I’m counting down the days until Release Me hits the shelves with a page reveal. Two or three pages daily, in order, from the book!
Today’s excerpt starts right after yesterday’s left off! You can find all the posted excerpts by going to the Release Me Page Reveal category of the blog!
“How about you? Did you actually manage to form words this time?”
I scowl. As my best friend since forever, Jamie knows a few too many of my secrets. I’d told her all about my ambiguous encounter with uber-hottie Damien Stark at the pageant reception. Her reaction had been typical Jamie—if I’d just opened my mouth and formed actual words, he would have ditched Carmela and had his way with me. I’d told her she was insane, but her words had been like tinder to my smoldering fantasy.
“I talked to him,” I admit now.
“Oh, really?” Her voice rises with interest.
“And he’s coming to the presentation.”
I have to laugh. “That’s it, Jamie. That was the point.”
“Oh. Well, okay, then. No, seriously, that’s fabulous, Nik. You totally rocked it.”
When she puts it that way, I have to agree.
“So what’s he like now?”
I consider the question. It’s not an easy one to answer. “He’s . . . intense.” Hot. Sexy. Surprising. Disturbing. No, it’s not Stark that’s disturbing—it’s my reaction to him.
“Intense?” Jamie parrots. “Like that’s a revelation? I mean, the guy owns half the known universe. I hardly think he’d be all warm and fuzzy. More like dark and dangerous.”
I frown. Somehow, Jamie has summed up Damien Stark perfectly.
“Anything else to report? How are the paintings? I won’t ask if you’ve seen any celebrities. Any celebrity younger than Cary Grant, and you’re clueless. I mean, you could probably trip over Bradley Cooper and not even know it.”
“Actually, Rip and Lyle are here, and they’re being civil to each other despite their feud. It’ll be interesting to see if the show gets picked up for another season.”
The silence at the other end of the line tells me I have scored big with that one, and I make a mental note to thank Evelyn. It’s not easy to surprise my roommate.
“You bitch,” she finally says. “If you don’t come back with Rip Carrington’s autograph, I am so finding a new best friend.”
“I’ll try,” I promise. “Actually, you could come here. I kind of need a ride.”
“Because Carl keeled over and died from surprise when Stark said he’d do the meeting?”
“Sort of. He left to go prep. The meeting’s been bumped to tomorrow.”
“And you’re still at the party, why?”
“Stark wanted me to stay.”
“Oh, did he?” Her voice rises with interest.
“It’s not like that. He’s looking to buy a painting. He wanted a female perspective.”
“And since you’re the only female at the party . . .”
I remember Audrey Hepburn and feel confused. I’m most definitely not the only female at the party. So what is Stark’s game?
“I just need a ride,” I snap, unfairly taking my irritation out on Jamie. “Can you come get me?”
“You’re serious? Carl left you stranded in Malibu? That’s like an hour away. He didn’t even offer to reimburse cab fare?”
I hesitate a fraction of a second too long.
“What?” she demands.
“It’s just that—well, Stark said he’d make sure I got home.”
“And what? His Ferrari’s not good enough for you? You’d rather ride in my ten-year-old Corolla?”
She has a point. It’s Stark’s fault I’m still here. Why should I inconvenience one of my friends—or fork over a buttload of money for cab fare—when he already said he’d get me home? Am I really that nervous about being alone with him?
Yes, actually I am. Which is ridiculous. Elizabeth Fairchild’s daughter does not get nervous around men. Elizabeth Fairchild’s daughter wraps men around her little finger. I may have spent my whole life trying to escape from under my mother’s thumb, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t manage to drill her lessons in deep.
“You’re right,” I say, even though the idea of Damien Stark wrapped around any woman’s finger remains a little fuzzy. “I’ll see you at home.”
“If I’m asleep, wake me up. I want to hear everything.”
“There’s nothing to tell,” I say.
“Liar,” she chides, then clicks off.
I slide my phone into my purse and head back to the bar—now, I want that champagne. I stand there holding my drink as I glance around the room. This time, I see Stark right away. Him and Audrey Hepburn. He’s smiling, she’s laughing, and I’m working myself up into quite a temper. I mean, he’s the reason I’m stranded here, and yet he hasn’t made any effort to speak to me again, to apologize for the whole “be my decorating wench” fiasco, or to arrange a ride for me. If I have to call a cab I am absolutely going to send a bill to Stark International.
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