The Russian's Acquisition launches today! Which means if you pre-ordered the digital copy, it has now magically appeared in your device and I've just lost you while you go read it. No prob. I'll wait.
Hi! It's Friday night (Halloween) as I write this. I'm planning to hit the big red button first thing Saturday morning then take the day off. MrC and I have been going flat out, me with my three releases this fall (keep scrolling after Giveaways) along with turning in two other books and him with a flooring project that we desperately needed to address. All is done and we're goofing off today. We're both workaholics so when I proposed playing hooky, I said, "It doesn't have to be a big deal. I'm happy to lay around on the couch and watch movies all day." Yes, we live large and fast around here.
On the topic of living fast and large, I'm having a party, but it's a Facebook party, lol. Here's the link. It's just a pre-holiday kick off with giveaways and a chance to chat with your favorite authors. I hope you'll come.
Also, before I forget, I'm still interested in your survey answers if you have a minute. You don't have to give up your email. I'm just being nosy. Click here to answer ten quick questions:
And further to my NaNoWriMo aspirations, you might (rightly) be asking, But Dani, if you're doing NaNo, how are you taking the day off on the first day?
I am planning to write a novel in the month of November. Technically I have nine pages written. Three pages more than my minimum, but I hope to get a few more words before MrC wakes up. See above about me being a workaholic. I'm an early riser, too.
Do you like my NaNo logo? I wanted to get The Healer in there as that was my first successful NaNo. This time I'm writing a Presents so fingers-crossed there will be a title and characters in that circle a year or so from now.
On to your:
Here's what has happened so far:
- Clair arrives at work to a new boss
- Aleksy fires her
- Clair fights for her job
- Clair loses her home as well
Here Clair fights for her flat and Brighter Days:
~ * ~
So this was about money. She had deduced as much. He must have bought the firm believing its worth to be higher and only learned that Victor had falsified returns after the purchase went through. He didn’t have to take out his bad luck on her, though. They were both victims of Victor’s ruse.
“You know, if you let me keep my job, I could pay rent and this unused apartment could generate income, rather than be an expense,” she suggested.
He narrowed his eyes, displaying thick eyelashes. “How long have you been here?”
“Over a year.”
He moved through her small lounge with calculating interest, probably adding up the value of her few possessions. The place came furnished, but the faded snapshot of her parents in the cheap frame was hers. Her father’s pipe stood on the mantel above the gas flame fireplace. The items were all she had and didn’t come with real memories.
He jerked his chin at the pipe. “I’m surprised you let him keep you in here. A woman with your assets could have pressed for the main prize.” He turned his head.
She ought to have been offended, but her body betrayed her. Heat flooded her under his lingering stare. Her breasts became tight and sensitive and her thighs wanted to pinch against a sweet tingling sensation high between. She was compelled to wet her parted lips with a stroke of her tongue.
His cynical lift of an eyebrow stabbed her with mortification.
“That pipe was my father’s, not Victor’s.” She moved to snatch it up, as though that were all it would take to whisk away the pulsing attraction disconcerting her. “I never—” She cut herself off and tightened her fist around the pipe. “I signed a confidentiality statement,” she finally said, lifting her chin to see him better.
He was so looming and intense with not a shred of compassion for a naive young woman who had wanted to believe she’d been noticed because she worked hard. Aleksy Dmitriev was far above her, not just in wealth and education, but in confidence and life experience. Part of her was intrigued, but their inequality raised her barriers. It killed her to beg guidance off him, but she had to.
“I’m sure you would know better than I whether such agreements are meant to be binding after a death. With your being the new owner, are you in a position to insist I disclose—”
“I insist,” he commanded, flat and sharp. “Tell me everything.”
“Well, I don’t know anything of national import. Don’t get excited. I’m just sick of you accusing me of sleeping my way to the top when I didn’t. Victor was impotent.”
He took her chin between his thumb and curled finger. “Don’t lie,” he warned.
She lifted her free hand, intending to shove his disturbing touch away.
He caught her wrist in midair, but what really held her immobile was the ferocious flare of gold in his eyes. His irises glittered with more demand than this situation warranted. It made her still out of curiosity.
“Why would I lie?”
“Because you know I don’t want you if he’s had you.”
She sucked in a shocked breath and instinctively tried to pull away.
His grip on her wrist flexed lightly to keep her close. “That wasn’t really what he was hiding, was it?”
Clair was plunged out of her depth, body reacting with alarm, mind splintered in all directions by what he’d said about wanting her.
“I—I didn’t know until today that Victor was hiding anything,” she stammered, trying to ignore the detonations of nervous excitement inside her. “I thought he was exactly what he looked like. A successful businessman.” She tried to resist looking into his eyes, but once his stare caught hers, she couldn’t look away. Her nerves seared with something like fight or flight, but it wasn’t fear. The danger here was subtle. Sexual.
“How did you meet him?”
“Who are you? Interpol?” She longed to move away, disturbed beyond bearing.
“Tell me,” he insisted, not releasing her.
“He needed something after hours. I was working late in the file room.” She begrudged making the explanation but wanted him to believe her. Sort of. You know I don’t want you if he’s had you. It was such a Neanderthal thing to say, but it made her insides quiver. “I found it and he said I was the sort of person the top floor needed.”
“I bet he did.” His thumb moved into the notch below her bottom lip. He tilted her face up, into the fading light from the window. His gaze stroked her face like a feathery caress, taking in features she knew men found attractive, but she sensed evaluation, not admiration.
It shouldn’t matter, but it undermined her confidence. Her looks were all she had unless she managed a miracle with the Brighter Days Foundation, and losing her job had quashed that.
“I didn’t think his motive was romantic. He was old.” She tested his grip on her chin, but he held fast, making her vibrate with nerves and awareness. It took everything in her to suppress her shivers and pretend she barely noticed his touch. “When I did realize he wanted people to believe we were together, I told him I wasn’t interested and he said I didn’t have anything to worry about. He wasn’t able to make it with any woman, but he didn’t want people to know. He said if I was able to keep a confidence, I’d have a good career ahead of me as his PA. I needed the money and it wasn’t like he was grabbing me all the time or anything.” She pointedly moved her fist with the pipe into the center of his chest and pressed. “Unlike some men.”
His touch on her face changed. His fingers fanned out and he stroked his palm under her jaw to take possession of the side of her neck, thumb lightly grazing her throat.
The tender touch stilled her, not just because it was unexpected but because it felt so nice. She didn’t encourage people to touch her and hadn’t realized how cherished and important it could make her feel. Her lashes wanted to blink closed so she could focus completely on the lovely sensation.
“So you took him for all he’d give you and never put out for any of it.”
“It wasn’t like that.” He made it sound ugly when she hadn’t taken anything. “The raise and job title were his idea. He suggested I move into this flat because he held receptions and cocktail parties in the main suite. If people thought we were together, that was their assumption. Maybe neither of us corrected it, but all I did was work for him.”
“What kind of work? Hostess duties? Attending functions as his escort?” His lip curled. “Why on earth would people get the wrong impression?”
“He was a widower, so yes, I was his date. But he also put me in charge of forming the firm’s charitable foundation.”
“Ha!” He released her with a lifting of his hands in rejection. “Van Eych help the less fortunate? Now I know you’re lying.”
“I’m not.” The words rushed out, but a sense of loss washed over her as well. Let him believe what he wants to believe, she told herself, but if she was allowed to set the record straight, she wanted to, especially if he’d fired her because he thought she was involved with Victor. Maybe he would reconsider if he believed she hadn’t been. Maybe that’s what he’d meant when he’d said he didn’t want her if Victor had had her.
Dismay squirmed through her. She didn’t want him to want her physically, did she? No. She was trying to rescue the foundation. If there was even a remote chance of keeping her job, and keeping the foundation alive, she had to try.
Veering from him on shaky legs, she found her laptop bag and unzipped it. “You won’t have seen it on the books because it’s not up and running, but I can show you…”
Most of her records were on her laptop and it took forever to wake up, but she had a slender file with a proof of the logo she’d recently approved. It wasn’t the fanciest letterhead, but it gave the foundation an identity and made it real. Her heart pounded with pride every time she looked at it. She showed him.
“‘Brighter Days’? It looks like a child drew it.” He barely glanced at it.
“It’s supposed to! It’s an organization that provides funding to group homes and offers grants to orphaned children so they can develop independence.”
“By underwriting their lives?”
“By providing support of many kinds!” Insulted, Clair whipped the file closed. “You obviously don’t know what it’s like to be without parents or you’d have some empathy.” As she tucked the file back into her bag, she let her hair fall forward to screen how wounded she was by his cynicism.
“Or maybe I do and I didn’t have the luxury of handouts to help me find my way. Maybe I managed on my own.” His tone was dangerously quiet.
The truth in the hardened brass of his gaze made her hesitate. The thought that he might have shared some of her struggles struck a chord of kinship in her, but he emanated aggression, provoking her defensive response.
“So did I,” she challenged. “I’m still capable of wanting to help others.”
His hard laugh cracked the air. “Van Eych gave you this flat, a manager’s salary, and countless other favors for that face.” He pointed at her features, then let his gaze traverse insultingly down her narrow shape. “Among other attributes. Not for any smiley face you drew on the sun. Hardly pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.”
He acted as if this illustration was all she had to show for her year of research and meetings and planning. Impotent fury threatened to engulf her, but to let him see he could get under her skin was handing him a weapon he didn’t deserve to hold.
“I don’t care if you believe me,” she said stiffly. “You’re obviously a bully who kicks people around for the fun of it. If you’d like to wait in your flat next door, I’ll clear out of this one by midnight.”
~ * ~
The Russian's Acquisition is available on Amazon here or scroll to the buy links for other retailers on the bottom of this post.
This prize pack celebrating the launch of my Christmas book, Blame The Mistletoe closes Nov 3rd:
You still have some chances to win a signed copy of The Russian's Acquisition, too. Unfortunately, you have missed my newsletter draw. I always draw from my subscriber list for a copy of my new release. Join my newsletter now to be entered for The Sheikh's Sinful Seduction (March.)
Want to see what you'll get for your subscription? Read Dani's latest newsletter.
I also have a number of guest blogs some completed, some still coming up. Many have giveaways. Visit me here to enter:
- Just Contemporary Romance
- Melissa McClone (fellow Montana Born author)
- Story Finds
- Romance Junkies
- Harlequin Junkies
- Oct 27th: Romance Reviews Today
- Oct 39th: Love Romance Passion
- Nov 1st: Savvy Authors
I've had some responses to my reader survey saying that some of my Presents readers didn't know I have other books. I do! These two came out in September and October of this year:
Hometown Hero is part of the multi-author Homecoming series from Montana Born books. Here are all the titles, authors, and release dates in the series. (Roxanne's might be on 99c countdown! Check now and you might get a deal!):
- Sept 22 - Sing Me Back Home by Eve Gaddy
- Sept 25 - Finding Home by Roxanne Snopek
- Sept 29 - Hometown Hero by Dani Collins
- Oct 02 - Long Way Home by Kathleen O’Brien
- Oct 06 - Home For Good by Terri Reed
The 'A Marietta Christmas' series are all stand-alone titles to be read in any order, but mine links to and follows my Hometown Hero mentioned above.
- Oct 13 - Blame The Mistletoe by Dani Collins
- Oct 16 - Mistletoe Wedding by Melissa McClone
- Oct 20 - Her Mistletoe Cowboy by Alissa Callen
- Nov 7 - Cowboy It's Cold Outside by Katherine Garbera
If you'd like to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...etc, Click here for Dani's Social Media links.
I skipped #TeaserTuesday this week and #Thursday13 has met its demise as well. My newsletter is going on hiatus for a couple of months and I'm eager to take a small step back from blogging like a maniac. You're going to be busy through the holidays anyway, aren't you? You won't have time to read three of my blogs a week, so I needn't feel guilty. Right?
I will have one more #SampleSunday for The Russian and I will continue my weekend posts through the end of the year. Oh, I just remembered my Facebook party, Nov 18th. I'm now rushing to the top of my post to mention it. Hope to see you there!