01/28/14

Now available

TheVirginRedemption72

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Maybe that’s why my plans didn’t work out. Cold could never describe what I feel for Drake Gallagher. Still, after ten years of bitterness, ten years of hiding in the shadows, I’m not sure there’s any way to bridge the distance between us. Especially now.

Running away seemed to be the best answer. So what am I supposed to do now that he’s found me again? Is it time to open up and tell him…everything? The safest thing to do would be push him away. But safety is an illusion. Nobody knows that better than I.

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The pain, the shame I felt then, came rushing back, every bit as deep and cutting. Slowly, I pushed back from the table. My head spun in dizzying circles and I tried to breathe in. It hurt, a band around my chest making it all but impossible to take a deep enough breath.

“Shan.” His voice, low and quiet, cut through the noise in my head.

“Don’t,” I said, shaking my head. I turned away, desperate to be alone for a few minutes. I needed to think. I so badly needed to think. This…this should make it better, right? I’d mattered then, if he could be believed. This should make it better. So why did I feel like he just slashed my heart open all over again.

I made it two steps before he came up behind me, his arms coming around me. “Let me go,” I said, forcing the words out through a throat gone tight with emotion. There was something trapped inside me. I didn’t understand it. Was it a scream? Was it a sob? I didn’t understand.

“No.” The words were spoken against my hair. “I had to do that once—it was wrong then. Even if I hadn’t been here to buy this place, I was too old for you. It was all wrong. But it didn’t change how I felt. One look at you and I was done for.”

“Let me go.” The shaking started deep inside me and I couldn’t stop it. If he didn’t let me go, and now, I was going to break. Right here. Right now.

“Why?” He spun me around and caught my face in his hands. “You came after me. You came to me last night. You’re the one who was just sitting there telling me you didn’t know how I felt and now I tell you and you want me to let you go.”

I blinked and when I looked back at him, it was through a veil of tears. I reached out, fumbling for anything that would push him away, anything that would give me the distance I needed to think. I just needed to think. “You’re lying. You son of a bitch. You told me that night that you don’t fuck naïve little virgins. Fine. I get it. I wasn’t sophisticated enough, old enough for you. But don’t you dare stand there and tell me you loved me when you were that cruel—”

“I don’t give a damn about how sophisticated you were. None of that mattered to me.”

His voice was like a slap in the air and I flinched.

Furious with myself, I continued to push. “So it was the age thing. How noble of you. You could flirt with me, make out with me, let me shove my hand down your pants, but the fact that I was a seventeen-year-old virgin—that was your stopping point. It was okay to be cruel, though.”

“Oh, fuck this,” he muttered.

“I don’t think so.” I shoved in front of him as he would have left. Pride drove me as I shoved my hands against his chest. “So it’s okay to be attracted to stupid little virgin, okay to be cruel, but no fucking her, right? She’s too young. Have I got it right?”

He grabbed my arms, jerked me close. “I never meant any of it to go as far as it did,” he rasped, his breath coming in heavy pants against my mouth, his brow pressed to mine. “I told myself, every time, I’d end it. I’d pull back. And all I did was get tangled up in you. I didn’t know how to handle…”

“What?” I demanded, my voice thick with derision. “A teenaged girl with a crush?”

“It was more than that, and you know it. It was always more with us.”

12/19/13
TheVirginRedemption72

Redemption

TheVirginRedemption72

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Maybe that’s why my plans didn’t work out. Cold could never describe what I feel for Drake Gallagher. Still, after ten years of bitterness, ten years of hiding in the shadows, I’m not sure there’s any way to bridge the distance between us. Especially now.
Running away seemed to be the best answer. So what am I supposed to do now that he’s found me again? Is it time to open up and tell him…everything? The safest thing to do would be push him away. But safety is an illusion. Nobody knows that better than I.

Expected publication late January 2014

 

Excerpt

Oh, yes. I could lie. I could look Drake right in the eye and offer glib words that would ease this tension, angry words that would push him away. Or I could offer him more half-truths. I had wanted to get him out of my system. It hadn’t worked.

Now he was in my system, in my soul, in my blood. I could taste him on my lips as I slept, feel his body under my hands in my dreams, and when I woke, sometimes I even imagined I could still smell the scent of his skin on mine.

Feeling the weight of his gaze on my head, I slowly raised my head and stared at him.

In the bright, golden lights of the bathroom, I felt exposed and stripped bare.

The small, scared part of me whispered… Lie. Just lie. It’s so much easier. So much safer.

But that was the crux of my problem. I’d felt safe in Florida, and look what happened. Since then, there was rarely a day when I truly felt safe. What I felt was loneliness, anger, guilt and confusion.

I lived in the shadows and I wrapped myself in lies, just to keep people at bay.

In that moment, I realized how very tired of it all I was.

But the lies, and the shadows, would continue unless I pulled myself out of them.

11/5/13

Revenge

Hurtful words undone. Could that happen? Could we go back to who we had been on the beach, him a too-solemn, serious young man and me a foolish, hopeful girl who hadn’t had her heart, her dreams, her world smashed, all within the span of a couple of months?

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10/31/13

Upcoming Blog Tour

I’ll be visiting some blogs, with prizes, to celebrate my upcoming book.

blog tour

 

I’ll have a few gift certificates to give away to random commenters.

The blogs I’m visiting…

 

October 30th: Book Binge

October 31st: Scorching Book Reviews

November 1st: Delighted Reader

November 1st: Romance Novel News

November 4th: Cocktails & Books

November 7th: Book Lovin’ Mamas

November 8th: Novel Thoughts

November 11th: Fiction Vixen

 

TheVirginRedemption72

“Then I can help.” He turned and moved deeper into the apartment. “This…isn’t what I would have seen you choosing. There was something open near Mai’s. Did you see it?”

“I saw it. This suits my needs.” I floundered for some reason to throw him out, but what in the hell was I going to say? You can’t stay here? I’m dirty and I’m cranky and I’m not wearing a bra and I can’t look at you without wanting you?

That wasn’t going to go over well.

He tossed a look over his shoulder. “It suits your needs? What about what you want?”

My belly twisted, hot and demanding. What I wanted stood right in front of me. Reaching for it was a different matter altogether.

Turning away from him, I strode over to the refrigerator and opened it. “This is what I want. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken it. Would you like a bottle of water?”

“No. I’m good. So…where do you want me?”

He stood only five feet in front of the bedroom door. The mattress was still stripped, but who needed sheets?

Amazon | iBooks | BN

10/29/13
TheVirginRevengeDraft2

Pre-orders links for Amazon & iBooks

It’s finally showing on iBooks!

Rdemption

I just wanted…

Closing my eyes, I lifted my glass to my lips.

Perhaps it was having the wine inside me, and next to no food. I hadn’t had dinner. Lunch had been half of the sandwich I’d packed and nothing else. Breakfast had been a Powerbar and a latte on the way down the elevator.

The wine made it easier to be honest and I really let myself acknowledge why I was doing this.

I wanted Drake Gallagher. One time.

Just once.

I wanted what he’d teased me with all those years ago, before he’d pulled away and so coolly dismissed me.

And I wanted to see the hunger in his eyes.

I’d like to make him burn for me. Long for me. Ache for me. I’d like to make myself an addiction in his blood, like he’d been in mine all this time.

Amazon | iBooks | BN

09/12/13

Pre-orders showing up

Revenge has shown up for pre-order on Nook. The other sites will show up soon, I think.

 

Two weeks into my job.

I lay face-down on my bed and decided this was the best way ever to make sure I was cured of any sort of romantic inclinations.

When I thought about Drake Gallagher these days, I mostly wanted to have a picture of him thumbtacked to my wall so I could throw darts at his perfect face.

My shoes, the cute pair of Jimmy Choos I’d bought as a treat for myself, and wore only when I needed a pick-me-up, were still on my feet and I hated them. Kicking them off, I rolled onto my back and stared up at the ceiling. There wasn’t a bone in my body that didn’t hurt.

My eyes were gritty from lack of sleep. He was indeed in the office most days by seven. I was ready to leave my room by six thirty, because I didn’t trust him to not pull another stunt like he had the day of the breakfast meeting.

He usually worked until seven or later. Typically, I took a sandwich with me, but ended up eating on the go and that morning, a skirt that had previously fit me like a glove had fit a little loose in the waist.

I wasn’t eating right and I couldn’t sleep. The nightmares had returned with a vengeance; stress brought them on and I was most certainly stressed.

This job sucked and I still wasn’t certain just why I was doing this.

He didn’t remember me.

I don’t fuck naïve little virgins.

Of course he didn’t. With a job like this, he probably didn’t even have time to masturbate.

08/15/13

The Virgin: Revenge

His eyes were a pure, almost crystalline green.  When he’d been in Massachusetts, spending hours on the beach with me, his skin had deepened to that warm, golden glow and it had made his eyes practically gleam.

They still had that powerful impact now, but his gaze didn’t linger on me— not even for a second— and I sat there, curling my fingers into fists under the table as he spoke to each of us individually, then addressed the group as a whole.

Vaguely, through the buzzing in my ears, I heard his words, understood them.

A group interview, as I’d expected. Lovely.

The rest of my mind was elsewhere.

I nodded and smiled and made the appropriate noises as the interview started, but in reality, my mind spun in circles as I tried to figure out what to do, how to handle this.

He hadn’t recognized me. At all.

My belly was a sick, twisting little mess of despair and I thought about rising, walking away.  Just walking away.  I didn’t need to do this, didn’t need to be here.  I could find another job, and even if it took a while, it wouldn’t matter.

But then his eyes came back to mine, and for a moment, just a moment, his gaze lingered.  Memories— of the way it had felt to have those eyes burning into me, his weight pressing against me as our hearts raced— rose inside me.

He’d once made me feel like I was everything.

Then he cut me down to nothing.

Now, he looked at me like I was just…anybody.  That look, lingering for just a second, was all I had to hold on to.  Not much of a thing. Not much of a hope.

But that connection, faint as it was, while our gazes locked, made my heart race and my palms went damp.

Had I really come this far just to walk away because he didn’t know me?

Really?

Resolved, I straightened in the chair and forced my brain to focus.

 

 

Group interviews were all about competition, standing out from the crowd.

They also made the candidates nervous as hell.

It didn’t really help that I was already nervous, already on edge, my skin tight and prickly under the sleek cut of my grey suit.  But I could handle the nerves, could handle the pressure just fine.  Group interviews weren’t unknown to me and I knew why they did them.  They saved time, let the employer find out who worked well under fire.

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for some of the women there.  It was pretty obvious several of them hadn’t ever had to handle a situation like this; when they were asked, in front of the others, questions like, Why do you think we should hire you over any other candidate in this room…it was clear they didn’t know how to handle it.

My foot throbbed as the woman who’d smashed it stood up to introduce herself. Maybe I should thank her.  The minor pain was something else to focus on as I forced my tense muscles to relax.

Her name was Anna Simone.  Lovely.  She did a bang-up job and managed to convey her skills well, and when she looked at Drake,  her eyes warmed. She leaned forward as she spoke, explaining her skills, just why she should get this job…and she managed to convey, without really saying it, just how much she’d be willing to do. Her gaze never left his.

I saw the chill settle in his eyes, watched as a subtle shift took place on his current admin’s face.  The admin’s name was Mai Nhu and her brow rose ever so slightly before she looked down at her iPad to make a note.

Oh, honey.  You just lost your chance.  Anna didn’t even seem to realize the atmosphere had just changed, though, and she continued on, listing her experience, her past jobs, before going to explain why she was the best candidate for this job.

Anna paused briefly to give Drake or Mai a chance to ask questions and while he was silent, Mai gave her a polite smile. “Thank you, Ms. Simone.”

The interviews droned on.  I had my chance near the end.  I barely remembered how I did.  I can remember looking Drake in the eyes. I can remember looking Mai in the eyes.  And I can remember the feel of the wind on my face, the way tears had mingled with saltwater on a day ten years ago.  I looked into his eyes as I finished answering yet another spate of questions.  You don’t remember me at all, do you?

There was nothing in his eyes.

Absolutely nothing.

 

 

“We would like to speak a bit longer with Ms. Crosby and Ms. Gibbens.”

The interview ended with that simple statement.

Beth and I looked at each other.

Everybody else looked at us.

Then they rose, filed to the door, save for Anna.

“Can I expect a return interview?”

She directed the question to Drake.

Mai responded with a polite, “It’s unlikely, Ms. Simone, but thank you for your time.”

“But—”

“Please make sure to turn in the visitor badge.”  Mai’s voice was polite, but so very firm.  I could like her.  A lot.

A moment later, the doors shut again.  Beth and I waited.

“Ms. Gibbens, your resume is impressive, but I don’t think this is the right job for you.  However, I do have an opening that I think will suit you.”  Drake flipped through the resume.

I studied him from under my lashes.  It was odd, I thought, the head of the company handling this.  I could see him hiring his own admin.  He had to work with that person, day in and day out.

“Sir?”

He glanced up, smiled.  “My local head of HR needs a new assistant.  Her administrative assistant is retiring shortly. We didn’t get much notice and we don’t have much time to get somebody hired, either. Normally, we’d look within to promote, but…well, I have reasons to think you would do the job best.  I prefer to have the best, especially within HR.  You have extensive experience within that field.”

Beth nodded. “Yes, Mr. Gallagher.”

He nodded, glanced at Mai.  “See if Hannah has any time to speak with Ms. Gibbens.”  He looked back at Beth.  “We’ll have to set up the interview, see how it goes. I’m sorry this didn’t work out but I believe in having people in the right position.”

“I completely understand.”  She smiled.

If I wasn’t mistaken, she looked a little relieved.

I couldn’t blame her.  Working with Drake would be a pain in the ass.

 

 

A few minutes later, I realized that pain in the ass was about to be a pain in my ass. Unless I decided this was enough.

He sat across from me, the brilliant rays of sun coming in through the window behind him, gilding that beautiful hair of his, casting too much of his face into shadow, while he leaned back in his chair.

Mai had left, briefly.

I had no doubt the ever-efficient woman would be back.

But for now, I was alone. Step into my parlor…

“You’re from Massachusetts,” he said, his eyes resting on my face.  My resume was in front of him, but he didn’t look at it.

I inclined my head.

“After you graduated, it doesn’t look like you went back there.”

“There was no need.” No reason. Everything that made it home was gone.

“Not even for a visit?”

Something in his voice…what was that?  I tried to catch something of what he might be thinking, feeling, but with the sun at his back it was almost impossible to even see him, much less gauge what might be in his mind. I’d almost think he remembered, but if he did, why was he going on like this?  Crossing my legs, I smoothed down my skirt, a momentary ploy for time before I answered.  “No, Mr. Gallagher.”

It was a small lie, but he didn’t need to know that.  I did go back. Every year.  For one day only.

He nodded and then leaned forward, studying my resume again before flicking me another look.

“This position is going to require long hours.  If I’m here at seven, I expect you to be here as well.”

Arching a brow, I said,  “That isn’t an issue.”

“Very often, I am here at seven, and I’ll work past eight.  That’s five days a week.  And it’s not unusual for me to be here for five or six hours on Saturday, either. If I’m working, you’re working.”

“Again, not an issue.”  My heart slammed against my ribs.  He was considering giving me the job.  He hadn’t recognized me.

A memory swam up from the depths of my mind.  Those cool green eyes, flicking my way, my mouth still buzzing from that last, burning kiss, my skin hot while my breasts throbbed.  I don’t fuck naïve little virgins, Shan.