by Kaylene Winter
(Less Than Zero, #3)
Publication date: March 17th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Family is everything, I protect mine with my life..
Connor McGloughlin had it all, a great family, a college scholarship and music.
Tragedy forced him to grow up too fast.
When his life finally is on track, Ronni Miller appears like a dream.
Kindred spirits in the most unlikely of circumstances.
There’s only one thing in the way—
Her dark past he’s determined to protect her from.
When your innocence is stolen, trust is a precious gift..
Actress Ronni Miller tasted fame at a young age.
But her path to stardom was riddled with tragedy.
She never imagined falling for Connor McGloughlin, a rogue, Irish rock star.
The thing is? Ronni’s got revenge on her mind.
Regardless of the risk or the consequences.
Or losing the one thing in her life that makes her feel alive.
Connor has only ever asked Ronni for one thing: her heart.
But when her bravery is couched in lies?
She risks losing the man who would do anything for her.
Unless she finally realizes being fearless means placing your trust in true love.
“Fuck my life!” Byron Angel, the pampered second-bit actor screeched just before shoving his chips over to me. Yanking his fancy mirrored-lens sunglasses off, he tossed them on the poker table, unable to mask his disdain at losing 50k to a lowly bass player in a rock band. His words, not mine.
Not bothered in the slightest, I carefully stacked my bounty of chips and assessed the situation without saying a word. I’d learned over the years that being stealthy allowed you to fly under the radar. It also came in handy to observe and learn things about the people around you. Stuff that was often quite useful.
Like winning big hands in an invitation-only poker game.
“Angel, you’re out. So it’s time to get the fuck out.” The A-list director of Phantom Rising pointed to the door.
“Maybe I’ll stay and just hang out for a bit?” Byron’s desperate pandering was not endearing. It was pathetic, truth be told.
Glancing up at the other players’ bemused expressions, I knew without a shadow of doubt that his failure to read the room was fatal. It had cost him a significant amount of money. Worse, it cost him respect.
Respect was always better than money. Always.
The director sniffed sharply. Probably to clear the last of the coke from his sinuses. Barely even giving Byron a second glance, he waved him off with a “shoo” gesture. “Nah. Jermaine will see you out.”
And just like that, the eejit Byron Angel was booted the fuck out.
The director’s exclusive games were always a veritable male celebrity cock-fest. Filled with actors, directors, producers, and other industry bigwigs who felt the need to throw their power around. All it really meant was a bunch of yammering on and on about their looks, their women, and their stupid cars. Oh, how I loved to slag these boyos. To their face. My slight second-generation Irish accent made my insults harder to understand if I turned up the brogue. Easier to swallow.
Tonight wasn’t my first go-round. A few months ago, I’d been in LA with my band, Less Than Zero, recording the soundtrack to Phantom Rising. The director found out I liked poker and invited me to his regular underground game hosted in his Hollywood mansion. Tonight, my band was in New York City for the movie premiere and to play a private concert afterward. He’d practically dragged me out of the VIP party to attend his relocated poker game, which happened to be here in his Manhattan penthouse.
In other words, an underground game that wasn’t actually underground. This one was thirty-six stories up.
After a few hours, I’d all but forgotten about the dim-witted actor. I had a huge pile of chips. It was turning out to be a good night. Especially when I mentally calculated my winnings. Factoring in the implied odds, I was on target to strip these losers of a couple hundred thousand dollars. Give or take a few grand after subtracting the buy-in.
Not that I’d keep any of this ill-begotten money for myself.
I just liked winning. Especially against arseholes.
Jermaine’s booming voice snapped me out of my thoughts. “Need a beer, McGloughlin?”
“Nah, I’m grand.” Studying my cards with a covert glance at the table, I estimated I was about one hand away from shutting the director out.
“I’m all in.” The director pushed his chips to the center of the table.
“Call.” I barely looked up.
The director blanched, only for a second. Had to maintain the appearance of dignity. Or whatever. Just as the dealer was about to lay down the river card, the door burst open. Byron Angel was back, tugging a divine, auburn-haired woman behind him. I was surprised to see her but steeled my expression to keep it neutral. Waiting to see WTF was going on. The mystery was solved when the actor produced a stack of hundred-dollar bills.
“Well, well, well.” The director tapped a couple of chips roughly on the table and visibly ogled the woman’s ample breasts. “I haven’t seen you in a while. I think you’ve been avoiding me.”
She ignored him completely. She pointedly ignored everyone, actually.
“I want back in; my girl is staking me.” The desperate actor’s slick, veneered grin made me want to punch a hole in his face just for existing.
Without being obvious, I kept an eye on her. For a split second her soulful green eyes locked with mine, but she quickly looked away to study something fascinating on the floor. It gave me a prime opportunity to more openly admire her. Delicious tits straining against a snug, plain black blouse that bared her shoulders. Lightly sculpted muscles. Curvy waist. Long, slim legs clad in tight jeans.
When she was only 15, Kaylene Winter wrote her first rocker romance novel starring a fictionalized version of herself, her friends and their gorgeous rocker boyfriends. After living her own rockstar life as a band manager, music promoter and mover and shaker in Seattle during the early 1990’s, Kaylene became a digital media legal strategist helping bring movies, television and music online. Throughout her busy career, Kaylene lost herself in romance novels across all genres inspiring her to realize her life-long dream to be a published author. She lives in Seattle with her amazing husband and dog. She loves to travel, throw lavish dinner parties and support charitable causes supporting arts and animals.
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