound of running water, and then she was there, kneeling beside him, wiping his face with a cool, damp cloth. “Oh, you poor, silly goat!”

    Silly goat?

    He sat up, wincing as his skull exploded, then felt her press a glass of cold water and two pills—Christ, he hoped they were aspirin!—into his hands. He opened both eyes, almost wept for joy when he recognized them as Excedrin. Then he popped the pills and washed them down with gulps of cold, wonderful water. “More.”

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