Hello! Thank you for having me today and allowing me to introduce Mr. Red to you all 🙂
You know, I’m sure I say the same thing about every book – that I had loads of fun writing it – but I really did have loads of fun writing this story. I started it because I needed a distraction from another project that wasn’t going very well, and before I knew it, Mr. Red and Ally had taken over my life. The story just came pouring out, and ended up being double the length I anticipated. I really just didn’t want to stop writing! Hopefully the fun I had is reflected in the story. Enjoy!
When Ally Mosconi’s father trades her in to his mysterious Mafia boss to pay a debt, Ally knows her life has changed forever. The man she calls Mr. Red is domineering, demanding, and utterly ruthless. She knows she needs to break free – but with her father’s life in the balance, what can she do to challenge Mr. Red’s control? And as she falls deeper under his spell, she begins to question exactly how much she wants to escape.
“Sing me something,” he said. Ordered, really.
Ally floundered, caught off-guard. “Now? No. I can’t. I haven’t…”
“I don’t expect a flawless performance. I just want to hear you sing.” A hint of impatience entered his voice. “In case you had forgotten, we are negotiating. Consider this the first step.” He clicked his fingers at her, the way customers did in the restaurant. It was rude and domineering, and it always made her mad.
And just like she did when it happened at work, Ally fought the anger. As a waitress, she couldn’t lose her temper with the customers no matter how rude they were. As Mr Red’s prisoner, she had to be even more careful, and she already knew he disliked her talking back. While she might forget that when there seemed to be nothing at stake, if he was being honest with her now, there might be something to gain by co-operating. So she swallowed her annoyance with a huge effort.
She stood, nerves jangling. Jesus, what he if thought she was shit? What if she was shit? She hadn’t sang outside of the shower for a long time. She pressed her hand to her stomach, trying to settle the butterflies, and then she closed her eyes and started singing.
She wasn’t sure what was going to come out of her mouth until she started, and she was morbidly amused to realize she was singing Wait from Sweenie Todd. She was pretty sure Mr Red had been expecting something more classical, more…operatic, but she didn’t dare open her eyes to gauge his reaction. She’d sung the song dozens of times, having played Mrs Lovett in a high school production, and she was confident her voice wasn’t going to crack on any difficult notes.
She was on the first chorus when she heard his chair scrape back as if he was rising from the table. Inexplicably panicked, she flubbed a line and opened her eyes to see him stalking towards her.
“Don’t stop,” he said.
The sight of him approaching, full of quiet menace, was too much for her shaking nerves. She closed her eyes again and carried on. She sensed him move behind her, caught a whiff of his seductive cologne, and her voice faltered again. When he rested his hands on her hips, she had to stop. He was too close, too overwhelming.
“Don’t stop,” he said again, voice hard.
“I can’t concentrate when you touch me,” she said, then bit her lip, realizing too late how it sounded.
He laughed, low and dirty, and slid his hands up her sides to skim just under her breasts. “You have a good voice. I know an excellent vocal coach.”
She tried not to think about the warmth of his hands, the pressure of his fingers. Her back was to his chest, and she felt trapped…but not unpleasantly so. She tried not to think about that either. “There’s no point. The best vocal coach in the world can’t give me a relevant musical degree or the years of experience I’ve missed.”
“Hmm.” He ran his fingertips up over her breasts, the light touch drawing a hiss from her. He toyed with the top button of the dress, popping it open. “Wouldn’t it be worth doing just for the pleasure of it?” he asked.
Heat pooled in her belly, and she had to parse his words twice to be sure it wasn’t some innuendo. “I…suppose.”
“After all, it would be a trip out of the apartment a couple of times a week,” he continued. “With a bodyguard, of course.”
Galvanized by those words, Ally pulled free and whipped round to face him. “What?” Hope and suspicion warred in her. “You’d let me go out? For singing lessons?” Where was the catch?
“Maybe,” Mr Red said. His gaze was focused on her chest, on the small glimpse of cleavage showing where he’d unbuttoned the dress. “If you gave me something in return.” He opened the next button.
Amber is the secret identity of a writer who normally pens urban fantasy, but feels like stretching her wings. Amber loves darker romance, anti-heroes, good red wine, and expensive chocolate (sometimes all at once). She’s based in the UK and lives in an adorable cottage with her dream man, one adorable cat, and one sulky snake.