This is not an email address!
Email address is required!
This email is already registered!
"Email" is not a valid hostname!
Password is required!
Enter a valid password!
Please enter 6 or more characters!
Please enter 16 or less characters!
Email or Password is wrong!
Romance author Kamaria Wilson came to Las Vegas with nothing to lose. A one-night stand with delicious security specialist Jack Aldirisi is just the distraction she needs…until one night with him doesn’t feel like enough. Panicked, she bolts. Jack’s sure he’ll never see her again. But when he’s called into the casino for an unexpected “special assignment,” he finds himself by her side. She insists their powerful connection is nothing more than sex. He begs to differ. And this time, he’s calling her bluff.
Get your e-book automatically
delivered to your Kindle™ or
open directly on your iPad™,
phone, or computer.
Romance author Kamaria Wilson came to Las Vegas with nothing to lose. A one-night stand with a hot guy is just the distraction she needs…until she realizes she wound up in the wrong man’s bed. And now they’re stuck together.
After his hot one-night stand goes MIA, security specialist Jack Aldirisi is sure he’ll never see her again.
But when he’s called in to the casino for an unexpected “special assignment,” Lady Luck smiles down on Jack. For the rest of the weekend, he’ll be by his missing woman’s side.
She insists their powerful connection is nothing more than sex. He begs to differ. And this time, he’s calling her bluff.
"I had absolutely loved this book. Once I had started reading it I couldn't stop reading until the end." -Kimberly K., Netgalley review
"*This book in a sentence: *A two hour ROM-COM converted into an 85 page novella." -Gabriella G., Goodreads review
Kaia Danielle writes contemporary romance, historical romance, women’s fiction and a graphic novel that is resisting the revision process. Her short stories have appeared in several national magazines and an anthology. She is an alumnae of the VONA writing workshop. Originally from New Jersey, she now calls coastal Georgia home. You can find her tweeting about being a Jersey Girl in South Georgia, her foodie adventures and popular culture in general on her @kaiawrites handle.
For a Las Vegas dive, The Sanctuary was pretty quiet. A basketball game was playing on the flat-screen TV behind the bar. The knock of a cue stick breaking the ball formation on the billiards table echoed the start of another game of pool. A muted hum of conversation carried from the few patrons frequenting this joint. But there was no ringing from any slot machines. No rustle of shuffling cards. No roar of bets being called across a crowded craps table. Since this place might be the only spot in Sin City that had no form of gambling in it (thank goodness), it was a popular after-work spot for locals who worked on the Strip.
What this bar did have, however, was maybe the most gorgeous man Kamaria Wilson had ever seen. Only three barstools separated them. She shook her head before doing a double take. She could take him home, ride him until the sun came up and then send him on his way. Too bad she didn’t have the nerve.
She stuck her hand inside her jacket pocket and fingered her lucky poker chip. Behave yourself, girl.
Kamaria held up her shot glass, giving a toast to the man’s sinfully good looks, that alluring combination of thick black hair, trim beard, and smooth, sun-kissed olive skin that indicated he spent a lot of time outside. But, her cell phone rang before she could take a gulp. She swiped the screen to make the call go to her voicemail. She was not in the mood to talk to anyone. What she wanted was a moment of peace.
She held up the shot again. Her cell phone rang. Again. Kamaria sucked her teeth. Her damn agent could be so annoying sometimes.
She swiped the the phone’s screen to answer it. “What?”
“Is that how you answer your phone? If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were raised by vagrants.”
“What is it, Chastity? I’m busy.”
“Well, I know you’re not busy writing because I’ve been banging on the door to your suite for the last five minutes and you haven’t answered.”
“That’s because I’m not there.” Kamaria took a small sip of the tequila. Taking the entire shot while dealing with Chastity would be a waste of alcohol. She hadn’t eaten since first thing that morning, so a sip should be enough to take the edge off. Maybe even enough to kill the urge that had been gnawing at her gut since she arrived in town.
There was a good ten seconds of silence before Chastity said, “I thought we agreed that you were going to steer clear of the casinos while you’re here.”
She huffed a long, dramatic sigh into the phone. “I am not in a casino, Chastity. I’m in a bar. Not getting drunk because I’m talking to you.”
“You’re at the bar? Great, I’m coming down to meet you.”
“I’m not at the bar in the hotel.”
She really wasn’t in the mood for playing fifty-seven questions. She flicked a glance at the hottie again. He’d shifted so he faced her. Dark brown eyes. Her fingers ached to play in his tousled, wavy hair. Damn. He even nodded in her direction. She quickly looked away. She almost schoolgirl giggled from his acknowledgment. Nope, not that one. He looked too much like the cover model on her last book. She didn’t want to think about books tonight. She didn’t want to think about anything.
“Where are you?” Chastity pressed.
She could tell her agent was two breaths away from going off. Good. That’s what she deserved for killing her vibe before it got started. This call wouldn’t be happening right now if she had just gone down to the casino like she really wanted to do. She wouldn’t be feeling like a loser anymore. She’d be winning. No. She took a deep breath. She didn’t gamble. Not since… “You did have a reason for calling me, right?”
Chastity squeed. The woman actually squealed the word “squee” in her ear. If Chastity wasn’t such a kick-ass agent, she would totally fire her.
In an effort to cut off that high-pitched shriek, she said, “Tell me already!”
“Are you sitting down? You need to be sitting down. I just got a call that will blow your mind.”
“What call?” Kamaria’s tone was now as dry as the desert air outside. She gestured at the bartender for another drink. Drinks were cheap here, so she could afford a couple more, if she kept to the well brands. She didn’t have enough money left in her pocket to cover the good stuff. She’d purposely come out without a lot of cash, and she’d left her credit cards and bank cards in the hotel safe. Like a smoker tossing their last pack of cigarettes, she knew to remove the temptation.
Chastity, meanwhile, had been yammering on about something. Kamaria only caught the tail end of what she had been saying, but the words “your book just hit the list” were enough to make Kamaria stop fingering the ten dollar bill in her pocket. “What list?”
“The list. That list. As of next week, you’re a New York Times bestselling author!”
A way too sober Kamaria nearly slid off her barstool. A warmth spread through her chest. Her body felt light like she had been dealt a full house with high stakes on the table. She had gambled everything on making this writing thing work. And now, she’d won. “No way.”
Chastity squealed again. “Girl, you did it. You have this industry by the horns! Find a man. Have a drink. I give you permission to take a night off from writing and have fun for once. You deserve it.”
“Great. Thanks. Bye.” She numbly disconnected the call and stared at the now blacked-out phone screen. What the—?
She’d started writing romance novels more for herself than to gain any type of celebrity. The fact that enough people had gone to the trouble to buy her book to put her on anybody’s bestseller list? That shit blew her mind.
“Are you okay?” She was so caught up in her thoughts the unexpected male voice made her jump.
She spun on the stool into a wall of T-shirt chiseled chest. She craned her neck up. And up. Hot guy’s eyebrows held a gentle wrinkle between them. His mouth puckered with concern. She could totally suck that pout off his face. If she did, that would be the most perfect “cute meet” ever. She needed to remember this moment for her next book.
And speaking of books, this guy had “hero” written all over him. The alpha kind. A real take-me-to-bed-and-make-me-scream-your-name guy. She squirmed on the barstool. Her girl parts tingled from just looking at him.
No. Nuh-uh. She crossed her legs to curb his effect on her. She was so not going there. Chastity might suggest finding a man, but all she needed were her two shots of tequila. Okay, maybe three. Then she would call the hotel shuttle to take her back to the Masquerade and finish a chapter in her overdue manuscript. That was the plan. A good, responsible plan of which the new and improved Kamaria approved. She glanced down at her phone again, wondering if her overworked mind imagined the entire call. Her, a bestseller? Shock set in. What the—
“Are you okay?” he repeated more slowly. He gently placed his warm hand on her back. Damn, this man was fine. The dark and brooding variety of fine. He tilted his head. “You’re staring at the blank screen on your phone mumbling ‘what the fuck’ over and over.”
Oh. Wow. So much for an inner dialogue.
“Yeah,” she mumbled. “I’m okay.” She directed her attention back to his chest. Because the maroon shirt he was wearing was ugly as hell. But the cotton fabric molded to his muscles. His very large and firm-looking muscles. Even his nipples had perked up to say hi. Dear Lord, every inch of this man was beautiful. She could see herself getting caught up with a guy like this. Which was why she should push him away. “I’m also completely screwed up.”
He tensed for a moment then gave a barely perceptible shrug. “Do you want to talk about it?” His persistence was a total turn-on.
No, I don’t want to talk about it, Kamaria thought to herself, I want to go back to the casino and gamble. She picked up her second shot of tequila and knocked it back. This plan to have a casual drink alone in a safe space was not working. Normal people had drinks in a bar to blow off stress all the time. Why couldn’t she? Damn Chastity and her squeaky, good news call. Another unnecessary plot twist in the story of her life. She chewed her bottom lip. She needed a plan B.
“No. I want to celebrate. How about I get completely shit-faced drunk and then go home with you for a nightcap?”
Hot guy took a step back. He frowned, but she didn’t miss the flare of desire in his eyes. “I’m not a one-night-stand kind of guy.”
“Good, ’cause neither am I.” Her mouth curved into a smug smile. He seemed to be the nice guy type. She made a point of staying away from them. Her cards were on the table now. She bet her saucy response would make a nice guy like him fold. That whole nightcap line should send him running.
“You’re trying to push me away—”
Well shit, she hadn’t expected him to be nice and perceptive.
“But…” The guy removed his hand from her back and placed it firmly on her shoulder. “I suspect you’d rather have someone ride with you than lie with you tonight.”
He called her bluff. How unexpected—and intriguing.
He held out his hand. “My name is Jack. How about we talk first? Make sure I’m not a jerk. And then we’ll see about me taking you home.”
Kamaria had made a living out of being able to read people. His facial expression hid nothing. The only vibe coming off of him was one of genuine concern. It was official. She liked him.
Still, she wanted to see his desire flare again. She touched her lucky poker chip again. It was time to raise the stakes.
She tapped the seat next to her as an invitation to sit. Then, she pointed two fingers at the bartender, indicating to slide another two shots her way. “Fair enough. I’m buying this round.”
He hesitated for a moment, then settled his big body beside her.
Bingo. And the lady wins again.
The next morning…
Kamaria stumbled into the Masquerade lobby the same instant that someone won big on the slot machines. Alarms clanged and lights flashed like Liberace come back to life. Chastity’s cheers had been annoying, but the woman at that winning slot machine squealed at a pitch that should only be heard by dogs. Kamaria wanted to punch her in the throat. The desert sky outside had lingering purple streaks of night. How did people have that kind of energy at what the hell o’ clock in the morning?
She wasn’t exactly hungover. Disoriented was a better word. While her eyeballs still pulsed within their sockets, the monkey was no longer on her back. A small victory. But another victory nonetheless. Each of her steps dragged, but her shoulders felt light for the first time since she had arrived in Las Vegas.
She pushed the button on the elevator then leaned against the wall. That’s when someone started slowly clapping directly in her ear.
Kamaria jumped straight up. “What in the…”
“If you tell me where you were all night, then I won’t post your walk of shame on YouTube.”
What, did the woman have her phone tracked? “Screw you, Chastity.”
“Ahh, the prodigal zombie girl speaks.” Chastity shoved her smartphone back into her bra. That afterglow from her amazing night…yeah, it was evaporating by the minute thanks to her agent’s intrusion. Chastity slapped her on the shoulder. The petite brunette’s mahogany face had a glisten that only an early morning workout could produce. Her black spandex yoga pants showing off her curves confirmed it. Friggin’ morning people.
Chastity pushed a stray lock out of Kamaria’s face. “Honestly, hon, where were you last night? Did you gamble?”
Given her past, she deserved Chastity’s interrogation, but the accusation hurt. She raised her chin and fished her lucky poker chip out of her pocket. “This is the last chip I ever won. I haven’t played poker in three years, four months, eight days and still counting.”
But she also hadn’t been in Vegas or anywhere near a casino in the same amount of time either. Who was she kidding? It was only a matter of time.
“Then explain why you’re dragging in here at five a.m., with your clothes all twisted around your body…” Chastity reached up and pulled the hood of her jacket out from under her collar. “…And your hair looking like that. You do know that one of your dreadlocks is sticking straight up, right? And don’t try and bullshit me about being awake because of the time difference—that’s why I’mup.”
Her hand flew up to her hair. Her locks felt like a total disaster, despite her attempts to pull them into a ponytail earlier. She would not let Chastity make her feel bad. She hadn’t done anything wrong. “I only did what you told me to do. I had a drink. Correction, drinks. I found a man. I celebrated. I’m a New York Times bestselling author. Woo-hoo!” She did a little hop, threw in a whirly thing with her finger—and promptly stumbled as she landed. Uh, she shouldn’t have done that. Her head spun from the movement.
Luckily, the elevator pinged and the doors opened. The sound ricocheted inside her skull. Chastity let her step on first. “Stop being sarcastic. It doesn’t suit you.” Like the flip of a switch, Chastity smiled sweetly as she punched the buttons for the sixth and top floors. “So you finally got laid? Tell me all about it.”
She smoothed the deep crease forming between her eyes. “Chastity, handling my professional business doesn’t give you the right to delve into my personal business.”
“You are my business.” Chastity gave her another head to toe once-over. “From the looks of you, I’d say he had the whites of your eyeballs showing.”
It was so close to the truth, Kamaria had to crack a small smile. “No comment.”
“‘No comment,’ my ass. That smile you’re trying to hide speaks volumes. What I want to know is why didn’t you stick around for the breakfast round?”
She’d been asking herself the same thing ever since she snuck out of Jack’s bed.
Because “the morning after” is always awkward.
Because I don’t need to get in the habit of picking up strangers as a crutch for dealing with my problems.
Because it felt too right snuggled within his arms. No, she would not play Dr. Phil with Chastity this morning.
“Because he was too nice of a guy…”
“‘Because he was too nice of a guy?’ Do you hear yourself? Mari, you went through a lot and you’ve come so far. ‘Too nice of a guy’ is not a reason to push a man away. If anything, it’s a reason to keep him close.” Crap. Chastity was totally channeling Dr. Phil. Just because she sold self-help books, it didn’t make her an expert on ’em.
“Yeah, well, you win some and you lose some, right? Maybe next time. For now, I’d like to be alone to get my mind right to finish this book.” Chastity had meant well, telling her to find a guy and have a celebratory hookup. But with or without that advice, she’d been edgy, restless. Heading off one vice with another. She might talk a good game, but casual sex wasn’t her thing.
Flashes of last night popped into her mind. Jack settling her on his couch so she could sleep off the tequila. Her pulling him down with her and straddling him. Her unfastening his pants and lowering her head…
“Jesus, I slept with the first guy who looked my way. I’m such a slut.” The all too familiar twinge of guilt sank lower in her gut. “Celebrating with random sex? Chas, that was a stupid idea. I don’t know why I listen to you.”
“You listen because I’m always right. And kudos for trying to pin this on me, but you and I both know I’m not to blame. Mari, you only do what you want to do. Although I’ll gladly take credit for this one.”
“If sarcastic doesn’t suit me, being smug is even less attractive on you.”
“Puh-lease. You’ve been living like a monk for the last three years. You write about romance but you’re scared to have any of your own. It isn’t healthy. You achieved a major accomplishment yesterday and you let yourself have a little fun. You’re a grown woman—there is no reason not to enjoy yourself as one. And you did it without having to gamble. That’s a big step forward. I’m proud of you.”
Kamaria rolled her eyes. Her agent had her best interests at heart. She knew that. And she couldn’t blame her hottie hookup on anyone but herself. She’d wanted him. She’d pushed. He’d bit. Then nibbled. And sucked…
Any guilt she felt was totally worth the last few hours she’d spent with Jack.
The elevator stopped at Chastity’s floor. “Get out of here. Before you bust out into song.” She wouldn’t put it past Chastity to start belting out “the hills are alive with the afterglow of orgasms…” Wait, she totally needed to use that line in a book.
Chastity stepped out of the elevator. “You’re going to beat yourself up about this now, aren’t you? Maybe I should come to the suite with you.”
“No, I’m a big girl. I think I can manage a shower without running back downstairs for a hand of poker.” Kamaria jammed the button to close the door a few times. With her other hand, she shoved the poker chip back into her pocket. She was a grown woman. Damn it. What did it take to be treated like one again?
“Call me if you need me—” The elevator doors shut in Chastity’s face.
She pulled up the special calendar app on her phone. The tally count showed 1223 days. There had been times when she would drive as far as the halfway point between her home in Arizona and Las Vegas before she managed to talk herself into turning around. That’s how strong the urge to gamble again had become. In the early days of her battle against compulsive gambling, she’d sold her car because fighting off the urge to drive the 250-mile distance had become too hard.
How was she going to fight it off when the casino was now one short elevator ride away?