Monday, November 15, 2010
Today's excerpt is from Not What She Seems by Victorine Lieske -- a romantic suspense novel that's tearing up the Amazon Bestselling charts.
Steven Ashton, a billionaire from New York, and Emily Grant, on the run from the law... and when they meet he can’t help falling for her. What he doesn’t know is that interfering in her life will put his own life in danger.
Not What She Seems holds you in suspense from the moment you begin down the path of murder and romance.
When billionaire Steven Ashton couldn’t stand his high society social life anymore, he left the stress of New York on a vacation for his soul. The need to meet real down to earth people lead him to a small Nebraska town he remembered visiting as a child. He didn’t want to lie about who he was, but he couldn’t exactly tell them the truth.
Emily could have easily fallen in love with Steven, under different circumstances, but her past was catching up with her and she needed a new life. If the authorities found out about her, she could lose the one thing that meant everything, her four year old son.
There are many great reviews for Not What She Seems, but here's just a taste:
"I loved this. Edge of your seat suspense along with an excellent plot and great twists that keep you guessing. Pacy and well written, it's got everything you could want for an engrossing read." - Sibel Hodge author of The Fashion Police
I know! It sounds really good, right??? So now, for your reading pleasure, is. . .
Chapter One of Not What She Seems:
Steven stalked down the hotel hallway toward his room, gripping his briefcase, glad that no one was around. He needed to get out of his Armani suit before someone recognized him. Not that anyone staying in this run-down hotel would be hanging around his social circles. But someone might recognize him from the news.
Excitement shot through him. He almost felt like a little kid. If he could get away with it, he would be just another regular person by tomorrow.
He heard footsteps coming up the stairs. A young tow-headed boy appeared, followed by his mother. The child ran down the hall sideswiping him, knocking his briefcase out of his hand. Files and papers spilled out onto the floor.
The boy turned around. “Oh, sorry.” He bent down and scooped up some files, while his mother rushed to help as well.
“No problem, I need to sort through these anyway.”
The young woman flashed a smile at him, and then turned to her son. “Connor, you need to be more careful,” she said, getting down on her hands and knees. Her hair was piled on top of her head in a loose bun, with several curly blond strands hanging down. She was quite attractive, despite her frumpy sweat pants and t-shirt. Steven found himself checking out her left hand. No ring. Then he mentally smacked himself. What was he doing? He needed to get away, and have some time for himself. Forget about women. They all wanted the same thing from him. He had six point four billion reasons why any woman would want to be with him. Unfortunately, none of them had anything to do with his personality.
Oh, he was good looking enough. He knew that. His jet black hair and bright blue eyes turned plenty of heads. But he could always tell the moment they recognized him, and the mild interest would be replaced with strong attraction.
The woman handed him a pile of papers, with an apologetic look on her face. “Sorry about that. He’s just been cooped up in the car too long I think.” She stood and brushed some hair from her face.
“It’s no big deal.” He adjusted his overnight bag on his shoulder. “Thank you,” he said, searching her face for any sign of recognition.
“You’re welcome.” She shied away from his blatant staring, looking to the floor, then to her son. “Come on, Connor, we need to get going.”
Steven turned around. She hadn’t recognized him. That was a good thing. His plan might work. Pulling out his key card, he walked to his door while they disappeared into their own room. He made a mental note of the woman’s room number. Maybe he would pay for her bill as well. Her tattered clothes gave him the impression the seventy five dollars a night might be a bit steep for her.
Emily opened her hotel door, and followed Connor into the dimly lit room. Richard sat on one of the beds, waiting for her.
“Who were you talking to in the hallway?” he asked, his hair hanging in his face, concealing his dark eyes.
“No one. Just some guy down the hall.” She turned her head away.
“Well, what were you talking about?” He glared at her, and she knew she had better satisfy him.
“Nothing. He dropped some papers, and we helped him pick them up. That was all.” She folded her arms and her eyes flashed at Richard, daring him to keep it up.
He stared back at her for a moment, and then lowering his voice he said, “Well, who is he anyway?”
“I don’t know. Some guy that looks like Steven Ashton.” She reached up to her hair, fiddling with it.
“Yeah, right. Like Steven Ashton would stay in this dump.” Richard kicked off his shoes, letting them land in the middle of the floor. “You and the kid get the bed by the air conditioner. The noise will keep me up all night.”
He stretched out on the bed and turned on the television with the remote. He fell asleep on his back, still in his dingy Iron Maiden t-shirt and jeans. Emily rolled her eyes as his snores filled the room. She dressed Connor in his green dinosaur pajamas, brushed his teeth, and tucked him into bed. She smoothed his long blond hair out of his eyes and kissed his forehead. He desperately needed another haircut. She would have to trim it herself again. Richard would never let her spend the money to get it done at the barber shop.
Emily slipped into her flannel nightgown. Her life was a mess. Connor needed stability, a place to stay and call their own. This constant running needed to stop.
If only she hadn’t killed William, then none of this would have happened.
Steven stood, waiting for the balding man behind the hotel counter. The man seemed to be a walking advertisement for how one should look when needing a room at the Sleepy Time Inn. He punched some keys on the computer. “Do you have your key card?”
Steven flipped it onto the counter. “I’d like to pay for room two-fifteen also.”
The man scowled, and punched some more keys on the computer. “That room is already paid for.”
“Then when she checks out you’ll have to tell her there was a mix up in the computer, and that you have to give her a refund.” He smiled and added, “And you can keep this for your trouble.”
He pushed several bills at him and left before there were any more arguments.
The September sun wasn’t up when Steven slipped into his new truck. As he left Mesquite, Nevada and crossed the border into Arizona, he marveled at the beauty of the land. The rising sun danced off the vast open desert as it peeked above the mountains. Splashes of color changed before his eyes as the day began. Starting to feel renewed, he stretched back, glad that he had decided to do this.
Not that he had been planning to get away. It was actually a spur of the moment decision. After his Friday meeting in LA, he told his pilot that he wouldn’t need him for the return trip. A quick call to his mother to say he was going on a vacation, and he turned off his cell phone and split.
He probably wouldn’t have felt the need to get away if it weren’t for the last few gala events that he had been forced to attend. The women clung to him, babbling on about senseless things. Since when had his life become an endless sea of socialite cocktail parties and fundraisers which had little to do with saving the dolphins or AIDS research? He was so tired of being used.
Desperate for a break, he had decided to leave, to go where no one would recognize him. Where there were no social elite, where everyone just left you alone. He wanted to have a conversation with someone without wondering if they would be talking to him if he weren’t Steven Ashton the billionaire.
He used to visit his great aunt in the small town of Huntington, Nebraska when he was young. He had fond memories of the town. He figured it would be the perfect place to go.
The small cramped car, filled with everything they owned, radiated heat. Emily sat in the back seat with Connor while Richard drove, smoking a cigarette and flicking the ashes out the window. She had no idea where they were going, nor did she care. The only thing in the world she cared about was her son. She caressed his cheek with one finger while he played with his toy dinosaur.
Richard turned off the highway, following a road into a small town. Emily watched the scenery change from the outskirts of town, to the business district. Richard stopped in front of a pawn shop. He left the motor running. “Stay in the car.” He grabbed a duffle bag from the front seat and left.
Emily closed her eyes, and pretended she didn’t know what he was doing. He never took her and Connor on the jobs with him, but sometimes they were with him when he unloaded the merchandise.
What a life she was subjecting her son to. Pain washed over her as she thought of his innocence. He would be old enough for kindergarten soon. What would she do then? Richard would never allow him to go to school.
She would have to get some money somehow, and leave Richard soon.
Victorine and her husband live in Nebraska where they manufacture rubber stamps for the craft industry. They own and operate Victorine Originals Rubber Stamps from their home, where they raise their four children. Victorine has a degree in Art from BYU Idaho, and designs many of the rubber stamps they sell. She has always loved to read, and in her spare time she writes.
Check out her blog at Victorine Writes and her website, Victorine Lieske.com.