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"need a ride?"
Raven McIntire stiffened in shock at the raspy, dark voice behind her. She turned slowly, her breath halting in her throat at the sight that met her eyes.
Reno Chavez. Six feet three inches of tough, powerful muscle and finely honed strength. Thick, midnight black hair cut close to his head showed off the strong, harsh features of his face. Brooding gray eyes, high cheekbones, lips that drew the eye time and time again. He was a well-built, powerful male animal and he knew it. Even more, Raven knew it, and had been hopelessly drawn to him for years.
How did you fight the man your heart ached for? The one who had been your best friend, your confidant, your protection as a teenager? The first man you ever fantasized about, and the only one that made you hot enough to whisper his name in the dark safety of your bed?
It wasn't easy, but she had been managing it. Well, sort of. He did manage to sneak the odd, knee-weakening-make-her-want-to-beg kiss whenever he had the chance. She had sworn she wasn't giving him any more chances after the last one. But she was still standing there, staring up at him like a lovesick fool.
He tipped the bottle of beer to his lips and drank, his eyes locked on hers as she stared up at him in fascination. A woman couldn't help but be fascinated by him and she was no exception.
The only difference was, she liked to think she was smart enough to stay away from the bad boys and keep on the safe side of the emotional court.
"I called a cab." She lifted the cell phone she held in her hand as she flashed him a bright smile.
Reno had always been a bad boy. A devil-may-care charmer who had stolen her heart when she was no more than a teenager and continued to hold it. Even now, after he entered the one career that made him off-limits to her. She knew the perils of loving a Navy SEAL, and was terrified of the cost of giving into the seductive war he had been waging on her for the past year.
He continued to watch her as her gaze flickered nervously to the street. She was standing on the porch of his sister Morganna's house, having ditched the party nearly a half hour before. She wasn't a party girl, no matter how she tried to pretend for her friend's sake at these little get-togethers.
She wore the short, flirty black skirt with its low-rise waist and the matching, snug, sleeveless top with its high-rise hem. Her tanned belly was bare clear below her navel, the little diamond navel ring she wore glittering in the overhead light of the porch. And there was no mistaking the fact that he noticed. His gaze kept drifting down, his eyes heavy-lidded, making her belly tingle in response.
It reminded her too much of the touch of his lips, his hands moving over her back. The last few times he had been home after assignments, he hadn't let a chance to touch her go by. He was trying to seduce her, and Raven knew it. Knew it and had no idea how to combat it.
"Stop looking at me like that, Reno," she ordered him, frowning as his gaze lifted to hers again.
"But I like looking at you, Raven." A grin tilted one corner of his mouth as he stared down at her. "I like looking at you a lot. Did I ever mention how much I miss the days when you flirted and teased, instead of running from me?"
She snorted indelicately. "I bet you do. You have enough women chasing after your tight butt. You don't need me." She glared at him suspiciously. "How much have you had to drink anyway?"
"Not near enough," he sighed as he reached out, pulling at a curl that fell over her shoulder. The action had her heart racing, her womb clenching in hunger. "Do you realize this is my first night home and my bed is occupied? I went to find the earplugs to drown out that crazy music and crash for a few hours. But I think the bed is going to need delousing first."
His lips twisted with a grimace, though his gaze was rueful as he stared down at her. And he did look tired, exhausted, in fact. Raven knew he wouldn't be likely to sleep here until tomorrow night, not if his bed was in use.
She crossed her arms under her breasts, knowing that what she was about to do was dumb. Really dumb. But if she had a weak spot, it was Reno. It was a weakness she fought continually, but a woman could only be so strong. And she didn't have a chance against an exhausted, vulnerable Reno.
"Look, if you mean it about the ride, I have an extra room. You can crash there until you're rested enough to delouse your bed," she offered. Hell, she couldn't see the man suffer. He fought for God and country. It just wasn't right.
He tilted his head slowly, those gorgeous gray eyes of his softening marginally.
And she was softening, as well. All she could remember was the touch of his lips, his hands, the heat of that hard, corded body the last time he had been home. What he made her feel was dangerous, addictive.
"You don't have to do that, Raven. I'll toss Morganna out of her bed."
"Good luck." She snorted at that one. "Last chance, Reno. My cab should be here in the next five minutes, and if you don't have me on the road by then, I'm taking my offer back."
A grin quirked his lips. "You drive a hard bargain, Raven. My bag is still packed," he said lightly. "I'll go grab it and my keys. Stay put."
Evidently, the lure of a quiet bed was too much to resist. She sighed as he turned and reentered the house, his tight buns flexing beneath his jeans as he moved. Damn, that man was packed from head to toe. He was definitely male candy and she had a horrible sweet tooth.
She throttled a purely female groan of frustration at the thought. He couldn't have a clue just how hard she had lusted after his male form over the past years, or how hard denying him over the last few months had been. The only thing that had saved her from drowning in her own drool was the fact that she knew he was way more man than she could handle. That had been forcibly brought home to her just after her eighteenth birthday, nearly seven years before, when she surprised him by bursting into his bedroom in her excitement to see him. Reno was six years older than she was, a grown man, sexual and intense, even then.
She shivered at the memory. She had shuddered, eyes wide as she stared at the curvy blonde tied to his bed.
"Perv," she had snapped before turning and literally running.
He had been naked, aroused, hard and thick and long and tight … and hard and thick and long … She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth as her clit began to throb and her pussy spilled its slick juices along the sensitive folds between her thighs. She wasn't going to think about it, she told herself fiercely. If she did, she would never get any work done tonight.
"Let's go." He stepped outside, his duffel bag slung over his shoulder, the keys to his pickup in his hand.
This was stupid, she told herself silently. But she couldn't stop the rush of pleasure as his hand settled in the small of her back and he urged her to the side of the street. Callused and wide, his fingers nearly spanned her lower back, the strength in them sending a thrill shooting through portions of her anatomy that she wished weren't nearly so responsive.
He led her to the wide, double-cab, black pickup she had admired earlier. She should have known it was his, she thought in resignation. It was as strong as he was. A man's vehicle.
Opening the door, he gripped her hips before she could do more than gasp, and lifted her into the seat. Eyes wide, surprise whizzing through her, she stared back at him, aware that her response to the action must be plain on her face. Dammit, she was supposed to be playing it safe.
"Scoot in," he whispered as his hands slid slowly from her bare waist, and he stepped back, his hand going to the door.
Drawing in a deep breath, she swung her legs into the truck, moving in just enough for him to close the door. Her flesh tingled where he touched her, heated and ached for more.
"Dumb, Raven," she whispered to herself as he loped around the truck. "Really dumb."
He opened his door, tossed the duffel bag in the back, and stepped easily into the cab. He had no problem navigating the height from the street because his legs were so damned long, she thought irritably.
The truck pulled from the curb as she sat nervously, staring out the window, calling herself every kind of fool she could think of. This was kind of like the lamb inviting the wolf into its pasture, she thought in disgust.
"Thanks for the bed, Raven," he said softly as he turned at the corner, his voice sending shivers down her spine.
That voice should be illegal. Someone should put duct tape over his lips and a sign on his body that declared him dangerous to the female sex, because that's exactly what he was.
"Not a problem." Liar, liar, she raged silently. There wasn't a chance in hell she was going to get any work done with him in her house.
She tugged at her skirt as his eyes strayed to the bare flesh of her lower thighs. Dammit, she knew this skirt was a bad idea. It was sexy and fun and showed her body off to its best advantage. And Reno was definitely taking advantage of all the bare skin flashing.
She could feel his gaze flickering over her legs, her profile, and though he kept both hands carefully on the wheel, she could almost feel them coasting over her body instead. Callused and warm, rasping against her flesh as she arched to him.
She clenched her teeth, pushing the vivid fantasy back as she restrained the shiver that would have worked over her body. Flames licked just beneath her skin, sensitizing her flesh, reminding her why she didn't have a love life. Because she knew, clear to her soul, that no other man could make her want him as intensely as Reno could. Without a touch, without a word. Hell, he didn't even have to be in the country.
Pathetic. Stupid. Reno was so far out of her league that they didn't even exist within the same reality. He was a warrior, a fighter; his world consisted of blood and death while hers existed within the security he helped create. And to be honest, he terrified her. The needs and desires she had when she thought of him, the fantasies that taunted her in the deepest part of night, and the sexual hunger she could feel building within her were too intense, too damned strong.
"Here we go." He pulled into the parking lot, swinging the truck into the empty space in front of the town house. "I really appreciate you letting me stay over."
She glanced up at him. Damn, he did look tired. But still sexy as hell. She was such a lost cause where he was concerned.
"Not a problem," she said again as she gripped the door handle and swung the door open. "Come on and get settled in. I have to work some tonight, but I'm pretty quiet on the computer."
She pulled her key from the minuscule purse she carried at her hip. Behind her, she was aware of Reno moving silently. How the hell did he do that? There wasn't even the sound of his shoes on the pavement.
She unlocked the door, flipping on the light to the small living room as she led the way in.
"Come on up. The bed is made and everything, so you can crash whenever you want to."
She moved up the stairs, uncomfortably aware of him following her. She could feel her butt burning. Oh God, was he looking at her butt? Unconsciously she clenched the cheeks of her ass, then forced herself to relax. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. He hadn't even touched her and she was ready to rape him. This was so pathetic.
She opened the door to the spare bedroom, the one directly across from her own, and stood aside as he brushed past her. His arm slid over her breasts as her breath caught in her throat. She barely managed to throttle a hungry moan at the contact.
"Well. Good night." She had to get away from him. She had to close him up, get him out of sight.
He dropped his duffel bag to the floor and turned to face her, a slow, predatory move that reminded her of a wild animal or a hunter on the prowl. Why did she feel like the lamb?
He smiled then. A wry quirk of his lips, really, as the gunmetal color of his eyes gleamed with amusement.
"Good night, Raven," he said, his voice huskier, deeper.
The sound echoed in her pussy, her very wet, very aroused pussy. This was not good. Not good at all. She escaped the room, now heavy with his male presence and the predatory lust she saw reflected in his gaze. Morganna had warned her that Reno wouldn't wait long before pushing for what he wanted. He had made his intentions clear to her, informing her in that brisk, no-nonsense voice of his that he wouldn't let her run from him much longer.
And she had most likely just played into his hand.
Raven gritted her teeth as she paced the living room, pushing her fingers through her hair and again calling herself every type of fool she could think of. She was no match for Reno, and she knew it. How was she supposed to fight him? Hell, he was every woman's fantasy come to life, and he was now flat in the middle of her home, right across the hall from her bedroom, his hard body aroused. Yes, she had seen that bulge pressing against his jeans, the way his eyes darkened as he watched her, the determination in his gaze.
Reno was through playing, and Raven had a very bad feeling she wasn't going to get far resisting him. But what bothered her even more was the fact that she wasn't entirely certain she wanted to resist him. And that scared her more than anything.
It was her own fault, she reminded herself with harsh criticism. The day she had turned nineteen and learned that he wasn't staying home after his tour in the Navy was finished, that he was actually taking the BUDs training to become a SEAL, she had been enraged.
Not Reno. Not the man she had pinned all her dreams on. She couldn't lose him as her mother had lost her father. As she had lost her father.
"Don't go. I'll do anything," she remembered whispering tearfully, staring up at him, her hands on his chest, all her naive beliefs that her love for him would keep him with her, filling her.
He had smiled that crooked little grin she loved so well as he touched her cheek and lowered his head. She knew he had meant the kiss to be light. To be comforting, rather than exploding out of control as it had.
"I'll be back," he had sworn. "I will, Raven. For you."
She had slowly backed away from him, shaking her head, as her lips throbbed from the kiss that had sent a swelling wave of hunger rushing through her.
"If you go, I won't be here." She had choked on her tears, her fears. "I won't be here for you."
"You'll be here," he had whispered then, his voice immeasurably gentle, confident. "Just as I'll be back, Raven. You'll be here. And once I have you, baby, I won't let you go."
She had made certain he never took her. That he gained no more than the stolen kisses he managed to get when he caught her unawares. That he took no more of her heart than he already possessed.
* * *
She was going to drive him insane.
"Damn woman," he growled.
She had been running from him for years, and he had been aware of it.
But he had made up his mind on a cold winter's night as he lay alone in his bed, smiling like a fool over a teasing remark she had made one evening. He had made his mind up. Raven was his, and she was going to stay his.
She had been too young then, only seventeen, unaware of how sexual he was, of how dominant he could be. He wanted the woman he saw emerging within her, not the child she still was.
At the time, he was on leave from the Navy and knew the course he wanted his life to take. As soon as possible, he was heading for SEALs training and a military career. It would be years before he could have her. Years, he knew, before she would be mature enough to accept loving him, despite the career he had chosen. But when he had told her his plans two years later, her reaction had only reinforced his belief that she needed to mature first.
She was mature now. And stubborn. Stubborn enough that he knew, if he waited any longer, she would slip out of his grasp forever. With each year, she set herself more firmly against him, more determined that he wasn't the man for her, simply because the career he had chosen was the same one that had made her parents so miserable.
He wasn't going to let her run any longer. She was stronger than her mother whether she knew it or not. And he knew damned good and well that she loved him. Otherwise, he would have had a lover to deal with, rather than just her stubbornness. And dealing with her just might end up driving him over the edge of frustration.
His cock was throbbing and that flirty little black skirt she was wearing wasn't helping matters. It barely covered her ass, showing her long, beautiful legs to advantage, and at the same time baring her lower stomach like a feast to a starving man.
Long, golden brown hair, thick and filled with riotous curls, fell down her back, while her blue eyes watched him with wary arousal. She tried to hide it, but it was there, just as clear as the press of her tight, hard nipples against the snug, matching top.
The flush of her creamy cheeks, the soft part of her pink lips. She was a temptation he wasn't going to deny himself much longer. He had waited too long as it was. What good did it do a man to fight the endless wars, to survive the wounds and the loss of friends when there was no warmth left in his life? Only fantasies. And it was time to make the fantasies come to life.
His dream of being a SEAL, a warrior, had been fulfilled. It eased that pit of fury he felt each time he heard of the injustices that plagued the world. Now he had his biggest dream to fulfill. That of possessing Raven, heart and soul.
He was in her home. That was the first step. Undermining the enemy's defenses was best done from inside, as SEALs had proved more than once. Slipping under the wire, undetected, silently setting up the explosion to come.
And she would explode.
He grinned at the thought. Of making Raven so hot, so wild, she went up in flames in his arms.
Damn, he could feel his balls drawing tight against the base of his shaft, his own release begging for freedom. He had a limited amount of time to make this work. For the time being, he was on leave, but that would end the minute his team was needed. He might have a few weeks, at the most, to work with.
And if he didn't touch Raven soon, feel her lips under his, her body pressed against him, then he was going to be a candidate for the asylum.
He shifted his shoulders in an effort to relieve the tension building there. He was exhausted. He had expected to come home and rest at least one day before putting his plan into motion. Instead, he found his bed occupied, his sister in a frenzy, and the object of his obsession standing before him like the most erotic fantasy he could have imagined. Damn that skirt.
Reno was an ass man and he knew it, and Raven's ass had tempted him for years. Perfectly rounded, taut and tempting. Her breasts were his second favorite. Full, rounded globes, her nipples pressing hard against the material of her shirt.
Son of a bitch. His cock was so damned hard, he would never manage to sleep tonight. He shook his head at the arousal beating through him and Raven's obvious determination to close him out of sight. He knew his sister's best friend better than she thought. She wasn't working, no matter what she said, so he had no problems whatsoever disturbing her. He was a man on a time limit, and he wasn't given to being wasteful with his time.
Anticipation surged through him as he strode to the bedroom door and opened it quickly. The stairs were just to his side as he turned the corner and started down them. He heard her voice, lowered, a feminine hiss of fury as she talked on the phone.
"Dammit, Morganna, the man is exhausted. He has shadows under his eyes and his face is almost dead gray. What the hell were you thinking? You knew he was coming home. He told you he was coming home."
Reno stopped halfway down the stairwell, his head tilting as something melted in his heart. He actually felt the muscles of his chest, his heart, expanding then relaxing at the realization that she was ripping his sister's ass over that party.
"I don't care how pissed off you were at Clinton. That's no reason to treat Reno like that. For God's sake, he needed to sleep and you let your friends take his bed. What kind of sister are you?… Well you shouldn't have had the party to begin with. Smack Clinton around. Having a party is not going to get his attention, you nitwit."
Actually, it would, but Reno saw no reason to point that out. Her brother Clint would make his move when he was ready and not a minute before. He was just as stubborn as Raven. Maybe more so.
"Get his bed replaced, Morganna. He cannot stay here.…"
The hell he couldn't.
"Don't give me excuses. I want zero excuses. I want a phone call in the morning saying his bed is ready for him to occupy. Period. Or I swear to God I'm going to tell Clinton all about your lurid little fantasies that you force me to listen to."
Lurid fantasies? He grimaced. He did not want to know about his baby sister's lurid fantasies. It was time to cut this conversation short.
Sighing silently, he moved down to the next step heavily, allowing her to hear him practically stomp down the stairs. When he rounded the closed-in space to the small living room, she was off the phone and staring at him with wide eyes. It was the cutest sight. Wariness and hunger reflecting in her deep blue eyes, her breasts moving hard and fast, peaked with hard little nipples as she watched him nervously.
"You're supposed to be sleeping," she snapped, a frown forming between her brows. "I hate to hurt your feelings, Reno, but you look like something the cat dragged in."
A smile tilted his lips. She made him smile, made him want to linger in the warmth she filled him with.
"I feel like something the cat dragged in." He agreed with her there. "Am I disturbing you?"
Her shoulders lifted in a defensive shrug. "Not really." She cleared her throat nervously. "I was just yelling at Morganna. Unfortunately, I think she's too used to it. She wasn't paying much attention."
"That's Morganna for you." He watched as her gaze flickered over him, touching him with curious, hungry eyes before being forced away, staring at every point in the room, except him.
Damn, he loved how shy she could be. How sweet she was. How prickly she could get. He figured he had loved Raven all her life in one form or another. But what he felt for her now consumed him. The plan he had set in motion tonight was risky, and he admitted it, he was taking a chance, but he was damned tired of waiting for her to realize how much they meant to each other.
She was watching him warily now, biting her lower lip nervously as her gaze flickered over him again.
"You're acting like I'm going to pounce on you, Raven." He moved closer to her. He wanted to touch her so damned bad, it was killing him.
Stopping in front of her, he reached out, one finger twining in a tight curl that fell across her shoulder. Her breath caught, a flush washing over her face.
"Aren't you?" she snapped. Fiery, accusing, Raven was nobody's fool. She might be stubborn, but she was smart as hell. "Every time I turn around, you're trying to grope me."
He spread his hands out innocently. "I'm just standing here talking to you, baby. If I was going to pounce, you'd be flat on your back on that couch rather than standing there deliberately provoking me. And as I recall that last kiss, you were groping right back."
It had been right after his last assignment. He had returned home a week late to find Raven sleeping on the couch, having evidently waited with Morganna until he arrived.
How was he supposed to resist her? Years of fantasies, of aching hunger, and there she was, a temptation to his body and to his heart that he couldn't ignore.
She hadn't sniped at him or tried to run from him. Sleepy, seductive, she had lifted to him, her lips opening eagerly for his kiss when he knelt beside the couch. He would have had her in his bed minutes later if Morganna hadn't interrupted them when she did. That kiss, her eagerness for him, and the soft breathy sound of her voice as she whispered her pleasure had sealed her fate. She was his woman.
She frowned darkly. He frowned right back at her.
"I am not provoking you," she informed him imperiously. "You're tired and disagreeable. And I really think you should head on to bed and go to sleep."
She wasn't running from him, but he could see the indecision in her eyes, the sweep of arousal and emotions filling her. She wasn't going to back down easily, and she wouldn't give in without a fight.
"I should be," he agreed, his voice rough. "I really should be, but this is a hell of a lot more important right now."
His head dipped down before she could move, if she intended to move. Her eyes widened, her lips parted, and he caught the gasp that escaped her throat.
Bombs exploded in his head. Fire rushed along his nervous system until it centered in his aching cock. She was ambrosia. She was the elixir of life.
His arms circled her, tight, as he restrained his need to eat her alive. His lips moved over hers, his tongue spearing deep as a shattered moan escaped her throat and her hands tightened at his waist before moving to his back.
He could taste coffee, mint, and woman and the alternating flavors exploded on his senses, going to his head like the strongest narcotic. Reno bent over her, surrounding her; he wanted to draw her into every cell of his body as her lips opened, her tongue met his, and his senses flamed. Sweet, velvet heat. The taste of her went to his head, the feel of her causing his erection to pulse and pound with a hunger barely leashed.
"Reno?" Her voice was dazed as his lips slid to her cheek, to her neck.
Her head fell back as his teeth raked her shoulder, her body becoming liquid, pliant. His. He allowed his hands to move, rather than holding her to him, roaming her back instead, pulling at the short length of the skirt until one hand could smooth over her bare buttock. Bare? Fuck!
His hand clenched on the curve as she trembled against him, a thin wail of pleasure escaping her throat a second before she jerked out of his arms.
* * *
"That was damned unfair." Raven stared back at him, shock and pleasure racing through her system as she fought to make sense of the impulses that still pounded through her body. He made her drunk, made her greedy for more of his kiss, his touch.
Oh God. That kiss. Her hand rose to her lips, her fingers feeling the swollen curves as her shoulder tingled from the rasp of his teeth.
Dammit, she was supposed to be denying him, not falling into his arms like a wimpy sex kitten. But it never failed; he touched her and she melted. She lost her mind, her sanity, her ability to remember the fact that Reno would never let her escape with any part of her heart intact.
He was watching her with blatant hunger. There was no apology, no attempt to hide the lust that burned in his eyes and darkened the features of his face.
"Who said I was going to be fair?" he growled, coming closer, looming over her as she backed into the entertainment center behind her. "Raven, are you wearing panties?"
Heat flooded her face, her body.
"Yes!" she gasped. "I am. Dammit, Reno, you aren't supposed to kiss me like that."
Like he was starving for the taste of her, ready to consume her at a moment's notice. How was a girl supposed to keep her sanity when a man stripped her control with no more than the touch of his lips?
"Why?" His voice was dark, incredibly deep. It vibrated in the pit of her stomach, causing her womb to spasm in need as her pussy creamed heatedly. The panties in question were going to be soaked if this didn't stop.
She breathed in deeply, striving for control as he moved closer, pressing her into the shelf of the entertainment center as she felt the length of his erection pressing into her lower belly.
"Do you know how long I've waited for you, Raven? Since you were seventeen, teasing me, tempting me to take what I couldn't have. You're not a kid anymore. You're a woman."
She couldn't handle this. How was she supposed to fight him and herself? Especially when she wanted him so desperately?
"Find Gina what's-her-name," she snarled back, remembering the day she had burst into his room to find him naked, preparing to take another woman.
"You were a kid. I was a man, Raven. You are not a child any longer."
She shook her head. This wasn't happening.
He was destroying her defenses. He was going to break her heart.
"You tied her down," Raven gasped. She didn't want to be tied down. She really didn't. No matter how many times she dreamed about him tying her to his bed, torturing her with his touch.
"Mmm," he murmured against her lips, his tongue stroking over them slowly. "Yes, I did. Just like I want to tie you, Raven. Stretched out on my bed, unable to do anything but feel me. Feel me now. I'm dying to touch you."
His hands slid to her buttocks as he lifted her, notching the hard length of his cock against the swollen pad of her pussy as her clit throbbed in pleasure, in need. Her hands gripped his shoulders, her nails biting into the fabric of his shirt as, helplessly, her legs parted, her thighs gripping his outer legs as his hands held her closer, his fingers massaging the flesh of her ass as she shuddered in his arms.
She couldn't get the picture out of her head. Her tied to his bed rather than Gina Delaney. Her legs spread for him, the bare folds of her cunt wet and glistening as he came to her, his cock like a living arrow preparing to impale her.
"Reno. Reno, wait.…" His lips were at her collarbone, his tongue stroking the sensitive skin as he thrust slowly against her, stroking her clit into full blazing life.
Every cell in her body was screaming for his touch. Her breasts were swollen, her nipples … God, her nipples were on fire.
"Ah, Raven," he whispered, lifting her closer, pressing deeper between her thighs as she shuddered, her thighs clenching, her hips moving against his, rubbing his shaft against her clit as she fought to breathe through the incredible sensations. "Baby, I don't know if I can let you go now."
"We have to wait." She shook her head, struggling against him and herself as she felt the hands at her rear parting her flesh, sending a heated strike of pleasure whipping through the tight, forbidden little entrance there.
"Wait for what?" he growled. "For another excuse to run? You run every time I come home, Raven. How am I supposed to seduce you when I can't even find you? Dammit, the waiting is over."
Copyright © 2014 by Lora Leigh