Killer Curves

By: Naima Simone



She shuddered.

“Cold?” Ciaran murmured.

Cold? God, no. Any hotter, and she would make the Human Torch look like a little kid playing with matches.

A dragonfly has a lifespan of twenty-four hours.

“That really sucks for it,” he said.

She frowned. “I’m sorry?”

A corner of his mouth quirked. “For the dragonfly.”

She’d said that out loud? Well, shit. She swallowed a groan. He must think she was the village idiot’s long-lost twin.

“Sloane.”

He shifted closer, and the glow from the hurricane lamps highlighted the angles and shadows of his face. Her belly clenched, and traitorous warmth unfurled, winding its way south. Apparently her body chose not to remember the last time she’d fallen for a handsome man. She’d been so enamored with Phillip’s pretty looks, she’d failed to recognize the ugliness hidden beneath the mask. She hadn’t heeded the signs of control and mental and verbal abuse until she’d been ensnared in their insidious, sticky webs. Logic argued that not all good-looking men were narcissistic assholes. Still, feeding on her issues about being the chubby, shy, more-tarnished-than-gold Barrett, Phillip had hammered home the doubts and insecurities of why a handsome man would find her attractive. And Ciaran…well, he exceeded mere “handsome.” Describing him with such a bland and anemic description was like calling the Sistine Chapel a pretty church.

“We should return to the party,” she murmured, not waiting for his agreement. She eased past him and headed toward the patio entrance. Yes, strategic retreat presented itself as the wisest course of action. She needed to return to the safety of the party with people she didn’t know, where she could wrap herself in the protective and cold distance of polite conversation. Escape before she did something to embarrass herself—like beg him to touch her and end her four-month celibacy streak.

“Sloane.”

Keep it moving! Her mind blared the order, but as if of their own volition, her feet jerked to a halt.

“If you keep running from me, I’m going to start taking it personally.”

Running? That was ridiculous. Absurd.

And she would’ve told him so…if she wasn’t already making a beeline for the restaurant.





Chapter Two


Okay, so her vagina was really, really pissed off with her.

Sloane snorted, striding up the sidewalk to her Bay Village brownstone. Not that she could blame her lady bits. Even two hours after the weird and stimulating conversation with the mysterious and sexy Ciaran, she still tingled like a lightning rod drawing electricity to her body, transmitting currents to her breasts, belly, and sex. It was a wonder she didn’t light up like a freakin’ glow stick at a Lady Gaga concert.

She sighed. And yet, here she was, walking up to her home—alone.

Because she was a coward. After scurrying off the shadowed restaurant patio, she’d spent the rest of her time at the engagement party avoiding the temptation and…hurt Ciaran represented. Like a child burned by a flame, she only needed to look at the thing responsible for once hurting her to shy away. Not that Ciaran had inflicted the pain, but he represented the source. A handsome, charismatic man. The wonder of attraction. And ultimately, the disappointment of knowing she wasn’t enough.

Been there, done that, had the matching T-shirt and refrigerator magnet to prove it.

Her cell rang, and the muffled notes of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” reverberated from her purse. Groaning, she removed the phone and, for a second, considered not answering it. Like that would stop her. Gritting her teeth, Sloane swiped her thumb over the Accept Call bar. “Hello, Mother.”

“Sloane, I have been trying to reach you all day and evening,” her mother, Mallory Johanna Sloane Barrett, complained without preamble.

Sloane swallowed another sigh. “School starts in another week. And besides preparing for it and the open house Monday night, I’ve been pretty busy.”

“You also have next week to pack for. I won’t take no for an answer, Sloane. Nor will I accept any excuses. It’s your father’s and my anniversary, and you will be here.”

Sloane paused at the low, wrought-iron gate bordering her building. God, she pinched the bridge of her nose, her lips moving in a soundless prayer for patience. Oblivious to Sloane’s plea for divine assistance, her mother continued to drone on in Sloane’s ear. Usually, all her mother required was an occasional “uh-huh” or “yes, Mother” to ensure Sloane was listening, but today she wanted actual conversation. Or rather, acquiescence.

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