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The Ex-Factor

Harlequin Presents Extra ~ April 2012 ~ USA
Mills & Boon Modern Extra ~ August 2007 ~ UK
Harlequin Mills & Boon Sexy Sensation ~ December 2007 (Christmas special with Cara Summers) ~ Australia/NZ


When Melanie Sawyer finds her flat-mate's sexy friend asleep in her bed, she's amused - and definitely interested.  Until she discovers he's wealthy engineering geologist Luke Delaney, the man she's not been able to forget since they went their separate ways after a brief but intense relationship.

But five years on, she's not the same carefree waitress looking for adventure and new experiences - she's a dedicated nurse.  Too dedicated.  There's still enough of that old spark, however, to reignite what they had.  If Luke could get her to lighten up and play a little more…  But Luke has no idea that Melanie is still coming to terms with a painful past.
"While writing Marriage at the Millionaire's Command, Carissa’s step-sister, Melanie Sawyer, stepped out of the pages of my book and demanded her own story.  Fun-loving and independent, Melanie has a serious side we never saw in Carissa’s story.  She always seemed so full on, so vibrant and colourful, I had to wonder – did she have another aspect to her personality she hadn’t revealed to me?  Yes, and it takes her gorgeous, sexy and wealthy ex-lover, Luke Delaney, to expose it.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to characters you’ve worked with for a long time and gotten to know intimately – so to speak.  So it was fun to revisit Carissa and Ben again while writing Melanie’s story."
CHAPTER ONE

  The man in her bed had a body built for giving pleasure, chiselled and polished to sinful perfection. 
  Melanie Sawyer hadn’t sinned, perfectly or otherwise, in far too long. 
  So she absorbed the gilded sheen of his skin in the early morning light, traced the wide plane of his back and the long furrow of his spine with hungry eyes.  And down, to where the curve of a taut backside disappeared beneath her fluffy pink and tangerine throwover.
   It wasn’t only her eyes that were hungry.  Her lips tingled and her fingers itched to explore the textures of skin and hair.  That neat little earlobe, the sharp wedge of shoulder blade.  But she only watched, entranced, not moving in case she woke him and spoiled the moment. 
  He murmured something in his sleep and rubbed his cheek against her pillow, the rasp of stubble sharp against crisp cotton.  Her breath caught at the intimacy of his naked flesh sliding over her linen.  He faced away from her so she couldn’t see his features, but his dark hair was thick and tousled and utterly touchable.
  A shame he wasn’t awake.
  A shame she wasn’t in bed with him.
  Adam’s guy friends had slept over before.  But not this particular one.  And not in her bed. 
  With her gaze glued to the delicious sight, she unwound her scarf and set it on her suitcase beside her.  Undid the top button of her suddenly too-tight sweater.  Was the rest of him naked under that sheet?  God, she hoped so.  The thought made her blood pump faster, thicker, warming places that hadn’t been warmed in a while.  A long while.  It had been five years since she’d had the pleasure of up close and horizontal.
  If she was lucky he might be one of those strange people who wake and rise in one smooth movement and she’d find out whether the rest of him lived up to expectation.  She was a nurse; she’d seen more than her fair share of naked men, but the fact that this one was snuggled up with her pillow like temptation personified…well, her expectations were high.   
  Tonight unless she changed the sheets she was going to find it hard to sleep in that bed with the lingering scent of testosterone.    Single and thirty, she needed all the reminders she could get. 
  Who was this guy anyway? 
  She glanced over her shoulder at the living room destruction for any sign of a wallet or ID.  Nope.  Just a pile of action DVDs and a couple of erotica amongst greasy take-away containers and beer bottles — the drawback to having a male flat mate she supposed, although to be fair to Adam, she had come home from the conference a day earlier than expected.
  A low rough-throated rumble from across the room rolled through her senses, drawing her attention back to her bed and its current occupant.  With unapologetic interest — and yeah, anticipation — she leaned against the door-jamb and watched him come to.  Watched the sinewy forearms twist as his long fingers bunched and flexed around her pillow.  Then he stretched, a lethargic shift and tensing of bone and muscle and golden skin, and rolled onto his back.
  Everything inside her froze and fractured. 
  Luke Delaney.
  No!  Luke was an engineering geologist in Central Australia somewhere, not here in Sydney. 
  She saw the same shock register in his too-familiar mocha eyes as they locked gazes and she struggled to draw air.  His lazy leonine posture vanished as he pushed up to a sitting position and ran a hand over his eyes as if he too, was having trouble processing the information. 
  In that instant subtle changes snapped through her stunned brain.  His body had grown firmer and more muscled over the past five years.  His hair was shorter.  The lines fanning out from his eyes were deeper.  But his gorgeous mouth was the same.  Full with a tiny upward tilt at one corner, as if he was about to smile. 
  But he didn’t smile.  He swore — a soft short word beneath his breath before he said, “Melanie.” 
  His voice reverberated through her bones, deeper, richer than she remembered — and she remembered very well.  His velvet whispers in her ear, against her throat, on her breast.  The way he murmured her name, like a prayer, as he slid inside her. 
  He scrubbed at his face then began shifting to the edge of the bed.  “When Adam said ‘Melanie’…  Hell.  I’m sorry.  I should’ve grabbed the couch, but Adam said—” 
  “Stop!”  She threw up a hand, hating the desperation she heard in her voice.  Was he naked under there?  God, she hoped not.
Once she’d have torn back the sheet herself and gloried in his hot, hard masculinity.  Her horrified gaze shot back to his face.  A more weathered face, but no less handsome.  His complexion was a darker sun-stroked colour, but she felt none of that warm familiarity as he studied her through dark impassive eyes.
  One large bronzed hand curled around the edge of the sheet.  “It’s okay, Mel,” he said at last.  “I’m decent.”
  That was a matter for debate, she thought, as he rose, giving her an eyeful of muscular torso covered only by a pair of barely-there black briefs which did little to hide his impressive morning bulge… 
  Oh, dear God.  She turned away, her face hot as wicked thoughts seared through her brain.  At least he was out of her bed.    “When you’re ready…”  When you’re covered. 
  She turned and headed back to the living room, grabbed the coffee plunger with its inch of black sludge and carried it to the kitchen.  Some sort of conversation was inevitable and she needed a shot or three of caffeine first.
  Where was Adam when she needed a buffer?  His car was in the underground park next to hers, his bedroom door was shut.  She drew in a breath as she dumped coffee into the plunger and savoured its steadying aroma. 
  She should’ve stayed in Canberra.  Come home tonight like everyone else.  Perhaps she’d have avoided this now inevitable reunion.  The memories reared up and the secret she thought she’d buried turned over in her breast and throbbed to life again. 

  Luke continued to stare at the empty doorway after she’d gone.  Melanie.  His Melanie.  Her imprint was still seared onto his eyeballs.  Curves and colours - tight yellow sweater, a purple skirt above a tantalising flash of leg, knee-high furry beige boots tied up with laces…  So technicolour, so vibrant.  So Mel.
  Still the most beguiling woman he’d ever met. 
  And he’d spent the night in her bed.
Copyright © 2010 by Anne Oliver. Yellow moon couple © Jelica Videnovic | star background © Transfuchsian | Dreamstime.com
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