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Authors: Rhyannon Byrd

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Take Me Under

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Praise for Rhyannon Byrd

“No one writes lip-biting sexual tension and sizzling romance like Rhyannon Byrd.”

—Shayla Black,
USA Today
bestselling author

“With a Byrd book, you know you will get plenty of sizzling sensuality as well as molten emotion.”


RT Book Reviews

“Filled with love, lust, loyalty, betrayal, sensuality, and heady romance. Readers will find themselves reaching for a Kleenex and fanning themselves all at the same time as they devour this page-turner.”


Night Owl Reviews

“Combines passion and suspense with a touch of deadly danger guaranteed to keep you reading until the very last page.”


Joyfully Reviewed

“Hold on to your iceboxes, girls! This one is a scorcher!”


A Romance Review

Take Me

Under

Rhyannon Byrd

HEAT BOOKS | NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

For more information about the Penguin Group, visit penguin.com.

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

Copyright © 2013 by Tabitha Bird.

Excerpt from
Make Me Yours
by Rhyannon Byrd copyright © 2013 by Tabitha Bird.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

HEAT and the HEAT design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

ISBN 978-1-101-59562-6

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Byrd, Rhyannon.

Take me under / Rhyannon Byrd.—Heat trade paperback edition.

pages cm

ISBN 978-0-425-26293-1 (pbk.)

I. Title.

PR6102.Y73T35 2013

823'.92—dc23 2012051549

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Heat trade paperback edition / June 2013

Cover design by Springer Design Group.

Cover photography by Shutterstock.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Contents

Praise

Title Page

Copyright

 

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Epilogue

 

Special Excerpt from
Make Me Yours

Prologue

Three years earlier . . .


I
THOUGHT YOU DIDN’T SCREW AROUND WITH MARRIED WOMEN.”

Ben Hudson rested his back against the patio wall of the crowded restaurant and scowled at his younger brother. “Mind your own damn business,” he muttered, irritated that Michael had noticed the stares he kept directing through the mass of people. As a homicide detective in Miami, Ben had worked hard at learning how to hide his reactions. But at the moment his training wasn’t enough to cover the fact that he’d spotted a woman he’d like to fuck. Hard and rough and repeatedly, if his cock had anything to say about it. Which it didn’t, considering the lady had a husband and was off-limits.

“And I don’t screw around with them,” he tacked on more for his benefit than Michael’s, thinking the verbal reminder couldn’t hurt. He knew damn well what kind of shit could be stirred up when spouses strayed from their commitments, and he wanted no part of that kind of life.

Michael propped one shoulder against the wall and gave a quiet laugh. “Uh-huh. Your lips are saying one thing, Ben. But your eyes already have her stripped and spread.”

Choking back a dry curse, he tilted his bottle up to his lips, enjoying the icy burn as the beer slid down his throat. He tried to take his eyes off the woman in question, but it wasn’t happening.

“Just because I like the look of her doesn’t mean I’m planning to do anything about it.” He kept his voice low, mindful of the fact they were surrounded by listening ears. “You know me better than that.”

“Yeah, I do.” Michael’s pale green eyes, a shade lighter than Ben’s, zeroed in on the brunette. “But I also know that a woman like
that
is probably worth breaking a rule or two.”

Ben gritted his teeth, hating that Michael had noticed the same things he had. At first glance, she was just another pretty face at a party that was currently packed with plenty of pretty faces. It was his cousin Gary’s thirtieth birthday, and friends and family of both Gary and his wife, Connie, had been invited to the celebration that was taking place at McClain’s Beach House. McClain’s was one of Moss Beach, Florida’s most popular restaurants, with a prime location right on the waterfront. The floor was usually dusted with sand, but it only added to the restaurant’s laid-back, kick-up-your-feet atmosphere, and the food was always excellent, which meant the place was always busy.

Tonight was no exception. People kept moving around the covered patio area, obscuring his view of the woman who stood out from all the others like a shiny new penny. But he couldn’t put his finger on what it was exactly that set her apart. He just knew that he couldn’t take his fucking eyes off her. When a guy he recognized as Gary’s old college roommate turned to the blonde beside him, it cleared the way between Ben and the woman again. Only this time she looked a little to her left and stared right back at him. Big, dark eyes blinked, locked with his, and held. The look couldn’t have lasted for more than a few seconds before she quickly looked away again, but it was enough to make his dick go hard and his skin go hot. Fuckin’ A.

“Oh, shit.” Michael choked back a laugh. “You should see your face, man. If you sport wood in front of Gran, I swear I’ll never let you live it down.”

Since there was no use denying how close he was to doing just that, Ben decided to find out how much Michael knew about the mystery woman. He hadn’t made it to Gary and Connie’s wedding earlier that year, since he’d been wrapping up a case at the time, but Michael had been there. Odds were good that his brother might have met the woman at the wedding. “You know her name?” he asked, taking a fresh beer from one of the waiters who strolled by.

“Reese Leighton, though she was a Monroe before she married the Yankee lawyer who has his arm wrapped around her waist. She’s one of Connie’s older sisters, but I think only a year separates them.”

Huh. He wouldn’t have guessed the two women were related. Connie was tall and blond and stacked, and this woman . . . wasn’t. Not that he gave a shit.

Reese
. An unusual name, but it fit her. She was an unusual woman. Beautiful, but not in a classical way. Long, dark hair that looked thick and soft fell over feminine shoulders bared by a stylish black sundress, contrasting sharply with skin that was creamy and pale. She was probably only around five-five, slimmer than his usual taste, but curvy enough that she didn’t look like a toothpick. Instead, she looked warm and soft and like something that should be under him. He couldn’t tell exactly what color her eyes were from that distance, only that they were dark, her gaze sharp with intelligence when she’d held his stare. Her mouth could only be described as lush, with a full lower lip that begged for the nip of his teeth, and he could see that there was a spattering of freckles sweeping across her cheeks and the petite bridge of her nose.

It was the damn freckles that got him.

It wasn’t that they made her look too young for a guy his age. He wasn’t into robbing the cradle like a lot of the men he knew who’d hit their thirties. There was just something about that sprinkling of freckles that looked so damn sexy on her. Ben wanted to touch his mouth to them, one by one, and work his way down from there, over her breasts and her stomach, until he’d buried his face between her legs and learned if her pussy was even half as delicious as she looked. If it was, it might be hours before he came up for air.

And he really needed to get his brain onto a new train of thought before he did something stupid, like make an ass of himself in front of his family and friends. Reminding himself that he did
not
hit on married women, he glanced at Michael. “What else do you know?” he asked, the words gritty with lust. He’d have blamed his reaction on a lack of sex, only he’d been sleeping with one of the traffic cops back home on a casual basis for a few months now. And he’d never been the type of guy not to get sex when he wanted it. That wasn’t bragging, just a simple fact. He was tall and stayed in shape, and women had always seemed to like his dark hair and green eyes. But he thought it was more of an attitude thing. When he wanted something, he went after it. He didn’t let shit stand in his way.

But this was the first time Ben could remember really wanting a woman who he knew he couldn’t have. He didn’t care for the feeling; but he also couldn’t stop his gaze from sliding right back to her.

Michael thought about his question for a moment, then gave him an answer. “I think Gary said she’s a schoolteacher—special needs if I remember right—and she and the jackass husband live up in Boston. They don’t get down here all that often because of his work, and he doesn’t like her to go places without him.” Michael smirked, shoving the shaggy strands of his dark hair off his brow. “Can’t say that I blame the guy. If I had a wife like her, I don’t think I’d let her out of my sight.” He paused, staring at the woman—at
Reese
—before saying, “She’s easy on the eyes, but it’s more than that. She’s got that whole shy, earthy vibe thing going on that’s such a fucking turn-on. The kind that says she’d be hot enough to melt your cock off, but doesn’t actually have a clue how sexy she is. She’s just . . . naturally got it, without even trying or being all stuck-up about it.”

Taking another long drink of his beer, Ben swallowed and slid Michael another glare. “Stay away from her,” he warned, knowing that Michael was capable of doing something stupid. At twenty-five, the guy was still at that age where he let his dick make most of the important decisions in his life.

A sly smile curled Michael’s mouth. “Don’t worry, man. I’m smart enough to know when it’s time to play it cool, instead of pushing my luck.”

Ben grunted in response, ignoring the interested looks being sent his way by a glitzy redhead over by the patio bar. He didn’t recognize her, which meant she wasn’t family, but he wasn’t going to take the bait. No sense picking up one woman when he knew he wouldn’t be able to take his eyes off another one.

“What do you know about the husband?” He studied the blond male, thinking he looked a little too polished. All styled hair and gleaming teeth. He was tall, but slender, with a look that said he thought he was slick shit.

“Just that he’s some Ivy League lawyer,” Michael said. “You know the type. All cock, no balls. Thinks he’s God’s gift to the world and that we’re all backward hillbillies. Self-righteous prick.”

“He doesn’t deserve her.”

Michael nodded. “You’re right about that. I hate to gossip, but . . .”

Ben lifted his brows, waiting . . .

His brother lowered his voice. “Gary told me that Connie suspects he’s been cheating on Reese since before they got hitched a few years ago.”

His lip curled. “Why doesn’t she leave the dickhead?”

Michael shrugged. “They’re not sure that Reese knows, and no one wants to be the one to hurt her if she doesn’t.” Michael gave him a long look, then said, “You sure you don’t want to make a move on her? Sounds like you’d be doing her a favor if you did.”

He shook his head, burying the driving urge to approach her. She was married, and as long as she had that rock glittering on her finger, he wouldn’t touch her. Hell, even if she wasn’t married, it wasn’t like they could get anything going. They were both only visiting Moss Beach. He had his job in Miami and she lived up in Boston. Logistics alone would keep him from making what would no doubt be a big-ass mistake. He couldn’t afford to get his head tangled up about a woman, much less one he didn’t even know. Christ, for all he knew, she could be a total bitch.

And yet, the instant she turned her head again, locking that dark gaze with his, her face flushed with color, Ben knew that was bullshit. This lady was no bitch. His intense reaction to her tonight made him uneasy, but he knew damn well what he’d do if she ever became free. If that happened, he
would
make a move on her. He doubted there was anything or anyone that could stop him. There’d be future events like this one. Their families were tied together now through Gary and Connie’s marriage, which meant they would cross paths again.

If given the chance, he’d fuck Reese Leighton six ways to Sunday and make it count. Hell, it’d probably even take more than a week before he could get this particular woman out of his system. But once he had, Ben had seen enough men in this situation to know the smartest thing he could do was to get his fill, then cut his losses and walk away before any serious damage was done.

And when he did, he’d never look back.

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