USA Today bestselling author Claire Kent continues her emotionally charged story of longing, betrayal, and insatiable desire as two lovers find themselves in a deadly standoff of seduction.
Kelly Watson got involved with mogul Caleb Marshall for all the wrong reasons: namely, to prove that he murdered her father twenty years ago. But Caleb is hotter than hell, the sex is mind-blowing, and Kelly’s afraid that she’s falling for him despite her chilling suspicions. Now, the more time she spends in his arms, the more she risks betraying her identity and losing her heart. The only way out is to discover the truth before Caleb figures out who she really is.
Caleb’s feelings for Kelly are taking him into uncharted territory, replacing his weakness for call girls and one-night stands with a hunger for something real. Still, the ruthless businessman in him can’t resist looking into Kelly’s background. When his investigation suggests that he’s not the only one with something to hide, Caleb is forced to decide if he can trust someone who’s been telling him lies. For the first time, Caleb understands how intimacy can be so tempting—and, in the wrong hands, so dangerous.
Darker the Release is intended for mature audiences.
She’d come over to his big estate outside DC for the weekend. She wasn’t living with him all the time anymore—the way she had in the beginning—but she’d spent the last three weekends with him. Now it was Friday at almost seven in the evening, and he was still on a work call.
He was also wearing nothing but a towel around his waist.
Caleb Marshall was the CEO of Vendella and Co., a high-powered pharmaceutical company. He didn’t have the luxury of working only on weekdays. She didn’t expect him not to work—or not to take calls on any day or at any hour they came in.
But still, they were scheduled to leave for a black-tie event in ten minutes. The cocktail party was his thing—since she was a pet portrait artist and wasn’t in the habit of attending formal events of any kind. It was only because of him that she was going to this party at all. She’d gotten out of the shower, dried her hair, and done her makeup in the bathroom, and she’d expected him to be dressed when she reentered his bedroom.
But he was sitting in a leather chair near the window, talking on the phone, naked except for the towel.
And he didn’t even appear aware of her presence.
It worried her.
They were supposed to be in a real relationship. They’d never said the words “I love you.”
Given both of their pasts as commitment-phobes, that would have been far beyond the comfort zone for either of them. But they’d admitted that the feelings between them were real, and they’d agreed to try to make the relationship work.
He was supposed to care about her, be totally into her, feel for her more than he’d ever felt for anyone else. That was what he’d said, at least.
Which was why it was concerning that he hadn’t noticed that she’d walked into the bedroom wearing nothing but her underwear. He hadn’t even glanced over at her.
Caleb wasn’t just her boyfriend. He might have killed her father. And the only way she could ever find out the truth was to get him to trust her completely, let down his guard, and allow her access to the information she needed so she could find concrete evidence about who had arranged her father’s murder. And she only had a limited amount of time to accomplish all this in the month or so her mother had left to live.
If Caleb was losing his interest in her, if she wasn’t as attractive to him as she used to be, then she could never do what she needed to do.
So she felt distracted and out of sorts as she walked over to the dresser and looked in the mirror.
Her makeup was good—setting off her blue eyes, high cheekbones, fair skin, and full lips—and her long, dark gold hair was pulled up into an elegant twist. Her bra and panties were a sexy black lace—much more expensive than she’d ever bought for herself before she’d met Caleb.
In the past, she’d only ever had one-night stands. There was no man in the world whom she’d known as deeply and intimately as Caleb. No man who could turn her on as much. No man she’d invested nearly as much in as him.
No man she’d hated as much.
It was the bitter irony of her life—to live torn apart like this until she could finally find the truth, finally find closure, finally heal. If such a thing was even possible.
But all of it would be futile if his interest was waning.
He was talking about some sort of marketing campaign on the phone. She heard the words, but they were of no interest. It didn’t sound like an emergency, though, so it was definitely time for him to hang up the phone.
With that same flutter of anxiety and uncertainty, she grabbed a tube of lotion from the bag she’d brought over for the weekend and squeezed some out on her palm.
Then she walked over so she was directly in Caleb’s line of sight, sat down on the edge of the bed, and started to rub the lotion onto one of her legs.
Her body was pretty decent, with long legs and good breasts. Caleb had always seemed to really like it before. Might as well use it to her advantage.
She massaged the lotion in slowly, extending her leg in a way she hoped was sexy.
With a clench of pleased satisfaction, she noticed from the corner of her eye that Caleb’s eyes had shifted over to her.
He was still talking, but at least now he was watching her.
She took her time rubbing the lotion on her other leg as well, and then she stood up and started applying it to her arms and shoulders in turn.
He was definitely focused on her now. His brown eyes had taken on a familiar heat—albeit still distracted by his conversation—and his gaze didn’t leave her body.
Making sure to act unaware, she walked over to the closet to get a dress. She’d brought two possibilities with her for this evening, since she hadn’t been sure which she should wear.
Inspired, she grabbed the one she’d already decided against.
She returned to his line of sight to slowly, sensually pull the dress on, letting the soft fabric cling to her body.
It was a blue that matched her eyes, and she studied herself in the mirror, turning around and pretending to be evaluating the effect. She slipped on her high heels and looked at herself again.
Then she unzipped it and let it fall slowly to the floor so she was standing in nothing but her underwear and heels.
Caleb stumbled over something he was saying.
Claire Kent has been writing romance novels since she was twelve years old. She has a PhD in British literature and, when she’s not writing, teaches English at the university level. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Noelle Adams.