Today, we have a special treat :) Maya Banks has graciously offered to share with us a sneek peek into Sweet Surrender, her March 2008 release with Berkley HEAT. This excerpt hasn't even been posted on her website!
Sweet Surrender March 2008 Berkley HEAT
Sometimes the first step in taking control is surrendering.
Under Faith Malone’s deceptively soft exterior lies a woman who knows exactly what she wants. A strong man who’ll take without asking—because she’s willing to give him everything…
Dallas cop Gray Montgomery is on a mission: find the guy who killed his partner—and bring him to justice. So far, he’s found a link between the killer and Faith—and if Gray has to get close to her to catch the killer, so be it.
Faith is sweet and feminine, everything Gray wants and desires in a woman, but he suspects she’s playing games. No way she would allow a man to call the shots in their relationship. Or would she?
Faith sees in Gray the strong, dominant man she needs, but he seems determined to keep her at a distance. So she takes matters into her own hands to prove to him it’s no game she’s playing. She’s willing to surrender to the right man. Gray would like to be that man. But catching his partner’s killer has to be his first priority. Until Faith is threatened and Gray realizes he will do anything to protect her.
Once a week, Pop held a morning meeting to discuss jobs and divide up duties. Mondays would have been logical, but then Pop tended to be rather illogical about the little things. Meetings such as this were called at random and usually precipitated by a 5:30 A.M. phone call from Pop asking everyone to come into the office before seven.
Faith always rushed in ahead of the guys so she could pick up donuts on her way in and make a fresh pot of coffee.
Not surprisingly, Gray was the first to arrive. He glanced appreciatively at the donut box when he walked into her office and took a seat on the other side of her desk.
“Mornin’,” she said cheerfully. “Feeling any better today?”
He grunted in return but reached eagerly for a donut when she shoved the box across the desk at him.
“There’s fresh coffee made,” she said.
“You’re a goddess,” he said as he rose and made for the pot.
He tugged one of the mugs from the neat row she’d arranged them in and poured a steaming cup of the potent brew.
“Want some?” he asked after he’d taken a sip.
She shook her heard. “I don’t drink it.”
He sauntered back over and slouched in the chair. “Not drink it? I’m pretty sure that’s listed as a cardinal sin somewhere in the Bible.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Never could stand the stuff. Once I drove all night from Louisiana to Kansas. Kept drinking coffee to stay awake. By the time I got to where I was going, I puked my guts up. Just the smell of it now makes me queasy.”
“Yet you still make it for us,” he observed.
“I’m a regular saint,” she said with a saucy wink.
His gaze drifted lazily up and down her, and her cheeks warmed under his scrutiny. She positively loved the way he looked at her, like he wanted to undress her, touch her, explore every inch of her.
“I’d give an entire paycheck to know what you’re thinking right now,” he drawled.
She blinked out of her reverie to see him watching her, his blue eyes flickering with undisguised interest. She managed to control her blush—barely.
“A woman has to keep a few secrets,” she said.
He chuckled and took another gulp of his coffee.
Faiths’ gaze averted to the door as Micah strolled in, followed closely by Connor.
Micah did a quick survey of the room. “Nathan not make it in yet?”
“Obviously not,” she said dryly.
Micah grinned. She recognized that gleeful gleam for what it was.
“I don’t even want to know what you two have been up to now,” she said with an exasperated sigh.
“Mornin’,” Connor said as he leaned against her desk, coffee mug in hand.
“Morning,” she intoned sweetly.
Connor took a long swallow his coffee then closed his eyes and sighed. “I swear you make the best coffee, Faith.”
“That ain’t no lie,” Micah said. His back was to them as he poured himself a cup.
“It is damn good,” Gray agreed. “What kind is it? I’d like to get some for the apartment.”
Connor grinned, and Micah let out a hoot of laughter. Gray looked at them both in confusion.
“We’ve asked her to tell us for the last two years,” Connor explained. “She won’t. All we know is that she orders the shit from somewhere.”
Faith chuckled. “If I told you guys, you’d all buy your own coffee, and then you’d never come to my office to get any, which means I’d never see you.”
Micah snorted as he walked over to join the others. “Not see us? Hell, you run this place. Most of the time it’s you telling us when to jump and how high.”
She glared over at him. “You were supposed to say that you couldn’t possibly go a day without seeing me.”
Connor reached over to tousle her hair. “Well, that goes without saying, kiddo.”
A tiny spark of irritation ricocheted up her spine. It wasn’t the first time Connor had ever called her kiddo, but now, in front of Gray, she didn’t want to draw attention to the disparity in their ages. Not that it was huge or anything, but the last thing she wanted him to see her as was a kid. Or even worse, a kid sister.
She glared her annoyance at Connor.
A shuffle at the door directed their attention in that direction, and Faith’s eyebrows lifted as she watched Nathan walk in wearing an Astros baseball cap. Not that the cap was an oddity, he was a big fan after all, but there was no hair sticking out from under it. None!
She let out a gasp at the same time Micah snickered and Connor muttered, “What the hell?” She stood and hurried around her desk, not stopping until she stood directly in front of Nathan. She reached up on tiptoe and yanked the cap off.
She stood there stunned and let the hat fall from her fingertips. It landed with a soft thunk on the floor about the time her mouth did the same.
“What the hell have you done?” she demanded.
Nathan sighed then ran his hand over his head, his very bald head. Micah escalated from snickering to outright howls of laughter. He was soon joined by Connor and finally Gray.
Nathan bent down to retrieve his hat and slapped it back on his head. “Well, hell, Faith, you said I needed a haircut.”
Micah started howling all over again.
“I didn’t mean for you to shave it all off,” she squeaked.
Connor walked up behind Faith and slid a hand over her shoulder. “He’s dicking with you, Faith.”
“Yeah, tell her why you really shaved your head,” Micah said gleefully.
Faith yanked Nathan’s cap off again and took a step back to study him. Now that the initial shock had worn off, she had to admit he didn’t look bad at all. His goatee was freshly trimmed and neatly groomed. Without all the shaggy hair flopping over his ears, he looked damned sexy.
“Shut the hell up, Micah,” Nathan muttered.
Faith whirled around and eyed Micah. “If you know so much, then spill it.”
Micah grinned like a loon. “Oh no. I wouldn’t miss hearing this from Nathan himself for anything.”
She turned back to Nathan, who wore a resigned expression. Gray still sat slouched in his chair, an amused grin on his face.
“Yes, do tell,” Connor said.
“I lost a bet,” Nathan said tightly.
Faith’s mouth sagged opened. “A bet?” Then she rounded on Micah, her finger up and wagging. “Why on earth would you make him shave his head because of a lost bet?”
Micah’s eyes widened innocently. “What makes you think I had anything to do with it?”
She put her hand on her hip and narrowed her eyes. “Oh please. You can’t tell me this isn’t payback for the time he made you go out with the governor’s daughter.”
Connor and Nathan both dissolved into laughter. Connor had to put his cup down on Faith’s desk as he wheezed and his eyes watered. Micah scowled, and Gray’s eyebrows went up in question.
“Governor’s daughter?” Gray asked. “I didn’t know she could get a date. Last I heard, her daddy was pulling some serious strings to get her an escort.”
Nathan laughed harder. “She can’t. Well, except Micah there. He tripped all over himself to go out with her.”
Micah glowered at Nathan. “Shut the fuck up, bald boy.”
“Now this I gotta hear,” Gray said.
Faith cleared her throat. “Not that I don’t enjoy seeing Micah squirm, but we already know about the governor’s daughter.” She looked apologetically at Gray as she spoke. “I’m sure Nathan will be more than happy to fill you in later. What I want to know is why Nathan had to shave off all his hair.”
“Because he bet me the Astros wouldn’t lose yesterday afternoon,” Micah said smugly.
Connor regarded Nathan with an incredulous expression. “Dude, you bet they’d win with their best batter out with a torn rotator cuff?”
“I didn’t know that when we placed the bet,” Nathan said tightly.
“Oh, but I bet Micah did,” Faith said.
“How would he know?” Nathan asked.
Micah slid an arm around Faith and squeezed her shoulders. “How indeed. Just a lucky thing I guess.”
“You know something we don’t, Sis?” Connor asked.
“Just that Micah happens to be very good friends with the team doctor. Micah was the one who replaced his security system last year.”
“You son of a bitch!” Nathan exclaimed. He launched himself at Micah, who ducked and backed away just as Nathan flew past Faith to grab Micah’s head in a lock. “You knew. You knew the whole time. That’s why you made the bet with me.”
Micah laughed even as Nathan flipped him to the floor. “The stunt you pulled with the governor’s daughter was far worse, so don’t give me that shit.”
“He’s got you there,” Connor said with a laugh. “I’d rather shave myself bald than have to endure what Micah did.”
“You guys really have me curious,” Gray grumbled.
Micah picked himself up off the floor, and Nathan clapped Gray on the back. “I’ll tell you all about it over lunch today.”
“Asshole,” Micah muttered.
“Well, if it’s any consolation, I think you look hot,” Faith spoke up.
Nathan looked at her in surprise. “Really?”
She laughed. “Yeah, I like it. I’d definitely do you.”
“Well, hot damn, let’s blow this joint and go back to my place.”
Connor scowled at Nathan. “Not funny, man. Not funny at all.”
“All you need is an earring,” Faith said.
He gave her a horrified look. “An earring? Are you serious? So I can look like sissyboy over there?” he said with a flip of his head in Micah’s direction.
Faith shrugged. “I think his earring is hot. You’d look great with one. Shaved head, goatee, a diamond stud or even a gold hoop, a small one. Mmm, I get all quivery just thinking about it.”
Nathan massaged his earlobe between his fingers. “Are you shitting me? You really think I’d look good with an earring?”
Faith nodded. “Yeah, and all you’d need is a little sun on that lily-white skin of your scalp, and you’ll be a regular lady killer.”
“Give it to me straight, Faith. Speaking as a woman. Quit trying to make me feel better. You honestly think the bald look is hot?” Nathan asked doubtfully.
“Vain bastard,” Connor teased.
“Well shit, if Faith’ll do Nathan because he’s bald, I think I’m gonna go make an appointment with the barber,” Gray said with a sly grin.
Connor and Micah both turned around, frowns on their faces. Even Nathan eyed Gray through narrowed lids.
Faith cleared her throat again. “Yes, Nathan,” she began, pretending she hadn’t heard Gray’s provocative statement. “Bald looks very good on you. I never did like the shaggy look. I wouldn’t have thought I’d like a bald guy, but you look seriously hot.”
Nathan grinned and gripped her by the shoulders before planting a sloppy kiss on her face. “You’re a sweetheart.”
“Get your damn hands off my daughter,” Pop grumbled as he walked through the door.
“Mornin’, Pop,” Faith said as Nathan dropped his hands off her shoulders.
Pop laid a hand on her shoulder as he walked by her en route to the coffeepot.
The others voiced their greetings, and Pop nodded his acknowledgment as he poured his coffee. Cupping the mug in his hands, he looked over at Faith. “You got that schedule printed out for me?”
She walked around the back of her desk and reached inside her drawer to pull out the pages she’d printed off earlier. She handed them over to Pop.
“We have a couple new jobs,” Pop said. “Nothing that should be too much trouble. But we have a couple queries that could be a bigger deal. Nathan, I want you and Connor to take the first. It’s an entertainment gig. Some bigwig performer is coming to town in a couple of months. They want to line out security well beforehand so that everything goes off without a hitch. I want you to listen to what they want then come up with a proposal to throw at them.”
Connor nodded. “No problem, Pop.”
Pop eyed Micah and Gray. “I want you two to take the other two queries, meet up with the prospective clients and do what it takes to land the deal. Then I want you to tackle jobs A and B on the list. I’ll take C and D and Nathan and Connor can take the remaining one. That should keep us all busy for the next week or so.”
He paused and looked over at Faith with a soft smile. “And you’ll keep us in line as always.” He glanced around at everyone else. “Be sure and keep in contact with Faith. Update her regularly so she can stay apprised of our progress. If there are any problems, let her know immediately so she can relay them to me.”
Then as if just noticing, he stared at Nathan and shook his head. “What the hell happened to you, son? Get into a fight with a lawnmower?”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
There you have it, the first look into Sweet Surrender! What do you think?
To read excerpts from Maya's other releases, be sure to go to her website, http://www.mayabanks.com/.