We're up to the fifth excerpt for A Debt Paid In Passion. I will likely post one more next week then cut you off. I have, however, invited a friend to cross post an excerpt since we both have Februrary <<--I'm keeping that typo since it's so ridiculous.
We both have February titles. So please don't cut me off. I'm quite sure there will be something here for you if you have time to drop by.
Actually, watch for news about The Healer. I've had some very encouraging chats with my publisher about it. Nothing I can reveal just yet, but all in due time.
If you haven't read it yet, settle in! It's a much bigger book in scope than my typical fare, but Vaun is the deliciously alpha-hero you've come to expect and Athadia is one of my favourite heroines. (I know, we're not supposed to have favourites among our own children.)
The nice thing about this book is that its length let me develop the characters in depth. If you haven't read the excerpts for this one, work back from this #SampleSunday.
But back to the book at hand. I have to stay on task as it's date night and Mr.C has about had it with playing second fiddle to the army of fictional men in my life.
In the episodes leading up to this one:
- Raoul learns Sirena won't go to jail
- Raoul learns Sirena is pregnant
- Sirena claims the baby isn't Raoul's
- Sirena weighs the risks of lying about paternity
Today Raoul weighs the risks of issuing an ultimatum:
~ * ~
Raoul’s mind had been going around in circles for weeks, driving him mad. If Sirena was pregnant with his child, she would have used that to keep him from trying to incarcerate her. Since she hadn’t, it must not be his. But she could have used her condition for leniency during the proceedings and hadn’t. Which meant she wanted to keep the pregnancy from him. Which led him to believe the baby was his.
Most troubling, if he wasn’t the father, who was?
Raoul sent baleful glances around his various offices as he traveled his circuit of major cities, aware there were a plethora of men in his numerous office towers where Sirena could easily, with her voluptuous body and warm smile, have hooked up.
The thought grated with deep repugnance. He’d never heard the merest whisper of promiscuity about his PA, but she’d obviously led a secretive life. It wasn’t like she’d been a virgin when he’d made love to her.
She’d been the next thing to it though, with her shy hesitancy that had turned to startled pleasure and exquisite inhibition.
Biting back a groan, he tried not to think of that afternoon in a house he’d toured as a potential real estate investment. Every day he fought the recollection of their passionate encounter and every night she revisited him, her silky hair whispering against his skin, her soft giggle of self-consciousness turning to a gasp of awe as she stroked him. The hum of surrender in her throat as he found the center of her pleasure nearly had him losing it in his sleep.
Every morning he reminded himself he’d used a condom.
One that had been in his wallet so long he couldn’t remember when or for whom he’d placed it there. He’d only been grateful to find it when a downpour had turned Sirena from the open front door into his arms. A stumbling bump of her pivoting into him, a gentlemanly attempt to keep her on her feet, a collision of soft curves against a body already charged with sexual hunger.
When she’d looked up at him with wonder as her abdomen took the impression of his erection, when she’d parted her lips and looked at his mouth like she’d been waiting her whole life to feel it cover her own...
Swearing, Raoul rose to pace his Paris office. It was as far as he was willing to get from London after trying to settle with Sirena once and for all. The remembered vision of her passion-glazed eyes became overlaid with a more recent one: when her lawyer had mentioned her pregnancy and she had shot that petrified look at Raoul.
The baby was his. He knew it in his gut and if he’d been ruthless with her for stealing money, she had no idea the lengths he’d go for his child.
Doubt niggled though. If the baby was his, and she was the type to embezzle then try to sleep her way out of it, why wasn’t she trying to squeeze a settlement out of him?
None of it added up and he was losing his mind trying to make sense of it. If she’d only talk to him. They used to communicate with incredible fluidity, finishing each other’s sentences, filling in gaps with a look...
Lies, he reminded himself. All an act to trick him into trusting her and it had worked. That’s what grated so badly. He’d failed to see that she was as undependable despite his history with shameless charlatans.
And how in hell had he turned into his father? Was it genetic that he should wind up sexually infatuated with his secretary? He’d successfully ignored such attractions for years. His father had killed himself over an inter-office affair so he’d made it a personal rule to avoid such things at all costs. It was a matter of basic survival.
His surge of interest in Sirena had been intense right from the beginning, though. He’d hired her in spite of it, partly because he’d been sure he was a stronger man than his father. Maybe he’d even been trying to prove it.
It galled him that he’d fallen into a tryst despite his better intentions. He might have come to terms with that failing if she hadn’t betrayed him though. Suddenly he’d been not just his father, but his mother, naively watching the bank account drain while being fed sweet, reassuring words to excuse it.
I was going to pay it back before you found out.
He tried to close out the echo of Sirena’s clear voice, claiming exactly what any dupe would expect to hear once she realized her caught hands were covered in red. That he’d seen her as steadfast until that moment left him questioning his own judgment, which was a huge kick to his confidence. People relied on him all over the world. His weakness for her made him feel as though he was misrepresenting himself and more than anything he hated being let down. It galled him. Mere repayment wasn’t good enough to compensate for that. People like her needed teaching a lesson.
Staring at his desktop full of work, he cursed the concentration he’d lost because of all this, the time wasted on legal meetings that could have been spent on work.
And the worst loss of production was because he was trying to replace the best PA he’d ever had!
Seemingly the best. His only comfort was not giving her the executive title he’d been considering. The damage she could do in a position like that was beyond thinking. She was doing enough harm to his bottom line no longer employed by him at all.
It couldn’t go on. He’d finally, reluctantly, sent her a strongly worded ultimatum and his palms were sweating that she would reject this one too. She knew him well enough to believe that when he said final, he meant final, but he’d never had anything so valuable as his flesh and blood on the table. If she refused again...
She wouldn’t. Sirena Abbott was more avaricious than he’d given her credit for, but she was innately practical. She would recognize he’d hit his limit and would cash in.
As if to prove it, his email blipped with a message from his lawyer.
Sirena Abbott had an appointment on Monday and wanted the rest of the week to think things through.
Raoul leaned on hands that curled into tight fists. His inner being swelled with triumph. Silly woman. When he said Monday, he meant Monday.
~ * ~
A Debt Paid In Passion comes available on Amazon this week! I've been in a flurry of activity since October, planning launches then promoting More Than A Convenient Marriage? for December then this one and pushing three manuscripts out the door at the same time. Once this baby hits the shelves I'll have a little breather (I think--depending what Vaun and Athadia have planned.)
Don't worry. I'm still completely overwhelmed, taking two online courses and of course it will be tax time. And I have some obligations with a couple of conferences… You know the drill. Dani's eyes are bigger than her stomach. Thinks she can do it all. Blah, blah, blah. Story of my life.
Will you be in the Vancouver area mid-February? I'll be at a signing event at the Vancouver Public Library. If you want to hear more about my writing and upcoming books, listen to my interview from Oct 17th with Bernadette Walsh at Nice Girls Reading Naughty Books.
Please remember that I always draw for a signed copy of my new release from my newsletter subscribers. You can join by scrolling all the way to the bottom of this page and putting in your email address or click here. Have a great week!