Deadly Games

Deadly Games

by Karen Rock

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781516106134
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 07/17/2018
Series: Dallas After Dark , #2
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 5,910
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Multiple award-winning author Karen Rock is both sweet and spicy—at least when it comes to her writing! Karen writes YA and adult contemporary books as well as red-hot suspense novels and small-town romances. A strong believer in Happily-Ever-After, Karen loves creating unforgettable stories that takes readers from their everyday lives and leaves them with a smile. Learn more at www.karenrock.com or follow Karen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/karenrock5.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Marissa sat on the edge of her bed in her underwear, pants down around her ankles and her apron still tied around her waist. Her phone was warm in her hands, the screen too bright in her dim basement apartment as another call came in.

This was number four — no five. Yeah, the fifth call in an hour. That had to be a new record. Yesterday she'd only had five calls all day, which meant another collection agency must have uncovered her new number today. There was a small part of her that wondered if Andrew himself was passing her information along to them. Not that she'd given her ex her new cell number, but he'd proven to be super resourceful in his bitterness, and Marissa wouldn't put it past him.

This was her continued punishment for breaking up with him.

Though technically, he'd broken up with her first.

The screen on her phone went black, and the indicator flashed red letting her know that there was another message waiting. She set her phone into her lap, kicked off her work pants, taking a moment to rub her sore calves. She'd been working double shifts whenever she could, in a vain attempt to keep on top of these debts. Even if she'd known they were coming, the chances of her being able to financially handle them all were small at best. She'd maxed out on student loans, and because she'd co-signed for Andrew's startup business two years ago, the bank wasn't keen on giving her another one, even if it would help her consolidate debts.

So double shifts between trips to the library to do research papers would be her life for the foreseeable future. She looked down at the blinking light. Morbid curiosity would get the better of her soon and she'd listen to whatever the demands were. She'd have to find a way to pay everything. If she didn't, her dreams of starting her own business would never come to pass.

Andrew might have screwed up her past and present, but she'd be dammed if she'd cede him her future as well.

Setting her phone on the bed, Marissa found the energy to get changed. She needed to head into the library to meet up with Naomi. They had a group assignment due in three days and Marissa hadn't even started on her part of the project. The musty smell clung to her T-shirt as she slipped it on. Shit, she'd just washed these and had used those stupid scent booster beads. Nothing seemed to work. The air in her apartment was dank and left a residue over everything. She'd mentioned it to Shelia shortly after moving in, and a dehumidifier had appeared the next day. Maybe the damn thing was broken.

She turned to go check it, when the message light caught her eye again, taunting her. There was no reason to check, because she knew what was there waiting for her, even if she didn't know the exact words. It was simply another company that needed to be added to the list. She started out of the room, made it three steps before spinning around and snatching her phone. With a roll of her eyes, she pressed the button for her voice mail.

Beep. "This is not a sales call. This is a message for Marissa Roy. Please contact Raylon Group at 647-555-7354 to receive important information on how to repay your debt. It's imperative for you to get in touch with us or else your credit rating will be impacted. Again, the number is 647-555-7354."

She ended the call, and set her phone down on top of the dehumidifier. The motor wasn't running, nor was the bucket in the back full. She gave it a little bang on the top, before hitting it a second time, harder. The motor kicked in, snapping and chugging away as it pulled the moisture from the air.

Well, that was at least one thing she could fix.

She picked up the phone and slid it into her pocket when it rang again. Instead of her generic ringtone, this time it was the one she'd assigned to her mom. Shit. Marissa had been purposely forgetting to call her for weeks now, knowing her mom would do whatever she could to try and help her out of this. And while she loved her mom more than anything, she wasn't going to drag her into this mess.

Taking a breath, Marissa smiled and hoped it would come through in her voice. "Hey there. I haven't talked to you in ages."

"Hey baby." Her mom's voice came through crisp and clear, but for a moment was nearly drowned out by something loud in the background. "I missed you."

"What are you doing?"

"The church has a bake sale on the weekend and I said I'd make my cupcakes again."

Marissa's stomach growled at the thought of the buttercream frosting she knew would be paired with it. "Please save me some."

"That would mean you'd have to come visit me." She chuckled and what Marissa now recognized as the sound of beaters going, turned off. "How are your classes going?" There was no mistaking the pride in her voice. She'd never gone to college herself, and had been super excited when Marissa got into her business program.

"Good. I mean, I've only been at it a few weeks, but so far I'm enjoying them."

"I'm so happy to hear that. I don't know where you got your brains, because it certainly wasn't from me."

Marissa knew better than to say anything about her father. "Well, let's hope it stays like this until midterms. Naomi told me about a scholarship that's specifically for women in the business program. If I keep my marks up, there's a chance I'll qualify."

"That's amazing." Her mother's voice cracked, before she cleared it. "I'm so proud of you, baby."

"Thanks." Marissa sat down on her one and only chair.

"So, are you going to tell me what's wrong, or am I going to have to pry it out of you?"

Marissa's stomach soured. "Why would you think there's anything wrong?

"You think I can't tell when there's something going on with you? You're not sparkling and you always sparkle." Her mom laughed again. "Plus, you haven't talked to me in three weeks, which means you're avoiding telling me something. So, spill it."

No. She loved her mom, but there was no way she'd pull her into this. But Marissa also lacked the ability to lie to her, which meant she was going to have to get creative. "I've been good. Just ... a lot of things have been coming at me. School and work. And ... a lot of outside pressures. It's just been hard ... financially. And I've picked up a bunch of extra shifts at the restaurant, but there've been some ... unexpected bills."

"Sweetie, why didn't you tell me you needed some money." Her mom sighed. "God, I thought you'd gotten yourself into trouble with a boy or something. How much do you need? Did you want me to top up your meal plan? I just got paid myself, so you hit me at the right time."

Guilt was a horrible palate cleanser for telling lies. "Ah, yeah, that would be amazing." It wouldn't be enough to even remotely put a dent in what she owed, but at least she wouldn't have to worry about getting groceries for a while.

"I can log into the site and do that today. Though it sounds like there's something else you need."

Oh, you know, a couple hundred thousand or so. "No, that will be good."

"I can put a bit extra on the card. Give you some beer money. I know you're working hard, baby. Things will get easier for you soon. I promise."

"Thanks Mom."

Hanging up the phone, Marissa fought back a wave of tears. What a frigging coward she was, not even able to tell her mom what the hell was going on. But she knew, her mom would try and take over, she'd take on Marissa's bills until her own finances were depleted. Then, they'd both be screwed and Marissa would be even worse off for having dragged her into this. She had to find a way out that didn't involve family.

A knock on her door had her lifting her head. It was probably her landlady Shelia looking for the rent. Marissa would mention the dehumidifier was on the blink; maybe she had another one upstairs in the piles of things everywhere. Marissa was about three steps from the door, when whoever it was knocked on her door again, far harder than before.

"I know you're in there!" The very male voice sounded more than a little angry.

Marissa took a step back, looking to make sure she'd secured her deadbolt when she'd come in earlier. "Who's there?"

"You owe us money. Open up so we can talk."

Shit, could they do this? Weren't there laws or something preventing this sort of harassment? Maybe? Probably not. "I don't think so."

"I'm here for our money. Write me a cheque and I'll leave."

Marissa's mind raced and her body shook. "Your company has my phone number, I'm sure. Have them call me with the details and I'll follow up."

"Open the door!"

"Nope. Call me. Or send me an email if you want." A hard thud shook the door. "Did you just kick my door?" "Over fifty grand. I want the money now."

Marissa's hands shook as she pulled out her cell. "I'm calling the police."

"You're a fucking lowlife, ripping off legitimate businesses. Pay what you owe, bitch." There was another loud bang, followed by heavy footsteps as whoever it was marched back upstairs and outside.

She couldn't move for a solid five minutes, her gaze locked on the old door as she strained to hear if the man was still hiding outside. There was no way she was going to leave now, especially if the man could potentially be waiting for her on the street. Shit, she was going to have to cancel on Naomi.

Fifty thousand dollars? No freaking way. If he was telling the truth, then that was in addition to the other loans that creditors were now chasing her for. She didn't remember signing her name on a loan that large. The most she'd done was five thousand dollars for Andrew to buy the stock he'd needed for his café. None of this made any sense.

And yet, she'd come to learn that Andrew wasn't the man she'd assumed he was. He had this manipulative side of him that she'd never seen — or had ignored the warning signs — and now she had to assume he'd been capable of anything. Including somehow getting her name added to a loan she'd never seen.

Tears spilled down her cheeks as the gravity of the situation pressed down on her. Even if she quit school, she wouldn't have the money to pay off what she now owed. And without the education she'd worked so hard for over the past few years, she wasn't going to accomplish her goal of opening her own business.

Her mind raced through the options, and while there were a few, it was one that her friend Naomi had presented her with that kept coming back to the top of the list.

But there was no way she could do that. Putting her trust in another man — a stranger at that — wasn't how she could get out of this situation. If anything, it might make things far more complicated.

And yet ...

Wiping her tears, she went to her small kitchen table and opened her laptop. It took a while for her ancient computer to come alive from power saving mode, but when it did, the email from Naomi was still open from when she'd left it yesterday.

I know things have gotten hard for you. I was at this boot camp thing back in the spring talking about sugar daddy sites. Dude, it's legit and some of the girls at the thing said it was a Godsend. I've had good luck myself. You're hot and I'm sure you wouldn't have any problems finding someone. Here's the link. www.millionairesugardaddy.com. Aim high, right LOL! We can chat at school about it.

Love Naomi.

Marissa's finger hovered over the mouse button. The mere thought of looking for a sugar daddy should be repulsive, demeaning. Her mother would be furious if she knew Marissa was even considering the option. But if what Naomi had said was true, most of the time these guys weren't even interested in sex. It was more about companionship than anything else. Given how hard she'd been working and how little time she'd had for anything social, it wasn't a horrible idea to spend time with someone. And if she got some financial help out of the deal, then how bad could it be.

She moved the mouse over the link.

God, this was probably a terrible mistake. Maybe if she went back to the bank and talked to them again, they might be willing to consolidate the loans. Or she could declare bankruptcy and totally ruin her own chances of opening up her own business once she got out of school. They were only dreams, right?

What harm could there be in looking?

She clicked the link.

* * *

Vince wanted to punch something, anything that wasn't his father. The older Mr. Taylor was currently talking to a woman who was easily younger than Vince by several years, and finishing off his third scotch this hour. The girl so far seemed to be holding her own, but Vince was ready to swoop in and extract her if she gave any indication that Geoff had crossed a line.

"The old man at it again?" Nate handed Vince a drink of his own, as he stepped beside him.

Vince nodded his acknowledgement as he took a drink. Several women stared briefly as they walked past, only to bend their heads giggling once they were by. He knew he and his best friend-cum-PR rep, made quite the striking pair standing there in their tuxes. Nate's dark skin was in stark contrast to his own pale tone, making them look as opposite as could be. But they were of equal height which drew more than a little attention whenever they entered a room. If the gossip sites were to be believed, two of the best bachelor catches in Toronto.

Nate shook his head as Geoff reached over and curled a piece of the woman's hair around his finger. "I don't know how he does it?"

"Don't admire him. He's slime." Once upon a time, Vince had admired his father and his ability to get the girl while closing a killer business deal. He'd done his best to emulate Geoff's freewheeling ways, until that had landed him into a pile of trouble. "He's trying to sleep with someone young enough to be his daughter."

"Yeah, I see that." Nate swallowed his drink and handed it to a passing waiter. "What do you want to do?"

Vince hated having to play protector, hated needing to intervene for a man who should fucking know better. But ever since his mom had left them, Vince had no choice but to do everything he could to keep his father from self destructing. "He's had too much to drink and needs to go home."

"Do you want to divide and conquer then?"

They'd come tonight at Geoff's insistence. The after party for the film launch opened them up to schmoozing with financial backers, actors, and the sort of crowd Geoff gravitated toward. Vince had intended to stay for a round or two, then bow out and head home for a run. But once his dad got drinking, Vince couldn't trust him not to make a mess of things.

When Geoff reached over and put his hand on the girl's ass, Vince stiffened. "Yup."

"I'll get the girl out of there and you deal with your dad." Nate nodded and was already moving before Vince could find a place for his drink.

"Nate! Wait." Vince carefully sidestepped a couple before striding quickly across the bar to his father.

"Mr. Taylor, Vince needed to speak with you." Nate winked at the young woman. "Hello, beautiful. I've been dying to dance all night. Interested? Or maybe we can have a drink?"

The look of relief on her face was so obvious it was painful. "Yeah, that sounds good."

Before his father could protest, Vince put a hand on his shoulder and led him in the opposite direction, toward the bar. "I think it's time to get you home."

"Little bastard. I was about to make my move." But Geoff didn't fight it when Vince started to move him toward the back of the bar.

With his arm around his dad, Vince waited until a group passed them before leaning close to his ear. "You know better than to corner a woman like that. Your therapist —"

"Is a fucking asshole. He doesn't know anything. I wasn't pressuring her to do something."

"It didn't look like that from where I was standing." Vince released his dad and took a step away. He was going to punch him if he didn't get him home soon. "I'm going to call the car."

Geoff waved him away. "Not yet. I haven't seen Simon. He was supposed to be up for the film festival. I need to see him."

Vince's chest tightened. His father and Simon Berry had been at odds for over a decade now. Their strange back and forth had caused Vince more grief both personally and professionally than anything else in his life. "I'm sure he's around somewhere. You can always email him later."

"I don't think you understand." Geoff leaned in, the strong scent of alcohol washing over Vince. "He's going to buy GreenPro."

Motherfucker. "We've talked about this. I don't want to sell the company. At the very least, we need to hold on to it for another year. The market might be ready by then."

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Sugar Sweet"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Christine d'Abo.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Deadly Games 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
blonde_betty 9 months ago
Deadly Games is the second in the Dallas Heat series by Karen Rock. The first book was Magic Mike meets drug kingpin and the majority of the action was inside the club. This book take Nash Hawkins – star dancer – outside the club and makes him an integral part of a major FBI serial killer investigation. His partner, FBI Agent Katherine Bowen, has a personal stake in the case, only she doesn’t realize how personal it really is. Nash and Katherine make a great team. It was fun to see Nash come into his own as a detective. Katherine deserves Nash who trusts her instincts and provides support, but never rescues her. I really enjoyed Katherine and Nash as a couple. I hope there are more installments in this series. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this novel.
debbiereadsbook 9 months ago
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. This is book two in the Dallas After Dark series, but I have not read book one, Dangerous Games. I would like to, though. You don't NEED it, I don't think, I didn't feel I was missing anything by not having read it, but I would like to read Reese's story, she's the owner of the strip club here. FBI Agent Katherine is out on a girls night out after her divorce in the male strip club, Dallas Heat. Nash is their star performer. Nash pulls Katherine (loved that it was not shortened, not once!) onto the stage, something he has NEVER done before. A night of passion follows but Katherine runs, knowing that it can only be that: one night. But Nash turns up at her office with information that might help find a serial killer. Together, they must catch this killer before one of Katherine's friends turns up dead, all the while with Katherine fighting their attraction. Nash, however, is already all in! I really really enjoyed this book! Don't you just love being surprised by a book, but you've no particular idea why?? I *think* that it was probably Nash himself. I must admit, I had preconceptions about a male stripper, and what he got up to with his customers. But Nash blew them all out the water. As did the fact that I, very wrongly, pegged Nash as all body and no brains! I've no idea WHY I thought that, but I did. And for that I'm truly sorry! I liked the pace the story moved at, not too fast, at a fair and even pace so you can keep up. I DID get who the killer was, just as soon as they popped up in the story, but I did NOT get what they had done before! Loved watching the main play out, so many wrong turns! It's not over explicit, but it is still incredibly sexy. It does get a little gruesome in the beginning, when it is describing a victim's suffering at the hands of the killer. I do like the way Rock tells her tales, one to watch, me finks! 4 solid stars **same worded review will appear elsewhere**
SarahBethL 10 months ago
Deadly Games is the 2nd book in the Dallas After Dark series though it can be read as a stand alone book. This book focuses on Nash Hawkins & Agent Katherine Bowden. I loved this story & was hooked from the start. Katherine meets Nash at the club, when she is out with some girlfriends celebrating her divorce. Her ex complained that she was all business, too serious & only focused on her cases. Her girlfriends told her all about Nash, who has moved on from his dream of being a law enforcement officer after an incident in his past. The two grow closer as they work on a case together, their strengths & weaknesses complement the other's. I also loved Nash's Grandfather, a great man to look up to.
Bette313 11 months ago
Deadly Games is the second book in the Dallas After Dark series. If you haven't read the first book you will have no problem reading this one as a standalone. After enjoying all the action filled and steamy pages of this book you will definitely want to go back and read book one Dangerous Moves. In this book we meet Special Agent Katherine Bowden. She's a profiler and tends to get completely absorbed by her cases. That doesn't leave much time for any type of relationship. The she meets Nash Hawkins. What was suppose to be one night quickly turns into much more. Nash has always had a dream of being a police officer so he understands how consuming the job can be. When it turns out he has a small connection to her current case they work together to get to the bottom of everything. Definitely a book I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good romantic suspense.
LynnB888 11 months ago
4 1/2 STARS! Riveting from the first page! With the second book in her Dallas After Dark series, Karen Rock takes us back to the sultry nights of the Dallas Heat male strip club. We recognize several of the characters from the first book in the series, and get down and dirty with Nash Hawkins fairly quickly! The start of the book draws us into the terror that is about to strike, then we're electrified with sexual tension when Nash and Katherine cross paths for the first time before joining forces to solve an intriguing case. The plot was developed well and the characters were pretty spot on in believability and interaction. My favorite in the series! FBI agent Katherine Bowden didn't expect to find herself back home in Dallas at this point in her life, but here she is ... amidst the downtown party scene where she's least likely to belong! She's not one to typically be out partying, but when she reconnected with an old friend from school at just about the same time that her divorce was finalized, there was no turning down the invitation to hang with the girls at a strip club for the night! Private investigator by day, stripper by night Nash Hawkins is used to the women ogling his well-defined body, and he's only too happy to flaunt it for them to bring a smile to their face. When his eyes meet a buttoned-up Katherine's during his routine, he's mesmerized. He draws her onto the stage with him, turns her on like nobody's business and then propositions her for the night. It's a night he'll never forget ... and he's disappointed to find her gone the next morning ... luckily for him, his most recent case seems to follow the details of the serial killer she's trying to catch!