✮ ✮ DARE TO SURRENDER (Dare To Love #3) by Carly Phillips ✮ ✮
After ending a relationship to a cheating, domineering man, Isabelle Masters takes off in her leased Mercedes, only to be arrested for grand theft and hauled to a local police station. To her surprise, she is rescued by the most unlikely person possible, Gabriel Dare, a man she’s been attracted to for far too long. Gabe offers Isabelle freedom along with an invitation to Eden, an exclusive island resort where everything and anything is possible.
Although Gabe yearns to possess Isabelle, he knows all too well he must fight his primitive need to bind her to him, and instead help bring out the independent woman she yearns to become – or risk losing her for good.
A woman who needs to run her own life. A man who needs to exert control. Can she surrender to his erotic demands without losing her sense of self once more?
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The elevator doors opened, and I was stunned to find him waiting in the darkened, moody hallway, arm braced on the doorframe. He wore dark jeans and a long-sleeved, collared shirt, white, unbuttoned enough to tempt yet still give him that in-control, dangerously sexy air. His dark brown hair was tousled, as if he'd run his fingers through it in frustration more than a few times.
His eyes lit on me, and in that instant, longing caught in my throat, along with a healthy dose of wariness. Because no matter what I felt when I laid eyes on him, this morning’s hard truths hadn’t changed. And though I’d returned, I needed to understand what was going on between us before I could stay.
I stepped out and paused in front of him.
"You're okay." The words came out a mix of anger and relief.
I swallowed hard. "Yes."
"And how should I have known? You've been gone since early this morning." He stepped forward then stopped himself, visibly holding himself back from me.
I winced. "I suppose I should have left you a note, but—"
"Yes, you should have."
I looked down, chastened, hating it and yet … oddly affected by his mix of emotions. Because that meant he still cared? Desired me?
Was that what I wanted?
I thrust my fingers into my tangled hair. “I’m sorry if you thought—"
"You have no idea what I was thinking." He gestured inside his apartment with a flick of his wrist.
Even as a part of me rebelled at his command, I strode past him, head high, acknowledging the part of me that was pleased he’d been concerned. When was the last time anyone had thought about my welfare?
He slammed the door shut behind him before turning back to face me. "Do you want to know what went through my mind?"
I swallowed hard. "Of course."
"Let’s see. First, I thought Daltry had come by. I wondered if you’d changed your mind and left with him," Gabe bit out.
Oh, Gabe. "I wouldn't just pick up and leave after you've been so kind."
"I thought we'd gone over this. I'm not kind," he said in a tone meant to convince me.
"Well, to me you are.” And suddenly it didn’t matter what he’d done to Naomi; I was different. He treated me better. Or was I deluding myself as I’d done with Lance? My stomach tumbled at the thought. “Do you want to know where I've been?" I asked.
I breathed out, elaborating on my day. "First I went to the public library so I could look through job listings and newspapers. I made lists and planned calls for Monday. Then I spent the day in the park. Reading. And thinking."
"By any chance, did that thinking include whether or not you should stay with me?"
He reached out and nabbed my hand, linking his big fingers through mine, tightening incrementally. His closeness eased some of the lingering tension, and my shoulders lowered as I allowed myself to relax beneath his touch. With a tug, he pulled me closer, invading my personal space, nuzzling his chin in my hair.
I closed my eyes and sighed, and when I breathed in, the expensive cologne I'd come to associate with him wrapped around me and lit me up from the inside out, like a firecracker with an ever-shortening fuse. I squeezed my thighs together to alleviate the ache that both excited and unnerved me at the same time.
"Don't leave." He turned me to face him.
My heart sped up in my chest. I should want to run, not wrap myself around him and never let go.
"I need you to say it." His grip on me tightened.
With his jaw clenched and his eyes imploring, I answered from the heart. "I won't." I tried not to panic at the commitment that statement implied and reassured myself that I’d find a job and make this new situation work. Whatever it meant for us, that would have to play itself out.
When stark relief etched his handsome face, I knew I’d pleased him, and a corresponding sense of peace settled inside of me, making me wonder — what was this unspoken thing between us? I didn't understand it.
I wanted more even as I fought against the sensations because they threatened me — more accurately, they threatened the sense of independence I'd told myself I needed.
Gabe slid his hand through my hair, tugging until I responded with a whimper. Okay, I clearly liked that dominating side of him. It was something I'd never experienced before but obviously responded to. Something else to think about later, I thought. Another facet of myself to explore when the opportunity arose.
"I'm going to kiss you now," he informed me. "And this has nothing to do with gratitude," he muttered and sealed his mouth over mine.
Holding me firmly, he slid his tongue over my lips once, twice, demanding entry. As if I'd deny him. Just the touch of his tongue set off fireworks inside me, and I responded to everything about the man. Everything he took, I wanted to give. Everything he provided, I craved more of. He must have understood because his tongue tangled with mine, tasting the far reaches of my mouth, sucking, pulling, learning every part of me, while I turned to liquid at each slip and glide, every thrust and parry.
This was being kissed. It was being told that I mattered. Even the way he sank his hand into my hair and held on let me know that, as much as he was dominating me, he yearned for me too. He needed the connection between us as badly as I did. The intensity was furious, fast and sudden, but I needed it, and somehow he sensed as much. My nipples puckered tight, beading until they were begging for Gabe's touch. His kiss held a direct line to my sex. But physical responses aside, the emotional yielding inside me explained so much more, screaming for me to believe that I could trust this man. A virtual stranger in so many ways, yet my body knew him already. Why else would worry flee from my mind, a foggy, blessed euphoria taking its place?
He broke the kiss but didn't release me, instead dragged his lips over my jaw and down to where my shoulder met my neck and slid his tongue over my skin. I trembled as he found an erogenous zone I hadn’t realized I possessed. Cream coated my panties. Though I should be embarrassed at my easy acquiescence, it felt too good, desire melding into a whirlpool of burning need. A hard nip of my skin startled me into awareness, the sting of pain taking me by surprise, and I yelped out loud. Before I could struggle against him, a shock of ecstasy pulled me back into the vortex, reaching downward to my full, damp pussy.
Shaking, I crawled closer, finding his rock-hard erection behind a denim barrier, awaiting me. I needed him so badly. Could come so easily. I trembled and moaned. "Oh God."
"No, Iz. Just me." His breath was hot in my ear, and even his deep chuckle sent shooting sparks of awareness through me.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips has written over 28 romance novels with contemporary characters and plotlines that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. She sold her first novel to Harlequin Temptation in 1998 and hasn’t slowed down since. Carly’s life is filled with a devoted energy and passion to romance, family and career. Carly lives in Purchase, New York, with her husband, two daughters and two soft-coated wheaten terriers.