Exclusive Excerpt: The Invitation by Scarlett Sanderson - a Novella
Fall in love this Christmas...
"Everything you can imagine is real"
Every Christmas, Evie dreams of attending the glamorous masquerade ball at Longthorn manor, home of the handsome, reclusive Gabriel Longthorn. She watches from afar, wishing she could be near him. Gabriel, the man who plays a leading role in her fantasies. Then the invitation arrives, along with a beautiful mask and dress. Her presence is requested.
Gabriel needs Evie. As king of the Shadow world, he knows only one woman can complete him, can sate both his infinite carnal desires and the ache in his lonely heart. He’s spent years waiting for Evie, and he plans to claim her, body and soul.
“Are you cold? Perhaps you would permit me to warm you?” He ran a fingertip across her shoulder, dallied at her neckline.
Arousal spiked. Sweat beaded on her spine.
Warm her? She could think of numerous ways he could warm her and none of them were fit for public display. Most of them involved entwined limbs and a lot less clothing. All of them ended with him pinning her down and taking her until she screamed.
She tried to give him her best stern look. “Thank you, but I can warm myself.”
His husky, masculine laughter drew the attention of nearby guests. “I have no doubt you can but it would be much more interesting if you allowed me.”
A tall blond man approached the dais. Where Gabriel was lean, he was broad. His green eyes glistened like leaves in the morning rain. He bowed at Gabriel before addressing Evie. “Would the fair maiden care to dance?”
More old-fashioned charm. It must be some kind of ritual role-playing they did every year. Surely they didn’t act like this every day?
Did she want to dance? She glanced at Gabriel and then chided herself. Although he’d invited her here, she didn’t need his permission. Or approval. She could do what she wanted. One dance wouldn’t hurt. And she could calm her raging lust. Some distance would do her good.
She rose from her chair and beamed at the blond. “I’d love to, Mr…”
He returned her smile and Evie noticed a row of dazzling white teeth. Definitely a movie star. “Call me Lucian.”
“I’d love to dance, Lucian.”
She stepped off the dais and into Lucian’s arms. He swirled her away, swaying to the slow beat of the music. They made idle chitchat about the ball, the setting, the food. He was a striking man but his beauty paled in comparison to Gabriel’s. Lucian didn’t have the effect on her that Gabriel did. Gabriel made her think of sex and afternoons filled with sweaty nakedness.
“So do you know Gabriel?”
“I’m his guard.”
She frowned. “Like a bodyguard?”
Lucian winked. “Something like that.”
Was she missing something? How odd that a guard be allowed to indulge in the pleasures of the ball. All the guards she’d seen in the past stood on the periphery, lurking, alert for trouble.
She mentioned it to Lucian.
“Gabriel is unconventional in many ways.”
Evie snorted. “Tell me about it. I’ve still got no idea what I’m doing here.”
“Don’t you?” he asked in a puzzled tone. “I’m sure he’ll reveal all soon.”
Why did that sound so ominous?
As they danced she could feel Gabriel’s eyes on her. Her intense awareness of him was startling. Her violent attraction to him, unnerving. All those years of fantasizing about him from afar played havoc with her senses.
She tried to push the dark-haired devil from her mind and concentrate on the man she danced with. There were many things to immerse herself in. So why couldn’t she stop thinking about marching over to Gabriel, grabbing him by the lapels of his jacket and kissing him?
Multi-published author, Scarlett Sanderson is a librarian by day and an erotic romance novelist by night. She lives in suburban England with her husband and dreams of having Lara Croft type adventures. As a reader, she loves to immerse herself in sweeping tales of romance, fantasy and most of all, tantalizing erotica. Those are the elements she tries to weave into the stories she creates.
When not writing, Scarlett has a burning passion for history, good chocolate, great coffee and anything supernatural (especially if it includes the hunters Dean and Sam Winchester from the TV show Supernatural!).
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