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Exes & Ahhs in Secrets Volume 26: BOUND BY PASSION
Exes & Ahhs in Secrets Volume 26, BOUND BY PASSION
Kate St. James, Calista Fox, Juliet Burns, and
Rachel Carrington

Red Sage Publishing
December 2008
ISBN-10: 1603100067
ISBN-13: 978-1603100069

"Exes & Ahhs "

Former lovers Risa Haber and Eric Lange are partners in a catering business, but Eric can't seem to remain a silent partner. Risa offers one night of carnal delights if he'll sell her his share then disappear forever. Eric figures he has to play along—or does he?


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5.5 Champagne Flutes for Exes & Ahhs - "This was brilliant! I loved the opening scene of this novella—it’s hilarious, saucy, and a great introduction to Risa and Eric. The love scenes are blisteringly hot and very, very sexy... This is easily one of my favourite erotic romances of recent months." Cocktail Reviews.

4/5 Stars for Exes & Ahhs - "Exes & Ahhs had some really good love scenes between Risa and Eric as Eric woos her by enacting some of her fantasies. I really liked his character as he opened up his heart to her and told her how much she meant to him." Just Erotic Romance Reviews.

4 Stars for BOUND BY PASSION - "Four very different couples in different times are all dealing with a similar problem—how to find love along with passion. Fans of all genres will adore this sexy collection." Romantic Times BOOKReviews.

4 Stars for BOUND BY PASSION - "Volume 26, Secrets is an anthology of four short romantica tales. The connecting thread is the secrets. Each story is well-written... Fans of romantica will enjoy Volume 26, Secrets." Review Your Book.

Exes & Ahhs - "This is a highly erotic, funny, tender romp that readers will absolutely love. You will laugh, get turned on, and cry before you finish, and you will wish for more! Eric is to die for!" Candy Ready's Godivas.

Exes & Ahhs - "Exes & Ahhs is hilariously funny. Ms. St. James has given us two protagonists that you cannot help but fall in love with." Erotic Horizon.

Exes & Ahhs - "You can’t help but fall for Eric and hope that he is successful in his endeavor to win over Risa.  I truly enjoyed the characters and plot of this story." Jennifer's Random Musings.

Exes & Ahhs - "Risa and Eric are perfect together, and I have to say that Eric is one hunky hero. He made my toes curl from the beginning of this story and they stayed that way until the end. There is a great deal of love between these two, and watching them discover it provided pure satisfaction." Joyfully Reviewed.


Kate St. James interview about Exes & Ahhs on Fierce Romance. February 2009.

Kate St. James interview about Exes & Ahhs and the writing life on Marcia James's The James Gang. December 2008.


Risa Haber swatted her business partner's hand. "Eric, get your nose out of my boobs."

"Can't help it, Rees. They smell delicious. The nipples are perfect—small and pink and puckered. Mmm." He glided a finger a hairbreadth away from one erect nipple. "I love how they peek out of the icing bra cups. You should wear bras like this all the time."

"You're impossible." Risa hip-bumped her ex-lover away from the demi-bra layer cake decorated with lavender frosting and sculpted marzipan breasts. However, in his usual flirtatious manner, Eric Lange continued to hover over her shoulder, over the sample erotic desserts lining the back room counter of her fledgling bakery and dessert catering company, over everywhere.

She fought a smile. The man didn't need any encouragement. At thirty-five and with a Peter Pan complex rivaling George Clooney’s, Eric didn't know how not to flirt. But it didn't mean anything. She doubted it ever had.

Her responding banter probably sent him all the wrong messages, too. But she couldn't stop. Joking with Eric was a lot easier than battling the emotions she still felt for him—and which he, by his own admission when they'd broken up, couldn’t reciprocate.

"You lost the right to vote on my lingerie choices after we split," she said lightly. "And of course the boobs smell delicious. I added extra ground almonds to the marzipan."

"Sheer brilliance."

Risa laughed and scooped more yellow frosting into her icing bag, then moved back to the second cake on the counter. Her hands shook. Damn it, with Eric's sexy blue eyes, his gym-honed body, and his cover-model sandy brown hair, he distracted her to no end. It didn't matter if he went bare-chested or, as on this sunny May afternoon, he wore a buttoned-down shirt and a tailored jacket to greet the dinner crowd at his Italian restaurant. Her attraction to him hadn't abated one iota.

Not that she'd ever let him know that. She could play lovers-to-friends-to-business-partners with the best of them.

He encroached on her space again, but she waved him off. "Move it, Lange. You're annoying me, and I need to finish icing this—"


Her face heated. "—before Miss Fullbright arrives."

Steadying her hand, Risa frosted the ascot for the On the Town penis cake. She'd never before prepared erotic concoctions for a customer, but Elaine Fullbright wasn't a run-of-the-mill client. A former adult film star and retired publisher of female-pleasure-focused V magazine, Miss Fullbright had earned millions in the U.S. before returning home to raise eyebrows and stir headlines in the elegant harbor town of Victoria, British Columbia.

"She's paying me a mint to get these designs just right," Risa said without looking at Eric. "You should see the names on the guest list for her party. We're talking political and business figures, a Texas oil baron, and Hollywood types up the yin-yang. Miss Fullbright promised to mention my name loud and often. She even asked for brochures of my regular desserts to give her friends. If they like what they see, my catering business could take off."

"You mean, our catering business."

"No, mine. You're a silent partner, Eric. Sweet Sensations is mine." A fact he conveniently forgot when he dropped in three or four times a week to check how "they" were doing.

Tugging her lower lip between her teeth, Risa continued applying the icing to the oversized phallus lying on a blue frosting sheet cake. Sculpting the marzipan penis had been an exercise in laughter and humiliation because neither she nor her assistant Kyla possessed a recent memory of a real live penis on which to draw.

Undaunted, Risa and Kyla had worked late last Saturday night striving to produce an erect penis nicknamed Dick that would satisfy Miss Fullbright's needs. But the damn thing kept falling over. Three margaritas later, Risa brainstormed the design for the reclining On the Town penis featuring a plastic top hat perched jauntily on its pink marzipan "head." A walking stick and tiny martini glass with clear gel "gin" completed Dick's dashing ensemble.

Oh, please love Dick, Miss Fullbright. The campy mood of the dozen sample desserts achieved the lighthearted sensuality Risa’s client had requested without appearing pornographic.

Happy with the ascot, she straightened. "Finished. What do you think?" She set aside the icing bag before wiping her hands on the rose bakery apron covering her tan slacks and white, short-sleeved blouse.

Eric pointed to the frosting bowls. "You need these?"

She shook her head.


He poked a finger into the yellow icing. Risa's lips twitched. Four months of dating Eric had convinced her that men who reached their mid-thirties without marrying were basically overgrown boys. In the year since they'd kyboshed their romance and opened Sweet Sensations, he hadn't changed. He liked his food spicy, his cars flashy, and his women fast.

Too bad. At the ovary-shrinking age of thirty-two, Risa struggled with a biological clock that clanged louder than London's Big Ben. She longed to be somebody's mother, but not Eric's—or any other man's. She didn't want to coddle or scold him. She wanted to share a lifetime and make babies with him.

Well, not with Eric specifically. A man as sexy and fun-loving as Eric, but one who didn’t sprint away from emotional commitment.

She stared, brow arched, at his icing-coated finger. "Do you mind?"

Sticking the finger in his mouth, he slowly licked the frosting. "Mmm, no."

Her breasts tingled. Thankfully, the chest-to-thigh apron provided an extra barrier to his probing gaze. He'd once sucked her fingers, her nipples, her sensitive clitoris with the same erotic absorption he employed with the icing. It wouldn't do if her body betrayed how easily he still aroused her.

She jabbed his arm. "I asked your opinion on the cake design, you dummy, not the icing."

Scooping more frosting onto his fingers, he cast the cake a cursory glance. "Nice tie."

"It's an ascot."

"Couldn't bring yourself to give him icing pubes, huh?"

"Pubes aren't very appetizing."

"I suppose that depends on the diner." He winked. "I like my nose tickled by the soft, female blonde variety myself."

Hot desire sped to the female blonde variety between her legs. She remembered. Ah, the things the man could do with his tongue. Ignoring her body's Pavlovian response to his teasing, she propped a hand on her hip.

"Get your mind out of the gutter, Lange, and tell me what you think of Dick."

With a glance at the closed swinging door separating them from Kyla and the bakery customers, he sucked icing from his finger so slowly that her mouth watered.

"Imitation is the sexiest form of flattery," he murmured.

Risa laughed. "What an ego! I did not model him after your—"


She wished he'd stop saying that! "Sorry to burst your bubble, but my memory's a little fuzzy." What a lie. "I don't recall the size of your—"


"Prick." Hah, thought he'd had her again, huh?

He slapped his chest. "Risa, you wound me. At university, the girls called me Eric the Long. I was with you longer—get it?—than any of them. How can you not remember?"

She shrugged. "Guess it wasn't that memorable."

"Maybe we should arrange a viewing and refresh your memory."

"Maybe we shouldn't, and you could just fantasize that we did."

He grinned. "Believe me, Rees, I will."

Crud. She'd stepped right into that one.

He pushed his finger into the icing bowl and moved closer. "Want some?" His voice rolled low and acutely sensual as he lifted the frosting to her mouth.

Her breath hitched. He knew exactly what he was doing to her, damn it. Between the lingering aromas of this morning's baking, the scent of the finely ground almonds used in the marzipan, and Eric's electrifying nearness, her senses felt ready to burst.

"Uh, no thanks."

His finger inched closer. "You don't sound convinced."

She stepped back. "I said no."

He eyed her. "When we were together, you would have." He strode to the sink beside the big commercial dishwasher and swiped off the frosting with a wet cloth.

"Well, we aren't together anymore, are we?"

An aggrieved look tightened his face, but Risa didn't buy it. Eric would say or do darn near anything to get a woman into his bed—or back into it, as the case might be.

"I've been meaning to talk to you about that," he said.

She stacked the icing bowls and carried them to the sink. "About what?"


Tension arced in her chest. "Not again." She dumped the bowls in the sink and rinsed them with the sprayer. On Valentine's Day, he'd surprised her with daisies—her favorites. Thinking he'd offered the pretty bouquet out of friendship, she'd been touched until he'd spouted a load of bullcrap about wanting her back. Since then, every few weeks, he instigated the us talk. But there was no us—just Eric and his overactive sex drive cruising for temporary action.

"Yes." He nodded. "Again."

She glanced at the clock above the ovens. "It's four-twenty. Miss Fullbright will arrive any minute."

"Kyla's up front. She'll buzz you."

Risa stopped spraying. "Yes, but I need to load the dishwasher, ditch my hairnet—"

"Please look at me, Risa."

She turned. Reading the false sincerity in his gaze, she crossed her arms and sighed.

"I've missed you," he said gruffly.

She rolled her eyes. "You see me all the time."

"Not in the way I want to. Or how I think you want to see me, either."

What she wanted was of no consequence. However, at the moment, with Peter and his Pan-shaft dreaming of the chase, he just thought it was.

"Eric, you always want what you can't have. Isn't it enough that I flirt with you?"

"I’m sick of flirting. I want more."

Her heart pinched. "You know, you say that. You might even believe it. But if we got back together, within two weeks max, I guarantee you'd change your mind."

His eyes lit up. "'I'll take that wager."


"Give me two weeks to prove you wrong."

Risa narrowed her gaze. Oh, she should. Give him two weeks of the raunchiest sex of his life, then sit back and watch the train wreck.

Softening her voice, she asked, "And what we would do with those two weeks, Eric?"

"Whatever you want. Dates, dinners, movies."


He looked cornered. "If you want."

If she wanted? This was all about him and his physical urges.

The man needed to be taught a lesson.

And she was the woman for the job.




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