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Mid Week Tease: Behind the Iron Cross #MidWeekTease #MWTease

Mid Week Tease buttonHappy Hump Day from the now-sweltering clavicle of Texas! Courtesy of the lovely and talented Sandra Bunino, I’m sharing another teaser from Behind the Iron Cross, my delightfully kinky historical MMF romance set in 1923 Berlin. This teaser takes place after an unexpected meal reveals some truths between Sam and Friedrich.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

In the aftermath of World War I, Berlin has become a hotspot of decadent pleasures, and American millionairess Kat Tracy is determined to enjoy each and every one of them with Sam Hellman, her late brother’s lover and her convenient “fiancé.” But when the two of them meet Friedrich von Bader, a former German Army officer turned reluctant prostitute, their wicked games take on a new meaning.

BtIC_coverNaNoPaying for the meal, leaving the restaurant, and summoning a taxi was a blur. They stumbled into the Adlon, barely able to stay apart in the elevator. The moment the suite door closed behind them Sam threw his cane to the floor and lunged at Friedrich, pushing him back against the elegant panel door and devouring his lips.

Friedrich didn’t so much yield to Sam’s assault as meet it head-on, tongues battling with each other while they yanked blindly at buttons and buckles. Sam slid a greedy hand into the German’s open trousers, finding hardening flesh and squeezing it. Friedrich moaned under his mouth, thrusting blindly into his grip.

Sam tore his mouth away and panted. “Hands over your head,” he ordered.

Something lit in those blue eyes as Friedrich obeyed, crossing his wrists and splaying his fingers against the paneled wood. For a moment Sam saw the appeal in Kat’s games of dominance and submission.

He locked his free hand around Friedrich’s wrists, holding them tight. “It’s just us now,” he breathed, loosening his grip on Friedrich’s cock and tracing along the veins and ridges. The German made low, hungry sounds, his hips bucking at each teasing caress. “I know what you want from me. I’ll give it all to you, I swear.”

Friedrich sucked in a stuttering breath. “I don’t know what I want.”

Sam kissed him again, catching Friedrich’s lower lip between his teeth and tugging it gently before releasing it with a soft pop. “You do. You will. Trust me.”

Friedrich’s pupils were blown, the blue of the iris a slender ring around pools of black desire. “Please.”

Sam waited but nothing else came. He stepped backward, careful to balance on his false leg as he tugged Friedrich from the door. “Come on,” he whispered. “We’re going to bed.”

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Mid Week Tease: Behind the Iron Cross #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Happy Hump Day for the soggy clavicle of Texas! Courtesy of the lovely and talented Sandra Bunino, today I’m sharing a teaser from Behind the Iron Cross, my historical MMF romance set in 1923 Berlin. This teaser sets up an important scene for my hero Friedrich von Bader, who has to make a difficult decision about loyalty. The sexy stuff will be back next week, promise!

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

In the aftermath of World War I, Berlin has become a hotspot of decadent pleasures, and American millionairess Kat Tracy is determined to enjoy each and every one of them with Sam Hellman, her late brother’s lover and her convenient “fiancé.” But when the two of them meet Friedrich von Bader, a former German Army officer turned reluctant prostitute, their wicked games take on a new meaning.

BtIC_coverNaNoJust before Friedrich reached the bus stop at Alexanderplatz, he noticed a well-appointed car trailing him on the street. For a moment, he wondered if it was someone trawling for a prostitute, then bristled at the thought of someone trying to pick him up on one of Berlin’s central streets. Christ in heaven, they can’t smell it on me, can they?

The car pulled up alongside him. “Excuse me? Colonel von Bader, isn’t it?” a gravelly voice said.

Friedrich stumbled in shock. He turned to the man leaning out the car window, just stopping the automatic salute. “General Hauptmann?”

General Reinhart Hauptmann had been one of his father’s colleagues and, briefly, his own commanding officer just before the end of the war. He had a reputation for being clever, both on the field and in the political arena that was the upper echelons of the German military. “Ha. Yes, I thought that was you,” Hauptmann said, giving Friedrich an approving smile. “What are you doing wandering around Unter den Linden at this time of night?”

Trying to deal with the fact that a strange man fucked me and I enjoyed it. “I’m heading home,” Friedrich said instead, stepping to the curb. He noticed the other man wore his army uniform, replete with medals pinned along the breast front. “I take it you’re still in the army, sir?”

“For my sins,” Hauptmann said easily. “Apparently they needed an old war horse around to march out in front of the damned French every now and then. I almost didn’t recognize you out of uniform.” He sniffed the air, grimacing a bit. “Rather chilly out, isn’t it? If you’re heading home, my driver would be happy to take you there.”

Friedrich felt a flush of shame at the thought of Hauptmann seeing where he lived now. “I’m sure it’s out of your way, sir. I don’t mind taking the bus—”

“Nonsense, man,” Hauptmann said briskly. “Christ knows I’m in no hurry to get home. Get in, please.”

He opened the door, moving to the far side of the seat. Friedrich forced a smile and climbed into the car, trying not to wince as he sat down. “Thank you, sir,” he muttered.

“Where do you live?”

“Friedrichschain. Tilsiterstrasse 5, across from the St. Georgen cemetery.”

“Ah, I know the area.” Hauptmann leaned forward to give the address to his driver, and the car rolled forward. “For God’s sake, von Bader, sit back,” he added, chuckling. “You’re not on review here, I assure you.”

Friedrich made himself relax. “Thank you, sir. Force of habit.”

“Old habits die hard, eh?” Hauptman said. “I heard through the grapevine that you were discharged. Damned shame, that. You were a fine officer—I was proud to have you in my command.” He sighed, shaking his head. “That blasted treaty was a complete and utter farce. Too many of our best men were cashiered, and now the rest of us are left trying to run an army on a shoestring, with the French peering over our shoulders if we so much as twitch.”

Friedrich tried to ignore the tiny spark of hope in his breast. Perhaps all this meant that Hauptmann had some sort of work for him. “It was an honor to serve the Fatherland, sir,” he said carefully.

“Such as it is, these days,” Hauptmann growled, watching the buildings roll by. “Once, we were an empire, feared and respected by everyone. Now, we’re a republic.” He spat the last word, as if it tasted foul. “Run by men who wouldn’t know what to do with a bayonet if it was stuck in their guts. And meanwhile the British and French look on our poor Fatherland like it’s their own private playground and treat our people like whores. It’s a disgrace.”

“Yes, sir,” Friedrich said, his stomach knotting at the general’s comment. “As you said, a disgrace.”

“Hmmph.” The general waved a weary hand. “Well, what’s done is done. All we can do now is help Germany through these difficult times. Which brings me to you, von Bader. I was at Heaven and Hell last night. I noticed you over on Heaven’s side.” Hauptmann gave him a shrewd look. “I didn’t know you could afford that kind of entertainment.”

Friedrich worked to keep his expression neutral. “I can’t. I’m working as a guide and translator for an American couple,” he lied.

“Ah, of course. And this couple, would they be named Tracy by any chance?”

The second shock of the night made his skin prickle. “You know them?”

The general snorted. “Not personally, but I know who they are. But it’s a happy coincidence that you’re working for them, von Bader. That could turn out to be very useful.”

“I don’t understand, sir.”

“I’m sure you’re aware that Fräulein Tracy and her fiancé are here on business, ja? She’s representing her uncle’s company, which wants to buy out certain German manufacturing companies. Perhaps you overheard them discussing this at dinner, or during drinks?”

Friedrich’s cheeks flamed. He wasn’t about to tell a former commanding officer what they’d actually been discussing. “Yes, sir,” he muttered.

“Excellent. Needless to say, certain officials in the War Ministry are concerned about losing valuable resources and manufacturing centers to foreign companies. Especially as those resources have a certain military value and would be better used here at home, rebuilding what was lost during the war.” The general’s face was in shadow, but the passing streetlights lit his eyes with streaking glints. “Do you understand my meaning, von Bader?”

Friedrich did. The German military had taken the Treaty of Versailles and the forced reduction of their ranks as a deeply personal insult to their national pride. He could still remember the fierce arguments in the officers’ messes about continuing the fight despite the cease-fire, taking it to the victors and making them work for their so-called “peace.” “The War Ministry wants to rebuild the army?”

“Well, some of them do. Some of them are content to roll onto their backs and expose their bellies.” Hauptman made a disgusted noise. “Luckily those dogs tend to be in the minority. Those of us who are loyal to the Fatherland need to know everything we can about companies like Tracy Electrics. That way, we can make sure that any business arrangements made with German companies will be of benefit to Germany.” A nod towards Friedrich. “Which is where you come in, my boy. One of Tracy Electric’s targets is Schoengraff Metals. You may have heard of them?”

“Of course, sir.” Schoengraff had supplied the German weapons manufacturers with armor-grade steel and iron during the war.

“Unfortunately, Schoengraff suffered a heavy number of losses during the war,” Hauptmann said. “Bombed factories, loss of raw materials, lack of workers, et cetera. Now that the war is over and they have access to their mines in Africa again, they’re trying to rebuild their infrastructure and expand into rare minerals mining. To do this, they need the help of foreign manufacturing companies that can provide financing. One of these companies is Tracy Electrics. Fräulein Tracy has apparently been sent here as the personal representative of William Tracy to oversee negotiations.” He shook his head. “Which is ridiculous, of course. Tracy’s lapdog Arthur Carslyle is running the negotiations, just as he always has. I assume he’s grooming Fräulein Tracy’s fiancé to take over for him.”

Friedrich tried to picture the fun-loving Sam spending hours in a conference room. “I wouldn’t discount Fräulein Tracy so quickly, sir,” he said. “She’s very…unusual.”

Hauptman shrugged. “Unusual or not, she is still just a woman, and a woman’s place is in the home, not in the board room, nicht wahr? Even the Americans aren’t foolish enough to allow such things.” He dismissed the Fräulein with a shake of the head. “Now, the War Ministry wants to know Tracy Electrics’s plans for Schoengraff, and you are ideally placed to obtain this information. We need you to find out as much as you can about what they want to do with the company, if they’re trying to buy it outright or partner with it, and how much money they’re willing to spend.” He leaned over, fixing Friedrich with a gimlet gaze. “Will you assist the Fatherland in this, colonel?”

Friedrich stopped the automatic “yes,” his ingrained instinct to obey a superior officer slamming up against memories of his recent poverty. “If I help you, and they find out, they can fire me at any moment,” he said. “What do I get in return for my assistance?”

Hauptmann stared at him for a long, uncomfortable moment. “I’m to assume that the gratitude of the War Ministry and your country means nothing to you?”

Friedrich ignored the wintry tone and the even colder disapproval, although he knew it would eat at him later. “I have a sister-in-law and a nephew to support, sir,” he said. “I have to think of them. If I get you the information you need, what do I get in return?”

The general slowly nodded. “Yes, I suppose you have a point. I can’t get you back into the army, but I have connections with Schoengraff. I can get you a manager’s post at one of their refineries near Ingolstadt, and a salary commensurate to the one you received as an active colonel. You should be able to support your family quite handily on that.”

Friedrich ignored the mild contempt in Hauptmann’s voice, buoyed by a sudden, aching wave of hope. The offer was dizzying; a real job, a safe home out of Berlin for Lilli and Rudi, respect and security.

Hauptmann gave him a thin smile. “So, what do you say, colonel?”

He understood the vital need for intelligence during wartime, and how spies could provide information that turned the tide of a battle. But this was no longer wartime, and he felt uncomfortable with the idea of spying on the Fräulein. She had demanded honesty from him, and offered blessed respite in return. Taking business information from her and passing it on to Hauptmann and his cronies at the War Ministry made something in his soul ache with shame.

But there was Rudi and Lilli. They were more important than anything. And in the end, he thought with some bitterness, he was only a hired whore to the Fräulein and Sam. They would leave soon enough, taking their money with them. He was the one who had to stay in Berlin. And a real job outside of the city, where Rudi could grow healthy and turn into the sturdy little boy he was meant to be? How could he pass something like that up?

He ignored the twinging of his conscience. All he was doing was making sure that Schoengraff and Germany got information that would allow them to cut the best deal possible with Tracy Electrics. The Fräulein would still get what she came for, just at a somewhat higher price. Surely there was no dishonor in that.

He took a deep breath. “I’ll do it.”

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Mid Week Tease: Deep Water #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MidWeekTeaseHappy Hump Day! Let’s celebrate it with another wonderful Mid Week Tease, courtesy of the lovely and talented Sandra Bunino. I have to be honest with you — I’m hip deep in NaNoWriMo and I didn’t really have time to find a sexy teaser to share with you.

Soooo — I’m sharing a scene from my NaNoWriMo novel with you. And what is it, you ask? Why, its Book Three of the Olympic Cove series, Deep Water! (If you want to see the very first scene in the book, page back a blog post.)

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Poseidon, God of the Sea, has spent millennia alone due to a single terrible act — a drunken assault on his agapetos, or fated mate, shared with his consort Amphitrite. His queen has sworn never to forgive him for his actions, and he must live with the knowledge that he drove an innocent girl to a dreadful retribution.

But when one of the Olympic Cove cottages gets a new occupant with an all-too-familiar soul, Poseidon discovers that the Fates have given him a second chance. Now he must try to right the wrongs of the past and win back both his beloved consort and the mate he betrayed.

Assuming, of course, that the Mad Nereid Thetis doesn’t interfere…

Heather contemplated her newest acquisition, absently tapping a purple feather duster against one thigh as she pondered. Now where should I put it? Garden statuary? Library decor?

For a junk store masquerading as an antique shop, the Lady’s Touch held some genuine treasures for those willing to search through its many, many shelves. Heather was relieved that few of the mortal shoppers who came in to browse ever noticed that the interior dimensions of the store didn’t quite match the exterior dimensions (except for that nice Englishwoman, she thought fondly, Verity something. Such a good eye for spatial differentiation).

As the interior size of The Lady’s Touch developed a certain elasticity over the years, its display system had become rather haphazard as a result, and now she wasn’t quite sure where to store the bust currently sitting on her counter. Perhaps Halloween decorations?

A warm, familiar presence bloomed at her back. “Hy, do you have time for some tea?”

She turned. Behind her stood a tall, lovely woman with long dark hair caught up in a tidy chignon. The woman’s casual but tasteful clothing — designer jeans, silk shell top, and Jimmy Choo flats — didn’t quite fit with the t-shirts and jean shorts of the local tourists, but didn’t make her stand out terribly either. She looked like a rich young matron slumming it in a seaside junk shop.

Until Heather looked into her eyes. They held an ancient pain that seared the soul.

“Oh, crumpets,” she said, tossing the feather duster onto the counter. “What’s he done now?”

“Nothing exactly, but—” The Nereid stopped, staring at the bust. A flash of bitter emotion flickered across her face. “Where did you get that?”

Damn, damn, damn. She hadn’t even thought about the bust. “I bought it at an estate sale,” she said. “It’s genuine marble, you see, and the woman who sold it said it had been sculpted by her uncle, some sort of local artist. It’s really rather well done, but I didn’t know you were coming in, otherwise—”

Amphitrite gave her a pained look. Heather realized she’d been babbling. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “Er, I’ll just put it away, then.”

“No. It’s all right.” The Nereid reached out to the bust, one fingertip trailing over the creamy stone. She traced a high cheekbone, a beautifully full lip, the wide, strong brow.

Heather noticed she avoided the sinuous shapes curled around the bust’s head. “It doesn’t really look like her, of course,” Amphitrite said absently. “But then again, that’s hardly surprising. Most people never look beyond the snakes.”

With a sound she desperately hoped was supportive and not as grunty as she suspected it really was, Heather hefted the bust and bustled off. Halloween decor it is.

When she returned, the store was empty. She stepped to the door and flicked the OPEN sign over to CLOSED, then headed to the tiny office tucked in the building’s front corner. She dropped her disguise as she did; the curly red hair and green glasses disappeared, replaced by her true form as the Nereid Hyacinthe.

She entered the office, pleased to see that Amphitrite had found her electric kettle and filled it. A teapot, a bottle of milk, two mugs carrying the shop’s logo, and a plate of snickerdoodles were already out on her desk.

“Hope you don’t mind,” Amphitrite said as the kettle clicked off, wisps of steam rising from its spout. “I just really need some tea. Or wine, if you have it.”

“Not at the moment, sorry,” Heather said, thinking about the bottle of merlot upstairs in her apartment. The last thing Amphitrite needed was to start drinking this early in the day. “Let me just mash this up and we’ll have a nice talk, yes?”

After the tea had been poured, the sisters settled on either side of the desk, mugs and snickerdoodles in hand. “So, Poseidon,” Heather prompted. “What’s he done now?”

“Well … nothing,” Amphitrite said slowly. “Not exactly, anyway. I was at the cove this morning for a therapy session with Nick Gardiner and his mers.”

Once again Heather was impressed by the breadth of mortal training her sister had picked up over the millennia. “Nice to see you using your psychology degree again,” she said over the rim of her cup.

The Nereid shrugged. “Yes, well, afterwards I went over to the boys’ cottage to ask Aphros about a recipe, and Poseidon was there with Bythos and Ian. I assume they were having some sort of war council.”

“Did Poseidon say anything to you?”

“He offered to step out so that I could speak with Bythos.”


“That was it.”

She weighed her next words. “Did you want him to say anything else?”

Amphitrite slumped in her chair. “I suppose it’s childish of me to want him to grovel every time I see him.”

“A bit, yes.”

The dark-haired goddess nodded gloomily. “We’ve done so well, avoiding each other for all those centuries. And now we wind up meeting twice in six weeks.” She grimaced. “I mean, I knew it would be possible if I agreed to be Nick’s therapist, but there’s a difference between knowing something intellectually and actually having it happen to you.”

“I know,” Heather said sympathetically. “Perhaps the two of you could set up some sort of schedule so that you don’t have to run into each other?”

Amphitrite raised a curved eyebrow. “Custody of Olympic Cove? That’s a thought. Although I can’t see him holding to it.”

Heather made a muffled noise of agreement into her tea. She’d been the sea god’s sister-in-law long enough to know that he’d ignore an agreement if it suited him. “You sure he didn’t say anything else to you?”

“No. Just stood there like a self-important martinet and looked constipated. Although I do think he tried to smile once.” Amphitrite pursed her lips. “I’m surprised his cheeks didn’t crack.”

The other Nereid chuckled at that. “Well, why don’t you arrange to meet with Nick, Aidan and Liam somewhere else? You could always use my apartment for day sessions.”

Amphitrite let out a slow breath, studying the tan liquid in her mug. “That’s very kind of you, darling, but I don’t feel comfortable bringing the mers into a human settlement,” she said finally. “Things are rather tense between them and their grotto as it is. I don’t wish to add more stress if I don’t have to. I’ll just have to bite the bullet and accept that I may see Poseidon now and then. It won’t kill me, after all.”

“Yes, one of the benefits about being an immortal, I suppose.” Heather took a quick nibble of her cookie. “Of course, it might not be a bad idea, you know. Talking to him, I mean. I think the mortals call it ‘getting closure.’”

The air in the small office grew chillier. “I don’t see how I could achieve closure with Poseidon,” Amphitrite said evenly. “Unless he did something really spectacular, such as, of, I don’t know, immolate himself in a volcano. I might be willing to watch that.”

Heather winced. “Ammie, you know I’m on your side with this. What he did was cruel and utterly heartless. But that was also thousands of year ago. At some point, you have to let it go, for your own sake.” Her voice gentled. “Tell me truly — do you even remember how she looked?”

Those sea-blue eyes clouded over, looking inwards at something Heather could only suspect. “I will always remember how she looked,” Amphitrite murmured softly. “She had large eyes, light brown, like those of an owl. Her nose was small and straight, and turned up at the tip. When she laughed, the entire room seemed to light up. And even though she was small she always stood up straight, modest and attentive, the perfect handmaiden.” Her expression hardened. “Until Poseidon betrayed her. And me.”

Heather flinched from the grief and rage in the Nereid’s eyes. “I’m sorry, sister. I didn’t mean to dredge up more pain for you.”

The dark-haired goddess shook her head. “You didn’t. That’s the problem. I carry it with me always. And that is why I cannot achieve closure with Poseidon. The bastard drove our agapetos away, and I can never forgive him for that.”

“Even though you miss him?” Heather regretted the words the moment they slipped out.

But Amphitrite simply nodded. “Even though I miss him. And I’m not sure who I hate more for that. Him, or myself.”

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Mid Week Tease: Behind the Iron Cross #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MidWeekTeaseHappy Hump Day! Let’s celebrate it with another wonderful Mid Week Tease, courtesy of the lovely and talented Sandra Bunino. This week, I’ll be sharing a teaser from Behind the Iron Cross, my historical MMF romance set in 1923 Berlin. No sex in this one, sorry, but let’s explore Sam and Kat’s relationship a bit more, shall we?

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

In the aftermath of World War I, Berlin has become a hotspot of decadent pleasures, and American millionairess Kat Tracy is determined to enjoy each and every one of them with Sam Hellman, her late brother’s lover and her convenient “fiancé.” But when the two of them meet Friedrich von Bader, a former German Army officer turned reluctant prostitute, their wicked games take on a new meaning.

Kat wandered out of her room, humming to herself. The various negotiations were going well, even better than she’d hoped. Schoengraff was still being stiff-necked about meeting with them, but Arthur was looking for ways to convince the board to come to the table. The telegram she received from the headquarters of Tracy Electrics that morning was brief and to the point: BUY ANYTHING NEW FOR WEDDING?

Uncle William had no trust in modern technology, or the people who kept it running, and had already sent her a series of coded telegrams that would make little sense to the telegram operators who sent the messages. She smiled when she told the operator to send a reply telegram with BOUGHT SOME LOVELY THINGS. STILL LOOKING FOR PERFECT GOLD RING. He would understand the precious metal was a reference to Schoengraff.

To her surprise, she saw Sam seated by the fireplace, chin propped up on one hand as he stared into the flames. She stretched out on the sofa, warming her feet. “I would have thought you’d be in bed by now,” she said.

He shrugged. “I’m not tired.”

“Mm.” She stretched her arms over her head languorously. “Tonight was fun. Those dancers were delicious, weren’t they?”

Another twitch of his shoulders. “I suppose.”

She made a moue. “Well, that doesn’t sound very enthusiastic. You certainly seemed to be enjoying yourself at the time.”

He turned from the fire, his expression drawn. “Yes, the dancer was great. I came like gangbusters. Are you happy?”

Kat blinked at the unexpected tongue-lashing. “I — I’m sorry. Is something wrong?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. I’m going to bed.”

“Sam.” He stopped in mid-rise, and she hesitated over her next words. “Please, darling, talk to me. Perhaps I can help.”

He sank back onto the chair. “You’re good, kitten, but you can’t help with this. Nobody can.”

The expression on his face was painfully familiar. She got up and crossed to him, sinking down to the floor so that she could rest her arms on his knee. “You haven’t called me kitten in years,” she pointed out.

“That’s because you bit me the last time I did.”

“I was ten. I thought it was a baby name.”

He reached out and stroked her hair. “You always were the fierce one, weren’t you? Bart and I never stood a chance with you around.”

She took a deep breath, aware that she was treading on tender ground. “I know you miss him. So do I.”

“I know.” He turned back to the fireplace. The flickering light played across his face, revealing the slight glassiness of his eyes. “I was wondering what he’d think of us. What we’re doing.”

“You mean getting married? I think he’d understand.”

“No, not that. What we’re doing here in Berlin.”

“Oh.” She rested her chin on her crossed arms. “I don’t think he would mind. He’d want you to be happy.”

“That’s the thing. I’m not.”

She paused, unsure of how to proceed. “Is it … are you unhappy with me? I thought you didn’t mind my little games.”

He shook his head again, taking her hand and holding it. “It’s not that, kitten. I enjoy playing with you. It’s just…”

And then the pieces came together. “It’s the colonel, isn’t it?”

Sam gave her a weary smile. “I know I’m being ridiculous. He’s just as normal as he can be, after all. And he’s only doing this for the money. It’s all just fun and games. Stupid fun and games, nothing more.”

The misery on his face was tangible. She wanted to throw her arms around him and protect that huge, gentle heart from getting hurt yet again. “Oh, Sam. I’m so sorry.”

“So am I.” He shook his head. “I keep telling myself this is temporary, that he doesn’t feel the way I do. That he doesn’t want me. So I should just enjoy what I can get, right?” The glassiness in his eyes increased. “It’s not helping, though. I keep wondering what Bart—”

He cut off a sob. Kat jumped to her feet, gathering him in a hug as her own tears started. His arms unexpectedly wound around her waist, pulling her into his lap. She realized why when he buried his head in her shoulder to muffle his tears. “Oh, my sweetest boy,” she whispered, stroking his hair. “I’m so sorry.”

She  remembered when the two Army officers had showed up on Uncle William’s doorstep with the telegraph from the War Department. Uncle William had taken her into his study an hour later, his eyes bloodshot from unshed tears, and informed her that he’d given the Army permission to busy Bart at Flanders Field. Sam came home soon afterwards, his right leg amputated, a lost and broken shell of the man she’d remembered and her brother had loved.

For Bart, she’d gone to the Hellmans’ home on her own every day without fail, climbing the grand staircase to the second floor where Sam lay like a corpse in his narrow boyhood bed. All the hours reading to him, talking to him, trying anything she could think of to bring him out of his shell. When the doctor finally gave him permission to try walking on his wooden leg, she was the one who had cajoled him to stand up, take the first few steps. Slowly, his body healed, although he would never again look like the happy boy he’d been with Bart. His mind eventually followed, finding its way out of the fog left by the war.

His heart, though, was still bleeding over Bart’s loss. Sometime during his recovery he carefully built a briar fence around it, thick brush and dagger-like thorns shielding himself from anyone but her. He’d had dalliances here and there since the end of the war, often with her complicit assistance, but all the men were nobodies, working class types or low-ranking soldiers passing through Bridgeport on their way home. He wouldn’t let himself love anyone, not the way he’d loved her brother, and when she proposed marriage she’d seen the flash of bitterness in his eyes. She knew she was the closest he would ever come to being back in Bart’s arms, a consolation prize that was no prize at all.

They sat there for a time, united in their love for a dead man, with the soft crackling of the fire the only sound in the room. Finally Sam gave a shuddering sigh. “I don’t know why you put up with me, I really don’t,” he said.

She smiled against the soft brown strands. “I could say the same about you,” she murmured. “It’s probably why we’re such good friends.”

“I think you’re right.” He leaned back, rubbing at his eyes. “Sorry about blubbing all over you.”

“Don’t fret. I’ll dry.” She touched his face, wiping the traces of moisture away from his eyes with a careful thumb. “Do you want to go to bed?”

“Eventually.” A corner of his mouth quirked. “Oh. Were you inviting me to sleep with you, kitten?”

She forced a fierce look. “It’s Kat now, darling. Don’t make me bite you. Again.”

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Mid Week Tease: Behind the Iron Cross #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MidWeekTeaseHappy Hump Day! Let’s celebrate it with another wonderful Mid Week Tease, courtesy of the lovely and talented Sandra Bunino. This week, I’ll be sharing a teaser from Behind the Iron Cross, my historical MMF romance set in 1923 Berlin (which I will hopefully have finished by the end of September, please God).

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

In the aftermath of World War I, Berlin has become a hotspot of decadent pleasures, and American millionairess Kat Tracy is determined to enjoy each and every one of them with Sam Hellman, her late brother’s lover and her convenient “fiancé.” But when the two of them meet Friedrich von Bader, a former German Army officer turned reluctant prostitute, their wicked games take on a new meaning.

“You two look comfortable.”

Friedrich cracked one eye open. The Fräulein stood at the foot of the bed, staring at Sam and him. Her face was in shadow, hiding her expression.

Sam stirred next to him, giving her a sleepy grin. “Oh, hi, sweetheart,” he said. “We met up in town for lunch, and then we came back here. I’m afraid we fell asleep.”

“So I see.” She settled on the end of the mattress, hunching over a bit. “I’m glad some of us had a pleasant day.”

Sam sat up, more alert now. “What’s wrong?”

Those slim shoulders shrugged. “Not the best of days. Schoengraff still won’t talk to us, and we lost Gimmel. Brayburn got to them first.”

“Oh, sweetheart.” Unconcerned by his nudity, Sam climbed out of the bedcovers and moved down to the other end of the bed, gently pulling her into a hug. “I’m sorry.”

She sighed, resting back against him. “We had the entire deal set up. All we needed were signatures on the partnership papers. And I walked in there this afternoon to see all of them smirking at me, ever so pleased with themselves as they gave me the news. Bastards.”

Friedrich felt out of place, watching the two of them cuddle. He started to get out of bed and Sam glanced back at him. The American shook his head, looking meaningfully at the pillows. Confused, Friedrich sat back, waiting.

Sam turned back to the Fräulein. “Darling, why don’t you shuck out of all this and let us take care of you? We’ll give you a nice, long back rub, then pop you in the tub for a soak while we order dinner. Sound good?”

Another sigh, heavier this time. “I suppose.”

To Friedrich’s surprise, she slipped out of her tailored jacket and blouse without a second thought, tossing them carelessly on the floor with her skirt. Underneath, she wore a cream silk slip that clung to her body in delicious ways, outlining the small, shapely curves of her breasts and hips. With Sam’s encouragement, even this was pulled off and deposited on the floor, leaving her in a bra and flimsy silk knickers.

Friedrich’s mouth went dry. He knew the Fräulein was beautiful, knew it in the same way that the Venus di Milo was beautiful. It was a cool, unattainable beauty, something more to worship than hold in his arms. But now, she was a tired, aggravated woman who simply wanted to stretch out after a long, difficult day and be tended to.

And his cock swelled at the thought. He tugged the bedclothes higher, trying to camouflage his sudden desire. Sam noticed the tenting at his groin and shot him a quick grin as he moved the Fräulein up the bed, encouraging her to stretch out on her stomach. “You relax, sweetheart. Let us take care of you.”

She mumbled something into her pillowed arms, eyes already closed. Friedrich realized they were shadowed, soft smudges of exhaustion visible now in the cupped curve. The desire abated a bit, replaced by an unexpected tenderness. She’s been working so hard. She must be exhausted, poor katze.

He knelt on the bedcovers at her side, looking to Sam for guidance. The American man reached over to the bedside table, picking up the bottle of lotion there. He shook out a good palmful of the creamy liquid, then gestured for Friedrich to hold out his own hand and deposited more lotion in it.

Friedrich followed him, rubbing the lotion between his hands to warm it, then bringing it to the Fräulein’s skin. The men mirrored each other as they worked up and down her spine, rubbing the taut muscles there. Friedrich skirted the band of her bra, but Sam just shook his head and expertly unhooked it, flipping the freed ends to either side. “Better, sweetheart?”


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