What absolutely yummy heroes Cerise Deland writes. I want to be Coco in this story. She has all the fun.
Siren Bookstrand said:
Carried Away is a great suspense story with the right amount of romance and hot sexual tension and the suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Cerise Deland has a hit on her hands with suspense filled story. It is one you will enjoy.
And gave it Five Siren Stones, the top rating.
Grant Warwick has never scoured luscious, funny Coco Dalton from his brain. She was heaven to hold, hot as hell in bed—and for four scintillating months, totally his. So why she left him one morning without the courtesy of a call is one damn big mystery he’s never solved.
When she reappears one day in Venice, he’s stunned she wants to apologize. Heartbroken she had to desert him years ago, Coco asks his help to find a terrorist who’s tracking her. Resisting her isn’t possible—Grant sweeps her up into his arms and savors her sweet body with kisses so torrid and lovemaking so mind-bending, she’ll never again want to leave him.
But Grant must also find time to track down the terrorist, before Coco is taken from him forever.
Grant Warwick took another sip of espresso and pushed his Ray-Bans up his nose. He leaned his elbows on the café table and narrowed his eyes. Yes. The woman in the tissue-thin white cotton dress was still yakking with the Venetian guy on the stalled vaporetto. Grant told himself it was the June sun’s refractions off the murky water of the Grand Canal that hurt his eyes. But he knew it was the sight of Coco Dalton that assaulted him.
You’d think after three years of searching for another woman to replace her in his bed, he’d have replaced her in his mind. Forgotten her. The fire in his belly. The instant concrete in his cock. The idiotic dreams in his head.
One look at that gamin body, the cap of platinum curls, the up-turned breasts that didn’t need a bra, the legs that went on forever right down into her latest ugly pair of shoe leather—yeah, and he’d been hooked. Like a fish. And after the way she’d dumped him long ago, he knew his heartache smelled like an oldfish.
Christ. What a waste you are, Warwick. A hulking Scots-Irish loner who never got hooked on any woman.
Except to graceful, reckless award-winning photojournalist, Coco Dalton.
What was she doing here? Though he could see she had her camera bag slung over her shoulder and one tiny piece of luggage, she never took a vacation. He scanned the hordes of tourists streaming past him toward St. Mark’s Square, noting that no wise person traveled here after May unless they wanted to be trampled to death by the crowds.
Coco suddenly frowned at whatever her companion was saying. Odd. You used to laugh. Often. With me. In bed. Out. On kitchen counters. Floors. His eyes drifted shut as he recalled how she felt like hot satin in his arms, sinuous and artless, the ballerina who gave up the quest for pro. The way her lush lips would spread over her teeth when she grinned. The way her plump nether lips would swell when she wanted Grant to lick her and fill her. The way she’d cream for him, coming just in anticipation of his cock sliding into her juicy little cunt.
He ran a hand over his cleanly shaven bald head. Time to go, Warwick. He downed his coffee, gave the high sign to his waiter and plunked twenty euro on the table for his lunch. Buttoning his suit coat, he stood and headed for the meeting for which he’d flown to Venice.
He worked his way from the Grand Canal back into the winding calle of the ancient city. Last night, after he arrived on his private jet at the small metro airport, he’d checked into his hotel and promptly gone out to find the building. Venice always confused the hell out of him but he got off on knowing all the details of any event and prepared. That research, that caution made him and his company one of the fastest growing and better known among international security firms. The reputation that gave him had guaranteed him this new contract with the government of Dubai for their new government historical museum.
Grant arrived within minutes at the pale buttery concrete building which housed the commercial offices of the Emirate. A palazzo built in the fourteenth century by one of the Electors of Venice, the structure reflected the intrigues of the city’s politics with an ornate door of rose and green inlaid tiles. Inside, the tiny hall spoke of age–old schemes and secrets. He took the hairpin stairway up to the first floor, bending low to avoid the ceiling that was unfit for an American of six foot four.
“Buon giorno,” he greeted the receptionist, a lovely white-veiled Arab woman with a king’s ransom of gold dripping from her fingers, her wrists and hanging around her neck. “Grant Warwick to see Sheik Khalid Nasar.”
“Welcome, Mr. Warwick,” the lady responded with a crisp British accent and a blazing set of perfect white teeth. She rose from her chair and inclined her head in deference. “Please wait here a moment and I will announce you. May I offer you refreshment as you wait? Tea, perhaps, or coffee?”
Grant wanted neither but he knew from his years in the Middle East, it was an insult to refuse. “Tea, thank you.” He took a seat in one of the huge, sumptuously upholstered chairs which reminded him of those he’d seen in the Doge’s private residence. He’d heard the emir of Dubai was a very forward-looking man and favored modern furniture. This medieval look amused Grant. Ah, well. When in Venice, do as the Venetians.
The receptionist appeared with a tray with one thimble-sized cup of steaming liquid. The aroma of anise and fennel met his nostrils and he decided the brew might soothe his irritation at seeing Coco again. He took a sip—heard the door open, looked up—and promptly realized no relief was possible.
Struggling in the front door, Coco dragged her little red suitcase behind her and smiled tentatively at the receptionist. “Buon giorno, Signora. I am Coco Dalton,” she said as she parked her suitcase and let her camera bag slide to the floor. In the stilted movements of her body, Grant detected a change from the grace she normally possessed. “You are expecting me.”
The woman nodded, her lashes fluttering and descending with wide-eyed dismay to the thin, almost transparent dress Coco wore. “Yes, of course, Ms. Dalton. May I offer you tea or coffee?”
“Thank you,” Coco smiled, kneading her hands, whether out of numbness or nerves Grant couldn’t tell. Where are the remnants of the teenager who wanted to become a professional ballerina? “Tea. Yes, tea.” Her back was ramrod straight and she never turned to face him but chatted on.
Good thing, because his eyes drilled through the cotton to the curve of her hips and the straps of the white thong. His shaft twitched, taking note of the scrap of fabric that nestled between the two sweet cheeks of her ass.
Coco bent, fiddling with one of the zippers on her suitcase. “May I ask if you have a room free so that I might change my clothes?”
Grant’s cock didn’t want her to change a thing.
“My plane was late and I had no time to go to my hotel,” she told the woman.
Grant forced his gaze lower and winced at the sight of Coco’s latest outrage. Clunky neon pink running shoes.
“Forgive me,” she said, “but I do not want to meet the Sheik in my traveling attire.”
She’s here to meet the same man I am?
“Yes, Ms. Dalton.” The receptionist breathed a sigh of relief and smiled broadly at the scantily-dressed visitor. “Allow me to show you. Do you also have a scarf for your hair?” she asked Coco, as she turned and ushered Coco back through the hall.
What the hell did the sheik need with a war-zone photographer? Certainly not to open a private historical museum in Dubai.
Grant scrubbed his jaw in anger. Why hadn’t his VP of Research told him about this? Todd Cummings usually knew all. But if Coco Dalton was involved in this new job, Grant was pulling out now. He had no desire to meet her or talk with her. She’d made it plain to him three years ago when she’d failed to meet him at the airport for a romantic vacation that she was not and could never be devoted to him. And he had no intention of looking at her now and gnawing out his guts any more than he already had.
The receptionist rounded the corner of the hall and paused, casting stunned eyes on him. “Sir? You are—”
“Leaving. Give my apologies to Sheik Nasar, will you please? I must—”
“Mr. Warwick,” came a baritone from the far end of the corridor. The petite, olive- skinned man in a hand-tailored dark gray Italian silk suit. “Please, sir, you cannot leave.”
“Your Highness,” Grant inclined his head in respect to the emir’s cousin, a noted businessman who had his own private collection of Middle Eastern artifacts. “I am most pleased to meet you. We should have done so years ago.” For Grant to make a hasty exit now was impossible. Hell, it hadn’t been possible before, but he was obviously brain dead! You can’t run from a planned meeting with a man who has agreed to sign a contract with you for two million dollars a year for ten years.
When Grant got hold of Todd again, he was going to put his feet to the fire for his failure here this afternoon. Now all Grant had to do was just keep away from the cute blonde trick in bad shoe leather.
“Come,” said Nasar. “We will discuss our matters at length. Naila?” He turned to his receptionist. “Please see we have privacy.”
“I will.” She averted her eyes, smiling at the floor in feminine courtesy to her superior.
Nasar led the way into a large office with a floor-to-ceiling view of the red and ochre rooftops of Venice. Inside, a blinding Carrara marble conference table stretched to a size capable of seating ten or more. Shown to the prince’s left hand side, Grant pulled out a rolling chair and waited for Nasar to sit first. He heard another door open in the hall outside, and then another. Odds were, from one of those came a woman he had never wanted to see again.
The first person to appear in the doorway was a man. Taller than the prince, darker than he and younger by a decade, this man strode forward, all grins. “Mr. Warwick! Jamal Husseini. How wonderful to welcome you here finally. We have written often! I am the curator of the new museum.”
Grant nodded, took his hand in the western way and shook. Husseini, too, had a British accent and Grant knew from what information Todd Cummings had gleaned on this job, that the curator’s mother was British and his father from Dubai. With degrees from Oxford and Harvard in ancient texts and archeology, the man was renowned for his doctoral thesis on the works of early Islamic poets. A distant cousin of Sheik Nasar, Husseini’s credentials and connections ensured that he had been appointed curator of Nasar’s lavish new private museum.
Grant and Jamal took their cue from Nasar when he sat down, then navigated the formalities of getting to know each other. As they spoke, Grant listened not to the man but for signs of the woman whom he knew was somewhere in this office.
Finally, he heard it. Clip, clop. Clip, clop. Clattering down the hall was a woman wearing high heels. Grant had sworn Coco owned only one pair, so the odds that it might be she who appeared in the doorway were few. But so was what he saw her wearing as she came into view. Here, in all her svelte glory, stood Coco Dalton, all five foot six inches of her in a sleek white linen suit that cupped her lush breasts and flowed down her hips like a fresh coat of paint. And, yes—Grant knew his brows rose in shock—on her feet were ivory stilettos, six inches high. He let the other two men greet her first. Grant rose to his feet last.
She put a smile on her face and gave it to them all, not pausing at him any longer than the others, but sliding like the diplomat’s daughter she was, back to her host. “Forgive me, for being late. My plane.” She flourished a hand in explanation. “One can never count on schedules these days.” She stepped forward to shake hands with Nasar and Jamal. Then she turned to him. “Hello, Grant,” she said in an impartial but friendly tone that held no fear he might reject her. What’s more, she was not at all surprised at his presence. Why not?
He shook her hand. Warm, elegant, her fingers withdrew from his with a jerk. So. You are nervous about seeing me again.
She took the chair across from him. Without briefcase, computer or pen and paper, the four of them began the preliminaries of their first face-to-face meeting. The weather, their health, the adequacies of their hotel accommodations were each reviewed and found pleasant.
Nasar folded his meaty hands before him. “Ms. Dalton, Mr. Warwick, I am grateful to you both for meeting me here earlier than we planned. Thank you for altering your plans to go straight to Dubai, but I needed to see you here as my own plans were recently changed.”
Jamal leaned forward. “We have a problem we did not anticipate.”
Grant frowned. If some hitch meant they were now going to withdraw the contract for his firm to supply security to their buildings, he wouldn’t be happy, but he wouldn’t starve, either. “I assure you both it was no problem for me to come here.”
Coco agreed. “I am at your disposal. And knowing how well Mr. Warwick works, I know he maintains his supremacy in his business because he is always flexible.”
I’m flexible? He stared at her. Her violet gaze slid over his in a nanosecond. You’ve got some nerve, babe, to speak for me. And yeah, I’m flexible except when you ripped out my heart and left it in two goddamn pieces.
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