Here's a glimpse of what's inside--an excerpt from Chapter 5: "Con Tequila".
Lurching awake on the sofa, Sophie scanned the darkened apartment. All was quiet except for the rasp of her breaths as she tried to orient herself. Then there was the noise that must have stirred her from sleep—a scratching at the door. She heard a slight clink of metal, the crunch of a key jamming into the lock, and harsh cursing from the hallway.
Was a Barberi thug trying to break into the apartment? She was fully awake now.
Soundlessly she crept toward the front door, halting at the clang of keys dropping on the hallway carpet. More swearing ensued, and her heart leaped to her throat. She was almost to the peephole when a soft chuckle floated through the door. Relief flooded her. She’d recognize that sound anywhere.
Yanking open the door, she had to look down to find Grant crouching at her feet, groping for the fallen keys.
“What’s your problem?” she hissed, trying not to disturb the neighbors.
It took him five seconds to look up at her with glassy eyes and a goofy grin. Clutching his keys, he woozily stood, swaying on his feet.
Her mouth popped open. “You’re drunk!”
“Hóla, Bonita.” His smile broadened.
So much for not waking the neighbors.
He fumbled for her hand and pressed her flush to his chest. “The door—” she cried, hearing it click shut and locked behind her.
“I have keys!” he proudly announced.
She rolled her eyes. “A lot of good they did you before.”
He nuzzled her nose, smiling dreamily, and she caught a whiff of Eau de Tequila. The low hallway light reflected in his dazzling eyes, which shone with mischief.
Her eyes narrowed. “Why were you drinking? I thought—”
He interrupted her with a scorching kiss, which made her bones wobble.
He followed his masterpiece by cupping her breasts in his hands. He skimmed his lips across her jaw, softly licking the skin near her ear. “You thought?” he prompted. He wasn’t slurring quite as badly as his first tequila bender.
“Hmmm…I thought…I thought…what was I thinking?”
He grabbed both her hands, and she found herself moving in step with him, ballroom dancing in the hallway. Naturally he started singing Sinatra in his deep baritone, crooning about the kick of champagne.
Feeling déjà vu from the bridge of the cruise ship, she closed her eyes and swayed along with him. Here we go again. She let him twirl her, and despite her consternation a giggle escaped.
He tucked her close, his hand resting on the small of her back, humming a tune about liquor not affecting him at all.
I beg to differ. “So who were you drinking with, naughty McSailor?”
“No one as sexy as you,” he cooed in her ear. The humming resumed, and his hand traveled south, caressing her bottom.
A zing of energy sparked from his touch, and she attempted to stay focused. “And what did she look like?”
Halting the two-step, he looked into her eyes, a smile floating across his flushed face. “Jealous, Bonnie?”
“You better not be doing body shots with anyone else.”
He seemed to find this amusing, snorting loudly. “I doubt my drinking buddies would let me get that close.”
They turned to their left when a neighbor’s door swung open, revealing a glaring woman with bed-head and an intricate neck tattoo peeking out from under her robe. “Could you take it inside?”
He maintained his jovial grin, letting go of her and approaching 7B. “Aw, don’t be mad, ma’am.” He kneeled and gently took the woman’s hand, then planted a kiss. “I do apologize—jusss having a good time out here on the dance floor.”
Sophie watched the woman teeter on the edge of fear and enthrallment, here in the hallway at 2 a.m.
“I’m sorry for all the noise,” Sophie said, stepping closer. “He had a bit too much to drink, and it’s time for me to put him to bed.”
“I like the sound of that,” Grant said, looking up at her but still holding the woman’s hand. “But I was jusss about to offer our lovely neighbor here a dance.”
The woman blushed. “Um, I have to go to work kind of early…”
“Mick,” Sophie hissed, tugging at his arm. “Time for bed, honey.”
Hearing his undercover name seemed to compel him to action. He stood, darted nervous glances down the hallway, then aimed a beseeching look at the woman. “I apologize, ma’am.”
Relieved he’d returned to his senses, she pulled him toward their door. “Sorry for waking you up!”
The woman watched her reach into his pocket for the keys. “Quite a charmer you got there.”
“Don’t I know it,” she said, smiling as she unlocked the door. She pushed the charmer into their apartment and watched him weave his way to the sofa. She supposed she should be angry at him for flirting with their neighbor, but she loved his completely carefree demeanor. It was so uncharacteristic.
He wiggled out of his long navy coat and tossed it toward a kitchen chair, missing his mark by a full coat-length. Very un-Grant-like. Not bothering to pick it up, he continued stumbling toward the sofa, humming Sinatra. Definitely not like Grant. When he began unbuttoning his shirt, she held her breath. Slowly his sculpted back came into view, his ropy muscles lean and taut. With a body like that, he had no business being so modest all the time, and she reveled in the show. He wadded up the shirt and tossed it to the corner.
Stay tuned for a blog post from Joe Madsen, Grant's uncle, at Darcia Helle's blog on 8/30.