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Master of Disaster

Master of Disaster by Lani AamesMASTER OF DISASTER BY LANI AAMES

Since the day she inherited a mysterious artifact from someone she once interviewed, small-town reporter Brita Swift’s life has spun out of control. For take-charge Brita, losing control is a fate almost worse than death. The artifact takes her on a quest—straight into the path of a Category 5 hurricane and into the arms of a man she swore off long ago.

Zeke Masters—nicknamed “Master of Disaster” because of the chances he takes while documenting natural disasters—isn’t sure he’s going to survive his tag-along partner, a woman he still loves with all his heart. Seeing her again causes all the old feelings to surface like storm surge cresting from hurricane force winds.

The artifact brings voices in the wind only Zeke hears. As the storm bears down on the ex-lovers and the time comes to save the world, the “Master of Disaster” hopes he can convince Brita he’s changed—and ready to be the master of her heart.

PURCHASE
Samhain Publishing

Also available at online retailers: Amazon, B&N, and others

REVIEWS

5 Angels! “The storm that Ms. Aames writes about is not near as intoxicating as the storm that rages between Zeke and Brita. These two characters are some of the best in a story that I have read. Maybe it’s because they have such a history together but these two can rock any storm…”
—Missy for Fallen Angel Reviews

4 Nymphs! “Master of Disaster is an explosive story and I really enjoyed reading it. There was so much to learn about hurricanes and the romance was hot as well. Knowing that their time was limited and acceptance of their connection with the wooden box really made a difference for Zeke & Brita. Lani Aames has written this story beautifully and if you are into mystery, here is a book to be read.”
—Goddess Minx for Literary Nymphs Reviews

4 Rating! “Master of Disaster is a good contemporary romance novel… I would recommend this book to someone who likes to read romance because it was a great love story with all the typical emotions found in a romance— love, regret, anger, forgiveness, and passion.”
—Signey E. Scott for JERR

PURCHASE
Samhain Publishing

Also available at online retailers: Amazon, B&N, and others

EXCERPT

Chapter 1

“What the hell are you doing here?”

Standing outside the open door to the motel room, Brita Swift barely heard the shouted words over the howl of gusting wind. She looked up into the hard, handsome face of Zeke Masters and flinched, as much from the way he scowled at her as from the driving rain that stung her face. Zeke hadn’t changed a bit since she last saw him over a year ago—arrogant, stubborn, intolerant…and the sexiest man alive.

“Same as you, after a story.” Dropping her backpack off her shoulder, she tried to brush past him into the shelter of the room, but he stepped to one side to block her path as if she were the enemy invading his sanctuary. She bumped into his solid chest, the casual touch sending shockwaves reverberating through her. She refused to give in to the insufferable jerk on this occasion. The last time they were together had been a catastrophe, his temper living up to his media nickname—Master of Disaster.

Zeke snagged her arm before she could step away and brought her up close…close enough to fill her nostrils with the spicy aroma of his aftershave cologne. A common brand she had detected on any number of men, it never made her body melt unless blended with Zeke’s own unique scent. If he hadn’t held her tight against him, their closeness would have made her stagger.

“What makes you think I’m going to let you stay here with a Category 5 hurricane breathing down our necks?” His mellow voice had lost its surprise, but still held a cutting edge she remembered so well.

Eyes narrowed, she glared at him until he released her. As soon as he did, she moved back, out from under the protection of the narrow eave that ran the length of the building. “What makes you think I’m going to let you stop me?”

He stepped out into the stormy weather preceding Hurricane Omega, unmindful that he wore nothing on his head or over his t-shirt. The thin cotton immediately soaked through and clung to him, molding to the contours of his muscles. His erect nipples stood out in hard little peaks, and her own tingled in response as if he had swiped his tongue over them.

Standing over her, he leaned in close. Rain dripped from his hair and his long, perfect nose before splashing on her chin. “I don’t have time for this, Breezy. Omega is moving in fast. If I take the time to haul your ass to safety, I might not be able to get back here soon enough.”

The use of his nickname for her made her heart thunder in her chest. She hadn’t heard it in all the time they were apart, and she had never expected to hear it again. Circumstance brought them together, nothing more, and sadness stole over her. Because of the depth of what they once shared, something more should have reunited them, not the thing in her pack.

“All you need to do is get your ass back inside and let me in. I can take care of myself.”

“Yeah. Right.” His blunt words stung like sharp slaps to her face.

She smiled in spite of the heat blossoming in her cheeks and looked square into his cool blue eyes. “I’ve survived quite nicely without you the past year. And I survived you. Omega will be a walk in the park.”

Zeke’s jaw bunched, a tiny muscle twitching in his cheek, and he jerked back as if she’d struck him. Brita closed her eyes. She’d hit a nerve, just as she meant to do, but she couldn’t afford to do it again. Another barbed zinger might set off a real temper tantrum. She braced herself for the fury sure to follow. Emotionally, Zeke Masters’ devastating temper rivaled a Category 5 hurricane.

Prepared for the worst, she opened her eyes. She searched for the tell-tale signs of his short temper—the hard glare in his eyes, the red tinge in his tanned face and the strained muscles all over his body, ready to burst out of his skin. She saw none of them and noticed that his cheek muscle relaxed, too. Instead, she caught a glimpse of tenderness in his eyes a second before he shielded them with annoyance and furrowed his brows.

“All right, you can stay because I wasn’t able to document Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and I don’t intend to miss this one. If I leave now to take you to safety, the road will probably be closed and I won’t be able to get back through.” He spoke in a more reasonable, almost amiable, tone and took hold of her arm again. “Now, let’s get in out of the rain.”

She allowed him to hustle her into the room, glad to be out of the pelting drops. She turned to face him, but he hadn’t come in behind her. He stood in the rain, his head cocked to one side as if listening for a sound beyond the noise of the storm.

“Zeke,” she called to him. When he didn’t respond, she raised her voice. “Zeke!”

He took a step backward, turned and came inside, shutting the door firmly behind him. He stared at it with a puzzled look on his face.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

He shook his head, brushing off her concern, but his strange behavior unnerved her. Before she could ask him again, he faced her and stepped closer to her. A more playful expression replaced his confusion. Water drizzled from his nose and chin and the thick waves of his dark, short-cropped hair. A mere few minutes outside had drenched him and his clothes.

Glancing around the room, she was surprised to see it as comfortably messy as usual when Zeke stayed in a motel. “Why aren’t you packed and ready to go? When do you plan to leave for Matagorda? Omega will make landfall in about twenty-four hours.”

“Twenty-seven hours, give or take.”

“We’re miles from Matagorda,” she pointed out.

“A hundred and twenty-nine as the crow flies.” He took another step toward her, and she retreated until her back bumped the wall.

She shook her head in bewilderment—to come this far only to find that Zeke had guessed wrong. “It’ll take hours driving it, and the roads going into Matagorda will be closed soon if they aren’t already.”

“I imagine the roads are closed by now, and they’re only letting traffic out of the area, not in.” He didn’t sound at all worried about missing the Storm of the Century, as the newscasters had tagged Omega.

“I don’t understand,” she murmured.

Zeke moved in even closer and pinned her to the wall without touching her, a splayed hand on each side of her head. His cologne-scented body heat rolled off him in waves. “What’s not to understand? Omega will make landfall here in Gulf Beach, not Matagorda.”

“One of your hunches?” She tried not to inhale his seductive aroma, but her breathing turned into short, shallow gasps.

He nodded. “Yep.”

“And you’re sure about this?”

He shrugged. “My hunches haven’t failed me yet. Looks like yours are getting better. How did you find me? With the Hurricane Center projecting Matagorda as the target, how did you know I was here?”

Brita almost smiled, but she didn’t want to encourage him in any way. She swallowed the smile, somehow maintaining a neutral expression. “I called your mother. You always let your family know where you are in case they need to get in touch with you…or something happens to you so they’ll know where to start searching. She was happy to tell me where you were staying.”

He rolled his eyes heavenward. “I’m sure she was. She likes you.”

“And I like her. It takes a gutsy woman to raise three sons like you.”

“No, my brothers aren’t like me,” he protested with a laugh. “We’re all as different as night and day and twilight.”

Brita appreciated the interesting twist in the conversation about the Masters brothers, but they didn’t need to travel that detour at the moment. She had to get them back on track. “You might as well back off, Zeke. I’m not going anywhere except with you.”

“Fine. But there are rules,” he explained, his voice at its mellowest. “And if you can’t agree to them, then I take you back to Houston right now and we both miss the opportunity of a lifetime.”

When he paused, Brita nodded once. “I’m listening.”

“First, you do what I tell you, when I tell you. Life or death situations can occur within seconds, and I don’t want to have to wonder what you’re doing. You do what I tell you, period. No questions, no hesitation.”

“Agreed.” She had no problems with that. She meant to survive. Zeke was experienced in how to survive a natural disaster, she wasn’t. Easy enough.

“Second, we stay together. No going off on your own, no matter what. Tell me if there’s something you want to investigate, and I’ll decide whether we pursue it. If I say no, that’s the end of it. No questions, no hesitation.”

This rule was more difficult. Brita had her own reason for braving Omega and Zeke in the first place, and nothing would keep her from her goal. Still, if she balked at all, Zeke would call the whole thing off. “Agreed.”

His head moved in until his warm breath caressed her skin and she thought his lips were going to touch hers. “Third, you give me a kiss whenever I demand it. No questions, no hesitation.”

Brita’s eyes widened, and she swallowed hard. Oh, that would be the most difficult of all.

PURCHASE
Samhain Publishing

Also available at online retailers: Amazon, B&N, and others

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