Due to be released on January 7, 2014 but Banks has posted an excerpt to tease and tantalize! I know those of you already into the KGI series are chomping at the bit! You can visit her Facebook site by clicking here if you would like to see what else is happening on her page. You can also see the first set of excerpts from Banks' There's to Keep by clicking here. But now to the good stuff...
Excerpt from After the Storm:
With a sigh, Eve eased out of bed and went to the bathroom to splash water on her face. She ran the water until steam rose, wanting some way to warm herself. She wet the washcloth several times, wiping her face and neck before retreating back into the bedroom.
After a moment’s hesitation she went to the closet where Donovan had put the clothes his sisters-in-law had sent over. Selecting a pair of jeans and a simple T-shirt, she dressed and slipped into the hallway, making sure she was quiet on her way to the living room.
She didn’t know where she was going or why, but she didn’t want to go back to bed and risk re-immersing herself in her nightmares. It was bad enough to have talked about Walt and to have relived the horror of her mother’s death and Walt’s subsequent behavior, but now he was invading her sleep as well.
She went to the large picture window that overlooked the lake in the distance. Dawn was beautiful over the water, painting it a soft lavender to match the sky overhead. There was not even a ripple in the water, no wind to disturb the pristine sheet of glass that spread out to the distant horizon.
This was a . . . peaceful place. It seemed incongruous to consider a veritable fortress built for the sole purpose of security—a reality of Donovan’s and his family’s lives—peaceful, and yet everything about the view brought her a sense of calm. Something she desperately needed right now.
Warm hands slid up her arms to her shoulders, startling her. She whirled around to see Donovan standing there in a cutoff pair of shorts and a threadbare T-shirt. He was barefooted and for some reason that image captivated her.
“Sorry if I startled you,” Donovan said. “What are you doing up? Can’t sleep? Everything okay?”
She sighed. “I slept. Bad dreams. Talking about it brought it all back. I dreamed of the storm, but you weren’t the one who found me. Walt did. I didn’t want to go back to sleep because I didn’t want to have another nightmare.”
He pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly to him. His body felt so good against hers. Solid. So very steady and strong. She sighed and did nothing to resist his hold. He felt . . . right.
“I’m sorry you had bad dreams. You can come to me, you know. I don’t want you to be afraid of anything, honey.”
He pulled her away so he could stare down into her eyes. His gaze bore intently into hers and his head lowered. She got the strangest suspicion that he was going to *kiss* her. And suddenly it was what *she* wanted more than anything.
She wasn’t wrong.
Slowly, with infinite tenderness, he pressed his mouth to hers in a warm, sweet glide that sent shivers quaking down her spine.
It was a shock to her entire system. Heat spread rapidly through her body. Every nerve ending tingled and came to life. Her breasts grew heavy and aching. Her nipples tightened and she leaned instinctively into him, wanting, needing more.
He licked over her lips, coaxing her to open them. With a gasp, she parted her lips, allowing him entrance. At once his tongue invaded, delving deep and hot over hers. He deepened the kiss, stealing her breath, holding it, savoring it before returning it so that she inhaled and swallowed up his very essence. It was a kiss unlike any she’d ever experienced.
It was pure magic.
She slid her hands up his broad chest so that her palms came to rest just below his shoulders. He tensed almost as if he were expecting her to push him away. But she leaned into him with a sigh, letting her fingertips dig into his flesh through the thin layer of his T-shirt.
He became more forceful, as if he’d waited to see if she protested. As if she could. She’d never experienced such an awakening. Couldn’t imagine how she could be feeling this way when her entire life had been upended. But for the space of a few stolen moments, all her worries slid away under the reassuring stroke of his tongue.
His hands slid up her back and then down, molding the contours of her behind. Then he lifted one hand, pressed it to the small of her back before raising the other to tangle in her hair. His fingers twisted, wrapping the strands around his knuckles as he deepened the kiss, swallowing her whole.
She had no idea of the passage of time. They could have stood there kissing for an hour or one minute. It was as if time had stopped and the only thing that existed were the two of them, in this room, their lips fused in a hot rush.
She gasped into his mouth, starved for air, but more starved for his touch. She wanted more. Needed more. She needed . . . him.
He loosened his hold on her hair, letting his hand fall away. He tugged her away, but only the barest of inches so he could look down into her eyes. Their bodies were still pressed tightly together and she could feel the evidence of his arousal, rigid and straining against her belly.
She shivered again, chill bumps racing across her skin, every tiny hair standing on its end in the wake of the intense sensations he evoked.
He stroked a hand lovingly over her cheek, pushing back her tousled hair. “What is it, honey?”
“What are we doing here?” she whispered. “What’s happening?”
He smiled tenderly at her, his eyes warm and flush with . . . arousal. “What *I’m* doing is kissing you and what’s happening is that I’m enjoying it a hell of a lot and I hope you are too.”
She flushed, her cheeks growing warm at the blunt statement. “This is insane,” she protested. “We can’t be doing . . . this. The very last thing I should even be contemplating is a . . . relationship.”
She nearly choked as she said the word because it was presumptuous of her to assume he wanted anything more than sex. But he didn’t act like someone who wanted a quick lay. As she’d already noted, he acted like he cared. And if he was so anxious for sex, wouldn’t he have put the moves on her already? Before the tornado, because of course it would have made him an ass to come on to her when she had a head injury and was scared out of her mind.
Her head was spinning, much like she had suffered a serious head injury. There wasn’t even anything overtly sexual or . . . desperate . . . to his kiss. It had been . . . romantic. Tender. Exquisite even. Could a kiss be considered exquisite? Obviously so, because his definitely qualified.
“I mean, I’m a job to you, right? Shouldn’t you remain objective? Surely you don’t go around kissing all your female clients.”
And worse was the jealousy that gripped her over the thought of him kissing another woman in distress. Did he have a white knight complex? Was his Kryptonite a woman in need?
He chuckled at that, his eyes growing even warmer as he gazed down at her. “Honey, if it weren’t for mixing business with pleasure, none of my brothers would be married.”
She cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean by that?”
“It means that every one of my brothers met their wives while on a mission. Bullets flying, explosions, car chases, wrecks, bad guys. You name it, they experienced it. I’d say our situation is tame in comparison.”
There was laughter in his voice, and she found herself smiling despite the utter seriousness of the situation he spoke lightly of.
“None of my brothers met a nice small-town girl, dated, became engaged and got married. Well except Ethan, and he and Rachel more than made up for their somewhat boring courtship with plenty of drama after the fact,” he said in a grim voice.
Her brow furrowed at his sudden change in demeanor. “What happened?”
“Long story,” Donovan said. “Rachel is a schoolteacher, and she went on a mercy mission to South America in June after school let out. Her plane crashed on the way home, and it was thought she died. There were no survivors. We thought her dead for an entire year when in fact she was being held captive by a drug cartel and they hooked her on drugs to control her.”
Eve’s eyes rounded in shock. “Oh my God. Are you serious? How on earth did you find out? And how did you get her back?”
“We went in and kicked some cartel ass,” Donovan said bluntly. “We brought her back home, but her recovery wasn’t quick. They had some rough times. She lost most of her memory from the drugs that were forced on her. She still doesn’t have everything back, but enough to remember a lot of bad things that happened before she left on that trip. She and Ethan have had a rough road back together, but they’re strong—she’s strong. She’s one hell of a survivor. She just had twins a year ago.”
“Wow,” Eve murmured. “You weren’t kidding when you said you and your brothers kick some serious ass. Taking on a drug cartel? It sounds like something out of a movie.”
Donovan’s lips quirked. “That’s just the icing on the cake, honey. The rest of my brothers all met their wives under less-than-ideal circumstances. So maybe now you can see that the way you and I met doesn’t bother me in the least.”
Eve’s breath caught and she stared up at him, uncertain of what to say. What could she say? She blurted the first thing that came to her mind.
“But you don’t know me. I mean, we just met. How can you possibly think you want . . . anything . . . from me? What do I possibly have to offer you except one giant headache? It seems to me that you’re doing all the giving and I’m doing all the taking and giving nothing in return.”
He nudged her chin upward with gentle fingers. “That’s not true. You’ve given me something very precious indeed. Your trust, Eve. And I know what that cost you. So believe me when I say that I know what a gift you’ve given me. A woman’s trust is the most priceless gift she can give to a man. Her belief in his ability to keep her safe and protect her from all harm.”
He lowered his head again, not as hesitant or as slow as he’d been just moments earlier. He brushed his lips across hers but quickly fused his mouth to hers, stroking hot and wet with his tongue. This time she didn’t hesitate either. She met his advance, tasting him this time instead of allowing him to do all the exploring.
She inhaled deeply, savoring the spicy masculine scent that clung to him. It wasn’t cologne or aftershave. It was just . . . him. She sighed into his mouth, enjoying the simple pleasure of being in his arms.
It was easy to forget everything but this man. Easy to forget the world around them. The danger she and her siblings faced. The very real threat of Walt and how far his reach extended. Here seemed a million miles away from reality. This was a reality she much preferred.
Was it wrong of her to want to forget? Just for a little while?
“Just to let you know,” Donovan murmured against her mouth. “I’m going to take it slow with you. But *my* idea of slow and someone else’s is probably very different. So consider yourself warned. When I want something, I go after it. And I play to win. I’ve waited a long time for this—for *you*—and I’m not going to waste a single minute in seeing where this takes us. I fully intend to have you in my bed—permanently. And soon.”