Off the ClockBy: Roni Loren
To my family, always
There are so many people behind the scenes that help these books happen. I could never thank them enough.
Donnie, for your love and laughter and unflagging support.
Kidlet, for being awesome.
Mom, for listening to me ramble about writing problems even though most of the time I’m probably not making any sense at all.
De, for always having full confidence in me no matter what.
Julie Cross, Dawn Alexander, and Jamie Wesley, for being my “friends at the office” while I was writing this book. Thank you for the venting sessions, the celebrating, and the gossiping.
My agent, Sara Megibow, for always championing my books and for doing power reads when I’m having book panic attacks.
My editor, Kate Seaver, for being such a pleasure to work with and for loving these books.
Taylor Lunsford, for beta reading, being honest, and for saying, “What about Eli?” when I was brainstorming the short story.
And always, always, to my readers, for being fearless romantics, for reading my books, and for being the awesome people that you are.
The Pleasure Principle: The human instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
One is very crazy when in love.
“I’m going to wrap my fingers in your hair and slide my other hand up your thigh. You have to be quiet for me. We can’t let anyone know.”
Marin Rush paused in the dark hallway of Harker Hall, her tennis shoes going silent on the shiny linoleum and the green Exit signs humming softly in the background. She didn’t dare move. She’d been on the way to grab a soda and a snack out of the vending machine. Her caffeine supply had run low and watching participants snore in the sleep lab wasn’t exactly stimulating stuff. But that silk-smooth male voice had hit her like a thunderclap, waking up every sense that had gone dull with exhaustion.
She’d assumed she was the only one left in the psychology building at this hour besides the two study subjects in the sleep lab. It was spring break and the classrooms and labs were supposed to be locked up—all except the one she was working in. That’s what the girl she was filling in for this week had told her. But there was no mistaking the male voice as it drifted into the hallway.
“I bet you’d like being fucked up against the wall. My cock pumping in you hard and fast.”
Holy. Shit. Marin pressed her lips together. Obviously two other people thought they were alone, too. Had students snuck into the building to get it on? Or maybe it was one of the professors. Oh, God, please don’t let it be a professor. She should turn around right now and go back to Professor Roberts’s office. Last thing she needed was to see one of her teachers in some compromising position. She would die of mortification.
But instead of backing up, she found herself tilting her head to isolate where the voice was coming from, and her feet moved forward a few steps.
“Yeah, you like that. I know. I bet you’re wet for me right now just thinking about how it would feel. Maybe I should check. Keep your hands against the wall.”
A hot shiver zipped through Marin, making every part of her hyperaware.
“I’m so hard for you. Can you feel how much I want you?” That voice was like velvet against Marin’s skin. She closed her eyes, imagining the picture the stranger was painting—some hot guy behind her, pinning her to the wall, his erection rubbing against her. She’d never been in that situation, but her body sure knew how to react to the idea. Her hand drifted up to her neck and pressed against her throat, her pulse beating like hummingbird wings beneath her fingertips.
She waited with held breath to hear the woman’s response, but no voice answered the man’s question. Can you feel how much I want you? he’d asked. And hell if Marin wasn’t dying to know. She strained to hear.