Eternal Designs (MF)
[Siren Classic: Erotic Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Interracial]
Gale Sinclair is a marriage counselor who has broken the cardinal rule of psychotherapy and fallen in love with his client, Zoelle Sutherland.
One evening, Zoelle calls Gale in desperation after her estranged husband, Laurent, goes ballistic. Rushing out into a pouring rain to get to her, Gale is killed in a head-on collision on the expressway.
Zoelle is a successful interior designer whose firm is threatened by a takeover bid from none other than her husband, ambitious realty tycoon, Laurent Crews. Divorce is a viable consideration since their separation, certainly not murder. But when Zoelle stumbles upon her estranged husband in a pool of blood in his office after he's stood her up for a meeting, she realizes someone else doesn't feel the same.
When Gale wakes up in alien surroundings, returning to life in Laurent's body, Gale realizes that death has given him a chance--to love Zoelle.
A Siren Erotic Romance
5 STARS: "Eternal Designs is not only an action-packed thriller, but it's also a tightfisted tale of suspense and intrigue. Gracie C. McKeever continues to amaze with her uncanny ability to weave a tantalizing tapestry of unique characters, enrapturing plotlines, and cinematic detail. She has mastered the difficult technique of presenting this literary trifecta in such a powerfully compelling way time and again, and she only gets better with time. In each tale that she crafts, the vividness of her characters and the vigor of her storytelling create exciting, enticing worlds to which the reader will long to escape time and again. Highly recommended." --Josee Morgan, Apex Reviews
4.5 BLUE RIBBONS: "Eternal Designs will put you on an emotional rollercoaster and won't let you off until it's finished. Zoelle is really torn about her marriage and her feelings for Gale and her guilt at his death is even more palpable. Gale is in love with Zoelle, but fears he can never be more than her therapist. When he dies rushing to her rescue it breaks your heart, but when he comes back in Laurent's body you just know that he will fight to keep Zoelle. Gracie C. Mckeever makes sure that you have background information on the characters so you feel as if you know them and are present at every memorable moment. You are drawn into this tale and experience it right along with the characters. Gracie C. McKeever has a knack for evoking powerful emotions in her stories and her past books are a testament to what a wonderful writer she is." --Angel, Romance Junkies
4.5 STARS: "McKeever delivers a powerhouse novel of desire, deceit and murder. The characters leap off the page to tell an intricate story of love that supersedes death. The suspense is taut and becomes more tightly drawn as suspects are eliminated." --Donna M. Brown, Romantic Times
4 ROSES: "Wow, this story blew me away. I was like, what are you going to do? Gale dies in the car accident, then Zoelle comes across her estranged husband in a pool of his own blood, then Gale wakes up in her husband's body. Wow, this author kept me turning the pages to see what she was going to do next. I was on the last page, and was like, wow, she pulled it off and pulled it off Great. I look forward to more by this author." --Nicole, My Book Cravings
4 STARS: "Gracie McKeever's full length novel, Eternal Designs, falls into a myriad of romance categories: paranormal, reincarnation, interracial as well as suspense. The plot takes many twists and turns when nearly everyone in this character-packed story is considered, at one time or another, a potential murder suspect. Throughout the who-done-it plot line runs a parallel one of whether Gale (in Laurent's body) can make the mistrustful Zoelle fall in love again. I especially loved the fumbling, yet tender way these two try to find their way back to each other. Gale (as Laurent) is a great character, thrust unexpectedly into someone else's body and given the chance of a lifetime to love Zoelle if only she would take him back, since she thinks he's really her domineering husband Laurent. Zoelle is hard as nails and but really as soft as a marshmallow inside. Her teenage son, Wynton, is a pivotal character and gives Gale/Laurent a hard time throughout the entire story, playing true to type as the suspicious and surly stepson. Eternal Designs works well as a suspense story and kept me hanging until the very end as to the identity of the real murder suspect." --Anna Mae, Just Erotic Romance Reviews
“Breathe, damn it! C’mon!”
Someone tilted back his head, pinched together his nostrils before touching smooth moist lips to his mouth. He felt more pressure, this time from air pushing into his lungs.
Full lips. Firm lips. Her lips. They were solid—not a dream, not a fantasy—yet soft, warm, and moist. The sensations were exciting and soothing.
His balls tightened at the swirl of vibrations, though the rest of him remained relatively paralyzed and unconscious. His cock, however, was instantly on high alert and aroused by her sensual proximity.
Her closeness went a long way in easing the pain in his head, almost made him thankful for her pounding on his chest, pushing air into his lungs and signaling a new reality beyond the buckled metal of his Rover splashed against the Van Wyck blacktop.
If she thought he was dead and was trying to revive him, she was doing a more than adequate job, especially at reviving certain parts of his body, like his relentless libido.
He realized he was hard as a rock a second before he thrust out his tongue, lured by her familiar scent, by the familiar taste and feel of her mouth on his. His tongue met her lips, teasing the seam of her mouth a moment before he pushed further to tangle with her tongue. He heard a gasp and his rescuer unceremoniously withdrew, leaving him bereft.
Gale jerked open his eyes, blinked several times and saw her figure hovering above him.
Zoe's features—generous mouth set in a grim line, brows furrowed, flushed coppertone cheeks—slowly came into focus, her expression exuding relief before instantly changing to anger.
"Laurent…Damn you, you scared the crap out of me!" She punched him in a shoulder, knuckles connecting with his collarbone, shooting exquisite star-spangled flickers of agony to his neurons. "That wasn't funny."
"What...funny?" He wasn't finding anything funny in this entire situation, especially not the pain in his shoulder and head. What was the woman's problem? And how and why was she here?
Gale stared at her, noticed the subtle differences—her chestnut hair longer, flowing just past her shoulders, wavy and untamed around her face—but it was his Zoe. He'd know that scowl anywhere, had made a small fortune pointing her to the cuss box on his desk and the sign on the wall above his leather sofa: If you are grouchy, irritable, or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge for putting up with you.
He reached for her and she recoiled, moved from her knees to her haunches to evade his touch.
"This some elaborate way to woo me back?" She kept her distance, warily eyed him.
"I don't know what you mea—"
"Oh please, Laurent." Zoe smirked. "Staging some sort of...dramatic incident, or whatever you want to call it. Feigning unconsciousness, scaring Wynn..."
"Feigning unconscious—" Gale tried to sit up, caught his breath when agony stabbed the back of his head. "I made it here as soon as I could."
Zoe frowned, shaking her head. "I don't have time for your games."
"Games?" He clenched his teeth against the pain, stopped short of reaching for her again and trying to rise.
"Do you have the keys with you, Sir Olivier?"
"I'd appreciate it if you'd stop parroting every question I ask." She put out a hand, wiggled her fingers in a give-me gesture. "You promised to return them, but like everything else, I guess you're going back on your word with this too, huh?"
"Zoe, you called me and I came."
She dropped her hand and put a fist on her hip. "I think you're a little confused, Laurent. You called me. I wouldn't have come otherwise, and the only reason I'm here in your office now is because you stood me up."
Stood her up? They'd had a date?
Well color him chagrined, he was under the impression he'd been tearing down the highway like a madman to save her from her husband, not that he'd been invited to a romantic interlude. And he probably wouldn't have been so desperate to get to her then if he weren't feeling guilty over that kiss. A transgression for which he was beginning to think he'd burn in hell. Or maybe he was already there and—Wait a minute! Why was she calling him Laurent?
He rubbed the back of his neck, vaguely aware of the hair cascading over his hand, down to the top of his shoulders. Silky and full, not close-cropped and curly like his but long and unfamiliar and...Gale realized something was severely trippy, like one of the acid junkets his mom and dad used to take in the 60's.
"When you didn't show up at the restaurant, I figured you were up to your old tricks," Zoe scoffed.
Gale glanced at his surroundings and frowned, disoriented. How had he gotten from the highway to here? Where was the van, his Rover, the rescue units?
"No tricks..." He paused, tempted to ask her what was going on, but afraid voicing the question would make him seem conniving, crazy, or dumb, none too desirable. "I'm not up to any tricks, Zoe, I just—"
"Didn't mean it when you said we could part amicably."
"Of course I meant it. I'm just not certain anymore if separation is the answer." Wow, that came out like he had seen the opening credits and hadn't walked into the middle of the movie!
"I don't care whether you're certain or not. I'm certain."
"Zoe, wait..." On impulse, he caught a sleeve of her jacket, tailored cut, expensive material. He'd always admired her taste in clothes but was more concerned now with the look of alarm and anger that sprang into her eyes at his touch. "Don't leave."
"Laurent..." Zoe sighed and knelt back.
Gale relaxed his hold, hoping for a minute to acclimate. He only needed to get through the next several minutes without giving himself away anymore than he already had.
He didn't know where he was. He knew who he was—or who Zoe thought he was—but he didn't know how, why, and when.
"We've gone over this already."
"Can we discuss it again...at home?"
"At home?" She gaped, expression frozen somewhere between sympathy and outrage.
Had he made such an unreasonable request?
"You've got to be kidding."
Well, that answered that, told him how far downhill things had gone between Zoe and her husband. He still had to try. He'd beg if he had to, and the look on her face told Gale that he might have to. "I'm serious."
"Of all the arrogant, big-headed tricks you've pulled, this just takes the cake."
Think, Sinclair, think! How would you normally handle an irate, resistant client in therapy? How would you handle this client?
Everything that he would have said to diffuse Zoe's fury was everything that Gale Sinclair would have said and these wouldn't serve any purpose, except to freak her out. He couldn't afford to alienate her any further.
"Yo, Mom! Everything okay?"
Gale sucked in a breath, eyes wide as Zoe clamped a hand over his mouth before he could say anything.
If she knew what her touch was doing to him, she’d stop. If she knew how much he wanted to wrestle her to the floor, strip off her clothes right here in the office, and fuck her senseless, she’d run.
He didn’t think he could take much more of being this close to her without acting the way nature intended, arms aching to enclose her in an embrace to end all embraces and feel her soft curves melting against him.
"Everything's fine. Be there in a sec." She removed her hand, glanced at him pleadingly.
"Take me with you." Christ, take me with you and put me out of my misery and let me make love to you like I’ve been fantasizing about for months.
"You'll never change, Laurent."
"But I can come home?" Gale pushed. He'd be whatever she wanted him to be. He just wished she’d stop calling him by that alien designation.
Zoe barely nodded, teeth clenched.
Gale grabbed the edge of the glass table, pulled himself to his knees with some difficulty before she reached down a hand. He eagerly grabbed it, felt the warm strength of her grip for the instant it took her to help him to his feet and release her hold as soon as he was steady enough. Either she thought he was steady, or she felt sullied by his touch.
The latter hurt more than if she had slapped him, even though he knew he shouldn't take her reactions personally.
"Let's get one thing straight right now, Crews." Zoe poked his chest with an index finger, eyes blazing, as Gale tottered on his feet and leaned a palm on the tabletop to support himself. "This changes nothing. Not one single thing between us."
"I got it." Gale licked his lips, head injury catching up with him, slurring his words. He tried again. "Anything you say, Zoe." Had she been this tough when she was his client? Had he been this attracted to her, so turned on his dick throbbed painfully? Or was he so aroused because he now inhabited her husband’s body with no more moral dilemmas keeping him at arm’s length and his hands off her?
Zoe grunted and glanced at the spot where until a few minutes ago, her husband lay. She crinkled her brows, looked ready to scratch her head.
When she stared back up at him, she looked surprised to see him there, standing and intact. Gale glanced back at her as if she had that quickly changed her mind about him going home with her.