Saturday, July 14, 2012

1st chapter of JUST ONE NIGHT

This is the 1st Chapter of JUST ONE NIGHT: THE STRANGER, an erotic fiction book that will be released on January 22nd.


The red Hervé Léger bandage dress I’m wearing is not mine.  It belongs to my friend Simone. Yesterday I would have laughed off the very suggestion that I wear anything this overtly provocative. Tomorrow I’ll dismiss the idea out of hand. But tonight? Tonight is a night of exceptions.

I stand in the middle of the hotel room Simone and I are sharing at the Venetian and tug at the hem. Can I sit down in this dress?

“You look so sexy,” Simone coos as she slips up behind me and pulls my black, wavy hair behind my shoulders. The move feels a little too intimate and I feel a little too exposed. I step away from her and twist myself into a pretzel as I try to see the back of the dress in the mirror. “Am I really going out in this?”

“Are you kidding?” Simone shakes her head, confused. “If I looked half as hot as you do in that dress I’d wear it every day!”
I pull down on the hem again. I’m used to wearing suits. Not the kind of suits women wear in the movies, but the kind of suits women wear in real life when they work at a global consulting firm. The kind of suits that make you almost forget you’re a woman, let alone a sexual being. But this dress sings a Melody I haven’t sung before.
“I won’t be able to eat so much as a carrot stick while wearing this,” I complain as I stare down at the neckline. I’m not wearing a bra. The only thing I was able to fit under the dress was a delicate little thong. But the dress is designed to prop everything up…which I have mixed feelings about. What surprises me is that my feelings are mixed. I’m slightly embarrassed, that’s to be expected. I also feel a little sinful just putting this thing on and yet…Simone’s right. I look hot. I’ve never thought of myself in those terms. No one does. When people hear the name Kasie Fitzgerald they think responsible, reliable, steady.
Steady, steady Kasie.
That’s the reason Simone dragged me to Vegas for the weekend. She wanted me to be unsteady on my feet for just one night before I fully embrace a life of stability with the man I’m going marry, Dave Beasley. Dave is going to propose…or maybe he already has.  “I think next weekend we should go ring shopping,” he had said as we finished up a quiet dinner at a Beverly Hills café. We’ve been dating for six years now and he has been talking about the possibility of marriage for five of them, examining the idea from every angle and putting our hypothetical marriage through hypothetical stress tests like a bank preparing for another financial crisis.
Dave is careful like that. It isn’t sexy but it’s comfortable. Once, after a few too many drinks, I told Simone that kissing Dave was like eating a baked potato. She gave me no end of grief for that. But what I meant was that a baked potato, while not the most exciting food in the world, was warm and soft and it was enough to stave off hunger. That was Dave.  He was my comfort food, my baked potato.

You should sleep with a stranger.

That had been Simone’s advice. One last hurrah before I got married and before I turned thirty.  I wouldn’t do it of course. I had bargained her down to flirting with a stranger and I was still trying to work up my nerve to do that.

When you’re old, do you really want to look back at your life and realize that you were never young?

Those had been Simone’s words too. But she didn’t understand. I didn’t know how to be young. I hadn’t even known how to be young when I was a child.
“She’s so much more serious than her sister!” my parents’ friends would say as I sat next to them, my head buried in a book. “Not a girly girl at all!”
Somehow it had been understood that femininity and studiousness were mutually exclusive states of being.
But here I was, a Harvard graduate working at one of the top global consulting firms in the country.  And I looked hot.
“Blackjack,” Simone says, with confidence. “You sit down at the high roller blackjack table wearing that dress and all the guys at the table will forget how to add.”
I snort and then throw my hand over my mouth as Simone breaks out in giggles. Even Hervé Léger can’t make a snort sexy.
When we get to the casino, heads turn. I’m not used to this. Men are watching me move, their eyes are appraising, measuring up their chances, taking note of all the secrets my dress reveals…and it reveals plenty. The women are watching too.  Some of the looks are judgmental, others envious. I blush as I realize that some of their stares are every bit as appraising as the men’s.
Part of me wants to hurry through the room but the dress keeps my gate slow and careful. I’ve heard stories of models falling on the runway during Hervé Léger shows and I can see how that could happen. With the shoes Simone insists need to be worn with this and the tightness of the dress itself each step presents its own challenge.
A man walks by me and runs his eyes up and down my body without even making a thin attempt to hide his desire. My blush deepens and I turn away.  The way he looked at me…does he think I’m a hooker?  I’d have to be a pretty successful one to afford this outfit.  I glance over my shoulder and realize that he’s stopped to watch me as I move away from him. He looks slick and arrogant. I don’t want him…but I like that he wants me and even that small pleasure makes me feel a little shameful…and scandalous.
We stake out a blackjack table that has a $100 minimum. That doesn’t exactly make it for high rollers but it’s so much more than I would normally risk.  
As I sit down my hem inches up and I’m reminded of the thin thong, the only undergarment I’m wearing.

What am I doing here?

I swallow hard and focus on the table. I’m not exactly an expert at the game but Simone proves to be much worse than I am. She places huge bets and then keeps trying for the twenty-one even though her attempts lead her to bust more than once. Eventually she gives up and tells me she’s going off to the craps table. I stay where I am. I can handle adding up cards but I have never mastered the art of rolling the dice.
“This looks like a good table.”
I turn just as a man wearing dark jeans and a brown t-shirt sits beside me.  His sculpted arms are an odd contrast to the salt-and-pepper hair…but I like it. He looks over at me just as I’m taking him in and I quickly look away. It was an obvious dodge and I inwardly cringe at my awkwardness.
A woman with a clipboard walks over and smiles at the man now by my side. “Mr. Dade, so good to see you.”
“You too, Gladys. I’m going to start with five thousand.”
The woman nods and after he signs a slip of paper a pile of black and purple chips are placed in front of him.
This is not the way people normally get their chips.
I put down a two hundred dollar bet and the dealer doles out a few cards. I start with a five and an ace. It’s not a bad beginning. Mr. Dade isn’t so lucky with his ten and six.
I tap my finger next to my cards and am given another. Mr. Dade does the same.
My card’s a four. I smile to myself. I’m on a roll.
Or at least I thought I was until Mr. Dade is handed a five.
No one says the words but the chips are pushed in his direction.
As the dealer adds a few chips to my pile, a smaller acknowledgment of my win against the house, Mr. Dade leans toward me, ever so slightly. “Care to make it interesting?”
“I thought that’s what we were doing.” I contemplate my chips, not because I need to count them but because I’m a little too unnerved to look directly at him.
“More interesting,” he clarifies.   “If I have the better hand we’ll leave the table and you’ll have a drink with me.”
“And if I have the upper hand?” I ask, twisting the words to my liking.
“Then I’ll have a drink with you.”
I laugh. Between the excitement in the room and my new, albeit temporary look I’m already feeling a little lightheaded. I can’t imagine what a drink will do to me.
“If I win we’ll have a drink right here at the table and keep playing,” I say. From an economic standpoint my plan is probably the more risky one but from every other perspective it’s decidedly safer.
“A negotiator,” Mr. Dade says. Although I’m still not looking at him I can feel his smile. The energy he’s exuding is sexy, but also a little mischievous.
I like it.
The dealer doles out a few more cards. I get a three and a six while Mr. Dade gets a King and a four. It’s anyone’s game. It all depends on what we’re dealt next….a nice little metaphor for life. But I keep that thought to myself and quietly tap my blood red fingernails against the felt green table. Mr. Dade gestures to be hit as well.
This time he’s the one who gets to twenty. I don’t even get to eighteen.
He stands up, offers me his hand. “Shall we?”
I collect my chips and hesitate as I mentally plan out how to get up from the table without exposing more than I’d care to display.
Again, I can feel this man’s smile. An old song pops into my head, The Devil Inside, and I mentally play it as a soundtrack in my head as I carefully get to my feet. He doesn’t rush me as he escorts me first to the cashier where I can cash out my chips and then to the escalator. People are still looking, but now they’re looking at us.
But there is no us. I remind myself. This is a fantasy. A fleeting and insubstantial encounter. We’ll drink, we’ll flirt and then we’ll vanish from one another’s lives like smoke from a controlled flame.
“Here,” he says as he moves us over to a bar with walls of glass.  
People are looking; they’re being drawn into the fantasy of us.
He sidles up to the bar and waits as I struggle to get up on the barstool. I pull out my cell to text Simone my whereabouts but before I get a chance to enter the first word the bartender is here.
“I think the lady would like a glass of your finest champagne, Aaron,” Mr. Dade begins.
“No,” I say quickly, some deleterious impulse getting the better of me. “Whiskey.”
I don’t know why I upped the ante except for that this isn’t a champagne moment. It feels grittier, stronger, it calls for grains not bubbles.
Mr. Dade smiles again and orders us both a whiskey, a brand I’ve never heard of.  “So,” he says as the bartender moves away, “blackjack’s your game?”
“No.” I lower my head as I send the text to Simone. “This is only my second time at the tables. I don’t really have a game.”
“You’re playing one tonight.”
I look up, asking the question with just the rise of my eyebrows.
“You don’t normally dress like this,” he continues as our drinks are placed in front of us. He slides the bartender some money. He’s not asked if he would like to start a tab. Our server seems to sense that this is not the time to interrupt.
“How do you know how I normally dress?”
“You don’t often wear heels like those.  You don’t know how to walk in them.”
I laugh nervously. “No one outside of Cirque Du Soleil knows how to walk in these shoes.”
“And if you dressed like that all the time you’d be used to people looking at you. You’re not.” He leans forward and I can smell the faintest wisp of woodsy cologne. “You’re self-conscious. You’re not comfortable with the stares or how much you enjoy them.”
I start to look away but he takes my chin in his hand and holds it so that I’m facing him directly. “Even now, you’re blushing.”
I don’t know this man, this man who is touching me. He’s a stranger. A blank slate. I should walk away. I shouldn’t let the rough skin of his thumb move back and forth over my cheek like this.

You should sleep with a stranger.

Slowly, I move my hand to his and then move it away from my face. But I don’t let go. I like the feel of his hands. They’re strong and textured. These hands have built things and been exposed to the elements. I visualize them grasping the reigns of a horse. I see them inside the engine of a sleek sports car that can drive fast and hard away from the constraints that hinder the rest of us. I imagine these hands touching me, his fingers inside of me…

What am I doing here?

“My name’s Kasie,” I say.  My voice comes out raspy and flustered.
“Do you want to know my name?” he asks. “My full name?”
I realize immediately that I don’t. I don’t want to know who he is. I don’t even want to know who I was yesterday or who I will be tomorrow. I just want to know who I am now.
“I don’t do this,” I whisper. But even as I say it I know that I’m talking about yesterday, tomorrow. Tonight is…different.
This man, he’s not like the man who raked my body with his eyes, all conceit and sleaze. This man isn’t pushing his agenda on me; he’s drawing out mine. Reading my movements, my smiles, the quick path of my eyes. In his face I can see my own desire. He’s no longer a blank slate. He’s my fantasy and the chemistry…the intensity that exists between us…it’s what I would have longed for if I had known what it was.
But I know what it is now.
I notice the button at the top of his jeans. It reads Dior Homme. Six hundred dollar jeans…and yet the t-shirt could have been bought at Target. Like his youthfully muscular arms and conservatively cut salt and pepper hair.  It’s the contradiction that seduces me.
“I’d like to make you a drink,” he says.
It doesn’t take me a moment to grasp his meaning. I know he’s inviting me to his room. I glance around the bar. I’ve never had a one-night stand. I’m studious. I’m the girl everyone can count on for her rock solid, solemn consistency.

Except tonight. Tonight I’m the girl who is going to sleep with a stranger.

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Chapter 2 of JUST ONE NIGHT: The Stranger

Chapter 2

Like college kids, we stop at a store in the lobby to buy our own liquor. I almost laugh as the cashier hands Mr. Dade a brown paper bag containing the bottle, as if we’re about to sneak off under some bleachers instead of up the tower of a luxury hotel. As if the plan’s to get drunk on cheap wine coolers rather than sip $200 scotch.
I’ve never been the girl under the bleachers but I don’t judge those who were.  Even as I rejected the idea for myself I could see that there was a certain clumsy innocence to that particular American tradition. Nothing about what I was about to do with Mr. Dade was innocent.
We don’t talk as he leads me to his room.  It’s a suite. I knew it would be.  The floor of the parlor holds enough square footage to hold a party. The untouched kitchen could accommodate a caterer. We don’t need all this space but I find its excess darkly delightful.
I hear him close the door and my eyes dart to the double doors to my right. I don’t have to ask to know what room they lead to.
I sense him walking up behind me now. I can feel the heat of him and I tense as I wait for his touch.
But it doesn’t come.
Instead he brings his mouth close to my ear. “Make yourself comfortable,” he says, his voice growls as his words entice. “Take something off.”
I turn to face him. I can’t speak. Thoughts of Dave push their way into my consciousness. This is a betrayal. Can I live with this? Can I compartmentalize this one night from the rest of my life?
“You’re shoes,” he says, his smile teasing. “Take off your shoes.”
I exhale a breath I didn’t know I was holding. But I’m not safe. Not from him, not from myself. Keeping my eyes on his I ease down into a chair. He kneels before me and his fingers gently brush against my ankles as he unfastens the buckles of my heels. My legs are pressed tightly together. I’m not ready to show him my world. Not yet.
But as the shoes come off his hands slowly move up my calves, to my knees, to the outside of my thighs. Again the air I had just inhaled gets caught in my chest as I momentarily forget how to breathe. This skirt is so short, his hands keep getting higher and yet he hasn’t reached the hem…until he does, and he pushes it higher still…
…and then stops.
I wait, expecting him to go further but his hands fall away. “I’m going to pour you that scotch now,” he says.
And there it is again, that devious grin, that careful balance between urgency and patience.
He gets up and I close my eyes and try to find some balance. I hear the freezer open and close, then the clink of ice cubes falling into an empty glass. I don’t move. I can’t move. I was worried about something only moments ago, there was something I needed to think through…what was it? I can’t focus.
When I open my eyes he’s before me, a single drink in his hand, which he extends toward me. “You’re not joining me?” I ask. I’m whispering now. I’m afraid of breaking the moment…afraid of pulling myself out of this alternate reality. This is only a dream after all and if I keep it to myself it will feel more like a dream every day. But right now I’m not ready to wake up.
Mr. Dade’s smile widens as he places the glass in my hand. “Oh, I’ll be joining you.”
I sip the scotch and then sip again. It’s beautiful. Just like this room, with its warm gold hues and notes of luxury.
He takes back the glass. “My turn.”
He extracts an ice cube and then uses it to trace a path along the neckline of my dress. As the cool wet surface touches my breasts I feel my nipples harden as they reach out to him, begging him to go further. He responds by tasting the hints of scotch on my skin. Light kisses filled with heat, his hands now on my hips. I’m breathing again but each breath is shallow as I struggle to stay still.
He lifts the scotch glass again and brings it to my lips, tipping it back just slightly so that the smoky taste only trickles over my tongue. And then his fingers slip into the glass again and this time the melting ice is moved up my thighs. My body and my mind are no longer connected. I feel my legs part, only slightly at first but as he pushes my dress higher and higher I encourage him with increased access.
Again he lowers his mouth to the chilled scotch on my skin and I watch as he follows the trail up my legs. With a sudden and decisive movement he pulls my skirt up to my waist, which he now holds firmly in his hands as his mouth moves higher and higher. That flimsy little thong is the only thing that stands in his way. He removes one hand from my waist and he strokes the silky fabric.
Through lowered lids I see him smile again. I know what he’s thinking. The fabric is wet. It’s another invitation that I have no control over.
But it’s not enough for him. “Ask,” he says, his finger hooks around the waistband of my panties.
I feel my cheeks heat up once more.  A voiced request means that I won’t be able to say that I was just taken or that I wasn’t thinking. I’m ready to expose my body to him but now he’s asking me to share in this in a way that is so complete it terrifies me.
“Ask,” he says again.
“Please,” I murmur.
“Not good enough,” his voice is still soft but I can hear the edge of authority in his tone. “Ask.”
“Take them off.”
He raises himself up now so that he is leaning over me, his finger still hooked around the thin strap of my thong. “What exactly would you like me to take off?” The slight smile on his face doesn’t do anything to lessen his intensity.
“Please?” I speak so quietly I have to struggle to hear myself. “Please, take off my panties.”
“Louder please.”
Hesitantly, I raise my eyes to his. I can see the spark of mischief dancing there and it makes me smile. A surge of unexpected courage bursts through my soul and I reach forward and grab his t-shirt, bunching the cheap cotton up in my fist. “Please,” I say, pulling him closer, disturbing his balance. “Please take off my panties, Mr. Dade.”
And now his smile matches my own. The thong is ripped from my body and before I fully know what’s going on I feel the slight sting of Scotch against my clit immediately followed by the shocking warmth of an open mouthed kiss, a kiss not delivered to the lips from which I breath but to my very core.  His tongue tickles and teases. I groan and grasp at the seat beneath me but I have no time to get my bearings. He yanks me to my feet. He doesn’t need to search for the hidden zipper on this dress, he just intuitively knows where it is.  In an instant I’m wearing nothing.
Ah, the stares of those men in the casino were nothing, not even pale imitation of the look that Mr. Dade is giving me now. His eyes don’t just move over me, they consume me. I stand there, wanting, throbbing as he slowly circles me like a wolf planning his attack, like a tiger stalking a mate…
Like a lover, ready to worship.
I don’t reach for him, his eyes hold me as still as any rope ever could. Once the circle is complete he takes off his own shirt. His torso matches his arms, hard muscles under soft, vulnerable flesh. He pulls me to him and I can feel what I’ve done to him. His erection presses against my stomach.
I moan as I feel fingers push inside of me. First one, then two. He plays with me, stroking and probing as I shiver against him. I try to unbutton his jeans but my hands are shaking. I’m going to come, right here, standing up, pressed against him.
And then he has me against the wall, as he continues to caress. I wrap my arms around his neck and dig my fingernails in as I cry out. I explode and contract around his fingers. I breathe in and realize that traces of that woodsy cologne is now on my skin too. Nothing separates us.
I feel courageous and vulnerable, one more delicious contradiction. I finally manage to unfasten his jeans. And as I strip him of his remaining clothes it’s my turn to stare.
He’s beautiful and perfect and…impressive.
We might not make it to the bedroom.
With the tips of my fingers I explore every ridge until I make it up to the tip of his cock.
Cock; it’s not a word I use but my head is spinning and euphemisms suddenly hold no interest for me. I don’t want to see what’s happening through a soft focus lens. That’s not my fantasy.
“Fuck me,” I whisper.
“Yes,” he breathes. And then I’m being lifted into the air. My legs wrap around his waist, my back still pressed against that hard wall and again I cry out as he pushes inside of me, again and again.
I feel myself opening up for him. I feel everything.
And now we’re on the floor, the thin carpet beneath me adds a touch of gentleness as I scratch up his skin. His hands are on my breasts, then the small of my back. We’re moving to our own rhythm.  Each thrust brings me to a new level of ecstasy.

I didn’t know it could be like this.

It’s a cliché. A line every ingénue in every bad romantic comedy is forced to utter. The words are always spoken delicately as if our heroine has reached a new level of innocence.
This doesn’t feel innocent. This feels fucking amazing. It feels like I’m coming alive.

I didn’t know it could be like this.

It’s the last intelligible thought I have before he brings me to the brink again. I feel his shoulders tense under my grasp and then he pins my arms over my head and I cry out one more time as we come together, right there on the floor of a suite at the Venetian.

I didn’t know it could be like this.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Prologue For Vanity Vengeance & A Weekend In Vegas

You've been asking for this for months now and here it is! The first few chapters of the next Sophie Katz mystery, Vanity, Vengeance, And A Weekend In Vegas due to be released March 2nd! I'll post more pages every Friday! So without further's the first few pages of the next Sophie adventure.  


            People who really hate you don’t usually call you up for a chat, particularly if they know their animosity is mutual.  Sure, an enemy might gossip about you behind your back or, if you’re an author like me, they’ll probably give you a one star review on Amazon (if you’re a business owner with enemies it might not hurt to check your Yelp page).  But it’s rare that someone will pull out their smartphone and waste precious calling-minutes and dwindling battery power just so they can rattle off a few tightly phrased insults.  Not if they have a Twitter account.
            So when Fawn called I knew something big was up.  There are few people who I hate more than Fawn.  For one thing she slept with my friend Mary Ann’s boyfriend, Rick.  Of course Rick is what the British would call a wanker and Mary Ann has now moved on to Monty, a better and slightly less annoying guy who has offered her love, fidelity, an engagement ring and a very generous pre-nup. So under different circumstances I would have considered Fawn’s affair with Rick something to be grateful for.
            But sadly it’s not that simple. Fawn is one of those people who goes out of their way to make others miserable.  She’s vengeful, catty, jealous, and to use Mary Ann’s words, “just ewwy.”           
She is also in jail. She and Rick got into a lovers spat which ended in an attempted murder charge.  Karma’s a bitch, but apparently not as big of a bitch as Fawn.
            Which means that this woman wasn’t just using up minutes on her cell phone plan to talk to me. She was using up the week’s worth of phone time allotted to her by the California State penitentiary system.   You didn’t do that just to be a pest.
            “Hello Sophie, did you miss me?” That’s how the conversation started, with her caressing my name with a soft and zealous malice.
As it turns out, Fawn had learned of a secret my live-in boyfriend, Anatoly, had been keeping from me.
            Anatoly is the first man I have ever truly loved. I love his hands, I love his little half smile, I love the way his Russian accent gets a little heavier after I’ve kissed him a few times.
            I love the way he argues with me when I’m feeling quarrelsome and the way he comforts me when I’m feeling lost.   I love that after six years together the passion and tenderness has only grown.
            Fawn called to tell me Anatoly had a secret or, to be more specific, she called to tell me that Anatoly had a wife.
            I knew when I heard those words that she wasn’t lying. It would be too easy to disprove. Of course the marriage had to have ended before we met, that much seemed obvious but why hadn’t he ever told me about this?  After all, I had been divorced too so I wouldn’t have judged him. What kind of person keeps a failed marriage secret from the woman he shares a home and a bed with? A man who can’t be trusted, that’s who.  A man who is incapable of letting anyone in. Ever. 
It didn’t feel like Fawn was torturing me with her horrid little phone call. It felt like she was destroying me. 
This information was going to cost me both my relationship and the happiness I had spent so many years trying to cultivate.
            What I didn’t understand at the time was that the information also had the potential to cost me my life.