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    Prologue

    It was crazy. The worst possible idea imaginable. She had spent three years denying the desire, denying the truth of her own feelings. If she walked up to that room, then it would change things forever.

    Marey pulled her little car into the parking lot of the motel and stared at the exterior nervously. Was she brave enough to do it? Could she actually walk in there and give in to all the desires she had kept hidden all her life, and then walk away as though it had never happened?

    Her hands gripped the steering wheel, her fingers curling around it in a death grip as she fought the tremors that quaked through her body. She didn’t know if she could do it. She had spent too many years fighting it. Unlike her friends, the merry five who had entered into marriages with infamous Trojans, Marey knew she likely didn’t have what it took to carry this off.

    It was one night, her hormones screamed at her. One stupid night of wild, hot sex, stop philosophizing over it. She could do this.

    Couldn’t she?

    Of course she could. She was thirty-five, not twenty, and she hadn’t been a virgin for a long time. Damned good thing, she reminded herself—Saxon Brogan would terrify a virgin.

    She laid her head against the steering wheel, groaning pitifully as she tried to force herself from the car. Wasn’t this what she wanted? she reminded herself. One hot, wicked night with the man of her dreams before reality came with the rising sun and she went back to the staid, sterile life she lived.

    Why? Something snapped within her then. Why did she have to return to anything? There was no husband. No children. No parents to catch her in some naughty act. All she had were her friends. Friends that one by one had fallen into the clutches of a lifestyle that Marey might not understand, but didn’t condemn. And it wasn’t as if she was doing anything illicit.

    She ignored the flashing thought of the underclothes she was wearing. Or those she wasn’t wearing, she reminded herself.

    She could do this. She raised her head, nodding firmly. There was no law that said the man who f**ked you had to love you, was there? Of course there wasn’t. Besides, she loved Sax. The admission was one she rarely allowed herself to make. One she hid from herself as much as possible.

    Fear had held her hostage for years. The fear that her ex-husband, Vince, would finally slip his hold on sanity and kill her. The fear that she was making another mistake, that her heart would pay the price this time. Her pride had been sacrificed to her ruined marriage and Vince’s fury. But her heart. If Sax broke her heart, could she survive it?

    She breathed in roughly. She would have to survive it. Now, dammit, she had waited too long. Fantasies could only sustain a woman for so long, and toys were a poor second to what she knew was waiting for her.

    Sax, with his quirky little smile, his dark eyes, his voice whispering his need for her. The sight of his hands, so much darker than her pale flesh, coasting over her body, bringing her a pleasure she had never known before. Dominant, commanding, he was part of the exclusive men’s club that had been nicknamed Trojans. They were dominant, forceful, but even more, they practiced sharing their women, bringing them to heights of arousal that were rumored to leave their women weak for days.

    Her friends had married into the club. And though getting details was like pulling teeth without anesthesia, she had managed to pry out enough to fuel her own midnight fantasies.

    Was she brave enough? If she could fantasize about it, then surely she had the courage to do it. To go to Sax and take the pleasure she knew awaited her. To see if a future was possible, if the fantasies were a pale excuse for reality, or vice versa.

    She pried her fingers from the steering wheel, grabbed her small purse and opened the car door before she could change her mind. She was a grown woman. A mature adult. And if there was one man in the world who could trip her switches, it was Sax. So what if he didn’t love her, if he was miles out of her league. He wanted her. For tonight at least, she could be the woman she wanted to be, with no fear of gossip or reprisals.

    Squaring her shoulders, she moved across the parking lot and up the stairs to the second landing. Room two twenty-nine. She pulled the key card from the side pocket of her purse and gripped it with tense fingers. Nerves shook her body, pounded through her bloodstream. Adrenaline was a crashing crescendo in her ears as she approached the door and drew in a hard, deep breath.

    She could do this. She had waited years, lusting after a man she feared she couldn’t keep. Besides, it was almost Christmas—well, almost Thanksgiving anyway. She could treat herself to something a little different this year. Something hot and wild, something she could carry with her forever, no matter what the future might hold.

    She slid the card into the electronic lock, waited until the light flashed green, then turned the handle slowly.

    See, she could do this. She pushed the door open slowly, and stepped in before coming to a shocking, mind-numbing stop.

    * * * * *

    “What the hell happened?” Sax Brogan was enraged as he entered the ER, coming to a stop as James Wyman rose from one of the plastic seats and moved quickly to meet him.

    He wanted to hit something. Someone. Every muscle in his body bunched, tightened with the impulse as the other man approached.

    An hour at the police department hadn’t improved his mood. Being suspected of physical assault and attempted rape had been more than shocking. When he learned who he was accused of assaulting, he had nearly lost his mind.

    His only thought was to get to her, to make certain she was okay, to see with his own eyes the damage done.

    “She’s conscious now,” James murmured as he reached him, then waved him toward the elevators. “They have her sedated, though. The injuries aren’t that bad, the concussion is mild. The doctor thinks she’ll be fine.”

    “That crazy ex of hers?” Brogan clenched his fists, fighting his fury. He couldn’t believe this. It was inconceivable.

    “Unfortunately,” James sighed as they entered the elevator. “The detective called a few minutes ago. They have him in custody now, but I don’t know if that’s going to help Marey when she faces you.”

    Sax glanced back at James with a frown. The investigator had told him Marey called the station herself, giving a statement over the phone and securing his release.

    “She knows you’re aware of what happened. That you know she thought she was meeting you in that motel,” he explained patiently. “You know how she is. She’s fought this thing between you two for too long. This isn’t going to help things.”

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