Burning for Nero
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Who is Nero? Tony Nero, a SEAL, goes home for July 4th weekend to see his family and finds there the woman he has tried to forget for more than a decade!
On leave due to an injury, Navy SEAL Tony Nero heads home for a little R&R and some Fourth of July fun. When his buddy’s widow Cass Phillips picks him up at the air station, Tony figures he’s in for a sexually frustrating few days. He’s had the hots for the blonde siren for years, but his best friend won her heart first. Even though Ray’s been gone more than a year, Tony bets Cass isn’t interested in any man. Not him. And especially not another SEAL.
Cass has a bone to pick with longtime friend, Tony. After her husband died, he was the closest thing her little boy had to a father figure. His visits stopped abruptly and her son doesn’t understand why. Neither does she. She’s also unable to quench her growing need for the tough and tender man. She’s already loved and lost one SEAL, but that doesn’t stop her from burning for Nero.
Read an Excerpt
Wild to leave, Cass headed through the French doors. Across the patio to the lawn, she sank in the lush grass. Catching herself time and again from turning an ankle, she strode toward the boathouse. She stayed there whenever she visited, not wishing to sleep in the room she and Ray had shared when Ray was alive. Jon still slept up at the main house with his grandparents, thinking it a vacation from Mommy and ordinary restrictions. Tonight, Cass needed the solitude the hideaway offered.
The moon was bright and she made her way quickly. She got to the steps before Tony’s hand grasped her wrist, the strength of the man she wished to escape halting her in her tracks.
“Stop. Cass, stop.”
“No.” No, she would not cry or beg or scream. She couldn’t demean herself like that. She took a step, but the giant in her path caught her against him. With just one arm, Tony could trap her.
Against his formidable body, against her better judgment, she wanted to simply stand there, never move.
He crushed her close, nearer than he ever had before, and she felt the power of his presence. His one good hand pressed her fully against him, then glided down her spine to press her hips to his. She caught her breath. He was hard. And he wanted her.
She turned to leave.
She shook her head, her gaze beyond him. “Let me go, Tony.”
“I don’t want to.” He lifted her chin with his injured hand. “Look at me.”
Bravery was her forte. Hell, she’d been a warrior’s wife. To face this one was easy peasy. Right? She met his gaze.
Not the viper, not the seducer, not her friend, this man gazed down at her and absorbed her distress with sympathetic eyes. “You don’t want to go, either.”
“I couldn’t watch—” Oh, lord. Had she really blurted that? She was botching this.
“She came on to me, Cass.”
She stared at him, caught between delight at his words and regret at her. If she had more nerve, she could own up to wanting him. If she weren’t so stuck in her friendship rut, she could make a move on him. Was her pride more important than finding out if he could care for her as more than a friend?
“Listen to me.” He stroked the small of her back. “I didn’t encourage her. Why would I, Cass?” His last words were so raw, she barely heard them. But the sorrow in them thrilled her and she looked up at him again. “Why would I when I just want to be with you? Tell you how I loved your song and dance with Jon. Praise you and say you are the finest mother, babe. Why would I want to be with her when you’re the one I want to talk to? Huh? Tell me.”
She was speechless with joy.
He cradled her near him as if she were fragile china. The feel of him was heaven, like coming home to a safe place she’d never known existed. He dropped kisses to the crown of her hair and his gentleness stunned her so that she wrapped her arms around his waist and burrowed into him.
He groaned and stepped out of her embrace.
Unbalanced, she stumbled.
But he clasped her hand and pulled her along, striding like a mercenary on a mission toward the front door of her boathouse. At the threshold, he halted, dropped her hand and looked down at her, a muscle in his jaw jumping. “Invite me inside, Cass.”
An order, a metaphor, a plea. His words were all of them and she reveled in their potential. In one lunge, she swept open the screen door and pulled him inside.
He whirled her against the inside wall, pinning her there with his body and cupping her throat. “Tell me why I’m here.”
Words would be too much, too soon. She’d show him. She undulated against him, this man she had watched and wanted for months now. Wrapping her arms around him, she brushed her mouth against the corded column of his throat, nuzzling the hollow beneath his Adam’s apple. She parted her lips to taste the musk of his very healthy body. She rose on her toes, pulling him closer, nestling her puckered lips into the hollow beneath his cheekbones. She slid her mouth to his and he waited, still as stone, letting her lead.
Ah, god. She had hungered for this decadent taste of him for so long. She’d been so careful to tease apart her motives. Tony was kind, caring, no clone of Ray. No substitute either. She wanted him for his sweet, bad self. Could he want her because she was different from any other woman he took to bed? She paused to examine him.
“Don’t stop now. What’s in your eyes is too raw to be best friends with benefits.” He grabbed a fistful of her curls and yanked her head gently. “I won’t trespass. Our ties are too old, too strong. So, whatever I’m here for say it, or I’m leaving and we forget this ever happened.”
“Stay.” She took his mouth as if she were a dying woman, needing only the succor he gave. His lips were firm and willing. She grabbed him by the shirt, yearning to hold all of him, lose herself inside him. “I want all of you.”
“Months and months.”
Growling, he pressed flush against her from chest to thighs He seized her lips, bestowing sizzling kisses, grazing her tender flesh, scouring her mind. He sent his tongue inside the cavern of mouth and probed and plunged, fierce, claiming and testing. She mewled.
Breathless, he yanked away. “I’m hurting you.”
“No.” She curled her hands around his neck and drew his mouth once more to hers. “I need you to need me like that.”
“Christ, baby.” He sucked on her lips. “I’m trying not to gobble you up.”
“Damn. You’d better.”
He stopped, surprise living in his gaze, feral, dominant. This was that other Nero. Predator. Marauder. The sight of him in his splendor made her knees quiver. “What else can I do for you?”
When had any man ever asked her that? She licked her lips. “Multiple orgasms.”
He nodded, grinning. “Your wish is my command.”
Helpless joy flooded her. She’d grown so tired of Ray’s selfishness, she’d questioned any man’s desire to satisfy her in bed or out. The one man she had opened her legs for last year had turned out to be a total dud. All slap and tickle, full of sound and fury signifying nothing but meh. “You can deliver, huh?”
“Complain to me at any time,” Tony whispered with such utter compassion, that she realized he understood she lacked inspired loving. “One rule though,” he said against her mouth, his hand stroking her spine.
To have this man in her bed, inside her, this man to roll with and rock with? Oh, yes. Yes. “Name it.”