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Released August 2003

Sarah Wylde did not move from Chicago to a small town to get involved with a man. Particularly one like Justin Herne, a man too damn mesmerizing and dynamic to be in a rural town like Lilesville. To make matters worse, Herne runs a sex shop in the unincorporated limits of Lilesville, and Sarah is Lilesville’s new police chief. She doesn’t care that the locals call it a “women’s sensuality shop” or that Herne is considered a respectable citizen. She’s keeping her eye on him.

The only problem is, Justin is more than happy to stay within viewing distance. When a ritual murder draws them together on a case, she finds that maintaining a professional distance isn’t going to be an option.


© Copyright 2003 - All Rights Reserved

Some men's faces had a rough ruggedness to them and those men had always been appealing to her. She preferred a Harrison Ford to a Brad Pitt. Justin Herne was neither pretty nor rugged. He was like the statue of a Roman god, smooth alabaster muscles and features perfectly defined, all extraneous material chiseled away, so he was almost a breath away from gauntness, but it gave his artistic perfection a haunting, human touch.

He stood up, and her gun came back down. He was taller than she was, more physically powerful. As a cop, she was used to that, and knew that training evened the odds. But there was a power working here that had nothing to do with whether or not he could beat her in an arm wrestling match. Nothing she had learned in the Academy prepared her for it.

She'd had little experience when she got married. She was a college girl, sexually experienced only with other kids as awkward as she was. She knew how to fence words with criminals whose filthy attempts to get a rise out of her fell short. The riding comments of other cops were part of the rough world they had to face. But things like the stares of a group of shirtless construction workers still made her feel funny, or a sexy cable guy's smile. She had no comfort zone with good-looking men who were sexually confident. Justin Herne emanated the sexual confidence of a god, so strong it seemed to come at her from all directions, even though all he'd done was rise from the chair.

It was her senses that were betraying her. She could smell him. Beneath the clean chambray shirt whose soft fabric lay against his body and the black slacks, she smelled the earth, the residue of perspiration dried on his skin after coitus, the faint aroma of an animal's hair. Her cop senses confirmed what her woman's senses were telling her. The man facing her was the antlered man in the ritual she had witnessed tonight.

"I guess it makes sense, the guy owning the property being the star of his own show," she commented caustically. "So can you tell me what you were doing tonight?” She tried to reclaim the boundaries he appeared to be annihilating with his words and intent eyes. "Or do I need to know the secret handshake?"

She wanted to turn on the lights to dispel this mood, the sense of intimate isolation with him, but she couldn't risk the distraction to her attention.

"You can search on the Internet for the mechanics of Wiccan ritual, including the Great Rite, Chief Wylde," Herne said. He moved forward, and though he did it slowly, Sarah still felt the threat of him. Not of physical peril, but of something more precious, as if the ground beneath her was becoming unstable as he pulled matter to him, giving her nowhere to run.

"There was nothing mechanical about that," she said, her voice harsh. "You need to stop right where you are."

"No, there wasn't." He stopped and she realized with professional horror that he was standing with his chest pressed against the barrel. "The Great Rite is an expression of one of the deepest mysteries. There are no words to adequately describe it, its power to bring opposites together to create balance."

She was sliding down a cliff and there was no one to offer her a rope. "Is that your best pick-up line?" she scoffed, though she was all too aware her arms were shaking.

"No, this is." He reached up, snagged the wrist of her gun hand and yanked her arm and the weapon to the outside of her hip. At the same moment he closed his grip on her other hand and jerked it down to his erection under the pressed linen slacks. She found herself cupping his balls in her shaking fingers, his hard length pressed against her palm, the broad head against the pulse throbbing under the sensitive skin of her wrist.

She could fight him. She could twist away, inflict pain on him to effect a retreat for both of them, but she didn't. She stood rigid, staring up at him, wishing for something she couldn't name. He destroyed her intentions by staying still, holding her close to him, the lift and fall of his chest from his breathing no more than a slight movement toward the rapid trembling of hers.

Justin Herne studied her face. He released her gun hand to reach up and trace the line of her cheek, shielding her eye from the moon's light coming in through the window. His finger moved forward, under the soft skin of her eye, down the side of her nose, etching the curve of one nostril, then rested on her parted lips. He dipped his touch, just the slight movement needed to find the moisture between teeth and gum and spread it on the fullness of her bottom lip.

He kept his other hand firmly on hers against his cock, not allowing movement, just making her experience the pulse of that rigid organ against her damp palm.

"Is the safety on?" he asked, his voice a breath of sound against her face.

Somehow a brain cell survived to send a message to her fingers so that she shifted her grip, clicked it back on. She was ashamed it was he who thought of it. Her second thought was that he had thought to protect them, to protect her. It did nothing to ease the growing fire in places in her body a total stranger should not be igniting.

She nodded, and he twisted her hand, strong but not painful, and the weapon dropped several inches to the sofa. His arm went around her waist, his hand against her back, and the last space was closed, her breasts against his chest, her thighs against his, her hand free for now. His other was on the back of her head, tangling in her hair, pulling her head back.

"No," she managed. "You've been with another woman."

"You don't give a damn about that," he said, his eyes glowing in the dark like a wolf's. "She is part of the same Goddess that claims me as her consort, the Great Lord as her consort, renewing the land and our spirits with our joining."

It was true, in a deep, primitive way she did not understand, and it was scaring the hell out of her, because she did not want to be swept away like this.

He brought his mouth down on hers before she could say anything else, and God, she did not know if she would have had any other defense. Something about this night had opened the wounds of her divorce. Seeing the ritual had cracked open the yearning in her heart and body, and him being here, like an answer to that aching emptiness, it was just…fuck it.

Fuck me, please. Make me forget. Make me believe again. Make it everything, so nothing else will matter.

"I will," he muttered, and she realized she had spoken aloud, the first part at least. Sarah held onto his hard biceps as he devoured her mouth, scraping his teeth against her, driving his tongue into her, bearing her own down, stroking it even as it dominated it, made it lie pliant beneath his will and quiver there.

He was an intruder in her house. He was a stranger. She had just witnessed him participate in a ritual that would horrify the notion of moral conduct in civilized society. But she smelled the animal on him, the sweat of the ritual beneath his clean pressed shirt, and she felt the hunger in his body. Her own shoved away her inhibitions in a way it never had, mowed them over like an eager child overriding its mother's feeble protests to accept the offering of candy. But this wasn't just candy. This wasn't even a whole damn candy store. This was a child's paradise of unimaginable treasure to discover, summer days that never ended, bare feet in the mud, and all the mysteries of the universe, in ways so simple they did not have to be spoken.

She whimpered in the back of her throat, and he shifted, pressing his cock against the dampening crotch of her panties. He hoisted her, wrapping her legs around his waist, and her hair fell along his jawline as she was lifted above him so his hands could cup her ass cheeks and open her to the tips of his fingers. It made her squirm in erotic shivers, which rubbed her against the heat of his cock, pressed hard against her clit with pinpoint accuracy.

She was dizzy, the walls were moving. No, she was moving. He was taking her to the bedroom, down a hall. She felt like she was falling down a tunnel, like a slide where there was no stopping the momentum without getting painfully rubbed raw. She held onto his shoulders and he bit her throat, using his tongue to soothe even as he bit down again, harder. His fingers were under her underwear, the tip of one dipping into her tight rear entry. Her legs spasmed, kicking the wall, reacting to the strange whirl of sensation the unfamiliar touch speared through her.

There was a scrape as they passed her dresser, and then something cold, metal. Before Sarah registered the different sensory input, he had her down on her back on her bed and her arms above her head. Panic shot through her at the snap of the steel bracelets of her own handcuffs, their rattle against the wrought iron bars of the head board, and sudden blast of fear cut through the tide of lust.

"What the---Herne, you son of a --"


The world had not stopped spinning from her trip down the hallway, down onto the bed, and her panic did not faze this disorientation. He caught her, his hands clamped firmly on the backs of her knees, and he pushed her legs up and back, curling her body so her knees were shoved down against her shoulders. He threaded her thrashing feet between the railings and hooked them there so she was held there by her own weight and his strength, pressed hard against the back of her thighs.

"You can't--"

He was on the bed, on his knees before her vulnerable pussy and ass, and she had a glimpse of those glittering eyes before his head bent and his hot, moist breath touched her cunt through the cotton. He sucked the fabric and the clit into her mouth, rubbing his tongue against them, the alternating friction of the three causing her to bounce, shake and scream, the only thing she could do in this position. There was no straining possible, no arching, just the fixed point of her pussy and that convulsive little bounce, that simply made his mouth a tiny staccato of pressure against her full to bursting clit.

He growled, there was no other word for it, and hooked his finger in the panties. He tore them off her body, the seams scraping her skin with the roughness of the motion. His tongue stabbed into her pussy and her scream became a continuous cry, begging for whatever it was he could offer her. She was going to come, he was stroking her clit, making wet sucking noises of enjoyment that were driving her crazy, yes, now he was stroking harder, alternating light with rough, he was - noooo. He moved back into her pussy, taking away the driving force of the sensation, and when she bounced, the bump of his nose was all the relief she was given, which was no relief at all.

She gave a shocked cry as his middle finger invaded her anus, and fingered her there, setting off electric sparks of sensation she never knew existed. Her knees rubbed the underside of her breasts and her nipples were begging for attention against the stretched thin fabric of her tank as she lay helplessly raised like a baby with her ass in the air.

"Tell me you want more, Sarah," he demanded, his mouth and fingers working her.

Don't. Don't.

"You bastard--"

He bit, just the barest pressure of his teeth closing on her clit. She rocked against his still finger in her ass, his tight canine hold on her pussy. Waves rolled through her, but it was not enough. The surf was roaring in her ears.

"I can do this all night, Sarah," he murmured, his lips playing on her pussy. "So ask for it, or I'll torture you, with pleasure."

She was so close she was all but sobbing for it.

"More," she whispered.

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