Excerpt from Blood on the Moon by Cassiel Knight:
Harrison sighed and leaned back in the chair. He stretched one arm over the back of Eleanor’s chair. She turned and smiled at him, lavender eyes sparkling nearly as much as the diamonds she wore at her neck and in the delicate pink lobes of her ears. He smiled back and she returned to telling their tablemates a story about her last trip to France.
His girlfriend was in rare form tonight, bubbling and officious and impeccably attired in a blue dress the color of Egyptian lapis lazuli hugging every curve and swell of her body. Pure feminine delight, a feast for the eyes.
He sighed again. For some reason, the banquet set before him left him full. After nine months of dating exclusively, he knew Eleanor expected him to pop the question, as the Yanks would say. A week ago, he considered doing just that. But now, a sense of restlessness and anticipation left his feet tapping and not from a desire to dance.
His gaze swept the crowd again. Where was Sophie? He hadn’t seen her since she and Sebastian left to see the tomb mock up. His niece hadn’t wanted to wait until his duties as exhibition curator were discharged before going off and exploring. Fortunately, his friend surprised him with a visit and now ran watch over Sophie.
Harrison rubbed his chin, feeling the slight scrape of his morning shave wearing off. Time for him to go find his wayward, high-spirited niece. The last thing he needed was for her to find her way into a part of the museum she wasn’t supposed to be. And it wasn’t like his best friend from childhood would be any sort of detriment. In fact, Sebastian was just as likely to lead the way.
As if towed toward her by a fishing line, his gaze found and locked onto a tall woman in a sleek gown of scarlet. It wasn’t just the color that got his attention, or made his mouth suddenly dry. It was the long, naked line of her spine revealed by the nearly backless dress, a smooth expanse of flawless skin that begged to be touched. To be caressed. To run his lips along the indentation of her spine.
Unlike most of the other women with hair pulled into tight knots, the exotic woman’s black hair fell in a loose braid down to the middle of her back. Some hair escaped, defying any attempts at control.
She carried herself confidently, her strides smooth and slinky as if she were aware of the appreciative gazes following her every move. Pure animal sexuality screamed from every bump and swivel of her hips. Harrison clenched his jaw. Fingers gripped the back of the chair as he fought the urge to adjust the tightness in his crotch.
The woman’s whose body language fairly shouted take me now turned her head and looked him straight in the eye. God almighty. The full lines of her lips curved into a mischievous smile. Familiar tawny eyes glowed with humor.
He should have bloody well known. Indeed, the most primitive part of him had known. Scarlet dress, red, the color of warning. The color of danger. Everything Mia Langdon was. Dangerously exotic, dangerously sensual.
The only woman who had the power to take his breath away. The woman who he once thought would be at his side for the rest of his life. Until he discovered, unlike the perfect relationships in romance novels, love did not conquer all. It failed to conquer the insurmountable, deep within their soul, differences each had about their passions. The passion for history. While he worked to protect the past for the future; Mia salvaged the past’s treasures for the glory. For the excitement. For the money. That he could not get past.
Hovering at the beautiful woman’s side was the sun-kissed sable waves of his recalcitrant niece. And just a little further away, a tall man with dark hair. Bloody hell. Sebastian. Harrison’s stomach twisted. The only way this situation could get worse is if—
Excerpt from Key of Solomon by Cassiel Knight:
Time to get to work.
Unsettled feelings aside, even after dancing four, sometimes, five nights a week, she never got tired of the sensuality or power contained within the Sharqi dance movements. She much preferred this style of Egyptian belly dancing since it was less folksy and more refined and delicate. Besides, she loved the feeling of supremacy and control over the hypnotized audience. Oh, and they were hypnotized. Glassy, staring eyes and slack lips proved that.
Striking a pose, arms upraised, veils draped seductively about her waist and hips, Lexi waited as a hush fell. She risked a glance about the darkened room. Men, and some women, from all walks of life filled the chairs.
Business men, stiff in their tailored suits, with desperate gleams in their eyes as if they sought to find relief outside the rigid structure of the world they lived in rubbed elbows with construction workers whose steel-toed boots showed the dusty debris of the worksite. Homeless men skittered about the room’s edges and wore hopeless expressions like heavy clothing.
All of them lost souls. Like her. Maybe that’s why she was still here. Still dancing. Whatever the reason, she had a job to do. Money to make. Her lips pulled into a quick smile. No open seats. Good. A packed audience. The tips’ll be great.
She swiveled her hips and slipped into the comforting routine of her choreography. The pulsing beat swirled around her, curling its seductive energy about her body. When she danced, nothing else existed.
Not the laughter, catcalls or propositions.
Not the clink of glass or scrape of chairs against the scarred wooden floors.
Only the thrumming cadence, the crystal clash of the finger cymbals, the jingle of the coins at her waist and the soulful moan of the lute.
Shutting out everything but the music and the provocative dance movements was the only way she could do what she loved while the lust-filled and often half-crazed faces watched.
Halfway through her set, that changed.
Surrounded by a sea of blurred faces, a shadow-shrouded man grabbed her attention, coerced her regard as if a spotlight caught him in its beam. For a brief moment, she froze while her music continued its bewitching tempo.
The dark figure steeped in gray sat motionless, not attempting to hide the fact he watched her. While that didn’t make him different from the twenty or so other men who did the same thing, his posture and behavior did. Like a quiescent volcano, he left her with the impression that tremendous power lay beneath the serene surface. Power ready to explode at the slightest provocation.
Three other men occupied the same beer-bottle dotted table. Yet, no one spoke to him. They talked to each other around him. As if they didn’t know he sat there.
As if they didn’t see him.
One of his long arms was stretched across the back of the chair next to him. The neck of his black shirt gaped, revealing a muscular, tanned chest dusted with dark hair. He projected an energy that sang a mesmerizing song of hot nights and warm bodies wrapped in cool sheets. Of velvet caresses and hard, yet tender, lips pressed against all her hidden, pleasure points.
Her heart hammered against her ribs, and she squinted with the effort to make out his features. All she glimpsed was a masculine profile and an occasional silver glint from his eyes when the lights eddied over him. Like viewing an object from behind a full glass of water, his form was vague, yet visible at the same time.
There, but not there.
From behind the shadows over his face, she felt the touch of his stare, his magnetism so potent she couldn’t look away A wealth of unspoken words hung in the air, words she could only imagine. Words directed at her. For her. Only her.
Despite her best efforts to look away, something kept pulling her attention to him. Something familiar. As if she’d seen him before. But where?
He shifted. The wan, but clear, glow from one of the lights fell over his face and suddenly she saw him as clear as if he stood right before her. The shaft of light struck his hair, illuminating the midnight depths with flashes of fire. She licked her lips as her gaze tracked back to his face, to his firm, sensual lips.
A brief, violent shiver rippled within her muscles, and she lost a step. Or was it two? To cover her abnormal, and frustrating, reaction, Lexi dropped into a deep downward movement. The satin of her costume and colorful jewel-toned veils drifted with soft scrapes against her sensitive skin, skimming across her nipples until they peaked.
His gaze was riveted on her face then moved to her shoulders and down to her breasts. Embers kissed her skin everywhere his eyes rested. Her breasts tightened while liquid heat pooled between her legs. She licked her lips again. His silver regard turned molten.
He held her gaze, a long, silent moment suspending between them as if spun from silk into a finely made and equally fragile gossamer thread. Her pulse leaped before settling into an erratic rhythm that threatened to steal her breath away. She slowly drew off each veil, a come-hither siren’s call in every motion. To tantalize, tease and torment. Even as she moved, she knew she’d never danced as well as she did now. Certainly never for a particular man.
When the last scrap of gauze floated to the ground, she bent backward, a final flourish, knowing as she did so, she delivered a message. For him. Only him. All she had to do was step off the stage and…
The tinkle and crash of shattering glass, followed by a woman’s squeal, snapped Lexi out of her trance. She swallowed over a dry throat and blinked rapidly. What the hell had just happened? Had she really come close to going to that man?
God help her, she was losing her mind.