AVA'S PLEASURE IS OUT TODAY FOR THE WORLD TO SEE.
When prim proper Ava stumbles into a Miami sex club, she isn't expecting to find the man from her dreams. Navy SEAL Logan is just wasting time between missions until this naïve and innocent woman turns his world upside down.
Of all the sex clubs, she had to walk into his. How was Ava Cullen supposed to know her prim and proper aunt was part owner of the premier sex club in Miami and a top-notch Dominatrix? When she stumbled into club Paradise and came face to face with her dream man, she had a feeling she stood on the precipice of something life changing.
Navy SEAL Logan Turner always knew he needed more out of life than the next mission. That's why he opened Paradise with his best friend Julie. It didn't hurt that he could reap the benefits of owning a sex club. That was until a sexy, doe-eyed woman walked in, making his control slip for the first time ever.
Father Donavan cleared his throat. "Miss Cullen, due to the recent events at this school, your services will no longer be required."
Ava sat straighter in her chair behind the oak desk and gazed around the office. A small part of her would miss the blinding white walls of the cell-like space. The school screwed up and I have to pay the price?
If Father Donavan and the board thought she would go without saying a word to defend herself, they were sadly mistaken. "Father, it is not my fault twelve girls in the senior class are pregnant."
She reined in her temper and sighed. "When the state mandated all schools have Human Development classes to keep their accreditation, the board came up with the no sex until marriage curriculum, not me." In fact, Ava, had spent months researching diocese approved literature.
The priest's face turned the color of the sacrament wine. "It was your responsibility to make sure the Human Development class taught abstinence."
"And I did." Her fists clenched in her lap. "I taught the church sanctioned curriculum."
"You must have done something wrong. A dozen girls under your tutelage got themselves pregnant, shamed the school, and ruined its impeccable reputation."
When the tight knit group of students wound up expecting within three months of one another, someone's head would roll. It made sense it was hers. Ava wasn't a nun, wasn't married, and was low man on the totem pole.
Being the sole guidance counselor at an all girls' high school, she was well versed in the workings of overactive hormones and the complications of the teenage mind. Ava doubted the pregnancies happened by accident. She thought there might be some kind of pact going on, but had no proof. It's pretty bad when seventeen and eighteen year olds were having more sex then she was.
The students went home and had lives, apparently more exciting ones than she. There was nothing she could say to change the priest's mind. "Well, Father Donavan," Ava stood and walked to stand in front of the old man. "If you'll excuse me, I need to clean out my office."
He rose. "I'll send Sister Mary Elizabeth in to oversee you." He pushed past her out of the room.
What am I going to do, steal the picture of the Pope hanging on the wall? She slammed the door behind her, stomped back to her desk, picked up her cell phone, and dialed.
"Nick's House of Pleasure." Her roommate and best friend answered.
She couldn't hold back a smile. "Thank God you're home. Could you please bring me the empty packing boxes from the storage room to the school?"
The concern in his voice had her shaky resolve crumbling. She wiped a traitorous tear from her eye and sobbed. "I just got fired."
"I'll be there in ten," he said and hung up.
A knock sounded at the door. Ava swiped at her cheeks, walked around the desk, and sat. "Come in, Sister."
The old battle-axe physical fitness teacher whipped opened the door and loomed in the doorway. "And to whom were you talking?"
The accusing tone in other woman's voice grated on Ava's last nerve. "My roommate, he's bringing me some boxes."
The nun's face reddened. "You live with a man?" Her habit rustled as she walked into the room to stand over Ava, hands on hips. "Well, no wonder the school is going to hell in a hand basket."
Ava rolled her eyes. "And why is that?"
The older woman's lips moved into a sneer. "Well, when you live in sin, you set a bad example."
"Funny, until now, no one knew my living arrangements."
Sister Mary Elizabeth huffed. "The girls probably went on that Internet and looked it up."
Explaining the Internet and how it worked to the dinosaur standing in front of her filled Ava with a weariness she hadn't experienced in years. She sighed and squeezed her eyes shut, closing out the dried up fossil. Ava stifled a moan and tuned out the dried up fossil's tirade.
"Miss Cullen." The nun puffed some time later, having certainly realized Ava was no longer listening to her sanctimonious diatribe.
She forced herself to look up and focused her attention to the adversary standing in front of her. "Yes."
Nick tapped on the doorframe.
"Oh, thank God," she said under her breath.
"Honey, I have the boxes you asked for," he said, sauntering in, still wearing his fire department uniform. The navy Polo shirt and cargo pants fit him to a T.
Ava had to admit he made a hunky picture. She wondered why she didn't have the same reaction to his six foot two well-muscled frame as all her girlfriends. They all loved his kind brown eyes, boyish good looks, and underwear-model body.
Her mind flashed to the day, five years ago, when she met Nick. Her roommate dragged her to a fundraiser for the local hospital's burn unit. That night firefighters stripped down to their skivvies for a good cause.
She remembered her shock and dismay when he pulled her up on the stage and kissed her senseless. When Nick realized he'd scared her spitless, he bought her a drink and apologized--then bugged her until they were best friends. He'd been kissing her and calling her honey ever since. She loved him like an annoying brother.
He dropped the boxes next to Sister Mary Elizabeth, gave her a little wink, then continued toward Ava. Nick turned her office chair and pressed his lips to hers. She waited for the tingling feelings to start, but nothing. Not even when the tip of his tongue swiped her bottom lip. Am I dead inside?
Ava leaned back and forced a smile. "Hi, honey, thank you for coming on short notice."
Nick sat on her desk, his back to the now sputtering sister and mouthed, Nothing?
Ava grinned and shook her head. "Nick, let me introduce you to Sister Mary Elizabeth."
He winked again and stood to face the fuming woman. "Nice to meet you, Sister."
Nick must have blessed her with his charming smile, because the old nun's face twisted into a small grin. It must work on every woman on the planet--except for her.
"You have a half hour to pack up your belongings," Sister Mary Elizabeth said. She walked to the corner of the room and sat in an old hard back wooden chair, her arms crossed like some kind of bodyguard.
Twenty minutes later Ava and Nick piled the boxes in her trunk. "I'll stop by the store and pick up margarita mix and stuff to make Mexican tonight," he said.
Even though her world was upside down and she didn't know how she would make the rent next month, her heart lifted. "You're my hero."
"From your reaction to my kiss, I'm not," he teased.
She shut the trunk. "Oh, come on, you can't honestly tell me you felt anything."
"Unfortunately, you're right." He kissed her cheek and made his way to the visitor's parking lot. "See you at home."
Ava pulled open the door to her sensible, cherry-red Toyota Corolla and got in. She turned the ignition, then rested her head on the steering wheel. "What the hell happened to my life?"
When she graduated from college with her PhD in Psychology three years ago, Ava had begrudgingly taken the guidance counselor position at the prestigious all girls Catholic school; she really wanted to work with inner city kids, but she had huge student loans to pay off and needed the money the school offered. Ava wanted to help teenagers, not manage them.
Her cell phone chirped a reminder of her three o'clock appointment with a student. Had she really been sitting in her car for a half hour? Ava lifted her head. Feeling like a failure, she put the car into gear and headed homeward.
Ava's thoughts roamed to the dark place they always went to when something bad happened. She thought of her parent's deadly car accident and the six short months the Army had Bobby before a roadside bomb took him away.
Guilt still burned in Ava's stomach and tears stung her eyes as she remembered what she and Bobby were doing when the tractor-trailer hit her father's car head on. Ava turned the car into her parking space and switched off the engine. She opened the door, pulled the trunk release and stood. Her whole body felt as if it were moving through quicksand.
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HEIDI LYNN ANDERSON