Title: HARLOW: A Choice & Consequence Novel
Author: Cadence Vonn
Genre: Erotic Romantic Suspense
It never occurs to Harlow Blackwood that losing her virginity could lead to an attempted kidnapping and death. Striking out to uncover a story that would make her byline appear on front pages across the country, she tangles with Marco Agassi, a billionaire who wants to possess her. Refusing his advances puts her in his predatory crosshairs, leaving her embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Driven by revenge, Xander Royce agrees to help the FBI put away Marco, the man who destroyed his father. Discovering Harlow, the woman of his dreams, among his enemies wasn’t planned. Using her as bait is unthinkable. Sex with her is heart-stopping, and fear of losing her compels him to keep her safe until a botched plan thrusts her into his enemy’s grasp.
Now the difference between life and death depends on instinct…
The next morning, the blue sky calmed Harlow’s stretched nerves. She’d called Colleen last night to accept the job. Now she wondered what she’d been thinking. Colleen said to come makeup free and let her hair and cosmetic artist do their work. It’d take a heap of magic to make her magazine ready. Deep breathing didn’t lower her anxiety.
Xander clasped her hand in the back seat of the SUV. “Listen. You’re beautiful. If you don’t like it, Houston will bring you back to my office, and I’ll train you to do the work I’d considered you for. I wish I could go with you, but I have a financial meeting with my CFO this morning to go over end-of-month reports before next month’s board meeting.”
“Why Houston? Isn’t he your bodyguard?”
“Yes, but today he’ll be yours. Kevin can stay with me at my office. He doesn’t know the way to my mother’s place in the city like Houston does. He’s been there a few times and is aware of all the possible weak points in the building’s security. I’ll feel better if he’s with you.”
“I see. Do you think I’m in danger?”
“We’ll take no chances. Marco is devious and a poor loser. He’ll attempt to find you.”
“And…when he does, what do you think he’ll do?”
“He’ll kidnap you. Rape you. Then sell you to the highest bidder.”
Her eyes widened. “You’re just trying to scare me.”
“A bit. But never underestimate the enemy.” He squeezed her hand. “And Marco is the enemy.”
“Maybe I should’ve stayed back at the house.”
“You’ll be safe with Houston, and we’ll have a few pleasant evenings in the city. I’m anxious to show you my apartment overlooking Central Park.”
They pulled against the curb in front of Royce International headquarters, and with a quick, sweet kiss, Xander left the back seat as Kevin held his door open then closed it with a firm thud.
“Next stop, Soho,” Houston said, smiling at her in the rearview mirror. “You’ll have a good day. Mrs. Royce once tried to talk me into modeling. I decided I prefer working incognito as Xander’s bodyguard. It wouldn’t be good if I was recognized by screaming, autograph-hungry fans.” He chuckled.
“That’d be funny. Xander waiting while you signed t-shirts and who-knows-what female body parts. You’d have women swooning over you.”
He raised his eyebrow, his chuckle growing louder.
“You know what I mean. If you’re fishing for a complement, you got one. But you’re not my type. I like guys with a little less muscle and a touch shorter. I wouldn’t want to meet you in a dark alley. I prefer you on my side and not the enemy’s.”
His smile widened. “It’s my pleasure to keep you safe. Besides, there’s always models roaming around Mrs. Royce’s studio. Maybe I’ll get lucky and meet a beauty today.”
“You never know.” They rode the elevator in the old building to the top level. The floor to ceiling windows lined one full side of the expansive area. Natural light flooded the space, and different models shifted for Colleen as she barked orders to change poses.
“There you are,” she said as she lowered her camera. “I need your red hair in this shot. Head to the door with the star. Lenny and Marie will take care of your hair and makeup. You, handsome, have you changed your mind?” She patted Houston on the chest. “My offer still stands.”
“Colleen, I heard that,” Harlow called over her shoulder. The older woman laughed. “I can try. Now, hurry up.”
* * *
Xander showed Kevin the surveillance area near his office. “This is where Houston works. He can monitor the building and relax on the computer when there’s nothing that needs his attention. I’m sure he told you what to do. I’ll call if I need you.”
About ten o’clock, Xander stretched. It’d been a monumental task focusing on the different financial reports. Flashbacks of Harlow naked, stretched out on his bed, interfered with his concentration. A loud rap on his door startled him out of his erotic daydream. Barging in, Kevin didn’t wait for him to say he could enter.
“Sir, there’s a man in the lobby claiming to be Harlow’s brother, Liam Blackwood. He’s yelling about his sister being kidnapped by you. The guards have him in the security office.”
“Bring him to me.”
Kevin nodded and trotted to the elevator. Five minutes later, his private elevator binged. This wasn’t the way he wanted to meet Harlow’s relatives. He buttoned the top button on his suit coat, brushing off a speck of dust. His office door opened, and an angry man, young thirties, with short ginger hair strode toward him, fists against his thick thighs. Pissed was an understatement.
“Mr. Blackwood.” He held out his hand, hoping the guy didn’t break it. “I’m Xander Royce, your sister’s boyfriend.” His words drew the guy up short.
“Where’s Harlow? She’s not answering her phone.”
“Please sit. Can I get you a drink?”
“She’s safe. If you take a breath and sit, I’ll get her on the phone so you can talk. Then I’ll explain why her phone isn’t working.”
Kevin shifted, making it obvious he was here to control Liam.
“Fine,” the young man grumbled.
“Thank you.” Xander took the chair behind his desk. “Kevin, we’re good.” He dismissed his bodyguard with a nod. Pressing a few keys on his desk phone, he dialed his mother’s number.
“Dear, really…she’s only been here two hours. We’re busy,” his mother said without saying hello.
He could tell she was on a speakerphone. “Mom, I need a few minutes of her time. Her brother Liam is in my office.”
“Liam?” Harlow spoke from a distance. “Did something happen at home?” Her frantic voice shook with concern.
“No.” Xander held up his hand to Liam, who moved to grab the phone. “He’s under the impression I kidnapped you.”
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Why is your featured book a must-read?
As a writer, I’m adding more suspense to my stories. So if you like plot twists with an HEA ending, try HARLOW. She’s a feisty heroine that stands her ground even though she makes mistakes that may have dire consequences. You’ll love to hate the villain and will cheer on Xander as he falls hard and fast for Harlow. Although he’s driven by revenge, he’ll put his own life on the line to protect her. I hope readers find the book hard to put down and enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it.
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