By Kelli Maine

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The emotional rollercoaster of the USA Today bestselling Give &Take series by Kelli Maine continues! POSSESSION
For Merrick and Rachael, Turtle Tear Island has become their own private paradise with days of unimaginable bliss and sizzling nights in the bedroom-and beyond. But Rachael and Merrick’s happiness is shattered when his daughter, Nadia, suddenly becomes increasingly demanding of his time and devotion. It soon becomes clear that Merrick will have to make an agonizing choice: the woman whose love saved his tortured soul or the daughter he never knew existed . . .

Rachael can’t stand the thought of losing Merrick after everything she’s sacrificed to be with him. She had thought she and Merrick were done with secrets, that the passion that burned so brightly between them had forged an unbreakable connection, but she begins to wonder if she ever really knew the man at all. Now the love they’ve fought so desperately to protect may not be enough to save them . . .

Praise for Kelli Maine!
“TAKEN BY STORM is a passionate love story that grips you by the heart from the first page and doesn’t let go. MJ and Maddie’s love is soul-deep. Maine has written a masterpiece!”-Kristen Proby, Bestselling Author of the With Me in Seattle series.

“This book hooked me from the very beginning and glued me to every page. MJ stole my heart and quickly became one of my new favorite leading men. Loved it.”-Michelle Valentine, New York Times Bestselling Author of Rock the Heart


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Sleep wouldn't come to me. I was no stranger to insomnia, but this was different. This was sleeplessness due to frustration and worry.

Countless hours had been spent racking my brain—where was Nadia? I'd left my daughter several messages and hadn't heard from her in at least a month. All I wanted to do was make sure she was okay and taken care of.

I padded down the grand staircase, barefoot, into the open, three-story entryway of Turtle Tear Hotel. Moonlight lit upon the wall murals, wavering with shadows from the trees outside the windows. It made the painted birds seem to move in that eerie, hallucinogenic way of sleepless midnights.

I should be in bed, curled up against Rachael. It wouldn't be long before she woke and came looking for me. Causing her worry was something I hated, but staying in bed, staring at the ceiling, had driven me mad. I had to get up and move.

Taking quiet strides down the hallway, I exited through the patio door. The fountain gurgled. Water fell from the conch shell the stone mermaid held in her hands. Frogs called from the banks of the island. I'd love nothing more than to feel the cool grass between my toes and breathe in the breeze off the water, but I knew it was too risky to walk that close to shore at night in the Everglades.

Sitting in one of the wrought iron patio chairs, I slouched down and looked up at the moon. It was hard to believe that not long ago, I stood in this very spot—the hotel behind me still in ruins—and was the loneliest man on the planet. Now that I had Rachael and my family, my son, Nadia's twin, MJ, nothing was going to take them away from me.

I took a deep breath and held it in, fighting off the foreboding feeling that this happiness was fleeting. As I blew it out, the soft, deep notes of a cello reached my ears from the direction of the boathouse.

I chuckled. Beck playing the cello was as likely as Beck becoming my best friend, but there it was—both recent facts. Lately, everything that had once seemed absurd and impossible was happening.

I threaded my fingers behind my head and listened, admiring the cloudless, starry sky. Beck was pretty damn good.

Just as my mind cleared of worry and the anxiety wafted away on Beck's smooth strings, footsteps shuffled behind me, bringing me back to reality. I turned my head to find Joan, my ex-assistant and Beck's girlfriend, walking toward me.

"I didn't know you were here this weekend," I said, a little more than surprised to see her. I did my very best to avoid any time alone with her, even though I knew Rachael was secure in our relationship. I didn't need to give her any reminders of our rocky beginning when she perceived my past romantic relationship with Joan as a threat.

"I got in late tonight by boat." Her eyes were lost in the trees, summoned by Beck's strings. "He's good," she said, stopping beside my chair.


The two of us listened silently until the melody ended. Then Joan turned to me. "You know he's wasting his talent being here."

My shoulders tensed. "Why do I hear accusation in your tone?" I had never had an indication that Beck wanted to do something other than work as crew foreman for Rocha Enterprises. I wasn't holding him hostage. Beck was a grown man. He could do whatever he wanted with his life. His choice. He certainly didn't need another man telling him what he should be doing.

"He feels obligated to you. He doesn't want to leave you high and dry here."

I scratched my chin, running my short nails through the stubble. "This project is over. Has been. Why does he feel he needs to stay?"

"Now that you sold off all of your properties, making Rocha Enterprises all but extinct, and you and he have become good friends…" She shrugged.

"It's his way of being supportive or something? Showing loyalty?" Jesus, I didn't sell all my properties by choice—my bastard father would've taken them from me if I hadn't. There was no way I'd let my hard work fall into those conniving hands. The last thing I wanted was to be an obligation, like someone's decrepit old grandparent. "He doesn't owe me anything."

"It's not about owing you. It's about standing by someone he thinks of like a brother. With everything going on—losing the company, MJ, Nadia—he won't leave Turtle Tear. And now there's the Weston Plantation. MJ will need him as foreman there." She shot me a challenging look, lifting a brow, and I knew what she was saying. What she was asking.

I nodded and turned away, trying to block out thoughts of the conversation I'd have to have. She stood for a moment longer before padding to the gate and heading off toward the boathouse in a golf cart.

I stretched my arms over my head before standing and inhaling a deep breath of lime-scented air. It was late fall, and Mr. Simcoe and I had cleaned up the overripe key limes from the orchard floor, but their sweet, pungent scent still lingered in the earth below the trees.

From now until the day I died, this would always be what I identified as the scent of home. This island, this hotel, Rachael. The awareness of home was something I'd never known before. Experiencing it gave me a heady feeling as I blew out a breath and turned toward the patio doors to find Rachael lingering in the entryway watching me. Her hair hung down past her shoulders to touch the lace trim on the top of her silky tank. Her matching pajama shorts clung to every curve. She was a sexy angel standing there beckoning me to her.

"Come back to bed," she said, holding her hand out. "Let me help you get your mind off things."

I took her hand and kissed it. She radiated sexual heat and emotional warmth. Two things I could never live without. Only from her. My Rachael.

My home.

It wasn't the first night I'd been stricken by the thought, tying her in with my base needs and desires. Over the months we'd been together, it was clear that I never wanted to be without her. I had to make sure she knew, she felt the same.

Soon. I'd do it soon.

I trailed my eyes from hers, down over her lips, neck, and to the spot on her collarbone where I knew I could make her sigh by kissing it.

Very soon.



Your hands should be illegal," I whispered between moans of ecstasy. I grasped his wrist and tried to pull his hand away. I'd already had two orgasms and he was showing no sign of relenting. "I'm supposed to be taking your mind off of things."

Merrick chuckled against my breast and flicked his tongue across my nipple. "You have taken my mind off of things, just not these things." He sucked my stiffened peak and delved his fingers inside me deeper. My eyes rolled up to the ceiling, recalling a time when I wouldn't let him touch me.

Never again. I wanted his hands, his fingers, his mouth on me until my last breath. I'd given myself over to him and never once looked back. He was my life. Existing without him would be no existence at all.

The telltale quaking of my legs paired with the heat igniting in my center told me I was on the brink of my third mind-blowing climax of the night. "Please," I whimpered. "Merrick—I need…" I pulled on his shoulders, desperate to have him inside me. "Please."

He kissed his way up my chest to my neck, allowing me to wrap my legs around his waist. "You never have to beg me, Rach, but I like it when you do."

I arched my back, loving the sensation of my sensitive nipples rubbing against his chest, and reached between us to wrap my hand around his long, hard penis. He groaned and I took his mouth with mine, sucking his lips and sliding my tongue against his.

I guided him to my opening. He barely thrust, entering me only an inch or so. I raised my hips, eager to take more of him in. "Slow," he whispered, threading his fingers with mine and raising them above my head. "Let me make love to you slowly."

I slid my legs down his, wrapping my ankles around his calves, feeling the length of his body pressed against mine, hot and heavy.

He rocked into me, pushing himself in a little at a time. The sensation—the waiting—was overwhelming. It brought tears to my eyes. I loved him so much, sometimes I couldn't keep it all inside. I felt like I'd explode with it.

I rocked with him. He looked down into my eyes and I blinked back the tears. "Why are you crying?" He kissed my forehead and each eyelid.

"Happy tears," I said. "I love you so much it hurts."

Merrick lowered his head and kissed my chest over my heart. "You have my love forever. I promise you. You believe that, don't you?"

I nodded. Fat, wet tears slipped down the sides of my face onto the pillow. "I want forever."

"Good," he said, following the salty trail of my tears with his tongue, down below my ear. "Because you don't have a choice." He thrust hard and deep, making me gasp and squeeze his hands. I tightened around him, wanting to give back the sensation he was giving me. He let out a low groan and leaned his forehead against mine.

I stared into his eyes as I rose up to meet each of his torturously slow and controlled thrusts. He ground his hips against mine, rubbing and circling his pelvis, hitting all the right spots inside and out. I whimpered and closed my eyes, knowing I wasn't going to last long. Merrick nuzzled my nose with his. "Open," he whispered. "I want to be looking in your eyes when I take you over the edge."

I did what he asked, locked in to his deep, dark, endless eyes. A rush of heat flushed my body. I tried to free my hands, wanting to grip his hair, pull him closer, but he wouldn't let go, only held my hands captive above me even tighter. "Come with me," I pleaded. "It's so close. Merrick…"

A tightening pulled behind my navel, spread through me, contracting around him.

"God, Rachael," he whispered.

I felt him throb inside me and I shattered with him.

Both breathless and sated, he collapsed on top of me for a moment, capturing my lips in a lingering kiss before rolling off and wrapping his arms around me, pulling me into him. "I love you. You're everything to me."

My heart jolted and swelled. I kissed his chest, savoring the salty flavor of sweat, and nestled down into his arms. "I love you, too. No matter what."

He glanced down at me; his serious expression took my breath away. "Promise me," he said.

"I promise you. Forever."

He traced his finger over my eyebrows, down my nose, and across my lips. "I'm going to hold you to that."

"Promises should be sealed with a kiss." I kissed his fingertips, then lifted my head to reach his neck, his soft stubbled chin, and finally his lips, which I could never imagine getting enough of.



I woke with a start, blurry-eyed, to the shrill ringtone of my cell phone on the nightstand. I glanced at the clock. Three a.m. Who the hell was calling at this hour?

Rachael mumbled in her sleep and rolled over. Sometimes, I swore a bomb could go off and she wouldn't wake. I chalked it up to being overly worn out from our earlier activities.

Grabbing my phone, I answered it quickly, not recognizing the number, eager to silence the ear-numbing ring. "Hello?"

There was a moment of silence before a tentative female voice said, "It's Nadia."

"Where are you?" I asked, instantly awake and alert.

"Paris. I'm sorry."

I sat up, throwing my legs over the side of the bed and rubbing my eyes with my free hand. "Where in Paris?"

Because she'd come into my life under the influence of my father's betrayal, I didn't want to care about her, but Jesus, she was my flesh and blood, just like MJ. I had to care. I couldn't make myself not care.

I felt Rachael's hand on my back and looked over my shoulder at her. Nadia, I mouthed. Her eyes went wide.

"Rue Lincoln in the Golden Triangle. I can't talk, they're waking up. I'll call tomorrow," Nadia said and hung up.

I let my hand drop, holding my phone in my lap. "Paris." I blew out a hard breath and turned to face Rachael. "She said, 'They're waking up.' She's with Enzo and her mom. We're going to Paris. I'm bringing her back."

Rachael sat up. "We're going to Paris? Why?"

Her eyes were sleepy and her hair tangled in the back. I reached up and smoothed it down.

How could I explain why I had to go to Nadia in a way that would make sense when Nadia had come to us—to Turtle Tear—so underhandedly, working for my father. She'd been motivated to reveal herself as my daughter by his promises and then found out that Enzo Rocha wasn't a man who kept his promises.

Nadia was my daughter, though, and I couldn't believe she'd hurt me without the coercion of her grandfather and her mother, whom I'd believed had died during childbirth twenty years ago.

"I know," I said. "The situation is crazy, but I can't let her stay with them."

"Merrick…" Rachael dropped her eyes to her lap. "You don't think this is just another one of Enzo's games?"

"No. I heard desperation in Nadia's voice. She doesn't want to be there with them."

Rachael looked up at me from under her lashes. "She's helped him before. That's all I'm saying."

I clenched the sheet, willing myself to stay calm. Rachael had her reasons for wanting me to stay away from Nadia, but she had to understand why I couldn't. The girl was my daughter. "You don't trust her?" I knew she didn't, so it came out as a statement more than a question.


My back stiffened, but I wouldn't let this come between us. I'd figure out how to make Rachael see that this time with Nadia was different. "Then trust me."

She pressed her lips together and nodded. "Always."

I glanced toward the hotel. Still no sign of Rachael. She'd run back inside to grab something she'd forgotten and it was taking her forever to come back out. I was trying not to get impatient as Beck stowed our luggage in the helicopter and got it ready for takeoff.

It was time to have the conversation with him I'd been dreading. I wanted everything off my plate before leaving for Paris so I could concentrate completely on getting Nadia away from my father.

"I need to talk to you," I said to him, taking another glance toward the hotel. Still no Rachael. I gave Joan a sly nod.

"That doesn't sound good," Beck said, laughing it off. "I didn't do it."

I gestured for Beck to follow me a few yards away by the tree line, then turned to face my best friend. "What are you doing here?"

Beck's forehead creased. "What are you talking about?"

"The project's done. Rocha Enterprises is gone. What are you doing here?" The only way around this situation was to plow straight through it. Not allowing Beck time to respond, I crossed my arms and continued. "You're a cellist, not a foreman. That's where you came from and where you need to go back to."

Beck ran a hand over his head and back along the ponytail at the base of his neck. "I'm not a cellist and I can't leave—"

"You can. You will, and you are a cellist. You used to play in an orchestra back in Nebraska, right? Isn't that what you told me when I interviewed you? I have no clue why you stopped playing and I'd love to hear the story someday, but there's no time right now. I'm leaving and so are you. I don't want you here when I get back."

At Beck's narrowed eyes and fists coming up to his hips, I swallowed hard, knowing Rachael would be back any second and I couldn't back down now. "Beck, you're fired. I no longer require a foreman. Go back to Nebraska and take that cello with you."

Beck spit on the ground. "You're a fucking bastard."

I took a step forward. "A fucking bastard who knows when a friend needs to hear the hard truth. Whatever you're afraid of in your past needs to be dealt with. You have serious talent. Don't waste it."

Beck shook his head. "You don't know what you're talking about."

"No? Go back there, get your ass back in that orchestra, and prove me wrong." I gritted my teeth. I didn't want Beck to leave, but it was time for him to find his own life and not get waylaid at Turtle Tear, bogged down with my issues.

"Whatever." Beck reached out and punched my shoulder. "Get the fuck out of here and find your daughter."

I knew my words hurt him, but also knew they struck a chord. I hoped this wouldn't create a rift between us any more than the distance between Florida and Nebraska would.

Rachael finally arrived with the whine of a golf cart, parked it, and hopped out. Joan gave me a tight-lipped smile and I gave one back. "Take care of him," I told her.

"If he'll let me," she said, gazing past me to the tree line, where Beck still stood with his arms folded, lost in thought.

I took a tote bag from Rachael. "You finally ready?" I twirled a lock of her hair that had fallen from the messy bun she'd wound up on top of her head. I liked it when she wore her hair like that and I could see the graceful lines of her neck.

"Ready." She waved to Beck, exchanged a handshake with Joan that wasn't unfriendly—the secrets of the Weston Plantation had created some strange bond between the two of them—and hooked her arm through mine. "Fly me to Paris, my love."



After a three-hour flight from Miami to New York, a two-hour layover, and a seven-hour overnight flight to Paris, we finally made it to Hotel Montalembert at 7 a.m. the next day. I was exhausted and never wanted to fly again. I was contemplating what I could do to convince Merrick to buy an apartment there and never leave just to avoid airports and the crimp in my neck that trying to sleep on a plane gave me.

Once in our room, I crashed onto the bed and announced, "I'm starving!"

"Twenty-four-hour room service," Merrick said, sitting on the side of the bed and opening the menu. "What would you like?"

"Anything. I'm going to spend some time in the bathroom making myself feel human again." I got up and pranced into the bathroom, blowing him a kiss before closing the door.

Then I sank back against it and closed my eyes. I was trying my best to keep a brave face for him, to not let any of this get to me. He was suffering enough as it was without my emotions piling on and causing him to worry. But Enzo Rocha was an entity all his own, and I didn't know what to expect from him. He'd proved through his lies, manipulation, and most recently, physical assault, that he was capable of anything at all. And he hated Merrick.

I'd never been so afraid in my life, even waking up tied to a bed in a strange hotel with a man I didn't realize I knew—yes, Merrick and I had come far. More than far. It seemed we'd spanned lifetimes in the space of several months together. I trusted and loved him absolutely. If this thing with Enzo went badly…

I couldn't even bring myself to think about it. I was probably being overdramatic.

Splashing water on my face, I prayed silently that we would get Nadia and return quickly to Turtle Tear. Until we did, our future seemed like a very distant place. This new transition in Merrick's life needed to end before we could find our peace and happiness together.

I took my hair down and brushed it, got rid of my blouse and pants, and squared my shoulders before walking back out into the room and facing Merrick. I'd be strong for him.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he looked me over from head to toe and smirked. "You know I want to take that bra and those panties off of you and make you scream my name, but right now I'm so tired I can't even think straight."

I stepped between his knees and kissed the tip of his nose. "I'm just changing into something more comfortable. No pressure tonight—today—whenever it is. I've lost all track of time."

"Me, too." He glanced at his cell phone lying on the bed beside him.

"Still nothing from her?" Nadia hadn't contacted Merrick again, and I knew it was making him crazy to be this close and have no contact.

"No. Nothing." He scratched his head and lay back against the plush pillows.

"How long are you going to wait before you call her?"

"Can't." He sighed. "It's a new number. If I know it, it'll tip Enzo off that she's contacted me, and it seemed like she wanted to keep that a secret."

I sat down beside him and ran my hand up his stomach over his chest. "So we wait?"

"We wait." He closed his eyes and I stroked his hair. Some things were worth waiting for.

There would be a day when this was all behind us. I just hoped I didn't have to wait too long for that day to arrive. Merrick would stop at no length to make up the lost time between him and his kids, but I didn't understand why Nadia, at almost twenty-one, couldn't just leave her grandfather and find her way to Turtle Tear. What was she afraid of? Or was it something else? Did she know something that Enzo was keeping under wraps, so he was keeping her close?

Several minutes later, the knock on the door from room service came as I lounged on the balcony taking in the view of the Eiffel Tower and the back of Notre Dame while Merrick showered. He stepped out of the bathroom clad in pajama bottoms as I opened the door and the waiter rolled our order in on a cart.

"Thank you," Merrick said, tipping the man while I took inventory of the tray. "Fruit, a baguette, cheese, wine."

"I didn't order wine." Merrick strode over and picked up the bottle. A tag hung from the neck by a string. He picked it up and read it, frowning. "Welcome to Paris." He glanced at the waiter. "Is this complimentary?"

"Non, monsieur. It was added to your room service order."

"By who?" He set the bottle down, lines forming across his forehead.

"Je ne sais pas, monsieur."

Merrick nodded, accepting the waiter's answer that he didn't know who'd sent the wine. "Thank you. That's all we'll be needing right now."


Merrick closed and locked the door. I lifted the tag and read the slanted, masculine writing. "What do you think?" I asked.

Merrick shook his head. "I don't know."

"Enzo? Nadia?"

"Could be anyone. Could be MJ or Beck and Joan, for all we know." He gazed at me and shrugged.

I knew he didn't believe that. "It says, 'Welcome to Paris.' That implies whoever sent it is already here, welcoming us."

"There's no way to know who it came from. Let's just eat and get some rest." He pulled a chair out for me at the round glass table.

I sat and plucked a ripe strawberry from one of the dishes on the tray. My stomach hurt so badly, even though I was starving, I had no appetite. Damn Enzo Rocha. I knew that bottle of wine was from him.

Although exhausted, I didn't sleep. While Merrick napped, I got online and looked up as many apartments on Rue Lincoln that rented weekly as I could find. I called the phone numbers listed on the rentals, pretending to be Enzo's daughter in-law, hoping to find Nadia, but wasn't having any luck.

I was so focused on my search, I didn't hear Merrick come up behind me. "You'll never find them," he whispered in my ear, making me jump and grasp the arms of the chair.

"God, you scared me."

He swept my hair to the side and kissed my neck. "If Enzo doesn't want to be found, he won't be."

I closed my laptop. "Then why are we here?"

He traced my earlobe with the tip of his nose. "Nadia will contact me. She'll tell us where to find her."

I wanted to believe that. I heard the desperation in his voice. He didn't want to believe his daughter would betray him and be loyal to Enzo. I hoped for his sake—for all of their sakes—Nadia would get in touch.

Merrick took my hands and pulled me up out of my chair, wrapping his arms around me and holding me against him. "Let's get out of here and go look around."

He kissed me. I remembered our first kiss and how I'd been so hesitant, so nervous, but my raw lust for Merrick took over and I couldn't hold myself back. Now my lust and desire pooled with comfort and love. His kisses made me feel cherished and treasured as well as physically wanted.

It was so clear to me, even though neither one of us had actually spoken the word marriage, that he was my husband. He would be—it was meant to be. I felt the white, hot truth of it in every cell of my body. We were one soul, torn in half and put on earth to find each other.

And there he was, right in front of me. He'd made it happen. He must've somehow known deep inside that I belonged with him.

"Why are you staring at me like that?" he asked, a cocky grin forming on his lips.

I rose up on my toes to kiss him again. "Like what?"

"Like you have some dangerous secret." He pinned my hands behind my back and pressed me into the wall. "Are you keeping something from me, Ms. DeSalvo?"

"Nothing you don't already know," I said, smiling.

"And what's that?" He nuzzled my neck. It tickled and I leaned my head against his, laughing.

"You'll figure it out sooner or later," I said, nipping his earlobe. "I'm just giving you time."

Merrick chuckled and rested his forehead against mine. "Is that so? How much time do you think I need?"

I shrugged playfully, wondering if he knew what I was referring to.

"Maybe you're the one who needs time." He winked.

Caught off guard, my pulse quickened. Were we talking about the same thing? Marriage? Why was he giving me time? I was waiting on him. "Maybe I don't."

He stepped back and turned me toward the big suitcase, still packed and sitting beside the bed. "Maybe you should change out of that robe and get dressed so we can get out of here." He smacked me on the bottom to get me moving.

Padding across the plush carpet, I felt my heart sink a little at his dismissal of the conversation we'd been circling so closely. His giving me time sounded like a poor excuse.

I knelt on the floor and began to dig through the clothes I'd brought.

I was so certain we were on the same page, just not verbalizing it yet. But… maybe we weren't on the same page?


  • " interesting, exciting, heart-catching take, and certainly one I'll add to my "What to Read After Fifty Shades" list."—Maryse's Book Blog
  • "I love the banter between Rachael and Merrick throughout the book..... some steamy scenes that will not leave you disappointed."—The Indie Bookshelf
  • "I loved this book! And seriously, I am shocked about it...This book was a definite winner for me. After Fifty rating: 5/5 for sure!"My Keeper Shelf Blog
  • "If you are a fan of Christian Gray, or Gideon Cross you will develop a fondness for [Merrick Rocha] as well. Broken, kind, lost, sexy as all get out, and a little dangerous..."—Bookish Temptations

On Sale
Mar 4, 2014
Page Count
288 pages

Kelli Maine

About the Author

Kelli Maine is the USA Today bestselling author of Taken and its sequel, No Take Backs: A Taken Novella She watches entirely too much reality T.V., which led to her compulsion to write dramatic romance novels. Blessed with a unique ability to bond with difficult people, she’s convinced she could win Big Brother. Her deathly fear of heights would keep her from completing half of the detours on The Amazing Race, and she’s shocked nobody has ever penned the Survivor Diet Plan: Eat one cup of rice for thirty-nine days and lose fifty pounds!

Learn more about this author