No longer controlled by her mother, manager, or former fiancé, pop star Shae Armstrong steps out on her own and into the path of Nick DeMarco, a wealthy investor with alleged ties to organized crime and real childhood scars to overcome. She wants to take it slow. He needs her now, in his life and in his bed.
Nick’s enemies threaten her career, her friendships, even her sanity, but not her heart - the one thing Nick holds precious. He proves his love is real, and she stops running. Until everything around them falls apart, including him. He swore he would never hurt her. Instead, he almost destroys them both.
Buoyed by her new-found confidence and strength his love instills in her, Shae makes a dangerous choice, sacrificing her happiness for his, just like he always does for her. Unable to let her break the connection between them, Nick accepts the trust she places in him, the depth of her love giving him the courage to try again.
Now that she’s found her own voice and helped him see who he really is, can Shae survive the challenges of living in Nick’s world?
As the jet begins its descent, Shae turns from the window and looks at him. “Now are you going to tell me where we are?”
Nick holds up his finger. “Patience. I said when we land.”
His breath catches as she rolls her eyes and laughs, soft and silky, warming him in the cool cabin. He didn’t think it was possible for her to be more beautiful than she already is. Her face flushes and eyes sparkle with excitement, matching the hint of glitter across her bare shoulders completely exposed with her hair in loose curls behind her head. He would take a beating just to taste the soft, sweet skin at the base of her neck.
At the bump of the landing gear rolling across the runway she looks back at him again. “We’ve landed. Tell me!”
“We’re slightly northeast of wine country. I read an article in one of the business journals about a man from Indiana re-opening his grandfather’s winery. I thought we could check it out before he launches.”
“Oh, I love it. I can’t wait.”
Once the pilots open the door and disembark, Max and the two security men accompanying them file out. She starts to stand up, but he puts his hand on her arm. Loathe to rouse any uncertainty, he attempts a casual tone. “Just a minute, sweetness. Let Max take care of things first.”
Two black SUVs sit on the tarmac with a young woman wearing a navy blazer standing next to them. Max talks to her as the other two men open the doors and inspect the interiors. A slight frown darkens Shae’s angelic face, his stomach clenching at her anxiety.
“Is everything okay?”
“It’s just a precaution. I don’t want anything to ruin our day.”
Her lips curl into a smile, and she squeezes his hand, releasing some of his tension. “Nothing will.”
After the inspection is complete, Max signs the woman’s clipboard and takes the keys from her. Nick pulls Shae up from her seat and leads her down the steps. “Let’s go.”
They drive along the countryside with Max and his team following behind. Tall trees border farm fields, separating them by owner or crop. A few stray clouds float above the distant mountains, no barrier to the abundant sunshine.
Resting her head against the seat, she turns to him. “How did you arrange for us to have such beautiful weather?”
“I’m good at charming angels.”
She laughs and shakes her head. “You’re still as slick as the day I met you.”
He brings her hand to his mouth and kisses each knuckle. Somehow she saw past his arrogance and gave him chance. And, somehow he’s lucky to earn more even when he fucks up. “You’re still as beautiful.”
“What am I going to do with you?”
Nikki writes contemporary romantic thrillers and admits to a weakness for alpha males and bad boys, especially ones who can’t live without the strong women they love. She spends more time in her characters’ lives than her own. But, when she’s in the real world, her passions include reading, wine appreciating, running, and spending time with her husband and daughter.
The first book of Nikki’s Surviving Absolution series is Wine & Whiskey, which launches in April 2015 through Secret Cravings Publishing. Heat level: three flames.