Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Seduction Game out on Oct. 20!

I’m just popping in with a quick and dirty update.

I have a release date for Seduction Game (I-Team #7). The ebook version will be out on Oct. 20. That’s only four and a half months away. (This is an update with the correct date. I initially got the wrong one from NY.)

My editor loved the story. She made no changes it, but sent it straight off to copy editing. Berkley is releasing the ebook version separately so my readers won’t have to wait so long.

The print edition won’t be out until June 2016 unless a slot opens up earlier, in which case it could be released earlier. I don’t know when the audiobook will be released. I hope to have that information for you soon.

I also have the back cover copy for the book. I thought you might want to see it. How about a little tease?

CIA Officer Nick Andris wants revenge. His last mission failed after a Georgian arms smuggler killed his lover. He’s been tailing a woman for three weeks hoping she will lead him to his target. But there’s a problem with the intel. Holly Elise Bradshaw is nothing more than an entertainment writer with a love for sex and designer clothes. Clearly someone at Langley made a mistake . . .

When Holly finds herself in trouble, the only weapons at her disposal are her brains and her body. But they won’t be enough to handle the man who’s following her. He’s going to turn her world upside-down.

Oh, yes, he is. And, believe me, she returns the favor as only Holly can.

Mark your calendars. Oct. 20 is going to be a very special day for me. It marks my return from a place I never wanted to go. I can’t wait to share this story with you!

Also, watch for a new I-Team After Hours novella on June 23. I’m working on it right now. The hero of the story is Jack West, widower, rancher and former Army Ranger. You met him in Skin Deep and saw a little of him in Striking Distance. He owns the Cimarron Ranch in the mountains west of Denver and is Nate West’s father. He gets a second chance at love when Janet Killeen, the FBI agent he threw off his land in Striking Distance and who was badly wounded later in that story, ends up in a ditch near the ranch during a blizzard.

I don’t have a title yet, but I will soon. This story marks the first time I’ve written about an older couple. Janet is 45, and Jack is 63 (but a fully functional 63). All of my heroes and heroines have been in their late 20s or 30s. I don’t believe romance ends at 40 or 50 or even 60 or 70. I know a lot of romance readers feel that way, too. And Jack is one of a kind—gruff, physically fit, a cowboy with a romantic streak.

Stay tuned for excerpts and more news!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


© Mjth |

I don’t have a cover. I don’t have an official title, though I’m willing to mud wrestle my publisher to keep this one. I don’t even have a publication date.

But what I do have is a completed manuscript for Holly and Nick’s story. I sent it to my publisher on Sunday night and am very happy with how the story turned out.


© Atustudio |

What do I love about this story? There are so many things!

It’s sexy. It has to be sexy, right? It is Horny Holly’s story, after all. In Nick Andris, she finds a man who matches her libido, but has a very different view of love and sex.

It’s lighter than most of the other I-Team novels. After the past year, I needed some humor and fun in my life, and Holly and Nick brought that, making me laugh almost every day.

It’s poignant. Holly and Nick have had their share of personal tragedies, and with each other they find their way forward to a love they never thought they could have.

It’s exciting. A CIA officer. Terrorists. Holly and Nick...

It has a tear-jerker ending and epilogue. Well, I wrote it, right? And I love tears at the end of a story. Not giving anything away here.

As soon as I have the publication date, I will announce it. We’ll have a big cover reveal, too.

For now, I’m taking a week to clean my house and take care of other things that were neglected during the months that I was writing this story.

Next week, I’ll be starting an I-Team After Hours novella that will be released prior to Seduction Game. It will tell the story of Jack West, the decorated former Army Ranger and father of Nate West, the hero of Skin Deep. Jack owns the Cimarron Ranch, where he runs cattle and breeds horses. A widower, he has put his heart into the ranch and into Nate and his family. The last thing he expects is to fall in love again. But that’s what happens after he finds former FBI agent Janet Killeen off the road near his property in the middle of a Rocky Mountain blizzard.

Jack and Janet have met before. The last time Janet saw him, he was about to kick her off his property. (That scene is in Striking Distance.) Recovering from a gunshot wound she sustained while on a protection detail for journalist Laura Nilsson, Janet has no patience for Jack. But she also doesn’t want to freeze to death in her car.

The chance meeting is a new beginning for them both. For Jack, it’s a second chance at true love. For Janet, it’s the beginning of a new life.

I hope to have Jack and Janet’s story to you by mid-June. It’s my way of giving you some I-Team to chew on before Holly and Nick’s store comes out. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve had a book out. Stay tuned for more information!

When the novella is done, I will be throwing myself into a new contemporary romance series set in the mountains involving members of a mountain rescue team — men and women who are rock climbers, mountaineers, paramedics, wildland fire fighters, and pilots who save lives by rescuing people from life-threatening situations in the mountains or battling the dangers of the mountains. Here are some events from real life that have involved mountain rescue teams: avalanche rescue, people falling while climbing, lost hikers, people who break bones while hiking, people falling down mine shafts, dumb frat boys dragging a keg to the top of one of the Flatirons and then being too drunk to get down (this falls into my favorite category — “Stuck on a rock”); heart attacks or sudden illness on remote mountain trails; and so on.

My own life was saved by a mountain ranger in 1994 after I fell 40 feet climbing. Because of my experience and the fact that I was raised in a mountain climbing family, this is going to be a fun series for me to write. It won’t be romantic suspense, but there will be plenty of excitement and perhaps even some crossover with the I-Team series in the form of Gabe Rossiter and the West family from the Cimarron Ranch. It’s a Colorado mountain series written by someone who grew up in the Colorado mountains.

I hope you’re as excited as I am for all of this!

Thanks for your continued support. I saw a plastic surgeon yesterday and am bolstered by what he said. We’re planning to start the series of surgeries for my reconstruction in September.

Life is slowly returning to normal. After facing cancer, what could be more wonderful than that?

If you’ve read this far, it’s time for an EXCERT! This is from Chapter 10 of Seduction Game.

Holly and Nick enjoy supper outside on her back deck on a summer evening...

“I have a surprise for you.” She scooted her chair away from the table, lifted her dress high up her thighs to reveal the garters, and then did The Leg Cross.

He gave a long, slow exhale, his brow furrowing when he saw that she wasn’t wearing panties. “Please tell me that’s dessert.”

“You’re still hungry?” She stood, picked up her wine glass, and walked slowly toward the door, leaving the plates and silverware for later.

A strong arm shot out, caught her around the waist and drew her back. “Where do you think you’re going?”

She lowered her voice. “Somewhere the neighbors and CIS guys won’t see us.”

He took the wine glass from her hand and set it on the table. “I am the neighbors. Fuck the CIS guys.”

He drew her into his lap so that they sat face to face, her legs straddling him, then drew down his zipper and freed his erect cock from his boxers. “I want you now.”

A shiver ran through her.

“But people—”

“People will be jealous.” He grinned. “Just try not to give us away.”

He reached down with one hand to tease her inner thighs with light brushes of his finger tips that made her skin tingle.

She felt herself grow wet, already wanting him inside her. She took his cock in hand and began to stroke him, felt his hips jerk, heard his breath catch.

But his gaze never wavered.

He caught her clit between his fingers, gave it a little tug, then explored her fully, the tip of one finger making delicious circles over the opening to her vagina before sliding inside her.

“See, that right there is what’s going to give us away, honey. Don’t let your head fall back all sexy like that. Keep your eyes open. Look at me. We’re just having a conversation here.”

And what a conversation.

His fingers caressed her deep inside, taking their time, asking her if she wanted more. Her body answered yes.

He withdrew his fingers and began to tease her clit with his thumb, asking it to join in the game. It swelled beneath his touch—another yes.

Oh, God, she was melting, coming to pieces in his lap, the gliding pressure of his thumb making the ache inside her worse.

He reached into his pocket with his free hand, drew out a condom and handed it to her. She opened it, rolled it over his erection, while his hands reached beneath her dress to grasp her buttocks. When the condom was in place, he shifted in his seat, took his cock in hand, and guided himself inside her.

She couldn’t help but moan, her eyes drifting shut.

He felt so good, as he thrust into her from below, stretching her, filling her, the slick friction already carrying her home.

“Keep it together, honey.”

She opened her eyes, smiled at him.

Two could so play at this game...

 (c) Copyright 2015 Pamela Clare

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

One year later

One year ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I’d felt a lump several months earlier and had gone to my doctor for no fewer than three breast exams, only to be told that the lump felt like normal fibro-cystic tissue to her. I felt safe. I shouldn't have.

When I got the call that they had some concerns about my annual mammogram, I got a knot in my stomach that wouldn't go away. It has never gone away.

Everyone tried to be encouraging. I tried to encourage myself. It’s probably nothing, we all said.

On April 21, I went in for a series of diagnostic mammograms. The radiologist showed me an outline of several white dots in the shape of a C. They could be calcifications, he said, but they could also be cancer. Several more films were taken, and then I was led to another room for an ultrasound with a glum-faced woman who could tell me nothing.

The radiologist walked in, pushed the curtain aside and said, “It looks like you have a small, early breast cancer."

And my life changed.

~ ~ ~ 

As it turned out, I had stage 1C estrogen positive/progesterone positive breast cancer that was Herc2 negative. But I didn’t get to learn the nature of what I was facing until 45 days after my diagnosis, when I finally had surgery.

 The wait was agonizing and was made more agonizing by idiots. The “patient coordinator,” an RN, told me she thought I was probably looking at Stage 2. (Apparently, she has a crystal ball.) I looked at survival rates and prayed that it wouldn't be worse than that. I tried to remind myself that the only person who’d seen the tumor was the radiologist, and he’d actually used the term Stage 1 during our conversation.

I opted to have a bilateral mastectomy despite the huge loss it would cause to my sexual self and my sense of femininity because I never, ever wanted to go through the whole mammogram routine again. I never wanted to wait and wonder. I never wanted to give this disease another chance at me.

The mastectomy revealed that there was a 1mm micro-metastases in a single lymph node. In the past, they didn't used to catch these. Now they do. What micro-metastases mean medically, no one knows. Now the question became chemo or no chemo.

It was an agonizing question, one that hung largely on the outcome of the OncoDX score of my tumor. This genetic test has become a guiding tool for oncologists. It is helpful in determining a patient's risk for recurrence. Patients with tumors with a score under 19 statistically speaking don't get much benefit from chemotherapy and tend to do just as well with Tamoxifen only. My OncoDX was 12.

But there was that micro-met to consider. And no one on my medical team knew what to say about that.

Ultimately, it was my decision. It sucked that there really was so little guidance. There simply hasn't been enough research on micro-mets to determine what they mean. They are significantly different from full-on macro-metastases. That much everyone knows. But what it means in terms of recurrence risk... There just isn't enough research.

I opted for chemo and radiation, feeling that I had this one chance to eradicate this illness and move forward with my life cancer free.

Chemo was tough. Losing my hair was even more painful than losing my breasts.

Radiation was less uncomfortable than chemo, at least until the end, but it was intensely dehumanizing, an experience made worse by an asshat of a radiologist who has apparently used up his lifetime allotment of medical compassion.

Treatment made it impossible to write. I watched a lot of Netflix and slept. I spent most of 2014 simply trying to get through cancer treatment.

My last day of radiation was Dec. 9. I ended up with painful blisters and needed morphine to control the pain.

My body is still healing.

~ ~ ~ 

So how did my life change?

It changed entirely for the worse. Unlike the occasional happy celebrity who goes on TV to talk about how cancer was a hidden blessing, I’m here to say it sucked. 

I used to have breasts. Now I have enormous scars. The scars tingle and hurt sometimes — phantom nerve pain from what is truly an amputation. I've permanently lost all sexual sensitivity together with the beauty of breasts. I might be able to get some kind of breast-shaped blobs through fat transplants and such sometime later this year, but they won't be breasts. They will have little to no feeling, and what feeling they do have won't be sexual —  that super sexy tug deep in the belly that sensitive nipples can give a woman.

Now I get to write about it, but I will never, ever feel it again.

I have short hair. Most people blow this off. But I'd had long hair most of my adult life and do not care for short hair at all. To lose my breasts and my hair — it made me feel like a thing, my femininity completely stripped away.

I grieve still. I grieve for the permanent loss of my breasts and that precious element of my sexuality. I grieve for the very long hair that will take years to regrow. I grieve for the more carefree version of myself, the one who hadn’t yet heard the words, “It looks like you have breast cancer.” I grieve for he version of myself that could think about the future without wondering, “Will I make it that long?"

My writing career was put on hold at a time when I suddenly needed money more than ever. Despite having good health insurance, I spent more than $10,000 out of pocket on treatment last year. So, hey, it helped me get rid of some extra cash, too. Now, I'm playing catchup with my own career.

The life I have now seems completely different than the one that I lived before April 21, 2014. I am different. I won’t ever be the same. My life will never be the same.

And yet I am deeply grateful to be alive. But more on that in a minute. I'm getting ahead of myself.

~ ~ ~

I think of 2014 as a year of shit. I would never want to relive it. I'm glad it’s over.

During treatment, I wrestled with a range of emotions from rage to fear to overwhelming sadness. Of course, the world has difficulty with honest feelings about anything, especially something as frightening to most people as cancer. A great many people reached out to support me. For that, I will always be grateful.

But there were also people who offered unsolicited advice — people who didn’t have cancer but who felt they ought to tell me how to deal with it. Some thumped bibles in my face. To them I said, no, cancer was not God’s will for me, nor was it part of any divine plan for my life. Others suggested unproven treatments and nutty cures. The most common bit of irritating advice was, “Stay positive.” YOU stay positive when you get cancer. I'll feel what I feel if that’s alright with you.

(Hint: Don't give advice to people who are enduring something you yourself haven’t had to face.)

Allow me to summarize: Fuck, no, cancer was not God’s will for my life. I find that idea extremely offensive and disgusting. It wasn't a blessing, nor is it part of any divine plan. And screw being positive.

When life gets real, people, it is all right to have real feelings.

~ ~ ~

Yes, I am deeply grateful to be alive.

I’m glad the tumor was found during that mammogram. Had I failed to get screened last year, my prognosis this year would be much worse. I have a 90 percent chance of having beat this disease, and I’m grateful for that, as well.

I’m grateful for the help my mother, sister and son Benjamin gave me in dealing with the day-to-day struggles of coping with treatment. They were champions for me.

I'm grateful for my fellow authors, readers, and friends who helped put together the Good Food Fund — thank you Thea Harrison — and those who contributed to the expense of my medical costs.

I am grateful for my medical oncologist and the other medical staff who helped save my life.

I am grateful for the hundreds of cards I received from readers from around the world and the amazing and sweet gifts that so many people sent to try to cheer me and bring me some comfort. I read every single one.

So, yes, amid the grief, I do feel gratitude as well.

~ ~ ~

I came away from the physical misery of treatment and the fear that comes with living with cancer feeling an intense desire to put last year behind me and do the best I could to live a rich and full life.

I'm less grumpy about day-to-day challenges than I was before. A normal, boring day is fine with me. I’ve gained an appreciation for the small moments in life—and an acute awareness that life will end for most of us sooner than we wish it would.

I’m starting an oil painting class next Monday — part of a promise I made to myself.

Most of all, I am writing again. It hasn't all been easy. I cried my eyes out when I came to the first sex scene and wrote about the hero licking and kissing the heroine’s nipples. That has proven to be very, very hard and may eventually mean that I quit writing romantic fiction. (Yes, I'm serious.)

I’m six months out of chemo, and I’ve written most of a novel, lost the chemo pounds, gotten fit enough to walk 3.5 miles an hour (which I haven't been doing daily despite a real need to do so), and am making a point of spending more time with my family, even when I’m in the middle of a novel.

I hope to get reconstruction sometime this year. There’s an issue of timing and then there’s the expense — an estimated $6,000 with insurance coverage. But, hey, that’s American health care for you.

I am living my life again despite the grief, and that’s the best way I can think of to say “Fuck you!" to cancer. My heart, like my body, will never be whole again. But I am living.

If that’s not the positive, inspiring message you were hoping for, then think of it as a glimpse into how terrible breast cancer really is.

We need a cure.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

UK I-Team giveaway

To celebrate the release of the I-Team series in the UK, I will be giving away three SIGNED sets of the first three I-Team books — Extreme Exposure, Hard Evidence, and Unlawful Contact — to three lucky winners from the UK.

All you have to do to enter is to comment below *with your contact information* and tell me why you’re looking forward to reading the I-Team stories. For an extra chance to win, follow @Pamela_Clare on Twitter and retweet my link to this post with the #UKGiveaway hashtag.

Three winners will be chosen by contest randomizer on Friday, April 3.

The contest is open to UK residents only. That’s nice for a change, isn’t it?

It’s been wonderful to watch readers’ excitement over the stories, and it continues this week. The fourth, fifth and sixth books in the series —Naked Edge, Breaking Point, and Striking Distance — will be out on April 2, with my historicals slated for release in May.

I’ve been working very hard on Nick and Holly’s story — Book 7 in the series — and hope to turn it in to New York by the end of April.

Good luck to you all!

Coming soon:
Kenleigh-Blakewell Family Saga audiobook giveaway
A smexy excerpt from Nick & Holly’s story

Monday, March 23, 2015

First Glimpse at Nick and Holly


I thought it was time to give you a glimpse of Nick and Holly’s book. I’m about halfway done at this point and anticipate turning it in to New York at the end of April.

In my mind, Holly has always looked something like Scarlett Johannson. I promised myself my next hero would look like the amazingly sexy David Gandy. And guess what? They did a super-sexy Dolce & Gabbana shoot together, which I took as a sign. 

If those images don’t work for you, feel free to imagine the blond woman and dark hunk of your choice. What you do in your imagination is none of my business.

The book doesn’t have a fully official title yet, so... Without further ado, I introduce Nick and Holly. 

Holly honestly has no idea what she’s in for, but then again, neither does Nick.

 From Chapter One...

Trust no one.

What the hell did Kramer mean by that?

Nikolai Andris rubbed his closed eyes with the heels of his hands, then looked up at the clock. 

Almost midnight.


This was a waste of time. 

For almost three weeks, he’d been keeping Holly Elise Bradshaw under round-the-clock surveillance. He’d turned her life inside out but had found nothing. He’d tapped both of her phones, sifted through her laptop, searched her condo, memorized the details of her childhood, learned about her friends, pored over her financial records, scrutinized her posts on social media for hints of tradecraft, and tracked every move she’d made via GPS. He’d found nothing remotely suspicious. 

He’d even gone behind Bauer’s back and contacted Rich Lagerman, an old buddy from Delta Force who was now working for the FBI, and asked whether Bradshaw was one of theirs. Every federal agency in the country now had undercover officers, and it wouldn’t be the first time operatives from different agencies had tripped over one another while pursuing the same suspect.

“Nope. Not one of ours,” Rich had said. “But if you need any help with her, maybe some late-night, under-the-covers work, let me know.”


Nick now knew more about this woman than she knew about herself. If Holly Bradshaw was some kind of underworld operative, a foreign agent, a traitor who sold US secrets, then he was Elvis fucking Presley.  

Someone at Langley had screwed up. 

Nick had been recalled from assignment in Tbilisi amid whispers that a handful of officers were missing or dead and that the Agency was conducting an shake-up and internal investigation of its Special Activities Division, or SAD, the top-secret branch of the CIA that had recruited Nick out of Delta Force nine years ago. He’d never been assigned to operate within US borders, so he’d arrived in Langley expecting to find himself in the middle of an inquisition. 

Instead, Bauer had given him a file with the latest intel on Sasha Dudayev, aka Sachino Dudaev, the Georgian arms smuggler who’d killed the only woman Nick had ever loved. 

“He killed an officer and stole a flash drive containing classified information vital to US operations outside the homeland,” Bauer had said. “Keep Bradshaw under surveillance, recover the data, and neutralize them both using any force necessary.”

As a rule, the Agency left affairs within the homeland to the NSA and FBI, but they sometimes broke that rule when it came to high-value international targets and US citizens who’d crossed the line to work with those targets. It was unusual for Nick to run surveillance on a fellow American in her home, but apart from that element of his current mission, Bauer had given him exactly what he’d wanted for two long years now—a chance to make Dudaev pay.

Dudaev had played the Agency and brought the Chechen op down on their heads. Nick had been there that night. He’d watched, wounded and pinned down by AK fire, as the son of a bitch had emptied his Makarov into Dani’s chest, then made off with the cache of arms the Agency had wrested away from Chechen terrorists.  Nick had crawled over to her and held her body afterward, held her until he’d passed out from blood loss. 

His sole task that night had been to protect her, and he’d failed.

But now things were about to come full circle. 

There was only one problem. 

The suits at Langley had clearly made a mistake when they’d fingered Ms. Bradshaw as Dudaev’s contact. Okay, so it was an understandable mistake. The bastard’s last lover had been an Italian journalist who’d acted as his mole and messenger—until he’d had her killed. Analysts must have assumed he’d recruited Ms. Bradshaw when she’d interviewed him about his new art gallery and then begun dating him.

As understandable as the error might be, nothing changed the fact that Nick had now wasted three weeks discovering that Holly Bradshaw was exactly what she seemed to be—an entertainment writer, a smart but shallow blonde, a woman who loved sex, expensive clothes, and good times with her friends. He’d explained all of this to Langley, sharing every bit of intel he’d gathered on her. If Dudaev was about to sell the flash drive, the deal would go down without Bradshaw’s knowledge or participation. 

Bauer had shrugged. “Stick with her. The analysts swear she’s the one.”

Some people just hated to be wrong.

Nick’s time would be better spent trailing Dudaev and hunting down the real contact—or sorting truth from rumor on the internal investigation and the missing and dead officers. 

Trust no one.

Kramer had contacted him this afternoon insisting they speak face to face. He’d told Nick when and where to meet him. Nick hadn’t needed to ask what was on Kramer’s mind. It wasn’t unusual for an officer to be killed in the line of duty, but it was strange that Nick and Kramer had worked with all of them. Then Kramer had ended the call with those three words—and Nick’s imagination had taken over.

“They’re ombré crystal pumps in royal blue with four-inch heels.” 

Nick took another swig of cold coffee. In his earpiece, Bradshaw and her friend Kara McMillan were still talking. 

“I love them,” Bradshaw said, “but my shoe budget is blown for the next ten years.”

Nick doubted that. Bradshaw’s daddy was a retired brigadier general who had served with US Army Intelligence—another reason analysts believed Dudaev had chosen her—and Daddy had created a nice little trust fund for his baby girl. 

“How much do a pair of Christian Louboutins cost?” McMillan asked.

Nick ran through the key facts on her, more to help himself stay awake than because he’d forgotten anything. 

McMillan, Kara. 40. Journalist, author, journalism instructor at Metro State University. Wife of Sheridan, Reece, lieutenant governor of the state of Colorado. No arrests. No suspected criminal associations. Three children. Formerly employed by the Denver Independent on its Investigative Team, aka, the I-Team. Met Bradshaw through work. Close personal friend. 

“Well, it depends on where you buy them, whether they’re on sale, which shoe you choose—that sort of thing.” 

“Holly,” McMillan said in a stern voice. “How much?”

Bradshaw hesitated. “These were just over three thousand.”

Nick had just taken another swig of coffee and nearly choked.

Three thousand dollars? For a fucking pair of shoes?

“Wow!” McMillan laughed. “Reece would divorce me.”

Damn straight!

“Did you get them for your big date with Sasha tomorrow?”

“I needed something to go with my new dress.”

Nick rolled his eyes. The woman’s closet was full of shoes. The last thing she needed was one more pair—especially one that cost three fucking grand.

“I read in the paper that he’s a billionaire—gas and oil money,” McMillan said.

Nick felt his jaw clench.

Dudaev’s fortune had been built on human lives, including Dani’s. Murdering her had been nothing more than a business transaction to him. He could change his name, wear designer suits, and open a dozen art galleries trying to make himself seem respectable, but nothing could wash the blood off his hands. 

“You should see the sapphire necklace he gave me last week. The chain isn’t actually a chain. It’s a strand of diamonds.”

Nick already knew from another conversation—this time with Sophie Alton-Hunter, another friend from the newspaper—that Bradshaw had bought the dress to match the necklace. Now she’d gotten the shoes to go with the dress. And at last Nick understood what a woman like Holly Bradshaw would see in Dudaev. 

Well, greed was blind. 

She had no idea what kind of man he truly was. If she wasn’t careful, he’d strangle her with that necklace.

“Sophie told me. It sounds like he’s serious about you. Do you think this will be it—the big night?”

Nick frowned. 

What did McMillan mean by that?

“I don’t know. I mean, he’s good looking enough.”

“Good looking enough?” McMillan laughed. “He’s a lot better looking than that banker you went out with last year. Where was he from?”

“South Africa.”

“He’s better looking than that Saudi prince, too, whatever his name was. In the news photos, he looks a lot like George Clooney but with a more aristocratic nose and a mustache. Sure, he’s got some gray, but I’ll bet he’s fully functional.”

They were talking about Ms. Bradshaw’s love life.

Nick glanced for a moment at the photos of her he’d pinned to the wall above his desk. He could see why men were eager to sleep with her. She was hot. 

Okay, she was incredibly hot. Platinum blond hair. A delicate heart-shaped face. Big brown eyes. A full mouth, and a body that…

Get your mind off her body.

What good were looks if they got you into trouble? There were men who preyed on beautiful women, and Dudaev was one of them.

“Yeah, but he’s… I don’t know… self-absorbed. He’s probably the kind of man who rams into you for five minutes and then acts like he’s just done you a big favor, the kind who makes you wish you had a magazine to read when you’re in bed with him.”

McMillan was laughing now.

But Bradshaw hadn’t finished. “A lot of guys are like that—oblivious to what women want. ‘Don’t worry about getting me off, babe. I just want to go down on you all night long’—said no man ever.”

Nick shook his head. Is that what she truly expected? 

A dude would have to have a motorized tongue to pull that off.

Did all women talk like this about sex? Nick couldn’t imagine his sister sharing details about her sex life with her friends or using this kind of language. His mother, a devout Georgian Orthodox Christian, would have had a coronary if she’d caught her daughter or even one of her five sons talking like this.

Not that it offended Nick. He found it kind of sexy, actually. But then, given the things he’d seen and the things he’d had to do, a conversation about oral sex was pretty damned tame.

“Not all men are selfish.” 

You tell her, McMillan.

“No, I suppose not. But lots of them are. It makes me want to take out a full-page ad in the paper just to help out womankind. ‘It’s the clit, stupid.’”

Nick let out a laugh—then caught himself.

Keep your shit together, Andris.

# # #

Holly Bradshaw glanced over her shoulder at her living room wall. “Mr. Creeper must be watching something funny on TV. I just heard him laugh. I never hear him.”

“You still haven’t met him?” Kara asked through a yawn.

“He’s lived there for almost a month now and hasn’t once come over to say hello. He stays indoors and keeps the shades drawn. I’ve seen him outside once. He was taking out the trash, but he was wearing a hoodie. I couldn’t see his face.”

Kara’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Maybe he’s a serial killer.”

“You’re not helping.” 

“Who cares about him anyway? If I were you, I’d be so excited about tomorrow night. You lead such a glamorous life. I’m so jealous.”

But Holly knew that wasn’t true. “You and Sophie and the others—you spend every evening with your kids and a man who loves you while I watch TV by myself or go out to the clubs. I think you’re the lucky ones.”

Like the rest of Holly’s friends, Kara was happily married to a man who cherished her. Reece was one of the kindest, most decent, and sexiest men Holly had ever met—which was really strange, given that he was a politician. He’d bent over backward to prove to Kara that he loved her. Now, they had three kids and lived what seemed to Holly to be a perfect life. 

The fact that all of her friends were now married and most had children had changed her life, too. She spent a lot less time out on the town with them and a lot more time alone while they took on new roles and responsibilities. As much as she craved excitement and enjoyed the city’s nightlife, some secret part of her had begun to long for what they had, and that longing seemed to grow sharper all the time. 

But Kara didn’t seem to believe her.  “Are you saying you’d be willing to trade places with me?”
“And sleep with Reece?” Holly stretched out on her sofa and felt herself smile.

“That’s not exactly what I meant.”

But the question, however intended, had Holly’s imagination going.

Reece was sexy with dark blond hair, blue eyes and muscles he hid beneath tailored suits. How fun it would be to peel one of those suits away from his skin. 

Tessa was married to Julian Darcangelo, the city’s top vice cop and a former FBI agent who’d worked deep cover. Tall with shoulder-length dark hair, a ripped body, and a strikingly handsome face, he was sex on a stick—and crazy in love with his wife. 

Then again, Marc Hunter, Sophie’s husband, had served six years in prison and had that badass vibe Holly loved. A former Special Forces sniper, he was also a devoted family man—and sexier than any man had a right to be. 

Gabe Rossiter, Kat James’s husband, had a rock climber’s lean, muscular build and had all but given his life for the woman he loved. Kat was a lucky woman. 

Zach McBride, a former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient, had saved Natalie from being murdered by the leader of a Mexican drug cartel. All lean muscle and confidence, he had the hard look of a man who was used to taking action.

Nate West, Megan’s husband, had been badly burned in combat, his face and much of his body disfigured. The part of him that wasn’t scarred was extremely handsome—and he had a cowboy charm that brought the song “Save a Horse, (Ride a Cowboy)” to Holly’s mind.

Javier Corbray had rescued his wife, Laura Nilsson, from captivity in a terrorist stronghold in Pakistan, sacrificing his career as a SEAL. With a sexy Puerto Rican accent, dreamy, dark eyes and a mouth that—

“Are you fantasizing about my husband?” Kara’s accusing voice jerked Holly out of her reverie.

“No, of course not. Not really. Okay, a little,” Holly confessed. “I was just deciding which one of you I’d most like to trade places with.”

It was just a game. Holly had never so much as flirted with a married man. She didn’t poach on other women’s territory. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t fantasize.

“Holly!” Kara laughed. “I’m sorry I phrased it the way I did. Let me try again.” 

Tessa, Holly decided. 

She’d trade places with Tessa. She’d always had a secret crush on Julian.

But Kara went on. “If you want to meet good men, maybe you should quit going to the clubs. Most of the guys there are just looking for someone to hook up with.” 

It wasn’t the first time Kara had suggested this, but she didn’t understand. 

How could she?

Holly fired back. “You met Reece at a bar.” 

Okay, so it had been a restaurant. Still, Kara had consumed three margaritas, so it might as well have been a bar.

“Only because someone interfered,” Kara replied.

Holly smiled to herself. It had been so easy.

“Where else can a woman meet men? If I don’t go out, I’ll never meet anyone. It’s not like Mr. Right is going to just walk up and knock on my front door.”

“You never know.”  Kara changed the subject. “Hey, did you hear that Tom is converting to Buddhism?” 

Holly sat upright. “Tom? The same Tom Trent I know? The one who spends his day shouting at everyone? He’s converting to Buddhism?”

 “That’s what my mother says.”

Kara’s mother Lily lived with Tom.

“She would know. But Tom—a Buddhist? He and the Dalai Lama have so much in common, like, for example… nothing.”

Tom was the editor-in-chief of the Denver Independent, where his temper was as much of a legend as his brilliance as a journalist. As an entertainment writer, Holly didn’t work directly beneath him like her I-Team friends did. Beth Dailey, the entertainment editor, was her boss. Beth never yelled, never insulted people—and she appreciated Holly’s shoes.

“I think it’s perfect,” Kara said. “If anyone needs to meditate, it’s Tom. Gosh, it’s after midnight. I need to get to bed.”

“Same here.” Kara wasn’t the only one who needed a good sleep. 

The two said good night and ended the call.  

Holly got up from the sofa and went through her nightly routine, undressing, brushing her teeth, and washing and moisturizing her face, a sinking feeling coming over her. Naked, she walked over to her dresser and carefully took her new Louboutins out of their red silk bag, moving them so that the light made the crystals sparkle.

She didn’t want to spend another moment with Sasha Dudayev, but she’d already accepted and had the shoes…

Just one more date and that would be it.

She tucked the shoes carefully back in the bag, turned out her light, and crawled between her soft cotton sheets.

(c) Copyright 2015 Pamela Clare