Excerpt: Cherish Me - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

My life with Damien has always been magical, and never more so than during the holidays, a time for us to celebrate the hardships we’ve overcome and the incredible gift that is our family. Over the years, he has both protected and cherished me. He has made my life more rich and full than I could ever have imagined.

This year, he’s treating me and our daughters to a holiday in Manhattan. With parades and ice skating, toy displays and candies. And, most of all, with each other.

It’s a wonderful gift, a trip I will always cherish. But this year, I’m the one with the surprise. And I can’t wait to see the look of delight and awe when I finally share my secret with Damien.

But I’m terrified that when danger strikes, it will take a holiday miracle for me to even get the chance.

Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.

Book Type:

Contemporary Romance

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Excerpt: Cherish Me
By J. Kenner

Excerpt: Cherish Me

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J. Kenner comes a new story in her Stark Ever After series. CHERISH ME is out tomorrow, but you can read a sneak peek now below!

I tug at the belt, both enjoying the sensation of being bound and disturbed that something is troubling my husband. “Are you going to untie me?” I ask as he lazily runs his fingertips up and down my bare torso.

“I’m not sure,” he says, cupping my breast and then gently kissing my already tight nipple. “I like you this way.” His hand slides down, easing between my legs before his fingers slip into me, and I arch up with pleasure, my body still sensitive and hyper-aware.

“I like it, too,” I manage. “But I still think you should untie me.”

“Why? What do you intend to do once you’re free?”

“I’ll roll you onto your back, then straddle you. Then I’ll lean forward and kiss my way up your chest. I’ll brush my lips over your ear. And then, my darling husband, I’ll whisper that I know what’s bothering you.”

To his credit, Damien doesn’t even flinch. My husband has worked too long in the world of high power and high finance to show a reaction he wants to keep hidden. But I know him better than anyone, and I see the hint of a shadow in his eyes. “You want to talk about it?” I ask gently.

“I love you,” he says, making me laugh.

“You say that like a curse.”

“Never.” He kisses me hard to prove the point, then unfastens the belt. “But even after all this time, sometimes it still surprises me how well you see me. No one else ever has.”

I lower my arms, then do as I said, easing him onto his back as I climb on top of him. “Then let me tell you,” I say. “It didn’t even really start with the kidnapping, though that’s what set everything in motion.”

He says nothing, but I feel the tension in his body and know that I’m right.

“It really started in Paris,” I say.

His forehead creases. “In Paris?”

“With Antonio.” I’d been attacked near our hotel. Antonio Sanchez had been coming to talk to Damien, and it was just fate that he’d been close enough to step in and rescue me. “Now he’s part of Stark Security,” I add. “So are you, of course. The most important part since you founded it. But Antonio and all the others are on the ground doing the dirty work. And I know the way you think.”

“Do you?” His voice is flat, and I can’t tell what he’s thinking right then, which sort of ruins my point. But I press on anyway.

“He’s doing that kind of thing every day now. And you just asked Dallas to join up, too. Did he agree?”

“I think he’s tempted.”

I nod slowly. “And are you tempted?”

He lifts his hands to my shoulders and lightly runs his palms down my bare arms. “Would it bother you if I was?”

“I—” I hesitate because I don’t want to be the little wife who ties him down. But he needs to know the truth. I kept my fears from him once before and promised I never would again. So I draw a breath and start again. “You could do it. You’ve got the skills.”

That’s true. A former professional athlete, Damien is in excellent shape. His marksmanship is solid, too. He’d always been a good shot, but once he became more visible to the public, he started going to a range regularly. After the kidnapping, regularly was upgraded to frequently, and I usually join him, too.

“I hear a but,” he says.

“I’d be scared,” I admit. “I’m terrified of losing you.”

“Oh, baby.”

“I’m sorry.” Tears prick my eyes, and I know I’m being selfish. He wants to get more involved, and here I am pulling him back. More, I wish I hadn’t even started this conversation. Because I’m certain that his attitude will change when he hears my news. For a while, at least.

The truth is that Damien is a man of action, but he’s climbed the mountains he’s made so many times that it feels rote. How can I possibly discourage him when he has something to prove?

I don’t know. But I have to try. Because it’s cold terror I feel when I think of him like that, doing the stuff that the Stark Security agents in the field do.

“You don’t have to be sorry,” he says. “That’s not really who I am. I might be a warrior, but it’s more of the corporate variety, I’m afraid.”

“Damien…” I feel my heart squeeze and wish I’d said nothing.

“Baby, it’s okay. And I can still protect you and the girls, even if it’s in my own unique way.”

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