Friday, November 13, 2009
Secret Vegas Lives, Superstitions, and a Friday the 13th Contest
Note from the Three Wicked Writers...we are happy to welcome Red Rose Publishing author, Laura Breck to our blog today. And what a perfect time to talk about superstitions! Hang out, give her awesome excerpt a read and be sure to enter her contest! And watch out for those ladders and black cats!
Throughout the world, Friday the 13th of any month is considered an unlucky day, jokingly by some, deadly serious by others! But it’s only a number, isn’t it? How can it have properties of fortune and misfortune? When we’re talking Lady Luck, it doesn’t matter what the superstition is, as long as we believe in it unfailingly.
Las Vegas was lucky for me. I lived there three years, and I would say I did fairly well with gambling. I kept my limits low and left the casino if I wasn’t winning, and bought something tangible any time I won big. A new grill, a cover for the hot tub, tickets to a show, and one day I hit a royal flush on three slot machines, and walked out of the casino with thousands.
But my best piece of luck was stumbling onto the plot for my first novel, Secret Vegas Lives during a bachelorette party.
Antonio Daniato is a best-selling novelist, but he hides an addiction to a decadent nightlife. When he receives a letter demanding money in exchange for keeping his secret out of the tabloids, he sets a trap to catch the blackmailer, and is surprised when beautiful psychologist Valerie Kane falls into his arms.
Caught and terrified, Valerie swears she’s not the blackmailer, but Antonio threatens to expose her, publicly and humiliatingly, if she sends him another note. What she can’t tell him is that she is dropping off money for her cousin, a famous actress, who is also being blackmailed. She breaks free, but a week later, at a gala at Caesar’s Palace, Valerie is panic-stricken to see Antonio walking toward her across the crowded room - holding another blackmail note. Even to save her reputation, she will not reveal her secret. But Antonio already knows it, and he’s captivated by Valerie’s integrity, and shaken by the intensity of his desire for her.
Valerie’s sheltered life did not prepare her for a man like Antonio, and the gorgeous Italian charms his way into her life. When Antonio’s attraction to Valerie becomes something deeper, he fears her reaction to discovering his secret life. He uses his flashpoint anger as emotional armor to prevent Valerie from getting too close.
But Valerie’s already falling for him. Seeing him struggle to break free from his demons, she risks her reputation and her family’s approval to help him, but he will not open himself to her. When Valerie stumbles onto Antonio’s decadent secret, she must choose to let him go, or fight for him against an addiction whose hold on him may be stronger than their love.
Secret Vegas Lives was released in October from Red Rose Publishing, and in this excerpt, Antonio takes Valerie for a motorcycle ride on their first date. They end up at a casino, and it turns out to be an unlucky night for them both.
Antonio grabbed two spoons and a napkin. "Come on. I know a place where we can eat this." He led her to the elevators.
At the top level of the parking ramp, they had a view of The Strip and could see the planes landing and taking off at the airport. They sat on the ledge and shared the ice cream.
"It's so good." Valerie licked whipped cream off her lip. "Is this coffee ice cream?"
"Yup. And hot fudge, pecans and whipped cream, with Oreos on the side."
"You have good taste."
“I love nuts.”
She smiled. "So do I.”
“No. Tell me that's not psychologist humor.”
“No, I was thinking of you.”
“I’m nuts? Or that you love...” He stopped himself, realizing what he'd almost said.
She looked a little uncomfortable too. “I love eating Grey Thornton.”
He smiled seductively. “Wait until you get a bite of Antonio Daniato.”
She slowly licked her lip, and wicked desire glowed in her eyes when she purred, “I can’t wait.”
He hopped off the ledge and dumped the rest of the ice cream in a trash can, walked back to her, grabbed her waist and lifted her down.
Holding her against him, he looked down into her eyes. “We’re leaving.”
His desire kicked up a notch hearing her breathy demand.
He took her hand and they rode the elevator to the casino, and walked toward the front doors. Half way through they ran into a group of women walking through the casino.
“Carlos!” one of the women said, pointing to Antonio. “Look, it’s Carlos!”
Antonio tried to go around them, but they swarmed in and blocked his way.
“Remember us?” a busty young woman asked.
“I’m sorry. You've mistaken me for someone else. My name is not Carlos.”
“You look just like him, doesn’t he Melissa?”
“He does. You know, you have an exact double working at--”
Antonio broke in, “Does every foreign man look the same to you? Doesn’t that seem racist?”
The women were clearly startled and apologized, but Antonio wanted to get Valerie out of there before the women revealed any more. He hauled her along by the wrist.
Those damn women almost gave his secret away. Carlos was his ‘other’ name. He hated to be rude, but he had no choice. If Valerie heard any more, she'd start piecing things together. He didn't want that. Ever.
They reached his Harley and he turned to gage her mood. She stared at him like she saw something repulsive.
This would not be pleasant. Antonio said, “I’m sorry, cara, I just snapped. Can you forgive me?”
Valerie's voice was quiet, but firm. “You were intentionally cruel to those women. Why would being mistaken for someone else be so offensive to you?”
He pulled his helmet on. “Can we talk about it at your place?”
“No. I would like to talk now. Your behavior was uncalled for.”
He sighed, looked down at the keys in his hand. “You’re right. I was anxious to get you home and I wasn’t thinking with my brain.” He looked at her expectantly and smiled, hoping the "all the blood rushed from my brain to my cock" excuse would work.
She shook her head. “You just turn into someone I don't recognize. Where does that come from?”
“Shit. My life is out of control some days, Valerie. I have a lot of stress. A lot of deadlines. I have anger management issues.” He put his hands on her arms. “Will you help me?”
She recoiled, and he released her. “The best help I can give you would be a referral to a therapist who can work through this with you.”
“No. I want your expertise. I want you to be my woman, Valerie. In every way, including emotional.”
“Antonio.” He heard censure in her voice, saw pain in her eyes.
There seemed to be a lot of people around all of a sudden, and he said, “Let’s go. We can finish this at your house.” He started the bike, she got on and in minutes they were in front of her home. He stopped, put his feet down and shut the bike off. She hugged him tightly from behind before throwing her leg over and standing.
When he leaned to put the kickstand down, she touched his arm. “Don’t get off. I need a little time to sort through this.”
His stomach clenched. “What are you saying?”
“I can’t get involved with you right now. The way you are.”
“The way I am.”
“When you're rude to me, I know it's just your way of getting my attention. And it worked. You’ve got me.” She blinked rapidly as she held back tears. “But your behavior tonight scared me. I don’t feel I can make a commitment to a relationship...until you get some help.”
He looked away, testing his raw emotions. She was right, they may have started out just wanting sex, but now she wanted more. Damned if he didn’t want more.
But no one had the right to tell him to get mental help. He squeezed the clutch hard, the pain in his wrist drew his attention away from the pain in his heart. His anger churned; he fought to hold it back, he grit his teeth to stop it, but out of his mouth shot, “You want someone safe, go screw the quarterback.” He started his bike and gunned the throttle, roaring out of her driveway.
Many people in Las Vegas are not lucky. That’s why I donate a portion of the proceeds from Secret Vegas Lives to The Shade Tree Shelter of Las Vegas. It’s a shelter for women, children and their pets. I love the fact that they include pets, and hope more domestic shelters will follow The Shade Tree’s example.
One randomly-drawn commenter today will be lucky as well, and will win a goodie bag of my promotional items. Please leave a comment, and if you have a story about luck - bad or good - I’d love to hear it!