Authors: Sabrina York
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Fiction
For thousands of years, Keeshan has
waited. A curse put him in the lamp, damning him to an eternity of pleasing the
women who find it. Each time, the women enter the lamp, ensnared in a web of
lust and love. And each time, just as he grows to care, the women leave.
But Aimalee is different somehow.
With her, Keeshan’s desire knows no bounds—he needs to be with her, inside her,
every second she’s there, like an addict who just can’t get enough. Eventually
she’ll leave just like the others but until then, Keeshan plans to indulge her
every sinful urge. And maybe, just maybe, she’s the key to breaking the curse.
paranormal romance features a plus-size heroine and a hero who worships her
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave
This book is dedicated to Celeste Deveney, who refused to
let me give up on Keeshan and Aimalee.
Thanks to Carrie Jackson for her editing genius, making this
book the best it could be, and to the Ellora’s Cave art department for an
awesome cover. To all the Ellora’s Cave staff who work so hard to make these
books shine, you are all amazing!
My heartfelt appreciation to my fellow writers for their
support. Especially Sidney Bristol, Monica Britt, Carmen Cook, Wendy Delaney,
Delilah Devlin, Cerise DeLand, Tina Donahue, Natalie French, Desiree Holt,
Kathy Klein, Gina Lamm and Chantilly White.
To all my friends in the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of
America, Passionate Ink and Rose City Romance Writers groups, thank you for all
your support and encouragement.
Aimalee gazed at the ancient artifacts arranged on the
worktable and twin slashes of pleasure and pride washed through her. The depth
of the stories these remnants embodied fascinated her. It was her charge to
bring this mystery to the world, to make it live again.
And tonight it would all happen. Tonight was the culmination
of many years of research and hard work. This revelation would make her name in
the antiquities world.
Discovering a lost civilization tended to impress even the
most jaded historian.
These particular objects had been found on a dig in a
desolate rocky valley in what once had been the great empire of Persia, mingled
with typical remnants of the day. But these items were unlike anything she had
seen before. Clearly not Persian, their style was far more exotic and the
symbols were utterly unfamiliar. They sparked her curiosity and sent her
fantasies running rampant. They were moldy old historical fantasies but
She gently repositioned an exquisite ceremonial bowl, her
gloved hand lovingly tracing the mysterious carvings on its lip. Lord. What she
wouldn’t give to be able to decipher those symbols. While they weren’t
cuneiform—at least any adaptations she had studied—they carried hints of Median
and Assyrian influences. The odd thing was they also incorporated Sumerian
Civilizations five thousand years apart on the timeline.
Even so, what really caught her attention was the way the
etchings seemed to shimmer, shift on the metal surface. She was sure it was
simply an illusion but couldn’t keep herself from staring at them. Every item in
her display was stamped with the delicate, enigmatic scrawl.
Of all them, the lamp was her favorite. Something about it
spoke to her. She picked it up, cradling it. She loved the weight, the breadth,
the warmth of it. While it was not a particularly ornate creation—except for
the whimsical dance of the spout—the design, the inscrutable inscriptions on
the gleaming gold face, caught and held the eye. When she rubbed at a tiny
smudge with her thumb, she could have sworn the lamp glowed in appreciation.
But then she had always been a fey and fanciful creature.
“There you are.”
Aimalee tried not to cringe as a sharp voice, akin to a
fireplace poker on a chalkboard, sliced through her sanctuary. It was difficult
not to cringe.
“I should’ve known I’d find you here.”
Aimalee set the ancient lamp onto the worktable and
meticulously drew off her gloves before she turned. She needed to gird her
loins before an interaction with Sorcha. She usually did.
It wasn’t that she didn’t like the museum’s public relations
director. But Sorcha had an uncanny ability to make Aimalee feel uncomfortable
in her own skin. Inadequate.
Sorcha was everything Aimalee had always wanted to be but
wasn’t. Tall, willowy and sophisticated. She wore only the highest fashion. Her
shoes were sleek with impossible heels. Her hair and makeup were always
flawless. Like a mannequin’s.
Aimalee couldn’t tame her wayward curls if her life depended
on it. And rare was the day she didn’t have three-thousand-year-old dust
smudged across her cheek.
She rubbed her palms on her faded, stained jeans and cleared
her throat. “I’m always here.” Sometimes it seemed as though she lived in this
musty basement. Then again, this was the only place she felt at home. And
frankly she resented this intrusion, especially today.
But she didn’t let it show. She never let it show. Never let
Sorcha wrinkled a perfect button nose and scanned the
cluttered room with a moue of distaste. “I don’t know how you can stand it. No
.” Yes. It did smell. It smelled like history. It
happened to be an aroma Aimalee loved. “I would hate being stuck down here.”
Aimalee rubbed at the pulse throbbing in her temple. “Did
you want something?”
“Ah, yes.” Sorcha switched on her most brilliant gee-I-want-something-from-you
smile. “Carter can’t find the appendix for your dissertation.”
Aimalee frowned. “Why does he want that?” For heaven’s sake.
Carter had never shown much interest in Aimalee’s research. In fact, for a
museum director he exhibited a surprising indifference to history. Then again,
when they were together he usually had other things on his mind.
Sorcha shrugged one shoulder. She fiddled with a hair that
had somehow come undone from her elaborately curled coif. “He’s meeting with
the board, I guess. He probably wants to mention you.”
That made sense. Naturally the board of directors would be
interested in her recent discovery. When the findings were released to the
journals there would be a huge hoopla in the antiquities community. And hoopla
meant moola. The board was all about moola.
“I have it on my computer.”
“Hmm. And what’s the password?”
Aimalee sighed. “Sorcha, I am not giving you my password.”
As though that would make a difference. Aimalee’s computer
was her life. Everything was on there. Everything that mattered anyway. “I can
give it to him later.”
“He wants it now.”
Typical. Carter was always impulsive and impatient. Aimalee
didn’t mind so much when they were in bed but the rest of the time his
impetuosity was just annoying. Like now. Aimalee tolerated it because…well,
because he was Carter. He was quite the catch. For someone like her. Handsome.
Successful. And as the great-grandson of the famous Egyptologist Howard
Carter—several times removed—he had a certain cachet in their world.
Aimalee sighed. “I have a copy in my files.” She bent down
to unlock her lateral files but didn’t miss Sorcha’s grimace. She riffled
through her meticulously arranged documents and pulled out a thick folder.
“Here it is.” The result of five years of intensive study.
Sorcha hesitated before holding out an exquisitely manicured
hand. “He wanted a soft copy.”
“I can get that to him later.”
“Really, Aimalee. What do you have to do that is so
important you can’t just go up to your office and save it on a thumb drive?”
Ah. Now the real Sorcha began to emerge. That sweet bow-shaped lip curled into
a nasty snarl and sharp green eyes snapped with annoyance. At any second,
Aimalee expected several more heads to sprout from her neck and begin whipping
around with slavering, snarling zeal. Like the Hydra.
“I’m finishing up the Arabian Nights display. Remember? For
tonight? Kinda important.” Aimalee glanced back at the table impatiently. She
wanted to get back to work.
Sorcha snorted and stuffed the precious sheaf of papers
carelessly under her arm. Aimalee tried not to wince. “Sometimes I think you
care more about these dusty old artifacts than you do about your boyfriend.”
Aimalee froze, trying not to let her shock show. “My
Caught out, Sorcha flushed. Carter had insisted they keep
their relationship secret because he was the museum director and she was a
curator. Aimalee had always quietly resented the fact she could never stand by
his side in the bright light of day—but she’d understood. She’d never told a
That meant only one thing.
And he’d told
Acid churned in her gut.
“W-what makes you think he’s my boyfriend?”
“Oh please.” Sorcha arched a supercilious brow. “I notice
There was nothing to notice. Carter was always careful about
that. Meticulously careful. Painfully careful. He went out of his way to appear
indifferent to her whenever they were in public. And sometimes when they
Aimalee picked up a clipboard and pretended to scan the
sheet on top. “I have to get back to work. Did you want anything else?”
“There was one other thing. Carter asked if you could, you
know, not come tonight.”
“Not come tonight?” Aimalee whirled around and gaped at
Sorcha. She’d been working on this display for months, utterly devoted to this
project for years. She’d been so looking forward to showing off her work,
presenting her findings. She’d even bought a new dress for heaven’s sake.
That happened, maybe, once a decade or so.
“It’s going to be quite a crush. All the big benefactors
will be there. And you are…” Sorcha made a scornful little flourish with
slender fingers. Her expression said it all—
. Aimalee knew it to be
true. She knew what she was. But having Sorcha point it out rankled.
“Sure. Do what you need to set it up but then make yourself
scarce. Be out of there by seven. ’Kay?” Sorcha pinned on a dazzling smile. “I
told him you’d understand.”
With that she spun on her Jimmy Choos and waltzed from the
room, elegantly swinging between boxes and crates and piles of books, leaving
Aimalee sitting at her worktable, reeling with shock and repressed rage.
Make yourself scarce.
The mandate of her entire existence.
The fuck she wasn’t coming tonight. She’d worked far too
long, far too hard on her dissertation, on this presentation, to simply fade
into the background now when it was all coming to fruition. This was her baby.
Oh, she’d be there. Come hell or high water.
Without thinking, without redonning her protective gloves—a monumental
no-no in the museum world—Aimalee picked up the lamp and a cleaning cloth and
began to polish her treasure. A deep sense of satisfaction and pleasure spiked
through her, assuaging her annoyance.
Okay, so her love life was more than a little disappointing
and frustrating. And yes, her professional prospects were limited but at least
she loved her work. Really loved her work…
She renewed her invigorated scrubbing on that one smudge
that just wouldn’t wipe away.
Imagine the gall. Asking her to miss the night of her life
so Sorcha could stand in the limelight at Carter’s side and reap the rewards.
Aimalee rubbed harder and faster, fury rising like a chained
beast in her belly. A red tide descended, blurring her vision. Everything
beyond the lamp faded. The world beyond her passion, her work, dissolved.
She’d had enough of this.
Enough hiding her relationship.
Enough elicit, hurried trysts.
Her movements slowed as a strange sensation crawled down her
spine from her neck to her solar plexus. It pooled in her womb. Her fingers and
toes began to tingle. Throb. Prickles of excitement and anticipation skittered
over her skin. Her body warmed, softened, dampened.
Her hand flew to her nape where gentle tendrils caressed
her—like a lover’s whisper. The tingling increased and contracted and wafted
inward to settle just below her pounding heart. Her essence condensed,
coalesced, as light as smoke, wafting and roiling. A strange sense of
unreality, of disengagement, overcame her. She closed her eyes and the dizzy
sensation increased. She tried to open them again but couldn’t. She twisted,
curled, floated in the ether. A great whooshing sensation rocked her
consciousness, sucking her into a smaller and smaller space. A dark place.
And then an eerie silence, a supreme stillness, descended.
* * * * *
Slowly, she came to herself. She glanced around in a
befuddled daze and stilled. She was no longer in her familiar workroom but in a
lavish boudoir, a seraglio swathed in gauzy, flowing drapes. Glowing braziers
wreathed in aromatic smoke lit the room with a dim, somnambulant light. The
velvet cushions she reclined upon teased her sensitive skin. With a start, she
realized she was utterly naked. A shiver coursed through her. What on earth had
happened? Where was she?
But before she could work it out, a billow of iridescent fog
roiled before her. Aimalee stared, transfixed as the cloud slowly coalesced
into human form. A man.
A very large man.
She tipped back her head and their gazes met, clashed. His
eyes glowed with a scorching fervor. A bolt of electricity shot through her.
His features were stark, a savage beauty etched with a
desperate hunger—high, striking cheekbones and wide, sensuous lips. Dark hair
curled gently about his face and neck. A sudden desire to comb those silky
skeins skittered through her.
Aimalee swallowed heavily. Her avaricious attention trailed
down across brown shoulders and powerful arms. His chest was bare and broad and
ridged. It rippled at the mere touch of her gaze.
He stood, legs slightly apart, bunching thighs taut as
though he were about to spring forward but was holding himself back with great
effort. Strength, power and passion rolled off him in waves.
But for metal cuffs about his wrists and neck, he was naked.
Oh. And he was aroused. Magnificently and tremendously
The sight of his jutting, throbbing member made her heart
clench. A strange heat pooled in her womb when she noticed the pearlescent drop
glistening at the tip of his cock.
He was, in a word, ready.
Then again, so was she.
And then he spoke—a deep, mellifluous voice that resonated
straight through to her soul.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Aimalee,” he said. “I’ve been
waiting for you a very long time.”