Tue
May 30 2017 12:00pm

Violetta Rand Excerpt: One Taste of Angel

Violetta Rand

One Taste of Angel by Violetta Rand

Eagle

I’ve bled for my club. Taken four bullets. Buried eight brothers in six years. Screwed a hundred women. And only loved one. The one I lost. But there's something about Serafina that reminds me of just exactly what was taken from me. Not just because I can't resist a damsel in distress.

Serafina

To Eagle, I’m dead. Murdered and cremated, my ashes interred at the local cemetery. Part of a past I left long ago to save his life. Seeing him now, touching him again makes me weak, even if he doesn't recognize the woman I've become. Since my escape from Holly Beach five years ago, I’ve lived by my own rules. And no matter how much I love Eagle, he’s not going to break those rules.

Get a sneak peek at Violetta Rand's One Taste of Angel (available May 30, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

Chapter One

Serafina
Five years later
Holly Beach, Louisiana

I begged Ben not to book this party. I recognize the house from my childhood adventures, biking around the neighborhood. Gang leader Lazaro Mendoza lives here. The bachelor party is listed under John Smith. Whenever my boss writes that alias on a work order, warning bells go off. I frown as the limo stops in front of the beachside address. Working for a private striptease company is nearly as dangerous as being a call girl. I scan the faces of my associates. Jeanie and Jana are identical twins—tall and blond, everything I’m not. They smile at me.

Whenever customers order blond Amazons from the catalog my boss sends me along as a bonus. I’m barely five-three, Italian, with green eyes and dark curly hair. There’s never enough Barbie to go around. Ben always thinks I’ll appeal to the locals—whatever that means.

Our driver opens the limo door and I step onto the cobblestone driveway, the first time I’ve smelled salt air in Louisiana in five years. When I escaped Holly Beach, I never dreamed of coming back. Not like this—hair dyed, a nose and cheek job, and color contacts to disguise who I really am.

But the assholes inside won’t know me. Neither do my coworkers. To them, I’m just the naive part-time college girl who wandered into Ben’s office looking for a job.

“Ladies,” the driver says, offering his hand.

The twins slide out.

“What’s wrong, Serafina?” Tony asks.

I cross my arms over my chest. “You know whose house this is.”

He shakes his head. “A three thousand dollar booking fee says I don’t.”

Our boss, Ben Matthews, holds a monopoly on the private striptease circuit from Beaumont, Texas, to the western half of Louisiana. He also owns a large limousine company. “Your silence is cheap.” I shove my dance bag higher on my arm. “What about the Olsen twins?”

He snickers at my sarcasm. “What they don’t know . . .”

“Yeah.” I’m not sure those two know much except how to bump and grind each other and the customers. It’s disconcerting to watch them sometimes, how far they’re willing to go for big tips. Good thing I brought my chemistry book; I’ll study while they entertain.

Before I can finish the thought, the front doors of the house open. A tall man in a charcoal suit steps outside. “Mr. Connors?” Tony shakes hands with him. “I’m Mr. Diaz, your liaison for the evening.”

I roll my eyes. We have a liaison? The idea just reinforces the negativity I feel for the cartel. They make their money off the pain and suffering of people—getting them hooked on the drugs they sell. I glare at Diaz, wishing I was at home. He continues. “Any financial transactions will be handled through me. Anything you need—find me. Understand?”

“Yes, sir.” Tony nods obligingly.

I know what lurks underneath Tony’s country boy simper—a black belt and a loaded Desert Eagle. He turns and presses his hand against the small of my back. “May I present Serafina?”

Diaz’s gaze roams over me appreciatively. “Very lovely. And the twins?”

Tony points.

They scoot closer, giggling. “Ah . . . perfect.” He claps his big hands together. “Please, follow me inside.”

We head down a long hallway off the great room. Diaz opens a door. “I hope these accommodations are acceptable.”

Tony steps through the door first; I follow. I spin slowly. It’s a beautiful suite, complete with matching four-poster beds, a sitting area with a gas fireplace near a hot tub, and a ridiculously large bathroom. “We’ll manage,” I comment.

Tony throws me a shut up look.

Diaz smirks. “Good,” he says. “I’ll see you in an hour.” He exits the room and closes the door.

“Turn off the charm, Serafina,” Tony warns.

Jeanie and Jana throw their bags down and head for the hot tub. I bounce on one of the beds. “Very Scarlett O’Hara-ish,” I say.

“I don’t think she lived in a ten-thousand-square-foot hacienda,” Tony replies.

“Probably not,” I agree. “But the décor is Old South.”

He nods. “Listen, Scala,” he says. “This isn’t the typical party.”

“I gathered that . . . what’s with Alfred Pennyworth?”

“Who?”

“Batman’s butler,” I reply. “Don’t you know anything?”

He laughs. “I don’t think Diaz qualifies as a loyal butler. He’s a no-nonsense money man.”

“Like a banker?”

“No,” Tony’s voice grows more serious. “More like a hitman with an open wallet.”

“Oh.” I consider it, knowing the clientele before I even meet them. Holly Beach is a family town. But once the sun sets, the truth is exposed. The dirty truth. A crossroads for cartel heroin on its way to places like Atlanta and Miami, real life gangsters and hardcore MCs have established themselves here. One of the reasons I sought refuge somewhere else. “Who’s the lucky bachelor?”

He joins me on the bed. “You already know.”

“Lazaro Mendoza?”

He nods.

“Shit,” I say sarcastically. “Not only did the most eligible bachelor market just shrink by twenty percent, now I’m afraid I’ll never get a shot at him. What’s next for Ben, booking parties in prison?”

Tony pats my knee. “Listen, kiddo, I know boss man tricked you into doing this. Make the best of it, enjoy the money while you can.”

“You think this is about money?” I ask incredulously. “If I wanted to be a stripper, I’d work at a club, not here.”

His eyebrow raises. “But you are a stripper.”

This is a point of contention between the two of us. “By default.”

“I admit Ben is a prick. When he see’s something he wants, he goes for it. Sorry. Can’t cry over spilt milk. Time to put aside the ’tude, get ready for the party, okay?”

I heave a sigh. Sure, that’s easy for Tony to say. All my dreams got flushed down the fucking toilet the day I met Ben in his pristine downtown office. He maintains the perfect front—the right business address, an attractive secretary, portraits of his lead talent hanging on the walls—a photography studio . . . The bastard lied. And like a starry-eyed fool, I fell for it and signed the contract without reading the fine print. Lingerie model turned stripper. In short, I’m prohibited from accepting any other employment unless Ben approves of the job. Of course he won’t, even if it’s flipping burgers in the campus kitchen. So I either shake my ass for the next two years or starve.

I pass by the twins, still in the hot tub, wishing I had a pair of rubber duckies to throw at them. Bert and Ernie possess more brain cells between them. I swear it’s not a jealousy thing—I just don’t tolerate stupid well.

Half an hour later, someone knocks on the door. Tony lets Diaz in. Diaz circles the twins, who are dressed and ready to go. He nods in affirmation—some kind of meat inspector.

When he approaches me, I warn him. “I’m not changing into another outfit.”

I should have protested this gig more. But this is one of the busiest weekends of the year, and Ben would have pressed me for answers if I resisted too much. And the first rule for my survival is never letting anyone know who I really am.

Diaz stares at me blankly. “I wouldn’t dream of asking you to.” He caresses my hip. “Save a dance for me.”

I bite my tongue. Tony mumbles something under his breath, one of his usual warnings to get my shit straight. I glance at my watch. Eight o’clock on a Friday. We’re expected to stay the night and head back to Texarkana in the morning—if the twins can wake up after drowning themselves in vodka cranberries.

Wonder how that’s gonna play out . . .

***
Copyright © 2017 by Violetta Rand.
***
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Raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Violetta Rand spent her childhood reading, writing, and playing soccer. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska and spends her days writing evocative contemporary and historical romance. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, she enjoys time with her husband, pets, and friends. Violetta is the author of Viking Hearts.

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