Elizabeth DeVille doesn’t belong at a party like this—one where the gowns cost more than her Camry and cigars run higher than her grad school utility bills. Dragged out of seclusion by her best friend Suri, Elizabeth is merely playing dress-up, rubbing elbows with a crowd that banished her troubled family years ago.
Hunter West is tired. Tired of parties, tired of pretending, and tired of trying to right a wrong that haunts him every day. Bourbon heir and professional poker player by day, by night Hunter is gambling with his life in a high-stakes game of crime and blackmail.
When Elizabeth stumbles into Hunter’s den of vices, she’s a light in the darkness, a flame in the void. And, just like everything he touches, Hunter mars her in a record time. To rectify the damage done, Elizabeth needs money she doesn’t have, and she’s come up with a foolproof way to get it.
Follow Elizabeth—code-named Scarlett—to the lush Nevada brothel where she’ll auction her virginity and risk the only thing that’s not for sale: her heart. The highest bidder is a familiar face, with wicked hands and the devil’s mouth. And a secret so dark that it could cost her life.
***RECOMMENDED FOR READERS 17+ DUE TO SEXUALITY AND MATURE LANGUAGE.***
“Oh my God.” I cover my face, feeling sick. It’s bad enough being hounded after what I just did, but to have it all captured on camera?
With my hands still covering my face, I dart between two SUVs and start to run. I’m clearing a row of cars, finally in sight of my own, when I hear the squeal of brakes and something hits me hard.
A compact car flies by, and I’m aware that I would have gotten hit were it not for the strong pair of arms around my waist. I glance up—into Hunter’s face. As his hands close over my upper arms, I notice his expression. He looks like an avenging angel, with his strong jaw, soft lips, and ruffled gold hair. He’s dressed in a suit that’s clearly tailored for his shoulders and his chest, and even in the circumstances, I can feel the heat begin to gather between my legs.
I’m pulled against his chest and spirited the last few steps to my car. I can hear the reporters pounding the ground behind us, their shouts rising sharply over the noise of traffic, but all I see is Hunter’s green eyes, widened with what looks a lot like concern.
“Where are your keys?” His voice is calm and rich. Mine, I think irrationally. The gentle strength of his arms is all for me.
“They’re in my purse,” I say, as the cameras flash all around us. I can actually hear them click, just like in the movies. My heart is beating so hard I think I might throw up.
Hunter pulls my driver’s side door open and I feel the solid heat of him behind me. With one hand on my shoulder, he says, “Get on in there, Libby.”
The nickname makes me hesitate; for not the first time, I wonder if he thinks I’m someone else—but that doesn’t make any sense. Libby is a nickname for Elizabeth.
That next second, they are all around us. Faces and equipment and voices, closing in on us. Hunter rocks his body into mine, urging me into the driver’s seat. As he does, I feel his hardness against my hip.
His face is right by mine, his low voice like a warm breeze in the crook of my neck. “Remember there’s a back exit if you loop around,” he tells me, pointing in the direction I should go. “Just make a U-turn and floor it. It’ll take you right onto the main road.”
I nod, unable to move my eyes from all the faces leering through the windshield.
“Libby, look right here.” I feel a hand close over mine and I lift my head to meet his eyes. They are softer than I’ve ever seen them. “Don’t get in a rush,” he tells me. “Take your time. Be careful. I’ll take care of these pricks.”
And that’s it. My door is closing before I can even thank him. As I look over my shoulder to back out, I catch a glimpse of him clearing the traffic around my car, his burnt golden hair ruffling in the wind as he raises his arms. They create just the barrier I need to escape the camera lenses.
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I’m a 20-something sci-fi nerd with a journalism degree and a serious York Peppermint Pattie addiction. I spend my days baby-wrangling and dog-chasing and my nights tapping on my laptop and hanging out with my writer/editor husband. A fun day for me involves lots of writing, running, and researching topped off with some quality Kindle time. My life’s goal is to find an empty cottage in an enchanted forest, install a solar panel for my laptop, and move in – never to be seen again, except in sweatpants.