Hi Jackie and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Make You Mine!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Alex couldn’t work out what had woken him, but something had, since his eyes were open and he was awake. The ceiling above him held no answers; neither did the two warm bodies of the women sleeping on either side of him.
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
Some of it is set in Monte Carlo.
I looked at MANY stills from the Bond movie, Casino Royale while I wrote it (and not entirely for Daniel Craig).
Alex appears in book two of my billionaire novellas, the Billion Dollar Bad Boy.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
I knew Alex fairly well already since he was in Mine To Take and I knew his backstory. I didn’t know Katya though and she was a lot tougher than I’d expected. Then again, she had to be since Alex pushes her A LOT.
What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?
Yes, it’s a billionaire with a virginal heroine, but this time the heroine is his bodyguard and could probably kick his ass. She nearly does, actually, but he fights dirty. 😉
Do you think there’s a common trait or a je ne sais quoi that your heroes must have?
I’m all about the hero. Mine have to be hard-out because I love a hard-out alpha dude. I don’t like to hold back on them either, which means my heroines have to be pretty kick-ass in order to handle them. I guess what’s common to all my heroes is that they have a hidden core of vulnerability that only the heroine can reach.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
Katya trying on dresses was greatly amusing.
She stood there, her awkwardness increasing, not knowing what to do with herself. Being the center of attention felt wrong on every level, since protection was all about remaining out of the spotlight.
Finally, Alex’s gaze lifted to hers. “You don’t like it.”
It wasn’t a question. Well, her discomfort was probably quite obvious. “No. The dress is too tight. I won’t be able to run in this or fight.”
He smiled and it looked like–for once–a smile of genuine amusement. “Running and fighting isn’t generally prerequisite for being my girlfriend, Katya.”
“I’m still your bodyguard, sir. That fact remains no matter who I’m pretending to be.”
His gaze dropped again, to the bodice of the dress. And he frowned. “You’re a soldier. Aren’t you supposed to be able to adapt to difficult terrain? I’m sure you can figure out how to run and fight adequately in a dress. But first of all, that god-awful bra has to go.”
A prickle of irritation chased through her. She was wearing her usual–a black, utilitarian sports bra–and no, of course it didn’t go with the dress. But it gave good support and that was all she required from her bras.
“My sports bra is not ‘god-awful,’” she said. “It’s excellent under Kevlar.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
Probably the scene where Alex asks Katya to pose as his girlfriend because that’s when the chemistry between them is tested and it needs to be hot.
He leaned back, running his gaze over her, and yes, he was right; there were definite curves there. The white cot- ton of her shirt pulled tight over full breasts, the hem tucked into her black pants revealing narrow hips. Long legs too, which made her very definitely his type. At least enough to fool the press and anyone else who happened to see them together.
“What are you doing, sir?”
Alex quickly flicked open the first couple of buttons at her throat.
She took a startled breath, the sound sharp in the silence of the room. He glanced up at her face, and for the first time since he’d met her he read shock clear in her eyes. Shock that quickly gave way to confusion. But she didn’t say anything, so he didn’t stop, undoing one more button, the fabric parting to reveal smooth, white skin.
Beautiful. Perhaps this would work after all.
His heartbeat sounded even louder in his head, and though there was no reason at all to touch her, he couldn’t help himself, gently laying a finger on the pulse at the base of her throat. Her skin felt warm and that pulse was beating fast. As fast as his.
She’d gone very, very still, but he felt her swallow, felt her pulse beat even faster.
The air around them had thickened, becoming dense with tension.
“Sir . . .” Her voice was soft, but he could hear a faint husky edge in it. The kind of edge a woman’s voice always held when she was aroused.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
I’d tell Alex to hang in there, that the destination is worth the journey. And I’d tell Katya to beware making bets with professional gamblers. 😉
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?
I’ve got a few things in the works, but the third Nine Circles book, You Are Mine, is out in October. This one’s about Zac and Eva.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 2 Print copies of MAKE YOU MINE (Nine Circles Series, #2)
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: How do you feel about playboy heroes? Do you like them? And if so, why? If not, why not?
Excerpt from Make You Mine:
Alex couldn’t work out what had woken him, but something had, since his eyes were open and he was awake. The ceiling above him held no answers; neither did the two warm bodies of the women sleeping on either side of him.
It was dark, which meant it was still the middle of the night.
Fuck. This was the third night in a row he’d woken up. And unusual for him, since he had people with him. It was only when he slept alone that the nightmares came.
Yet it hadn’t been a nightmare that had woken him this time—or if it had, it wasn’t one he remembered.
Whatever. One thing was certain: He wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep.
He managed to extract himself from between the two women–a couple of socialites he’d picked up in the Second Circle bar a few hours earlier, both of them thrilled to be invited up to his private penthouse apartment–then bent to grab the jeans he’d left on the floor in the middle of the room. Ordinarily he wouldn’t have bothered with clothes, but the past couple of weeks had left him with an odd sense of exposure and he couldn’t quite feel comfortable walking around totally naked.
And of course, there was Katya to consider. Even if she didn’t usually bat an eyelid. In the normal scheme of things that would have been enough for him to make it his personal mission to make her bat several eyelids, put a crack in that fearsome icy Russian façade of hers. But the past few weeks had given him more important things to think about than ruffling the feathers of his Russian bodyguard.
Things like a past he’d thought he’d left behind years ago. A casino. His sister, Honor.
A pair of silver dice.
Alex stepped out of the bedroom and made his way silently down the hallway to the lounge area. Massive windows gave a view out over New York’s 2:00 A.M. skyline, the city shivering in late February snow.
He liked looking at the view when everything was dark and still–though in New York nothing could ever be said to be still. But there was a quiet to it. A peace.
Alex stood for a moment, watching the snow falling outside the window.
Because it was better to watch snow than look at the dice sitting on the table.
The dice he should have given back to Gabriel the day his best friend had given them to him.
But he hadn’t. He’d kept them instead, leaving them on the low coffee table in front of the window. Burning a hole through the wood. Burning a hole in his mind.
A hole that burned straight through nineteen years of excess to a sixteen-year-old boy left bloody and traumatized on the sidewalk outside an underground casino.
His shoulder blades abruptly itched.
Alex didn’t turn. “Sorry,” he said unapologetically. “Did Marie wake you? It’s always the quiet ones that turn out to be screamers.”
“You didn’t wake me,” Katya Ivanova’s uninflected Russian accent came from behind him.
“Don’t tell me, because you haven’t been to bed yet.”
Sir. She always called him that, no matter how many times over the past three months she’d been in his employ he’d told her not to. Not Mr. St. James or Alex. Only sir. He rather liked it.
“Why not?” He turned around.
Katya was sitting on the sectional sofa, a laptop on her knees. She was dressed as she always was, in a plain white T-shirt and black tailored pants. A shoulder holster. Her long blond hair in a tight braid. He’d asked her once why she had long hair–an obvious disadvantage to a warrior such as herself. She’d just looked at him, her green eyes full of walls and shut doors. Fair enough too. He had a few walls and doors himself.
She put the laptop down beside her. “I had to check my e-mail.”
“Until two in the morning?”
“Mother Russia, huh?”
She said nothing. .
Usual fucking story. Alex leaned back against the window, the cold of the glass seeping into his skin, and folded his arms. “E-mails home from Mom and Dad? Brother? Sister?”
“Private e-mails.” She said the words like that was the end of the conversation. “Can I do anything for you, sir?”
“Uncle? Aunt?” He paused, watching her face. She wasn’t beautiful, her features too strong for something as insignificant as beauty, but there was a pleasing symmetry to them all the same. “Lover?”
And there it was, a flicker in her eyes. Easily missed if you weren’t watching closely, but he always watched closely. He watched everyone closely. As a gambler, he had to.
“Lover then.” He shifted against the glass. The agency he’d hired her from had an impressive list of her experience and skills–ex–Russian army special forces, a number of different martial arts, firearms specialties—but nothing at all about her private life. Which intrigued him. She was a mystery and he’d always been fascinated by mysteries. Especially if the mysteries were female.
Not good. Not good at all.
No, it really wasn’t. He had very few lines in the sand. Two, if pushed. And those were: no fucking with employees and only fucking those who wanted to be fucked.
Katya Ivanova, his mysterious Russian bodyguard, was fascinating and sexy, and if she hadn’t been his employee or had shown the slightest flicker of interest he’d have been on her in a heartbeat. But she was and she hadn’t. Both of which rendered her untouchable.
That didn’t mean he had to stop messing with her, though. It wasn’t like he was going to go back to sleep in a hurry.
“You have a lover waiting for you at home, Katya mine?” he asked when she didn’t speak. “A nice man waiting in St. Petersburg? Or Moscow? Or wherever the hell you’re from?”
“Moscow. And you should go back to bed, sir. Get some sleep. You are tired.”
Of course he was tired. He was always fucking tired. After nineteen years of running, who wouldn’t be?
Restlessly Alex turned back to the view of the snow-covered city. “I can’t sleep. A good orgasm is nature’s sleeping pill, though, so you could get on your knees and give me a blow job.…”
The tease was reflexive and pointless, since she never responded with either offense or amusement. But that didn’t stop him from doing it.
“No, thank you, sir,” she said as if she were refusing a cup of coffee.
“So polite. Ah well, it’s not like I haven’t got an embarrassment of riches in my bed at the moment.” And yet he didn’t make any move toward the bedroom. Just stood there, staring at the snow.
“Can I get you something? A hot chocolate perhaps?”
“If you’re not going to suck my cock, then perhaps you should be the one going to bed.”
Katya said nothing.
He smiled, watching the man reflected in the glass smile with him. She took everything he threw at her, bad temper, irritation, high-handed arrogance, lazy seduction, and swallowed it all like a black hole. Sucked it all away with her Russian stoicism, leaving her unaffected. Strong. The ideal employee. The ideal bodyguard.
She probably despised him secretly, and yet for all that she had a grandstand view of his moral bankruptcy, he’d never caught even a whiff of judgment from her. She only stared at him with those expressionless jade green eyes of hers.
“Alternatively I suppose I could wake up Marie and get her to do it. What do you think?”
“You could do that, sir, of course.”
He turned, glancing at her. “You’re never offended by anything I say to you. Why not?”
Her face was expressionless. “There is no value in taking offense. It’s a waste of energy.”
“What about my lifestyle? That doesn’t offend you?”
“It isn’t my place to judge anyone, sir.”
“Oh, come on. Everyone judges, whether they think they do or not. Whether they like it or not. So what makes you exempt?” He pushed himself away from the window, strolled up to her. “What makes you special?”
She was tall; he didn’t have to tilt his head down much to meet her gaze. And once again–reflexively–he found himself watching her face with its proud nose and strong jaw, watching for a hint of a blush or the flicker in her eyes that indicated any kind of acknowledgment that he was a man and she was a woman.
There was none. He’d never been interested in people who had no interest in him–that line in the sand again. But for some reason he found himself perversely irritated at her lack of reaction, and he didn’t know why.
He’d successfully managed to keep her off his radar for three months now, so what had changed?
You know what changed.…
“You are my employer,” she said flatly. “That is all the reason there is.”
“But even as your employer, you must have formed some kind of opinion about me.”
“My opinion is irrelevant.”
He looked down into her eyes, shadowed in the dim light of the room. “No one’s opinion is irrelevant, Katya mine.”
She didn’t even blink. “Do you wish me to arrange transport for your friends in the morning?”
End of conversation, in other words.
He decided to let it go. There was plenty of time to bait her later. After all, he wasn’t the only one who needed sleep and he’d already spotted the faint circles under her eyes, as if someone had pressed their thumbs there far too hard.
“That won’t be necessary, though it’s sweet of you to offer. I might keep them around another day.” He wouldn’t. His lovers never stuck around more than a night and that was the way he preferred it. “Go to bed. A tired bodyguard means a dead employer.”
Turning, he strolled back to the windows.
The dice on the table gleamed in the light from the city outside.
“What do they mean?”
He blinked, realizing he’d stopped, his back to her. Staring at the table. “What does what mean?”
A flash of something hot bolted down his spine. Shock. He didn’t move, shifting his attention to the snowy view ahead of him. “Why do you think they mean anything at all?”
“You keep looking at them.”
Jesus. The first time she’d asked him something that wasn’t about her job and it had to be about those dice.
Deep inside Alex, something shivered.
“Go to bed, Katya.”
And this time it wasn’t a request. It was a command.
Katya woke at dawn, fully alert, the way she always did, the way she’d perfected while in the army. She got herself out of bed and dressed quickly in shorts and a tank top, making her way to Alex’s private gym for her usual hour workout. She carefully didn’t think about the e-mail she’d gotten in the early hours of the morning. Didn’t want to give in to hope. Hope had always lied to her in the past, so she was wary of it.
But still. Today she was going to have to tell Alex St. James that she wanted to be released from her contract.
Because today she’d gotten word that they’d found him. They’d found Mikhail.
And he was alive.
Back in her room after her workout–the smallest room in Alex’s massive penthouse apartment because she’d insisted that she didn’t need any more space than was absolutely necessary–she dressed in her usual uniform of white T-shirt and black pants, her shoulder holster and handgun. Braided her hair. Put on her black jacket. Then stepped out of her room and went down the hallway and into the lounge area.
She wasn’t expecting him to be awake. Most days he didn’t emerge from his bedroom until well after eleven, at least not that she’d noticed in the two weeks since he’d requested 24-7 protection.
But he wasn’t in his bedroom. He was pacing in front of the window, talking to someone on his phone, still dressed as he had been the night before in jeans and nothing else.
Looked like he hadn’t even been to bed.
Reflexively she checked the surroundings, but everything was in order, so she stood in the doorway and waited.
He probably wouldn’t be happy with her wanting out of her contract only three months into it, but that couldn’t be helped. Neither would the agency she was with be too impressed, but again, that couldn’t be helped.
Mikhail was alive.
The knowledge sat inside her, a small warm glow that she tried not to think about. Emotion wasn’t allowed, never had been. Not for a soldier. It was distracting and she couldn’t let herself be distracted, most especially not while she was on the job. And while her contract existed, she was still on the job.
Alex St. James stopped in front of the windows, his back to her.
A tall man. Lean and muscular. Like a panther. She could see why the many women who warmed his bed liked him. But physical beauty, while pretty to look at, had never been an attractant to her.
Not that she had any feelings about him either way. He wasn’t a man to her. He was a client, and that was a different thing entirely.
He turned from the windows, the light of the cold early morning falling over his face. Straight nose, aristocratic cheekbones. A long mouth women fell over themselves to get a taste of. Thick black lashes and blue eyes she’d seen smoky with seduction. And sharp as a shard of glass.
He may have been a client, but there was something about Alex St. James that she found oddly … fascinating all the same.
He was the very epitome of everything she found problematic about America and Americans. Self-indulgent. Entitled. No sense of propriety or respect for boundaries. A louche, spoiled playboy. Yet there were times when she’d observed that playboy front drop, like a mask he wore, and he became something else. Something hard. Bright. Glittering.
The very opposite of Mikhail in many ways
But no, she wasn’t thinking of Mikhail.
Katya frowned at the man in front of her. He looked tired, that hard, bright, glittering thing lurking in his eyes. He was staring at the dice on the table again, his mouth in a line. The kind of line that spoke of retribution.
Go to bed, Katya.
He’d been staring at those dice on the coffee table for a week now, ever since his friend Gabriel Woolf had put them there. And when Alex wasn’t staring at them he was actively not staring at them, which was just as obvious.
Curiosity, which had gotten her into trouble too many times as a child and rather too often for comfort as an adult, turned over inside her, but like she did with all her emotions, she kept it locked down. Distraction could be deadly.
Apart from last night, of course, when she hadn’t been able to help herself. But then the middle of the night was always a strange time and there had been something restless and wild about him that had—
Katya ignored whatever thought had been going to occur to her. Wondering about him was not part of her remit, and besides, she would be leaving soon anyway.
Alex ended his call; his voice, devoid of its usual, lazy seductive heat, was curt.
“Fucking Gabriel,” he muttered under his breath. With a careless movement he threw the phone down onto the couch, where it bounced on the cushions before falling onto the floor. He didn’t even look to see where it landed, turning once more to the windows, his hands thrust in the pockets of his jeans, the cold light falling over his naked torso.
Katya didn’t know much about her client, but she did know that he never slept alone and that he spent a lot of time either in his office or in his club not to mention hours in his gym. What he did in the gym was a mystery, but whatever it was, his body was not that of a lazy, self-indulgent playboy.
He was lean, strong. Had the body of a fighter, not a man who drank everyone else under the table and gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars like they meant nothing. Who didn’t care about anything or–seemingly–anyone.
A man of opposites. Contradictions …
No, she would not be curious. She would hand in her notice, then take the first plane she could get back to Moscow.
His head snapped up, his gaze like a pressure, holding her in place. “What is it?”
None of that lazy heat in his voice. None at all. The businessman underneath the playboy.
How many layers does he have? Is there yet another man under this one?
“Do you have five minutes, sir?” she asked carefully.
“I have to speak with you about something.”
He’d gone very still, that acute blue gaze moving over her. She’d seen him do it to other people, looking at them, studying them like a mathematician working out a complex problem. He was terrifyingly perceptive.
But she wasn’t scared of that look. She had nothing to hide. So she waited, knowing he would guess what she’d come for.
“You want to resign,” he said flatly.
Katya folded her hands in front of her. “Yes. I have … unexpected business I have to attend to.”
“Business? What business?” His tone was a knife, cutting through the space between them like a sword through silk.
He had been, in many ways, one of her most difficult clients. Unpredictable, mercurial, and careless she could handle. Even his occasional arrogance–she’d had many an arrogant client before, after all. But when he was like this, hard and sharp, reminding her of the General, her father, or Konstantinov, her commander, all she wanted to do was obey him.
She was a soldier. Following orders was what she did.
But sometimes, to protect a client, a bodyguard could not follow orders.
Sometimes a bodyguard had to give them.
She squared her shoulders. “Private business.” Mikhail was no one’s concern but hers.
“I employed you for six months. Not one. Not two and definitely not three. Six.”
“Nevertheless, sir. I believe my contract allows for family emergencies.” Mikhail wasn’t technically family, but in every way that mattered he was.
Alex stood there, his back to the windows, hands in his pockets, his extraordinarily handsome face full of that hard, bright, glittering thing, and Katya knew she’d made a mistake. That she’d picked not only a bad time but possibly the worst time of all to tell him.
When he was like this he wasn’t just difficult. He was downright dangerous.
Fortunately, she’d dealt with plenty of dangerous men in her life and she knew how to deal with them. Unfortunately, he was still her employer and she was still supposed to follow his orders.
“No,” he said. “You’re not leaving.”
“With all due respect, sir. I am. My agency has plenty of other—”
“No,” he repeated. “I don’t want anyone else.”
Katya said nothing. Silence could be worth more than saying any number of words; her father had taught her that well.
“Tell me about your family emergency.”
He didn’t like it when she was silent. Didn’t like it at all. Which sometimes made her stay silent more often than was strictly necessary. Especially when he was like this.
She met his hard gaze. “That does not concern you.”
“You are my employee. Everything about you concerns me.”
At that moment there was a footstep behind her. Katya didn’t turn; she knew who it was. Had heard the bedroom door open and the shuffling footstep of one of his pickups from the night before.
The woman–ignoring Katya as if she were a piece of furniture–sidled past her into the lounge, heading straight for him. “Alex,” she said, winding her arms around his waist. “Come back to bed. It’s early.”
He wasn’t a cruel man to his lovers–Katya had watched him pick them up with charm and flat-out sexual magnetism, then say good-bye with more of the same, and they never left angry or disappointed. Or if they were disappointed it was only because one night was all they ever got.
But when he was like this, he was cold. Untouchable. Remote.
He moved, a sinuous, graceful movement that left the woman with suddenly empty arms. Impressive. Katya hadn’t known he could move like that.
“I’m up, honey,” he said carelessly. “And I’ve got some business here. But you and Layla can stay as long as you need to.”
He shifted, another of those quick, fluid movements, and then he was silencing her with a kiss, his hands tangled in her dark hair. Just as quickly, he let her go. “Get your pretty ass back to bed and if you’re very lucky I’ll join you later.”
The woman was, Katya was interested to note, flushed. Seemed to always be the case with Mr. St. James and the women he kissed. And she’d seen him kiss quite a few, since he didn’t appear to care whether she was there or not. Whether anyone was there or not.
The woman gave a pretty pout, glanced at Katya, frowned. But did as she was told.
As she left, Katya noticed that the atmosphere had changed and so had he. He seemed looser, relaxed almost. Another quicksilver change of mood.
“So, where were we? Oh yes. You said you wanted out of your contract for an unspecified emergency and I said no.”
Katya put her hands behind her back, preparing herself with military precision. “I’m sorry, sir, but I am going to have to insist.”
He smiled, one corner of that long mouth curling. But she knew by now that his smiles had nothing to do with amusement. “Katya mine. Please don’t tell me you’re sick of me already? I didn’t think I was that much of a prick as an employer.”
She’d never much liked the claim implicated in his usual endearment. Because if she was going to be anyone’s, she was the General’s. The army’s. Mikhail’s. Not the personal possession of an entitled, arrogant American billionaire.
However, Alex St. James was a very good employer. He paid her a lot of money, and she was by no means ungrateful. But with the potential of Mikhail being alive, she needed to get home. Not only needed. She had to. There were promises she’d made.
“You have been a very good employer,” she allowed.
“But who will I have to kick my ass at Xbox? No, I’m afraid it’s not going to work. I’m going to have to keep you.”
“My life is at stake. You realize this?”
“Like I said, the agency has plenty of—”
“You’re the best. And darling, I always have the best.”
Katya said nothing. She was good at being the immovable object to his irresistible force.
He frowned, a flicker of irritation passing over his face. Made a tsking sound. “No. It won’t do, sweetheart. It won’t do at all. Since my stepfather got shot, my life is in considerable danger. You know me. You know my routines. You know my surroundings. It’ll take time for another agent to learn this stuff, and time I don’t have.”
He didn’t appear particularly concerned about any of these things, but then he didn’t appear to worry about things in general. Apart from when he got that sharp, glittering look to him, and then she guessed it wasn’t worry. That, she suspected, was anger.
But he did have a point.
She was a professional and doing a good job was important to her. Leaving a client in the lurch wasn’t a good look. Then again, this wasn’t something random. This was about Mikhail. A fellow soldier and a man she respected. A man her father had chosen for her as a future husband–at least he had been until he’d disappeared on a mission to Chechnya two years earlier.
She’d thought he was dead–to the Russian government, he was dead. They couldn’t afford to get involved in any rescue, couldn’t afford to get involved at all. Mikhail had been told that if his unit was caught the government would deny all knowledge, and he’d taken on board the risks. That’s what a special forces soldier did.
She’d tried to argue him out of the mission, but he hadn’t been able to say no. Then he’d disappeared along with his unit and no one would help her look for him. Not her father, the General. Not Konstantinov, their superior. Not any of the other military contacts she had. No one.
Going to find Mikhail alone would have been suicide. Would have been treason. So on the outside, along with everyone else, she’d mourned his loss. While on the inside she made use of some other contacts she had and tried everything she could think of to find him, even a hint that he was still alive.
And now, last night, two years later, after she’d left the army, left Russia, left everything of her old life behind, she’d gotten word that yes, he was alive.
Which meant she had to at least try to find him. Somehow. Someway.
Even if that meant leaving Alex in the lurch. Because loyalty to a fellow soldier and a friend was more important than any other kind.
“The White Knight agency is the best there is,” she said, cool and calm. “Their other agents learn fast and won’t let you come to any harm.”
Alex just looked at her for a long moment, the crease between his brows deepening. Then he strolled toward her in that easy, fluid way he had, not stopping until he was inches away. He was smiling, his expression one of amusement, and yet his eyes burned sapphire, cold and brilliant as stars. “But like I keep telling you, sweetheart. I don’t want another agent. The only agent I want is you.”
Katya didn’t move. Her soldier’s instinct was to obey him, since he radiated authority, but she wasn’t in the army now and hadn’t been for at least two years. No, she was her own woman and the strange, drifting life she’d been leading since she’d come to the States was over. She had a purpose now. A mission. A goal. And like she’d been trained to do, she would attain it no matter the cost.
She met his gaze and said merely, “I’m sorry, sir.”
“I’ll pay you double.”
“I don’t need more money.”
His eyes narrowed into splinters of intense blue. “Everyone needs more money, Katya mine.”
“Then what is it you need?”
Mikhail. That’s what I need.
“I need to leave, sir.”
He shifted in front of her and it was strange how suddenly she noticed that he was still half-naked. That he was warm. That she could smell him, a faint, woody, earthy scent, like sandalwood, with a hint of musk. It was not unpleasant. Neither was the warmth of him. And yet … She didn’t like it. Something about it made her uncomfortable in a way she hadn’t been uncomfortable before.
She wanted to move, get a bit of space, but that would be to show weakness, and she couldn’t do that. Not with him. He was a gambler, and looking for weaknesses, any sign of the kind of cards you held, was what he did. And he was good at it.
Then again, she was a soldier. And showing no weakness was part of who she was.
And she was good at it.
Katya met his gaze head-on. Giving him nothing.
At least she thought he’d given him nothing. Until he smiled the kind of smile that would have taken any conscious woman’s breath away. “Oh no,” he said. “Sweetheart, you aren’t going anywhere.”
And Katya knew that somehow, despite her best intentions, she’d given something away.
Copyright © 2015 by Jackie Ashenden
In the Nine Circles Club, one lucky man gets more than his share of money, power, and women–until he meets a beautiful opponent who plays in the name of love…in Make You Mine by Jackie Ashenden.
He’s raising the stakes.
International playboy Alex St. James always plays to win. Whether it’s betting on a high-stakes card game–or bedding a high-class socialite–the gorgeous world-class gambler knows how to beat the odds using his brains, his body, and a whole lot of charm. But there’s one woman who’s immune to Alex’s bag of tricks–which makes her the perfect challenge…and the ultimate prize.
She’s going all in.
Once a special operative in her native Russia, Katya Ivanov knows what kind of man Alex is. As his personal bodyguard, she’s seen him seduce the richest women, place the riskiest bets, and break the hardest players. But to even a score from her past, she’s willing to take a gamble on her reckless boss. Even if she has to pretend to be his lover. Even if he drives her mad with desire. And then she never wants this dangerous game to end…
Meet the Author:
Jackie has been writing fiction since she was eleven years old. Mild mannered fantasy/SF/pseudo-literary writer by day, obsessive romance writer by night, she used to balance her writing with the more serious job of librarianship until a chance meeting with another romance writer prompted her to throw off the shackles of her day job and devote herself to the true love of her heart— writing romance. She particularly likes to write dark emotional stories with alpha heroes who’ve just got the world to their liking only to have it blown wide apart by their kick-ass heroines.
She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr. Jax, two kids, two cats, and some guppies (possibly dead guppies by the time you read this). When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.
You can find Jackie at www.jackieashenden.com, on Facebook at www.facebook/jackieashenden or follow her on Twitter at @JackieAshenden.