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About the author:
Naomi Addison is a thirty-something writer, an endless romantic and a lover of cats, candles and all things chocolatey. Living in the south-west of England, she loves walking in the great English outdoors but spends most of her time at home, hopelessly fantasising of romantic and erotic situations and then detailing them in her sultry and salacious stories.
What inspired you to write your book?
It's always been an ambition of mine. I've read romance since I was a teenager before moving onto steamier books, but lockdown gave me the time I needed to actually write. So here it is!
Here is a short sample from the book:
“Money.” The huge scruffy-looking thug waved a long, wicked-looking knife in my face. “Give me money.”
I looked around but the battered yellow taxi that had brought me from the airport in Kathmandu all the way out here had gone. I was standing at the edge of a dusty road on the outskirts, sweating like a pig in the humid midday heat and wishing I could get out of my Italian wool suit and into something more comfortable. The flight hadn’t been the smoothest and the last thing I needed right now, considering the dark mood I was in, was some opportunist threatening me with a machete.
“Do you have any money on you?” Jess asked. I looked -slowly, so as not to frighten the would-be robber – at my right-hand woman. She was standing next to me with our suitcases as the Nepalese thief waved his knife in her face too, making her freeze in fear.
“I don’t.” I turned back to the greasy-faced yob still pointing the knife at me. “I don’t have any money. Sorry.”
“No?” the man replied with an angry snarl then pointed at my wrist. His English was rough but understandable. “Rolex. Give me Rolex.”
It’s a Breitling, I thought to myself but didn’t vocalise it. The watch had become visible to the mugger as I’d held my hand out to defend myself reflexively. The silver dial caught in the light of the brilliant sun overhead and had drawn the man’s eye like a Magpie.
“I’ll swap it for your shoes,” I replied, trying a bit of the famous Darius Dayne humour to calm the situation down and pointing at his feet. I was wearing a new pair of brogues that I’d bought and was regretting it, a sore blister on the back of each heel.
The thug looked down at the leather flip-flops he was wearing. He understood the word shoes. Then he sneered and flicked the knife an inch closer to my nose before putting it close to Jess’s throat. “Funny fucking Americans. Rolex or girl dead.”
“Okay,” I replied with a subtle nod. It had been worth a try but now I was starting to become seriously concerned. “I’ll give you the Rolex. Put the knife down.”
The thug understood enough of what I was saying. He watched me over the top of his machete as I unclasped the Breitling from my wrist and passed it to him.
“More,” he grunted, shoving the watch into his pocket. “Or I kill girl.”
“I don’t have anything else but-” I began saying but then the thief grabbed Jess by the arm. I didn’t wait to see what he was going to do. I made my move, stepping forward and striking the inside of his knife arm with the blade of my hand, the machete flying from his grip and skittering away along the road.
As Jess managed to free herself from his grip, he snarled and pulled another knife from his belt, stabbing towards my middle. I hadn’t seen the second weapon (poor awareness by me but I blamed the heat and fatigue) but I managed – barely – to perform a downward strike with my other hand before headbutting him in the nose.
The man staggered back, a smear of scarlet blood on his top lip, and then launched himself forward with surprising speed for someone of his impressive size. He caught me off balance but I grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him down into the dust with me, where we grappled with each other for a moment, rolling over and over while trying to assert dominance over the other.
Jess yelled at the thief to get off of me but he ignored her, as did I. I had this.
I was on my back, his sweaty, stinking body on top of me but I had him in the guillotine choke position; my legs wrapped around his waist and his head locked in a double-arm headlock. I held on as tightly as I could, hearing him struggle for breath for a few seconds and then I carefully let him go once his muscles went limp and I felt him sag against me.
“Welcome to Nepal indeed,” I murmured to the unconscious wretch lying at the side of the road before bending down at the side of him.
“I see those Krav Maga lessons I gave you came in useful,” Jess said, nodding in approval. “Thanks for the assist but I had it, you know? I was just about to kick his ass.”
“I know you had it under control,” I replied. “I just thought I’d save you from breaking a sweat.”
Unlike me, she’d had the forethought to dress for her arrival here, wearing a pair of linen shorts and a wispy-thin cotton top that showed too much flesh than was probably appropriate for a business trip such as this, but I was envious of her right then. My shirt was sticking to my back and I could feel individual rivulets of sweat trickling down my legs.
I slipped the man’s sandals from his feet, then sat in the dust and unlaced my brogues. “I’m fine, by the way. Thanks for asking.”
“What the hell are you doing?” Jess asked, squinting at me in the sunlight.
“Have you seen where we’ve got to walk?” I pointed across the lush green valley towards our destination. “There are what looks like a million steps up to the camp. I’m not walking up there in these.” I replaced his sandals with my shoes and took his, then tugged off my drenched socks and tossed them to one side. The thief’s sandals fit okay – slightly too big, but they’d do.
“Those shoes cost almost a thousand dollars,” Jess reminded me.
“I’ll buy some more when we get home.” I stood up, testing the sandals out. “These are actually quite comfortable.”
“Yes, if you don’t mind sharing his verrucas. Shouldn’t we go now? He might wake up at any moment.”
I looked at the supine thug. He wasn’t going to come around for a while. I’d choked him out good but felt terrible for it. I didn’t like hurting anyone. I was here to help people, not fight them. I took off what remained of the Tom Ford jacket and rolled it into a ball which I placed behind the man’s head like a cushion. Then bent down to retrieve the small second knife he’d almost caught me with and used it to cut my trousers off just above the knee.
“That suit cost…” Jess started, playing with her dark brown ponytail anxiously, “Oh, never mind.”
“You shouldn’t have let me wear it. You’re supposed to help me with things like that.” I threw the knife into the undergrowth beside the road and then did the same with the machete in the middle of the road before performing a twirl for my assistant. “How do I look?”
“Like a homeless person,” she replied, tapping on her lip in thought. “Only with better hair.”
“Thanks,” I said but I was fairly sure that my thick, black hair was probably as messed up as the rest of me. Jess was just being kind. She did that a lot.
“Perhaps we should start walking,” she suggested. “Before one of his friends – or the police – show up.”
“You’re right,” I nodded, eyeing the thin stony path in front of us. It led through a small valley covered in spiky-looking shrubs that seemed to grow everywhere, then up a steep-looking set of steps that led up the hillside. Our camp – a charity run science centre based around a new water-treatment facility – was on the top of the hill. There wasn’t a road, so the taxi driver had dropped us here, at the edge of the small town of Duhlak, the camp’s nearest town and one of the recipients of the water the station produced.
“If you think I’m dragging your case with me, you’re sadly mistaken.” Jess took her case (the largest of the two by far – her choice) and began striding along the path.
“Leave the case. I’ll carry both of them,” I called after her but she’d already set off.
I looked down at the unconscious mugger, thinking I should retrieve my Breitling from his pocket but decided that he probably needed it more than I did.
It was time to walk. Jess and her petite backside were already a hundred yards in front of me. I grabbed the handle of my suitcase and set off after her.
“Who the fuck are you?”
I’d reached the secure entrance to the camp and as well as sweating profusely from every single inch of my skin, my thighs were now also screaming at me in agony after the climb up the even-steeper-than-it-looked hillside. So, to be met so aggressively at the gate by a tiny little man with a face like a weasel wasn’t what I needed or wanted right then.
I am the man paying for this entire fucking thing, is what I was about to say but Jess, as out-of-breath as I was, managed to speak before me.
“You’re speaking to Darius Dayne,” she said with one of her famous glares; the same glare that had shut down many a man in our Chicago office who’d dared to hit on her. “We’ve had… a testing trip, so if you could take us to the project manager and show a little respect along the way, it would be appreciated.”
“You’re Darius Dayne?” the man had the audacity to raise an eyebrow at me, then shrugged and walked away, before beckoning us to follow him.
“Darius?” said Sal, one of my associates on the project when the security guards finally passed us through to the central building. He looked me up and down. “What the hell happened to you?”
“Long story,” I smiled. “I’ll tell you all about it but can you get someone to take our cases and bring us a drink? I need to sit down. Someone could have warned us about the steps.”
“Ah, yes. The steps.” Salman Shamon smiled. He was an old friend who I knew from my days at Harvard and then met again years later when we worked together in Iran on a similar project to this – but he was also a prick who would often do these sorts of things to annoy me. “I completely forgot about the steps.”
“You said it was a short walk from the road.” Jess jabbed an annoyed finger at him. “And we almost got robbed.”
“Robbed?” Sal’s bald head glistened in the sunlight as he rubbed it, but he didn’t seem concerned. He knew I could handle myself. “I hope you didn’t kill him. We’ve had enough trouble in the region from the corrupt police here and the like. We don’t want any more undue attention.”
“He was just having a little nap when I left him.”
Salman led us to a covered area with tables and chairs and Jess and I sat down gratefully. Even in the shade, the heat was sweltering. A young Nepalese boy brought over a tray with drinks – beautifully cold, sparkling lemonade – and I took a long pull from it, savouring the delicious cooling effect it had.
“Well, I am sorry you didn’t have a good trip so far.” My Iranian friend sat down opposite us. “The project is going very well so far. The engineers have completed the tests on the French pump design and it shows promise. The German project is a little way off being ready for tests yet but the British filtration system is ready.”
“Excellent news.” I smiled. That was what I’d hoped to hear. It would have been disappointing if I’d travelled all the way from Chicago, only for my three pet projects to have been deemed a failure.
“How is your new business doing so far?” Salman asked, making conversation as I finished my drink.
I was what people termed a tech-genius. I wasn’t a genius, far from it. My success had come from hard work, and lady luck had helped along the way too. I’d made my first million by my early twenties and my initial large success was simply from being in the right place at the right time.
I sold my first cybersecurity company to Google, then bought a struggling competitor, which I promptly turned around and sold to Amazon. I continued doing the same thing, turning dozens of startups into blue-chip companies and nine years later, I owned offices in Chicago, London and Singapore and made the Forbes Billionaire List for the first time.
But I wasn’t done. I’d just bought a new start-up in Iran and had offered Salman the position of C.E.O. with him being from the country, but he preferred to use his engineering acumen for the betterment of humanity and declined.
“The new Tehran business is doing well,” I replied to his question. “It would be doing better if you were there running it.”
“But I’m not,” the dark-skinned Sal replied. “I am here, helping out this wonderful charity. Thanks to your funding.”
A year ago, Nepal had been struck by a devastating earthquake. A charity reached out to me, informing me of the appalling conditions left behind due to the damage to the country’s already poor water supplies and I’d agreed to fund some research and development towards improving the situation. We’d commissioned teams at universities in the UK, France and Germany and this week was the culmination of all their hard work as several new projects were being installed here to hopefully provide a future-proof, long-term solution to the problem.
Salman’s cell phone rang and he answered it. “Oh,” he said, his brown eyes glancing at me. “That’s not good. I’ll come straight away. And I’ll bring Mr Dayne.”
Sal stood up. “One of the volunteers is causing a problem, apparently. Would you mind coming along with me to help sort it? I can show you around the facility as we go.”
“Of course,” I stood up and turned to Jess. “Find out where we’re sleeping and get yourself some rest. You’ve been amazing today.”
Jess nodded with a grateful smile and I followed Salman through the facility as he pointed out several of the installations that had already been completed and the remaining testing sites.
Finally, we reached an open area on the very crest of the hill. Several large, multi-room tents were pitched nearby, which Salman told me were some of the sleeping spaces for the scientists and engineers. Standing in front of them was a young woman with pale blonde hair that had curled into crazy ringlets in the humidity and a very pleasant-looking bottom, the cheeks of which teased my eyes from a pair of cut-off shorts.
She was standing in front of two security guards and while I couldn’t hear what was being said, she was certainly giving them a stern telling off. Then she must have said something particularly provocative because one of the men’s eyes narrowed in anger.
“Can I ask what the problem is?” Sal called out to the young lady as we approached.
Then she turned to face us.
And I fell – completely, utterly, hopelessly, I fell.