First in an exclusive and red hot mini-series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Rock.
Leo Perconti's life is spinning out of control. As head of his family's hotel conglomerate, it's his job to save his family from bankruptcy. At the center of his turmoil is Karin Norell, a quiet, alluring housekeeping manager who compliments his dominating personality and lets him feel in control once more.
As Karin explores her passion her feelings for Leo deepen. Unfortunately, Karin and Leo come from different worlds, and when the two worlds collide, the cost can be devastating. As the service staff at The Palazzo rise up against the Perconti family, both Leo and Karin are faced with losing what each of them holds most dear. Together they must learn that true power comes from vulnerability and trust that can only happen when you let your insecurities go.
Read all four parts of this sensational e-series—and look for the full volume of At His Service in June 2015 from St. Martin's Paperbacks.
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About the Author
A lifetime New Englander, Suzanne Rock married her college sweetheart and has been with him for over twenty years. Every summer she drags her husband and two daughters to Maine on a quest for the perfect lobster dinner. Every fall she can be found down in Foxboro, Massachusetts cheering on her favorite football team. In between those trips, she's a chauffeur, a maid, a chef, an event planner, a hairdresser, a wardrobe stylist, a tutor and a sometimes masseuse. To keep her sanity, she often drinks copious amounts of coffee and stares at the blank screen of her laptop, dreaming of great adventures. Sometimes she even writes them down for others to enjoy.
A lifetime New Englander, Suzanne Rock has been married to her college sweetheart for more than two decades. In addition to being a self-published author whose boxed sets have hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, Suzanne is a chauffeur, a maid, a chef, an event planner, a hairdresser, a wardrobe stylist, a tutor, and a sometimes masseuse. Her steamy books include At His Service, For His Pleasure, and others.
Read an Excerpt
At His Service Part 1
By Suzanne Rock
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Suzanne Rock
All rights reserved.
Karin Norell shoved the cleaning cart inside the elevator and pushed the button in rapid succession to close the door. Once the doors closed and she slid her card for the penthouse suite, she slumped against the mirrored wall and let out a long breath.
Only twelve more weeks to go. Karin had to last just a few short months before she obtained the work credit needed for her hospitality degree. The second she finished her required internship, she was going to quit this lousy job and never think about the Palazzo again.
As the numbers above the door lit up, she pulled out her hotel-issued cell phone and dialed the housekeeping manager, Wes. It went directly to voice mail. Lovely. Sometimes Karin wondered why she even bothered. The owner of the ritzy Boston hotel, Marco Perconti, had gotten the entire staff phones to help improve communication. Since no one bothered answering theirs, the project had been a total waste of money.
Not that wasting money was anything new to the Perconti family. If the tabloids were correct, all six siblings had been fed with silver spoons since birth and wouldn't know a budget if it walked up and bit them in the ass. Just last week the gossip magazine Whispers photographed Marco with two Kennedy cousins and some young, hot actress at the exclusive restaurant Magnifique. According to the article, that meal cost more money than Karin had in student loans.
"Damn it, Wes, where are you?" Karin asked after the voice mail tone. She leaned her head back against the mirror and held the phone a few inches from her mouth. "Dante got drunk again last night and trashed the ninth floor. 'The General' will be arriving soon, so we need to clean up the penthouse suite, stat." "The General" was what Marco had called his older brother, Leo, during an interview in a men's magazine last year. It was meant as a joke, referring to how Leo micromanaged the company and Marco's personal life, but the tone was less than flattering. The press picked up on the tension between the brothers and so had the staff. It wasn't long before each Perconti sibling had their own unique nickname.
"Voice mailbox, full," a mechanical voice responded.
Karin rolled her eyes at the loud beep and shoved the phone in her pocket. She loved Wes like a brother, but the man was a total mess. His personal life had more drama than a soap opera, and he preferred to flirt with upper management rather than do his job. Most of the time Wes's behavior was only a minor irritation, since his flirting often got the staff perks like fresh coffee and a new microwave in the break room. Today, it was just one more thing that made her want to scream and hit something, hard.
The entire hotel staff was on edge. Leo was arriving within the hour to ensure that everything was on track for their youngest sister's upcoming wedding. Karin understood that all of their jobs depended on impressing the oldest Perconti brother, but a little extra cleaning wasn't going to reverse years of neglect in a couple of days. Nevertheless, Marco was making everyone work overtime so that the hotel could put its best foot forward.
This morning the staff had received yet another order in a long line of outrageous demands. Marco had insisted on giving Leo the Palazzo's only penthouse suite for his stay. It didn't matter that the room had already been booked, or that Leo and Marco's younger brother Dante liked to crash there after drinking all of the top-shelf liquor in the hotel bar. They had to make sure that the suite was spotless for Leo's arrival. Normally this wouldn't have been a problem, but half of the housekeeping staff had called in sick that morning, and Wes was currently M.I.A. Since it was Karin's job to see that everything ran smoothly during Leo's stay, she was forced to leave her data-entry desk job to clean the three-bedroom, twenty-five-hundred-square-foot suite alone.
Some internship. While double-checking inventory spreadsheets wasn't her dream job, she didn't exactly want to clean other people's filth, either. Karin had hoped that this internship would give her some experience in management, but so far it seemed as if all she ever did was grunt work.
The elevator doors opened, revealing the large, open living area of the penthouse suite.
"Oh, fuck me." A tightness formed in the back of her throat as the stench of bad cheese and stale booze hit her full-on. She placed the back of her hand over her mouth as she surveyed the damage.
The beautiful, stately suite was in shambles. Empty liquor bottles and crushed takeout boxes littered the cream carpeting. The gold-toned couch and chairs were tipped over and half the decanters on the mahogany bar were smashed. Bar utensils were dangling from the ceiling fan and the poker from the large stone fireplace had been thrown through the glass of the television screen. The balcony doors were open and bedsheets hung over the lounge chairs and railings. The cool, late-April breeze did nothing to subdue the funky scent. It made her want to gag.
"Damn Perconti brothers." Tears filled her eyes as she picked up a fallen painting of a girl in a blue dress sitting on a swing. The late-afternoon sun shone on the picture highlighting the ringlets in her hair and her brilliant smile. She looked so free and uninhibited.
"That was my favorite painting," Karin muttered to herself. She had often daydreamed of being carefree like the girl in the picture. It had been a long time since she had been genuinely happy. After struggling on her own for so long, she had forgotten what it felt like.
"Hey, darlin'." Wes's voice drifted up from somewhere behind her. "I only got half your message, but—oh, damn." He came to a halt beside her. His long, blond locks fell into his eyes as he put his arm up to his nose. "What's that smell?"
"Bad cheese," Karin said as she lowered her hand. "Dante has been drunk dialing Sabrina's and ordering takeout again."
Wes let out a long breath as he rested his forearms on the top of his head. After a long moment, he relaxed his features. The playfulness in his bright blue eyes returned. "Dante sure knows how to throw a party, doesn't he?"
"That's putting it mildly." Karin wrinkled her nose and picked up one of the takeout boxes. "Just once I wish he'd fall asleep instead of ordering everything from that Italian place just to hear his ex's voice. He never eats what he orders, and it smells foul the next day." She dumped the leftover lasagna into the garbage.
Wes lowered his hands and straightened his white polo shirt over his torso. "Marco shouldn't let him drink so much. He knows how emotional Dante gets after a couple of Negronis."
"Are you kidding? They're Percontis. Restraint isn't part of their vocabulary." Karin looked around the room as hopelessness and anger filled every crevice of her body. "Where have you been, anyway? I called you three times."
Wes picked up pieces of a broken decanter and winked at her. "Oh, sweetheart, you know I'm not one to kiss and tell." He dragged his gaze over her disheveled white blouse, black pencil skirt, and messy bun. "But maybe for you I'll make an exception. You look like you could use a good erotic story."
"Wes!" Karin smiled despite her frustration. They had met when Karin did her internship rotation with the housekeeping staff and had been close friends ever since. There was something about Wes's Southern charm and boyish good looks that always seemed to make her relax. Three years ago, he'd moved up north to be with his boyfriend. After the relationship had run its course, Wes decided to stay in Boston, saying that the New England weather suited him. He never spoke of his family or friends from his native Alabama, and Karin didn't press. She was just happy to have a friend in this place. She had tried to strike a conversation with other staff members, but had yet to find one she got along with as well as Wes.
He smirked. "You need some good ol'-fashioned sex, girlfriend. A little tickle with a pickle will do wonders for your soul." He dumped the broken glass in the garbage. "And a tumble with a Perconti brother will leave a smile on your face for weeks. I should know." He winked and made his way over to the cleaning cart.
Karin stared at her friend. "Dante?"
Wes scowled and waved his hand at her, making him look more like a teenager than a man in his mid-twenties. "Darling, give me a little credit. Even if the man wasn't as straight as an arrow, he just broke up with his girlfriend. He's still in mourning."
"I don't understand. If it's not Dante, then ..." She gasped and put her hand over her mouth. "Oh my God, Wes. Marco's our boss. You could get fired for that."
Wes chuckled as he searched through the items on the cleaning cart. "Don't worry your pretty little head about it. Marco's like me and lives in the moment. It's all in good fun with no strings attached."
Karin pulled the cleaning cart away from him, forcing Wes to meet her gaze. "You have to stop this. Marco is a billionaire who likes shiny new toys and right now you are the shiniest. He uses people. These things never end well for common, working-class people like us. Trust me." Memories of her former supervisor flashed through her mind. According to him, Karin was good enough to fuck, but not for anything else. She should have known better than to fall for the rich, spoiled man's charm. While she didn't love him, she had hoped to be treated with respect. His careless disregard for her feelings had made her feel less than human. Karin had put up with it for a while, but eventually his lack of common decency had become too much. On impulse, she'd stormed into her former boss's office and quit her job. It was hell trying to find another internship, and the delay had set her entire degree program on hold.
She cared about Wes and wanted to stop him from making the same mistakes she had.
Wes straightened and put his hands on his hips. "I know what I'm doing."
"We have an understanding. It's only a little fun, nothing more." He lowered his arms and considered her for a moment. "Marco could help put a smile on your face, too. I'm sure of it." He flashed her a knowing grin and winked.
Karin frowned as she turned her attention to the cleaning cart. "No, thanks. I'd much rather have sex with you."
Wes widened his eyes and straightened to his full six-foot height. "Well, well, Ms. Norell. I had no idea that I was on your list of potentials."
He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. "It's okay, honey. I know you frown on fun of any kind."
"Excuse me?" She put her hands on her hips. "I'll have you know that I love to have fun."
He raised his brows at her. "Really? When was the last time you had sex?"
To people like Wes and Marco, sex was a game, nothing more. Karin used to feel the same, but after the incident with her boss last year, she'd started being more careful. No longer did she have sex for physical pleasure. She was saving herself for something more meaningful.
And look where all of this holding out has gotten you. She was now alone and depressed. Karin wished that she could let go and enjoy herself like Wes did. Sex used to be fun and relaxing. Without it, she was stressed and irritable all of the time. It would be a dream to just give in to pleasure and not worry about her job, classes, or bills for a little while.
Maybe it was time to stop being such a hopeless romantic and have a little fun. Unfortunately, she didn't have time to find a partner to help her out. Her work hours had already doubled, and they'd stay that way until after the big Perconti wedding.
She waved her hand in the air between them. "Enough about sex. Just help me clean up this mess, okay? Marco's brother is supposed to be here any minute."
"'The General' is already here." Wes took back the cart and looked through the cleaning supplies.
"He came in a few minutes ago." Wes picked up the mop and bucket. "The man is more gorgeous in person than on television, but also has a good dose of that classic Perconti temper."
"How do you know?"
"He was roaring so loud for Marco that it shook the chandelier in the foyer. I'm surprised you didn't hear it." He shrugged. "Anyway, I told Marco to keep him busy while we tidied up."
"You gave an order to our boss?" She shook her head as she remembered Wes's earlier confession. If Wes and Marco were sleeping together, then chances were that Wes could get away with things the rest of the staff couldn't. "Forget it. Just hurry."
Karin worked in the living room, while Wes started in the bathroom. They cleaned in comfortable silence until two of Wes's housekeeping team showed up to help. Between the four of them, they had the place put back together and aired out within a couple of hours.
"The suite doesn't have a television anymore, but at least it has curtains," Wes said after he dismissed his staff to attend to other duties. "I guess it doesn't matter. If 'the General' is anything like his brothers, he won't be watching much television, anyway." Wes winked at her as he loaded up the cart. "Now, let's get out of here before the big bad Perconti brothers show up." Wes made a face and shuddered.
Karin chuckled and shook her head as she followed Wes to the main elevators. Before she could push the button, a loud beep echoed through the foyer and the light above the door blinked on.
Karin's whole body froze with fear. "Shit, they're coming."
"What are we going to do?" Wes asked.
Karin ran through the floor plan in her mind. "There's the service elevator off the office area in back. It goes down into the laundry room in the basement."
"I thought it was broken."
She shook her head and bit her nail. "Facilities fixed it yesterday. At least, I think they did."
"I hope you're right. When I left those two downstairs, they looked angry enough to start throwing punches at each other. I think the only thing keeping them in line was the reporter from Whispers peppering them with questions."
"Is that gossip queen still at the hotel?"
"Yeah. She seems determined to get some dirt on the Perconti wedding for her column. Wouldn't it be incredible if she found something? That family is just full of secrets, I know it."
Karin rolled her eyes. "You need to stop reading those tabloids."
"You need to start. How else are we going to find dirt on our bosses if it's not from the media?"
Karin listened to Wes go on about the benefits of reading tabloid magazines as they wheeled the cart into the office area in the back of the penthouse and pushed the service elevator button. As the doors opened, Wes's boyish features hardened. "I forgot my cell phone."
"My cell phone. It's still in the bathroom on the other side of the suite." His features twisted into pure panic. "We can't leave it there. I need it." He started to turn the cart around, but Marco's thick Italian accent rose up from the other room, freezing him in his tracks.
"Leave it," Karin said. "Remember what Marco said this morning about us staying out of Leo's way?" Leo enjoyed his privacy and lacked the patience of his younger brother. Rumor had it that Leo once fired a bartender for not knowing his favorite brand of scotch, and a concierge for booking an important dinner at the wrong restaurant. No one wanted to cross paths with the oldest Perconti brother and risk messing up and losing their jobs.
Wes rubbed his forehead and shifted his feet as Marco's voice became louder. "Fuck. I can't leave that work phone, Karin. It's got private stuff on it."
"You keep personal things on your hotel phone?"
He flashed her an angry look. "Not normally, no. Let's just say that if that phone is found, it wouldn't take Sherlock Holmes to know it was mine." He ran his hand over his face. "And then everyone will know how I got Marco to sign off on a new coffee machine in the break room."
"You have pictures of yourself and Marco on the work phone?" Karin widened her eyes in shock.
"He likes to be photographed. I was going to use my personal phone, but I was running late this morning, and left it on the kitchen coun—"
"Are you insane?"
Excerpted from At His Service Part 1 by Suzanne Rock. Copyright © 2015 Suzanne Rock. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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