When a battle of wills becomes a game of lust, one wrong move could be fatal.
Actress Stacy Roberts is ready to ride her rising star straight to Hollywood's A-list. All she needs is the famous Hollywood Hedonism party (check), one very naughty angel costume (check), and a few drinks to get her sexy swagger back (check, check). Tonight, she is not aching for her hot, hard-bodied ex. Or worrying about the threatening letters signed by "Your Worst Nightmare."
For Detective Ian Ford, "nightmare" doesn't begin to cover it. Whatever demons prompted Stacy to cut and run have him tied up in knots. Worse, his ex is dressed to kill any man with a pulse, and Ian is seeing red. If Stacy wants trouble, she'll find it. Only Ian's going to make damned sure that the only trouble she gets is with him.There are no rules. They either both win, or they both lose. But this time, there's an extra player—one who's determined to make sure this is the very last game Stacy plays…
Previously released as part of the Lovers Unmasked anthology. Now available individually!
About the Author
USA TODAY bestselling and award winning author Samanthe Beck lives in Malibu, California, with her husband, their son, Kitty the furry Ninja, and Bebe the trash talkin' Chihuahua. When not writing fun and sexy contemporary romance, or napping on her beach towel with her face snuggled to her Kindle, she searches for the perfect ten dollar wine to pair with Lunchables.
Read an Excerpt
Stacy Roberts tucked a condom into the cleavage-boosting bustier she wore beneath her wispy, white angel costume, and eyed her reflection in her vanity mirror. Nice. The Lycra miracle pushed her breasts together and created the kind of view that guaranteed no man would have the first clue what color her eyes were tonight, and — bonus points — not a trace of the little foil square showed through. She considered adding a wingman to the other side when a voice interrupted her musings.
"'I'm out of patience, Stacy,'" Kylie read. "'Resign from Vegas Vixens and leave Hollywood, or you will be sorry. This is your last chance to exit gracefully. Do as you're told, your show's producers, sponsors, and fans will learn you're nothing but a delinquent from Two Trout, Tennessee? A slutty ex-stripper who worked her way from pole dancing at Deuces to a starring role on America's favorite guilty pleasure? It's going to get ugly. Sincerely, Your Worst Nightmare.' What the hell, Stace? Please tell me you've shown this to someone?"
Stacy winced inwardly and turned from the mirror. Her twin sister stood in the bedroom doorway wearing a low-cut, skintight red catsuit, lace-up red leather boots, and an anxious expression. She held a devil-horn headband in one hand and a nondescript piece of notebook paper in the other.
Angel or not, Stacy didn't need divine omniscience to know how Kylie had found the latest letter from her Worst Nightmare. Her assistant, Mandy, must have left it on the desk in the guest room/office where Kylie had gotten dressed for tonight's party. What Ky didn't know, thank God, was that Stacy had received a dozen others along the same theme, though progressively more threatening. All were presumably from the same not-so-big fan who always signed off as "Your Worst Nightmare."
"It's nothing, Ky, just the price of starring in a hit TV show. Along with all the fan mail, I have to expect a few nasty-grams." She turned back to the mirror and forced an unconcerned shrug — she was an actress, for Christ's sake, and a decent one for a girl whose only prior Hollywood credits consisted of stripping at Deuces. An eyeliner sat on the vanity top. She grabbed it and leaned toward the mirror. Distract and divert. "The she-devil look totally works for you, by the way. Aren't you glad you let me pick our costumes?" She drew a smoky line across her upper eyelid. "No way would Trevor be content to sit home tonight and skip Deuces' Halloween Hedonism party if he could see you now."
There. That ought to do the trick. The mere mention of hot, handsome, and adorably whipped Trevor McCade typically sent Kylie into an excited monologue about the latest development in Big-White-Weddingville. Too bad the mere mention of Trevor made her think of Ian —
Kylie ignored her diversion tactics. "This isn't a nasty-gram."
Stacy silently thanked her sister for unknowingly forcing her thoughts off the dead-end path of Trevor's aggravatingly arrogant partner, and onto the comparatively safer path of her mail-stalker.
"Well, it sure as hell isn't a love note. Are you going to wear your hair down?"
"It's a threat." Her twin frowned at the letter and came into the room.
Epic fail on switching topics, Stacy thought, and applied eyeliner to her lower lash line with an expert hand.
Kylie stopped beside Stacy's chair and pinned troubled blue eyes on her sister. "Whoever this is, this so-called 'Worst Nightmare,' he's collected information about you. He knows where you're from. He knows you used to dance at Deuces, and he knows how to get a letter to you. He could be someone with access. He could be dangerous."
Stacy focused on her reflection in the mirror and lined her other eye. "Lots of people know I used to work at Deuces, including the producers and my agent. That fascinating fact isn't exactly classified information. And contrary to what this guy seems to think, breaking the news wouldn't get me fired. My publicist already has a plan in place. On top of that, thousands of people know where I'm from and how to send me a letter. It's right there on my website, and on the show's fan site, for that matter." No need to mention that the letters had come to her house, and not to her agent. That little detail would only worry her sister, and Kylie was a first-class worrier.
As the mature, responsible twin, Kylie tended to take everything a bit more seriously. As the wild, carefree twin, Stacy prided herself on never letting worry stand in the way of a good time. Unfortunately, she hadn't felt particularly wild or carefree lately. More like tired, depressed, and — God, how pathetic was she? — lonely. That's where working fifteen-hour days and ending a long-term relationship she never should have started in the first place landed a girl. She deliberately rolled her shoulders, easing the tension that wanted to settle at the base of her neck, and silently vowed to reconnect with the old Stacy tonight — the fun, unpredictable, live-for-the-moment Stacy.
Shit. So much for my Academy Award. She mustered up her trademark don't-eff-with-me smile. "No need. I know exactly how I want to handle this, and my publicist cleared the plan with my agent and the show's producers. Several reporters will be in front of Deuces tonight. I'll stop to chat with them on the way into the party, and mention how I got my start in Hollywood dancing at Deuces. Dropping the news myself will take the wind right out of this guy's ratty little sails. Without the big threat to lord over me, he'll crawl back into whatever sick, sad cave he crawled out of ..."
She trailed off and straightened when she noticed Mandy hovering at the bedroom door. How long had she been there? Her quiet, unassuming assistant personified detail-oriented efficiency, but her dull brown hair, drab clothes, and aversion to makeup made her easy to overlook. Pretty enough, Stacy always found herself thinking, but in dire need of a makeover. One of these days ... "Yes, Mandy?"
"I just wanted to let you know the limo is waiting out front."
Her usual shy smile was missing tonight. Then again, it was Friday — and Halloween. Mandy might have some plans of her own she wanted to get to, but was too timid to speak up and say so. Stacy had no problem cutting her loose a little early.
"Thanks. If you're done for the day, go ahead and get your Halloween started. Just do me a favor and let the driver know we'll be down on your way out."
"Okay, but first, I've got a few things that need your signature." She held up a stack of paper.
Oh yeah, signatures. Her life was full of stuff to sign these days. Contracts, correspondence ... paychecks. "Want to come in the limo with us? I'll sign everything on the way to Deuces, and then the driver can drop you wherever you want to go afterward."
Ah, there came the shy smile. And a blush. Mandy mumbled, "That'd be awesome. I'll get my stuff and meet you down there." She hurried away like Cinderella late to the ball.
"Oh, my! Did you get a load of those beet-red cheeks? Bet she's got a hot date tonight."
"Don't try to change the subject."
Stacy rolled her eyes. Kylie could be like a dog after a bone sometimes. "We've exhausted the subject. I told you, I've got this guy handled. After tonight, he'll go away."
"Or he'll get really mad, and escalate from writing letters to ... God only knows. You should show this to Ian first, and see how he thinks you should proceed."
Her idiotic heart stalled at the mention of his name. She put the eyeliner down, picked up her powder brush, and started dusting her face with more energy and attention than the chore really required. "We broke up six weeks ago. Why would I speak to him about anything?"
Kylie just looked at her for a long minute, and Stacy fought the urge to fidget in her four-inch, crystal-studded Louboutins. Finally, Kylie tossed the letter onto the vanity and said softly, "How about, because he's a trained detective, and he cares about you as much as I do?"
Frustration got the better of her. She balled up the stupid letter and threw it in the wastebasket under her vanity. "He's a homicide detective, Ky, not a mail investigator. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not dead." Yes, she sounded bitchy, but talking about the man she'd been trying unsuccessfully to banish from her brain for weeks didn't put her in a warm, fuzzy mood. Then another thought struck and her mood sank to a subbasement of foul. She pointed at Kylie.
"And don't you dare tell Trevor about the letter!" It didn't take a genius to see where that particular game of telephone ended.
"Too late." Her sister shrugged, not the least bit repentant. "I called him as soon as I saw it."
"Fabulous. Now call him back and tell him to forget about the damn letter. I've got the situation handled. There's no need for him to give it another thought."
Her sister turned and strolled toward the door. "Tell him yourself. He's meeting us at the party."
Stacy grabbed her feather-covered white wings and followed hot on her heels. She cut Kylie off at the head of the stairs. "But he's not bringing Ian, right?"
Kylie shrugged. "No clue. Trevor didn't say. For all I know, Ian has plans tonight."
Plans like a date? A vision of him smiling across a candlelit table at some faceless bimbo sent a nauseating blend of pain and jealously through her. Stop it. Shake that shit off, right now. You don't know what he's doing tonight, and you don't care.
She followed Kylie downstairs and out the door, locking it behind her. What she did know for damn sure was that she didn't want to see him. Perfect. Now she'd be all distracted until she knew whether he was at the party. She muttered "Thanks" to the driver holding the of the limo door open and ducked inside.
Mandy sat on one side, with her big canvas tote bag at her feet, diligently flagging signature lines. "These are almost ready to go."
"Awesome," Stacy replied, and scooted over to give Kylie room to get in. The driver managed to peel his eyes off Kylie's spandex-covered backside long enough to nod and shut the door. Determined to change the subject, Stacy put her wings down on the seat beside her, leaned back, and smiled at her sister. "Did you see the way the driver looked at us? I think he actually drooled."
"He drooled at you. He also totally checked out your butt when you got in the car."
"You both look really pretty," Mandy said.
"Thank you," Kylie shot Mandy a smile and then returned her attention to Stacy. "Don't bend over too far in that outfit, or you're liable to moon the entire party."
She grinned and smoothed a hand over her costume. The flimsy thing looked like a strong breeze would blow it right off. "Compared to some of the getups you'll see tonight, I'm positively dowdy."
"Oh, please. You've never been dowdy a day in your life. Not even when you were stuck in a big old plaster cast from toes to knee."
Thinking back to that period, almost a year ago now, made her remember the first time she'd met Ian. He'd shown up at the dumpy apartment she'd shared with Kylie, and she'd experienced an immediate flare of attraction as she'd stared into the deepest, greenest, most deceptively easygoing eyes she'd seen in her life. She hadn't made him as a cop until he'd flashed his badge and hustled her down to the police station to answer questions about two murdered Deuces clients. That he'd fooled her was odd because she'd had enough experience with Two Trout's finest during her formative years she could usually spot a cop as easily as she could spot a Hollywood boob job. But despite her instincts, all she'd seen was thick, sun-streaked hair, a determined, slightly raspy jaw, and an array of lean, hard muscles that gave her an instant urge to climb him like a rock wall, regardless of her broken leg.
Answering their questions had taken forever and left her a sweaty, shaking mess, but miraculously, they'd believed her when she'd insisted she didn't know anything about the murders. Ian had driven her home. Something about his self-assured smile and unshakable calm made her want to fuck with him ... or just fuck him, but instead he'd done both to her. Before she'd known quite what hit her, she'd been flat on her back, with her broken leg draped over his shoulder, screaming like a porn star as he'd driven her right out of her freaking mind with nothing but his mouth.
She'd tried to even the score as soon as she could see straight again, but he'd brushed her off and told her "some other time." Offended and, truth be told, a little humiliated at how completely she'd lost control of herself in his arms, she'd given him her best Queen B look, told him there would be no "other time," and kicked him out. The cocky bastard had stood in her doorway, smiling his stone-sexy smile, and assured her with complete and utter confidence there would be plenty more times, starting as soon as she acknowledged they were going to share more than just body fluids. Then he'd walked out, without a backward glance.
Naturally, he'd been right. He'd infected her mind like a virus, until he was all she could think about. She'd lain in her bed night after night, all needy and aching, remembering the way he'd tongue-whipped her into a frenzy. How careful he'd been with her broken leg. How thrillingly rough and insatiable he'd been with the rest of her. When she couldn't take it anymore, she'd broken her own ironclad rule and called him, and they'd dated for almost a year. The best year of your life, a small, unhappy voice at the back of her mind insisted.
"Thank God I'm out of it now," she whispered, thinking Kylie would assume she meant the cast.
"You should call him," her sister said, not fooled in the least. "You're miserable — don't deny it, I know you too well. He's miserable too, in case you wondered. I know you got spooked when he asked you to move in, but there's a lot of safe ground between living together and breaking up. I think you should talk, now that you've both had some time to calm down and consider things."
Safe ground? What a joke. Because of her, and choices she'd made before she ever met Ian, there was no safe ground for them. So for once in her life she'd done the noble thing. The selfless thing. The most painful thing imaginable. She'd set him free before she ruined his life by dragging him and the family he loved through a humiliating public airing of her not-so-upstanding past. Miserable or not, he must have realized he'd dodged a bullet when she'd broken things off, because he'd done nothing to try to change her mind, and Ian could be relentless when he wanted something.
"I adore you, Ky. I really do, but you've developed one tiny, annoying habit since entering the disgustingly sweet state of bliss reserved for brides-to-be."
Kylie poked her in the leg with the plastic pitchfork she carried. "You don't say?"
"Ow." She shoved the fork away. "I do. You're happy, and, naturally, you want everyone around you to experience the same happiness. What you have to understand is that right now I'm not at a place in my life where a long-term commitment works for me. My career is finally taking off. I need to stay focused if I want to keep the momentum going. I can't afford the distraction of a relationship."
"That makes no sense. You two have been joined at the hip since you landed the series, and your career has never been more on-track. Why do you suddenly think the relationship presents some dangerous distraction?"
"Because ..." Dang it, she'd thought the whole "can't afford any distractions" excuse sounded mature and logical. She huffed out a breath and scrambled for a better explanation. Something besides, Because he deserves better than an ex-juvenile delinquent, and an ex-stripper with a bad reputation. Because even if he thinks he can handle the fallout when all my shit goes public, how will he feel when his mom can't go to the market or church without people whispering about how her son's involved with the crazy actress whose disreputable past has been splashed all over the tabloids?
Growing up as the bad seed of Two Trout, she knew what it felt like to be the object of whispers and malicious looks. Her takeaway from the whole god-awful place had been a tough skin and a general disregard for what other people thought of her, but she wouldn't wish the experience on anyone. She sure as hell wouldn't wish to inflict that kind of treatment on people who had been nothing but nice to her.
Excerpted from "Wicked Games"
Copyright © 2013 Samanthe Beck.
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Just wish it was longer!!
Reviewed for Read Your Writes Book Reviews by Kim First of all, Wicked Games is a standalone but it contains some spoilers relating to the first book, Lover Undercover. For that reason, I strongly recommend you read Lover Undercover first. Stacy Roberts is finally able to tell all the naysayers in her small hometown of Two Trout, Tennessee that she has finally made something of herself. She is the star of a new hit tv show and everyone is in love with her. Everyone includes her hot Detective boyfriend Ian Ford and his family. When Ian asks Stacy to take their relationship to another level, she starts to think that Ian is only with her for the short term. She breaks up with him, but only leaves them both miserable. When Stacy receives threats from “Your Worst Nightmare”, Ian returns to her life to keep her safe. Stacy wants to return to her wild and carefree life before Ian. She’s planning on using the Deuces’ Gentlemen’s Club Halloween party to hook up with a random stranger. Stacy’s little angel costume is totally at odds with who she is and what she’s planning on doing. Stacy’s hook up with “The Cat Burglar” aka Ian is hotter and more amazing than she even thought possible. But when “Your Worst Nightmare” shows up, Stacy’s and Ian’s hook up could be their last. I LOVE Stacy and Ian like crazy. The banter between them is wonderful. Not only are they both fun characters, but the sex between them is crazy hot. Stacy is insecure but strong in her own right. She has a mouth on her. Surprisingly, even with the possibility of death, she doesn’t back down. Ian is perfect for her because he uses his psychology degree to figure her out and understand what she needs, when she needs it, whether she says anything or not. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Hopefully, all the main characters from this book and Lover Undercover will make appearances. Source: Publisher