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Authors: Lexi Post

PassionsPoison

BOOK: PassionsPoison
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Passion’s Poison

Lexi
Post

 

Beatrice Rappaccini is tired of the
one-night stands that keep her alive. Tired of the illness she causes when she
releases her sexual poisons into her partners. But when she meets Zach Woodman,
everything changes. Desperate for what she can’t have, she puts her heart and life
on the line, ignoring the anonymous letters warning her to stay away.

Zach Woodman, logger turned
chainsaw artist, has the perfect life, but no one to share it with after the
deaths of the women he loved. Fascinated by the sexually experienced yet naïve
Bea, he promises himself he’ll end their hot relationship before fate takes
another beautiful woman from the world.

But he discovers Bea has no idea
how to have a relationship and he’s perplexed by her strange behavior, hippie
mother, six fathers and her request to give him every man’s sex fantasy. Only
when he might lose her does he realize he must make a decision that will break
his heart either way.

 

Inside Scoop:
  Our heroine
engages in a little girl-on-girl play while in a ménage with the hero. Because
she’s awesome like that.

 

A
Romantica®
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave

Passion’s Poison
Lexi Post

Acknowledgments

 

To Bob Fabich for showing me what happily ever after truly
means. For my sister Paige Wood, whose endless creativity and help has been so
amazing.

For my mom, Jo Brous. Thank you for all your love and
support.

And thank you to my critique partner Marie Patrick, my agent
Jill Marsal and my wonderful editor Grace Bradley. You are all the best.

 

 

Author’s Note

 

Passion’s Poison
was inspired by Nathaniel
Hawthorne’s short story
Rappaccini’s Daughter
, first published in 1844.
In Hawthorne’s story, Giovanni Guasconti, who is going to the university in
Padua, Italy, falls in love with Beatrice Rappaccini. The lovely Beatrice is
the daughter of Dr. Giacomo Rappaccini, a scientist known for his work in
producing beautiful but poisonous flowers that even he cannot touch, though Beatrice
can. Giovanni realizes he has become poisonous as well by being with Beatrice
and enlists the help of a friend, an enemy to Rappaccini, to find an antidote.
Giovanni convinces Beatrice to drink the antidote, but because the poison is so
prevalent in her body, when the antidote kills the poison, it kills her too.

But what if Beatrice had a daughter? How would the daughters
of Rappaccini survive today?

 

“What have you done? You’ve killed her, the most
beautiful flower of all my creations! I will not allow your triumph. Nay, for
from her poisonous body I will bring forth her child, and never again will you
or your kind love a daughter of Rappaccini!”

 

Signor Dr. Giacomo Rappaccini in the year of our Lord
1845

Chapter One

Present day

 

Zach Woodman was too local to be her lover.

Beatrice Rappaccini reminded herself of that fact as she
drank in the sight of the shirtless man using a chainsaw in the forest clearing.
The stark muscles in his arms and back danced with the movements of the machine
as he angled it through a massive log standing on its end. His jeans stretched
against straining thigh muscles braced in a slightly bent position, his
construction boots encased in mud.

Bea tried to breathe, but the heat infusing her flesh
overwhelmed her. What was happening? She had released her body poisons less
than two nights ago down in the city, but this desire making her heart beat as
fast as a hummingbird’s wings felt different. This couldn’t be good.

She gulped in air, desperate to control her breathing even
as her high-heeled boots sank deep into the mud of the forest floor.

Zach moved to the side of the log and carved out a deep
groove. Bea watched his pectorals tense under the layer of dirt covering his
chest as he held the machine steady.

Mesmerized, she tried to take a deep breath but her lungs
constricted, refusing to allow in the cool forest air. Her head spun as
darkness encroached on her peripheral vision. Oh damn. She pulled her feet from
the muck and sat down hard on a stump nearby. Dropping her head between her
knees, she closed her eyes and focused her attention on inhaling.

As oxygen flowed into her lungs, the clearing grew quiet and
unease replaced her near panic. She opened her eyes to find two boots standing
in front of her. Silently, she wished she could crawl under the granite rock
lying between those feet.

Since that wasn’t an option, she lifted her head. Zach’s
sweat-streaked six-pack abs came into view above the edge of his blue jeans.
Her stomach clenched. It tightened even more as his muscled chest, complete
with wood shavings caught among the short, dark hairs, seized her attention.
She took another calming breath, ignoring the growing warmth between her legs,
thankful she remained seated.

Her gaze reached his angular face, where she found he had
taken off his goggles. His green eyes, filled with curiosity, stared at her.
His mouth quirked. “Are you okay?”

She shivered as his baritone voice slid through her like an
otter through water, leaving ripples of weakness suffusing her body. She
swallowed a groan. Mentally, she reached for the hospitality professional she’d
trained to be. “Yes, I just need a moment.” The breathy answer was anything but
professional.

His scrutiny didn’t leave her face. “Can I get you
something? A bottle of water? A beer?”

She nodded, not trusting her voice.

His grin pulled the corners of his dark lips, moving the
stubble of his unshaven face to form black arcs around the sides of his mouth.
He turned and strode toward the log cabin she’d come upon at the end of the
dirt driveway, his confident swagger demanding her attention.

She wrenched her gaze from his tight ass to give her body a
chance to cool. She was here on business and her libido had to behave. Her
body’s attraction to this man didn’t make sense. She had released her
debilitating sexual toxins in a one-night stand on Saturday and had reached
orgasm three times. It was only Monday. She should have a whole week of relief.
Somehow, she had to gain control of herself.

By the time Zach returned with water and a beer, she hoped
she appeared normal. He silently held out both. She accepted the water bottle
while he opened the Bud Light and took a couple gulps. She stared as his Adam’s
apple bobbed along the corded muscles of his neck. Desperate to dampen the heat
in her body, she raised her drink and sipped.

He gestured toward her with the half-empty beer. “Feeling
better?”

She swallowed the cool water and cleared her throat. “Yes,
thank you. I’m not sure what happened. I probably should’ve had breakfast this
morning.”

He looked at the sky before returning his attention to her.
“Breakfast? It has to be about lunchtime.”

She tried a slight smile but feared it came across more as a
grimace, so she offered her hand. “I’m Beatrice Rappaccini from the Lakeside
Inn in Meriden.”

He grasped her hand in a strong grip, causing fire to shoot
through her arm, across her body and straight to the juncture of her thighs.
She almost squeaked in surprise.

“I’m Zach Woodman, but I imagine you already figured that
out. What can I do for you, Ms. Rappaccini?”

Oh, the possibilities were endless. She looked at the zipper
of his jeans and wished it open. He could strip and push his hard cock into her
hungry body and make her come until she screamed. She’d never screamed before,
but she had a feeling she could with him.

“Ms. Rappaccini?”

She started and pulled her gaze from his crotch. Had she
seen a bulge growing there or was it her imagination? What was happening to
her? “Please, call me Bea.” Oh that sounded way too husky. She really needed to
get a hold of herself.

She stood, wavering a bit in her heels. He grasped her arm
and steadied her, getting wood shavings on the sleeve of her green dress, but she
didn’t think he noticed. Did he notice anything about her, such as the fact her
body reacted to him like wildfire to wind? With the constant smirk on his face,
it was hard to know.

She tried to find a semblance of composure as she removed
her arm from his grip. “I’m here to commission a carving for one of the
Larsens’ inns, specifically, the Lakeside. The Larsens would like something
unique.”

He took another swig of beer, but his gaze never left her.
“Hmm, something unique, as in abstract, or just different from my other
carvings?”

Bea shook her head. “Definitely not abstract. The Larsens
prefer rustic to fit in with the environment. I wandered through your shop,”
she pointed back toward the log cabin with the sign “Zach’s” burned into it,
“but nothing there is quite right.”

He wiped his forehead with the beer bottle as he
contemplated, staring at her with his brows drawn together in concentration.

Did he think about the carving or her? She blushed. Since
when couldn’t she read a man? Her very survival depended on her ability to find
men who were attracted to her. So why was he different? And why was she so
affected?

He drained his beer and smirked. “I think this will take
some time and I need to wash up. Would you mind staying for lunch while we work
on it? You could use some food and I need a break.”

She shrugged. “Sure, I’d be happy to.” She’d be happy to do
whatever he wished, take off her clothes, sit on that log, let him—ugh. She had
to stop this.

He turned away from her. “Great. This way.”

As he headed for the opposite side of the wooded clearing,
she hesitated. “Isn’t this your shop over here?”

He looked over his shoulder. “Yeah, but you won’t find any
food in there. The house is this way.”

She swung her gaze back and forth from the cabin to where he
said his house sat. Could she trust herself to go farther into the woods with
him? Did she have a choice? She was being silly. This was business.

She picked her way along what appeared to be a continuation
of the dirt driveway. There was a bit less mud and a lot more trees, which made
for easier walking, if anything could be easy in four-inch heels in the middle
of the backwoods of New Hampshire.

She was only ten feet behind him when they came to another
clearing. Her gasp made him turn.

He grinned. “You like it?”

His home was a mansion, if an enormous log structure could
be called that. The size of a hunting resort, it sat upon a cliff overlooking a
serene valley. Its three-story windows came to a point above a massive deck
that ran the full length of the house.

“It’s beautiful,” she breathed.

And so was he as the sun lit his hair, proving it a
dark-chocolate brown as he pointed to the view. “You should see it in the fall.
The leaves in this valley look like a painting and in the winter, the snow
gives you the feeling of being the only person in the world.”

A strange emotion flitted across his rugged face. Was it
wistfulness or loneliness?

He started walking again. “Come on. We’ll enter through the
basement so I can get out of these dirty clothes.”

Hmm, she liked the sound of that. Giving her libido a mental
slap, she followed him as he took a short path to a door under the long deck.

The basement was made for coming in dirty. A large mat for
shoes lay at the entrance and the wall had hooks for coats. To the right she
could see a bathroom. Log stairs beckoned to the left.

He gestured toward the steps. “If you want, you can go on up
into the kitchen. I have lunch meat in the fridge and bread on the counter. I’m
going to shower down here first.”

She wanted to ask if he needed help, but resisted. “Should I
take these boots off here?”

He nodded and motioned to the bench at the edge of the shoe
mat. He sat himself, pulled the rugged ties from his Timberlands and stepped
out of them.

She tried to remove her own boots, but they wouldn’t budge.

He stood in front of her. “Can I help?”

She looked up to reply, but at the thought of him touching
her, her voice stuck in her throat. She nodded instead.

His hands came around her foot and he tugged at the black
leather knee-high boot. She wiggled her ankle and the boot glided off into his
hands. He held it up for inspection. “It’s a shame they’re so muddy, or you
could wear them in the house.”

An image of herself in a black leather teddy wearing her
tall black boots and standing at the end of a bed with him tied to it flashed
before her eyes. The erotic scene had her taking short breaths, and she glanced
at his face to see if he noticed her heat.

He met her gaze, his eyes twinkling before he dropped the
boot on the mat. He put his hands out, now covered in dry mud, and waited for
her to place her other foot in them. She complied and her boot was off sooner
than she wished. “Thanks,” she squeaked.

“No problem.” The huskiness of his voice sent a shiver
gliding along her skin.

But he turned toward the bathroom and strode in, his back
muscles rippling with his walk. He flicked on the light and started to undo his
belt, leaving the door open.

Fascinated, she stared, her body drinking in the sight of
his sexy, massive shoulders while her mind conjured what his ass would look
like.

He pulled the belt from his jeans, his biceps flexing as he
reached down to his zipper. He paused and glanced over his shoulder to catch
her staring.

Bea froze. The intensity of his green eyes sent lightning
through her veins that converged between her legs in a shocking burn. She
snapped her gaze away before she made a fool of herself and jumped him.
Grabbing her water bottle, she sprinted up the stairs, but paused at the top to
look back. Did he chuckle? She listened, but the only sound was the water from
the shower.

She turned around to find the living room the size of the
Lakeside Inn’s lobby, except taller. The view calmed her, cooling her enough to
appreciate the scene despite the barren trees and gray boulders that announced
the end of winter. How could he afford this place? His carvings were expensive,
but buried in the woods as he was, miles from civilization, he couldn’t have
that many orders.

To her right stood a river stone fireplace with a six-foot
mantle and a chimney that rose through the ceiling. She couldn’t help running
her fingers over the smooth rocks. There were sheepskin throws on the floor in
front of the hearth surrounded by warm, wood couches with soft, russet covers.
The whole room spoke of casual comfort, manly.

To her left she found the kitchen with its black appliances
and charcoal granite countertops. Shuffling over the smooth pinewood floor made
her want to skid across it in a pair of socks as if she were eight years old
again, but she refrained.

She opened the giant refrigerator and found sandwich
makings, which she piled on the center island. The counter was the perfect
height for making lunch, or perhaps making love. If she sat on the island,
she’d bet it would put her at a nice height for Zach to lick her—

“Did you find everything?”

She whirled around to find him strolling toward her in
nothing but a pair of jeans, his bare feet warming the wood floor. His wet hair
appeared darker and very thick, but his shoulder and chest muscles had her
throat closing with anticipation. Her fingers itched to run through the damp
curls that covered his overdeveloped pectoral muscles and tease the nipples
already hard from the cool air.

“Bea?”

“Yes?” She gulped.

“Are you okay?”

The look in his eyes wasn’t lust but concern. She gave
herself a mental slap. “I’m fine. I wasn’t sure where you kept the bread.”

A loaf sat next to the toaster. He picked it up and placed
it on the island. His body, no more than six inches away, caused hers to
overheat again.

She smirked. “I guess I didn’t look very hard.”

He studied her, making her squirm.

Did he see how hot she was for him? How embarrassing. She
retreated to a safer distance and stood before the three-story window, her body
attuned to the man taking plates out of the cupboards behind her. She tried to
focus. “The view is even more breathtaking up here.”

“That’s why I built here. It’s secluded.”

Bea turned to look at him. “Where did you live before here?”

BOOK: PassionsPoison
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