No Strings Attached
No Strings Attached is the first novel that I published.
I love the book trailer. Check it out here.
Laura Todd attends a conference in Las Vegas and meets Fox Thornton, a consultant to the hotel industry. Far away from her normally quiet life, Laura is swept away by her strong attraction for Fox. They both know the score, and neither expects to see the other again. After their hot weekend, circumstances bring them back together in Miami, where Fox is investigating a suspected embezzlement and Laura is the prime suspect. Can their brief romance rekindle in the real world, where suspicions and misunderstandings lurk behind every corner? Will their no-strings-attached affair evolve into a strong relationship, or is it destined to stay in Vegas?
No Strings Attached is a full-length novel, about 76,000 words, approximately 240 pages.
Just a taste:
Fox Thornton stared at the cards nestled against the green felt. Focus, man, focus. Something had to change. A fun hand of blackjack had turned into a bloodbath. After being in meetings all day, he had planned a quick hand of blackjack, but two hours later, he had lost more than he intended. He blamed his losses on the gorgeous blonde at the end of the table and her sexy silver dress. How could he leave with her if she made no effort to leave?
Her hair reminded him of wheat in summer and it curled around her shoulders with a devil-may-care attitude. Her eyes shone like dark amber whiskey and glowed with an inner fire when she smiled—which was often—and frequently in his direction. She leaned forward and he caught a glimpse of a little dark hollow between her breasts. He stifled a groan.
He shifted position to relieve the pressure caused by a wave of desire. How long had it been since he’d been this hard for a stranger? Not since college ten years ago. As she considered the cards, her tongue peeked between rosy lips. What a turn-on.
Fox looked for any of the managers he knew from the remodel, and saw James, a pit boss who had joined him for drinks one night. He sent him a text and then moved over to the vacant seat beside her.
“The luck’s better over here,” he said with a smile, but then he cut his eyes away, not wanting to appear too eager. She spared him a quick glance before turning back to her cards.
Sitting beside her made things worse. He smelled roses every time she moved, and now he had a full view of her long, tanned legs. One of her legs bounced up and down, betraying her nervousness. He blocked out the image of those legs wrapped around his waist or he would never be able to stand. As soon as James closed the table, he would ask her to dinner.
Her bizarre play was screwing up the natural order of the cards. She laughed when the cards fell her way, and when they didn’t, she seemed stunned, as if she should be able to predict the card order.
If anyone else had been playing that inconsistently, he would have switched tables and cut his losses. Now he was so intrigued he couldn’t walk away without a phone number.
The girl’s strapless dress fit against her like a second skin, and he couldn’t look away. While they waited for the next round of cards, she fidgeted with a silver-threaded scarf. He could imagine that scarf in his hands as he pulled her to him … He had to get control of himself.
When the waitress brought drinks, he took care of the tip, and his blonde beauty flashed him a smile. When she won for the third time in as many hands, he saluted her with a flourish. She repaid him by blowing him a kiss. Now he had her attention.
Laura pretended to study her cards, but instead she peeked through her lashes at the gorgeous man beside her. With everyone else at the table in T-shirts and jeans, he stood out in a well-cut charcoal suit as if he had just come from a board meeting. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the back of his stool, then rolled up his sleeves.
He was Man-of-the-Month material. In fact, she could picture him as Mr. July with his tie loosened and shirt unbuttoned to reveal sculpted abs …
Distracted, she hit when she should have stood and busted at twenty-two.
“You jinxed me!” she accused him with a laugh.
He turned that thousand-watt smile on her when he busted after one hit as well. “No, you took my card. See, if I had that one, I would have had twenty-one.”
“Oh, blame me.” She stacked and re-stacked her chips, then adjusted her scarf. “Any minute you’ll say I’m too distracting.”
He turned and his eyes followed the scarf back to her neck, and down to her waist. As his gaze moved up again, it felt like a caress. She looked up and lost herself in bright blue eyes that reminded her of the ocean in South Beach.
“You don’t know the half of it,” he said in a low tone meant only for her. Amusement lurked just beneath his words.
The old Laura would beat a hasty retreat, but tonight she would follow her instincts and see where they took her. After wasting years on a dead-end relationship, she had vowed to stop drifting through life and to start living. She felt like a femme fatale in her new dress, ready for anything when the silk had slid down her bare skin.
At the moment, however, she was ready for dinner. When her stomach rumbled, Mr. July turned with a grin.
“Hungry?” he asked.
She blushed. “A little. I got here today from Miami and the time difference makes me want to eat everything in sight.”
She had blackjack on the next hand. Had his arm edged closer into her space? While collecting her chips, she leaned into him and spotted a little nick on his chin that she wanted to kiss and make better. Come on, Laura, get it together.
She tapped the table for another card when she shouldn’t have, but won the hand anyway. Before she could bet again, the pit boss closed the table. Everyone grumbled, but Laura didn’t care. She needed to quit anyway.
Laura tipped the dealer and cashed out, but as she stood, the skirt of her dress ripped. She could feel her skirt dangling and sat down quickly, desperate to hide her lacy black thong. She hadn’t even brought her purse, only her phone and room key in a wristlet.
“Are you okay?” she heard Mr. July ask.
“Wardrobe malfunction. I have to go.” She gathered the fabric in her fist, planning to back out of the casino.
“Let me help.” In a flash, he stood up and draped his jacket over her shoulders. It went all the way down to her hips and covered the ripped section. “Better?”
His scent surrounded her. Laura looked up and saw nothing but his blue eyes.
“Thank you. I guess I need to go upstairs.”
“I’ll come with you.” At her blank look, he gestured to the fine Italian suit coat.
“To collect the jacket.”
“Of course,” she said, wishing she hadn’t made such a fool of herself. They started walking together toward the bank of elevators outside the casino. His arm around her shoulders felt like the most natural thing in the world.
“Well, this is awkward,” she said, when they were alone in the elevator.
“Nothing like ripping your dress at the blackjack table to get someone’s attention.” The ripped dress had stolen her confidence, and where she had been an outgoing flirt earlier, she felt herself slipping back into her natural shyness.
“You didn’t have to.”
The elevator stopped on her floor, and Laura led the way to her room. “Didn’t have to what?”
“Rip your dress. You had my attention already.”
She could feel her face heating up at his comment. Maybe there was hope for her yet. She looked up and saw they had reached her room. How had they gotten here so soon? Earlier, when she pulled her suitcase, the hall had felt as long as a football field. She paused outside her door.
“Here we are.” When she opened the door, she backed into her room and handed him his jacket with a straight arm. “Thanks for loaning me your jacket. My name is Laura Todd, by the way. It’s nice to meet you.”
She offered him her hand, and his handshake was warm and firm.
“Fox Thornton. It’s definitely a pleasure.”
“Fox? Is that a nickname?” She expected him to take the jacket and leave, but instead he leaned against the doorjamb.
“Long story. How about I tell you over drinks later?”
“I’d like that. But I’ll be pretty busy with my conference.”
“Let me guess. You’re here for the International Hotel Association Conference.”
“How did you know?”
“Just lucky. It’s the biggest conference here. I’ll look for you at the reception.”
“Until then …” He leaned in and brushed his lips against her cheek.
He left before she could protest the kiss—did she even want to protest the kiss? She blinked to clear her head. Wow. Just wow. Mr. July was a heartthrob. Perhaps this conference would be interesting after all.
She tossed her room key and phone on the dresser and pulled the ruined dress over her head. She remembered when she found it in a consignment store, the fabric so soft it felt positively decadent. She rubbed the torn spot, where the silk near the waist had frayed and separated from the seam. Oh well, she had caught Mr. July’s eye in it. She supposed the fifty dollars had been worth it. She folded it up and placed it in the corner of her suitcase.
At least she had more than doubled her money, not bad for an afternoon. She called her sister Lindsey to share the news.
“I still can’t believe those strategies you gave me worked. I’m sure you would have done better, but at least now you’ll have some spending money for graduate school without taking out more loans.” Lindsey was a mathematical genius, and when Laura told her about the conference trip to Vegas, they had spent weeks talking about odds and strategy.
“Are you having fun?”
“I am. I met a hot guy at the blackjack table, and I may see him for drinks later.”
Lindsey squealed so loud Laura had to pull the phone away from her ear.
“Awesome! You deserve to have some fun.”
Laura disconnected, smiling at her sister’s encouragement. It seemed silly to go to all this trouble to meet someone that she would never see again, but that was part of the excitement. Maybe Lindsey had it right after all, and Laura needed to have some fun.
Laura had let herself become a hermit since Austin had left six months ago to tour with his band full-time. After making excuses for him for years, she finally had to admit that they had more problems than their different schedules. They wanted different things out of life. She could have learned that lesson three years ago and saved herself a lot of heartache. She grinned at the thought of Fox as her rebound man.
After a quick shower to wash the casino smoke from her hair, Laura checked her phone and frowned at the missed call from her boss. What did Vaughn want? When her return call went straight to voice mail, she shrugged and left for the reception. She would have to talk to him later.