Mr. Big Shot: +One, Book 3 is now available on Amazon, and as always, free to read with your KU subscription!
For Nicholas Coletti, escorting interesting people to business dinners and charity galas isn’t the worst way to spend his evenings, but it’s not exactly a fulfilling career, either. So, when one of those events leads to a job opportunity, he’ll do whatever it takes to land a position with one of the city’s biggest marketing firms.
Fully aware of his reputation for being cold and ruthless, Rhys Quinton didn’t get to where he is by worrying about what people think of him. It’s that no-nonsense attitude and his willingness to take risks that built RQ Creative Marketing into the corporate giant it is today. Well, that, and one simple rule.
Never mix business with pleasure.
It’s a principle that has never failed him, and one he’s never considered breaking. Until now. Because all it takes is one look, and he knows he won’t be satisfied until Nicholas is his.
The elevator came to a stop, and I exited the cab, pausing just inside what appeared to be a waiting room when I realized Fletcher hadn’t followed. “Aren’t you coming?”
“Just you.” He smiled as the doors began to close again. “Good luck.”
Swallowing hard, I turned back to survey the room. A couple of leather sofas and matching armchairs comprised two separate seating areas along one wall. The opposite wall was occupied by a coffee bar and a U-shaped desk made of gleaming chestnut.
A door next to the elevator accessed the stairwell, while a narrow corridor to the left led to a restroom, both labeled with large, bold signs. As far as I could tell, there were no other offices or meeting rooms on the floor.
Windows that stretched from the baseboards to the ceiling allowed an abundance of natural light to fill the space and offered spectacular views of the city. The back wall directly ahead of me, however, had no windows. Only a few pieces of framed art and a single black door with a gold lever-style handle.
I stared at the door, my brain whirling with questions.
Was Mr. Quinton expecting me? Should I knock? Did I just take a seat and wait for him to come out of his office? Fletcher was still his assistant. Why wasn’t he there to…assist?
Before I could spiral too deeply into my panic, the door swung open, and an insanely attractive man stepped up to the threshold.
I had seen pictures of Rhys Quinton online, of course, but those photographs hadn’t done him justice. For starters, despite the veins of silver that ran through his dark hair at the temples, he appeared younger in person, especially for someone so well-known and respected in the industry.
His broad shoulders and powerful frame obstructed most of the doorway, and even from the distance, I had to tilt my head back to meet his gaze. Eyes the most intense shade of steel gray stared back at me, and I fought the urge to squirm under the scrutiny.
Mentally shaking myself, I surreptitiously blotted my palm on my slacks and crossed the room to offer my hand.
“Nicholas Coletti,” I said, pleased when my voice didn’t waver or crack. “It’s an honor to meet you, Mr. Big Shot.”
The moment the words left my mouth, my head started to spin, and my vision blurred at the edges as I felt the blood drain from my face. While my conscious mind had been practicing what I would say, my subconscious had been thinking that “big shot” had been an appropriate description of my potential employer. Clearly, wires had gotten crossed, and the result had been nothing short of mortifying.
“Mr. Quinton,” I hurried to amend, hoping my face wasn’t as red as it felt.
I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d walked back into his office and closed the door in my face, but by some miracle, that didn’t happen. While his expression remained utterly impassive, he took my hand and gave it a firm squeeze.
The handshake went on longer than social etiquette dictated, and when he finally let go, a small part of me felt disappointed at the loss of contact. Which was completely insane, but I chalked it up to nerves.
He didn’t speak, didn’t step back or usher me inside his office. He just turned and retraced the path to his desk, where he settled into a padded office chair and waited.
Caught off-guard, it took several seconds for my brain to catch up, and my feet to start moving. I didn’t know if I should close the door behind me or not. I looked to Rhys for some sort of indication, a clue as to what I should do next. He simply continued to stare at me with that infuriatingly blank expression.
I closed the door.
From there, I hesitated, wondering if I should remain standing or choose one of the twin chairs in front of his desk. Still, Rhys didn’t speak. He didn’t move. He just sat there, his fingers linked together atop his desk, and watched me.
Was this part of the interview? Was he testing me?
The past four-ish months have been...interesting. There were a lot of good things that happened. A trip to Orlando. A trip to Puerto Rico. A beautiful and extravagant wedding in Houston.
(Not mine. I got married in a tiny church 20 years ago with less than a dozen people present. The entire thing, including my dress and the rings, cost less than $150.)
There was also some not so great stuff that happened. Depression, made worse by Seasonal Affective Disorder. A slipped lumbar disc. A torn LCL (that's the ligament on the outside of your knee.) And can we just talk about the price of eggs for a second?! I wanted to make an angel food cake, but I didn't want to take out a second mortgage.
Beauty and Bad Blood is still coming. I will finish it. Just not yet. I know I said it would "definitely" be out in November, but well, here we are. Shortly after my last update, I just hit a wall. Ran smack into it like Wile E. Coyote.
This would be around the time I was having what my therapist likes to call a "Major Depressive Episode."
At her suggestion, I did something I've never done before. I agreed to show myself the same grace and kindness I'd offer to any of my friends who are struggling. I also decided to try an experiment and just write whatever popped into my head. No matter what story, what series, whatever, I would just...write.
A novel concept, I know.
This resulted in 7 new story ideas, 4 new WIPs, one completed novella, and another that is almost finished.
I am currently working on cleaning up Mr. Big Shot, Book 3 of the +One series, and it will be headed to my editor soon. I don't have an exact release date yet, but probably sometime within the next two weeks.
Then, I'll be wrapping up Walking a Tight Trope, the next book in the Blackhaven Manor series. More details on this later, but you can anticipate its release in March. (She says, knowing her track record with deadlines is shit.)
After that, I will be diving back into Beauty and Bad Blood with new enthusiasm. Now that the brain fog is lifting, I know exactly where I went wrong and what I need to do to move forward. I do not know when this book will release. I'm not even going to give an estimate. I feel like I jinx myself every time I do.
I'm also not going to promise regular updates because, let's be honest, I suck at it. I will, however, definitely post once the books go live. You can also get a notification right to your inbox by subscribing to my newsletter. I'm lazy, and I only send out newsletters when I have a release or an event, so you will never be inundated with emails from me.
Until Next Time!
XoXo - Arden