You know I’m a huge fan of Robin Covington! It gives me joy to bring you this exclusive excerpt of her upcoming Harlequin Desire romance, Seducing His Secret Wife, coming out on February 1st. This is the second book in her Redhawk Reunion series! If you are as excited as I am for the Redhawk siblings to return, keep reading.
We have a little message from the author, Robin Covington:
Frolic-ers! (that’s a word, right?)
I am so excited to bring you an exclusive excerpt from the second book in the Redhawk Reunion trilogy, Seducing His Secret Wife! This the continuation of my #ownvoices Harlequin Desire romance series and it is the crazy sexy story of Justin Ling and Sarina Redhawk…anybody up for a secret marriage of convenience with your older brother’s best friend? Yes, please!
I loved writing this book…I hope you love it too! It will hit your e-readers and bookshelves on February 1!
About Seducing His Secret Wife:
A wife is the last thing he wants…
And the one thing he needs.
Justin Ling knows a steamy Vegas tryst with his best friend’s little sister is reckless. And an impromptu wedding? Disastrous! But when they return home, passion prevents him from calling it quits with Sarina Redhawk. To keep his investors and family off his back, the tech entrepreneur must keep their marriage secret. Will his arrangement with the strong-willed beauty backfire?
Las Vegas, Nevada
There wasn’t much in the world that could lure Justin Ling away from a poker table.
He loved the game. The strategy and the psychology and the emotion evoked with every hand that was dealt. It didn’t hurt that he’d won far more than he’d ever lost. But he didn’t need the money; he was a billionaire from the success of his company, Redhawk/Ling, so winning was a lucrative but empty victory. The upside was that he’d won enough to score invites to some of the largest private games and several of the popular public tournaments. Justin loved the game and when he earmarked weekends to devote to it there was almost nothing that was going to distract him from the cards in his hand.
That’s why he couldn’t explain why he was sitting down next to the sexy raven-haired beauty at the bar.
She was tall, slim and the kind of sexy that came from a confidence that ran deeper than the superficial trappings of a pair of high heels and makeup. This woman was the kind who made you work for it.
On a break from his current game, he’d seen her walk past the private rooms and head toward the lobby of the casino. And she’d seen him, too. It was a lightning strike of a moment when their eyes locked for several seconds, and the recognition of a reciprocal spark of sexual hunger was enough to find him cashing out and following her into this sad little bar.
“Can I buy you a drink?” He wasted no time getting to the point. Justin always went for what he wanted and this woman had captivated him.
She glanced over at him, giving him a thorough perusal from his toes to his four-hundred-dollar haircut. Her gaze lingered on his face and he thought he saw another flicker of interest in her espresso-colored eyes, but her expression gave nothing away before she turned to watch the football game on the TV at the back of the bar.
“I can buy my own drink.” She picked up one of the three shots in front of her and downed it in one quick swallow.
“I’m sure you can,” he answered, mirroring her position on his barstool with his eyes mostly on the game. He eyed her in his peripheral vision, noting the way she tensed but also noting that she didn’t make a move to leave or to tell him to get lost. It gave him encouragement. “In fact, I think you should buy me a drink.”
A few beats of time passed, ratcheting his heart rate up a notch or two when the silence stretched out a little longer than comfortable. He wondered if he’d miscalculated the edge of challenge he’d glimpsed in the way she walked, the strength he’d seen flash in her eyes. If he’d been a betting man, and he was, he’d have all his money on her taking the bait.
And then she laughed.
It wasn’t a giggle or a belly laugh. Her lips curved in a sexy twist and the low, husky rumble in her chest made him immediately think of Kathleen Turner, the finest aged whiskey, and secrets whispered in the dark and lost in the folds of tumbled sheets. He turned to face her, unable to resist the need to see her, to witness how the light played across her features and the glossy strands of her hair.
“Are you laughing at me?” he asked, feigning offense as he joined her in chuckling. “I could be offering to use my last twenty to buy you a beverage.”
She snorted then and threw in an eye roll for good measure before reaching out and tapping his watch. “This is a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 40mm. You can afford to buy this bar, so I’m not worried about cleaning out your bank account with an on-tap special.”
Damn. His mystery lady had taken the bait, but the only one on the hook was him.
“How do you know so much about watches? Are you a jeweler?” Justin leaned on the bar to move in a little close and didn’t even try to keep the impressed tone out of his voice.
She waved a hand in dismissal. “Paul Newman had one just like that and he wore it when he raced cars. I don’t know jack about watches but I know cars.”
Okay. This woman just got better and better and he had no choice but to keep wading into the deep end even though it looked like she wasn’t going to throw him a life raft.
She shook her head. “I don’t do last names.”
Fine. If that was how she wanted it. It was how he usually liked it, too. He stuck his hand out.
“Okay, then. I’m just Justin.”
She eyed his hand for a minute, an eyebrow raised with a mocking skepticism that took him back to high school and his ill-fated attempts to get the attention of Brandilynn Post, the head cheerleader. Obviously a crash and burn he’d not forgotten, but there’d been a million head cheerleaders in his bed since then and he wasn’t scared off by a woman making him earn her attention. With all the women who normally threw themselves at him, this was an exciting change and one that had him hot and intrigued. He knew that if this night ended with her under him, she’d be magnificent.
“I’m Harley.” She grasped his hand but instead of lingering on the handshake her long fingers traced along his palm to blatantly examine his ring finger. Now it was his turn to raise his eyebrow in question. She released his hand and shrugged. “Just checking. I’m not into married guys.”
“You’re assuming that I’m into you.”
“We both know you are…” she said, taking a sip from her beer before giving him a lingering, hot look that had him shifting even closer. Close enough to feel the silk of her ink-black hair as it brushed against his face. Close enough to see a tiny scar that cut through the outer part of her perfectly arched left eyebrow. He took it as a good sign when she didn’t move away and knew it for a fact when she continued, “…and for the moment, you interest me.”
Bingo. Justin barely repressed the grin that plucked at the corners of his mouth. He shifted on his barstool with a pool of fire settling in his groin and making him hard. But while she was currently into him, everything about Harley screamed that she was an untamed filly, ready to bolt at the whisper of anything she didn’t like. He wanted to lean over and kiss her but he glanced down at the bar in between them to resist the urge, deciding to circle back to the beginning of this adventure.
“Okay then, can I buy you a drink now?”
She picked up the second shot and drank it down. “I’ll buy. You need to catch up.”
She signaled to the bartender for three shots and motioned for them to be placed in front of him.
Justin picked up the first one, pausing before he put it to his lips. “Are we celebrating something?”
Harley cocked her head to the side, considering the question for a long moment before picking up her remaining shot and tapping it lightly against his own. “Freedom. New beginnings.”
“Whoever he is, he’s an idiot.” Because the man who’d let this woman slip through his fingers had to be the dumbest man on the planet. Well, the second dumbest…Justin wasn’t going to keep her, either. He wasn’t deluding himself that what was happening here was a love match or anything.
The vodka burned as it went down; it wasn’t as smooth as the brand he normally bought but any criticism disappeared with the chaser of the second shot. He shook his head a little, eyes watering as the alcohol took the first hit at his system and created a slow burn under his skin.
When his vision cleared, Harley was staring at him, her own gaze filled with a different kind of heat, a spark of something. She licked her lips, the universal symbol that she liked what she saw. He found himself back on familiar ground but he braced himself for the moment when she’d knock him off his feet. It wasn’t a position he was used to being in with women, but he enjoyed the push and pull with Harley. It was different…more alive and more real than the usual games he played before taking a woman to bed.
“So, who’s the guy?” Justin surprised himself with the question. What did he care about the dumb guy who’d let her go? He wasn’t interested in the past or the future, just the right now. And unless the loser who’d lost Harley was walking into the bar at this minute to get her back, he didn’t care.
But he didn’t take back the question, either. Justin wanted to know everything.
Harley cut him a sly look, clearly amused by his curiosity. “His name was Sam. He wanted a commitment that I wasn’t ready to make.”
Well, that sounded familiar.
“Not ready to commit to him? Or anyone?”
“I think that settling down with someone for the long term is extremely overrated.” Justin didn’t hide his surprise at her words and so she continued with a tease and tug at the lapel of his jacket. “Whoa. Did I just morph into your dream girl?” She slid her fingertips over his jacket, tugging him closer as she ticked off her list. “No commitments. Can hold her liquor. Likes cars.”
Justin grasped her hand and got even closer, murmuring against her ear. She shivered a little and he smiled at the reaction. “If you tell me that sex is your favorite indoor activity, I might just have to marry you.”
Harley froze for a moment and he felt the jump and stutter of her pulse under his lips. But in a flash she pushed him away and picked up her beer, taking a drink before leveling him with a glare that had more sizzle in it than censure.
“And you had to go and ruin it with the M word.” She gestured toward his last glass. “Take your penalty shot.”
He did as he was told, hooking his foot under the rung of her barstool and easing her closer as he swallowed the liquid fire. “Is Harley your real name?”
She rested her right elbow on the bar, angling her body into the curve of his own. It was intimate, a mirror of his own posture, and he wondered if she knew she was doing it.
“It’s a nickname. I like to restore old cars and bikes. I ride a 1975 Harley.”
That was an answer he wasn’t expecting. “You’re a mechanic?”
“I’m between jobs right now. Taking some time to see this part of the world before I make any plans.” Her vague nonanswer was delivered with enough finality that he knew it was nonstarter. But she intrigued him and he wanted to know more about her, so he decided to change tack.
“What’s the last song you listened to on your phone?”
The change in topic threw her for a minute but she recovered quickly. “‘Jolene’ by Ray LaMontagne.”
“Nice. Moody and soulful but also very sexy. It suits you,” he commented, signaling for another round from the bartender after Harley gave a nod of agreement.
“Okay, now you. Last song,” she prompted, as they both tipped back a shot.
Justin hesitated, remembering what he’d been listening to when he’d pulled into valet parking. Oh hell. This is what he got for letting his nephew program playlists into his account. “‘Cool’ by the Jonas Brothers.”
“I don’t even want to know what that song says about you.” She grimaced and eased a shot glass closer to him. “I think you need to drink to make up for that terrible musical choice.”
He paid his penalty, wiping his mouth with comic exaggeration that made her laugh. Damn, but he loved that sound and it made him wonder how her husky tone would wrap around a moan of pleasure. Justin reached down and tangled his fingers with hers, giving them a squeeze of encouragement. “Your turn.”
Harley pondered a moment and then said, “Okay, beach or the mountains?”
“That’s easy. I’m a California boy. Beaches.” He held up his hand to stop her from answering and then reached out to skim the hair off her face and let the silky strands cool his skin, savoring the slow burn this woman stoked in him. “Let me guess for you.”
“Take your best shot.”
Justin’s fingertips lightly stroked the smooth golden line of her cheekbone and down along her jawline until his hand curled behind her neck and pulled her closer. Harley eased into him, one leg sliding in between his own and her hand resting on his thigh. She was close enough for him to count her long lashes and to feel the fluttering beat of her pulse point. To hear the catch of her breath and the stifled moan of her desire.
Or was that his own?
He leaned in close, his lips brushing against her ear and body pressed against the length of her. Somehow they had ended up in alignment, mirrors of each other except for the brushes of knees, hands and feet. He was hard, every part of him yearning, aching to strip her down and discover all of her secrets. Not just the curve of her body, not just the places that made her want and need—he wanted to know it all.
But he’d start with her in his bed. Under him. Around him.
Harley shifted, moving just enough to look him in the eye, her mouth only a moment of bravery away from his own. Her eyes were dark, pupils blown with her desire and burning into his with focus flecked with flickers of doubt. Justin wondered what side would win, knowing with every fiber of his being that this had to be her choice. It was her move to make and he was helpless to do anything but wait and see if she would fold or bet it all on one night.
“Ask me what you really want to know,” she whispered, biting her lower lip and then running her tongue over the plumpness left behind.
“Will you let me kiss you?”
Her answer was unexpected and exactly what he wanted. Her mouth on his own, soft but not tentative. It told him what he needed to know—that she wanted this, too. That she wanted him. Justin wove his fingers into her hair, anchoring her in place when he increased the pressure, his tongue against the seam of her lips, begging permission to enter and taste her secrets.
Harley’s fingers curled around his lapel as she took over the kiss, slanting her mouth over his and opening to entice him inside. They both groaned and he took what he wanted, took what he needed, but it wasn’t enough to quench the craving she’d ignited in him.
He pulled her into his lap, balancing both their weights as she straddled him on the stool. Justin’s hands shifted, lifting her under her ass cheeks and pressing her against his achingly hard shaft through his pants. She wrapped her arms around his neck, her own desperate need to be closer evidenced by the scrape of her nails against his skin. The pain was good, just enough to ignite his lust to where it was flash point along his veins.
Harley broke away for air and he took the moment to get the answer he needed before they went any further.
Justin couldn’t bear to break the connection, so he murmured his question against her mouth, their eyes locked and focused on each other. “Tell me what you want.”
“I want you.”
It wasn’t the first time Justin had woken up in a strange hotel room.
He loved to travel, for business or pleasure, so it wasn’t uncommon for him to awaken in a room and have to take a moment to recall the facts, the details of what VIP suite he was in in what VIP city. It also wasn’t uncommon for him to wake up with a woman in his bed whom he desperately wanted to leave as soon as possible. But he couldn’t remember a time when he’d woken up alone and regretted that a woman left in the middle of night.
Well, there was a first time for everything.
Harley was gone. Like a figment of his imagination or the silky remnant of a dream that he desperately tried to hold on to but couldn’t solidify into a memory. Justin knew she had been real. The ache of his body and the scent of her, of them, of sex, lingered on his skin and on the tangle of sheets bunched around his waist.
He eased out of bed, grabbing his discarded pants and slipping them on as he navigated the detritus of their amazing night together flung all over the space of the penthouse suite: empty glasses and bottles on the floor alongside the remnants of an early-morning room service order of celebratory steak and lobster.
And…her wedding veil.
Justin leaned over, his throbbing head immediately signaling to him that it was the worst idea he’d ever had, and his stomach rumbled in ominous, queasy agreement. The veil was one of those cheap ones sold by every wedding chapel on the Strip. Harley had taken her time choosing it, laughing as she attempted to find one that matched her black leather pants and gray T-shirt. When she’d slipped it on, the combination of sex-on-wheels and virginal sacrifice had decimated what had been left of his very iffy mind and he’d marched down the aisle and said two words he’d never planned on saying in his life: “I do”.
What had he been thinking? Nothing. That much was clear. He wasn’t reckless but he was a risk-taker, never one to shy away from something just because the payoff wasn’t guaranteed. It had served him well in business; he could run numbers better than anyone and he’d made himself and a lot of other people a metric ton of money. But nothing was a sure thing and he made people nervous, people who only liked to play it safe, people who hesitated to work with Redhawk/Ling because they couldn’t pin him down.
People like the investor group currently considering partnering with the company and giving them the ability to branch out even bigger than they thought possible.
The people who would have a coronary if they heard what he’d done here last night.
He’d gone to Vegas for a poker game and married a complete stranger.
A stranger who had left in the middle of the night.
Justin knew what he had to do. He needed to find this woman and get this marriage dissolved before the press found out and filled every news outlet with another story about his wild and reckless ways. Adam, his best friend and partner in Redhawk/Ling, was going to be pissed. Just last week he’d pleaded with Justin to lie low, to keep his profile more on the respectable side until they’d secured this investment deal and solidified their financial status in the eyes of potential partners. Justin had agreed and he’d kept his end of the bargain.
And now he had to do damage control, find his wife and keep it out of press.
He was a gambling man, and he didn’t like his odds.
About the Author:
A USAToday and Wall Street Journal bestseller, Robin Covington loves to explore the theme of fooling around and falling in love in her books. Her stories burn up the sheets…one page at a time. A biracial Native American author of color, Robin proudly writes diverse romance where everyone gets their happy ever after.