Claire Wilcox is in for the ride of her life…
Why would a normally sane woman pay a million dollars for a motorcycle? Hard-driving CEO Claire Wilcox has found the bike of her dreams — a 1957 Mannhof four-cylinder touring motorcycle.
Little does she know that the cycle’s designer made each of these beauties for one person only. The Mannhof is sentient — and he has the ability to take on human form. He was designed with purpose, and he’s on a mission — he’s here to heal Claire’s wounded soul. If she’ll let him.
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Copyright ©2022 Alice Gaines
An Authorized Excerpt
There it was — the machine of her dreams. Claire looked down at the auction catalogue in her lap. The picture of a 1957 Mannhof four-cylinder touring motorcycle looked back at her. The photo didn’t do the bike justice. Sleek and muscular, the real thing reeked of power and sex. Right down to the naked man painted on the gas tank.
“Okay, go circulate,” Claire said to Ted. “See if you can hear any buzz from the other bidders.”
Her assistant looked around. “You can already hear the buzz. The whole room’s full of it.”
“A classic Mannhof goes on sale, maybe, once a decade. I’m going to have that bike if I have to kill someone to get it.”
Ted’s eyes widened. “If anyone but you said that, I’d think it was a joke.”
“Just circulate, will you? I need to know what I’m up against.”
Ted rose and walked toward the back of the crowd, while the auctioneer approached the podium and tapped the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, next we have item number 346. Page fifty of your catalogues. A hand-made Mannhof motorcycle, vintage 1957.”
Ted had been right about the buzz. It grew until it was clearly audible. Hell, she could feel it in her bones. Mannhofs came along so seldom that most of the general public had never heard of them. One had caused a stir eleven years ago when a rock star bought one for half-a-million dollars. That one didn’t compare to this beauty.
“This classic has only had one owner since it was built,” the auctioneer continued.
The owner must have had an appreciation for the male body, or the man on the fuel tank made no sense. Completely nude, he reclined with his torso propped up on one elbow. He was a double entendre of the most wicked kind — a play on a woman taking so much strength between her legs. Mannhof couldn’t have known it, but he’d built that bike for her.
“Excellent maintenance and low mileage make this a spectacular find,” the auctioneer said. “We’ll start the bidding at one hundred thousand dollars.”
Claire didn’t raise her paddle. The auction would take some time to play out, and there was no point showing her interest yet. If the rest knew the CEO of Consolidated Industries International wanted the Mannhof, they’d bid her up just for the excitement. No, she’d wait until the serious bids started coming.
One hundred, one fifty, two hundred, two twenty-five — clearly this would top the half million Kid Dagger had paid eleven years ago. She could wait.
Ted returned and sat beside her. “You were right about this thing. People are going nuts over it.”
“Did you hear anything interesting?”
“Mostly chatter. There’s one guy back there talking into a cell phone in Japanese.”
“Damn it. Matsumoto.”
“Nippon Manufacturing Matsumoto?”
“Do you know another Matsumoto with the money to spend on a Mannhof?”
Ted whistled softly between his teeth. “And you just beat him out of the Swiss contract.”
“This way if he gets the Mannhof, he gets a treasure and revenge.”
“He knows you want the cycle?” Ted asked.
“Matsumoto knows everything he needs to know.”
“The guy talking to him isn’t Japanese.” Ted twisted in his seat to glance toward the back of the room.
“Don’t look at him,” Claire said. “Pretend you didn’t see anything.”
Ted turned back around. The bidding had gone over three hundred thousand dollars and was heading toward four. Eventually, she’d have to show her hand, and then, they’d get an idea how serious her rival was in taking the Mannhof from her.
Matsumoto couldn’t have her bike. No straight male would ride something with a naked man on it. He wouldn’t dare paint over the picture, as that would lower the value. He’d stick the Mannhof in a museum somewhere, and it would never see the open road. The engine would sit silent. Such fine machinery deserved to run, to prove itself with all its power. Between her legs, with the leather of the seat thrumming against her thighs.
Heat crept up her cheeks, and a familiar breathlessness settled in her chest. Excitement. The same thrill she got negotiating a deal. All power was sexual at its core, and anyone who claimed otherwise was either a liar or a fool. She didn’t suffer either gladly, and she wouldn’t tolerate lies or foolishness in herself.
People made fun of her aloofness — called her an ice queen. None of them understood the raw sensuality of power. The naked man on the Mannhof’s tank did. He belonged to her, and she’d have him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
USA Today bestselling author Alice Gaines has published several sensuous and erotic works. She prefers stories that stretch the imagination, highlighting the power of love and sex. Alice has a Ph.D. in psychology from U. C. Berkeley and lives in Oakland, California, with her collection of orchids and her pet corn snake, Casper.