I'm putting the finishing touches on Seduced Into The Greek's World, and have a ton of things to do around the house today so I'll try to keep this brief.
Before I get to #SampleSunday, however, I wanted to remind you that Hometown Hero is available on Amazon along with the second book in this new series, Blame The Mistletoe, which you can pre-order here.
These are rancher novellas in the fictional town of Marietta. Hometown Hero is a collaboration with five other authors. The fifth story launches Monday:
- Sept 22 - Sing Me Back Home, by Eve Gaddy
- Sept 25 - Finding Home, by Roxanne Snopek
- Sept 29 - Hometown Hero, by Dani Collins
- Oct 2 - Long Way Home, by Kathleen O’Brien
- Oct 6 - Home For Good, by Terri Reed
You can tell I'm running around breathless, can't you? This house is upside down, I tell you, which is why I want to be sure this is posted so I don't forget later.
This is a new series, so you're getting the opening pages. I'll likely run this one into November since I usually do six for my Harlequin Presents.
I'll also have a blog tour with this one with giveaways on my guest posts and other ones here so please keep checking back (or join my newsletter) and don't forget to keep scrolling down for Givewaways happening now.
~ * ~
I miss waking up with you.
THE NOTE STRUCK a pang of wistfulness in Clair Daniels’s chest. She wondered if anyone would ever write something so romantic to her. Then she recalled the waves of emotional highs and lows Abby had been riding for months, all under the influence of that elusive emotion called “love.” Being independent was more secure and less hurtful, she reminded herself. And the roller coaster she’d been through in the last two weeks, after losing a man who was merely a friend and mentor, was brutal enough.
Still, she had to hide envy as she handed the note back to Abby and said with a composed smile, “That’s very sweet. The wedding is this weekend?”
Abby, the firm’s receptionist, nodded with excitement as she placed the card back in the extravagant bouquet Clair had admired. “I was just saying to everyone—” She waved at the ladies gathered with their morning coffee. “I texted him that after Saturday, we can wake up together forev…” She trailed off as it struck her who she was talking to.
The horseshoe of women dropped their gazes.
Clair’s throat closed over a helpless I wasn’t waking up with him. She’d never slept with anyone but couldn’t say so. Her confidentiality clause with Victor Van Eych had made such confessions impossible.
Still, she knew everyone had thought her relationship to the boss went deeper than merely being his PA. The gossip had eaten her up, but she’d let it happen out of kindness for a man whose self-assurance had been dented by age. Other people’s opinions of her shouldn’t matter, she’d told herself. Victor was nice to her. He had encouraged her to start the foundation she’d always dreamed of. Letting a white lie prevail in return had seemed harmless.
Then his family had refused to let her into his mansion to so much as share condolences, turning their backs and pushing her to the fringes like a pariah.
She wasn’t someone who wore her heart on her sleeve, but the one person she had begun to count on had died. Shock and sorrow had overwhelmed her. Thankfully she’d had a place to bolt to for a week and absorb her loss. Ironic that it had been the orphanage, but what a timely reminder how important the home and foundation were, not just to her, but to children as alone as she was.
Now she was feeling more alone than ever, trying not to squirm under the scrutiny of her colleagues, not wanting to reveal that her chest had gone tight and her throat felt swollen. It wasn’t just Victor’s unexpected death getting to her, but a kind of despair. Would anyone ever stick? Or was she meant to walk through life in isolation forever?
Into the suffocating moment, the elevator pinged and the doors whispered open. Clair glanced over her shoulder to escape her anxiety, and what she saw made her catch a startled breath.
A hunting party of suits invaded the top floor. It was the only way to describe the tribe of alert, stony-faced men. The last off the elevator, the tallest, was obviously their leader. He was a warrior whose swarthy face wore a blaze of genuine battle injury. At first that was all Clair saw: the slash of a pale scar that began where his dark hair was combed back from his hairline. It bisected his left eyebrow, angled from his cheekbone toward the corner of his mouth, then dropped off his clean-shaven jaw.
He seemed indifferent to it, his energy completely focused on the new territory he was conquering. His armor-gray suit clung with perfect tailoring to his powerful build. With one sweep of his golden-brown eyes, he disbursed the clique of women in a subtle hiss of indrawn breaths and muted clicks of retreating heels.
Clair couldn’t move. His marauding air incited panic, but her feet stayed glued to the floor. She lifted her chin, refusing to let him see he intimidated her.
Male interest sparked to life as he held her stare. His gaze drifted like a caress to her mouth, lowered to her open collar and mentally stripped her neatly belted raincoat and low-heeled ankle boots.
Clair set her teeth, hating these moments of objectification as much as any woman, but something strange happened. Her paralysis continued. She wasn’t able to turn away in rejection. Heat came to life in her abdomen like a cooling ember blown into a brighter glow. Warmth radiated into her chest and bathed her throat.
His attention came back to her face, decision stamped in his eyes. She was something he would want.
She blushed, still unable to look away. A writhing sensation knotted in her stomach, clenching like a fist when he spoke in a voice like dark chocolate, melting and rich, yet carrying a biting edge.
She didn’t understand him.
Clair blinked in surprise, but he didn’t switch to English. His command had been for one of his companions, yet she had the impression he’d been talking about her if not to her. He swung away, moving into the interior offices as if he owned the place. One of the men flanking him murmured in a similar language.
“Was that Russian?” Clair asked on a breathless gasp as the last pin-striped back disappeared. She felt as if a tank had just flattened her.
“They’ve been coming in all week. That tall one is new.” Abby dragged her gaze away from the hall and became conspiratorial as she leaned over her keyboard. “No one knows what’s going on. I was hoping you could enlighten us.” “I wasn’t here,” Clair reminded her. She hadn’t even been in London. “But Mr. Turner told me before I left that everything would carry on as usual, that the family were keeping things status quo until they’d had time to settle his private affairs. Are they lawyers?” She glanced toward the hall but was certain that man wasn’t anything as straitlaced as a lawyer. He struck her as someone who made his own rules rather than living by any imposed on him. Her skin still tingled under the brand of ownership he’d imprinted on her.
“Some are, I think,” Abby answered. “Ours have been meeting them every day.”
“Our—? Oh, right.” Clair forced herself back to the conversation. Lawyers. Not just her friend deceased but the boss and owner, leaving the place on tiptoes of tension. She’d noticed the mood the second she returned. Having strangers prowl like bargain hunters at a fire sale didn’t help. Clair decided she didn’t like that trespasser of a man.
Abby glanced around before hunching even closer. “Clair? I’m really sorry for what I said. I know losing Mr. Van Eych must be hard for y—”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” Clair dismissed with a light smile. She stepped back to freeze out the empathy. Putting up walls was a protective reflex, an automatic reaction that probably accounted for why no one ever sent her flowers or love notes. She wasn’t good at being close to people. That was why she’d let herself fall into a fake romance with Victor. He’d offered companionship without the demands of physical or emotional intimacy, protecting her from anyone else trying to make a similar claim. No risk, she’d thought. No chance of pain.
That Russian would make incredible demands, she thought, and her stomach dipped even as she wondered where her speculation had come from. No way would she let someone like that into her private life. He was a one-way ticket to a broken heart. Forget him.
Nevertheless, trepidation weakened her knees as she looked toward her office, the direction he’d taken. Silly to be afraid. He would already have forgotten her.
“I’ll check in with Mr. Turner,” Clair said, holding the smile of confident warmth she’d perfected as Victor’s PA. “If I’m able to tell you anything, I will.”
“Thank you.” Abby’s worried brow relaxed.
Clair walked away, determined to push the Russian from her mind, but she’d barely hung her coat and bent to tuck her purse into her desk drawer before Mr. Turner appeared in the doorway. Waxen paleness underpinned the flags of red in his sagging cheeks.
Clair stood to attention, heart sinking with intuitive fear. “What’s wrong?”
“You’re to report to—” He ran a hand over his thinning hair. “The new owner.”
~ * ~
I will have another #TeaserTuesday from Blame The Mistletoe on Tuesday and it looks like I'll have to rewrite the one from last week. That will be Monday's job, I'm afraid. Here's the first one if you missed it:
Please keep checking back. I have lots of these over the next few weeks:
- Ends Today Hometown Hero Prize Package.
- My Goodreads Giveaway for The Russian's Acquisition runs until October 23rd. (scroll down)
- In October, there will be a special promotion with Tule/Montana Born and their authors for a $500 Visa Gift Card. It runs October 6th-20th. I'll post the links here and on my Facebook Page.
- In late October, I'll have a Blame The Mistletoe Package (similar to Hometown Hero one) which will likely run for about a week.
- Finally, sometime in November, I'll have a Facebook party with lots of giveaways from my author friends so you can hopefully win some romances to help keep you warm through those long winter months.
Here's the Goodreads Giveaway:
I'm sure there's more to say, but I'll end here.
Want to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...etc? Click here for Dani's Social Media links and take your pick.
Have a great weekend,