Divine Deception is my novella set in Western New York. It’s part of Ellora Cave’s succulent series that included stories with fruit as their central theme. This story involves grapes and more specifically … wine. It’s meant to be a fun little read. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from chapter one.

Obtaining his life’s dream may very well destroy hers …

Nicholas Gradin III splashed three more fingers of thirty-year-old scotch into the crystal tumbler sitting on the mahogany desk, not bothering to add ice. He didn’t need some watered-down version of liquid courage. He needed straight up, balls-to-the-walls bravery for the weekend ahead. Even though it was all of his making, Nicholas didn’t really want to face the huge obstacle that stood between him and freedom. Gulping a generous portion of the scotch, he turned and stared out the study window. He’d chosen this room on the east side of the mansion specifically so he didn’t have to stare at the goddamn ugly vines that tortured his very existence.

One month, six weeks at the most and the last of the grapes would be harvested and the vines left to wither. Nicholas could only hope all the lies would die along with them.

Nicholas watched the lush lawn sway in the early autumn breeze, hoping it would soothe the frayed ends of his nerves. He laughed derisively and swallowed his resentment with a hefty shot of alcohol. Who was he kidding? It wasn’t lush-it was overgrown and unkempt. Without the benefit of the lawn service that he’d fired last spring, it looked like shit. Perhaps he should be staring at the vineyard. At least a skeleton crew still meticulously tended the vines.

No, even that thought slid him deeper into a morass of self-pity.

In his youth, the vineyard had been his playground full of fertile soil that not only nurtured the grapes but a foolish boy’s vivid imagination. As he’d grown it had become his gym, offering hours upon hours of backbreaking work that honed his muscles and allowed him to dream of a different life. Now, he was a middle-aged man imprisoned by its incessant demands. As happened to his late parents, the vineyard was sucking the very marrow from his bones and leaving him wilted and apathetic. He had no doubt it would kill him one day. He figured drowning himself in the intoxicating oblivion of liquor was a preferable path to death.

Nicholas finished the scotch and turned to stare at the bottle taunting him from the desk.

“You worry too much, my love.”

Turning to the comforting sound, Nicholas stared at his young wife lounging elegantly against the open door. Her ebony hair curved over her bare shoulder, the ends nestling in her plentiful cleavage. The white top she wore was sheer enough to show off the pink lace beneath. Black patterned leggings hugged her hips and her legs to just below her knee. He had no doubt she wore nothing beneath the exotic second skin.

Even after seven years of marriage, the woman was a walking hard-on.

Knowing the spell she cast over him, Carmine smiled and lifted the bunch of red grapes in her hand to her full lips. Curling her tongue around one, her mouth made love to it before she sank her teeth into its flesh. Juice dripped down her chin and she gathered it up with flick of her tongue before she spoke. “Two and half days. You can do anything for two and a half days.”

Grapes, the fruit of hell itself. Most of the time, he hated the damn things-the smell, the texture, the sight. But when Carmine held them, Nicholas remembered all the reasons they were known as the fruit of gods. Even she could turn the despised globes into a delicate food of seduction.

Capturing his gaze, Carmine stared intently at him as the pink tip of her tongue caressed the dangling fruit. In and around each swollen berry, her tongue darted and tasted. A low moan keened from her throat as she snatched another and took it into her mouth with a loud “pop”. “Really, I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as you’re anticipating.”

Nicholas swallowed hard, trying to find his voice. “I’m not anticipating anything more than a quiet family weekend.”

With a doubtful arch of her brow, she pushed from the doorway and walked to him. Black stiletto heels clicked softly across the hardwood floor. Carmine slinked up to him, her lithe body molding to his. Her breasts pressed against his chest and his body¬†sprang to attention. Sliding her palm across his shoulder, she looked into his eyes. “The tension rides on your shoulders…” A long, red nail dragged up his neck and over his jaw. “It knots right here…” Her nail continued its journey across his forehead, the other fingers tickling across his face. “And it leaves deep lines on your brow.” She came up on her toes and her teeth grazed his chin. “But I know how to help take your mind off the homecoming.”


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