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Desperate to the Max
Book 3 in the Max Starr Series

Awarded RTR Reviewer’s Choice!

“an amazing book... The passion, the pain, all of the emotions a love story is supposed to have [are] all wrapped up in this book.”
The Romance Studio

“AND OMG ... The sexual build up between the first two books finally comes to a pinnacle head in this story in a way that had me panting and overheating!”
Just Erotic Romance Reviews

By day, poor pitiful Bethany Spring runs a courier service for housebound people; by night, she becomes the seductive "Helen" on the other end of the phone line and men will pay anything to talk to her.  When Bethany is murdered, the brutal slaying plunges Max into the woman’s kinky after-midnight world.  Barely surviving this crash course in Phone Sex 101, Max turns once again to her late husband Cameron and hunky detective Witt Long to help her crack the case.

Needing Witt for his detecting skills is one thing, but meeting his mother is scarier than facing down a cold-blooded killer.  What commitment is the irresistible detective going to extract from her next? Max almost prefers being possessed by a spirit.

[Previously published in 2004 as Desperate to the Max by JB Skully from LiquidSilverBooks]

Warning, sexually explicit content

Prologue

She luxuriated in a perfumed tub, silky water lapping at her breasts. Caressing her nipples into tight buds, she dipped beneath the surface to cup herself. The warmth of the bath, her body’s redolence, her own light touches, all drove her close to orgasm, but she held back. It wasn’t time yet. Orgasm required perfect timing to reach that ultimate pinnacle.

Drying off with a fluffy towel fresh from the wash, she blotted the droplets, then buried her face in the clean, sweet scent. The rich aroma of sesame oil tantalized her nose as she smoothed it into her skin, softening her thighs, her belly, her breasts. She imagined a man’s big hands kneading the oil into the sensitive spot where neck met shoulder. A moan fell from her lips as she savored the delicious sensations. Next she dabbed her favorite cologne. Behind her knees. The crook of her elbow. Behind her ears. The hollow of her throat. Between her ample breasts. They were her best asset, the kind that filled a man’s cupped hands, the kind a man could pillow fuck and feel like he’d driven himself deep inside a woman.

The peach robe slipped along her arms, then caressed her shoulders like velvet. She slid her feet into forties-style mules, the boa-like feathers across the strap tickling her toes, then sat in front of the vanity for half an hour, rouging her cheeks and turning her lips ripe and full with liner and red lipstick. A beauty mark at the corner of her mouth was the crowning touch.

She rose, descended the stairs, and once in her living room, lit two peach candles for scent and four votives for mood. The wine she poured was a sweet, white dessert variety which perfectly complimented the plate of succulent Belgian truffles. She allowed herself twenty; they’d have to last the whole night. She knew she could do it.

Settling on the sofa, head cradled by a satin-slipped pillow, she put on the headset and plugged it into the phone. Midnight. She came alive at midnight. The phone rang at twelve-o-one.

“Hello, this is Helen. What can I do for you tonight?” she purred.

“I wanna ram my cock in your mouth. Take it all, bitch.”

God, some men were so unimaginative. They went straight for the climax instead of enjoying the journey.

She moaned for him. “Oh baby, you’re so big. Give it to me. Mmmm. Come to Mamma, big boy.”

They said she had a voice that could make a man come in two seconds flat. This one orgasmed in less. Or maybe his problem was premature ejaculation. She didn’t know and didn’t care. She clicked off and waited.

Another call. Another voice. Virtually the same words, once she got him going. She waited for something more, someone more. While there was power in listening to men groan and moan, listening to them come merely with the sound of her voice, the fantasy was missing and the feeling that they wanted her, only her, no one but her. Only one voice gave her that sense.

A sound came from the kitchen. Kitty-Kat jumping from the floor to the counter to the top of the refrigerator. She almost got up to shoo him away, but the phone rang again.

Two more calls. Short. To the point. One wanted her to be an underage teenage hitchhiker; the other pretended she was his wife whom he’d discovered in the bedroom sucking the mailman’s cock. Her body had picked up the rhythm, the hum of sex. Now she craved. And she waited.

He didn’t disappoint her.

“I thought about you all night, Helen.”

Achilles to her Helen of Troy. She’d chosen the name because she’d wanted the face and the body of a woman who’d launched a thousand ships. He was her poet, her romantic. He’d touched her core from that first call over a year ago. They’d long since passed the need for role-playing.

“What are you wearing, Helen?”

“That black garter belt you love, stockings, my black lace bra.”

He moaned. “I want to be inside you. Now.”

She undid the tie of her robe, then ran her fingers across her sensitized nipples. “Do you want me to touch myself?”

“Tell me what it feels like.” His voice was a low rasp across the phone line, followed by a buzz and a crackle.

“You’re not on a cell phone, are you?” She didn’t mind if anyone listened in most of the time, but not with him. He was hers alone.

“No. Squeeze your nipples for me. Pinch them.”

She did, lightly, rewarding him with a moan.

“Spread your legs.”

“Oh yes, for you.” Her hand trailed across her stomach, through the nest of hair between her thighs.

“Are you wet?”

“So wet.” She was dripping.

“Put a finger inside yourself. Does it feel good?”

Her only answer was a deep hum she knew he could hear.

“Come for me. I want to hear you come.”

It didn’t take much. She moved her damp finger over her clitoris, whispered his name, and felt her orgasm build. She came with a bucking of her hips against her hand. She cried out, heard his indrawn breath, and knew he wanted her as much as she did him.

“I want to see you, Helen. Now. Tonight.”

A tendril of fear skittered across her scalp leaving a trail of cold in its wake. “You know we can’t do that.”

“I can’t stand it anymore. No one has to know.”

“It’s better this way.” On the phone. Anonymous. Safe.

“Helen, please, I must see you.”

This was an old argument, one they’d been having more and more often. Part excitement, part fear, his desire to meet her fueled her fantasy-lover dreams.

Some things, however, were best left in dreamland. Her Achilles was one of them. “No, it’s not possible.”

“Helen.” His voice changed. Stronger. Angrier perhaps. “I know where you live.”

She clutched her robe to her neck. Oh God. No. He couldn’t.

“You live in a garden, don’t you?” His voice became almost sing-song. “That’s it, my love, you live on Garden Street.”

She yanked the headset off, grabbed the phone off the table, and threw it against the wall with more speed, strength, and agility than she’d used in the last decade.

She flopped back against the pillows and covered her face with her hands. Oh God. He knew where she lived. He’d see what she looked like. Then he’d ...

A noise behind her. Like Kitty-Kat paws on the plush carpet. No. Much heavier th--

The first blow knocked her unconscious.

The second crushed her skull.

Chapter One

Max Starr cradled the cell phone to her ear. “Now don’t get pissed, okay, but ... I saw another murder.”

Homicide Detective DeWitt Quentin Long sighed across the airwaves. “Dammit, Max, that’s not an excuse to get out of meeting my mother tonight.”

“Don’t worry, I’m already dressed for the occasion.” Still, the murder card had been worth a try.

“Good. And, while we’re on the subject, under no circumstances are you to tell my mother about your psychic visions or that you talk to your dead husband’s ghost. Understood?”

Hmm. Two orders in one sentence, and he was using that dictatorial cop tone, too. Obviously the guy felt the pressure with this first “Mom” meeting. Max would have to make an allowance. This time. “I wouldn’t dream of mentioning a thing.”

“My mother wants to know what you’d like for dinner.”

Boy, for a man who didn’t know the meaning of full sentences, he’d used a ton. “I thought she needed a week to clean the house, buy a dress, weed the garden, and plan the menu,” she fired back.

“Yeah, and now she’s down to three choices, chicken, turkey or steak. What’s your preference?”

Her mouth watered. Witt had previously plied her with chicken and steak. “I vote for turkey.”

“Okay, now we’re square on that, tell me you didn’t see another murder.”

She shook her head despite the fact that he couldn’t see. “I wouldn’t lie about having a vision, even to avoid your mother.”

Another deep, long-suffering sigh. “Max Starr, you’re gonna be the death of me. All right, who got whacked this time?”

“Young woman, late twenties.” She fiddled with the edge of her new suit jacket.

“Location?”

“San Carlos.” The suburb was halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. The drive shouldn’t take him more than twenty minutes at three in the afternoon on a Wednesday. “I’m sitting in my car on Garden Street.”

He sucked in a sharp breath, let it out slowly. She almost felt the sound rather than heard it.

“Think you can find me, Detective?”