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About the author:
I live in Johannesburg, South Africa with my husband, three children and three poodles. My love for reading began with my weekly trips to the local library when I checked out Louis L’amour books for my father. It was during one of those trips that I discovered the Sweet Valley series and not long afterwards, my first romance novel – a historical Native American romance novel called Silken Savage. I've been a goner for romance novels ever since!
Besides reading and writing, I love all the other things: all the coffee, all the chocolate, Khal Drogo, Jax Teller and all the romance. My Instagram (jen.d.samson) is filled with copious amounts of a certain dead king from Game of Thrones and coming soon, copious amounts of a guy on a motorcycle (hint: it's Jax Teller from Sons of Anarchy!!!).
What inspired you to write your book?
I wrote Deep Flaming Red because in life generally, people believe things that aren't true and what they believe shapes their lives and informs their thoughts and decisions. Imagine trying to be happy, knowing you are the evidence of your mother's rape? How do you accept the simple idea of LIVING, with that kind of conception? What about believing that you deserved to be raped because you were not careful enough?
I wanted to explore those deplorable beliefs.
Here is a short sample from the book:
November 16th, 2013
New York City
The highway came up slowly and Ethan Salvatore took
the Manhattan Bridge toward Brooklyn. Just like any other
fucker living in New York for more than five minutes, he
hated New York traffic and the Manhattan Bridge Lower
Roadway didn’t disappoint—it was all slow and steady and
It was Tuesday morning, and the snow had started to
come down steadily—a little later and a little lighter than
last year, but what the fuck. God could do whatever the
hell he wanted. It was the perfect start to the world-famous
Christmas in New York and magic and splendor and shit that
everybody tweeted about every fucking year. Ethan hated
winter along with all its associations, including Christmas.
He eased the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport into traffic.
Even cruising, it sounded like an F16 jet plane. He switched
on his headlights and turned up the heat.
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The glove compartment called like a bitch in heat and
the sound that came out of Ethan’s mouth just then was an
actual growl. Sitting in the glove compartment since Saturday
night was a pack of Newports. It was still sealed (score for
Salvatore). Ethan hadn’t touched those hateful little fuckers
in thirty-six hours, but cold winter days really did it for him.
He reached into the glove compartment, pulled out the
pack and lit one up. After the first drag he lowered his hand
and glared at the smoke in between his thumb and index
finger, then with a sigh of small victories pinched off the
burning end and threw the thing into the ashtray. Ethan had
been trying to give it up for four years. Back in ‘09, he’d
given it up for nearly ten months.
But it was a cold, winter’s day and the victory didn’t
Ten seconds later the smoke was dangling from his
lips, and Ethan was sucking all that black, clogging nicotine
into his lungs.
It was disgusting and satisfying all at the same time;
like fucking a woman you didn’t love. In the end, you felt
disgusted that you could be such a bastard yet satisfied in
the most demented kind of way. I have got to give up this shit,
he thought for the umpteenth time.
The iPhone sitting on the passenger seat vibrated.
Ethan was tempted to ignore it, because he didn’t
know if he could handle another “just checking in” conversation
with his competent (but today extremely irritating) personal
assistant. She had been calling since six that morning
busy re-arranging his life to accommodate his Friday meeting
that had to get pulled forward three days for a yet-to-bedisclosed
reason. But Florence was as efficient as they came,
and Ethan had come to trust her shuffling and reshuffling
of his professional life.
He put her on loud speaker.
She wanted to confirm—for the second time this
morning—that that they would not, in fact, be meeting at
his office at Little West 12th as she had originally planned,
but rather at the corner of Third Ave and Third Street near
the Gowanus Canal and that, in this weather, it was better to
drive toward Flatbush Avenue and then to Nevin Street, and
don’t forget to take the left at Atlantic Avenue, and please
be careful on Third Avenue because there were some ice
patches near the intersection. The way she bossed Ethan
around, you’d think she was the one with a bachelor’s degree
in technology and an IQ score of 165.
Ethan distinctly remembered telling her earlier that
morning that he would follow her orders exactly and that he
would be sure to watch for the ice patches, but he assured
his PA once more:
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Yes, Florence, I am on my way to the warehouse.
No, Florence, I am not going to the office first.
Yes, Florence, I will watch for ice patches.
As soon as she seemed satisfied that he had followed
orders exactly, he said, “Give me five minutes. I’m on the
The tightness in her voice when she replied, “Yes,
sir” caused him to roll his eyes. He could almost see her
blue eyes narrow in that scolding way of hers that made
you think about that pretty little teacher you had in middle
school. The one you thought would let you get away with
murder, only to realize you were better off with Lizzy The
Lunatic Lunch Lady.
Florence was the pretty little teacher who would not let
you get away with anything.
Anyway, Florence knew it should take him at least fifteen
minutes to get to the factory from the highway. But
good ol’ Flo didn’t seem to appreciate the beauty and effectiveness
of defensive driving.
“I’m coming ‘round the back,” he said, then he hung
up before she could read him the riot act because she’s convinced
that he’s broken every traffic law known to man this
One might have thought it was rude to hang up on
Florence like that, but they would have to understand that
Florence was a stickler for rules in a way that drove Ethan
insane. If you gave her an inch, she would go a mile trying
to teach you a life lesson of the, “let’s just do it the right
Ethan thought that she would have been devastated to
learn that there was no such thing as the right way.
Luckily for Florence, she wasn’t the one who had
signed on the dotted line of four $230,000,000 security contracts
with the US government.
The National Security Agency paid their weight in
gold, as did the Defense Intelligence Agency. There wasn’t
a price high enough to pay for code breaking or code making
when it came to demystifying foreign intelligence or
strengthening the cyber borders that protected U.S government
information systems. Ethan was master of both.
And when you were on speed dial with the Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency, it wasn’t hard to guess who was
receiving midnight calls to analyze complex data and technical
intelligence. The CIA was the most fun. Their covert
operations were in desperate need of better monitoring and
tracking software, including software to cover their own
tracks. They’d begged Ethan to play with them. He’d agreed
because, well, he was just so good at covering his own tracks
and flying way, way under the radar that doing it for the CIA
would be child’s-play.
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As for the FBI, they were still getting over the magic
Ethan had created to replace their stupid, outdated surveillance
software. Ethan was nothing if not patriotic and
sometimes the American people needed to be protected
from themselves. While they protested on the streets, crying
out against data breaches, invasion of privacy and the
like, the rest of the world’s governments rammed into their
invisible borders on a daily basis. Ethan was all about protecting
people from themselves. Sometimes people did stupid
things because they trusted too much.
Poor Florence. No point in letting her see the brutality
required in defending national security. No point in showing
the American people that their government was a motherfuckin’
beast that fought hard and dirty and lashed back without
mercy when its borders and its people were threatened.
It was all money well spent.
The bridge started to calm down a little as the road
curved northwest. Ethan increased speed to about thirty
miles per hour—a disgrace to a car that could do over two–
fifty—but it was just as well because by the time he saw the
dirty brown Toyota, he was inches away from its tail light.
First there was nothing and then BAM!
The thing came out of nowhere and there was only
enough time to brake hard and veer left. He was within the
speed limit, but thirty miles in a fuckin’ Bugatti was still
pretty fuckin’ fast and getting out of the way in time was no
small task. And don’t forget the brisk fall of snow out there.
Then the Toyota switched lanes.
What the fuck?! The fucking prick was trying to overtake
him! Ethan blasted the horn of the two-point-seven-million-dollar
vehicle with the jet engine that went two hundred
and fifty fucking miles per hour and cursed colorfully. What
the fuck is wrong with you, asshole! Get the fuck off the motherfucking
road, bastard! Fucking insolent cunt. Un-fucking-believable.
And so on.
Ethan changed gears and the Bugatti roared ahead (no
ice patches, he was not at the intersection yet). He hoped
the jet sounds scared the fuck out of the Toyota prick and
thought that someone should get that rotten piece of shit
off the roads fast, along with its driver.
Five minutes later he pulled into the shabby parking lot
of what used to be a shoe factory and coasted toward the
back where Florence was waiting for him. The place was in
an awful state—dilapidated, abandoned for the last twenty
years or so, but it was the best he could get on such short
notice. He had already spent the last several weeks having
the entire place overhauled and he had only ten days left to
wrap things up. A massive workforce was already on standby
waiting for the go ahead.
He pulled the car into one of the parking spaces close to
the back entrance and surveyed the exterior of the building
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while he collected his phone and smokes from the passenger
seat. There was some graffiti around the left side—not
unusual for a building this neglected. The paint job must
be recent. It looked like the paint hadn’t even dried yet on
the illustration about Obamacare that would have made the
President blush. Security detail was scheduled for the following
week, but Ethan made a mental note to move it up.
He slid out of the car and quickly made his way toward
the building that would soon be Cilla’s House.
Florence was hurrying toward him from the left
entrance. She was a picture of professional elegance, from
the tablet resting on her left arm to the black rimmed glasses
sitting on her tiny little nose to the perfectly cut black suit
she was wearing today. If there was sun today, it would have
caught hints of red on her dark brown hair. Florence looked
older than her twenty-six years. It hardly seemed possible
that two short years ago she was a frightened little rabbit
fresh out of the Deep South with the biggest crush on her
new employer. She knew about as much about being an
assistant as Ethan had known about having one. So, they
had both went about it with a great deal of uncertainty, but
eventually, they made it to the other side of the boss/assistant
relationship unscathed. It had taken the first half of
that first year, but eventually he stopped trying to pretend
he was a boy scout who didn’t know any curse words and
Florence became the platonic, caring, scolding PA that he
needed. Because as cute as Florence was, Ethan didn’t do
red haired little girls. Especially red haired little girls with
big blue eyes the color of crushed sapphires and innocent
little mouths that made a man think of what he would like
to put there.
Especially if they were ballerina types.
Florence was not a ballerina, but she was petite like
one; her hair wasn’t perfectly red, and her blue eyes might
be a shade or two lighter than crushed sapphires, but close
enough. And Ethan didn’t do close enough either. He did
blonde. Tall. Older. Especially older. Older was safe. Older
was less trouble.
Florence reached Ethan and he immediately noticed
her grim expression. Now Florence was a stern looking girl,
usually—she had the most pleasantly unsmiling face. But
today her eyes were darting in every direction but his, and
her lips were pursed severely.
He frowned as a warning sound went off in his head
like a clanging cymbal and he was suddenly massively suspicious
of the six a.m. phone calls.
She handed him his jacket—the one he had demanded
back from the dry cleaners last week only to realize that he
hadn’t given it to her in the first place. He shrugged into the
jacket because the steady fall of snow seemed to be making
its way steadily toward a blizzard. The bite of the cold was
familiar and he unconsciously shoved down old memories
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of cold winter days, of a sweet ballerina with beautiful blue
eyes and curly red hair.
“Mr. Salvatore,” Florence greeted.
Ethan returned the greeting with a dip of his head
and, “Ms. Russo.” Florence refused to call him by his
given name. He didn’t know why. So, they both stuck
to Mr. Salvatore and Ms. Russo, even after all this time.
She took his keys and iPhone and they made their way
back toward the building. As they walked, Florence gave him
the rundown of what to expect. He already knew all that she
was rattling off right now. He didn’t know if she believed it,
but he always read her prep memos beforehand. And he’d
received her updated memo for this meeting at six o’clock
this morning. But he listened to her anyway because he liked
her effort. At the moment, she was recapping who was present
for today’s meeting:
John Davenport, the current owner of the factory that
Ethan was purchasing, was already inside with his agent
waiting to sign over the property. Sarah Gilbert, the project
manager and representative for the I am Innocent project, was
I am Innocent would be the first project undertaken by
Salvatore Technologies through Cilla’s House. This was how
Ethan dealt with the shit that he came from. For a moment,
his mind stayed on Cilla’s House and so he didn’t notice
Florence’s sneaky little glances up at him at first. But as
she spoke, he found that her eyes darted up every so often.
Now, you’d have to know Florence to understand why those
sneaky little glances were starting to bother him so much.
Why was Florence acting like a nervous little school
“Phoebe McLain, Sarah’s assistant will be our official
go-between for the next few days,” she said, and as she said
this she bit her bottom lip and every feature of her face
turned downward. She had the same face when he fetched
her from the vet that one time when she had to put her little
Ethan stopped cold and she had to back pedal a little
to avoid slamming into his back. Next few days? She might
as well have released a wrecking ball into his chest from
fifty feet away. He turned to face her, a thunderstorm brewing
across his face and his mind already in over drive. That
wasn’t in her little memo that he got at six o’clock this fucking
“The maintenance department has already dispatched
a team,” she said, and she sounded like she had suddenly lost
both her lungs. Ethan stared at her. His head started to spin.
She rushed in when she saw that she was not getting much
of a reaction.
“They arrived a few minutes ago and I’ve already made
some arrangements with Mr. Davenport so everything will
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fall into place. Phoebe will be helping out as much as she
Ethan tuned out. She was rambling. Something was
very fucking wrong here.
She bit her lip again to keep it from trembling—in terror,
he was sure—because, firstly, maintenance wasn’t due
for another four fucking days. What the fuck were they doing
here now? Secondly, he didn’t need a go-between for the next
few days because the next few days were nothing more than a
final sweep of the interior and a look at outside security.
Before he allowed himself to blow a gasket, Ethan
cleared his throat and asked in his most polite tone,
“Florence, what in Christ’s name are you talking about?”
Not a single curse. Colossal effort, but he managed
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