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Cut to the Chase
By Elle Keating
Formats and Prices
- Trade Paperback $19.99 $24.99 CAD
- ebook (Digital original) $7.99 $9.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 8, 2016. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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When Erin Whitley is alone with Chase Montclair, high above the city in his glittering penthouse, she sees a side of the legendary businessman no one ever sees. As powerful and commanding in the bedroom as he is in the boardroom, Chase can melt her with a word and thrill her with a touch. But when he bares his soul and tells her he loves her, Erin fears a dark secret from her past will destroy everything . . .
Chase vows to protect Erin at any cost. Every night, he takes her in his arms and unleashes her wildest inhibitions. Every day, he wakes her with kisses and promises her more. But the deeper they fall in love, the closer the danger gets. If Erin wants to be freed her from her past, she will have to trust Chase with her life. And if Chase wants to be with Erin forever, he must risk losing her first.
Chase Montclair stared out the window at the world below and prayed that the evil that yearned to infiltrate their lives would just disappear. But it would take more than prayer to lure the sick son-of-a-bitch out of the hole he had successfully hidden in for the past year. Erin and her brother had been on the defensive too long. It was time they took action and put an end to the madness.
Chase walked over to the bed and looked down at the sleeping woman, the woman he was determined to make his in every sense of the word. He pulled back the covers and slipped in behind her. As if by instinct, she nestled in closer, pulling his arm around her, though she was still peacefully asleep. The valiant part of him told him to let her rest. But as he held her naked body close, breathing in the scent of her hair and feeling her soft curves shift beside him, all he could think about was having her all over again.
He rolled her onto her back and gazed at her perfect body against pure-white sheets. His breathing hitched as he envisioned her in white, walking toward him, smiling only at him and because of him. Soon, he thought. Erin Whitley would be his wife.
Chase pulled back the sheet, exposing her breasts, which seemed to heed his attention. She began to stir, which was a relief, since his cock throbbed and longed to be deep inside her heat. Not yet. He wanted to hear her. Nothing pleased him more than when she screamed with pleasure. He gently spread her legs and took in the glorious sight. She was beautiful…and wet. Even in her sleep, she was ready for him. He licked his lips and knelt down so his face was only millimeters from her tight, glistening nub. Chase inhaled her scent, which made him mad with desire. He suppressed a groan as he enjoyed the erotic silence, and licked at her clit. He felt her bottom buck into his hands and her fingers grabbed his hair in apparent need. With his tongue circling her clit, he looked up and she met his gaze. Though she had been asleep just moments ago, her eyes were crazed and it was clear that she was going to come very soon.
“Oh God!” she whimpered.
He wasn’t going to last either. Her cries of ecstasy were enough to make him spill even before he had a chance of getting inside her. Chase lapped at her, tasting her once more before standing up and pulling her to the edge of the bed. He lifted both her legs onto his shoulders and entered her in one determined thrust of his hips. In this position, he was so deep he swore he felt the lip of her womb with the tip of his cock.
“Erin…baby!” He slid in and out of her, which prompted sounds from her that he had heard before, just not as loud, or as uninhibited. Her body thrashed against his as he pounded into her.
She reached around and cupped his balls as they slammed against her with each forceful stroke. “Never enough. I want it all,” she panted.
The combination of her words and the jolting sensations that tingled through his sack from the touch of her hand sent him into a frenzy. He knew exactly how she felt. He could never get close enough, never burrow deep enough. He would never get enough of her.
“I love you,” he groaned.
He felt her body quake and clench around him as she found her climax. With his name on her lips, he released his seed deep inside her, hoping one day very soon it would take root and grow into something, someone, he would cherish for the rest of his life.
I could wake you up like that every morning. Just say the words.”
Erin snuggled even closer, inhaling Chase’s heady scent and basking in the afterglow of yet another round of lovemaking. A girl could definitely get used to Chase’s version of a wake-up call.
“I mean it. Every morning could be just like this,” Chase said, his tone serious.
Erin didn’t realize that his initial statement warranted an answer. She thought he was just being playful before. Lying in his arms, she looked up at him and peered into eyes that matched his tone. She didn’t know how to respond. Or if she was even reading him correctly. Was he asking her what she thought he was asking? If she was wrong, she would feel like a total idiot. But just lying there saying nothing wasn’t productive either.
She bit her lower lip and then just went for it. “Are you saying…asking me if we…” Erin stared into his dark blue eyes and noticed that although the seriousness still remained, it was joined by deep warmth and a hint of laughter. She swallowed as she gathered the courage to complete her question.
“I’m asking you to move in with me. I want this every morning. Every moment of the day,” he said, his lips curling into a small smile.
Erin exhaled as relief poured over her. She’d wanted so much not to be wrong. There was nothing she wanted more than to be with Chase morning, noon and night. She was just about to wrap her arms around his neck, smother him with kisses and exclaim, “Yes!” when reality set in. In her apartment, high up and secluded, it was easy to forget. There were things, ugly game-changing things, that needed to be discussed.
“There are things we need to talk about first,” Erin said.
Chase started to say something when Erin cut him off by putting her finger over his lips. “If, after our conversation, you still want me to move in, well…”
“Okay, that’s fair,” he said, his voice muffled due to the finger that was still covering his lips.
Erin smiled. He could be so damn sexy and commanding one moment and irresistibly cute the next.
Focus. She had to focus. Lying in his arms was definitely not helping matters. She sat up and crisscrossed her legs. He too shifted in bed and replaced his smile with a look that told her that she had his full attention.
“That last day in your lab…when I told you good-bye…I received a text from him.” Erin inhaled deeply. Chase’s hand covered hers, as if for encouragement to continue. Treat it like a Band-Aid, she thought. Just get it over with. He already knew the bulk of it and he was still here. That had to mean something. Didn’t it?
“He told me that if I don’t stop seeing you, he will…” It’s not like she couldn’t find the words, she just didn’t want to hear herself say them aloud. But again, she realized that it was best if she opted for full disclosure. “He would hurt you…kill you.” Chase sat there, his expression revealing nothing. Erin cleared her voice as she prepared for the second part of the horrendous tale. “I believed him then and still do. He will follow through on his threat. He’s not just a rapist, Chase. He may be a killer. We don’t know for certain if Gabrielle committed suicide.”
Chase’s eyes narrowed. “I want to see the text. All of them,” he said, his voice firm and businesslike.
Erin stood and retrieved her purse. She pulled out her phone and handed it to Chase. It took only a moment for Chase to find the string of texts between herself and her rapist. Erin watched his hand clench the phone as he scrolled through her messages. The stoic, unwavering expression he had been wearing morphed into one of fury.
“Paul told me that the police are no further along in catching this guy than they were last year, which is why, understandably, you are hesitant to continue to trust them with your life and sanity. But things have changed. This bastard has to be stopped.” Chase stood and threw her phone onto the bed.
Erin nodded. She knew Chase was right. The situation had gotten out of control. It was too large for her to handle. She had been a fool to think she could have solved the problem on her own by buying a gun and luring him out of the city. She suddenly felt like that helpless woman in the cemetery again. Damn him!
Chase must have sensed she was silently beating herself up because he sat down next to her and took her in his arms. “We’ll get through this. And when it’s over, you’ll never have to fear him again. I’ll make certain of it.” Erin didn’t want to cry. She didn’t want to shed another tear over what had happened to her. But she found herself sobbing as he embraced her.
“But…but he promises to kill you if we’re together. I could…never live with myself if anything ever happened to…you,” she said, between stuttered breaths.
“Nothing will happen to me.” He reached up and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “And no one will keep us apart.”
Erin nodded, though she kept her eyes closed in hopes of thwarting the tears from flowing.
She felt two fingers lift her chin as he said, “But we need help, Erin. Even I can admit that.”
Erin finally looked into his loving blue eyes. “I’m scared, Chase. For you…for Paul…for me. He’s a ghost, Chase. The police couldn’t help me then and as recently as this month, they have prepared me for the possibility that this piece of shit may never be caught.”
Chase released her gently and stood. He walked over to the French doors that overlooked the balcony. “Okay, no police. But would you be comfortable talking to Andrew? He is ex–secret service and most likely has contacts within who are still active. I think he could help us nail down what we are up against.”
Erin had known about Andrew’s previous position, but at the time she didn’t think it was wise to bring him in on the current situation. Of course he knew that she had been raped and was currently being stalked, but that was the extent of it. Up until this point, his only job was to protect her with his life, not dig, not analyze or compose a profile. But like Chase had said, things had changed. Relieved that they were bypassing the police, Erin nodded, giving Chase the go-ahead to involve Andrew even more than he already had been. But before she would disclose a solitary detail surrounding her rapist, she needed to talk to Paul.
“I want to talk to Paul first. I want him to be on board with this,” Erin said.
“I’ll call him…while you start packing,” Chase said with a smile. He walked toward the door, his cell phone in hand.
* * *
As Chase discussed the text that directed Erin to stay away from him and the possibility that Gabrielle’s death may not have been a suicide, it was clear from Paul’s expression that Erin had withheld some things from her brother. But Paul didn’t seem angry; instead, he appeared relieved, as if he was able to finally put some of the pieces of the puzzle together. Chase looked back and forth between Erin and her brother. This was definitely a conversation that should have been conducted over something stronger than morning coffee. But time was of the essence and it was crucial that Andrew was brought into the fold as soon as possible.
“He will be discrete. I can promise you that,” Chase said with confidence.
“I don’t doubt his competence, Chase. But…” Paul stopped, reached over the kitchen island and held Erin’s hand. “Is this what you want, Erin? Are you ready for this?”
Erin gave Paul’s hand a squeeze. Chase marveled at just how close they were. He was thankful that she had had such a supportive and caring brother to lean on over the years.
“Yes. If sharing what happened to me with Andrew will help stop the bastard and keep the men I love safe, than I am definitely ready for this.”
Chase couldn’t hide the small grin that began to form at the mention of how she felt about him. He could never get tired of hearing Erin declare her love. And he would never tire of telling and showing her just how much he was in love with her.
Paul sighed and then smiled. “About time you finally fessed up, Erin. I was getting worried that I was going to have to be the one to tell Chase you loved him. And believe me, that would have been awkward.”
The sudden lighthearted comment from Paul was a welcome distraction from the seriousness of the conversation and the three of them laughed. Chase placed his arm around Erin’s waist and pulled her to his side. “As much as I appreciate your willingness to take one for the team, I must admit that I am thankful those words came from Erin and not you. No offense.”
“None taken,” Paul said, chuckling. Paul shook Chase’s hand, as a symbol of final approval of the relationship.
Erin’s smile seemed to brighten the entire room. Chase didn’t want that moment to end, but it was time. Chase looked at Erin and said, “Are you ready to talk to Andrew?”
Erin took a deep breath. “With my two men at my side, how could I not be?”
Last night, my mommy told my daddy to not let the door hit him where the good Lord split him. What does that mean?”
Mia Ryan looked at her five-year-old student and searched her brain for the appropriate response. Mia had come to realize early on in her short career as a kindergarten teacher that nothing within the home was sacred. Embarrassing family secrets seemed to make their way into her classroom and were often shared at show and tell.
“I think your mommy wanted your daddy to be careful not to walk into the door as he left your house,” Mia said, staring into Jessica’s big, round eyes.
The little girl seemed to buy Mia’s quick response and smiled. Jessica then turned and joined her friends at the Lego table. Mia took a mental note to keep an eye on the child. Just in case.
Mia shook her head, realizing that she would never shed her suspicious nature. Though she had left the police force over a year ago, she found herself always on alert and never accepting anything at face value. Ninety-nine percent of the time, comments and questions like Jessica’s were harmless and never materialized into anything of concern. But she needed to be ready and vigilant if that one percent ever walked into her classroom.
Mia thought that her insatiable need to keep people safe would have been quelled when she left her position at the NYPD and started the career she had always dreamed of, even as a little girl, as a kindergarten teacher. But she had miscalculated the facts. Her unfinished business had followed her from one lifetime and into the next. She was on edge all the time, always looking over her shoulder for the one who got away. She had failed and those around her had paid dearly for her incompetence.
* * *
Andrew hadn’t seen his niece in over a month and was definitely feeling the guilt mount as he ascended the steps of the bungalow she had acquired when his brother, Tim, had passed. Even now, Andrew still couldn’t believe Tim was gone. He should have seen it coming.
Tim and his wife, Joyce, were that picture-perfect couple that others strived to be. It was difficult to determine by just looking at them if they had been married for three weeks or thirty years. They had always seemed like two lovesick teenagers, never able to keep their hands off each other.
When Joyce was killed, his brother withdrew from the world and as much as Andrew had tried to convince Tim that life was still worth living, the more Andrew pled life’s case, the more Tim would retreat into his dark place.
The tragedy of it all was that Tim didn’t live long enough to discover the identity of his wife’s killer. Mia had worked day and night on her mother’s case, rarely sleeping, barely eating. The day Mia had solved the case, she rushed home to tell her pop that the killer had been identified and was in custody. Mia had walked into his bedroom and found him slumped over in bed. At first she had thought that he was just sleeping. But she quickly discovered an empty and unmarked container of pills on the floor beside him and knew that she would never feel the warmth of his eyes upon her or hear him say, as he so often did, how proud he was that she, his only child, had followed in his footsteps as a police officer.
Andrew gave his typical rhythmic tap on the door and uttered his niece’s name. He heard the sound of nails scratching wood and a deep, husky bark. The door swung open, revealing a woman who had seen too much in her young life, but who was still strong enough to stand there with her hands on her hips and display a smile he had adored since she was a little girl. The screen door kept the furry newcomer from leaping into Andrew’s arms. The bark had deceived him. He had expected a German shepherd, a Rottie perhaps. But as he stared into the chocolate-brown eyes of a yellow Lab that was in that in-between stage of puppy and adult, Andrew concluded that Mia’s new sidekick was just a big old baby.
“Uncle Drew, meet Henry,” she said.
Andrew loved that Mia always picked up from where they left off. A week, a month, six months could go by and it was as if they had just seen each other. Mia had always been special to him. He remembered his weekly visits. Sunday-night dinner with his brother’s family had been a ritual he never grew tired of. The night had been spent talking about their past week and the days ahead. Tim would discuss his latest case and Andrew would share as much about his own experiences as he could without breaking confidence and scaring his young niece.
But it had surprised and intrigued him to learn that Mia was not only fascinated with the stories her dad and uncle told, but she seemed to crave the details surrounding particular cases, especially the ones that appeared to have gone cold. She would ask question after question, all the while jotting the answers they gave into a black-marbled composition book. When she had finished with her interrogation, she would give her opinion, her take on the kind of criminal they were dealing with. As a youngster, she had been quick and insightful; as a teenager and young adult she had been alarmingly accurate, to the point Andrew knew she had a gift at profiling.
Although Andrew kept his observations and admiration of her skill to himself, Tim made it obvious how proud he was of his talented daughter. His constant comments and coaxing about joining the force had started to wear on her, forcing her to make a decision between a career she had always wanted and one she saw as a hobby, although she loved participating with her dad and uncle on the weekends. In the end, her aspirations to be a teacher had prevailed and she left New York to attend Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Andrew had made certain that they stayed in contact during her four years at college, even visited her on occasion when he found a break in his unrelenting schedule. She had grown into a beautiful young woman, with every opportunity within her grasp.
And then the unthinkable occurred and every nightmare was realized. Her mother’s body was discovered under a large oak tree in Central Park. Joyce had been raped and strangled, as the hand marks around her neck indicated.
Andrew had been the one to make the phone call. His brother had been too distraught, blaming himself for what had happened to his wife, for not being there to protect her. The night of the murder had been uneventful. Tim had been at work, patrolling. Joyce had just finished her twelve-hour shift at Jefferson Hospital as a NICU nurse. The cameras had time-stamped her departure from the hospital at seven eighteen in the evening. She was discovered in the park around midnight by two teenagers. The young couple had literally stumbled over her body while trying to find a secluded spot to make out.
Despite his numerous pleas, Andrew could not convince Mia to stay put, at least for that night. She had made the ninety-minute drive in a little over an hour. The moment she had walked into her parents’ home, he knew something inside of her had snapped. Mia’s eyes had been bloodshot and crazed. He had tried to console her, but she wouldn’t have it. She had rushed into her parents’ bedroom, where she found her dad crying. She had knelt down, taking his head into her arms, and wept with him.
Andrew had expected Mia to spend some time at home after the funeral. But the weeks turned into months and it was apparent that Mia had no intention of returning to Pennsylvania, despite the fact she had been offered her first teaching position at some picturesque elementary school in the mountains. His suspicions were confirmed when she blurted out over dinner one Sunday night that she was joining the force. He remembered the look on Tim’s face. He had actually smiled, though his joy could not completely extinguish the despair in his eyes.
Four months had passed and the police weren’t any closer to finding out who had killed Joyce. The case was growing colder with each passing day. A month prior, the NYPD had forced Tim’s hand and made him take early retirement. At the time, Andrew had thought it was best that his brother was no longer in the trenches and had been removed from such a morbid environment. But the moment Andrew had learned that his brother had killed himself, he questioned whether all that extra time on his hands only expedited his death, significantly reducing his reasons to wake up in the morning.
Andrew remembered paying Mia a visit the night before she had left for training. He had hugged her, whispering words of encouragement. Alone in her bedroom, her dad safely in the kitchen cooking meatballs—an activity he hadn’t engaged in since Joyce’s passing—Mia finally had let her guard down and sobbed into his chest. She didn’t tell him why she was crying. She didn’t have to.
“Don’t tell him, Uncle Drew.”
“You don’t have to do this. This is not your dream, Mia.”
“But I have to find the bastard. He’s out there somewhere. Besides, look how happy, how proud my dad is. I haven’t seen him look so alive since my mom…” she said, not allowing herself to finish.
“You would make him proud in whatever you do, whichever field you choose. Can’t you see that?” Andrew asked, pleading with her to understand.
Mia shook her head. “I can do this for my dad. I’m going to find him; you’ll see,” she said, wiping her tears with the back of her hand. Attempting to compose herself, she cleared her throat and forced a smile.
Her decision had been made. There was no changing her mind. Andrew knew from the look in her eyes that there was no turning back. “I’m here for you, sweetheart. You know that, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I do,” she said, hugging him tightly.
He embraced her, allowing the chapters of her life to play in his mind at a speed he wanted so much to slow down and repeat over and over again. He remembered her first day of school and how she waved at him and her parents as she galloped onto the school bus with confidence. He recalled the night Mia had come home from school crying because Jason Wyatt had broken up with her through a note passed during gym class. His frown quickly turned into a smile at the memory of her scoring the game-winning basket in the girls’ state championship. She couldn’t wipe the smile off her face for an entire week after that.
With no children of his own, Andrew felt that Mia was more of a daughter to him than a niece. Although Andrew struggled to keep it together, he knew he had to stay strong, for both of them. “You are most definitely my favorite niece,” he said, trying desperately to lighten the conversation.
“Not a difficult feat since I’m your only niece,” she said, chuckling and sniffling at the same time.
“Quite a watchdog you got there. I should be careful that he doesn’t lick me to death,” Andrew mocked.
“Henry can be intimidating when he wants to be,” Mia said, patting the big galumph on the head. With the dog’s ears plastered back and his tail wagging incessantly, he couldn’t look any more submissive.
“I’ll take your word for it.”
Mia opened the screen door, unleashing the gentle giant. He jumped up. Just as Andrew suspected, he was mauled and licked repeatedly. “Down, Henry!” Mia scolded. When she realized that Henry’s excitement was nowhere close to dying down, she bribed him with a treat and put him in one of the bedrooms.
Andrew looked around the quaint home and realized that Mia hadn’t changed anything in regards to the décor, with the exception of Henry. He didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing that the house appeared as if it was trapped in time. Andrew suspected it was the latter. He decided he would talk to his niece about her living situation, but not now. At the moment, there was something he needed to propose. It was a risk; he wasn’t going to waste a moment denying it. The assignment he was asking her to take on would either unleash the demons she tried desperately to keep at bay and send her spiraling, or free her from the pain and guilt she harbored. Even as he uttered the words, he was still on the fence as to whether he was making the right decision.
“I have a favor to ask, sweetheart.”
Scott Morris’s attention was divided. And he did not like it one bit.
- On Sale
- Mar 8, 2016
- Page Count
- 384 pages
- Forever Yours