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Chocolate Magic

Chocolate Magic by Karen Sandler
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Kat Roth and Mark Denham have plenty in common--they're CEOs of rival Seattle-area candy companies, they're both in feverish pursuit of number one status in the nation and they were both once each other. Their brief venture into matrimony, an explosive mix of hot passion and all-out war, has made Kat and Mark wary of love and leery of the sparks between them.

Enter Fritz, Mark's accident-prone young cousin who's on a secret mission to patch up the differences between the two candy mavens. With the collusion of Kat's father, Fritz concocts a joint Roth-Denham charity fundraising campaign called Kandy for Kids. By bringing the two confectionary arch-enemies together at charity balls and scull races, chocolate galas and celebrity baseball games, Fritz and Kat's father hope to reunite the one-time lovers.

Fritz's plan seems to work--spending time with Mark re-ignites Kat's attraction for her ex-husband. But Kat resists, forcing Fritz into desperate measures. He conspires with Kat's assistant, Norma, to strand the two sparring ex-spouses at a Mt. Ranier cabin where Kat rediscovers the white-heat passion from their marriage. Mark, frustrated and confused, finds himself running headlong into dangerous territory again, teased by the love he once shared with Kat.

But in their enforced solitude, even as Kat remembers the love she once felt for Mark, the two fall back into the verbal sparring that tore them apart. For Kat, it's proof that all love fails as it did with her own parents. For Mark, whose parents have shared decades in a happy marriage, his conflicts with Kat are a sure sign they don't truly love one another.

Push finally comes to shove one hot night when they finally give in to the heat between them. After several days of back-to-back lovemaking bouts, Kat convinces herself she's found the perfect solution to the seemingly bottomless pit of lust she feels for her ex--a passionate sex-only affair, avoiding all the messy complications of love. While Kat tells herself she's ecstatically happy with mindless sex, Mark is less than satisfied with the situation. Despite his better judgment, Mark has fallen in love with his former wife again.

Then the night of the chocolate tasting, Kat experiences the ultimate betrayal. Her father stands up to announce to the crowd Roth's upcoming merger with the Denham Candy Company. Even worse, their first joint project will be Chocolate Magic--the innovative new treat Kat's been struggling to bring to market for nearly two years. When she discovers Mark has been privy to both the merger and the Chocolate Magic debut, Kat bolts to her office at Roth's headquarters.

Mark races after her in hot pursuit, followed closely by Fritz and Norma. The two of them manage to lock Mark up with Kat in her office and refuse to let them out until they resolve their differences. In a firefight of love and passion, Kat finally confesses her fears of failing at love. Mark admits his own fear that he doesn't know what real love is. They both realize their love looks nothing like their parents' and the verbal fireworks between them just drive them closer together. They agree to remarry, joining together physically and fiscally, in chocolate and in love.

Awe-Struck Publishing; October 2004
197 pages; ISBN 9781587494741
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: Chocolate Magic
Author: Karen Sandler
Kat had about half a second to duck before Mark made contact, then maybe another second or two before things got serious. She sailed past both deadlines without so much as putting up a token resistance. She’d learned four years ago just how lethal Mark’s kisses were. She knew the risks, the cost/benefit analysis, the price-to-earnings ratio. If pecks on the cheek from her elderly Aunt Bessie were junk bonds, Mark’s kisses were blue chip. Chocolate chip. Thick, sweet fudge. Dark bittersweet with a hint of mocha. The smoothest, most delectable Bordeaux cream center. She held him in a death grip, her heart hammering in her ears. His mouth moved over hers restlessly, his heat melting into her, the moist taste of him jacking up her senses until she thought she’d explode. He hadn’t tried so much as an exploratory tongue battle, teasing her instead with just his lips. Here she was ready to wrap her legs around his hips and he was being shy. She tried to make the first move, extending the tip of her tongue, running it along his lower lip. He just sucked at her, one hand against the back of her head, the other making a slow exploration of the hem of her sweatshirt. When she attempted to plunge deeper inside his mouth, he edged away, tracing an agonizingly slow trail along her cheek, her jaw, to her ear. He was being damn annoying, withholding a full-on tongue war, and she would have objected if her legs hadn’t turned to vapor the instant she felt his wet kisses in her ear. Maybe she’d complain in a moment, once the oxygen that had vacated the general vicinity returned. He’d worked his hand under her shirt and started up the groove of her spine. He had to know she hadn’t bothered with a bra this morning; she was pretty much mashed against his chest. Even still, when his fingers grazed the middle of her back then hesitated, she could almost see the images in his mind--his hand over her breast, his palm stroking the tips until they were tight and sensitive, his other hand between her legs... He shifted his focus to her mouth again and his tongue plunged inside. She couldn’t moan, couldn’t so much as gasp for air. Her skin burned, her nerve endings did the screaming for her. She was about to come just from a kiss. He felt it in her, had always been so wickedly attuned to her physical response he could arouse her with the touch of a fingertip. Now he reached down and grabbed one leg, hooked it up over his hip, then widened his stance and wrapped her other leg around him. His hard length molded against her, pressed into her. She didn’t have a chance. He swallowed her first cry with his mouth. He drank up every shudder, each ecstatic convulsion as she rocked against him. She exploded like Mt. Ranier, molten rock flying into the heavens. Bit by bit, her brain returned from its enforced vacation and became aware of the awkwardness of her position. Her heel was jammed into his butt, his T-shirt was balled up in her hands and his face was pushed into her neck. Her body was still alert as a puppy and eager for part deux, but the cold chill of hindsight had its own agenda. “Lordie,” she muttered to the crystal blue sky. “Oh, Lordie.” Shell-shocked and idiot brained, she let go of his T-shirt and pushed against him. He let her go readily enough, gently lowering her to the ground. He kept his gaze fixed on the grass at his feet as she straightened her sweatpants and jerked her shirt back around her hips. “Well,” he said, the single word a low, enticing rumble. Damned if she didn’t want to jump him again.
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