THE RULE Book #3: THE CRIME

An adventurous writer on a spur-of-the-moment vacation. A wealthy entrepreneur with a dark secret.

 

On the first night of Maddie Burns’ vacation, she meets fellow New Yorker Jack Stevens. The chemistry is instant and overwhelming. Jack doesn’t do relationships, but Maddie is different. He wants her for his own—and not just on vacation.

 

Maddie, fresh out of a six-year relationship, needs to figure out who she is. But she can’t deny the way her body responds to Jack’s presence. She wants him. She needs him.

 

Except Jack and Maddie soon discover they share more in common than friends. Turns out, their pasts connect them to the same horrific crime. If they don’t fight the fallout, they’ll lose their safety, freedom, and each other.

 

THE CRIME is the third installment of the All In series. At approximately 75,000 words, this sizzling novel features a love-at-first sight romance and a guaranteed HEA. It can be read as a stand alone or after books 1 and 2 of the All In Series.

 

Excerpt

 

 

The waiter came over and put a bucket with ice next to the table, which snapped me out of my thoughts. I shot him a confused glance.

He proceeded to open a bottle of Cristal Champagne. He filled a glass then handed it to me.

“I didn’t order this.”

“Madam, Jack Stevens ordered this for you and would like to know if he could join you?”

“Jack Stevens?”

The waiter nodded toward the bar. The jolt once again shot through me as our eyes met. My heart rate skyrocketed up again as I tried to comprehend the situation.

Jack lifted his eyebrows at me, as if in question about whether he should come over. My brain reminded me that I had sworn off men and that I needed to be by myself and figure out who I was first…but my body betrayed me.

I managed to point to the chair opposite mine.

Crap. What am I doing? My insides started quivering. Where could this possibly lead? I’m several states from home and in a resort hotel bar.

The waiter smiled and filled another champagne glass before he set it down across from me and left. I had little time to compose myself before Jack arrived.

“Jack Stevens.” He held out his hand.

“Maddie Burns.” I grabbed his hand and shook it.

“I hoped you weren’t here with anyone.” He sat across from me, dimples popping out as he grinned, and his eyes shined from the flicker of the candles.

I blushed, not sure what to say, and finally grabbed my glass and held it up. “Cheers then, I guess.”

He clinked my glass and took a sip. “Maddie,” He enunciated my name in a sentence, and let it hang in the air. “Are you here for business or pleasure?”

“Pleasure,” I replied, a little too quickly, then blushed again at the thought of pleasure with him.

His smile deepened. “Pleasure is good.”

My flush swept across my cheeks and heated up so much I wanted to go hide.

This was so out of character for me. I didn’t go to bars alone. I didn’t get picked up by men who could be cover models and oozed power and confidence. I wasn’t sure how to play this cool.

The thought of pleasure with him made my insides pulse.

I continued to sip my champagne. Somehow I managed to get out, “And what are you here for, Jack Stevens?”

He laughed a bit. “Business…and maybe some pleasure.”

My face was officially in flames as images of our naked bodies filled my mind. I tried to concentrate on breathing calmly. As I sipped my champagne, I realized that I was halfway through my glass.

Setting my glass on the table, I asked, “What do you do…for business.”

“I guess you could call me an entrepreneur. I’m in town assessing a few businesses to buy. What about you, Maddie? Where are you from?”

I sized him up, wanting to know everything about him. He felt mysterious, and I was drawn to him, almost like a magnetic pull I couldn’t control. My eyes wouldn’t leave his. “From California, but I live in New York City now.”

I didn’t think his smile could get any bigger, but it did. “Well I guess we both have that in common. What part of the city?”

My stomach did a happy flip. He lives in New York City, too?

“Right now I’m in the Meatpacking District. I’ll be moving…just not sure where yet.” I regretted the words that came out of my mouth the minute they left.

“Oh?” His brows lifted in question.

The last thing I wanted to do was talk about my breakup. I quickly decided on a different route: “Roommate issues.”

“Boyfriend or friend?” He drilled me. “And I’m hoping if it’s a boyfriend that it’s an ex…no offense.”

“Ex and no offense taken.”

He sat back in his chair, cool and in control, and watched me with the same intensity and huge grin.

“What?” I shifted in my chair.

“Dumb guy to let you go,” he stated matter-of-factly.

I rolled my eyes.

“Don’t roll your eyes at me,” he flirtatiously teased. Then, he leaned in, with a serious expression, and lowered his voice. “Really dumb guy.”

Heat flew into my face. I wasn’t sure how to respond, but I didn’t really have time. There was massive commotion from the front of the bar and it made us both turn.

The entrance of the bar started to flood with people. They sounded hostile and I looked back at Jack in question.

His eyebrows drawn together, he jumped up. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

He swiftly walked to the bar and talked to the bartender. The noise grew louder and the people’s voices were angrier. Within two minutes, Jack was back at the table.

“Maddie, what wing is your room in?”

“East, why?” A bad feeling flowed through me.

“They put the East wing on lock down. The smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have malfunctioned and everyone is being evacuated from the entire wing. The hotel is sold out. They have nowhere to go. Grab your stuff.” He pointed to my laptop and bag.

I didn’t move and tried to process what was happening.

“Maddie, we don’t have a lot of time. Come on. That crowd is pissed off, more people are coming in. This isn’t going to be a safe place to hang out. Let’s go,” he instructed.

“But where…” My head snapped as I realized the crowd had gotten larger and angrier. They pushed past the hostess and the bar became standing room only. Glass shattered and people started to push and shout.

Jack grabbed my laptop and shoved it in my bag. He pulled me up. “Come on, Maddie.”

Swiftly, he drew me into him, planted his arm firmly around my waist, and escorted me through the bar, as we stayed close against the wall. We moved through the lobby, which was louder than the bar. People were yelling at the staff, and security were trying to calm them down. Jack pulled me closer and into a crowded elevator for the west wing. He pushed his card in and hit the penthouse button.

It dawned on me that he was taking me to his suite. I nervously glanced up at him. He brought his lips to my ear and whispered, “Don’t worry. It’s okay.”

I wasn’t sure what to do. The logical part of my brain told me to get out of the elevator, but I wasn’t sure where I would go. The emotional part of me wanted to sink further into Jack’s muscular, warm body.

People in the elevator discussed the chaos in the lobby. I stood quietly, and wracked my mind about what to do. Jack kept his arm tight around my waist, even in the safety of the elevator.

I sank into his chest and inhaled his sexy scent, completely paralyzed except for my racing heart.

People left, one by one. There slowly became room to spread out, but Jack and I both didn’t move. Finally, there were only the two of us in the elevator, and we waited for the final stop.

I fixated on my fidgeting hands. “Jack, I…” What the heck was I trying to say?

His thumb stroked my waist. “Don’t worry, Maddie. It’s only a safe place to go. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, I promise.”

I inhaled slowly and was pretty sure I knew what the deeper connotations of that meant. But, I felt completely safe and secure with Jack. I only just met him, but I didn’t want to be anywhere but with him.

Lewd thoughts raced through my mind, along with how I didn’t know this guy, and that I was taking time off from guys right now. I tried to push the thoughts away, but my mind started spinning.

The elevator stopped and opened into the penthouse hallway. We slowly stepped out of the elevator. Jack held the door open for me.

I walked in and did a double take. The penthouse was huge. The skyline twinkled and there had been turn-down service already. Slow, sexy music played, and the lights were soft and dim.

Jack turned toward me, then held my face in his hands; his thumbs caressed my cheeks. “Make yourself at home. You can stay as long as needed. There’s several bedrooms. Don’t stress. I promise I’ll be a gentleman.” His eyes were worried, and I realized that he understood my thoughts. Well, not all of my thoughts…

But what if I don’t want you to be a gentleman?

 

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