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M.S. Spencer: Flotsam and Jetsam — the Amelia Island Affair
Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

Thanks for hosting me, Delilah. I love to talk about the inspiration for my new mystery romance, Flotsam and Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair.

Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair is a cozy mystery romance set on a barrier island in north-east Florida. Released December 17, 2018 by Wild Rose Press, it arose out of a visit to the island.

I first visited Amelia Island to attend the Amelia Island Book Festival, and was struck by the crazy quilt of events it had witnessed. Known as the Isle of Eight Flags, it had seen wave after wave of conquering armies, some big—like the Spanish, and some tiny—like the Patriots of Amelia Island, who mustered nine gunboats and maybe a hundred men. Timucuan Indians, French, Spanish, pirates, Scots mercenaries, Confederate and Union soldiers—all occupied the tiny island at one point or another. It also has a sizable Geechee (Gullah) community. Faced with a setting like that, who wouldn’t want to craft a nice little murder mystery?

The main town, Fernandina Beach, contains several historical buildings, a marina, and Fort Clinch. Built in 1847 by the US, the fort sits on the northern corner of the island, protecting the entrance to the Amelia River. South of it is Egan’s Creek, a marshy area.  In Flotsam & Jetsam, four bodies are discovered, ranging from north of the fort all the way to Egan’s Marsh. While Ellie and Simon investigate the deaths, they have to draw on much of Amelia Island’s colorful history. I hope readers find it as fascinating as I do.

Flotsam and Jetsam: The Amelia Island Affair

Who’s littering the park with corpses?

State Park Rangers Simon Ribault and Ellie Ironstone are used to dealing with messy campers and ravaging raccoons, but when three bodies wash up on the beach, they mobilize all their powers of deduction. Who are they and how did they get to the shore of Amelia Island? Are they connected to the secretive League of the Green Cross? Or linked to a mysterious Jamaican drug ring?

Ellie, new to Amelia Island, must penetrate a close-knit community if she wants to find answers to the mystery, all while deciding between two rivals for her affection: Thad, the handsome local idol, and Simon, the clever, quirky bookworm.

Simon, for his part, will have to call on his not-so-well-honed romantic prowess to lure Ellie away from Thad and at the same time use his wide-ranging research skills to solve the case.

 Excerpt: First Kiss

“Simon…”

The magic word. He walked the finger up her arm, circled her neck, and brought her lips to his. The kiss lingered, but not enough to satisfy him. He had adored this little creature for so long—since she arrived at the fort in fact, in a crisp new uniform, her campaign hat still unfaded, her expression a mix of terror and determination. He had fallen like a shooting star and could still feel the burn marks. But he had never in his wildest dreams thought she might feel the same way. He sat back, letting his hand fall.

She pulled him toward her and kissed him again. As the kiss wound down, they heard a tapping on the window. Georgia stood on the sidewalk grinning. “There’s a hotel around the corner, you know.”

Simon swiveled to look at Ellie and found himself the butt of a furious, hissing face. “You.”

“Me? What are you talking about?”

“Two-faced, two-timing, two-dollar bill. Or should I say multiple timing. How many other women do you have hidden in island nooks and crannies—this island which you know so well?”

“Huh?” This isn’t going as swimmingly as I thought. “I…uh.”

“Take me home. Now.”

“Ellie…”

Now.”

When they rolled up in front of Ellie’s house, a cheery yellow bungalow on Fletcher Avenue with a wide porch and hanging geraniums, a silver sports car sat at the curb. Oh great, the mighty Thad.

Simon’s nemesis disentangled himself from the wheel. Slowly, as if for maximum effect, he unfurled his powerful body, planting his size fourteen shoes solidly on the ground. A beefy hand languidly brushed the sandy hair from his forehead. Strapping shoulders squared, he loped over.

Flotsam and Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair
The Wild Rose Press, December 17, 2018
Imprint: Mainstream Mystery
Rating: Spicy (PG13)
Paper 430 p.; Ebook 97,578 words

Buy Links:
The Wild Rose Press: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6345-flotsam-and-jetsam-the-amelia-island-affair.html
Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Flotsam-Jetsam-Amelia-Island-Affair-ebook/dp/B07JKTXYJC
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flotsam-and-jetsam-m-s-spencer/1129787048?ean=2940161601945
ITunes:https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/flotsam-and-jetsam/id1439717297?mt=11
KOBO:https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/flotsam-and-jetsam-the-amelia-island-affair
Indigo:https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/flotsam-and-jetsam-the-amelia/9781509223350-item.html

About the Author

Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents,the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After many years in academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. She has two grown children and a perfect granddaughter. Ms. Spencer has published twelve mystery/romantic suspense novels, and currently divides her time between Florida and Maine.

Contacts:
Blog: https://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msspencerromance
Twitter: www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/msspencerauthor/
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MSSpencerauthor
Linked in: www.linkedin.com/in/msspencerauthor
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-s-spencer
https://www.bookbub.com/m-s-spencer
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/msspencerauthor/

Holly Bargo: The Personal Experience
Friday, December 21st, 2018

Book signings have long been a promotional staple of an author’s life. Before the digital age, lucky authors traveled across the country or internationally to greet piles of books and enthusiastic lines of readers eager to meet their favorite writers and acquire an autograph.

I published my first book in those days and the subsequent book signings did not meet expectations. The publisher did not arrange the events; I did. The publisher did not cover any costs for travel or other expenses. Bookstores—not the publisher—notified local news media. I did manage to sell some copies, but mostly I sat at tables filled with books and perfected the art of being invisible as bookstore patrons pretended not to see me.

Decades later, the experience hasn’t changed all that much, except for the venue. For one thing, my hometown no longer has a “regular” bookstore (although we have a couple of used books bookstores).

In 2017, I dipped my toe into convention waters, first with a mid-size, 3-day event called CONglomeration held in Louisville, Kentucky. Attendance there hovered around 500 people, most of whom attended to participate in the gaming tournament. I had no idea what to expect, so that event served as my baseline. I sold five books, not nearly enough to cover my hotel, meal, and travel expenses. However, it served as a valuable learning experience. I attended GenCon in Indianapolis, Indiana which commands attendance exceeding 50,000 people and spoke to several of the authors selling their books. They reported decent sales, although stated the costs for participating as vendors at such a large convention were, in a word, prohibitive. Another excursion to Louisville for a book signing/selling event proved nothing but a waste of time and money.

This year, I decided to stay local to minimize those outgoing expenses. I participated in author events in Columbus, Springfield, and Dayton, Ohio. The Columbus event captured a small number of attendees. The Dayton event had over 100 authors and probably fewer than two dozen attendees. The two Springfield events varied widely, despite having comparable numbers of participating authors. One event was held in August, the other two weeks before Christmas.

The mad rush of Christmas shopping did not impact attendance; the lack of any holiday shopping did not affect attendance at the August event. What I learned is that timing doesn’t seem to matter, but location does. The one factor that apparently determines the success of an author event is that it be held where people already gather.

In short, if you want your author event to succeed, then it must be held where the people are.

Hen House Publishing hopes to repeat the success of the Springfield Book Fair on February 10. Again, the Winter Book Fair will be held at the same popular gathering place: Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company. The goal is to take advantage of the brewery’s popularity as well as to bring in additional customers for the brewery. Wish us luck.

Bear of the Midnight Sun

After a thousand years, immortal polar bear shifter Sindre finally finds his mate—on a talk show. In the city where anything goes, an impromptu wedding is just a taste of what’s to come. Startled into going through the ceremony, Miranda can’t stop the big, virile man from staking his claim on her and releasing her bear. Sindre can’t believe his good luck and will do anything to keep his mate at his side, up to and including taking marital advice from Atlas Leonidus. An independent woman with a successful career, Miranda melts at his touch and shuns his control, except she can’t control her bear.

And here’s the buy link: Bear of the Midnight Sun (Immortal Shifters Book 3).

About Holly Bargo

Holly Bargo is a pseudonym, but really did exist as a temperamental Appaloosa mare. The author still has horses—anybody looking for a wonderful pony? She lives on a hobby farm in southwest Ohio with her husband and menagerie of 4-legged critters. She and her husband have two sons, one graduating from university in 2019 and the other serving in the military. Holly writes primarily romance and fantasy, often blending the two. She has published over 20 books since 2014. She explains her prolific output by saying that if she doesn’t write, her mind will explode.

Amber Daulton: What Inspired ARRESTING MASON (Contest)
Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Arresting Mason is a redemption story about a flawed man struggling to right his wrongs and finding love in the most unexpected of ways. I think the character of Mason Harding appeals to readers because mistakes are a fact of life. No one is perfect, and it shows true strength when a person overcomes the adversity and strives for a better tomorrow.

I came up with the main plot—a feisty divorcée starting a HAWT relationship with a tattooed ex-con—in a little place called dreamland. I’m always the leading lady in my dreams, and I fell head-over-heels in love with a mysterious former gang member. After I awoke from that seriously mouthwatering dream, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mason, his past, and his current problems. His seductive voice kept whispering to me, urging me to write about him, so I wrote out a rough plotline and quickly finished the manuscript I was already working on. I’ve changed quite a bit in the story from what happened in the dream, but the main premise has remained the same.

I originally wrote this book for a bad boy anthology call, but I had exceeded the maximum word count and still wanted to add more scenes by the time I finished the first draft. So I forgot all about the submission call and kept revising this story until I was finally happy with it. At long last, the manuscript clocked in at eighty thousand words and sparked ideas for more books. It’s now book one in the Arresting Onyx series, a five-book series about five sexy men—brothers in blood and in life—and the stubborn women they can’t live without.

Arresting Mason

Once you’re in a prison gang, you’re in it for life. That’s what Mason Harding thought until the boss accepted his resignation. After the State releases him on parole, a sexy divorcée behind the wheel of a car almost ends his life quicker than a shank. His chance encounter with Mia Eddison results in a night of passion, but her brother—his parole officer—catches them together and doesn’t approve.

Mia falls hard for the cocky ex-con, but not because of his chiseled body. She vows to break through his walls and discover his secrets, but never expects those secrets to threaten her life.

When members of an organized crime ring kidnap Mia to force Mason’s return to the gang, he goes up against an old friend to save the woman he loves. Will his sacrifice be enough or will everything fall apart in a blaze of gunfire?

Excerpt

They reached her store and he stared at her car parked by the curb. “Harper doesn’t know where you live or anything about you. That means you’re safe for now, but he’ll probably search this area to find us. Stay cautious, okay? Drive your car from now on. Don’t walk anywhere.”

“Why are you avoiding my questions? You can tell me anything.”

“Not this. If you trust me, don’t ask those kinds of questions.” He tightened his fingers around her forearm as she tried to jerk free from his grip. “Listen to me, damn it. You mean a lot to me, but I can’t tell you this. At least not right now. That’s nothing against you. It’s all on me. I just need time to take care of this problem. Okay? I’m fucking stressed, in a shitload of pain, and I don’t need you to hound my ass.” He dropped his hand from her arm and scowled as though he just noticed the dirt and blood on his knuckles. “I’d like to go upstairs to clean up before you take me home. I don’t want Alan to know what happened.”

Mia dug through her purse with shaky hands, so angry she didn’t trust herself to speak.

He took the keys from her before the little pieces of metal slipped between her fingers, and he hugged her despite the grime on his skin and clothes.

Tears clogged her throat. Her mind screamed at her to push away from him, but the strength in his arms enveloped her and stole her will. His heartbeat soothed hers, and she no longer cared about his lies or if filth caked him.

At least not at the moment.

“I never meant for this to happen, Mia. I will fix this.”

“I know, but at what cost?” She pried her face from his chest to stare up at him. “You’re nothing if not determined, but I’m scared and confused. You have answers to my questions, but I won’t hound you for them as you so eloquently stated. I just thought we got past this. I thought you knew I would never insult or condemn you for whatever it is you did.”

“And I thought you knew not to push me too fucking hard.” His deep voice sent shivers of unease down her spine. “I have to keep certain parts of my past to myself.”

“Whatever.” Mia finally pushed against his chest for freedom and stomped to the stairwell door.

*~*~*

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39005064-arresting-mason

Buy Links:
Amazon – http://amzn.to/2ppcmEJ
Barnes and Noble – https://bit.ly/2uOj90J
iTunes – https://apple.co/2FVAQMP
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/arresting-mason
Google Play – https://bit.ly/2Izu3cZ
The Wild Rose Press store – http://bit.ly/2FSVvBa
Books2Read – https://books2read.com/u/m2vvY7

Buy Links for Audio:
Amazon – https://amzn.to/2Nbwr03
Audible – https://adbl.co/2CV6oVU
iTunes – https://apple.co/2NHwMqA

Official Book Trailer:

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc0q0dLLFPM

Rafflecopter Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link – http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0a0982c525/?

About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

Amber lives in North Carolina with her husband and four demanding cats. Feel free to visit her at http://www.amberdaultonauthor.blogspot.com.

Social Media Links: 
Facebook Author Page – www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/amberdaulton5/
Goodreads – www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton
Amazon Author Page – http://amzn.to/14JoZff
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/amberdaultonauthor/
Book Bub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/amber-daulton
Book Gorilla – https://www.bookgorilla.com/author/B00ALQITWY/amber-daulton/kcc
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/amberdaulton
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/pub/amber-daulton/87/538/368
Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AmberDaulton
The Wild Rose Press – https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/2362_amber-daulton

Rose’s Online Plotting Bootcamp, January 14 — February 9, 2019
Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Rose’s Online Plotting Bootcamp

Moms CammoRose

Permission granted to forward

This message is for any authors or aspiring authors who might be interested in some intensive help developing their next stories.

Don’t let that word “intensive” scare you away; I’ve led newbies, as well as multi-published authors, through our plotting process numerous times. Everyone comes away with new knowledge and insight, or at the very least, some terrific brainstorming support!

While lessons and exercises will be posted throughout the month of January, this is truly a self-paced class. We all have busy lives, and the workshop is designed to accommodate any schedule. Enjoy the pitch below!

ROSE’S ONLINE PLOTTING BOOTCAMP

Dates: January 14 – February 9, 2019
Last date to register: January 14, 2019
Cost: $50.00—cheap, considering everything you get!
Your DI (Drill Instructor): Delilah Devlin
Offered through:
www.rosescoloredglasses.com

What you can expect:
LOGLINE (Lunges)
PREMISE (Pushups)
CHARACTER (Strengthening exercises)
CONFLICT! CONFLICT! CONFLICT!
Breaking through the STORY STRUCTURE stronghold
Battling the PLOT LINES

We do more in one month than some people do all year! Get tough! Get motivated! Get plotting!

Join your Drill Instructor, Delilah Devlin, to learn a methodical approach to harness your creativity in order to produce an in-depth plot for your next novel.

Sound scary? It is!!!! Especially when you’re staring at an empty page without a compass and a map to guide you through the novelistic jungle. Your DI will lead you through four weeks of tactics, exercises, and training that will help strengthen your abilities. Delilah will accomplish this with weekly lessons, bi-weekly chats, and daily online communication. Join her for bivouac in January!

Join this elite force now!

For those who don’t know, my sister and I co-founded the website for writers called Rose’s Colored Glasses in 2004. From that site, we run a critique group and provide workshops—some free and some for pay. In January, I will be leading a month-long plotting bootcamp. It’s a great time to join—something you can do for yourself to kick off the New Year with a bang! Join me if you can! ~DD

How’s our workshop different from every other one out there? I’ll provide feedback and brainstorming every step of the way!

Interested? Follow this link to sign up:
http://www.rosescoloredglasses.com/Online%20plotting%20boot%20camp.htm

And feel free to pass this along to anyone else you think might be interested with my thanks!


Delilah Devlin
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author & Freelance Editor
Get in bed with Delilah. Everyone else has!

My latest stepbrother story is here!
Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Stepbrothers Stepping Out: With His Client

This is my 14th Stepbrothers Stepping Out story! All of them are short stories. They’re all decadently delicious! Hope you love the latest entry. Here’s what it’s all about:

A woman tempts a Russian strongman to save her stepbrother’s company…

It’s only $0.99 and it’s FREE to Kindle Unlimited subscribers! It’s an erotic romance, so you know a lot of naughtiness ensues… Get your copy here!

Favorite Family Quotes–‘Tis the Season and All
Monday, December 17th, 2018

“My family is my life, and everything else comes second as far as what’s important to me.”
~ Michael Imperioli

You remember Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos, right? I love this quote because it’s true for me, as well. And here’s another…

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” 
~Desmond Tutu

He’s a South African cleric, if you didn’t know. And this one’s also true for me. I live in what could be a very divided house—Democrat and Republican. The past couple of years have been contentious, at times, during dinner time, but we love each other even if we sometimes don’t understand each other. I think this quote hits me because of that contention. If everything was always roses, we’d never have to learn the beauty of acceptance.

Here’s one from me, because as I approach this holiday season, I miss my grandma who passed this last February. She’s not here with us, but I thank the Powers every day that I was part of her “care team” there at the end. She knew she was loved. We knew we were loved…

“Hug ’em and tell them you love them. Every single day.
Make that what they remember most about you…”

Read an excerpt from the next Stepbrothers Stepping Out story!
Sunday, December 16th, 2018

I love my naughty stepbrothers! And I think I could keep writing them forever. For me, they’re all different. This one was especially fun to write. A woman who works for her stepbrother has to help him flip a client and convince this other man to invest in their family company. This Russian’s background is a bit sketchy. He’s scary big, speaks in a heavy accent, and doesn’t suffer fools easily. My heroine, Lila, gets trapped, by the Russian and her brother, into accompanying Fedor on a trip. Now, she’s completely at his mercy… Hope you enjoy the excerpt. She’s no shrinking violet, and he has limits to his patience… With His Client releases on Tuesday! So you don’t have long to wait to read the rest of it! And as always, if you love this story and want more of my couple, you have to tell me so! I can be convinced…

Stepbrothers Stepping Out: With His Client

A woman tempts a Russian strongman to save her stepbrother’s company…

Pre-order you copy here!

An excerpt…

The bedroom where he left me to change was gorgeous. The rug was an antique Persian, the colors softened with age. Blue, green, and gold medallions against a deep brown. The bed was covered in a rich brown brocade comforter and looked sumptuous, but I tried not to look there. It was large enough to accommodate his body with tall posts on each corner. All seating in the room was upholstered in a dark, buttery-soft leather. The bathroom was enormous with a walk-in shower with many heads and tiled in natural stone. The bathtub was copper on the outside and coated with an ivory enamel on the inside. I’d need to use the steps beside it because the sides were so deep.

I heard rustling in the bedroom and hurried back into the room to find a servant, dressed casually in a cotton skirt and tank, emptying my suitcases. She was pretty and young, and her smile flashed white against her dark skin. “I’ll only be a minute, miss.”

I cleared my throat. “Fedor…Mr. Medved…?”

“He’s waiting for you in the living room. Dinner is being prepared. He thought you might like a drink before eating. He wants you to wear this,” she said, sliding open a closet door and pulling out a dress that was more like a filmy caftan.

The material was so thin, I knew my shape would be revealed. Underwear would look ridiculous beneath it. The dark filigree pattern against a blush background would play peekaboo with my nipples and the dark hair cloaking my crotch. “I don’t suppose he included a slip…?”

She giggled, and her smile stretched wider. “He included sandals.”

“Of course,” I said, my mouth going dry.

When she left, I didn’t let myself think about what I should do—which was select one of the outfits Brian had packed. They were short but covered me. Instead, I stripped and pulled the caftan over my head. I spent a few minutes repairing my makeup, brushed my hair, then slipped on the dark sandals. As I walked from the bedroom, the thin silk fluttered against my hot skin, gliding against my nipples, between my legs. The caftan was as much of a tease for me as it would be for him.

By the time I found him, I was already aroused, and there was no use pulling at the fabric that caressed my tight nipples to try to hide that fact.

He faced a wall of windows overlooking a long strip of pristine beach. He’d removed his jacket, and I noted that his white dress shirt was perfectly tailored, forming to his broad shoulders, lean back and waist. His slacks hugged his rounded buttocks.

He had to know I was there; the soft leather soles of my sandals slapped on the tiled floor. I came up beside him and looked out at the view. From the corner of my eye, I watched as he glanced sideways, his gaze raking over my body. I couldn’t help drawing a deeper breath that lifted my chest—and my tight nipples.

“Why didn’t you just ask me to come naked to you?” I said, glancing his way.

He turned his body then lifted a hand to finger the silk at my waist. “Do you like how it feels?”

His voice was different. Deeper, smokier. My breasts quivered as I drew a shuddering breath. “Yes,” I whispered.

He gave a nod. “Your pleasure is important to me.”

I pressed my thighs together in an attempt to stopper the moisture wetting my sex. “Why should my pleasure matter?” I asked, lifting my chin.

His mouth quirked, and I stared at that small smile. “I am not an ogre, Lila.”

“You forced me here.”

He canted his head. “Did I?”

“You knew I couldn’t refuse.”

“You mean, your brother wouldn’t let you refuse. You could have said no…or simply left my limo waiting at the curb. But here you are—wearing my gown.”
I dropped any pretense of pride along with my chin and gazed down at our shoes—his polished loafers, my scanty sandals. Drawing in a breath for courage, I said, “You’re right. I wanted to come. I guess…I was…curious…”

Fedor’s hands reached out, palms up, and moved slowly toward me.

I could have stepped back, but instead, allowed him to cup my chin. He raised my face. “Before we met, I knew who you were. I have…friends…inside your company, who told me of your frustration with your brother. That you warned him long ago of where his excesses would lead him.” His dark eyes narrowed as he stared down at me. “You are lovers.”

“We…are.” But looking at him, I knew that was no longer true. “Were,” I whispered.

He gave a crisp nod. “I don’t share, Lila.”

“This is… I’m not…” I shook my head at my dithering. “I still don’t understand why I’m here. Is it to punish my brother—or play some game?”

“I saw you before…at a gathering at your country club.”

I shook my head. “That’s not possible.”

One eyebrow arched.

“I would have remembered,” I said, lowering both of mine. And it was the truth. The first time I’d looked at him through the screen in the restaurant, he’d taken away my breath. He was too large, too commanding to miss.

“I watched from a distance while you walked with your brother. His hand against the small of your back. I knew then that the rumors of your affair were true. But you were as much mother as lover, trying to steer him toward the people he should speak with, your eyes narrowing when he drank too much. I thought your…attentions…were wasted on one so unworthy.”

“Brian isn’t unworthy,” I said, frowning.

“He’s a child.”

I drew another deep breath, ready to argue, but he was right. Brian was spoiled. Unprepared for his role as CEO. His father had thought he’d have time to groom him.

“I remember thinking how remarkable it was that you were the same age. Both lovely to look at, but he’s empty and immature. While you are…too good for him.”

I shook my head. “I’m not. My mother married into wealth, but I—”

“Had the same opportunities, to a point. I understand. His set is privileged, with advantages they never earned. I could care less about their privilege.”

I sighed. “I don’t get it. You sneer at him. You refused his request. You don’t care to partner with him, I get it. So, why am I here?’

“It’s simple. I want you.” He pursed his mouth and tilted his head in a sideways nod. “And I want your shares. I will not invest my money with a fool. He cannot retain control.”

Disappointment chilled me. “Your shares, alone, wouldn’t give you control, and he wouldn’t give you controlling shares.”

“I will work with you. You are sensible. Smart. You wouldn’t balk at instituting a program of austerity to rebuild your company. You will tell him that I will accept thirty-three if you are given thirty-four.”

“Why would he give up control?”

“Because he has no choice—and he believes you will give it back to him.”

“And I would.”

Again, Fedor raised one wicked brow. “Would you, even if you thought it wasn’t in his best interests?”

I paused, unsure now. “You want a partnership, and you think that I’ll go along with you when it comes to voting. Is that why we’re here? Are you trying to seduce me into giving you control over my shares?”

“I wanted a chance to talk to you. To go over some ideas I have for saving your company and for moving forward. But I could have accomplished that over a private business meeting. No, I told you already. I want you.”

I barely stopped myself from stomping my foot. He was infuriating. “You said you want me, and you want my shares.”

He grunted. “Perhaps I didn’t say that right. I want you. With me.”

I widened my eyes to glare at him. How many ways could he tell me he wanted my damn shares? “You want me—with you—so you’ll have power over my brother.”

He gave me a darkly fierce frown. “I don’t want power over yourr brother. Just leverrage.”

Suddenly, I wanted to laugh. His frustration was making his accent thicker, his Rs sounding like growls. His anger spiked my own. And again, that quickly, I was aroused. I tossed back my hair and gave him a harder glare. “You want to seduce me to gain leverage over my brother.”

“I would seduce you anyway.” His jaws ground together. “I do not want to fuck yourr brother. I want to fuck you.”

My mouth twitched, and I fought not to grin. Pushing him had been fun. Which probably wasn’t very smart. The man had earned a rep for his fists. I guessed it was time to give him a break. I cleared my throat and nodded. “Just so we’re straight. I don’t like being played.”

A tic pulsed beside his eye. “I am not playing you. I am being straightforward. You arre not.”

I lifted my brows.

“You are wearring my gown.” His hands clenched at his sides. Then he stepped closer, towering over me. “You wanted me to see you.”

Well, yeah. But I didn’t like that he read me so easily. “I wore what you provided because I thought it was part of the deal.”

One dark brow rose. “You would sell yourrself to me?”

“I was ready to do whatever was needed to save Brian’s company. We’re family.” I tilted my chin.

He gave a sharp shake of his head. “Not blood.”

I felt my bottom lip push forward. “He’s the only family I have.”

“And he was only too happy to give you to me,” he said, lowering his face toward mine.

I swallowed. “Only because he knew…”

“You arre trrying my patience,” he whispered. “What did he know?”

God, my nipples hurt they were so tight. “That I want you.”

His hands shot up and gripped my hips. His face lowered. The moment our mouths touched, it was as though a match scratched. We ignited.