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For His Pleasure
By Shelly Bell
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- Trade Paperback $14.99 $19.49 CAD
- ebook $4.99 $6.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 18, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Dreama knew returning to work wouldn’t be easy, but she wasn’t prepared for Cash Turner. He’s tall, commanding, the first man to spark her interest in a year . . . and her newest parolee. It doesn’t take long for Dreama to realize that there’s more to him–and his case–than meets the eye. As the two of them investigate the murder that led to his incarceration, they explore the growing desire between them, risking more than her career. Because now that the real killer has set his sights on Dreama, she’s also risking her life.
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Dreama's bones ached as if she'd spent the last twelve hours hog-tied by a Dom to an unforgiving steel punishing bench. Not that any Dom she knew would commit such an egregious act. In her circles, leaving a sub bound like that for twelve hours would violate the BDSM principles of engaging in safe, sane, and consensual activity. Therefore, she'd never been hog-tied for more than minutes at a time. But she imagined if she had been, her bones would ache like this.
She thought back to the night before. The sexy Dom she'd scened with had worked her over with a flogger pretty hard, but it wasn't her first rodeo at the end of a whip—or even the hundredth. And she wasn't hungover; she hadn't drunk a sip of alcohol. Granted, she'd only gotten about six hours of sleep, but that wasn't unusual for her.
On a sneeze, she rolled over in bed and shut off her alarm clock.
Three more sneezes followed. Ugh. Her head felt as if it were stuffed with cotton.
She could not afford to get sick right now. Not while she was in the running for the supervisor position that meant a ten-thousand-dollar-a-year raise and the ability to have more of a voice in the parole office she currently worked in. Equally qualified, Meg was the only other person being considered for the job. Since the day she and Dreama had begun working together, Meg had treated Dreama as a competitor rather than a coworker. Meg had rejected every one of Dreama's attempts at friendship. If Meg got the job, Dreama would have to constantly watch her back because Meg would fire her ass the moment she got the opportunity.
Naked and shivering, Dreama threw off the covers and got out of bed, grabbing a hooded sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants from her dresser and putting them on. Even the simple act of dressing exhausted her. This was more than a cold. She'd bet anything she'd caught the flu that had been going around her office.
Maybe if she medicated herself enough, she could see her morning clients and make alternative arrangements for her afternoon ones. She snatched a tissue from its box and opened her bedroom door, intent on searching the bathroom for something that would make her feel halfway human.
Even with the blinds covering the windows, it was way too bright for her eyes as she stumbled out into the family room. She blinked, realizing she wasn't alone.
Her roommate, Jane, placed a blanket over her baby, Maddox, who was babbling happily in his car seat. Beside them stood Maddox's father, Ryder, who, until recently, had been out of the picture. Dreama's heart warmed at the sight of the three of them together. She hoped this meant Ryder and Jane were working through their issues.
"Oh. I thought you'd be at work," she said to Jane. Normally, Jane would have dropped Maddox off at day care by now. She acknowledged Ryder with a short wave and asked her roommate, "Do you have any cold medicine? I ran out."
"Yeah. It's in my bathroom, underneath the sink." Jane's expression morphed into one Dreama recognized as motherly concern. "You look terrible."
Just what she needed to hear. She looked as bad as she felt.
"I feel terrible." Dreama blew her nose and when she stopped, the room started to spin. Forget the medicine. She needed more sleep. "I think I have the flu. I'm calling in to work and going back to bed."
Starting toward her room, another wave of dizziness crashed into her and she held out her hand to steady herself. Suddenly, Jane was beside her with an arm around her waist. Rather than take her to her room, she led her into the bathroom. Jane flopped the toilet lid down and pointed at it. "Sit."
Dreama was too tired to argue. She collapsed onto the seat and held on to the sides for balance.
Crouching, Jane opened the cabinet below the sink and riffled through it, standing up with a full bottle of cold medicine and a thermometer in her hands. She turned to Dreama and dangled the digital stick in front of her mouth. "Open."
Dreama plucked the thermometer from Jane's fingers and slid it under her tongue. Ten seconds later, it made a fast beeping noise. Jane pulled it from Dreama's mouth and frowned as she read it. "One hundred and three degrees."
Dreama's teeth began chattering. "I'll be fine. I just need to get some rest." She watched Jane pour the orange liquid into the tiny measuring cup, thankful to have such a kind friend. "Things looked pretty cozy between you and Ryder. I have a feeling I'm going to need a new roommate soon."
Jane handed her the medicine. "We're taking it slow."
As sick as she felt, she couldn't suppress her smile. "You forget how thin these walls are. I heard how slow you were taking it last night." She knocked back the liquid as if she were doing a shot.
"Yeah, well, sex isn't one of the problems between us," Jane mumbled. She folded her arms and pursed her lips. "We were going to go to the community center to get a picture of Maddox on Santa's lap, but maybe I should stay here. I don't want to leave when you're this sick."
Shaking her head, Dreama stood, which was a bad idea because now the room was spinning again. She leaned against the wall to keep from tumbling to the floor. "No. I want you to go. I want a copy of the photo for my nightstand." She loved Maddox as if he were her own. She'd hit the jackpot when Jane had answered her ad for a roommate and moved in. Other than her cousin Isabella, she didn't have a closer friend. "I'm really happy for you, you know. Ryder's a good guy. He might have his head up his ass right now, but he'll come around. Mark my words. By this time next year, you and Maddox will be living with Ryder. You'll have everything you ever wanted."
Jane's eyes shone as if she was about to cry. "I love you. Promise me that no matter what happens, we'll always be friends."
The thickness in Dreama's throat had nothing to do with the flu. "Promise."
Jane helped Dreama back to her room, where Dreama got back into bed and called in to work. By the time she hung up, she'd drained every remaining drop of her energy. And her cell's battery. She must have forgotten to charge her phone last night. Coughing, she eyed the charger sitting across the room by her sewing machine. It was soooo far away.
Placing her dead phone on the nightstand, she decided she'd charge her phone after she took a nap and closed her eyes. She heard the front door close and drifted off sleep.
The next thing she knew, her body jolted awake.
She was no longer freezing. In fact, she felt sweaty and overheated, and her heart was pounding much too rapidly. How much time had passed?
She eyed her clock and did some math. She'd only been sleeping for about twenty minutes. Weird. Normally if she was sick and took that medicine, she'd sleep for hours.
A loud crash in the family room had her holding her breath.
Had Jane and Ryder come back already?
She was about to call out to them, but a strange sense of foreboding sat heavily in her gut, warning her to stay quiet. Attempting to suppress the need to cough, she swallowed repeatedly. For once, she agreed with her mother's motto: Better to be safe than sorry.
Eyeing the charger, she grabbed her dead phone and slid out of bed. Why hadn't she plugged her cell in before she went back to sleep?
Her hands shook as she connected her phone to the charger. The red light appeared on the screen, indicating there wasn't enough juice yet to even make a call.
She was probably under some medicine-induced paranoia, but her instincts were screaming to get out of that apartment.
And she never ignored her instincts.
Problem was there was only one exit to her apartment and that was the front door. If there was a burglar in there, she couldn't get out without him seeing her.
As her phone charged up, she pressed her ear to the door. There was a moment of silence before she heard the slam of a drawer and an unfamiliar male voice swearing.
Okay, okay. okay. Not medicine-induced paranoia.
She needed a weapon.
She quietly opened her closet and pulled out a baseball bat, grateful her mom had told her all those terrible news stories about what happened to single women who lived alone. Her mom had intended those stories to change Dreama's mind about moving out of her parents' house, but instead, it had served to remind Dreama to keep something in her apartment to protect herself. She didn't feel comfortable with a gun, so she figured a baseball bat would have to do, at least until she could get to the kitchen and grab a knife. Never in her wildest nightmares did she ever think she would have to use it.
She returned her ear to the door and checked her phone again, but it still hadn't turned on. The intruder's footsteps grew louder. She was running out of time.
Maybe she should hide in her closet?
She didn't get the chance to decide.
The footsteps stopped and the doorknob turned.
Arm cocked with bat in hand, Dreama took a step back.
Her phone lit up with energy.
But it was too late.
The masked intruder filled her doorway.
Thirteen months later…
With every step Dreama Agosto took, pain blasted through her right coxal bone and femur. A year ago, she didn't even know what a fucking coxal bone was (turned out, it was the hip), but after spending months in the hospital and then a physical rehabilitation center, she could probably pass the damned medical board exams. It was information she would rather not have learned if she'd had a choice.
Which of course, she hadn't.
Because a guy wielding a baseball bat and a temper had taken the choice from her.
And her body never let her forget it.
Most people wouldn't consider the walk from the parking lot to her office a long one.
But those people weren't her.
Those people hadn't spent hour after hour in surgery, having their shattered bones repaired with metal screws, pins, rods, and plates.
Those people didn't suffer from constant swelling and pain.
Those people didn't have to look in the mirror every day and see ugly surgical scars all over their bodies.
No one had ever told her that scars could hurt.
But they could. And hers fucking did.
The doctors didn't believe her at first.
Later, after much debate and numerous tests, they'd labeled it as scar neuropathy. Nerve damage. Already she suffered from continuous pain, but when she walked more than a few feet, the pain elevated to a fifteen on a scale of one to ten. It was like her nerves were being stabbed by a butcher knife.
Physical therapy, biofeedback, antidepressants, psychotherapy, creams, injections…nothing diminished the pain.
And so, she'd learned to live with it.
Hard to believe a little more than a year ago, she'd enjoyed a bit of pain at the hands of a Dom.
But erotic pain was quite different from the kind she'd come to know. This pain had taken away her control and stolen her ability to feel physical pleasure.
Inside the one-story brick building, Dreama nodded to the young security guard as she placed her purse and winter coat on the conveyor belt to be X-rayed.
He was new, at least to her, since she hadn't set foot in this building since her attack. For all she knew, he could have been working there for months.
She ambled through the metal detector, hoping to make it through without drawing any attention to herself.
Any hope of that deflated when the light on top of the machine flashed red and a triple beeping alerted the guard.
"Take out everything you have in your pockets," the guard said, stopping the conveyor belt from moving. "Keys, cell ph—"
"I don't have anything in my pockets," she explained to him. Hell, her conservative black pants didn't even have pockets. "The metal is inside my body."
"Ma'am," he said, speaking as if she were ninety-two rather than twenty-seven.
Really? She'd left the workforce for a year and was considered a ma'am now? She couldn't be more than a year or two older than him.
He continued. "An implant or small amounts of metal inside the body will not set off the alarm. Please go back and walk through the detector again."
She wasn't going to cry.
She didn't do that.
And she wasn't about to start just because a long line of people was waiting behind her or because taking an extra ten steps to her would be like running an extra ten miles for anyone else.
No, she wouldn't cry. But she would make a scene that was likely to end with him crying for mercy on his knees and her getting thrown out of the building. And if she couldn't be in the building, then she couldn't work, and if she couldn't work, she couldn't pay for her new apartment, and if she couldn't pay for her apartment, she'd have to move back in with her parents, and if she moved back in with her parents, she'd go insane over her mother's incessant hovering.
"Listen, I'd really rather not have to go through the detector again," she said, flashing her pearly whites and batting her eyelashes at him. "So maybe could you just…I don't know…use a wand on me?" She gestured to the parole office sign in front of them. "I work here—my badge is in my purse—and since we're going to be seeing a lot of each other, and this is likely to happen every day because I practically have enough metal inside me to make me the star of RoboCop, we should find an alternative arrangement to the metal detector."
As if considering her request, the guard tipped his head to the side. "Again, ma'am, employee or not," he said, the emphasis on the word employee making it clear he didn't believe it, "you are not permitted inside the building unless you successfully clear the metal detector."
The people standing in line started to get restless, their whispers and frustrated groans reaching her ears. She stared at that damn metal detector wishing she had the ability to melt it with her eyes.
"Excuse me, sir?" said a man from behind her. "As an employee of the state's parole office and this building being her place of employment, the lady is entitled to reasonable accommodations under both federal and state law in light of her disability." At the guard's blank look, the man added, "She indicated she's setting off the detector because of the metal inside her body and if you had observed her walking through the detector instead of checking your cell phone, you would have noticed her slight limp."
Damn. And here she'd thought her limp wasn't that noticeable.
"Furthermore," he continued, "she's asked for those reasonable accommodations. Denying her would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you don't have a wand, I'm sure the security guard manual you keep quoting says something about alternative methods in lieu of the metal detector." He kept going, calmly reciting all the specific federal and state laws the guard was violating.
Her jaw dropped.
And if she'd met this guy at a play party, her panties would have too.
He was tall. Like, seriously tall. Probably a good foot above her five-five frame. And broad shouldered, filling out every inch of his black Henley perfectly. His dark brown hair was shaved close to his scalp in an almost military fashion, accentuating his sharp, high cheekbones. His nose was a bit off center with a slight bump on the middle as if it had been broken a few times, but somehow it worked for him. Gave him a dark and dangerous edge that she used to find physically attractive.
And his lips…Oh man, those lips. His bottom lip was plumper than his top. It was another slight imperfection that somehow worked on him.
Yeah, he was fucking gorgeous.
Not in the movie-star, pretty-boy kind of way, but in a Dreama-falling-to-her-knees-and-kissing-his-feet kind of way.
She couldn't stop herself from zeroing in on his lips, not because of their unique shape, but because of the way he spoke with them. Quiet, but commanding. A voice you couldn't help but obey. Like top-shelf whiskey, hand-rolled cigarettes, and dirty, kinky sex all rolled into one. Three of her favorite vices. It had been far too long since she'd indulged, months since she'd even been tempted.
This man was temptation personified.
Her gaze dropped to his hands. They were a working man's hands. Large…blunt fingertips…a little dirt under his nails…large.
What could she say?
Some girls got off on a guy's chest or their eyes, while others liked their butts.
Large hands pushed all her buttons.
Large hands and all the wicked things they could do to her. At least what they could have done if she could tolerate a man's touch.
She realized the stranger had stopped speaking.
And the guard was looking like a kid who'd just learned there was no Santa Claus. "Sorry, ma'am," he said sheepishly. "After my shift, I'll speak with my superior about finding an alternative to the metal detector." He stepped out from behind the conveyor belt. "I don't have a wand, so for now, I'll just pat you down and you can be on your way."
"Don't touch me!" she shouted, losing her balance and falling to her knees as she recoiled from him.
All the oxygen expelled from her lungs. Her chest felt as if it were being crushed by a heavy weight and her heart jackhammered behind her breastbone.
The room spun and the edges around her vision blackened.
She had to get it together.
Couldn't allow the fear to drown her.
Breathe, damn it. You're better than this.
"Back up," said a firm male voice.
Not to her, but for her.
"Focus on my voice," he said in her ear. "No one's gonna touch you. You're safe."
Her eyes were closed, but she recognized the speaker. It was the man with the large hands. He was crouched beside her. Not touching her. Just talking in that low, calming voice of his. A voice that both demanded and crooned.
Following her old therapist's advice, she breathed in through her nose and out through her mouth. She smelled something citrusy, reminding her of the time she went to an orange grove in Florida. Her heart rate slowed from a gallop to a steady pace, easing the pressure in her chest and vanquishing the vertigo.
She opened her lids to the sight of concerned gray eyes.
Her entire body flushed warm.
God, how embarrassing.
"Thank you," she whispered to him. "I'm good now." Still a bit shaky, she got up from the floor and turned to the security guard. "Maybe you could call my supervisor." She sensed her rescuer standing right behind her as if he was there to catch her in case she fell again. "Meg Wilson can verify—"
"That's okay," the young guard blurted. His throat worked over a swallow. "No need to call her. You can go on ahead."
Ah. Apparently, he was familiar with her boss. Dreama wouldn't have wanted to call her either.
Collecting her purse and coat from the end of the conveyor belt, she gave her gray-eyed giant one last nod to show her appreciation. His expression was stony, almost severe. Another time, another life, she would've flirted with him. Now all she wanted to do was run from him.
Her hands shook as she pressed the buzzer to be let inside the employee entrance of the parole office. She looked up at the camera in the corner of the ceiling and waved. Upon hearing the click of the lock, she pulled open the door and stepped into the hallway beside the receptionists' area.
Suddenly, Candice barreled into her, knocking her backward onto her heels before wrapping her arms around Dreama and squeezing. Fire shot down her right leg, and it was all she could do to keep from crying out. Her friend had no idea how much a hug like that hurt her.
And she never would.
"It's so good to see you," Dreama said. And she meant it. Although Candice was twenty years older, they'd started working at the parole office around the same time and had developed a friendship.
Candice took a step back. "Even better to see you, darlin'. I know you probably don't want to talk about it, but we have all missed you around here. I tried to see you in the hospital but—"
"I wasn't up to seeing anyone but family." Or more to the point, her family hadn't allowed her to say no to their visits. Dreama squeezed Candice's hand. "But my mom made sure to pass along your well-wishes."
"I'm glad to hear that. Now that you're back, we'll have to catch up. Wait until you see how much my grandbaby has grown this year."
"We'll do lunch." Dreama smiled, ignoring the phantom ache where her womb used to be. "Is Meg in her office?"
"She is and she's expecting you." Candice mouthed, "Good luck," and bounced back to her desk.
Dreama focused on not limping as she walked down the hall to her supervisor's office. The last thing she wanted to do was give any more ammunition to Meg Wilson to use against her. It had been hard enough to convince Meg to rehire her.
Had this hallways always been this long?
In front of Meg's closed door, Dreama gritted her teeth and massaged the tight muscle in her thigh. This might have been Dreama's office if not for her attack. She knocked on the door and opened it upon hearing Meg's forceful "Enter."
For such a no-nonsense, never-let-them-see-you-sweat kind of woman, Meg was unusually short and petite, reaching only Dreama's nose when standing—and Dreama was five foot five. But Dreama had learned not to underestimate her boss. Because she managed to compact a giant amount of meanness into her tiny frame.
"You wanted to see me?" Dreama asked from the doorway.
Not bothering to look up from her computer screen, Meg waved her in.
Dreama closed the door behind her and waited for Meg to acknowledge her. To tell her to take a seat. Something.
Clearly, nothing had changed in the year Dreama had been gone from work. Meg was as passive-aggressive as ever. It irked Dreama that Meg was still competing with her. Didn't she realize that she had already won? She'd gotten the job Dreama had wanted and was now the boss. Couldn't she let go of whatever petty jealousy she had for the good of the office?
Five minutes later, Dreama's right thigh was cramping, and sweat was trickling down her jawline. She eyed the empty chair in front of Meg's desk, almost desperate to take the weight off her legs. But she wouldn't give Meg the satisfaction.
Finally, Meg raised her gaze from the computer and looked at Dreama, pursing her lips and wrinkling her nose in distaste as if Dreama were something smelly on the bottom of her shoe. "I'm going to be honest with you," Meg said. "I looked over your employee file, and while previous supervisors praised your work, I expect more from my employees. If I had my choice, I wouldn't have preserved the position for you. But fortunately for you, the law was on your side. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
That you're a patronizing, sadistic bitch?
Yes, she understood. As a state employee, Dreama had been able to take a yearlong medical leave and still have a job to return to. If she hadn't been, Meg would've fired her. Which was bullshit because despite Meg's claim, Dreama had been more than adequate at her job. Stellar was the word her regional manager, Meg's present boss, had used to describe her work. Meg knew that if the attack hadn't happened, this office might have belonged to Dreama. And Meg hated her for that.
Dreama literally had to bite her tongue to keep herself from responding the way she wanted to. "I do. And I won't let you down."
All she wanted was the chance to get some part of her old life back.
"I hope you won't allow your"—Meg's lips twisted into a sneer as she zeroed in on Dreama's legs—"imperfections to prevent you from doing your job duties. Being a field officer might prove too much for you now. Due to budget cuts, we've had to eliminate several positions, which means your caseload will be a bit larger than it was. I'm not certain you'll be able to keep up with it. Of course, if you need accommodations, I'd be happy to find you a suitable position within the office. Maybe the front desk would be more comfortable for you."
- "I had to constantly remind myself to breathe. Shelly Bell packs a powerful punch with her flawless writing and suspenseful, passionate love story."—#1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Ellen Malpas on At His Mercy
- "I was at Shelly Bell's mercy from page one. This novel sucked me in, and didn't let me go until the very last sexy page. This book had some of the hottest scenes I've ever read. 10 stars!"—New York Times bestselling author Alessandra Torre on At His Mercy
- "Well-written, action-packed, and full of charm, wit, and suspense."—Publishers Weekly on His to Claim
- "A sexy thriller that will leave readers breathless. This novel is sultry and hot in all the right places, with just enough plot to keep the pages turning."—Publishers Weekly (starred review) on At His Mercy
- "4 1/2 Stars! Top Pick! With a liberal dose of suspense and mega-hot sex, Bell's compelling first novel in the Forbidden Lovers series is exciting right through to the epilogue...absolutely nothing is wasted in this taut tale."—RT Book Reviews on At His Mercy
- "A roller-coaster ride of jaw-dropping sex, heated anticipation, and a perfect dash of suspense, all tied together with flawless writing. When I wasn't clenching my thighs, I was frantically flipping pages to find out what would happen next! I can't recommend this series enough. Buy it. Devour it."—Alessandra Torre (A. R. Torre), New York Times bestselling author on White Collared
- "If you love romantic suspense novels and like your stories with a little edge to them on the passion side, you will want to check out White Collared. Think of it as a cross between a thriller like Gone Girl and one of the hugely popular BDSM billionaire stories like the Fifty Shades of Gray or the Crossfire Trilogies."—The Romance Reviews
- "4 1/2 stars! TOP PICK! This is a bona fide page-turner laced with political intrigue, thrilling action and steamy sex scenes. The main characters' chemistry sizzles as they search for the truth behind a gruesome murder and encounter a plot with deadly consequences."—RT Book Reviews on Blue Blooded
- "Shelly Bell is a fresh new voice in erotic romance. She brings the heat!"—Lexi Blake, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author
- "White Collared takes you on a thrill ride of danger, murder and lust, leaving you hungry for the next installment."—Stacey Kennedy, USA Today Bestselling Author of Bared
- On Sale
- Jun 18, 2019
- Page Count
- 368 pages