by Patricia Bates
Erotic Contemporary Romance/ Romantic Suspense
After a lifetime of living in the shadows, can Secret Agent Raven O'Connell step into the light with the Navy SEAL who holds her heart?
Raven O'Connell is a woman with secrets. One of the top STAR agents, she's a force to be reckoned with. When she meets Navy SEAL Zach Richter at her best friend's wedding the sparks fly.
Zach is a man used to danger. A seasoned soldier, he's grown accustomed to living on the edge. Getting involved on a permanent basis wasn't something he'd ever considered…until he met Raven. What started out as a no-strings affair quickly blossomed into more.
But can they have a future when dark secrets and a dangerous mission pushes them into a life-threatening situation that will cost one of them more than they ever imagined?
Content Warning: contains violence and graphic sex
"Excuse me, won't you have a seat? We're about to begin." The smartly dressed man hovering in the doorway wiped his forehead, a worried look in his eyes. His fingers plucked at his collar, adjusting it nervously.
"Thank you." Jocylin smiled. She rested a hand on Raven's arm. "You staying?"
"I don't sit with the family." Raven met her stare head-on. "I don't think it's right to sit next to someone whose daughter I couldn't save."
"Then why attend the funeral?"
"Because I have to." Stepping by Jocylin, Raven settled next to a tall, ornate plant, her hands tucked into the pockets of her black slacks. She hated attending these things. Not because of the death, but because of the sense of failure. But facing the ones who grieved a lost loved one was a small penance to pay for her sins.
* * * *
The clink of ice cubes against glass seemed to mock Raven as she shifted, lifting her drink to her lips and sipping the virgin concoction. It hardly seemed appropriate to be sitting amid the revelry when she'd spent the better part of her morning mired in the grief and rage of a family burying a child.
A band occupied the stage, their lively beat filling the hot room. Men and women in formal wear circulated, the mingled odors of their perfume and cologne enough to give her a migraine. In the corner a drunken couple were too busy making out to notice the rest of the crowd, who seemed oblivious to their antics. Raven sighed. There wasn't a lot to be said for sitting at a table in a low lit room while her best friend danced around with her new husband, not when she had important work to do.
Raven stared at the pair, a hint of envy tickling her nerves. Alex wore a delicate lace gown, her curves highlighted by the clinging material. The lust in her husband's gaze hot enough to burn through the fancy dress. Slade looked ready to throw her on the nearest table, his face taut, filled with hunger as he pulled her against him.
Raven swallowed past the nausea and glanced over the crowd. A slight smile curled her lips as she appraised those at the wedding. There was more danger in this room than any where she could pinpoint at the moment. SEALs, STARs, as well as several other military and law enforcement agencies, all laughed and joked. The combined firepower in the room enough to take down a small country. She snorted under her breath. It wasn't like there was anyone interested in such a feat. At least at the moment.
"Damn." Raven straightened, her gaze falling on a tall, broad-shouldered man lounging against the wall. Her fingers clenched around the glass, the faint throb of adrenaline flaring to life, and she shrugged off the silky shawl she'd wrapped around her shoulders.
She stood, her body humming as she appraised him. The neat lines of his uniform hugged his massive frame, the trousers clinging to his butt. His eyes scanned the room, taking in every detail, every nuance, but revealed nothing. Legs braced, his arms crossed over his chest, a glass resting on his bicep, whoever he was, he wasn't the accountant. Arousal hit, hard, fast, burning through her reserves as she licked her lips.
Ignoring the tiny voice of reason screaming at her, she pasted a smile on her face and sashayed toward him, drink in hand. Her heart throbbed with each step, and her blood heated at the quick glance he ran over her before looking away.
"You look bored, handsome." Raven curled her fingers over his arm, brushing against him with her breasts. Tiny tremors of heat danced along her skin.
He turned his head, his eyes meeting hers, the rough material of his jacket rustling against the silk of her gown. "I hate formal events." Low, rich, the baritone rolled over her like a wave.
She pressed closer and shivered at the bulge behind the zipper of his pants, a wave of moisture pooling between her legs.
"Ooh, yes." She moved a bit closer, her fingers brushing against him. Her pulse skipped at the twitch of interest behind the placket of his pants. "These things do leave one with a vague disgust. I'd hoped they'd elope and we wouldn't be tortured with this public display of affection."
"Disgust isn't the word I'd use." He reached out to take her drink. She watched him take a sip, catching the flare of surprise in his eyes, and Raven laughed. "Hmm, so why are you here drinking juice?"
"I don't like alcohol." Raven shrugged. "It clouds the mind, slows reflexes."
"True, but I don't think you're likely to have any difficulty at Alex and Slade's wedding. And if you did, there's enough combined training in here to…"
"Yeah, I know. Overthrow a small country." With a quick grin she leaned closer. "But I don't see any, uh, problem which would need the sort of training we have in abundance. There are problems…" She brushed her breasts against him as she took her drink back and set it aside. "Then there are problems. Perhaps I can help you with one of yours."
"Oh?" He smiled, a slow curl of his lips as he eyed her, heat flaring with each blatant sweep of his gaze.
Raven tugged on his tie. "Yes, sir. Why, it has to be hard on a person to have such a rigid package. Let's see if I can help out. After all, it's the neighborly thing to do."
Currently I have over 20 books under contract under my own name and under my pen name Elise Whyles in multiple genres. My goals this year are simple to continue putting out stories my readers love, books they can relate to and characters they can identify with. For the full list of my books please check out my books page.
Tour Dates: August 20th - September 5th