Off (MF)

Off/On Duet

Evernight Publishing

Heat Rating: Scorching
Word Count: 53,275
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Maysea Heston is a young, intelligent, highly trained ER nurse who willingly devotes long hours caring for others. Sea’s off hours are filled with mindless distractions—movies, cigarettes, beer, naps—salves that reset her energy for the next round of tending. After a severe bout of flu, she agrees to rest at her supervisor’s oceanside timeshare.

She never makes her flight. She's taken.

Waking in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man seated across from her, Sea quickly realizes she is a captive whose life depends on the mindset of this stranger insistent on calling her Baby. Baby? Who is this man? Why did he pick her? As she plans her escape, Sea’s constricted world expands into one of survival, instinct, and psychological strategy. Little does she know how this obsessive, delusional, and insanely handsome man will come to nourish the vibrant, sexual sides of her she never knew existed.

Be Warned: cliffhanger ending

Off (MF)
0 Ratings (0.0)

Off (MF)

Off/On Duet

Evernight Publishing

Heat Rating: Scorching
Word Count: 53,275
0 Ratings (0.0)
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Cover Art by Jay Aheer

When I awoke, I told myself to open my eyes all the way, but the physical process wasn’t that automatic. I still felt groggy, discombobulated, and my body failed to cooperate at first.

But I didn’t need wide-awake, alert eyes to sense something was in the room with me like I heard people describe a million times on Paranormal State. They were right. It was creepy.

Lurking in the darkness, the palpable presence stayed hidden, undefined, gripping my gut with roiling unease. A hovering mass of something neither benign nor malignant. Just there.

Raising my head a fraction from a mound of soft pillows on an eerily unfamiliar bed, I squinted at a blur of contorted geometric shapes suffusing the room while my eyes slowly adjusted to what little light there was. I rubbed my sockets hard until mini suns appeared, hoping to accelerate the visual acuity process. I needed to understand what was happening. Right this second.

When my eyes cleared, I spotted the strange presence I felt all along. At the same time, my body snapped into high gear against a thick, unforgiving, multi-slatted headboard. It stung instantly, but I remained quiet. Stoic behavior was firmly entrenched in my long-term repertoire.

In the far corner of the room, a male figure cast in gray silhouette sat voiceless and still. His chin rested atop long, steepled fingers like he was contemplating the very origins of life itself. Or just trying to figure out the situation every bit as much as I was.

He obviously wasn’t a ghost, but I couldn’t make out his features in the surrounding murkiness other than he seemed extraordinarily tall. Even sitting in a large chair, he towered over it.

As wave after wave of adrenaline flooded my system, my fingernails sliced into skin to center a fear I never experienced in nearly three decades of life. Bits and pieces of something off were buzzing through my head like a droning cardiac monitor in flatline mode.

Walking through the airport, freshening up in a lounge, sliding into nothingness. Now here. In an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar room, with an unfamiliar man.

“I … I’m sorry. What’s going on? Where am I?” The garbled words slipped from my mouth in a tangled mess of confusion and manners so ingrained by my parents I couldn’t even swear yet.

He shifted a little but said nothing.

Swallowing hard, I stared back at him, unable to blink for fear of missing something while crushing levels of uncertainty immobilized my body on the bed.

Good god, he was huge. By paired association that happened to me often as a person who lived a lot of downtime through cinema, a freakish image of the giant King Xerxes fluttered through my head. I always hated when that character appeared looming lethally over 300 doomed but fearless Spartans. Monstrous.

While the massive form reigning before me kept his silent vigil, I tried to take a few deep breaths but couldn’t find the right amount of air to replenish my lungs. So I settled for a series of shallow puffs. But slow ones. I didn’t want to hyperventilate and pass out. I could not pass out.

“I’m glad you’re finally awake, baby,” a voice from the chair murmured so faintly I wasn’t sure I heard that last word correctly.

But when my body cringed in response, I knew I had. He called me baby. Baby? What the hell? Swearing suddenly got a lot easier.

Considering I had no idea who this man was, the word baby didn’t bode well. But I supposed it was better than some alternatives. At least I wasn’t buried alive in a crate with a single flashlight and a few bare-knuckle martial arts skills to break free from dense wood and several feet of freshly packed topsoil. Early on, I learned everything was relative. The concept was an essential component in my life alongside nursing, film, medical breakthroughs, and a few interesting TV shows. I practically lived on those alone. Apart from food, sleep, and oxygen.

I needed to breathe.

I inhaled more deeply this time and tried my questions again because I figured he wasn’t going to shoot me in the chest and leave me in a mismarked grave in the middle of nowhere. That kind of thing only happened in the movies. Right?

“What’s going on? Where am I?” I tried to speak louder, but my voice stuck in my parched throat as an influx of dry air and reality started to drain the saliva from my mouth. I had to cough a little just to get those words out.

I should’ve kept my mouth shut. He rose to full height, placed a glass of water on the nightstand next to me, and then sat on the edge of the bed, very close. Too close. Impossibly, he seemed ten times bigger.

Instead of quenching my thirst, I instinctively cowered away from his hulk-like frame. But he stopped my movement with a firm hand on my shoulder that made my skin crawl. The sixth sense of the autonomic nervous system was forcing my body to attention.

Four reasons kept panic at bay. First, I wasn’t tied up. Second, I was still in my own clothes. Third, there was no physical pain. Fourth, as an ER nurse, I had plenty of practice staying calm in the face of adversity. Understand the situation then react accordingly. Don’t escalate anything to a place it didn’t need to go. Ever. The reality of my predicament wasn’t clear to me yet. For all I knew or hoped, he could have saved me from something … worse.

“You’re finally here with me, baby, a miracle,” he said with an odd edge of wonder in his voice. Given the circumstances, his words and tone were conspicuously off. So much so, they made my insides cringe right down to the marrow.

A miracle I was here with him? Did I hear him right?

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