Monday, February 25, 2008

New Release: Double Down

Some books are just about having fun. One of the reasons we write such varied stories - dark vs. sweet, paranormal vs. contemporary, het vs. gay - is that Pepper and I need to switch it up so that we don't a) get bored, and b) burn out. So our release this past weekend, Double Down, a novella in the Games People Play pax at Amber Quill, is the result of that. We did it between writing Gideon and Jesse stories, which always drain us emotionally. We wanted something more banter-y, with lots of sensuality and no lurking monsters to overcome. This is what we came up with.

In Las Vegas, lady luck rules. For musician Patrick Gerhart, that means making his own luck.

Cass Davison is the woman of his obsession. She’s beautiful, bold, and his best friend’s girl. The last thing he should do is challenge her in blackjack, and the last thing he expects is for her to agree to his terms.

If he wins, he finally gets a taste of her.

If he loses...well, Patrick isn’t thinking about that possibility. Because he’s waited a very long time for this chance with Cass, and it’s worth risking everything he has to get it.


It didn’t happen. If anything, Cass’s luck worsened, though his hands weren’t that much better. The only one having any luck at all was the old man at the end of the table, but if he wanted to leech away Cass’s charm, that was all right with Patrick.

“Maybe we should try another table,” Cass said out of the blue. She gestured at his chips. “It’s not like you’re winning that much either.”

Patrick shook his head. “Nope, that wasn’t part of the deal. Same table for two hours. One of us will have the most in the end, even if it’s just a dollar.” He leaned over like he intended to kiss her again, but he paused an inch from her mouth. “What’s the problem, Cass? Getting a little worried?”

Her breath was bittersweet from the beer, but she didn’t flinch, didn’t move away. “Never,” she murmured. “Not my style.”

“No, I guess it’s not.” He settled on his stool again. “You know, I do have one little regret about this situation. It’s not like we’ve got a lot of time to do it properly. It’s going to be a little bit wham, bam, thank you ma’am. But maybe that’s the way you like it.”

Cass immediately reached for her drink. “You’re the one who asked for it this way, if I remember correctly. Maybe you’re the one with the quickie fetish.”

“I would have asked for a whole night if I thought I could get away with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t think we could pull that off until we got back from Vegas. And I wasn’t willing to wait.”

“You’ve waited this long already. Three days should’ve been nothing.”

He grinned. “Do you want to change the terms of the bet now? I’ll let you switch tables.”

For a second, she looked like she was actually considering it. He saw her gaze flicker to the surrounding tables, but when she froze, he turned to see what had stopped her.

Ronnie’s damp head bobbed through the crowd, neck craning as he scanned the blackjack tables for Cass. His dark hair was plastered to his skull, a towel draped over his shoulders, and the sudden fear that his friend was already done with his swim had Patrick stiffening in his seat.

He spotted them almost immediately and smiled as he headed straight for their table. “You have got to try that pool.” He came to a stop standing between them, though most of his attention was fixed on Cass. That was a common thing. “It’s amazing.”

“You’re done already?” she asked.

“Nah. I got bored all on my own. I was hoping you might be done so that I could drag you in with me.”

“Actually,” Patrick said smoothly, “despite all Cass’s bluster and my teasing, we’ve both lost quite a bit of money. I think we need to recoup at least some of our losses to save face a little.”

His eyes met Cass’s, daring her to back down. She could walk away here, and he wouldn’t be able to say a thing to stop her. He had absolutely no idea which option she would choose.

“Sorry, Ronnie,” she said. “Patrick’s right. Whitney didn’t even want to get woken up for at least another couple hours, and if she’s stuck with Big Macs for supper, she’s going to totally blame me for corrupting her boyfriend.”

“But hey,” Patrick said quickly, before Ronnie could protest. “The buffet’s on me tonight.”

Ronnie looked less than happy, but shrugged good-naturedly. “Guess I better go back to working up an appetite then.” He bent down and brushed a kiss across Cass’s cheek, water dripping from his hair onto her bare arm. “I’ll see you upstairs.”

Patrick watched until Ronnie disappeared, then calmly reached across and wiped the water from her arm. “Why didn’t you go with him?”

Though she turned away, he saw the goose bumps erupt in the spot where he’d touched her. “Because I don’t welsh on bets,” she said. “I told you that.”

“I don’t think I could have held it against you if you actually left with the guy who brought you.” Patrick eyed her diminished stack of chips. “Maybe it’s not the cards turning against you.”

A muscle twitched in her jaw. “Get over yourself, Patrick. Just because you’re good-looking, doesn’t mean I’ve been dying to get into bed with you.”

Patrick threw a couple of chips in front of his cards. “No, clearly not. And you can spend the next…” He made a show of glancing at his watch, even though he knew exactly how much time was left, “thirty minutes thinking about just how much you don’t want to go to bed with me, and how you wish something could have rescued you from your plight. Like, your boyfriend maybe?”

Cass remained silent for the next hand, and though she won, it didn’t get her close to matching Patrick’s pile. When it came her turn to bet again, she hesitated, long fingers playing with her chips.

“Your bet, miss?” the dealer prompted.

She dropped what she held and pushed her whole pile forward. “I’m all in for this one.”

For more information, visit Amber Quill.


Cathy said...

This one sounds good, I can never say no to more bantering and sensuality.

Kim said...

I read this over lunch today! Just what I needed for a pick me up. You two amaze me with your versatility.