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About the author:
Carrie Lomax grew up in the Midwest before moving to New York City for 15 years. She lives in Maryland with two budding readers and her real-life romantic hero.
What inspired you to write your book?
After writing Say You'll Stay, Janelle stick with me. If you've read the first book you'll know that she's not an easy character -I have a soft spot for "difficult" heroines. She needed a hero who could push her hard, and who could in turn push her past her princess complex/sulk. There was a personal component to the character of Penny. She needed to have a happy ending, because so many people contending with drug addiction don't.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Mason watched her. “What’s your full name, Janie?”
“If I tell you, will you let me stay?”
He sighed. Janelle had the feeling that he’d been doing that a lot since meeting her this morning. “I promise I’ll sleep on the couch,” she offered, cajoling.
“No one can sleep on that couch. It’s tiny. We’ll figure something out. But first you have to tell me your full name.”
“Do I get to know yours?”
“Janie,” he growled. Irrationally, it made her smile.
“Janelle Carlisle from Verona Harbor, Florida.” She stuck out her hand. “And you are?”
He gave in. “Trent Mason.”
“Pleased to meet you, Trent.” His hand engulfed hers and pumped it once. When he let go, a tingly aftershock made its way up her arm and reverberated throughout her body. Trent wasn’t her type. But she wasn’t blind, either. He was all kinds of gorgeous.
Just not her kind.
Even if he was, the chance that he was single was nonexistent. She’d already checked for a wedding band. Nothing. That didn’t mean he didn’t have a girlfriend, though. A girlfriend who wouldn’t take too kindly to a strange woman crashing in his hotel room, no matter what the circumstances. “Are you seeing anyone?”
He jerked around, blue eyes startled. “What?”
Ask without sounding like you’re trying to get in his pants. “I don’t want to get you in trouble with a girlfriend, if you have one. I’ll understand if I can’t stay.”
Trent Mason shook his head. “No girlfriend. I got out of the Army about eight months ago. Listen. Before you decide you want to crash here, take a few minutes on the computer and do a background check.”
He reached over to the computer and raised the lid. “Go on. I’ll wait.”
By the time Janelle recovered from her total shock that some lucky girl hadn’t snapped him up, Trent had returned to lounging against the headboard. Earlier, she’d noticed a dog-eared copy of The Iliad on the nightstand. He picked it up and thumbed to the center.
She dropped her bag and sat in the chair, fingers perched over the keyboard. Typed his name into the search bar. It popped up instantly.
“You have a Wikipedia entry?” she asked, bewildered.
Trent nodded once, without looking up.
Janelle clicked the link. The entry included a picture that looked an awful lot like a younger version of the man on the bed. “It says Trent Mason was the youngest top-ranked poker player eight years ago.”
Another silent nod.
“Left the game circuit after losing…” Jesus. “After losing millions of dollars in a high-stakes game of top-tier poker champions. World Series of Poker?”
Her money problems seemed puny in comparison. Janelle kept reading. “Dated adult film star Penelope Roberts, who performed under the name Bad Penny.”
Terse acknowledgment from the vicinity of the headboard.
“After an arrest for drug possession, spent time at the Glen Harbor Rehabilitation facility in Colorado for a rumored cocaine addiction.”
Holy shit. Her guardian angel was a drug addict and gambler into dating porn actresses. How could this get any worse?
“Mason appeared in a sex tape with Ms. Roberts…” Oh. That was how it got worse. Her fingers were as sturdy as Jell-O, hardly capable of scrolling down the page. “After a year of legal disputes, the film was formally released and distributed. Mason subsequently joined the Army and served in Afghanistan.”
“Two tours,” Trent added without glancing up from his book.
“And now you’re here for a cybersecurity conference?”
“I’d rather you didn’t update the entry with that information. There’s a reason I only use my last name. The point of this exercise is that if you want to click your heels and go home, Dorothy, your best bet is calling your parents and telling them everything. It won’t help your case if they find out you’re shacking up with Trent Mason.”
Janelle couldn’t look at him, that six feet of sexy brawn sprawled out over the bed she’d napped in a couple of hours ago. Desperate for anything that would make this better, she clicked on the next link.
The video began playing immediately. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad…
Her eyes widened. Her cheeks flamed. Her entire body throbbed as though she’d swallowed a bucket of jalapeños. Raw.
Trent Mason was hung.
Also, she’d never realized a woman’s body could bend like that.
The video went on and on and on, the sounds of two people going at it like a pair of enthusiastic, horny rhinos echoing in the small room. He hadn’t had the tattoo across his back then, although there was one on his hip right below one well-defined oblique. Young Mason’s body wasn’t as bulky, though he’d been built even then. The Army must’ve chiseled away any remaining fat.
When Janelle looked up, Mason’s expression was contorted with emotion. Pain. Pleasure. Sadness. It struck her that he might not feel as casual about the video as he let on.
She fumbled with the keyboard until the video stopped. “I don’t know why anyone would be into that…that dirty stuff. I don’t understand the appeal.”
When Janelle looked up again, his eyes were locked on her. Hot emotion seethed in those dark depths, but his voice was even and cool when he spoke.
“Heard Penny say a lot of things, not one of them a complaint.”
Fair enough. Janelle swallowed and clicked the window closed. The blonde woman had been pretty into everything he’d been doing to her. Then again, she was a porn actress. They had different standards, or something. Bad Penny done a fair number of pulse-revving porny things to Mason, too.
“You actually enjoyed doing it?” She was trying to play it cool, but she had no idea what the social protocol was here. Everything she said came out as an insult, when she was equal parts mortified and dying of curiosity.
“Didn’t hear me complaining either, did you?” His phone beeped, and he rolled over on the bed as he gave her a very good look at his taut behind. Along with an excuse not to respond.
“I know exactly how badly a leaked sex tape can screw up your life, Janie. Going to the cops won’t protect you from your sugar daddy, and it’ll invite all kinds of questions about how he came into possession of a video of you. I don’t think you want their noses up in your business. With a little time, I can help you neutralize the threat. Everything goes back to the way it was before. You can go back to wherever you’re from—”
“Right. You go back to Florida, get on your feet, keep digging out of your student loan debt, and move on with your life. Put this whole thing behind you. Your choice.”