The Professional

The Professional

by Kresley Cole

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Overview

The Professional by Kresley Cole

The highly anticipated complete novel of The Professional—the first installment in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole's scorching Game Maker series, an erotica collection that has readers asking: How hot is too hot? Get lost in the sultry world of the Game Maker series with The Master, book two, and The Player, book three!

Meet the Professional.

Mafiya enforcer Aleksandr “The Siberian” Sevastyan’s loyalty to his boss is unwavering, until he meets the boss's long-lost daughter, a curvy, tantalizing redhead who haunts his mind and heats his blood like no other. Ordered to protect her, Aleksandr will do anything to possess her as well—on his own wicked terms.

He makes the rules.

Grad student Natalie Porter has barely recovered from her first encounter with the dark and breathtaking Siberian when he whisks her away to Russia, thrusting her into a world of extreme wealth and wanton pleasures.

In the game of obsession, two players are better than one.

Yet all is not as it seems. To remove Natalie from an enemy’s reach, Aleksandr spirits her into hiding. From an opulent palace in Russia to the decadent playgrounds of the mega-rich in Paris, the two lovers tempt each other’s boundaries to discover whether their darkest—and most forbidden—fantasies really can come true...

Previously released as The Professional—Parts 1, 2, and 3 as ebook exclusives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476782492
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Series: Game Maker Series
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 14,880
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Game Makers series, and five award-winning historical romances. A master’s grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings. You can learn more about her and her work at KresleyCole.com or Facebook.com/KresleyCole. Sign up for Kresley’s email newsletter to receive the latest book release updates, as well as info about contests and giveaways (KresleyCole.com/Newsletter).

Read an Excerpt

The Professional




  • “Mommy issues. Serial cheater. Humor void. Two-pump chump.” With each guy who entered the campus bar, I ticked off my initial impression to my drunken friends.

    I had an uncanny knack for sizing up males—I was a regular “manalyst.” My secret? I always went negative, and the guys, well, they always accommodated.

    The girls at the table—several of my roommate’s friends and a couple of mine—looked at me like I was a fun sideshow act, their carny pal. Drinks were perpetually free.

    After the week I’d had, my dinner of salt, tequila, and lime was hitting the spot.

    My best friend Jessica murmured at my ear, “You better be careful, you picky prude, or else you’ll take your hymen to your grave. Like a skin tag.”

    She alone knew that I’d never given it up—and why. “Low blow, Jess,” I said without any heat. Like her, it took a lot to get me ruffled, which was one of the reasons we made such great roommates.

    Other than that, we were as different as we could be. Whereas she was leggy and tan with twinkling blue eyes and cropped black hair, I was short and top-heavy, with long red hair and pale-as-a-porcelain-sink skin.

    I was a workaholic studyaholic, pursuing my history PhD. After years’ worth of incompletes, Jess had finally dipped a toe into the core courses of her major—leisure studies—and decided college was “a racket” for “wretched fucks.” Though it was midsemester, she was heading out tomorrow for a tour of the Greek Isles with her wealthy family.

    Another round of tequila shooters arrived, sent by a trio of frat boys a few tables away. We raised our glasses, then dutifully licked, pounded, and sucked. The tequila, not the boys.

    While other women might look at these superficially attractive guys and see potential mates or even fun one-night stands, I saw impending headaches. Other girls got hot and bothered by their lines and pickups; I just got bothered.

    But I hadn’t always been that way.

    “Do the frat boys, Nat!” our friend Polly cried. She was a sturdy corn-fed Nebraska girl—her family’s farm was in a small town outside Lincoln, just a few miles away from ours. Well, not ours anymore, since Mom had sold out last year.

    “Too easy,” I said, having already sized up the trio. The first guy had been constantly checking sports scores on TV while his leg jogged. The second was a bleary mess whose own friends rolled their eyes at his drunkenness. The third one’s grooming and clothing were fanatically perfect, and he kept checking his appearance in the mirror behind the bar.

    “From left to right, then?” I said. “Inveterate gambler, habitual drunk, and—how should I put this?—the third is ill-equipped.”

    I sighed. Yep, those guys were too easy to read. Where was the excitement? Here I was at the same Lincoln bar I always went to, with the same crowd I always hung around. I had an early work shift tomorrow at one restaurant, a late one at the other, and classes to take and to teach on Monday. I’d been averaging five hours of sleep a night for the last few weeks. What was I even doing here?

    I guessed I could sleep when I was dead.

    “I’ve chosen my quarry for the evening,” beautiful Jess said. “Ill-equipped is mine.” As per her usual, she would pick up another conquest and take him back to his place—so she could leave when finished with him. “His type,” she continued blithely, “usually make up for any shortcomings with their mouths. True story.”

    I told her, “And you better be careful, Jessebel, or else you’ll collect another admirer who clings like lichen.”

    “I can’t help it that this is the Bermuda Triangle”—she pointed at her crotch—“when guys venture there, they tend to stay.”

    I tapped my chin. “Oh, I thought you called it that because it’s sucked in lots of seamen.”

    Between guffaws, she said, “That’s a completely fair statement!”

    We could laugh about it now, but I’d lived with the aftermath of her affairs: the desperate gifts, the late-night phone calls, the stalking.

    What was the point of all the drama? Of all that angst? Dating, love, and sex were all overrated—as I’d repeatedly tried to explain to Jess. She would get this secretive smile and say, “You’re gonna get blindsided one day. I only hope I’m there to see it. . . .”

    When the laughter died down, Polly said, “Do him,” with a wave at the door.

    “Fine.” Exhaling with boredom—earn your booze, carny—I turned toward the entrance. And saw the baddest-looking man I’d ever encountered.

    His eyes were a vivid gold, stark against his thick black hair. He wore it longish, the ends brushing his collar. He had a roman nose that had likely been broken and a razor-thin scar that sliced down across both lips. A fighter?

    Yet that didn’t fit with his expensive clothing: a tailored black coat and dress shirt, dark gray slacks, black leather shoes and belt. Through Jess, I’d learned enough about fashion to recognize fine threads. His outfit probably cost more than my entire wardrobe.

    When he stood at the bar and ordered a drink, I saw that he had three rings on one hand, a ring on his other thumb, and a wicked-looking tattoo peeking out from his starch-stiff collar. His style was a mix of privileged and street.

    He was tall, with a lean, muscular build, and looked maybe twenty-nine or thirty, but his face was weary, as an older man’s would be. With those rough-hewn features, he was ruggedly handsome, yet not classically so.

    There was an aura of ennui about him, but he also seemed hyper-alert. What the hell? My internal manalyzer whirred with confusion. Does not compute!

    I could feel my friends staring at me, but I was at a loss. “I . . . I got nothing.” Was he a brawler or a rich playboy or both? I was also sensing top notes of European—along with strong undertones of dangerous!

    He was like a history book written in a script I’d never seen. Fascinating.

    Jess pinched my side, drawing my attention to her smug grin. “You can close your mouth now, hooker.” In a patronizing tone, she said, “Welcome to my world—where first meetings are always in slo-mo and the song ‘At Last’ repeats on a loop.”

    No, no, her world was angsty and overwrought. So why had my gaze darted back to the man?

    “That’s one hot piece of tackle—in a cage-fighter/GQ model mash-up kind of way.” Jess wasn’t going to let this go. “Probably gets more ass than a toilet seat. But he got you to look twice, which makes him a rare and wondrous creature, this bar’s very own unicorn. Requires closer investigation, don’t you think?”

    I could question him, type him, then discard all thoughts of him. I was just tipsy enough to consider it. “I should go up and introduce myself?”

    She nodded. “Unless you’re a twat. Now, go forth with confidence, for you look cute-iful tonight.”

    Jess’s style was SEXY GLAM! Mine? See-me-love-me, motherfleckers. Yet tonight, I was wearing a hip-hugging suede skirt and a slinky red top—one of Jess’s fashion-forward, low-cut numbers. For once, my bra wasn’t a minimizer.

    This outfit had come about because the clothes I’d normally wear—jeans and a turtleneck—were all in an overflowing laundry hamper. I’d worn the black knee-high boots Jess had bought me, to show appreciation in front of her.

    I rose, smoothed my wavy hair over my shoulder, then tugged down my skirt, prompting Jess to give me a loud slap on the ass for encouragement. As I passed their table, Ill-Equipped and Habitual Drunk raised their glasses to me, which didn’t hurt my confidence.

    Once I was halfway over to Badass, his eyes locked on me. His gaze grew heated, and immediately the area felt smaller, warmer. I squelched the urge to fan myself. For the first time in my life, I was a little . . . giddy.

    When I sidled up to him at the bar, he turned fully to me. Up close, he was even more intimidating, even more attractive. Taller than I’d thought.

    His spellbinding eyes were the color of amber, irises ringed with black.

    As I noted additional details—scarred knuckles, tattoos on his fingers under those rings, chiseled jawline clean-shaven—I perceived the heat coming off his big body. Then I got my first mind-numbing hit of his scent.

    Crisp, masculine, intoxicating.

    Blindsiding.

    Speak, Nat. I had to look up to face him. “Uh, hi, I’m Natalie.” I offered him my hand to shake. He didn’t take it. Okay . . . I swallowed. “Can I buy you a drink?” Was that a vodka rocks he’d ordered? He didn’t look like a 7&7 type of guy.

    He canted his head, studying my face—the same way I studied men’s expressions. Still he said nothing. Maybe he didn’t speak the language. UNL had a lot of overseas students. “Drink?” I pointed to his untouched glass and mimed a shot.

    His expression gave away so little, it was like I was talking to a wall.

    As my cheeks flushed, I muttered, “Sooo, this went well. Good talk, buddy.” With a mortified smile, I turned around—

    A callused palm closed around my elbow, his rings cool compared to his skin. The contact was so electric, I shivered.

    “Wait,” he said. Had there been a subtle v sound to that w?

    My heart leapt—maybe he was . . . Russian. I turned around, a genuine smile on my face now. “Are you from Russia?” I added, “Zdrav-stvooi-tee.”? Hello.

    He still cupped my elbow. How could his hand be so hot? I stifled imaginings of him cupping other parts of me, those hands spreading heat in their wake. . . .

    “You speak my language, then?”

    Bingo, a Russian! “A bit,” I said with delight. I could grill him about the country, learning more about my birthplace! “I took a class or two.” Or five. My master’s had required fluency in a second language, and I’d chosen Russian.

    He swept his glance around, his stance alert, as if someone might throw a punch at any second. Then he met my gaze once more. “Of all the men in this bar, you choose me to approach?” His English was very good, though heavily accented. “Are you looking for trouble?”

    With a confidence I didn’t feel, I teasingly said, “Maybe I am.” I sounded breathy—I still hadn’t caught my breath since he’d first touched me. “Have I found it?”

    He glanced down, seeming surprised that he was still holding my arm. He abruptly released me, growing angrier by the second. “No, little girl. You have not.” With a disgusted look, he turned away and stalked out.

    I stared at the door, battling my bewilderment. What just happened? I’d seen interest in his gaze, hadn’t I?

    Yet then he’d acted like a vampire who’d discovered I was a fucking sunbeam.

  • Customer Reviews

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    The Professional 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is seriously one of the best books of this kind that I have read. I could not put it down!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I ordered the sample of this book before paying the $8, and 2 chapters into the sample, wound up just buying it. I don't think I can say enough good things about this book! I really liked Natalie, she didn't annoy me at all (which is rare with these type of books). And I fell in love with Sevastyan! I LOVED the sporadic use of Russian. I felt empty when this book was over. Will definitely be buying more books from this author!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Deserves five stars and more. Personally, I like this book better than the second one in this series. I love the relationship between Natalie and Sevastyan from the very beginning. This is a book I could read over again and still love!
    Anonymous 3 days ago
    AboutThatStory 3 months ago
    3.5 out of 5 stars This was super intense and hot. It starts out really fast paced and jumps right in. I like that Natalie’s bewildered by this crazy situation and rolls with it. She was stubborn and challenging and sometimes a bit too accepting but I liked her fire. Sevastyan is gruff, commanding, and all consuming, he's basically a complicated mess and I wanted to know why the entire time and loved learning anything about him. These two have a lot of push and pull together, crazy chemistry that's heat filled, and I thought they were intriguing. I was great watching them come together, it could be such a battle because of their personalities but also super passionate because they were drawn to each other. The writing was really good with great character development overall. The pace was decent for me though on occasion some parts felt drawn out. This was about the same time I'd get frustrated with both Sevastyan and Natalie and want to yell at them because they could be a little over the top stubborn. There's mild drama with a very light suspense element, a lot of heat with some BDSM elements in play. I thought the sexy time scenes were well written and descriptive. Overall I really liked the story. I was excited while reading and anxious for what was going to happen next. I loved the conflict waging inside Sevastyan and the personal battle he was facing. I'm a sucker for that "moment" when things click for the hero and this was a great one. The main theme throughout was intense and hot, definitely intriguing. It was a crazy good ride!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Can't wait to read Dmitri's story!!! "The Professional" was a great tale. Also enjoyed "The Master", which was hot and funny.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Delicious, steamy scenes that will keep you turning the pages!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Loved this series
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    While this had a good storyline with the Russian mafia, it was not a very enjoyable read for me. I never really felt the connection between these two characters. Each time they had sex, they ended up in the same place arguing about the same thing. The story was disjointed in a lot of places. Like she liked her father but you never really felt the connection grow. It just was. The familial connection was never made solid. I never had a moment where I was like oh I like her or him for that matter. She was so closed up with her feelings. He was super possessive. Not really a love story to me.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    If you liked or hated the 50 shades series, this book is for you. It is erotica done right. It's well written, steamy, and very realistic. All the BDSM scenes are hot, and there is a lot more action than Anastasia ever got to see. I liked both main characters, and the book is fast paced. I only wish we had learned more about what it meant for Natalie to wear "his gold." It sounded hot!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The storyline was wonderful. A little smut and a story that makes you say awe! Makes you love love.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great read!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It'll get you hooked! Great story line and very interesting characters!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Loved this book. Thought it was great. The 2nd in this series was awful. Skip #2 but read this one.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Sooooo goood
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The hottest, sexiest book I have ever read. Hot as hell sex but also a well written story with developed characters make this one of the best.
    AK-girl More than 1 year ago
    I usually Love Cole's books however this one started out good but just got too 50 shades and repetitive towards the middle. I stopped about 3\4 of the way through and couldn't finish.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    One of the greatest books I have ever read. It had everything and I literally felt like the book was coming to life it was so well written and all the characters where perfect.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Sexiest book I've read.And I own all the 50 shades books.Can I handle The Master next?
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I thoroughly enjoyed this new series of books from Ms. Cole
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great read.