Carnal Control

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Description

Explore the forbidden. . .

Waking up in the hospital,
With no recollection of the past.
A crash, a vendetta for revenge,
And I’m the target.

As a sexy, rugged man stands guard,
Catering to my every wish,
And desire,
I can’t help but wonder why.

Although I can’t recall him,
My body certainly does,
Responding to his every touch, taste and need.

But danger lurks on the horizon,
Ready to take him down,
And if he falls,
I shall follow.

Sample Chapter

 

CHAPTER ONE

Connor

 

Life has a way of fooling us into thinking something good is just around the corner. It’s like in those feel-good movies Kat loves to watch. You know the ones—where girl meets boy, they fall in love, and live happily ever after. Sure, they have a fight and break up, but that’s because we need to have great make-up sex thrown into the mix. Of course, there are all those movies that show the shiny side of living, the bowl of cherries. Like Forrest Gump, who compares life to a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get, but you can’t wait to find out.

That’s the mood I was in as I cruised around the kitchen making dinner for my Kat, who was due back any moment from taking Tim to the airport. I’d been on an emergency conference call with Magnum’s US Real Estate Division when Kat sashayed into my office pointing wildly at her watch.

“I’m putting you on hold for a moment. I’ll be right back.” I pressed the hold button and smiled, trying to hide my impatience. Katherine King, the love of my life, wasn’t someone you could ignore when she was on a mission, and she wasn’t the type to interrupt without a good reason.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“You’ve forgotten, haven’t you?”

I looked at her blankly. “Forgotten?”

She walked behind my chair, put her arms around my neck, and kissed the top of my head. “The airport.”

“Oh shit.” I had forgotten. I’d agreed to drive Kat’s friend, Tim, to the airport while she cooked dinner. We were expecting my best friend, Brian Farrell, and his lovely wife, Asha, for dinner and drinks. It was the first time Kat was formally meeting them, and she wanted everything to be perfect.

“I’m sorry, babe, but I can’t leave this call. We could get him a cab.”

“I’d rather not. How about I take him, and you start dinner?”

And that’s how I found myself buzzing around the kitchen, cooking up a storm, with Led Zeppelin II cranked to full volume. Oh, and I should really mention that Kat’s the cook in the family, but I make a mean kitchen assistant. That’s probably the only place where I’m good at following instructions.

I was well into making the perfect marinade when that box of chocolates with questionable outcome reared its head in the form of the beautiful Asha Farrell.

“Hey, you’re early. Grab a seat, and I’ll get you a glass of wine.”

Before I could make good on my offer, Asha walked over and put her arm around me. “Connor . . .”

I planted a quick kiss on the top of her head. “Good to see you, Ash. Where’s Brian? Wait a minute. Let me turn this down.” I used the remote to lower the volume on “You Shook Me.”

“You’d better sit down,” Asha said.

I was so engrossed in my cooking it took me several more seconds to realize there was something very wrong about her affect. My heart skipped a beat. Something’s happened to Brian!

“What’s up? Is everything okay with Bri?”

“Brian’s at the hospital—”

“What?” Panic surged through me, and my heart was kicking the hell out of my rib cage.

“Brian’s fine, but there’s been an accident. I’m sorry, Connor, but Kat’s been hurt.”

“That’s not possible. She’s taken Tim to the airport. She’ll be coming through the door any second. There must be some mistake.” I’d always prided myself on my ability to face reality, and here I was babbling my denial just like your average Joe.

“Her car went off the road. Tim was pronounced dead at the scene. By the time we arrived, the ambulance was leaving to take Kat to the hospital in Cannes. Brian went with her.”

How I had the presence of mind to shut off the stove and remove my apron, I do not know. A part of me detached and orchestrated my actions without my knowledge. Asha hugged me even tighter. I tried to struggle out of her grasp, but she was like a statue holding me in her clutches. It was amazing someone so small could have so much power.

“So she’s okay, right? What is it? A broken arm or something? Please tell me she’s all right, Asha!”

“She was unconscious, and she was bleeding—”

“Bleeding?” My voice went shrill with horror. “From where? How much? For God’s sake, talk to me.”

“Her head. Brian says she has a head injury and is unconscious. That’s all I know. He’ll stay with her until we get there.”

I ran to the door, grabbing my set of keys to the Cayenne before I remembered that Kat had taken it to drive Tim to the airport. Shit! I was about to throw them across the room when Asha took them gently but firmly from my shaking hand.

“I’ll drive you to the hospital, Connor.”

I sat slumped in the passenger seat of the Mercedes SUV. Despair enveloped me. It was at moments like this that I understood those people who sit in a corner and rock. I could not and would not lose my Kat.

The fifteen-minute drive to the hospital in Cannes took an eternity. I stared out the window, frozen with shock, seeing nothing. Asha remained calm and cool as she navigated the late afternoon traffic.

“How did this happen? How were you even there?”

“We were driving in from the airport when we came across the accident. I have no idea how it happened. We recognized your Cayenne and stopped. Brian talked his way onto the ambulance using his Canadian Special Forces creds. He’ll make sure she’s well taken care of, Connor. You know that.”

I slumped further in my seat, unable to move or even think coherently. How the fuck could this have happened?

“Who hit them?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, was there another car involved? Kat is a good driver, so someone must have hit them.”

“There was no other vehicle. The car went off the road.”

“That’s not possible. The road from Miramar to Nice is one of the safest roads in the world.”

Asha was quiet for a beat.

“We took the scenic mountain route, and I guess Kat had the same idea. There’s a gazillion hairpin turns on that route. You know that, Connor.”

“Details, I need details.”

“It happened on the hairpin loop just out of Spéracèdes.”

“Kat is too careful to lose control of the car. That’s just not possible.”

“Maybe there was a mechanical failure.”

“I don’t get it, Ash. The Cayenne is new, and we just had it serviced. If this was mechanics, I’ll sue the bastards. And what about guard rails?”

“There’s a slight curb of raised brick, but it looked like the Cayenne crashed right through it.”

“Kat would never be going fast enough to crash through a curb. Was that asshole Tim driving? If he wasn’t dead already, I’d kill him.”

Asha remained quiet and let me rant. She pulled up in front of the hospital. I jumped out of the car and rushed to the emergency department where Brian stood.

“Here’s her husband now,” he said. “Connor, this is Dr. Desmarais, the neurologist assigned to Katherine’s case. Doctor, Connor McClane.”

Husband? That was my cue to follow his lead.

“Where’s my wife?” I demanded.

The doctor ran a hand through a shock of jet-black hair. He looked as if he was ready to drop from exhaustion, which didn’t boost my confidence one little bit.

“We’ve taken her down for an MRI, Mr. McClane. We need to ascertain the extent of the head injury she’s sustained. It’s a great concern that she’s still unconscious.” The doctor spoke flawless English with only the touch of an accent.

“When will you know something?”

“In many of these cases, it’s a wait and see. We should have the results from the preliminary tests in a few hours.”

“Tests? What other tests have you done?” I held back my scream of frustration and rubbed the back of my neck. It was everything I could do to keep from leaping down the man’s throat. The logical part of my brain reminded me that to him she was just another patient. Every other part of me wanted to shake him into realizing just how important Kat was.

“We’ve done an EEG, and it shows plenty of brain activity, so that’s a good sign. The X-ray doesn’t show significant swelling or bleeding, and her skull is intact. The MRI will give us more detailed information about the extent of her injury. After that, we’ll run a CT scan, and that will give us a complete picture.”

“So what’s the bottom line here?”

“What kinds of symptoms can we expect to see?” Brian asked.

Common symptoms after a concussive traumatic brain injury are headache, amnesia, and confusion.

“Amnesia?” I asked, hackles raised.

“Amnesia usually involves the loss of memory regarding anything related to the traumatic incident. However, in some cases, the patient will have impaired ability to recall past events and previously familiar information. The memory loss can extend back decades. The good news is the patient usually always remembers who they are, although they may not recognize people who have been significant in their lives. They—”

“Doctor, how about we deal with one thing at a time,” Brian said, knowing I was on the brink of losing it. “When will we be able to see Katherine?”

“She should be finished with the testing and admitted in a couple of hours.” The doctor looked at his pager as it went off. “You’re welcome to wait in the family lounge in the neurology wing. That’s where she’ll be admitted. I’ll look for you there when I know anything else.” He turned and hurried off down the hall.

“Fuck! This can’t be happening,” I said. Fear bubbled through me like lava about to erupt from a volcano. Brian grabbed my elbow and steered me toward the door Asha was entering. She stopped abruptly, turned, and went back out.

“Come on, man. Let’s go get something to eat and grab a coffee. Asha will bring the car around.”

“I don’t feel like eating, and I’m not leaving Kat,” I said like the petulant child I wished I could become. That way, I’d have an excuse for the temper tantrum I wanted to throw. I jerked my arm out of his grasp.

“Then don’t eat. But we’re getting out of here for a bit to clear our heads. There’s nothing more we can do at the moment.”

“But—”

“We should at least pick up some things Kat will need when she wakes up. You heard what the doctor said. Kat will be having tests for the next couple of hours and pacing up and down the halls isn’t going to help. I gave the nurses my cell number, so they can reach us if anything happens.”

When we got back to the villa, Brian and Asha insisted I eat something, so I choked down some soup and several quarts of coffee while they each ate something more substantial. I remained in a daze, tormenting myself with a thousand what-if scenarios. One prevailed—what if my Alley Kat died?

After what could have been two minutes or two hours, Asha trundled me off to the car, suitcase in tow. As she pulled out of the drive, it dawned on me that Brian wasn’t with us.

“Isn’t Brian coming?”

“He’s going to check out the Cayenne. He made a couple of calls, and one of his contacts got him access.”

I grunted and lay my head back on the headrest. Brian knew his cars, and if anyone could find out what had happened, it was him. There was no one I trusted more.

We checked in at the nurses’ station on the neurology ward. A nurse led us to Kat’s room, advising that Kat remained unconscious. And there she lay, her tiny form dwarfed by the bed, a single IV trailing from her left arm. A mass of tangled black curls framed her still face. As my heart tore, the mantle of calm control finally dropped over me. I would not allow myself to wallow in any more pain. I would do whatever it took to bring Kat through this. I brushed a stray curl and ran my fingers down her arm. Her hand seemed so small in mine, reminding me that she needed me strong.

“I don’t care what it takes, I want the best neurologist in the world, and I want him here now.”

“I’m on it,” Asha said. She knew better than to argue with me.

I sat with Kat and began my vigil.

“I’m here, Kat. I don’t know if you can hear me, but know that I love you and I’m not going anywhere.” I stared at her, numb and silent, as a lone tear ran down my face.

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