Thursday, November 7, 2013

Exquisite Betrayal by A.M. Hargrove ~ Chapter One and Cover Reveal

Exquisite Betrayal by A.M. Hargrove


December 2013


A male Romance Author… a convention in Vegas… a female book blogger… a goal to lose her virginity… what happens when you mix all the above?

Fallon McKinley is headed to Vegas for the Wicked Wenches Romance Con and losing her virginity is only one of her goals. The other is to meet her favorite author of romance novels, R.T. Sinclair. What she doesn’t realize is that the sexy green-eyed god she rams into at the airport is the real R.T. When they keep running into each other, she’s shocked, but excited, because the attraction is irresistible.

Ryland Thomas Sinclair doesn’t want anyone to know his true identity. He’s the author that all women love, but everyone thinks he’s a female. He hides his persona behind the public face of his twin sister, keeping his own a secret. But after meeting the lovely Fallon, his intentions to avoid a relationship come to a screeching halt. She’s put an unwanted kink into his perfectly laid out plans. His unusual reaction surprises him because after a heart-shredding breakup a few years ago, he’s managed to avoid women at all costs.

Resisting Fallon becomes more difficult than he imagines. Soon things are spiraling out of control, until a major miscommunication has Fallon walking out of his home and his life. Will Ryland Thomas succeed in losing the woman he loves? Or can he win her back?

Chapter One
Ever since this bucket of metal called a plane left the ground, I’ve been asking myself if spending my last nickel on this trip will be worth it. Even though it means going without food at times, I stashed away every tip I earned to save for this. My mountain of debt is enormous, but then again, I keep telling myself, you only live once, right?
When the plane suddenly lurches, I know it’s going to roll completely over at any minute. I want to get off this carnival ride so badly I can taste it. My fingers tightly clench the armrest and I’m pretty sure if I ever deplane, my imprints will be left behind forever.
I feel a light patting on my arm and then I hear, “It’ll be just fine, dear. Those are only crosswinds from the desert. We always have those in Vegas.” The flight attendant announced moments before that we’ve been cleared for landing, but from the motion of the plane, I fear we won’t make it.
Glancing to my right, I see the tiny, elderly woman sitting next to me. My nerves are so shot, my attempt at smiling is an epic fail.
Fallon, sweetie, always remember to keep your chin up. Negative thoughts will only bring you down.
Dad’s words come back to me, a soothing balm to my tattered nerves and empty bank account. God, how I wish he were still here. I wouldn’t be in this damn mess of debt right now. It’s been six years, but sometimes the pain is so raw that it feels like yesterday.
“Honey, is this your first time flying?” The voice next to me breaks me out of my daydreaming.
“Hmm? Oh, yes, ma’am,” I squeak.
“Ah, I see. Well, this is all part of flying and very normal.”
“Really? I feel like I’m on a sideways Tilt-A-Whirl at the county fair.”
“Oh no, honey, this is smooth. I’ve been on some real doozies, I tell you. So what brings you to Vegas? Are you going to lose all your money to the slots?” she laughs.
“Huh?” My anxiety has me so edgy, I’m not following the conversation for a second and then it hits me. “Oh, no, ma’am. I’m here for the Wicked Wench’s Conference.” I don’t have a spare nickel to spend on the slots as it is.
She nods and eyes me for a second. “So, are you a Wench then?”
“Oh no! I’m a blogger,” I tell her, glad for the distraction from the chaotic flight.
The noise of the engines has picked up so she is leaning closer to me now, trying to hear. “A what? A booger?”
“No! Not a booger! A blogger!”
“Oh, a blogger. I’ve always wanted to see you girls dance. Do you have those fancy clicking shoes? Can you kick your legs high up in the air? I bet you can. You look like you could be limber like that.”
By the time I start to explain that I’m a blogger and not a clogger, the plane rolls to a stop and the seatbelt light goes off. For an elderly woman, she moves like lightening as she shoots out of her seat and flies down the aisle. I sit and stare at her with my mouth hanging open. Obviously she knows the ins and outs of flying much better than I do. I’m lost in the sea of shoving people as eager as I am to get off of that death trap.
As I’m pushed along the jetway, I finally emerge into McCarran International Airport. The place is huge! Taking a deep breath, I knock the monster of intimidation back and follow the signs to Baggage Claim, eager to meet my fellow book bloggers for the first time.
We are a gang of five that met online over our love for romance novels. We teamed up through Twitter first and then Facebook. As we found ourselves chatting and becoming friends, our interest in the same genre triggered the idea for us to start a book blog where we could review and post about our favorite books. I think it was Kat’s idea originally, but it took off like a forest fire in a Santa Ana wind.
We decided to celebrate our first anniversary by attending the Wicked Wenches Con in Las Vegas together. It would finally give us the chance to not only meet each other in person, but also some of our favorite authors of romance. Kat Graham, Amanda Cook, Mandy Henderson and Andrea Simpson are my partners, though I look at them as my family. They’ve done more for me in the last year than my mom has in the past five. Honestly, if they had purchased me a paper clip, they would’ve done more than my mom, however that’s another story.
I finally locate the conveyer belt thingy and watch for my bag when my phone dings. I look to see it’s a text from Kat.
Kat: I’m here. Are you?
Me: Yep…just waiting on my suitcase.
Kat: Where?
Me: Carousel #15
Kat: On my way!
Five minutes later, the bags start to roll down and mayhem ensues. I’ve never seen anything like it. From what I can tell that belt keeps going around in a big circle and eventually it’s going to get back to me again. I can’t figure out why those people are in such a frenzy over it.
Suddenly, I hear a giant screech followed by a squeal and turn around to see a blur with long, light brown hair flying towards me. It comes as no surprise that we both end up on the ground, hugging and laughing. As women tend to do, we find ourselves talking a mile a minute and eventually notice the area around Carousel #15 has cleared out and mine is the only bag still circling on the belt. We laugh for another few minutes before standing up to collect it.
Kat takes one look at my bag and breaks out in peals of laughter. She’s hugging her sides and bent over while I’m worried she’s going to topple on her head.
“Stop already!”
“I’m sorry, but damn, Fallon, where the heck did you get your luggage? From duct tape’s anonymous? You need to go to duct tape rehab.”
I shrug as I give Kat the evil eye, but then I break down in giggles. My suitcase does indeed look like something the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz would carry since it’s mostly silver. Granted, underneath the strips and strips of tape, there is a black bag somewhere, yet I’ll be damned if I can see it now.
“Okay, you win. It is awful, isn’t it? I didn’t have a choice, though. It was either that or less money for shooters and the shooters won.”
Kat nods. “Excellent choice. Come on, let’s go hunt down Amanda.”
We head out of Carousel #15 and don’t have to look far. Walking towards us and shouting at the top of her lungs is a gigantic hot dog nestled inside of a bun, complete with squiggles of mustard and ketchup. The only thing human about it is the face and it’s yelling out, “Where’s the Virgin for Vegas? Where’s the Virgin for Vegas? Have I got a wiener for you!”
I take one look at her and do a one-eighty with the intention of running away. However Kat grabs my wrist before I get the chance. “Oh, no you don’t. You have to take this like a woman!”
“Oh my God. You can’t do this to me!” I’m ready to drop to my knees and beg.
“Oh, yes we can! Now smile and look pretty,” she laughs.
I can’t believe this. What are they doing? Amanda approaches, dressed up like a fully loaded hot dog and hands me a tequila shooter. “How ‘bout a nice shooter for the Vegas Virgin?”
At this point, I down the tequila and want to crawl inside my bundle of duct tape. “Please, you all. Don’t do this.” I frantically look around to see if anyone’s watching.
“We’re not doing anything except for kissing that dreadful virginity of yours good-bye,” the wiener announces.
“Shit, shit, shit!”
“Don’t worry, Fallon. It’ll get better with more tequila,” Kat assures.
I poke out my arm and say, “Then give me some more and make it fast.”
Amanda hands me another shooter. “How ‘bout a nice, juicy wiener to go along with that, ma’am?”
“Oh, dear God.” If anyone ever died of embarrassment, I was sure it would be me. Like right this minute!
Kat puts her hand on my face. “Amanda, I think we need to cool it. Her face is on fire and I’m not sure if it’s the tequila or you.”
“It’s her.” I grab my hunk of duct tape and march straight outside.
Behind me I can hear, “Little Virgin, wait up. Little Virgin, we have to meet Mandy and Andrea!”
I frenetically wave my hand behind my butt. Right now, I only care about one thing and that’s getting away from the giant wiener that’s determined to get me drunk on tequila shooters and announce to the world that I’m a ‘Little Virgin’. I continue to shoo them away as I turn to check if they’re following me when I barrel into something quite firm and hard that sends me flying flat on my ass. The concrete is scorching and my thighs instantly feel like fried eggs hitting the frying pan on sizzling butter.
“Aiyee,” I scream as I try to stand back up. By this time my ass is in the air as I roll to my hands and knees. Now my palms and knees are on fire. “Dammit! Shit, that’s hot!” I say as I jolt to my feet, arms flailing while I try to straighten my skirt.
I finally glance up to find two, deep, emerald green eyes gazing at me. Well, that’s not exactly true. They’re slowly scanning me from top to bottom until they then stop and lock onto my cleavage. The reason for this is that my left nipple is more than half exposed. Okay, it’s completely exposed.
“Oh fuck!” I squeal as I tug my bra up and adjust my top. Why does this crap always happen to me?
I look back to see that Amanda and Kat are just awestruck. Not at me, but at green eyes because, glory-freakin-hallelujah, he’s one beautiful man. And why wouldn’t he be? Only I would fall down, ass in the air, boob hanging out in front of a gorgeous man. It wouldn’t happen in front of a wrinkled up, old, toothless man. Nope, never. I go for full on nipple exposure with the well-built, rugged, green-eyed blond that looks like a sex god, orgasmic-producing Eden.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “Forgive me. I should watch where I’m going.”
“Are you all right?” he asks and then scrapes his teeth across his lower lip right before he bites down on one corner.
Holy-put-my-panties-in-a-wet-wad! That voice and mouth. Green eyes has a sexy British accent to match the rest of his perfect self. Heart meet pink sparkly toe nails.
My head tilts a bit, as if I’m trying to figure out what he just asked me. “Huh?”
“I asked if you were okay. You took a good fall there on your bum. Just wanted to know if all was okay there?”
Somehow my hand starts unconsciously rubbing my butt. “Oh. Yeah, I guess so. All’s good on the bum here.” My voice has gotten all throaty on me.
Tall with unruly dark blond waves falling over his forehead, he stands there and stares at me. Then those magnificent orbs slowly rake me from head to toe again. Even though it feels like it’s a hundred and fifty degrees in the Las Vegas August heat, chills break out over my entire body. Every single haireven the microscopic ones that I so diligently try to keep waxedstand at attention, reminding me of their existence. An overwhelming urge to grab and kiss this hunk of sexiness charges into me, and I have no idea who he is. I can’t stop ogling his face… his bottom lip is full, and when he runs his tongue along it, I have to clamp my lips together to keep myself from moaning.
“So it looks like you’re here for a visit then?”
“Yes, a long weekend.” My voice still sounds funny to me, all husky and throaty.
“Well, perhaps I’ll see you around the strip then.” And again, those magnetic greens of his inspect me from head to toe. “Have a nice day then,” I hear him say.
I can’t move. I’m as still as a marble statue until the girls each grab one of my arms.
“If Vegas is full of those, I’m never going home,” the giant wiener claims.
We walk back inside to meet the other two of our gang, while I’m still addled by my encounter with green eyes.
We collect Andrea and Mandy and then seek out our transportation to the hotel. As we wait in line for the bus to take us there, the chills I had earlier have morphed into rivulets of sweat as they stream down my body. Not a single thread of my clothing is dry. This place is a freaking oven. When they talk about desert heat, they aren’t kidding. The only good thing to come out of it is Amanda had to ditch the giant wiener outfit. I think she would’ve died if she hadn’t.
“Did you all realize it was gonna be this damn hot? I feel like I’m in Hell,” Andrea says.
“Hell can’t be this hot, and if it is, well then, I’m gonna start really doing some serious prayin’ cuz you all, this is crazy!” I say. “I think I just sweated off my right butt cheek.”
Our bus finally shows up and we about knock the other people over to get on board. I’m ashamed to admit I’m not sorry in the least for that ghastly behavior of mine. It’s either that, or walk around with only one butt cheek, and the way I am thinking, it will be really hard to lose my virginity with only one butt cheek.
At least the ride to the hotel doesn’t take very long. When we pull up to it, though, we’re kind of disappointed. “Well, they sure made it look a lot nicer online,” Andrea harrumphs.
We all agree with her, but there isn’t anything to do except go inside and check in. So that’s what we do.
The lobby is a bit outdated and has a space odyssey look to it, but it’s clean with a casino and bar. What more can we ask for, right? The other nice thing is it is only a couple of blocks from the conference and all the cool hotels. The Space Nugget will do just fine for the next five days.
We had booked two adjoining rooms so we could share two bathrooms. The rooms are tidy, but they’re seriously lacking in decor.
“Well, it’s clean and cool and what do we care about anything else, right?” Mandy asks.
“Yeah, it’s not like we’re gonna be in here a lot anyway,” Kat replies. “I’m happy if the air conditioning works.”
So we all unpack and decide what to do that night. The convention kicks off in the morning, so that leaves tonight open. Tomorrow night is our big party with R. T. Sinclair.
Everyone starts tossing around ideas of what to do and our excitement mounts. We’re in the world’s largest adult playground and we have a plethora of places to choose from.
Amanda has a look in her eye that I’m beginning to understand. She once talked about hitting the male strip clubs and I’m all for that, but right now my stomach is telling me it wants some food. I’m relieved to hear her say, “Hey, what do y’all say we hit the town? Grab a little food, hit a casino and then do some shooters!” she shouts.
Everyone is on board with her suggestion, so we all get ready for our first night out on the town.

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One day, on her way home from work as a sales manager, A. M. Hargrove, realized her life was on fast forward and if she didn't do something soon, it would quickly be too late to write that work of fiction she had been dreaming of her whole life.  So, she rolled down the passenger window of her fabulous (not) company car and tossed out her leather briefcase.  Luckily, the pedestrian in the direct line of fire was a dodge ball pro and had ├╝ber quick reflexes enabling him to avoid getting bashed in the head.  Feeling a tad guilty about the near miss, A. M. made a speedy turn down a deserted side street before tossing her crummy, outdated piece-of-you-know-what laptop out the window.  She breathed a liberating sigh of relief, picked up her cell phone, called her boss and quit her job.  Grinning, she made another call to her hubs and told him of her new adventure (after making sure his heart was beating properly again). 

So began A. M. Hargrove's career as a YA/NA and Adult Romance writer. Her books include the following: Edge of Disaster, Shattered Edge and Kissing Fire (The Edge Series); The Guardians of Vesturon series (Survival, Resurrection, Determinant, reEmergent and Beginnings); Dark Waltz and Tragically Flawed. 

Other than being in love with writing about being in love, she loves chocolate, ice cream and coffee and is positive they should be added as part of the USDA food groups.  

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  1. You're the best--and I don't know what I'd do without you my friend! xoxo

  2. Just those two words, exquisite and betrayal, make me squirm all over with the anticipation of reading this! Eee!