Powerful CEO, Garrett Emerson’s, life and corporation are built on a foundation of risk taking and top secret priorities. He works hard, but plays even harder. When tragedy strikes, the charismatic and sexy billionaire takes the gamble of his life by bringing a beautiful consultant into his inner sanctum, exposing her to his exclusive society of extreme athletes who are adventurous both in business and pleasure. Inexplicably drawn to the intriguing woman, Garrett teaches her to face her fears, bringing them both to new levels of ecstasy.
Selby Reynolds, a high profile technology specialist, reluctantly accepts an engagement at Emerson Industries. Discovering secrets and uncovering clues to a murder, she’s swept into Garrett’s dangerous but seductive life of luxury. Captivated by the world renowned capitalist and adventurer, she’s convinced he could crush her heart. As he pushes her sexual limits and their erotic play intensifies, Selby finds it impossible to resist the one man who turns her darkest fantasies into a reality.
When Selby’s life is threatened by a killer, carnal lessons of trust are put to the test, forcing them to choose who is friend and who is foe. Can Selby give her heart to a man who revels in the excitement of flirting with death? Will they prevail against an enemy who threatens to tear apart Garrett’s world, including the fragile connection with the woman he seeks to claim as his own?
Warning: This book contains several erotic love scenes and is intended for adult readers only.
Excerpts from Carnal Risk
“Rule number one. I decide what access you have and when. Until we know what happened, you will most definitely not have physical access to Evan’s office or any of his physical belongings, including his laptop.” Garrett didn’t miss a beat as he turned to her and continued, “I’m well aware of your, how should I say, ability to acquire his files by other means. So while I appreciate you attempting to get them in a legitimate way, you will not have access to all the files until I’m comfortable that you have a solid understanding of what we do here. Clearances only tell me that you can be trusted with information. They don’t tell me that you grasp why we are doing the things we are doing here. So for now, I need you to focus on infrastructure. Convince the board that the outsourcing is mutually beneficial for both our companies.”
“Outsourcing information systems at Emerson Industries to DLar-Tech? I can do that in my sleep. But in the files you gave me, they referenced something called a PFx Prototype. Now I don’t know what that is, but if it’s in his files, they may ask…”
“They won’t ask you.”
“Rule number two. I make the rules. If it comes up, I’ll stop the discussion. Tomorrow’s about introducing you to the board, establishing credibility. Your résumé speaks for itself, but Lars is responsible for bringing you in.”
“So I’m interviewing?” She smiled.
“Something like that. Decision’s already been made. I know it. They know it. But it’s essential they feel comfortable with you.”
“I’ll do my best to sell them on the outsource plan. I can do this.”
“Rule number three.” As Garrett considered his next words, he lifted his eyes to hers, attempting not to stare as she toyed with the hem of her skirt. She shifted on the couch, and he swore he saw the faintest hint of a small tattoo on her inner thigh. Interesting. Miss Reynolds was a dichotomy of personalities. Her business woman persona was rigid in many ways, yet she bent rules when needed. Perhaps part of her yearned to rebel?
“Here’s the thing, Selby. My company isn’t just about technologies. I’ve built this by taking risks.”
“Don’t you mean danger?”
“To some but not us. Nor our customers either. We do this to experience life in a way that most people never see. The exhilaration of dropping from the sky.”
“Yes. The kind that takes your breath away. Like the best fucking sex you’ve ever had in your life. Do you know what that feels like?” he asked, never moving to touch her. He watched as she struggled to keep an impassive expression.
“Um, I don’t think that’s something you really need to know.”
“Oh but I do, Selby. And do you want to know why?”
She nodded, her fingers moving to her bloodstained blouse, where she fidgeted with a button.
“Because these are things that remind us we’re alive. Sex. Fear. Anticipation.” Garrett had had enough of pretending. Fuck it. I’ll apologize to Lars later. He stood and walked behind the sofa. Placing his palms on her shoulders, he steadied her before she had a chance to move. He knelt, bringing his lips to her ear. “Here at Emerson Industries we strive to bring customers face-to-face with the mind-blowing rush they want. Sometimes it’s a high-tech operation that requires calculated strategy. Sometimes it’s as easy as ramping up technology in a way to let Mother Nature provide the high. Stratospheric skydiving suits and helmets, to experimental polymer surfboards. We understand needs, enabling that rush. We push boundaries.”
“I’ve read about your company, how you built it,” she challenged.
“But you haven’t felt it, have you, Selby?” he pressed, his lips brushing against her ear. The subtle scent of her perfume teased his nostrils. Her fingers glided up over his and he knew he had her. He would make her understand, teach her. She’d breathe in the rush of the high, and never be the same.
“Mr. Emer…Garrett,” she began. “I can’t…I don’t do the things you do. I just can’t.”
“But you want to feel it. That rush from base jumping or from riding a wave. We all have our own threshold of how much is enough, how far we’d go. Tell me, Miss Reynolds, do you really want to learn about our culture?”
“But of course I do,” she quickly responded.
“What’s enough for you? Where’re your limits? How do you get your rush? Hacking into places you shouldn’t be? No, no, no, that’s much too easy,” he breathed. “Singing in front of a live audience? Is that where you come alive? Grinding your ass into my cock the other night? Did that do it?”
“I didn’t mean to…we need to talk about that.”
“Yes, I think we do, because I know you’re capable of pushing the envelope, too, sweetheart. I want to feel you tremble, Selby.” Garrett placed his lips on her neck and heard her sigh. He dragged the tip of his tongue behind her ear, tasting her skin. His dick was hard as rock, but he’d take her only after she trusted him, after she learned why this company was so damn important to him. “That rush you feel right now. That’s what I’m going to teach you. In the bedroom and out.”
“Who said we’re going to…?”
“Limits. Boundaries. They’re all meant to be bent, sometimes even broken. And I suspect we’re going to break a few together.” Garrett slipped his fingers over her lapel, gliding his hands across her collarbone. Her head lolled back against him, her eyes closed. He smiled at her acquiescence. Jesus, it shouldn’t matter what she did, but there was something about her. “Tomorrow, we’re going to rock the shit out of this board meeting. You’ll do this for me and then we’re going on a personalized tour. Participation isn’t optional.”
“What are you doing here?” Lars whispered.
Recognizing his voice, she spun around and gave him a small smile. This was his hidden world, she knew, and he hadn’t invited her.
“Garrett asked me to attend,” Selby told him.
“He shouldn’t have done that.”
Selby stood firm, despite his annoyed expression. Over the years, she’d seen him both frustrated and determined, but never angry.
“It’s not like I asked to come. Garrett invited me.” She crossed her arms, irritated that he hadn’t welcomed her.
“Dance with me.” It was a command, not a request.
Selby marched to the parquet floor, allowing him to take her in his arms. The music slowed to a ballad and she began to plead her case.
“Please don’t be mad, Lars. You’re the one who got me into this.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just…” He exhaled loudly. “Look, Selby, the people in this room…you’re not like them.”
“Gee, thanks. Nice.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. But come on, you know you’re not big on any kind of adventure. These folks are here because they share a passion. You wouldn’t understand us. What we do…it’s not something you are ever going to do. We’ve been friends for a long time, but Garrett shouldn’t have brought you here.”
“Everything we do has a risk. I’m afraid to fly but I still do it anyway. And do you know why? Because at the end of the day, data speaks, bullshit walks. I know full well that I have a better chance of dying in a car accident than I do getting on a 747.”
“Well, your chances are a helluva a lot greater when you base jump. Try more like one in sixty.”
“True, but you haven’t died yet, and there are things I do that are a little risky.” She guessed that singing at the club wouldn’t rank very high on Lars’ list, but as far as she was concerned, it counted when it came to bravery.
“Get real. You can’t even go down an escalator without saying five Hail Marys and holding on for dear life. This club,” he gestured to the people dancing around them, “the people here tonight…they embrace it all. Pushing the envelope of what we’re supposed to be doing.” He paused and added, “Including sex.”
“What?” Selby had fully expected the ‘we like to do dangerous things’ lecture, but hadn’t expected him to talk about sex.
“Look around.” Lars spun her in a circle to the beat. He whispered in her ear. “The couple in the corner. It’s Chase and Penny. Do you see them?”
Selby glanced to a man and woman who sat in darkness. She could barely make out their silhouette.
“What? No they aren’t,” she protested. As she glanced again, she observed the slightest movement.
“Yes. Yes they are.”
“But Garrett said they’re investors…”
“They’re the originals. His venture capitalists are his closest friends. We helped him build his dream, and in the process, we all prospered.”
“That’s good, right?” Selby asked, still trying to catch a better look at what exactly the couple was doing. She swore Lars was just messing with her to get her to leave.
“Some work at Emerson. Most do. Some, like me, have our own companies with close partnerships with Emerson. A few,” Lars nodded to the band. “See the twins?”
Selby caught sight of the lead singer, who wore a tight black t-shirt. He tightly gripped the microphone, his heavily tattooed arms bulging every time he flexed. A similarly handsome man played drums.
“They’re recent doctoral grads from MIT. They were interning with Evan. Now they’re helping Chase out with a few things.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this involved having interns?”
“Because you don’t have any. You’re there to help recruit Evan’s replacement and expedite the outsourcing. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“I know that,” she replied. Her lips pursed as she considered that once again Garrett hadn’t disclosed all the facts of the situation. Her whirling temper was thwarted as Lars stopped dancing and held her tight.
“What’s going on between you and Garrett?”
“Lars,” she breathed. Her head fell to his shoulder. Jesus, she wished she could lie to him, but she couldn’t.
“He wouldn’t have brought you here if you weren’t…are you sleeping with him?”
“No,” she protested. “And besides, even if I was, it’s not like it’s any of your business.”
“I don’t want you to get hurt, is all. It’s why I never introduced you to him. I knew how you admired him. Women lie down and spread their legs the minute he says hello, and you aren’t going to be one of them.”
“Are you kidding me?” Selby exclaimed.
“Look, he’s one of my best friends but he’s not like you. You’re innocent. You don’t have this addiction we’ve got.”
“Lars, I appreciate your advice but I’m not that girl you dated in college. I can handle myself.” Or so she hoped. Despite her confusion over Lars’ concerns, she wasn’t leaving.
“Just be careful, okay? I know you, Selby. I’ve seen you during an attack.”
Selby’s stomach lurched as he mentioned her weakness. Garrett, no matter how smitten, hadn’t seen her at her worst.
“The things we do aren’t for you,” Lars insisted, his voice firm.
“I surfed today,” she said defiantly. So what if she’d only stayed up for all of five seconds? It still counted.
“Yeah, Seth told me. I knew they’d push for you to do something to get to know the customer a little better. But surfing? Come on. You know that kids do it, right?” He shook his head and laughed. “It’s just a small sliver, baby. Unless you’re planning on goin’ with us on our next base jump, this place isn’t for you.”
“She’s my guest.” Selby heard Garrett’s commanding voice behind her, and excitement flushed through her veins.
His hand glided over her shoulder, and tingles ran down her arm. She caught a glimpse of anger in Lars’ eyes, but her focus was drawn to the debonair billionaire who’d invited her to the party. Her breath caught as her eyes devoured him. Dressed in black slacks and a white shirt, his strong muscular forearms pressed through his rolled up sleeves. A lock of his dark brown hair brushed over his forehead. He emanated sex without trying, his cool casual style apparent in his every movement and word.
“Garrett, Lars was just telling me about your, um, your club.” Her arm broke out in gooseflesh as he trailed his finger down it. Although covered by fabric, she swore she could feel the burn of his touch straight through her dress.
“Was he now?” Garrett’s eyes darted to Lars and back to Selby.
“Yes, he was telling me about your investors. Lars…” she went to address him but he’d walked away toward the bar. She shook her head, upset that he’d left angry. They never fought and it broke her heart to think he’d be irate about her seeing Garrett.
“Don’t worry about him. Everyone’s a little tense after last night. He’s going to be fine.” Garrett brought the back of her hand to his lips and kissed it.
“I…Garrett,” she stammered.
Selby glanced around the room and caught sight of both Seth and Nate staring at her. As much as she yearned to throw herself into Garrett’s arms, she hadn’t expected public displays of affection at a company event.
“Selby?” He gave a small chuckle, tugging her toward the door.
“Where are we going?” she asked as he led her out onto a large balcony. It overlooked a magnificent waterfall that spilled into a swimming pool. Large glowing orbs the size of beach balls floated along its surface.
“It’s too noisy inside.”
“What is this place?” she asked in wonderment.
“This is Altura.”
“What’s it going to be? Open or closed?”
Selby stared at Garrett, considering her next move. She was incredibly turned on by him, but fear held her back.
“Answer me,” he told her. His eyes smiled but his intense stare warned her to obey.
“Open,” she whispered.
Selby could hardly believe that after all these years of avoiding heights, she was agreeing to what he asked. It terrified her that he used his words to push her, to arouse her. She wanted to deny him, to deny herself the fantasies she’d never allowed herself to have with another man. But even as she grew wet from his suggestion, she couldn’t bring herself to admit to him that she wanted it.
“Very well. Don’t worry. I’ll never let anything happen to you,” he promised. He reached for her hand, and slowly walked with her toward the railing.
It wasn’t lost on Selby that Garrett shielded her view. She came up behind him, clutching his shirt with her free hand and trembled in fear as he placed her palm onto the iron bar.
“Take a deep breath. You’re doing fine, sweetheart.” He turned to face her, and she forced her fingers to open, releasing the fabric. “That’s it. Put your other hand here.”
As he settled her grip around the cold metal, Selby closed her eyes. She felt the warmth of his body behind her, the hardness of the rail brushing against her stomach. Blinking her eyes open, she continued to shake as the pool came into view.
“I can’t do this. Garrett, please. You don’t want to see me like this.”
A memory of being rushed to hospital flashed in her mind. It wasn’t the first time, it wouldn’t be the last. It had been a gorgeous day. She’d gone on a hike, traveled several hundred feet upward before she’d realized heights were a trigger. The sight of Los Angeles had been spectacular until she’d gone to walk back down. I’ll fall. I’m up so high. I can’t move. Paralyzed, she’d cowered to the ground. The pain in her chest wouldn’t cease. She knew it was another panic attack, but was at a loss as to how to control it. Garrett’s soothing voice brought her back into the moment.
“I see you. Maybe better than you see yourself. You’re beautiful.” His hands never left her body as they grazed over her arms onto her shoulders, then trailed down her back until they rested on the sides of her thighs.
“I’m scared. I can’t do this.” Selby shook her head.
“But you wanted to do this for me, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” she admitted.
“Are you trying to distract me?”
“Maybe, but the thing is, I want to get to know you. I want more than just working with you.”
“But you hardly talked to me in the office this week. Ever since the beach…” He hadn’t looked at her with the slightest interest.
“By asking you here tonight, I’ve given you more access to my life than ninety-nine percent of the people in my life. This is who I am…if you want to be with,” he hesitated, “if you want to be with me, then there are certain things you’ll have to accept. Lars…”
“He’s so mad at me.” Selby tried to turn her head to face him, but his hands held her thighs still.
“Lars is pissed at me, not you.”
“He says you’re going to hurt me. Are you?” she asked. “Are you going to hurt me, Garrett?”
“Never.” His lips brushed her hair. “But I will push your limits of what you think you’re capable of doing. You’re brilliant. Even though you hold onto these fears so tightly, I know you can embrace what we do.”
“I don’t know if I can. Lars says I don’t belong here. That I’ll never be right for you. But when I’m around you…” she whispered, “you make me feel…alive.”
“I want to fuck you right here. Will you let me do that?”
“What? Garrett…” Selby laughed. Jesus almighty. She couldn’t believe that she was three stories up, overlooking the pool and that her first instinct was to say ‘yes’ to public sex. Before she had a chance to answer further, his hands slipped underneath her dress. She gasped as his palms glided up her belly and cupped her bare breasts.
“Have you fantasized about my hands on you?”
“I can’t tell you that…”
“You have, haven’t you? Tell me.” His hand trailed down her abdomen, slipping into her panties.
“Please…I can’t…” Selby moaned as Garrett’s fingers pressed through her wet lips. As he plunged a thick digit into her core, she cried out. She’d yearned to have him touch her, had imagined it a million different ways, but never had she thought he’d take her at the party.
“I was right…look at how wet you are, my brave girl. You know what I think, Selby?” His lips moved to her neck.
“Oh God,” she cried as he pumped another finger inside her.
“I think you crave this…like a seedling waiting for the sun, you’re going to bloom.”
Selby clutched the rail. His warm breath teased her ear and she shook her head, wishing she could deny his words. But as his thumb flicked at her clit, any ability to lie failed her.
“I want you so much,” she breathed.
“That’s better,” he encouraged.
“We shouldn’t,” she panted.
“Someone could see us.”
“I…ah…” Selby’s orgasm built and her eyes darted to the deserted deck. Although they were concealed in the shadows, music blared in the distance.
“Or would you like someone to watch? Do you want them to see you come?”
“No, I just want…” Selby attempted to stop her pussy from clamping down on his fingers at the mention of exhibitionism, but her effort was thwarted as he rocked his erection against her ass.
“Fuck, you surprise me…it excites you. Don’t worry, sweetheart.” He kissed her ear. “We’ve got plenty of time for that. But right now, I just want to make you feel good…any fear you felt is gone right now, isn’t it?”
Selby’s head lolled over as he pinched at her clitoris. He added a third finger, and she cried his name out loud. She was helpless to stop it; her climax consumed her. Her hands gripped at the bar as the violent spasms racked her body. Without warning, he withdrew his fingers and she whined. The crinkling sound of a condom was all she heard before he spread her legs with his knee.
“Open for me,” he whispered into her ear.
“Garrett,” was all she could manage as he entered her from behind.
Selby’s arousal spiked as he filled her to the hilt. The sweet pain of her channel stretching brought her into focus. She wanted him more than the air she breathed. Selby had never done anything like this before, but the more he tested her, the more she embraced the rush he gave.