Sienna Keller saw how men used her mother, and from an early age she swore she’d never allow it to happen to her. So when she meets smooth-talking billionaire Gavin Crane, who uses his connections to help her art career, she resolves to keep things strictly professional—no matter how gorgeous he is.
Gavin might be the son of the head of the Kavanagh organized crime family, but he wants no part of that life. It’s important to him to prove to Sienna that he’s a good guy. But when she winds up in the hospital with a gunshot wound, he is driven to exact revenge. His father agrees to provide security to watch over her as well as find the man who shot her, but at a cost—Gavin must come back into the family business.
As Sienna begins to let her guard down around Gavin, seeing the kind, caring man he’s always wanted her to see, his secrets begin to pile up. Has she done the one thing she vowed never to do—trusted her heart to the wrong man?
by Michele Arris
Sensuality Level: Spicy
Michele Arris lives in the Northeast, where she enjoys watching period classics and loves anything dark chocolate with sea salt. Find Michele Arris at www.michelearris.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @ArrisMichele.
An excerpt from Devil’s Gamble:
“You keep scowling at the patrons like that, you’re going to scare them off from handing over their credit card info.”
Sienna’s head turned to her sponsoring rep, Gavin Crane, Mr. tall, blond, blue-eyed, handsome, and massively irritating at the moment.
“Why are you back here holding up the wall instead of out mingling? You’re not still salty over that order I placed for you earlier, are you? How hard could it be for you to paint the woman’s dead cockatoo?”
Salty? Seriously, he didn’t just go there. Damn right, she was annoyed about the cockatoo, but the current grooves in her forehead had nothing to do with his overbearing ass.
“Gavin, you fired my curator this morning without my permission. Then you placed that order without my consent.”
“I didn’t like how he arranged things. As for painting the woman’s dead bird, judging by what I now know of your work, you could probably complete the project in your sleep.”
Sienna took a quiet breath for restraint. It was either that or choke him. “I’ll say again, it’s not about the order being difficult to fulfill. I don’t want you making promises to clients without checking without checking with me first. As for why I’m back here, I’m resting . . . was resting my voice. I’ve been talking for six hours straight.”
“You should be working the room, flashing that beautiful smile that I rarely get the pleasure to bask in.”
He smiled, a slight baring of gleaming white, just enough to be cocky. The side compliment only made her bristle. She’d watched him most of the damn night flirt with every pretty face he came upon, cockatoo lady included.
“I think you’ve been working the room tonight enough for the both of us. That redhead with the Bichon Frise nestled in her Chanel handbag managed to hold your limited attention.” A small jab. She’d also been taking a reprieve from him. His overt flirtatious behavior with the female patrons had become irritating to watch. She wasn’t sure why tonight’s performance pricked at a nerve; his antics had been no different back in New York. “When the two of you exited together, I’d assumed I wouldn’t see you until we departed for Vegas tomorrow afternoon.”
He reared back with a soft flutter of blond lashes, then his expression returned to a wealth of white-teeth charm once more. “You assumed wrong. I saw the lady to her car after she gave me this.” He slipped a hand into the inside pocket of his perfectly tailored, charcoal gray suit coat, pulled out an order receipt, and snapped the paper in front of her face. “Madam, this is how it’s done.”
Sienna’s eyes widened. She snatched the slip from his hand and studied it like one would a counterfeit bill. “Oh my god, these pieces combined are priced at about twelve grand.”
“Twenty-five.” He winked on a corner-lip whisper. “I marked up the price on each item. The woman didn’t bat a lash.”
She gasped. “Gavin, you can’t do that.”
“Why not? These people came here tonight to spend money. You’re a new name with superb talent. They want to be the first to have you, but they don’t want to pay what you’re worth.”
She flinched with a chilling streak of déjà vu. He was unaware how heavy those words were, having come so soon after the memory of her past had invaded and consumed her quiet, happy, Zen corner of the room.
“You’re sporting that frown again. What’s wrong?” he asked, concern in his blue gaze.
He took a broad step, impeding in her personal space, something she didn’t allow people to do, even if she had to express physical force to get her point across. Her mom would have told her to take advantage of the opportunity. Sienna had vowed a long time ago to make damn certain that the apple would fall far from the tree. To that end, most only needed to be told once, but over the course of her tour, Gavin Crane had never respected her boundaries. He’d been the only man she could recall that she’d let cross the line without popping off to her back-the-fuck-up aggressive attack. And she was not sure why. Maybe it was his boyish, dimpled smile that always washed over his face when he looked at her. Who knows.
“What’s on your mind, Sienna? You can talk to me.”
His hand came up, and she was sure he’d offer up a comforting touch on her arm, her shoulder, her cheek, something, but that hand veered to his hair, fingers combing back the thick waves. He may intrude into her personal space, but he’d never touched her, not even a bump on the arm in passing or an accidental brush of fingers when handing over a pen. On occasion, she wondered what his touch would feel like. Rough and aggressive or soothing and caressing? Then she’d snap back to her senses. He was a problem she didn’t need.