Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for hosting me today. I love being over here at Bitten By Paranormal Romance – it’s always a fun day for me!
To change things up from my blog tour a little bit, I thought we’d meet a secondary character from Lie to Me and a man who jumped out of the pages and had to be tied to a chair before he commandeered my story – Misha. I caught up with him before he headed out to someplace he wouldn’t name, doing something else he wouldn’t name. Getting him to talk was equally difficult. But there are a few newsworthy tidbits in here, I believe.
Claire: Nice to meet you, Misha. Thanks for taking the time out to talk with me.
Misha: (He offers a slow smile and a mischievous wink.) It’s rarely ever a chore to spend time with a woman.
Claire: Hush. I’m so not falling for that.
Misha: Just wait – you might be surprised.
(As if he knows he’s goading me, he pulls out a rather crushed pack of cigarettes and shakes one out which gives me opportunity to steer the conversation away from his flirtatious insistence. Which is, I might add, a bit hard to resist. The man oozes subtle sexuality.)
Claire: I thought you were going to quit?
Misha: Maybe. Maybe not.
Claire: Okay then. Misha, you and Alexei go back a ways, right? Am I correct that you introduced him to the Black Opals?
Misha: You are correct. We worked, if you can say such, in
Claire: So what was it like working together this time?
Misha: Working together? If you call what transpired working together, I don’t really want to see working apart. I’d say it was more of an influenced situation.
Claire: So you’re still sore with him?
Misha: I didn’t say that, did I?
Claire: Well no, but you didn’t not say it either. He landed a pretty low blow during that verbal battle of wills. I wouldn’t blame you for being upset about his mentioning Pay—”
Misha: What are you doing for dinner tonight, Claire? What do you say to wine, a little candle light, and learning the finer pleasures in life… together?
Claire: (Blinking) Um…
Misha: I promise it will be fun. Anything you want – name it.
Claire: Ah. Yes… well… (Amidst a coughing spell, I manage to pull myself together.) So tell me about her.
Misha: About who?
Misha answers much more abruptly: There’s nothing to tell.
Claire: I’m getting the distinct impression you don’t want to discuss her.
Misha: (His slow grin returns) Clever girl.
Claire: All right. One last question and I’ll let you get on with whatever it is you’re doing next. How’s your director, Kevin Clarke, taking all of these recent happenings?
Misha: If you’re talking about the relations between MI6 and the Black Opals, I’m not in a position to say anything. If you mean his team, he’s made a few…adjustments.
Claire: Anything you can elaborate on?
Misha: (Sheer arrogance slips through his smile and lights his eyes.) Nope. But rumor has it November might shed some light on things.
Claire: Oooh… who is it this time?
(Misha shrugs nonchalantly, but his smirk belies the truth that he knows more.)
(Misha bursts into laughter.) Like that’s going to happen.
Claire: Right. Because of Pay—
(Misha jumps to his feet.) Sorry doll, I’ve got a plane to catch. It’s been a pleasure. You take care of you.
He brushes a kiss across my cheek and vanishes out the door before I can say goodbye.
About the author
National Bestselling author Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.
While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.
Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds -- love.
A man of action…
After helping to break up a Russian human trafficking ring as part of the CIA’s elite Black Opal team, Alexei Nikanova’s newest assignment is to rescue one of the stolen women and return her to her father. When he arrives in Dubai, he discovers his target is Sasha Zablosky—a woman he knows all too well, and who has haunted him ever since their unforgettable time together in Moscow, two and a half years earlier. But he finds Sasha reluctant to leave her sheikh, the only true friend she’s ever known. Only Alexei can’t give her a choice.
A woman of deception…
With their yearning roused by intrigue, Alexei and Sasha can no longer resist temptation, and spend night after night in forbidden pleasure. Soon Alexei finds himself falling for her, even as he battles a shadowy menace to protect her. But Sasha is no innocent. She has a past darker than she could ever admit, one that Alexei could never forgive. And it is about to explode into her life once more. As the lies they tell themselves—and each other—pull them deeper into a perilous desire, what began as simple passion becomes a love certain to destroy them and end the lives of countless innocents.
Sasha rolled over, propped her head up on one elbow. “Who do you work for, Alexei?”
That was certainly the last question he’d ever prepared for. Chancing a glance at her upturned face, he debated how to answer. She’d told him she worked for FSB; she undoubtedly knew he was an American agent—virtually all of
knew. But tell her about the Opals? Let her in? Dubai
What the hell. They’d already named themselves in front of her. She knew their director’s name. He stared at the television as he answered, “A special division within the CIA known as the Black Opals. We’re the ones they send when it’s real dicey and they need to delete someone with the press of a button.”
More quietly he added, “We don’t exist.”
He crossed opposite ankles and folded his hands behind his head, leaning back against the headboard. Waiting for her to make the association between his vague explanation and the truth of his work. When she did, shock would stop her questions.
Instead, Sasha’s palm fitted over his belly, gentle sweeping motions that rumpled the fabric of his shirt and offered more comfort than Alexei had known could exist. “Isn’t that . . . difficult?” she asked softly.
“Difficult? The missions are never ea—”
“No. Not existing.” That delightful little palm slid higher, caressing the lower part of his chest. “I mean, don’t you ever crave life? The simple things like owning a house and paying someone to rake your leaves.” The heel of her palm worked into his tense muscles. “Like sleeping in on a Saturday and having breakfast in bed.”
More than she could understand. He tensed. She was getting too close, treading too far into murky waters he didn’t want to disturb.
Dropping to an almost inaudible whisper, her voice washed over his body. “Have you ever been in love, Alexei?”
Danger. Combustion imminent. Alexei covered the sudden trip of his heart with a harsh chuckle. “Love’s not an option in my line of work, princess.”
She was silent for a blissful moment, leaving him with the conclusion he’d scared her off. As luck would have things, however, when she did speak, she didn’t traipse around uncomfortable, she plunged in headfirst. “You only call me princess when I’ve hit a nerve. So tell me, Agent Nikanova, are you afraid of the fall, or afraid of the loss?”
Opening his eyes, he smoothed a hand down her long silken hair. “You should get some sleep.”
“It’s morning. The sun’s peeking up.”
Carefully avoiding the mirror, he shifted his gaze to the window, noting the early violet hue in the sky. “I guess it is.” Which meant they wouldn’t be going anywhere until tomorrow morning. He’d put her through enough for one night. Her father could live another day without her. Particularly since he knew she was safe at least.
As he nuzzled her hair once more, tiny wisps getting caught on his unshaven chin, all the places they connected soaked into his awareness. His pulse kicked up a notch. Against his thigh, his cock stirred.
Damn. What was the matter with him? It was like some animal had invaded his body. Sure, the sex was mind-blowing, but this wasn’t normal. Certainly not for him.
His cock was going to have to wait. He knew from experience Sasha could go all night. But those amazing evenings hadn’t included bullets and death. She might be strong, yet he couldn’t ask her to endure more.
Easing out of her embrace, he wrapped an arm around her shoulder and guided her to the door. “You still need sleep.”
All five and a half feet of her tensed like stone. Bracing against his steering efforts, she shook her head. “I don’t want to sleep, Alexei.”
In her adamant whisper, he heard the fear he had once known so intimately. Dreams had a way of making all the realities unavoidable.
Alexei stopped urging her toward the door and turned to catch her chin in his hand. He tipped her face to his. A dozen reassurances floated through his mind. What made it off his tongue shocked him. “Why don’t you hate me?”
Warning flashed behind Alexei’s eyes, hard, cold, and dangerous.
She held his gaze, meeting him challenge for unspoken challenge. “If you’d done better research, you’d know Kadir bin Imran’s been playing both sides of your little game.”
Both men visibly tensed, their posture stiffening. Damn it. She hadn’t meant to let on that she understood what had happened with the human trafficking ring so intimately. Doing so risked revealing the years she’d spent employed by the Federal Security Service of the
. As a senior
defensive weapons engineer, her job with the FSB hadn’t related to undercover
operations—not technically, at least—but she’d been through enough training to
understand the intricacies that were required to expose Amir’s human
trafficking ring. Russian Federation
Her familiarity with the Bratva and how deep the organization ran filled in the remaining holes. All things she couldn’t risk revealing unless she wanted to spend
the rest of her life in jail. If she even made it that far before her father and the Bratva found her.
“What do you know about Kadir?” Alexei asked with frightening calm.
Sasha winced as she tried to straighten her legs, only to have her swollen ankle protest the movement. She bent over to gingerly massage the rapidly purpling skin. “He’s been trying to buy me from Saeed for the last year and a half.”
She waited long enough for the meaning to sink in before she looked up at Alexei. He exchanged a wary glance with Grigoriy, then turned a narrowed frown on her. “That’s impossible. Six months ago he—”
“Was offering a million and a half.” Releasing her tender ankle, she leaned back against the leather seats.
When those damnable light green eyes slid back to Grigoriy’s and understanding registered in Alexei’s expression, Sasha knew she’d driven her point home. But the night had been too long, too full of jubilant highs and heartbreaking lows to let the remark stand alone. In need of some way to deliver the cutting blows Alexei had meted out to her, she couldn’t resist one more barb. “Guess we’ll see what he’s willing to pay once I’m in his personal jet, won’t we?”
He swallowed down the sound, and his kiss took on more languor, aggressive demands ebbing into a gentle play until his mouth left hers altogether and he lifted his head. His lustful gaze scorched into her. The hard fall of his breath stirred the fine blonde hairs on her forehead. He pressed his cheek to hers, grazed her sensitive skin with the coarse stubble along his jaw.
The pleasant friction sent another bout of delightful shivers surging through Sasha’s body. She dropped one hand to his waist, plucked his shirt free, and slipped her fingers beneath to explore his warm flesh.
“Ah, Sasha,” he murmured against her temple. “Tell me you don’t hate me.”
Her hand stilled at the base of his spine. Hate him. How could she explain that feeling had never once struck? If she confessed to the truth, she’d look weak, sound like a fool. She should hate him. And yet . . . she didn’t. After everything, even after all he’d done to destroy her life, she could not hate Alexei. Turning her head, she met his gaze. “Alexei, I—”
He closed his eyes, but not before he could shutter away a flash of anguish in those green depths. “Lie to me, princess. I need to believe.”
It was a plea he hadn’t needed to utter. She lifted up into him and caught his lips with hers. “I don’t hate you,” she whispered against his mouth.
A low snarl rumbled in the back of his throat a second before his mouth crashed into hers and claimed her savagely. His hands speared into her hair, holding her head in place, imprisoning her to the fierceness of his desperate kiss. She met the stroke of his tongue eagerly, tugged on the hem of his shirt, pushing it up, exposing his abdomen, equally desperate to feel the warmth of his skin against hers.
When that moment of blissful contact came, Sasha let out a plaintive mewl. Blessed torture. Perfect.
Nowhere near enough. She hooked an ankle around his calf and levered her hips into his, stroking herself against his hardened cock.
Alexei tore his mouth away with effort. “Easy, princess,” he rasped. Bracing his hands on both sides of her shoulders, he lifted his upper body away from hers. The faintest hint of a smile touched the corners of his mouth. “Don’t ruin me for the race. I’m already halfway to the finish.” The faint smile disappeared as he lowered his head and grazed his teeth along the delicate shell of her ear. “I want to be inside you when I come,” he whispered. The tip of his tongue flicked against her earlobe. “I want you to come around me. I need that. Can you give it to me, princess?”
Tori will be giving away a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card to one random commenter during the month of July. Two additional commenters will receive a basket of swag. Follow the tour – the more times you comment the better your chances of winning! Complete tour dates can be found here.