First of all, I want to say thank you to the Fresh Fiction crowd for having me today! I absolutely adore these people and am so thankful that I have them in my life!!!!! I love to read and the Fresh Fiction team always has a million reviews and recommendations on what I should be reading—something I really appreciate now that my crazy writing schedule doesn’t let me read quite as much as I used to.
That’s one of the reasons I’m so looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I’m usually a mess when it comes to planning (anyone who knows me can attest to this), but something about the holidays brings out the compulsive planner in me—which means that once the turkey is on for Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve got everything else done. All I need to do is kick back, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade with my kids and start on my #bingereading (which, let’s face it, is one of the best parts of the holiday season).
This year, I’ve already got three books on my Nook just waiting to be binge read—Sylvia Day’s CAPTIVATED BY YOU, Jandy Nelson’s I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN and Patricia Cornwell’s FLESH AND BLOOD (yes, I have VERY eclectic tastes, lol, and this pretty fairly represents them). From erotic romance to young adult contemporary to a thriller by one of my favorite authors ever, it promises to be a fabulous day of binge reading—and if I’m lucky, maybe an entire weekend of it!!!!! Then it’s back to work writing EXPOSED, the third and final book in my Ethan Frost trilogy, and promoting PLAY ME, my very sexy serial that comes out on December 2nd. I’m super excited about PLAY ME, especially, since we’re trying something a little different with it—we’re releasing all five sections of the serial at once so my readers can #bingeread it if they want to, instead of having to wait five weeks for the whole series to come out!!!!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and may you find time to do your own #bingreading over the holiday! If you’re planning on it, let me know what you’re going to read and be entered to win a copy of SHREDDED, the first in my new adult snowboarder series!!!!!
An Exclusive First Look at PLAY ME: FIRE
“I’m not firing you, Aria. Not for doing what needed to be done. You can take today off, with pay, but your job will be waiting for you tomorrow if you still want it.”
If possible she looks even more astonished, eyes wide and mouth half-open in an adorable display of shock. “Are you serious right now?” she finally demands.
“I’m completely serious.”
“But I racked a whale.”
“I am aware of that.”
“With my drink tray.”
“Yes. I saw the footage.”
“Hard.” She draws the word out, stresses it, just in case I have any doubts about what I saw on the casino video. “I hit him hard.”
“And I’m really glad you did. My only regret is that you didn’t hit him harder—the bastard still managed to get up and hobble away a few minutes later. More’s the pity.”
“More’s the pity?”
I shrug. “He deserved that and a hell of a lot worse, in my opinion. Men who treat women like they’re property deserve what they get when it turns out that the property bites back.”
She does jump up from the chair then, and this time I don’t stop her because she’s not planning on running. She’s filled with nervous energy that needs an outlet. I have more than one suggestion on how she can deal with that energy, but sexually harassing my employees isn’t something I make a habit of. Ever. Especially ones who have to deal with it at work every night.
And so I clench my fists to keep from reaching for her and I watch, and wait, as she paces to the window and back.
“I don’t get it,” she says when she’s once again standing in front of me. “What’s the punch line?”
“No punch line. Your job is yours if you want it.”
“Even though I assaulted a customer?”
“Assault is such an ugly word. Let’s just say you defended a customer and leave it at that.”
“That’s not actually untrue. But you know, if you keep me here, he’s probably going to sue you.”
I smile then, a predatory baring of my teeth that has her eyebrows shooting up and her eyes sharpening with something that looks an awful lot like interest. Or fear. I can’t really tell at this point.
That makes me uncomfortable—I want a lot of things from Aria, things that include sweat-drenched sheets and unlimited access to every inch of her gorgeous body—but I don’t want her fear. Don’t want her to feel, even for a moment, like she isn’t safe with me.
“He can try to sue,” I tell her. “He won’t succeed.”
“How do you know?”
“It might be ten years since I’ve set foot in the Atlantis, Aria, but I grew up in Vegas. I know how this town works.”
“So do I. And I knew when I hit that bastard I was going to end up paying for it one way or another. So if I’m not losing my job, how exactly are you expecting me to pay?” She’s back to pacing toward the window.
Anger sparks inside me at the implication, pricks along the inside of my skin. At her for thinking all I want from her is a fast blow job or a faster fuck on my desk as payment for doing the right thing, for taking care of her. And at the world she’s living in that has taught her to be so suspicious. That has taught her all rich men want only one thing from her.
Because it won’t get me anywhere with her right now, I shove the anger down deep. Concentrate on being cool and rational, on showing her that I’m in control, since instinct tells me that’s the only way to reassure her at this point.
“I expect you to repay me by doing your job. From what I hear, you’re a hell of a cocktail waitress. That’s why David and Todd have you working the high roller area. I don’t plan on losing you because some asshole doesn’t know how to take no for an answer.”
I see the moment she picks up on my phrasing, and the double meaning that can be applied to the concept of me losing her. Still, she doesn’t respond the way I expect her to. Doesn’t seem relieved by my reassurance. Instead, she narrows her eyes at me and demands, “Are you fucking with me?”
The strength and the heat behind the question get me hot, have my dick growing harder even as my own temper flares. I push to my feet then, making sure my suit jacket is buttoned up and hiding my suddenly raging erection. And then I stalk toward her slowly, making her wait. Making her wonder.
I stop about a foot away from her—too close for regular business standards but not close enough to send her running for the hills. And then I ask, “Does it feel like I’m fucking with you, Aria?”
Those beautiful dark eyes of hers go wide and it’s all I can do not to touch her. Not to drag her into my arms and show her just how serious I am about her—about fucking her and about holding her afterward.
“I don’t know,” she says after a minute. “That’s the problem. I can’t figure you out.”
“That’s because you’re looking at me all wrong.” I step forward then, run the back of my hand softly down her cheek. “But I can assure you, love, when I’m fucking with you, you’ll know it.”
She jerks her head back from my touch. “So you do want sex.”
I like her bluntness. “From you? Absolutely.”
“I knew it.” She grabs for her purse, which is resting in the curve of the chair she’d been sitting in. “I don’t want the stupid job. You can keep it.”