One More Night with Youby Lisa Marie Perry
Loving him is a dangerous job
Former DEA agent Josephine de la Peña loved Zaf Ahmadi onceand she's got the bullet scar to prove it. No wonder she holds a grudge against her hacker ex. But now, just as Joey's preparing for a new job with the Las Vegas Slayers, Zaf reappears, insisting she's in danger. The sexual pull/p>/b>/em>
Loving him is a dangerous job
Former DEA agent Josephine de la Peña loved Zaf Ahmadi onceand she's got the bullet scar to prove it. No wonder she holds a grudge against her hacker ex. But now, just as Joey's preparing for a new job with the Las Vegas Slayers, Zaf reappears, insisting she's in danger. The sexual pull between them is still as intense, and liable to hurt more than any gunshot.
Even if Joey could forgive him for the botched drug bust that got her injured, Zaf can't forgive himself. Obsessively hunting for the criminals who killed his cousin warped his judgment. To protect Joey, he suggests he pose as her boyfriend. As long as he can keep emotional distance, he can keep her safe. Until the case presents him with a choice: pursue the vengeance he cravesor try to turn one smoldering night into so much more
Read an Excerpt
When it came to staging an ambush, the Blues were experts.
A husband and wife, united in every power play and business venture, they controlled elite society as effortlessly as a champion manipulated a novice in games of risk and didn't respond well to the word no.
Josephine de la Peña had considered herself doubly exempt from their exploitationshe was a retired DEA field agent and their daughter's best friend. She had never before been their target. But she knew what they were capable of and this setup, schemed and executed to perfection, had their prints all over it.
Wrapped in a fitted pantsuit that had been sexy but wilted in a graceless surrender to wrinkles and sweat and coffee stains, accessorized with waning makeup and a pissed-off sneer, she could loiter at the entrance to the Palazzo's CUT steak house only so long before her presence summoned a tempest of unwanted attention. The curiosity in the hostess's demeanor had already darkened to suspicion because her sociable, "Would you like to be seated?" remained unanswered. And Joey, trapped in a rush of hot indignation, was flustered. Caught unawares. Totally off her game.
It might be possible to counterattack and beat the Blues at their own wheeler-dealing. Was it even too late to turn and run? Or hobble, because her walking stick wasn't a magician's wand and could do only so much for her permanent limp.
Marshall and Temperance had apparently recruited her supervisor to lay on the pressure, and the three of them sat in the exquisite ritzy glory of Joey's favorite steak house sharing a round of drinks. Scotch, if her boss had his way.
A toast to the idiot, she thought, her mind whirring, blazing, as she imagined them raising their shot glasses in anticipation of cornering her. Blame them, she wouldand did, vehemently. But she'd flown into the jar and let them twist on the lid. She could be at home stripping off her clothes and the workday if she hadn't ignored her instincts. Since putting down stakes in this city, she'd become too soft, trusting, weak to manipulation. Perhaps it was a blessing that she was an inactive DEA agent, off field assignments, a Department of Justice researcher confined to a desk. No more than a civilian with a few valuable contacts and a firearm.
If she'd resisted her gut reaction to leap at the chance to eat a steak, if she'd at least had the sense to think past her celebrity crush on Wolfgang Puck, then she would've seen this dinner invitation for the ploy it was.
For one thing, her supe never singled out a team member. Whether someone screwed up or succeeded, the entire Las Vegas Office of Diversion Control knew about it.
For another, the Blues had responded uncharacteristically kindly when she'd flat-out denied the favor they'd asked of her. Divide her time between ODC and a roster of NFL players suspected of illegal drug use? She wouldn't do it.
Logistically, it was virtually impossible. She was damaged, physically unqualified to babysit muscle-bound athletes and split open their secrets. What did they expect her to do, anyway? Go all Bad Cop and use her stick to whack confessions out of their men?
She didn't exactly know what they expected because she hadn't given them the opportunity to bog her down with specifics. She didn't own the Las Vegas Slayers; the Blues did. Maintaining a healthy roster was their responsibility, not hers. And she'd do herself one hell of a favor to keep away from that particular championship-winning, scandal-tainted team.
A fear-motivated attitude, but so what? She wasn't invincible. The bullet fragments embedded in her hip made that clear. The cane in her hand reminded her every day what a solitary gunshot had taken away.
"Ma'am. If you're not dining here, would you mind ?" Lips drawn in a fake-pleasant smile, the hostess carved a hand through the air in a universal get the hell out of the way gesture. "We need to keep this area clear for customers."
As if a five-three, one-hundred-twenty-pounds-soaking-wet woman was taking up too much space. Beside her, a group of folks thumbing smartphones and spewing conversation lazily assembled. Escaping now would be pathetically easyjust blend into the fray then slip out of the restaurant and disappear in the tide of luxury chasers pursuing The Shoppes at the Palazzo.
Except she wasn't a coward. And someone owed her a damn steak.
"I'm staying. Straight ahead there, passing around what's probably one of your most expensive bottles of liquor?" Allowing the hostess a moment to sling her critical gaze from Joey's hairwhich the triple-digit summer heat was relentlessly bending to its willto the party in question, she cleared her throat. "Yeah. They're expecting me."
"They are?" The woman faltered when Marshall Blue crooked two fingers at Joey. "So they are. I'll escort you, and can I have a server bring you a drink? A chilled cocktail, perhaps?"
A seat in front of the wine wall and a fat slice of caramelized banana cream pie wouldn't be so bad, but there was business to be done here. "Thanks, but I've got this."
The pressure, the slick setups, they ended heretonight. She should be more offended than she was, but she held her supervisor in the highest regard and loved the Blues as her own.
Grip tight on the walking stick, Joey did her best to barrel toward the main dining room. Modern, upscale elegance dripped from the chandeliers, reflected in the windows and art, shimmered in the very ambience of the place. She caught the teeny pops of cell phone camera flashes as people photographed their entrées, and almost smiled despite how irked she was at the three people standing to greet her.
"No private table?"
"Waitstaff, photographers, they pay extra close attention to the private tables," Ozzie Salvinski answered neutrally, resuming his seat. "You're late."
Marshall snagged her hand in a hard shake that spared no consideration for her size, then let his wife lean in to buss the air beside Joey's cheeks. God forbid Temperance Blue ruin her perfect lip color application by making contact with actual skin.
"And you lied to me," Joey responded evenly. "What's the payout for getting me here, Ozzie? Season tickets? Box seats?"
Ozzie was up again, springing off the chair like a jack-in-the-box in spite of his bulk and the usually calm, deliberate way he carried himself. Bladelike nose, grizzled jaw, muddy amber eyesthey formed an angry palette, confronting her dead-on. "You implying I can be bought? Don't do it. Don't make that mistake, damn it. I've been on the right side of the law longer than you've been alive."
But Ozzie wasn't a black-and-white, right-is-right-and-wrong-is-wrong kind of guy. She didn't exactly doubt his heart rested on the side of justice, but in the four years since she'd given up DEA gigs in DC and taken up residence at Vegas's ODC, she had observed her supervisor get a little creative with the rules to make things happen.
Not to mention Ozzie was a middle-class man with a minimalist blue-collar lifestyle, and Joey would wager her designer shoe collection the man wouldn't be breaking bread with a pair of billionaires if they hadn't sought him out for very exact reasonsreasons that had everything to do with coercing her to do a job for them.
"Here's what I know, then. I get an invitation for steak, which ought've tipped me off, because you've never treated me to anything more extravagant than a street vendor hot dog. Imagine my thoughts when I walk in and find you with the Blues drinking" she braced her weight on the stick and reached across the glass table to pick up their bottle "Scotch. Of course. What am I supposed to be thinking, boss?"
"I think," Tem intervened, dismissing Ozzie and settling a pair of unblemished brown hands on Joey's face. Without question, she found perspiration beneath her fingertips, but she didn't recoil. The need to get a point across overtook the utter ick factor of encountering someone else's sweat. "I think, Josephine, that a tantrum is neither appropriate nor attractive for a woman your age. Ah, sure, keep frowning like that and ask yourself why you can't hold a man's interest with your clothes on."
"Are you calling me a mattress? It's not the wisest way to get a favor." Fact was, guys rarely held her interest outside of sex. If sex was the sum of her connection with someone, she wouldn't apologize for taking what she could.
"You're insulted." Tem looked puzzled.
"Because you insulted me." No one understood the complications, strings and catch-22s that came attached to Joey's every attempt at a genuine romance. "Please don't go there."
"Well, it's the same thing I'd tell my daughters." Tem tried to tuck a few errant curls behind Joey's ears but quickly gave up on the effort and took her seat with a dainty plop. She then none-too-discreetly began wiping her hands on a napkin. "Why don't you try on a sweeter disposition sometime? It couldn't hurt."
"Thanks, Tem, but I already have parents."
"Who are in Texas. Would you please sit down already? Folks are beginning to stare and this" she ran a finger up and down to indicate Joey's sweaty, wrinkled appearance "likely isn't the impression you want them to take away. Goodness knows, I wouldn't appreciate an irate woman's outburst wrecking my dining experience."
And now I understand just why Charlotte was talking about eloping. The words were practically slamming against Joey's teeth, demanding to be released, but she'd promised her best friend she'd lock the info away in the vault. Many months ago Charlotte had mentioned she and her fiancé might marry in secret to sidestep their families' Montague-Capulet drama. She'd abandoned the thought and was now planning a very traditional, very expensive August wedding. Still, the conflict rained fire and brimstone on them, and Joey regretted the minoror not, depending on who you askedrole she played in it all.
Lowering onto a chair, propping the stick against the table, she addressed each of them with a stoic glance. "Boss," she said to Ozzie, "how about you pour me a Scotch and tell me why you tricked me into coming here."
"Tricked." He spat the word, swinging up the bottle and turning a shot glass upright on a tray. "I said meet me here for a steak. So help me, you're gonna leave here with steak in your belly."
Joey accepted the drink, turning it up without pause. Welcoming the impact of the liquid saturating her taste buds, she signaled for another. "What do they want from me, exactly?"
"No." She relaxed against her chair, sank the next drink. "I'm asking you, sir."
"Somebody's using. Cocaine, marijuana, meth. The team's management put together a training camp drug prevention program. So running workshops, looking after the men, staying alert and making things look straight and narrow for the press. In the vein of the substance abuse prevention you dealt with at those schools back in the day."
Not so far back, technically. In between Fed cases, she'd touted DARE and other drug education programs to K-12 institutions and universities as part of community outreach. But it felt as though a lifetime had passed since she'd been the agentthe womanshe once was.
"Yeah, I get the basic idea. Marshall and Tem pitched it to me before. I told them no, so why don't you tell me why you can't get DEA on this?" She shut up when a server appeared at their table with menus and a bottle of Pinot Noir. The Blues let the server fill two glasses and depart with the bottle, as both Joey and Ozzie were good with Scotch for now.
"We have something specific in mind for you," Marshall said, settling his obsidian-black gaze on her. As a child she'd been taught to study faces, and this mountain of a man had one of the most interesting ones she had ever seen. She liked to think of him as comprised of stones and rocksbald head, prominent jaw, wide shouldersyet the ingredients of his personality could be found in the details of his facial features. The gray-touched mustache and beard framed a scowling mouth; the hard-edged eyes seemed to always expose an unprovoked threat. Give me a reason to make you sorry you crossed me, they implored. But the creases etched deep into his dark skin, especially the carvings between his brows and bracketing his mouth, revealed a man staggering under immense pressure a man who worried.
A man who had taken a few brutal bumps and found out he wasn't invincible. She could relate to that. Besides, in him she saw glimpses of her own fathersomeone she missed daily but spoke to only a fraction as often.
"What, Marshall? It's impractical to think you can browbeat me into chasing your football players around training camp. My duties are to ODC. And there's the drive. You'd be asking me to do a Vegas-Mount Charleston commute."
"We'll compensate you for the mileage," Tem offered. "Or provide you with an entirely new vehicle."
New, for Tem, probably meant showroom new. Not that Joey wasn't loyal to her vintage Chevy Camaro, but a brand-new car was enticingand stop. Concentrate. "Um thank you, but no. I want to focus on the career I have and not this side narc gig. Charlotte's a trainerdoes she know about this initiative?"
"Yes." Tem sipped her Pinot Noir.
"What about the part you want me to play?"
"To a degree."
Joey sighed, considering her empty shot glass. She wouldn't fill it again until after she got some food down. "Why me, then? What is this really about? Spare me the charades and say what's up."
Ozzie raised his eyebrows at the Blues then splashed more Scotch into his glass and said nothing.
"We think of you as family," Tem began. "You're loyal, noble, intelligent"
"Quit complimenting me. I'm not used to it." She looked from wife to husband. "What's the gig?"
Marshall leaned, spoke quietly. "To the media, you'll be just another drug prevention leader. To the Slayers, you'll be a friend. They'll want to loosen up, talk, get close."
"Oh, I get what's up." She addressed Tem. "This is why you suggest I work on a sweeter disposition? To get your men hot under the uniform? Why you'd court that kind of distraction on your field, I don't know."
"No one's advising you to sleep with them. Ask your friend Charlotte how our organization responds to interoffice affairs."
"Gosh. And here I was thinking the prospect of football player nookie might be a perk. Way to kill the dream."
"I'm dead serious. Sex with our players is prohibited. Should you violate this stipulation, you'll be pulled off the assignment. Ozzie can handle further disciplinary action as he sees appropriate."
"So tease them?"
"Josephine, you're being facetious," Tem accused, shifting her attention to the menu. "Were you this difficult when the feds put you on assignments? Or is this bitterness something that set in after you were shot?"
"Spare me the psychology trip, Tem. I'm ready to select my steak now."
Meet the Author
Lisa Marie Perry writes sizzling, deep fiction featuring sexy guy-next-door heroes and larger-than-life alphas who are brought to their knees by the love of complicated women. She's received high praise from USA Today and has been nominated for an RT Book Reviews literary award. She lives in America's heartland, drives a truck, enjoys indie rock, collects Medieval literature, watches too many comedies, has a not-so-secret love for lace and adores rugged men with a little bit of nerd.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This was an intense read for me. I really loved Josephine from the earlier books. Mostly because of her spunky attitude but also because of her physical flaws. I have to use a cane to get around too and I know how people treat me because of it so it was refreshing to read how she handled it. Zaf is a perfect mate for her and he sometimes frustrated me when he was holding back. I wanted to reach into the book, take him aside and tell him a thing or two about messing with my Jo's heart. Between the real danger she was in and his withholding his true feelings, this was one gripping tale.
This is a wonderfully written book that incorporates love, and a bit of suspense. I loved the crime undertones in this book and enjoyed the danger aspects of it too. All of this together make it a very intriguing read that will keep you entertained for hours until you are ready to put down the book. Along with the plot, the characters are very well written too. I loved the feistiness of the heroine of this story. She is quite a clever character but readers can feel her vulnerability as well. Finally, the hero of this story is easy to love. While it is pretty clear that he is a tortured soul, readers can’t help but fall in love with him. He is strong, has edge, and is quite swoon worthy! Overall this is a great book and I look forward to reading more books by the author in the future. If you’re looking for a romance that is a bit different than the lovey, dovey, insta love type read than I strongly suggest checking this one out. It is unique, well rounded, and very enjoyable.
Perfect addition to the Blue Dynasty series Joey get hers. . . I was wanting to know the man that could make things better for her. Who would have thought it would be the man from her past to heal her future. I found edge, grit, emotion, a few laughs, and intense chemistry and attraction. I feel that I have an advantage. I have the whole series under my belt. I have a vested connection to the characters. I can follow where things go and flow along. I personally feel that the series was an intertwining flow of both the good and bad of the Blue Dynasty. All pieces have a connection. Take the ride and enjoy it to the fullest. **This ARC was provided via Tasty Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.** More @ http://mileythebookjunkie.blogspot.com/2016/03/one-more-night-with-you-by-perry.html
The story has a very dark and edgy tone, that reflects the heroine's state of mind, as she is trying to find herself again, after the devastating shooting five years ago. It seems like the shooting happened last week, the emotions are so fresh, sharp, and still painful in Joey's mind. She has attitude, anger, bitterness, and loneliness, that drives her on. She still isn't used to the cane, the limp, or the absence of Zaf, the love of her life. Even though he is the one that shot her. There are lies, secrets, and betrayal between them, and forgiving, forgetting, and moving on isn't part of the life they live in. The feelings they once had between them are still there, even though they both are trying to hide them, or at least deny them. Maybe that's why they never believed the feelings were true and the forever kind, because that wasn't meant for them. Restless, and tense are the moods of the tale, as the secrets get revealed, the truth behind past, and present dilemmas comes to light. Suspense, danger, and cover up move the plot on, as Joey is on the road to self discovery, the road to acceptance, and even love, if she can obtain it. The Blue's are still a strong part of the events of the story, and I would recommend to read the series in order, as the events are very strongly tight to the past history. Strong emotions, from dark and dirty, to joy and delight, friends, allies, and lovers meet, lives put in danger, when the truth, loyalty, and love is tested. ~ Three Spoons with a teaspoon on the side