Read an Excerpt
A Brazilians Novel
By Carmen Falcone, Alethea Spiridon
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Carmen Falcone
All rights reserved.
"You weren't kidding when you said this was high profile." Satyanna stepped into the huge, gorgeous ballroom, her stomach fluttering. The organizers of the Copacabana Palace Gala Ball, which was held before the Brazilian Carnival, had pulled out all the stops. Harry had told her the theme was fairy tales, and he'd been able to buy her a luxurious, if outrageous, costume in time.
"No. Just the way I like it, my dear," he said with his prim British accent as he winked at her. Well, fake British accent. She had always doubted whether he hailed from across the pond, as his elegant drawl had become less enunciated over the years. Who was able to fake a freaking accent for a whole lifetime? "Let's mingle." He led her through the crowd, and her eyes feasted on the extravagant decorations and the sparkling chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Tons of shiny, velvety, citrus-colored fabric adorned the walls, and dim lighting gave the ambience a sensual vibe. Not that it was quiet; the drums from the samba music made the dance floor hum, and the closer she got to the band, the faster her heart raced.
Maybe it was just because of Harry. A new beginning. "Do we have to mingle?" She raised her voice. "I thought we could hang out." Like you promised, when you invited me on this trip.
Things would be different, wouldn't they? Even though they hadn't really talked in the past few years. "That's what we're doing, darling." Her father figure pursed his lips. "Doesn't mean I can't network."
Network? A shiver of fear surged through her. "If you're doing anything illegal while we're here, I'm out." She squared her shoulders, and even though he couldn't see part of her face because the veil covered her mouth, she frowned. Damn Scheherazade costume. "You promised me —"
"I promised you this trip would mark a new beginning for us, Satyanna. And despite any mistakes I've made in the past, I always keep my promises," he said.
True. He had promised to help her out of the youth house when she'd been a teenager, and he had done it. He had promised to find her birth parents if she helped him on a con artist scheme that still haunted her conscience — and damn it, he'd done that too, even though she dreaded what she found out.
Her heart shrank to the size of a pearl, and it was as if she were a scared child instead of a twenty-five-year-old woman. New beginnings. If Harry was the only family life had given her, she had to give him a second chance. Or a third.
"Good," she said and smoothed her hand over her sultry, silky costume. She hoped the Swarovski beads on her top would distract people from the fact that it was cropped and exposed her stomach. The flowing pants compensated for this, although the rich material was sexy in its own right. She kept touching it to feel the softness against her palms.
"I've followed your advice and stayed away from illicit activities." He grinned. "Besides, you should take advantage of this opportunity, too. Didn't you bring that nifty camera along?"
She smiled. "It's in the hotel safe." Truth was, she couldn't wait to go out and explore Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings. Capturing the raw beauty would be a great way to jump-start her professional career in photography.
"But you're here. Let's enjoy, Satyanna. You've been studying a lot. You deserve it."
She made a face. "Fine."
"You also deserve that hunk over there," Harry said, pointing to a tall, gorgeous man across the room. Even though the sexy stranger had on a flawless black tie, his chestnut hair was ruffled as if he had raked his hands through it one too many times. She watched his face, and even from afar, there was no doubt that a five o'clock shadow covered his square jaw. Interesting. "Actually, I take it back. I deserve him, although I doubt he'll go for a sixty-year-old gay man."
"I agree with you there."
"Oh, well. Let's learn the samba, shall we?" He extended his hand. She glanced at it before taking it in hers and following him onto the dance floor. Professional dancers mingled amongst the partygoers, and a sea of sequins, feathers, and sparkles overwhelmed her sight. Laughing, she tried to keep up with the rhythm, but there was no way her ass was gyrating like the local women's. She couldn't remember the last time her behind had experienced any type of action.
Her gaze strayed across the ballroom, and her heart skipped a beat as she searched for Mr. Hotness. He wasn't where he had been before. Of course. Some lucky lady had probably snatched him up. She eyed Harry, who was following a male dancer's every step closely even though he had no hip action. Harry winked at her, and she sighed. Good thing they each had their own hotel room. The only father she'd ever had wasn't just a recovering con artist, he was also a shameless slut.
She smiled. Well, time to feast on the fabulous buffet.
The food stations were no ordinary affair. Lines of people stood to try the mouthwatering canapés, tender meats, and sugarcoated desserts. She reached to the end of the line and looked around her. At times like this, she wished she could offer more than a mere greeting in Portuguese. Maybe she could make small talk with other tourists.
Peering away from the band, she focused on the folks strolling to the balcony. Hello, Mr. Hotness. A lump formed in her throat the instant her eyes — her body — recognized the man Harry had pointed out minutes ago. She parted her lips and clenched her clutch against her body as if she could use it as a shield against her quickly hardening nipples. Instant attraction. This had to be it. She looked over in Harry's direction again and found him dipping his head to whisper something into the younger guy's ear. How the hell did he do it? Shaking her head, she brought her attention back to the man who had unsettled her serenity.
Silly small talk was harmless, right? Maybe the guy didn't even speak English, which would bring things to a stop quickly and spare her the embarrassment. Before she thought things through, she found herself walking toward him, even though her knees weakened a bit more with each step.
What the hell? She had dated before and even had a boyfriend or two while studying at the New York City Photography Institute. This ... by the time she made it to his side, she still had no fucking idea what she was going to say. He held a tumbler that was half filled with ice and some sort of alcoholic drink. Up close, he was bigger and taller, even though she stretched to her full five feet nine inches. His profile was intense, his eyes looking above even though there was nothing but a cloudless sky sprinkled with stars. The music from the dance floor faded into the background, and she inhaled. The man was completely content with being on his own, and this fascinated her, even though she couldn't quite understand the sentiment — not after a life of being on her own for the most part.
She felt an unfamiliar throbbing sensation in her heart; it surged all the way down between her legs. "What are you supposed to be?" she asked him. He turned to look at her, and she noticed that his eyes were a gorgeous hazel — cinnamon with a hint of gold.
"Excuse me?" he asked without a smile and lifted his glass before taking a swig.
"Your costume," she said, pointing at him. She lifted her hand to keep him from speaking. "No. Don't say it. Let me guess. A mysterious guest. Perhaps a party crasher who stole some rich guy's black tie."
He chuckled, and the sound was masculine, hearty, and infectious. The planes of his face softened a bit, and she almost reached for his drink to have a shot, because she needed something to settle her nerves. "Go on," he said, with a heavily accented voice.
"You used someone's suite, maybe even a deluxe one. But you were afraid they'd return, which is why you didn't have time to shave." She pointed at his face. "Your hair is messy. You're worried about something. Perhaps someone stood you up."
He offered her a half smile. "Who would that person be?"
She leaned in. "A woman. A woman who likes to keep you on your toes."
"Maybe she will meet me with our new passports before we fly off somewhere," he said, his eyes watching her as if she would escape from him otherwise.
"In that case, I better introduce myself before she gets here. Satyanna Darling." She offered him her hand, but in typical Brazilian style he gave her a kiss on both cheeks. The kiss was nothing more than it should have been, but, oh, it unleashed a part of her that she had no idea had been suppressed until then.
He disengaged and squared his shoulders, and a draft of cold air replaced the heat that swirled around her during their brief touch. "Leonardo Duarte. Who are you supposed to be?"
"Queen Scheherazade," she said, removing the veil and stuffing it in her clutch.
"Never heard of her," he said with a shrug.
She leaned back a bit, her hands perched on her waist. Sure, he was a guy, but hadn't he done his basic fairy tale homework before attending the party? Although, it wasn't as if her tale was as pure as some other stories. "Seriously? You never heard tales from One Thousand and One Nights?"
He shook his head. "Enlighten me."
"There was a king who didn't trust women after his wife cheated on him. Every day he married a different virgin, and after having sex with her, he killed her the next day so she would never be another's. Then, they ran out of virgins, and a woman named Scheherazade volunteered to be his wife."
"How did that turn out?"
"At the end of the night, she told him a story but left out the end. He didn't kill her because he wanted her to finish it. From then on, every night, she would tell him a story and make him wait until the next day to hear the end. After one thousand and one nights, he fell for her and spared her life."
A seemingly endless silence stretched between them, and he stared deep into her eyes. The air disappeared from her lungs, and she clasped the balcony railing to make sure the experience was really happening. She was super turned on by a virtual stranger, and judging by the darkening of his eyes, he was, too. "Smart woman. And, from the looks of it," he added, his gaze sliding down her neckline and toward her breasts, "very beautiful."
Her sex clenched. "Did you come alone?" she asked, angry at the urgency in her own voice. What if a gorgeous woman materialized in front of them, asking for him? Best to know now.
"Sim. My sister made me get out of the house."
I should send her flowers and a thank-you note. "Why is that?"
"She's a worrier," he said and raked his fingers through his hair. A sigh left his lips, and he glanced down. "My ... father is sick."
"Oh. I'm very sorry."
He cleared his throat and then opened his mouth to say something, but just shook his head. Biting her lower lip, she pondered. She curled her fingers into a ball, trying to stop herself from reaching out to him and offering him a hug or squeezing his shoulder. "I guess cancer kills any flirtatious conversation, doesn't it? Hence me not going out much these days."
"Seems like you're a good son. That's hardly a deal breaker in my book," she said.
He raised his brow. "I do what I can. You know how it is."
"I don't, actually. I'm an orphan." The words spilled from her lips before she thought them through. Shit. The last thing she'd wanted was to play the sympathy card. There was something about him, though, that compelled her to talk about herself — and to want to know more about him.
He observed her. "I'm sorry."
Why was he sorry? Not having a family sucked, but she guessed her life would have turned out worse if the lady — she used the term loosely — who had given birth to her hadn't lost her parental rights when she was four. Or if she hadn't been harassed by her stepfather once her adoptive mother, Carol, died. Enough of that. "See? Now that we've peppered in some backstory and gotten that out of the way, how about going back to flirting?"
"I like your style, Satyanna Darling." He touched her pants, his finger rubbing the silky fabric. She was sure Harry had dropped a small fortune on it, because even though it was far too sexy and revealing, the texture of the fabric and the elaborate jewelry on the golden belt left no doubt that it was expensive. The warmth from his hand seeped through the material, and her body signaled more commands than an air-traffic controller: Touch him. Kiss him. Screw him. "And your costume."
She licked her lips. "What are you drinking?"
He lifted his square glass. "Caipirinha."
"Caipi what?" she asked, even though she had heard about the lemon-flavored cocktail fueled by a Brazilian liquor.
"Caipirinha," he repeated, unfazed by her presence. "I'll give you a taste."
She couldn't help but gape at him as he lifted the glass to his sensual, curled lips. There wouldn't be much left after he took a drink, but she realized that his sharing his caipirinha was a different idea altogether when he pinned her to the spot with his sinful eyes.
As if in a trance, her lips parted, and she took such a deep breath that if her top had busted open, it wouldn't have been a surprise. He tipped her chin upward with his index finger, and the modest touch sent raging desire through her. There was no escaping. He dipped his head, and as if in slow motion, she began to notice the delightful sensations swirling inside her. Her nipples pebbled, and a heat wave shot through her sex. The anticipation was a turn on, but would he live up to the hype?
His lips covered hers, and she opened her mouth to grant him full access. The feel of his stubbled skin against hers belted an electrifying tingle through her. Her breasts were full and heavy. A passionate, demanding kiss followed, and she wrapped her arms around him for more support. He pulled her closer, eliminating any distance between them. Never in her life had she been the hostage of such an enthralling attraction.
Aroused, she moaned into his mouth, and his hand slid down her back until he cupped her buttocks. Wow. The man had a firm touch as his fingers kneaded her ass. His pull brought them to a perfect mold, and his erection saluted her. God. What a salute ... Things were getting out of control fast ... and she loved it.
The last few years of her life had been focused on working, studying, and saving money so she wouldn't have to depend on Harry financially ever again. One-night stands and casual flings never appealed to her, for they clashed with her dream of forming a meaningful relationship and having a family someday. Her own family.
He stopped kissing her for a moment, and they both panted. Goals and dreams could certainly take a night off, right? Her heart beat fast and furious, warning her that she had no say in the matter. "My place or yours?" he asked.
"I have a room in the hotel."
The next few minutes were a blur in her head. They sprinted out of the ballroom toward the hallway elevators. For a moment, she had the eerie sensation someone was watching them. Glancing over her shoulders, she looked for Harry, but saw no sign of him. Maybe he got lucky as well.
"You want this?" Leonardo asked, and she didn't miss how he inhaled and looked at her, his eyes so warm that fire could have brewed inside their depths.
"Yes," she said, and he offered her his hand, the endearment bringing a smile to her face. Even though it was just sex, she wasn't alone in this. "Am I crazy?"
"You're not the only one."
Like Sam Smith's song. The second she took his hand in hers, warmth engulfed her. He flashed her a smile as they stepped into the crowded elevator, and his face brightened. They seemed to be part of a secret society, as if they were the only man and woman to share such a deep sexual connection. Heat spread across her neck and cheeks. When the violin ping indicated they had arrived at her floor, her pulse spiked. Never letting go of her hand, he walked alongside her, and her fingers trembled as she fumbled to get the keycard from her purse and into the slot.
Excerpted from Brazilian Revenge by Carmen Falcone, Alethea Spiridon. Copyright © 2016 Carmen Falcone. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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