The thrilling conclusion to the 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.
About the Author
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 4
By Suzanne Rock
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Suzanne Rock
All rights reserved.
After over a year of preparation, everything was finally coming together. The Perconti family's future had never looked brighter, and yet Leo had never been more miserable.
Soon, he'd see his younger sister, Arianna, married to a rich aviation tycoon, thus securing his family's prosperity. His younger brothers had curbed their spending and, with a little coaxing, had united to get the hotel ready for the big event. Leo's mother and the twins, Gio and Gianna, had arrived from Milan and were safely settled into their rooms. Leo had moved out of the penthouse suite, giving it over to Ari and her wedding entourage. He found that the smaller room suited him, and although his sister didn't seem thrilled with the prospect of marrying Landon Blake, she was at least polite and receptive to him. She had agreed that this marriage was what was best for the family, and would keep her charity afloat for many years to come.
He had everything he had always wanted, but it all meant nothing because he didn't have her.
Not that it mattered. At the moment, he couldn't be with anyone, let alone the woman he cared about. If he wasn't dealing with the Palazzo staff, he was fielding calls from his ex-wife, which only added to his anxiety. The media coverage of the strike and his outings with a mysterious woman had made her believe that Leo would stop giving her money. As a result, her phone calls had become more frequent and more demanding. If Leo didn't pay her, then she'd go public not only about his dominant behavior in the bedroom, but how his depression and anxiety fueled his compulsive need for order and control. She wouldn't end there, but dig up dirt on all of his siblings, running each of them through the media mud just like she did him.
He leaned against the balcony railing with his morning coffee and peered down into the foyer below. After a quick glance at his watch, he settled in to wait.
For the past week, he had made sure that he was up and perched in his lookout overlooking the foyer at precisely seven in the morning and seven at night. While the rest of his day was more fluid, this habit he refused to change.
As he watched the Palazzo's day shift trickle in through the doors, his heartbeat quickened. Would she arrive today, or make some excuse? He tightened his grip on his mug and tried to appear nonchalant. To everyone else, he was just having his morning coffee before the start of his day. No one could never know how important this moment was to him.
His watch alarm went off, signaling the changing of the hour. The staff at the Palazzo — what was left of it — changed shifts at both seven in the morning and seven at night. Karin's shift was starting, which meant she would be arriving soon.
He scanned the foyer and wondered if she had called in sick. He wouldn't blame her if she did. Leo had thought that keeping his distance would stop the media's interest in her, but Amanda Vaughn had been relentless. Poor Karin had been avoiding the tabloid reporter as best she could, working consecutive shifts just to hide from the woman's relentless questioning. While the other workers had taken their breaks, she had kept going, as if she was almost afraid to stop and breathe. Many times over the past few days Leo had thought about intervening, but had refrained. He had made his deal with the devil. Karin was off-limits, at least for now.
He just hoped she'd understood his motives.
At five past seven Karin came in through the revolving door. She wore a peacoat over her uniform, and her soft hair was pulled back into a bun. A tight smile had been plastered on her face, and her step was purposeful.
Desire sparked in his lower abdomen as he watched Karin go behind the desk to sign in and check her mail. He watched her pull the small, thin envelope from the mail slot. He held his breath as she looked at the front of the envelope and ran her fingers over the writing. Come on, Karin. Open it.
Every day since his speech, Leo had written her a note, explaining why he'd said what he did, and why it was imperative that they stay away from each other until after the wedding. In that small envelope, Leo had laid out his heart, telling her how much she meant to him, and how, if things were different, he'd run away with her and leave the Palazzo and this entire mess behind. He wrote about how he longed for their penthouse days, and the closeness they had shared on his yacht. He'd give almost anything to have a secret rendezvous with her once more.
With each passing day the ache in his chest grew stronger. All he wanted to do was to lose himself in Karin's warmth, to feel her thighs wrap around his body and trust him with her body like she did before this whole mess began. Karin made no demands of him. Leo loved her for that, but love had a price. Now she was miserable, and it was all his fault.
Little by little, Karin's light had been dimming. He had seen it every morning in the slump of her shoulders, in the weariness in her voice as he eavesdropped on conversations. He wanted to put that light back in her eyes and the smile on her lips.
Leo watched her glance up to where he was standing, as if she knew he was watching her all along. Their gazes met and Leo schooled his features.
Karin frowned, and Leo noticed the dark circles under her eyes. He had done that to her. She had trusted him, and he'd betrayed that trust. While he had fought hard to have her stay on at the Palazzo, the position was beneath her, and the work tedious. At the time, he had thought that he was helping her, but now he wasn't so sure.
The pain in his chest intensified as she tore up the crumpled letter in her hand. Leo found it difficult to keep his features an expressionless mask as she threw the pieces away and gathered her things. He knew that she would do this, she had been performing the same ritual every morning since his speech, but he couldn't help but hope that this morning would be the one where she would open the letter and read between the lines. He wanted her to understand that he wanted to move beyond the arrangement and into something deeper. Unfortunately, there was just too much at stake right now. He couldn't risk his family's livelihood, no matter how strong his emotions may be.
His entire life, Leo had taken pride in the Perconti legacy. It wasn't until now, in this moment, that he felt the full weight of the responsibilities that came with such a powerful name.
Leo let out a heavy sigh as Karin turned away from him to speak to another coworker. As Leo and Karin had been drifting apart, she had been getting closer to her coworker and friend, Wes. The knowledge ate at his gut and made his chest squeeze with anger, but he was helpless to do anything about it.
"Where is he?" A shrill, female voice rose up from the front door to the hotel. Leo cringed as he scanned the foyer. Even now, after all this time apart, that woman's voice still had a way of making his skin crawl.
A tall, sandy-haired woman breezed into the hotel wearing a trendy trench coat coat, pearls, and a designer dress. Her hair was in a perfect twist, her nails painted a bright red to match her lipstick. "Where is that husband of mine?" Danika yelled as she approached the front counter.
Leo's blood ran cold. He had to go and divert his ex-wife's attention before she made an even bigger mess of his life. Placing his coffee to one side, Leo steeled his emotions as he hurried down the staircase to meet her.
Danika better have a good reason for showing up at the Palazzo, because if she didn't, Leo was going to toss her out on her ear, consequences be damned.
* * *
Karin cringed as the woman's shrill voice became louder. Leo grabbed the newcomer by the elbow and took her to the far side of the foyer, out of earshot.
"Looks like there's trouble," Wes said.
"Yeah," Karin agreed as Leo strode purposefully away with the woman in question. "Not that it's any of our business."
"Oh, come on now," Wes said, drawing her attention back to him. "You can put on that 'I-don't-care attitude' in front of the others, but you can't fool me. You worry about him."
Karin sighed. "It doesn't matter, Wes. As long as he puts his business first, then we can never be together."
"You were never really one for casual relationships, were you?" he joked.
Karin grimaced. "I tried, Wes. I really did."
"I know, darlin'." He put his arm around Karin and considered Leo and the stranger for a moment. "His hands are tied, you know," Wes said. "It's not like he left you voluntarily. There's a difference."
"Is there?" Karin frowned at the woman arguing with Leo. She looked as if she had walked off the pages of Vanity Fair. Everything about her projected high-class perfection. Karin knew that she could never compete with someone like her.
"Of course there's a difference. Leo cares about you."
Karin wrinkled her nose. "That's impossible."
"Everyone talks about how he has been moping around the office area. Stop being so difficult. After the wedding —"
"After the wedding, something else will come up and Leo will have some other excuse for us to stay apart." She shook her head in dismissal as she turned back to Wes. "It doesn't matter, Wes. If he won't be with me now, then he won't be with me a week from now, or a month. There will always be something standing in our way."
"If you say so." Wes studied her face for a moment. "Let's go out tonight and have fun."
"I'd love to," Karin said, welcome for the change of subject. "But I can't. There's too much work to do."
"Screw work." Wes smirked and slid his arm around hers, locking them together. "Screw all of them. You, my dear, need to get away from this awful place. We'll go to a bar, get drunk, and have wild one-night stands with strangers."
Karin smiled. "I can't, Wes, but thanks." Karin disentangled herself, picked up her purse, and started back to the supply room to start her day.
"You might brush other women off like yesterday's garbage, Leo Perconti, but you can't do that to me."
Karin slowed her steps as the woman with Leo smiled up adoringly at him.
"No one is trying to throw you out," Leo said. "Be reasonable, Danika."
"Come now, Leo. This is no way to treat your wife."
"Details. It's only a matter of time before you take me back."
"What about your musician?"
She shrugged and slid her fingers underneath the lapel of his suit. "A woman gets lonely. Just say the word, and he'll be gone."
Karin dropped her purse as the woman's words burrowed their way into her sleep-deprived brain. That's Leo's ex? She looked so different from the pictures in the media. In person she seemed much older and her makeup was much heavier. She also seemed to have lost weight since she and Leo were together. Her thin frame looked slightly undernourished, her skin a little too pale.
Karin glanced at Wes, who seemed to be just as shocked as she. He mouthed the words "She still wants him?" before he returned his attention back to the arguing couple.
"Danika, you are making a spectacle of yourself," Leo said as he removed her fingers from his chest. "We're never getting back together, so stop creating a scene. As I told you on the phone, after the wedding, you shall have everything you want."
"I've already been waiting months and months, Leo. You ignore my texts and refuse to see me. Is that any way to treat your spouse?"
"You are not my spouse, Danika. If I remember correctly, you were the one who insisted on a divorce. I was the one who wanted to work things out."
"Honey, I never would have asked for that divorce if you knew how to be a proper husband."
"You had a lover —"
She ran a long, manicured fingernail across his jaw. "Had. And I never would have run to Rico's arms if you gave me as much attention as you do your company."
Leo jerked his head away and fisted his hands to his sides. "Perhaps we should take this somewhere more private."
"And what? So you can tell me to go away? No." She inched closer and ran her fingers over his arm. "We used to be so close —"
Leo grabbed her wrist and pushed it away. "You destroyed that when you cheated on me."
Danika straightened and pulled her hand out of his grasp. "And you are no saint, either, cavorting with the staff. We have both made mistakes, Leo. Let's put them behind us and —"
"Your sources are wrong. I haven't been cavorting with anyone."
"I don't think so." Danika offered him a sultry smile. "Unless you make a habit of buying your interns designer dresses."
"It was a mistake —" Leo stopped midsentence, as if he only just realized what he was about to say. He fisted his hands at his sides and steeled his jaw.
"Have you been following me?" he asked, his voice low and dangerous.
"I'm just checking up on my investment, my dear. I can't get paid if the Perconti name is worth nothing, you know."
When Leo spoke, his voice was tinged with warning. "You have done enough damage here, Danika. It's time to go."
"But I came here to reconcile. I've missed you so much."
"Liar. You don't want me, you want my money."
"But Leo —"
"Out." Leo pointed to the revolving door. "Get out."
Danika smiled and patted Leo's cheek. "I will be back after the wedding to collect double what I asked for."
Danika's smile turned into a fake frown as she slid her hand from his face. "For my broken heart, Leo." She adjusted his designer tie with confidence, as if it was something she had done many times before. "All I ever wanted was your attention, you know. It's all I still want." She removed her finger and glanced down at his cock. "The choice is yours. Take me back, or double the price." Before Leo could respond, she turned and left the Palazzo.
"Oh, honey." Wes put his arm around Karin's shoulders. "I'm so sorry."
All Karin could do was stare. She felt too sick to speak, too weak to walk. She couldn't seem to get past two facts. One, Leo considered her a mistake. Two, Leo's ex-wife was trying to win him back.
Was that the real motive behind their public breakup? Was he still in love with his ex-wife? Whether she was succeeding or not didn't matter. On one thing both Danika and Karin could agree: Leo focused so much on his family and company that he had no room for anyone or anything else.
Leo slowly turned and caught her gaze. His features paled, and he looked about as sick as she felt.
"Bastard," Wes said. "Come on, honey." He started steering her back toward the front desk.
"No, Wes," Karin said. When Wes didn't stop, she pulled out of his grasp. "Leave me alone, please." Her voice came out no louder than a whisper, but it seemed to have the desired effect.
Wes lowered his arm and searched her features. "Perhaps you should go home."
"No, I'll be fine." She cleared her throat.
"Karin." Leo's booming voice rose up behind her, but Karin didn't look back. She didn't dare. One more look at Leo and she'd fall into his arms, and he didn't deserve that.
"I'll see you later, Wes." Karin forced herself to put one foot in front of the other. She heard Leo approaching from behind, but she had a head start. Karin made it to the elevators and the doors closed before he could reach her.
As the doors closed, muffling Leo's call, Karin let the tears fall. She had always known that he had been married, but for some reason she had pushed the knowledge to the back of her mind. Now she could no longer ignore the facts. Leo's ex-wife wanted him back. Danika was the perfect picture of the socialite wife, and Karin had no doubt that the woman could handle herself in front of the media, much better than Karin had been managing the past few days, for sure. Karin couldn't understand why Leo would give her the time of day, when it was so obvious that Danika would be a much better fit for his lifestyle and image.
Only one thing made sense — Leo had used her. With each passing second, Karin was feeling less and less sorry for herself, and more and more angry over how Leo had taken what he wanted from her and then cast her aside. She clutched her large tote to her chest, digging her fingers into the fake leather. She wanted to hit something, hard. Something primal and angry was growing inside of her, and she needed to let it out.
When the elevator doors opened, Karin threw her tote with everything she had.
It sailed through the air and crashed into the vase on the table along the far wall, spilling both the purple orchids and the contents of her tote out onto the floor.
Let him rot. Let them all rot. With a frustrated growl, Karin swept her arm over the table, sending the candlesticks, small figurine, and lace doilies onto the floor. Still it was not enough.
"Asshole!" She knocked over the table itself, sending it to the floor with a crash.
Great, now I just created more work for myself. With a sob, she fell to her knees and covered her face with her hands. As soon as she was done with this internship, she was so out of there.
Leo used and discarded me, just like Jason Stone did before him. Karin doubled over as pain lanced her body and numbed her mind. She was such a stupid, stupid girl.
"What the —"
Karin looked up to see a long, raven-haired beauty stumble over the fallen table. She landed on the floor in a heap.
Excerpted from At His Service Part 4 by Suzanne Rock. Copyright © 2015 Suzanne Rock. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Would like to see more in this series,esp.Jason Stone. Short novelas but still good.
Such a hot series. This was a surprising addition to the series - one that no one sees coming. I agree that it feels like there could be a spinoff series and if it's half as hot as this series, I will certainly be reading it.
Loved this series and with the way it ended hoping for more. Plenty of drama and suspense and I love the chemistry between Leo and Karin, so intense. This is a quick read and I admit, I couldn’t put it down, I do recommend reading the series in its entirety. Great Read!
Received an ARC for an honest review. WOW WHAT SIZZLING CHEMISTRY AND STEAMY PASSION. Loved this story and Karin and Leo. Loved their flaws and secrets and how these all were revealed also how they were able to over come some of their issues through their relationship and be together. Can't wait to read the next set of stories in the series that Suzanne Rock is creating. Loved all the different Perconti siblings and I am looking forward to their stories. LOVED, LOVED THIS STORY AND I AM ALREADY EAGER FOR THE NEXT STORY.
I am really not sure what happened here. It seems that the male lead has completely changed his personality. He's not the commanding, dominant male that he started out to be but has turned into kind of a weak man. It's not that he "needs" Karin, it's more that he just seems very weak and wishy-washy. I'm very disappointed in how this series has ended, it had so much going for it in the first two books but it seems to have lost focus to round it out.
3.5 - "You were never really one for casual relationships were you?" Stars. Part four picks up from where three left off. Leo and Karin are again apart, they are both also openly mooning and pining for the other with great gusto, but his agreement to appease the staff and prevent further strike action at the hotel means they must stay apart (well for at least a couple of pages anyway). The Perconti family has descended on the Palazzo Hotel en-masse for Arianna Perconti's marriage to Aviation mogul Landon Blake. Everything needs to be perfect, with nothing else occurring to cause further scandal to the Perconti name, so the time is definitely not right for more The CEO & the maid type problems. As you would expect, it takes Leo about 5 minutes to work out a way to figure Karin back into his plans for the Perconti empire, and at this point the unhinged-ex wife makes her appearance... "You always had the reins, cara. I just didn't realize it until now." You do finally get the full story of why Leo is as he is, some decent sexy times (although the word Channel pops up again *eye roll!!). And a decent round off to this couples story, with Karin finally going after what she wants, and getting it. The epilogue also gives you a fairly hefty hint as to where the author plans to take the series next, and with whom. So all in all an entertaining, uncomplicated, sexy, stress-free, with an acceptable level of cheesiness thrown in for good measure, read. "We can accomplish so much more together than apart." ARC generously provided via Netgalley, in exchange for the above honest review.