Hi Julie and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Ignited – Most Wanted Book 3!
Thanks so much to HJ for hosting me today! I am really excited to share Cole’s story with all of you!
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Twitter Summary – Brutal, Demanding, & HOT!! Ignited by J. Kenner #MostWanted Book 3 – Meet #ColeAugust
Sigh. I wish I had a play list, but I can’t write to music. The words distract me. For that matter, I can’t write to instrumental music either … unless the kids are too noisy, in which case, I’ve learned to adjust! But that’s “drowning out” noise … not “inspirational music”!
For research I have a slide show of the actual places and inspirations in Chicago – http://bit.ly/ChicagoResearch
Pet Peeve – Depends on the day – Cole has a very short temper
Favorite Color – Doesn’t have just one being an artist.
Favorite Food – Loves a good steak!
Pet Peeve – irritating people (like her boss at the coffee shop!)
Favorite Color – Purple
Favorite Food – cheese fries
Please share the opening line of this book:
Cons and games, lies and deceit. Those aren’t just words to me, but a way of life.
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
1. I traveled to Chicago to research this book (and the other two books in the Most Wanted series!)
2. While doing that research, the car I hired actually had a flat tire in the area I was researching for Cole’s childhood neighborhood … just a few blocks from where we very plainly saw a drug deal going down!
3. Cole’s house is based on a real Frank Lloyd Wright house in the Chicago area.
4. There is a cameo Nikki and Damien from the Stark series in this book
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Oh, gosh, that’s hard. Because there is always something about the characters that surprises me. I tend to write with a movie in my head … but that doesn’t always mean I know ahead of time what the characters’ motivations and secrets are. So while I don’t recall anything specific, I can say with certainty that the answer is yes!
What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?
My voice, the characters, the scenario! That’s such a hard question because I think every book has it’s own unique thing, and I hope that readers resonate with Kat and Cole!
The First kiss…
Well, it was pretty dang hot in Kat’s imagination … but that was months before it every really happened…
The actual first kiss was at the Edge Gallery, an art gallery co-owned by Cole. It was during the Gallery’s gala opening, actually, and while it was hot and demanding and pretty much melted her, it ended a little to quickly for Kat’s liking.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing while writing it?
Oh gosh, yes! But the way secrets are built an revealed over the course of the book, I’m don’t think I can go there without spoilers. Let’s just say that the book has tons of emotional oomph!
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
Think the opening of the gallery – there are several different scenes that show a range of emotions, and several situations that would be good to see the range that an actor has.
Here’s an example of one bit from the gallery:
Still, I’d never know if I didn’t go all in and find out. Maybe I’d fumbled the ball with my crappy conversation, but the night was young, and I gave myself a mental pep talk as I wandered the gallery, gliding through the flotsam and jetsam of gossip and business talk. Everything from catty comments about other women’s clothing, to speculation as to the best place for a post-gala meal, to praise for the undeniable skill of the various artists represented at the opening. A few people I knew casually made eye contact, politely shifting their stance as if to welcome me into their conversation.
I pretended not to notice. Right then, I was lost in my own head, trying to wrap my mind around what I wanted and how I intended to get it.
The gallery was shaped like a T, with the main exhibit hall—which displayed the work of tonight’s two featured artists—being the stem, and the crossbar being the more permanent exhibits. I’d been to the gallery before, so I knew the general layout, and I wandered the length of the room to where the two wings intersected.
There was a velvet rope blocking guests from entering the permanent area, but I’ve never paid much attention to rules. I slipped between the wall and the brass post that held the rope secure, then moved to the right so that I would be out of sight of the rest of the guests. After all, I wasn’t in the mood for either a lecture on proper party etiquette or company.
The last time I’d been in this area, the section had still been under construction. The walls had been unpainted and the glass ceiling had been covered with a dark, protective film. The long, narrow room had been gloomy and a little claustrophobic. Now it extended in front of me like a walkway to paradise.
Tonight, the glass ceiling was transparent. Outside, lights mounted on the roof shone down to provide the illusion of daylight, and all around me the area glowed with artificial sunlight and the bright colors of the various pieces on display.
Beautifully polished teak benches ran down the center of the room, each separated by bonsai trees, so that both the seating and the decoration were as artistic as the architecture and the contents. And yet there was nothing overpowering about the room. Even tonight, with the hum of voices flowing in from the main gallery, I felt the blissful freedom of solitude.
With a sigh, I sat on one of the benches, realizing only as I did that I’d chosen this spot for a specific purpose. The image in front of me had caught my eye. No, more than that. It had compelled me. Drawn me in. And now I sat and studied it.
I knew a little bit about art, though not as much as my father. And certainly not as much as Cole. But it’s fair to say that I’ve paid my dues in the kind of art gallery that caters to clients who embody that perfect trifecta of too much money, too much time, and too much property.
I couldn’t count the number of days I’d spent in high heels and a pencil skirt, extolling the virtues of a particular piece. I’d rave about the astounding deal the buyer could get because our client—“no, no, I can’t share his identity, but if you read the European papers, you’ve surely heard of him”—was desperate to unload an original master that had been in the family for generations. “Hard times,” I’d say with a resigned shake of my head. “You understand.”
And the buyer would frown and nod sympathetically, all the while thinking about this amazing bargain, and how they could one-up the Smiths at the next garden party.
I’d never sold an actual work by an actual master in my life, but the pieces I had passed held an equal appeal, at least to the eye if not to the investment portfolio.
But this painting before me put all the others I’d dealt with to shame. It was the view of a woman from behind. She was seated on the edge of a fountain, so that from the artist’s perspective she was seen through shimmering beads of water that seemed to form a living curtain. A kind of barrier between her and the world. It gave the illusion that she was a creature of pure innocence, and yet that was not an asset. Instead, her innocence rendered her untouchable, even though it was clear that all anyone had to do was slip through the water to reach her.
The angle of view was such that her hips were not visible. Instead we saw only the curve of her waist, the unblemished skin of her back, and her blond hair that fell in damp curls that ended near her shoulder blades.
There was something familiar about her. Something magnetic. And for the life of me, I had no clue what it was.
“It’s one of my favorites.”
The familiar deep voice pulled me from my trance. Flustered, I turned to face Cole, then immediately wished I hadn’t. I should have taken a moment to prepare myself first, because I heard my own gasp as I sank deep into those chocolate eyes.
“I—” I closed my mouth. Clearly I had lost all ability to think or speak or function in society. I fervently hoped the floor would just open up and swallow me, but I’d be okay with an alien abduction, too.
Neither of those things happened, though, and I found myself just sitting there staring at him while the corner of his mouth—that gorgeous, rugged, kissable mouth—twitched with what I could only assume was amusement.
“I’m sorry I slipped back here. It was getting too crowded in there for me, and I needed some air.”
Concern flickered across his face. “Is something wrong, Catalina? You looked pre-occupied.”
“I’m fine,” I said, though I trembled a bit, unnerved as always when he called me by my given name. Not that he actually knew my real name. As far as Cole and all my friends in Chicago were concerned, I was Katrina Laron. Catalina Rhodes didn’t exist to them. For that matter, she didn’t exist for me, either. She hadn’t for a long, long time.
Sometimes, I missed her.
About eight months ago, a group of us had been having dinner together. Cole started talking about an upcoming trip to Los Angeles, and how he intended to visit Catalina Island. I don’t even remember the details of the conversation, but by the end of it, my new nickname had stuck.
I’d rolled my eyes and pretended to be irritated, but the truth of it was that I liked the intimacy of hearing my birth name on his lips. It meant that we shared a secret, he and I, even if I was the only one of us who knew it.
Not that Catalina was an exclusive nickname. Cole also called me “blondie” and “baby girl,” though he tended to reserve the latter for Angie, who had been a teenager when he’d met her.
Catalina was my favorite of the endearments, of course. But I wasn’t picky. However Cole wanted to mark me was fine by me.
Right then, he stood to my right and frowned down at me. “I’m fine,” I repeated, with a little more force this time. “Really. I was lost in thought, and you startled me. But I’m back now.”
“I’m glad.” His voice was smooth, almost prep-school cultured. He’d worked at it, I knew. He rarely talked about the time he’d spent in gangs, the things he’d had to overcome. Hell, he barely even talked about the two years he’d spent in Italy, studying art on scholarship. But it had all come together to make the man. And right then, in that moment, I was glad he never talked about it to the press or his clients. But I fervently wished that he would talk about it to me.
Yeah, I was a mess all right.
I stood up, then wiped my hands down the red material that clung provocatively to my thighs. I hoped it looked like I was smoothing my skirt. Instead, I was drying my sweaty palms.
“I’m going to go track down one of the girls with sushi,” I said. “I didn’t eat dinner and I think I’m feeling a little light-headed.” I didn’t mention that he was the reason my head was spinning.
“Stay.” He reached out and closed his fingers around my wrist. His hand was huge, but his grip was surprisingly tender. His skin was rough, though, and I remembered how much of the work in the gallery he’d done himself, assembling frames, hanging canvases, moving furniture. Not to mention painting his own canvases. He must spend hours holding a wooden brush, moving carefully and meticulously in order to get exactly what he wanted—color, texture, total sensuality.
Slowly, as if he was intentionally trying to drive me crazy, he let his eyes drift over me. I fought the urge to shiver—to close my eyes and soak in the fantasy of this deliberate caress.
Instead, I watched his face. Watched his expression grow hot, almost feral, as if he wanted nothing more in that moment than to touch me—to take me.
Do it, I thought. Right here, right now, just do it and let me have thought and reason back. Take me, dammit, and free me.
But he didn’t pull me close. Didn’t press his hands to my ass and grind his cock against my thighs. Didn’t slam me against the wall and press his mouth to mine while one hand closed tight around my breast and the other yanked up my skirt.
He did nothing but look at me—and in looking made me feel as though he’d done all those things.
He also made me feel better about the abuse I’d put my credit card through to buy this outfit. The dress was fire engine red, had a plunging neckline, and hugged every one of my curves. And while I might sometimes think that my curves were more appropriate for a 1940s film noir wardrobe, I can’t deny that I filled out the dress in a way that Cole seemed to appreciate.
I’d worn my mass of blond curls clipped up, letting a few tendrils dangle loose to frame my face. My red stilettos perfectly matched the dress and added four inches to my already ample height, putting me just about eye level with this man. If you looked up “fuck me heels” in the dictionary, a picture of these shoes would be on the page.
I wanted to stay right there, lost in the way he was looking at me.
At the same time, I wanted to run. To get away and regroup. To figure out how in hell I could manage to control a seduction when I couldn’t even control myself.
Escape won out, and I tugged gently at my arm to free it.
To my surprise, his grip tightened. I frowned at him, a little confused, a whole lot hopeful.
“I’d like to hear your thoughts.”
“The painting,” he said. “What do you think of it?”
“Oh.” Cold disappointment washed over me. “The painting.”
I gave my arm another tug and this time, to my regret, he released me.
“You like it?”
“I love it,” I said, both automatically and truthfully. “But there’s something—I don’t know—sad about it.”
His brows lifted slightly, and for a moment I thought he looked mildly amused. As if he’d understood the punch line of a joke a few moments before I did. Except I never got there at all.
“It’s not sad?” I asked, turning back to look at the image.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Art is what you make of it. If you think it’s sad, then I suppose it is.”
“What is it to you?”
“Longing,” he said.
I turned from the painting to him, sure that my face showed my question.
“Not sadness so much as desire,” he said, as if that explained his response. “Her desires are like gemstones, and she holds them close, and each one presses sharp edges into the palm of her hand.”
I thought about that as I looked back at the painting. “Do you think that way because you are an artist? Or are you an artist because you think that way?”
He chuckled, the sound both mild and engaging. “Shit, Catalina. I don’t know. I don’t think I could separate one from the other.”
“Well, the most eloquent thing I can say is that I like it. I realize it’s not one of the featured pieces, but I hope you’re going to show more of the artist’s work. It’s compelling.” I leaned closer, looking for a signature on the canvas or an information card on the wall. I found neither. “Who’s the artist?”
“Don’t worry, blondie,” Cole said, his eyes flicking quickly to the painting. “We’ll keep him around.” Now I was certain I heard amusement in his voice, and since I wasn’t sure what the joke was, it ticked me off.
I cocked my head, feeling more in control now that he was irritating me. “Okay, tell me. What am I missing?”
He moved to step in front of me, blocking the painting. Hell, blocking everything. He filled all of my senses, making me a little drunk merely from his proximity. The sight of him before me, the scent of his cologne, all spice and wood and male. Even the echo of his voice played in my head, those radio-quality tones making me want to shiver.
I didn’t have his touch, but the sensation of his hand upon my skin still lingered, and I clung tight to the memory. And as for taste—well, a girl could only hope.
Eternity passed in the space of seconds, and when he spoke, there was a musing note to his voice, as if he were speaking more to himself than to me. “How do you do it?”
“Do what?” I asked, but by the time the words escaped my lips, the spell was broken, and it was as if he hadn’t spoken at all.
“It’s an important night for Tyler and me,” he said, his voice now tight with formality. “I’m glad you came, but I should get back to the rest of the guests.”
The abrupt change in his tone disappointed me, but I clung greedily to the words themselves, and tried to ignore the rest. He’d said I’m glad. Not we’re glad.
And I, apparently, had reached a new level of pathetic if I’d sunk so low as to be analyzing pronouns.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” I said, hoping my own voice didn’t reveal the loose grip I had on my sanity.
He flashed me that killer smile, then turned toward the main gallery. But after only two steps, he stopped, then looked back at me. “By the way, you owe me,” and this time there was no denying the humor on his face.
“Oh, really? And why is that?”
“How is it you started working here three months ago and I didn’t notice? That’s not like me at all. And, frankly, Kat, if you’d spent that much time at my side, I assure you it would have caught my attention.”
That spark of heat was back in his voice, but I barely noticed it. Instead, I’d turned a little cold. A string of curses whipped through my mind, and I had to force myself not to spit out a choice one or two.
Instead, I did what I’d been trained my whole life to do—I got my shit together and ran with it. “Oh my god, Cole, I’m so sorry. I meant to mention weeks ago that the mortgage company might be calling, but I got caught up in helping Angie with wedding prep stuff, and now I’m closing next week and I’ve been packing, and then—”
“It’s okay,” he said. “I get it.”
“It’s just that my hours at the coffee shop haven’t ever been steady, and I didn’t want the underwriting people to think I don’t have the means to make my payments.”
“It’s okay,” he repeated. “Buying a house is a very big deal. It’s cool. It’s been well over a week since they called, and I verified everything. If they haven’t requested any more information from you by now, then I’d say you’re good to go.”
He met my eyes once more, trapping me in his gaze just a little too long for comfort. Whatever humor had been in his face before had vanished. Instead, I saw only a vibrant, sensual intensity. “But like I said, you owe me.”
I swallowed, and despite the dryness in my mouth, I managed to form words. “Whatever you want,” I said, and I could only hope that he understood the full meaning of my words.
His gaze lingered a moment longer. Then he inclined his head as if in dismissal. “I’ll see you back in the main gallery.”
Once again he turned and walked away from me.
This time, he didn’t look back.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
For Kat. One word: Patience.
Because if she’s patient with Cole, it will be so very worth it.
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2014?
I just finished working on more Nikki & Damien!!! HAVE ME (a Stark Ever After novella) will release November 4!!!!
Now I’m diving back into SAY MY NAME which is a new erotic trilogy set in the world of Stark International. Nikki and Damien will both be in the book, but the hero is the incredibly hot Jackson Steele … and I can’t wait for readers to meet him next April! (It’s already up for pre-order in paperback at Amazon, with more retailers and formats coming soon. Here’s a link: http://amzn.to/1rf9aTO
As for what is still coming in 2014, quite a lot.
As I’ve already mentioned, HAVE ME will be out in November.
I also have a new erotic paranormal series launching in December (I’ll be publishing that as Julie Kenner, not J. Kenner). The series will kick off with a prologue novella in December, Caress of Darkness, and then be followed by a Phoenix Brotherhood trilogy (titles coming soon!).
That will wrap 2014, but there is a ton of stuff coming in 2015! You can learn all about it by:
subscribing to my newsletter — http://bit.ly/JK_newsletter
following me on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/juliekenner
following me on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/jkennerbooks
or just visiting my website at http://www.juliekenner.com
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Signed copy of Wanted + Release Me – International
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: How would you describe your fantasy hero?
Here is an excerpt… You can also read the first 3 chapters on my website – http://bit.ly/Ignited3Ch
I watched as Sloane brushed her hand possessively over Tyler’s arm, then whispered something to him. He laughed, then kissed her cheek. She moved away from him to enter the party, and he stood for a moment, his gaze lingering on her as he watched her go.
Since I was watching Tyler, I didn’t realize that Sloane had been coming my way until she eased up beside me. “Any news on the house?”
“We close next week,” I said. “I’m suffering from mild terror that it’s all going to get ripped out from under me. Like we’ll find out that something is horribly wrong with the foundation. Or the sellers will back out. Or the loan will fall through.”
The house had started as a whim. My natural state is to be in constant motion, everything from my habit of fidgeting to my general tendency to uproot myself every few years and move to a new city.
Over the last six years, though, I’d eased off that last trait. Instead of bouncing out of Chicago, I’d just bounced between apartments.
A few months ago, I decided that living in a house could be fun. I’d started out looking solely at rentals, but once I saw the tiny two bedroom frame house, I knew it was like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. All it needed was a little love. More important, I knew it had to be mine.
I hadn’t even realized I’d been contemplating ownership until I’d picked up the real estate agent’s flyer, but I was tired of feeling uprooted. I wanted to settle. I wanted . . . more.
And now I was on the verge of having it.
Honestly, I liked the way that felt.
Sloane’s brow was furrowed as she pondered my words. “You’ve had the inspections, the tenants have already moved out and the sellers live—where? New Mexico, right? And I think you would have heard by now if there was something wrong with the loan.” She narrowed her eyes. “The employment stuff checked out okay, right?”
“Yeah, but talk about a snafu. The call must have come when Liz wasn’t here.” I’d hit Liz up before I told my little fib on the loan application, and she’d promised to back me if the underwriters called.
“Shit. What happened? Tyler didn’t say a thing to me.”
“Apparently Cole got the call.”
Her eyes widened. “Oh, really? When?”
“It’s been over a week.”
“And he didn’t say anything?”
“Not until just a few minutes ago,” I said.
She held her hands out, gesturing for me to continue. “Hello? What did he say?”
“That I owed him,” I admitted.
Her laugh was filled with pure delight. “Well, that’s convenient, isn’t it?”
“If he said you owed him, you just need to ask him how he wants to get paid.”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “And what exactly are we talking about?”
“Oh, please, Kat. Don’t play coy. I’m a cop, remember? I know how to read people. And that goes for you, too, Katrina Laron, even though you think you’re impenetrable.”
I did think that, and it was a little disconcerting to know that I was wrong. This was why I’d spent most of my life avoiding making close friends. They got into the cracks of your life, knew you too well, and made you vulnerable. But Sloane was right—as a former cop, she was used to watching people and noting the details. More than that, it wasn’t that long ago that she’d been in a similar position, plotting out a way to seduce Tyler Sharp. Considering she and Tyler were now desperately in love and deliriously happy, I had to figure she understood the game.
She looked me up and down, the movement very deliberate. “Nice dress.” Her mouth curved in a wicked grin.
“Seems like the kind of thing Cole would appreciate.”
“Bitch,” I said, but I was laughing.
“So other than the dress, what have you got in your repertoire?”
“Isn’t that the question of the day? You’re right about the intentions,” I admitted. “But I’m doing a piss-poor job on the execution.” I ran my fingers through my hair, remembered the clip too late, and cursed.
I gave her the rundown of what had happened in the gallery while I freed my hair and fluffed it with my fingers.
“But I’m not sure if he was really interested, or if it’s just me being hopeful.”
“Please tell me you aren’t really that naive,” she said. “The guy’s completely gone on you.”
“You are such a liar,” I said. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine Cole being gone on anyone. He was too damn good at keeping everything in check. As far as I’d seen over the years, that temper was the only thing that managed to escape his walls—and even that burst out like a rocket and was quickly snuffed.
“I’ve seen his face when he looks at you,” she said. “Or, more accurately, I’ve seen his face when he looks at you and you’re not looking back.” Her mouth quirked up. “You know as well as I do that Cole doesn’t give anything away that he doesn’t have to.”
“There’s one of the century’s biggest understatements.”
“I’m serious,” she said. “When Tyler looks at me the way I’ve seen Cole look at you, I know to expect a very long night, with very little sleep.”
“Oh.” I drew in a breath, then licked suddenly dry lips. “That’s something,” I added, unable to keep the smile out of my voice. “Thanks.”
“Sure,” she said. “But, listen. Are you—” She cut herself off with a shrug. “Never mind.”
“Oh, no,” I said. “No way are you pulling that with me. You’ve got something to say, and it’s about me or it’s about Cole. And I want to know.”
“It’s just—are you sure about this? And why now?”
“Yes,” I said, because despite my nervous moments and hesitations, I’d never been more sure about anything. I took her arm and steered her to a far corner, where there were no paintings displayed on the walls and therefore no guests to overhear us. “And as for now, I don’t think I have a choice anymore. I can’t get him out of my head,” I admitted. “He’s getting into my dreams. I’ve never had a guy get this far under my skin, and it’s driving me a little bit crazy.”
“So this is an exorcism?”
“Maybe. Hell, I don’t know. Why?”
“Because we’re friends, Kat. All of us. Me and Tyler, Angie and Evan. And even you and Cole. I don’t want it to get weird, and I don’t want—” She shook her head. “Sorry, that’s none of my business. Shouldn’t go there.”
No way was I letting her get away with that. “Go where?”
“I just don’t want you to get hurt,” she said.
“What are you talking about?”
She dragged her fingers through her hair. “I just happen to know that Cole doesn’t date. I don’t want you disappointed. And—to be perfectly selfish—I don’t want to lose the dynamic between the six of us.”
“I don’t, either,” I said truthfully. “But I need to do this.” I didn’t try to explain that if I didn’t, the dynamic between us would change anyway. I’d crossed a mental line, and no matter what, I couldn’t go back to being Friendly Kat, the girl with the secret crush on Cole. Because this wasn’t a crush. This was a need. This was a hunger. I’d opened Pandora’s box, and even if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t shove everything back inside.
“What do you mean he doesn’t date?” I pressed.
“That’s what Tyler told me. He fucks,” she said with a quirk of her brow. “But he doesn’t date.”
“That’s part of what makes him perfect,” I admitted, because although I had no way of knowing for sure, I’d watched him long enough and intently enough to guess that Cole was at least as fucked up as I was. “I just want to scratch this itch. And if you’re right, then Cole has the same itch, and this should work out just fine.”
“So you’re just looking for a fuck buddy?” She narrowed her eyes, obviously dubious.
“Yeah,” I said, though I hadn’t really put it in those terms before. “Yeah, I guess I am.”
“Kat . . . ” She trailed off, and there was no way to miss the censure in her voice.
“That’s a load of total bullshit.”
“No,” I said firmly, “it’s not.” And it wasn’t. I’d admit—at least to myself—that the attraction I felt for Cole pulsed hard and drove deep. But that didn’t mean I wanted to date the man—or, more specifically, it didn’t mean that I would date him, no matter how much I might want it.
Not that I could explain all of that to Sloane. We might have become friends since she’d rolled into town late last summer, but no way was I opening my closet so she could see all of my skeletons.
I didn’t need a degree in psychology to know I was fucked up, and I didn’t need a degree in human sexuality to know that I wanted Cole’s hands on me. The second one I could do something about. The first one I just had to live with.
“Trust me, Sloane,” I said, hoping that I wasn’t about to screw up royally. “I know what I’m doing.”
For a second she didn’t answer, then she nodded. “It’s your life. Go get him.”
I laughed, then signaled to a passing waiter. He paused in front of me, and I grabbed a glass of chardonnay.
I held up my finger as I downed it, silently signaling the waiter to stay. Then I exchanged my empty glass for a full one. “Liquid courage,” I said, more to Sloane than the waiter, though his lips twitched as well.
He tilted his head in both acknowledgement and farewell, then slid off into the crowd. I watched him go, knowing that my turn was next. Because Cole was somewhere in that throng, too.
I caught Sloane’s eye, and took strength from her encouraging grin. “Here goes nothing,” I said, then moved away from her and back toward the throng, determined to see this through.
It took a moment, but I finally found Cole surrounded by a group of well-heeled guests, all of whom were gazing with rapturous expressions at a canvas that seemed to be in motion, it was so full of color and life. I couldn’t hear Cole, but I saw the animation in his face, the way he got when he spoke of art.
He used his hands, his body, and with every word and motion he captured the crowd. Hell, he captured me, too, and I moved closer and closer, until finally I could hear his words and I just stood there, letting his smooth voice roll over me and give me courage.
After a moment, he wrapped up his spiel and left the guests to contemplate the painting on their own. When he did, he turned and saw me, and I felt the impact of that connection all the way to my toes.
There’d been heat between us earlier tonight—of that I no longer had any doubt. But Cole had been in control then. This time, I’d caught him unaware, and I could plainly see the pulsing hunger that raged through him as he took in the sight of me.
He promised to take me as far as I could go—and I wanted to go to the edge.
My whole life has been a cover, a con, a lie. I was born into the grift, raised on the thrill of playing someone I’m not. As a rule, I never let anyone get too close—until Cole August makes it impossible for me to stay away.
Cole is tough, sexy, and intensely loyal, yet his secrets are dark and his scars run deep. Not many women can handle his past, or the truth behind his fierce demands. But something about him beckons me—and our desire is a game I must play.
Praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations,” J.K. writes a range of stories including super sexy romances, paranormal romance, chick lit suspense and paranormal mommy lit. Her foray into the latter, Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner, is in development as a feature film with 1492 Pictures.
Her most recent trilogy of erotic romances, The Stark Trilogy (as J. Kenner), reached as high as #2 on the New York Times list and is published in over twenty countries.