One Step Behind
by Brianna Labuskes
Publication Date: September 26, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Historical, Romance
Synopsis: Vengeance never dies … When the unconventional Imogen Lancaster embarked on a mission to infiltrate high society and avenge her beloved cousin’s murder she never would have guessed she’d end up in the arms of a thief. At least, that’s what she assumes when she discovers Lucas Stone breaking into a private safe.
Lucas Stone, the Earl of Winchester, has a reputation for arrogance and a soft-spot for his sister, which is how he ends up in the predicament of hiding behind a curtain at midnight with the dreadfully dull Miss Imogen Lancaster. But he soon discovers appearances can be deceiving when the country mouse turns into a spitfire in front of his eyes and she makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him.
Though one is chasing a blackmailer and the other a murderer, they quickly realize they are on the hunt for the same villain. Now they must work together, which would be fine, if they could decide if they’d rather fall in love or kill one another.
BEHIND THE COVER
Excerpt from One Step Behind
If he’s not in love with you yet, well, make it happen.
It was not like her to be so passive when it came to something she wanted. She had come to London to hunt a murderer, for goodness sake. Why was she sitting back, letting fear take control? Fear of rejection. Fear of being vulnerable. Why, when it came to one of the most important things in her life, was she not fighting?
Because it would hurt so much if I lost the battle.
But she was already losing by not trying. She was worth loving. If Lucas didn’t see that, well, he was a fool. And he was no fool.
At the realization, the vise that had been wrapped around her rib cage all day long loosened.
She smiled and dismissed the maid. Should she arrange herself somehow on the bed? Or was that too forward? Should she sit demurely sewing in the chair by the fire?
Before she could decide, she heard a soft knock on the door that connected her bedroom to Lucas’s.
She curbed the urge to run to him when he entered. It was hard, though, because he was just so handsome, and she was just so happy with her newfound mission in life. He’d skipped his usual unrelenting formal black for a loose white shirt and grey trousers. His feet were bare, and for some reason that put her more completely at ease than any words would have. A giggle burbled up, and she clasped a hand over her mouth to try to contain the mirth.
“Not exactly what you want from your wife on your wedding night,” Lucas murmured.
She glanced up at him as he stalked toward her. The laughter died in her throat at the look of burning desire on his face. She leaped toward him, and he caught her against his chest. Their mouths found each other and hungrily feasted. He slid his hands down her back and under her backside, hoisting her up so that he held her off the ground as if she weighed as much as a feather. She wrapped her legs around his waist, pressing against him right where the storm was building. A quick turn brought her back up flat against the wall.
He used one hand to encircle her wrists so that he could hold her arms above her head. She felt powerless and cherished when faced with such raw strength and control. He took advantage of her position by nibbling on the sensitive skin of her neck, his tongue soothing the nips from his teeth. She could do nothing but throw her head back and push herself closer to his hardness as he worshiped her skin. Desire pulsed through her.
When she could not take the gentle torment any longer, she pulled her arms out of his grasp and brought his face to hers for a deep kiss of tongues battling and warring for mutual pleasure. He growled deep in his throat, and an answering awareness tugged at her breasts and womb.
He shifted back and laughed, glancing around the room. “Shall we try to make it to a bed this time, my dear?”
“A bed? How novel,” she quipped back, enjoying their banter in the midst of such a passionate interlude. “I suppose we should try it at least once.”
He laughed, a low rumble against her ear as he bit the lobe and slid his tongue along the rim.
The spark the slick caress sent along her nerve endings surprised her. Would it feel that way for him? Did she have enough courage to try? There was something about tonight that made her think she could be brave enough to do anything. She mimicked his sensual ministrations, and his groan told her everything she needed to know.
Suddenly, he turned, still holding her in his strong arms, and in three strides was across the room, tumbling her onto the bed. The soft, silken bedding was cool against her heated skin, and she held up her hand for him to join her.
“You are so unbelievably beautiful,” he said as he stripped out of his shirt, revealing the contours of his thickly muscled chest. The sight of him above her, his arousal obvious in his skintight breeches, flooded her with longing. She wanted her hands on him. Immediately. Wanted his body pressed to hers. It was an ache that thrummed in time with her frantic pulse.
Together, they rid her of her nightgown until she was bare beneath his gaze.
He didn’t touch her at first.
With someone else, she might have felt self-conscious, or at least the need to cover herself from hungry eyes. But with him—well, with him she felt powerful. Seductive. Safe.
He devoured her with his eyes, just as she was doing to him. At last, he brought a reverent hand to her breast, grazing the delicate pink nipple that had risen to insistent attention. The tension within her built as he cupped her, nuzzled at her. When he sucked her into his mouth, she couldn’t bite back her mewl of desire.
A thought crept in as he pulled back, kissing the underside of her breast and then each rib down to her belly. She caught his chin in her hand forcing his gaze up to hers.
She almost lost her nerve under his heated eyes.
Tonight she was brave enough to do anything.
She took a deep breath and blurted it out before her courage could desert her. “Can I—Can I try doing that to you?”
Mortification threatened when he squeezed his eyes shut tight. But it was chased away when he looked at her again and all she could see was fire.
He cleared his throat. “You don’t have to, love.”
“I want to try it,” she said, and he groaned, shifting up so that he could slant his mouth over hers.
“God, give me strength,” he murmured against her lips. Then he moved so that he was lying back against the pillows and she was straddling his hips. His fingers traced their way over the vertebrae of her spine, and she shivered against him.
Taking her lesson from what she had liked, she bent, finding his neck with her open mouth. She licked at the skin there, and the stubble was rough against her tongue, in a good way. She let her teeth sink into the sinew of his shoulder for a moment before shifting down. His skin burned beneath her hands.
She had never felt more powerful than when he moaned as her teeth grazed over his nipple. It gave her courage. It made her burn. Something about bringing him pleasure like this only served to heighten her own.
She lingered there before moving down. The muscles of his stomach were taut, and she spread her fingers over them, marveling in the way they bunched beneath her hand.
But she had more interesting things to see. She’d shifted so that she was between his strong, lean thighs.
Gemma found him watching her, with a slight smile on his lips. Breathing deep, she reached out a shaking hand and caught him in her fingers. Heated silk, was all she could foolishly think. Her hand tightened reflexively around him when he shifted, and he groaned in response.
“Did I hurt you?” she dropped her fingers immediately, horrified at the possibility.
He laughed, a low rumble that edged on the side of desperate. “Not how you think.”
One Step Behind by Brianna Labuskes
1. Red Eye, Vance Joy
2. Walking in the Wind, One Direction
3. Fire Away, Chris Stapleton
4. Closer, Chainsmokers
5. My Church, Maren Morris
6. Just Like Fire, Pink
7. Half Broke Heart, Cam
8. 18, One Direction
9. Tenerife Sea, Ed Sheeran
10. Somebody to Love, Kacey Musgraves
11. Nobody’s Fool, Miranda Lambert
12. Fire and the Flood, Vance Joy
13. Cake by the Ocean, DNCE
14. Ships in the Night, Mat Kearny
15. All Too Well, Taylor Swift
16. Sinners Like Me, Eric Church
ABOUT BRIANNA LABUSKES
Brianna Labuskes’ life-long dream was to join the ranks of the superstar women who penned the romance novels — from historicals to contemporaries and everything in between — of which she could never quite get enough. She tries to write the books she wants to read, with spunky heroines who save the day while their heroes watch in awe and admiration. When she’s not writing, you can find Brianna playing with her two adorable nieces, editing health care policy news (while expounding the virtues of journalism) and watching too much Netflix. She also loves travel, feminism and country music.