From the peaks of erotic ecstacy—to the point of no return . . .
Power. Passion. Pleasure beyond imagining. Billionaire playboy Rafe Contini offers all this—and more—to the beautiful Nicole Parrish, a young American traveler with a taste for adventure that matches his own. From the private yachts of Monte Carlo to the palatial estates of Geneva to the glittering penthouses of Bangkok, Rafe has shown her a world of unimaginable sensual delights. Now, he is ready to take her to the next daring level. Of danger. Of desire. Of deliciously erotic self-discovery . . .
Nicole has never known a man as sexy, as strong—or as commanding—as Rafe Contini. Night after steamy night, he turns up the heat, tests her boundaries, and pushes the limits of her body and soul to the point of sweetest agony. But when this masterful lover sweeps her away to a secluded island getaway—where anything can and will happen—Nicole must decide just how far she wants to take this game. And just how much she can bend Rafe’s rules . . .
About the Author:
C.C. Gibbs is the pen name of New York Times bestselling author Susan Johnson. She divides her time between the Midwest and Northern California, and considers the life of a writer the best of all possible worlds. Bringing characters to life allows her imagination full rein and researching books is great fun!
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Twenty minutes later, the helicopter banked steeply to the right, the pilot pointed, and Rafe’s private island rose out of the Adriatic Sea, spreading slowly across the horizon—a sizable expanse of mountainous landscape visible through the shimmering mist, a faint silhouette of a distant castle materializing out of the haze.
Nicole’s brows shot up in surprise. “A castle?” Leaning in close to Rafe so he could hear her over the rhythmic thump, thump, thump of the rotors, she felt a shiver run up her spine. “You didn’t mention a castle.” Castles had dungeons! Kink and dungeons were practically a stereotype, her overactive imagination pointed out, even as a flashback of images from way too many horror films suddenly had her heart tripping. Jesus, get a grip! She was on holiday with the most ridiculously beautiful, shamelessly lovable, wet dream of a man; life couldn’t be better. Okay?
“It’s not exactly a castle yet.” Rafe smiled. “It’s closer to a rock pile that’s burning through money. I call it my hobby. My accountant calls it a nightmare. ”
“Speaking of nightmares,” Nicole said, her apprehensions flaring again at the reference to things that go bump in the night. “Reassure me about dungeons. Don’t ask. It’s stupid, I know, but…”
Taking note of Nicole’s trepidation, Rafe chose a marginal lie rather than argue reality versus her wild imagination. “No dungeons. Don’t worry. And you’ll love the room that’s been restored in the tower,” he offered, avoiding further discussion of dungeons. “You can pretend you’re a twelfth-century demoiselle. I’ll pretend I’m the crusader who never reached the Holy Land, built this castle instead, and chose the lucrative life of a pirate.” He grinned. “So wanna play? I’ll make it worth your while.”
A small frown mirrored her lurking anxiety. “I don’t know—maybe, probably, let me think.” Rafe’s unencumbered views on wealth always gave her pause to consider—how he could buy anything and anyone, pleasure and perversion alike, no hassle, no questions. And the words pirate and play weren’t particularly reassuring on this remote island with its spectacular limestone cliffs, wind-swept twisted pines, and medieval ruins.
“Maybe?” A teasing query. “Look, if you must know—and don’t you dare laugh—your castle ruin is kinda creepy. It reminds me of Frankenstein’s monster.”
Rafe’s brows rose. “Seriously? You believe in that shit?”
“I’m trying not to— oh God, is that the tower?” As the distance to the island narrowed, the castle tower loomed, half derelict, dark and gloomy against the blue sky. She squinted, took a small breath, and muttered, “That’s scary.”
He stared at her. “You’re kidding.”
“Okay, how about it makes me a little unsettled?”
His smile was so wide, his goddamned dimples showed. “Meaning?” she said, half guarded, wishing she hadn’t watched so many spooky movies.
“Come on, pussycat, relax,” he said pleasantly. “I promise you’ll have fun.”
Nicole gave him a hard, steady look. “No offense, but I’m in the middle of fucking nowhere. I’m allowed to wuss out.”
He flicked a glance at the passengers behind them. “You’re in the middle of nowhere with beaucoup bodyguards. You’re safe as hell.” A small smile. “If that’s what you want.”
“They’re your bodyguards.” Her eyes grew wide. “Jesus, don’t look at me like that.”
His smile was pure, bad-boy brilliance. “Like what?”
“Like you’re going to eat me alive.”
“As I recall, you like—”
She put her hand over his mouth because the pilot was grinning and she wasn’t anywhere near as blasé as he was.
He licked her palm and she jerked her hand back and tried to glare at him, but he was smiling at her now like she was the best thing that had ever happened to him and her frustration fell away before the flat-out beauty of his smile.
Recognizing her capitulation, he leaned in, tucked a dark curl behind her ear, and kissed her cheek softly. “Consider me your guardian angel,” he murmured, and at her skeptical look, amended it to “Personal guardian—how about that? And we’ll have privacy once we land.” He flicked a glance toward the pilot. “Just you and me. No one else.”
“Except for those people down there.” She pointed at a small village of whitewashed, blue-roofed houses spilling down the hillside from the castle gates. “And the staff required for that.” A sprawling peach-colored Venetian palazzo surrounded by gardens came into view beyond the castle walls.
Rafe touched her ear with his lips. “Everyone will keep their distance. I’ve given orders. So you’re free to scream as loud as you like, wherever and whenever you like.”
She turned, grinning. “Appreciate your foresight and planning.”
“I’m here to make you happy, Tiger.”
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