I’ve got exciting news to share–MASQUERADE: Her Billionaire – Venice, the next instalment in the Her Billionaire series, is coming your way on 1 September!
Masquerade is the second book in the Her Billionaire series and it is a standalone novel. This time, we’re headed to Venice, where we’ll discover Cal and Anya’s thrilling story.
Ten years ago Cal Burns lost the only woman he’d ever loved, Anya Voronova. He had a ring in his pocket — and then she walked out of his life and he never knew why. He moved thousands of miles away, built an empire, became rich and powerful.
She broke his heart when he was young but he doesn’t have a heart to break now.
Anya Voronova has spent ten years working toward the Accords — a once in a lifetime chance at lasting peace in the Middle East. The Accords will be signed in Venice during Mardi Gras. The city is an explosion of glamour and joy –- and then she comes face to face with the man she was forced to brutally leave ten years ago and has never forgotten. Cal is now powerful, rich beyond belief — and angry. She doesn’t care, just one last look at him will have to be enough to last her the rest of her life.
But Anya knows things that a shadowy group of men will kill to keep secret. And when they come for her, Cal discovers he has a heart after all. And it belongs to Anya. It always has.
I can’t wait for you to read it. I’m sure Cal and Anya’s story will take your breath away. Ready for a taste of what to expect?
Masquerade is available for preorder:
Excerpt from MASQUERADE HER BILLIONAIRE – VENICE
There was a woman dressed like that weird Star Wars queen, whatshername? Anakin Skywalker’s wife. Amygdala? No that was a part of the brain. Amidala, that was it.
Though maybe Amygdala wasn’t off the mark, since it was the part of the brain that governed lust and the lady at the masked ball was definitely making eyes at him. She had this enormous headdress, kabuki white makeup and a huge, red velvet cape that was open just enough to show her in a near transparent lace body stocking. She was holding a flute of champagne like everyone else and sipped from it without taking her eyes from his.
Then she blew him a kiss from overblown lips. Those lips were amazing, didn’t even pretend to be natural, but promised a pretty decent blow job.
Nope, not interested.
Cal turned his back and looked out over the ballroom of Palazzo Maltese, where a thousand revelers were getting drunk and partying hard. A deluxe masked ball to celebrate the successful negotiation of the Mediterranean Accords, a multilateral agreement years in the making to establish peace and trade in the Middle East. After war had been tried, again and again, someone thought maybe peace might be worth a shot.
There was giddy jubilation in the air. It appeared that it had suddenly occurred to a lot of people that a brand new market of previously poor but now maybe future well-to-do people was opening up. Not only would there be peace, but there’d be money to be made. A lot of it.
Everyone who wasn’t already drunk was doing his or her best to get there. Cal should be joining them. After years working in the Middle East with no alcohol at all, toiling at establishing desalination plants in desert environments, he deserved to get drunk.
Aside from other considerations, part of the Technical Dossier of the Accords was a contract with his company, Phoenix Enterprises, to provide safe drinking water for everyone, a dream in the desert that was thousands of years old.
And, not incidentally, he was about to become a billionaire. Officially. Not bad for a kid from the South Side. Mega-rich before he was forty. Doing good work, yet. Most billion-dollar fortunes were made trafficking in something or cheating people. Instead, his was going to be made saving lives.
Didn’t get much better than that.
Now someone dressed as a super-sexy shepherdess was making eyes at him. This one dipped her finger in her champagne and ran it across breasts too good to be true. Those breasts were not made by God but by a skilled plastic surgeon .
Nuh uh. Not interested.
The fuck was wrong with him?
He’d worked practically his whole life to get to this point. He was richer than he’d ever dared dream, single after a brief marriage long ago to the she-devil from hell, in the most beautiful city in the world, at a party celebrating the breaking-out of peace, and he was turning down surefire sex? With champagne?
Cal suppressed a sigh.
If only Anya — he stopped himself right there. If only Anya had been a constant thought in his life these past ten years. He’d married a banshee demon from hell because she’d looked a little like Anya. He’d turned down perfectly nice women because they didn’t look like Anya.
Anya had left him ten fucking years ago. And she’d left him brutally, too.
He had to stop this, had to shake himself out of this melancholy mood. He was Cal Fucking Burns and he didn’t do melancholy. He ran a hugely successful company with people hand-picked to be extremely competent and good to work with. His company was going to be instrumental in one of the greatest accomplishments in a hundred years, comparable to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. An amazing achievement, one for the history books.
He was still young, physically strong, healthy and rich — and soon he was going to be much richer. So rich he wouldn’t be able to spend all his money in a hundred lifetimes.
Shame on him. There was no room for sadness in a life like that.
He was highly sexed and he hadn’t had sex in — he tried to calculate it but couldn’t remember. That had to stop, too. He was in a room full of beautiful women, and most of them looked pretty willing. There had to be someone here he wanted to fuck. Someone who didn’t look like —
No. Not going there.
Huh. There was that redhead dressed in some outlandish rendering of what some might consider Marie Antoinette if Marie Antoinette had a gown cut down to the tops of her nipples.
Well, nothing ventured nothing gained. Cal started off toward the redhead, wondering if she spoke English. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe that would make it better. Just find a place to fuck without talking. Maybe not even take their masks off.
Something grabbed at his sleeve and, annoyed, Cal looked down. A long, slim, pale hand. He followed that hand up to the face and grew even more annoyed.
“Enjoying yourself?” a light, affected voice asked.
Shit, just perfect. To add to his mild depression, he had been caught by the biggest asshole-bore in the world. Tall, slender, blonde hair combed straight back, dressed as a 17th-century swordsman. A musketeer. Which was rich considering he was a total wimp. Calvin had saved his ass in Cairo and Damascus.
Ashley Morris, in the flesh, come to pester Cal. What was he doing here anyway? Ash worked for the CIA, which just showed how low their standards had fallen. Ash and the CIA had done their best to assist the negotiation of the Accords by fucking things up more than once.
“How are you doing? I heard Phoenix cleaned up, landed a huge contract. How does it feel to be mega-rich?” Ash asked.
So — they were playing catch-up?
“Pretty good,” Cal said mildly. He was technically already a billionaire now if you counted his stock in Phoenix and he would be a bi-billionaire very soon. Ash wouldn’t care. He was a trustafarian from old money and had joined the CIA because he thought it made him look dashing. It didn’t. He just looked like a moron, playing out of his weight class. He still looked like a kid. “And you? What are you doing here?”
“Well.” Ash drew himself up, putting a hand on the hilt of his sword. He gave a smug smile. “I played a small part in the accords,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, humblebragging. His tone suggested that the multilateral negotiations, a major historical breakthrough in diplomacy, wouldn’t have happened without him.
“Good for you.” Cal snagged another glass of champagne from a passing waiter in livery, drank it in three long gulps. He needed fortification if he had to talk to Ash.
“Yes.” Ash pursed his lips. “We … facilitated backdoor talks. Enormous geopolitical considerations. It wasn’t all as straightforward and simple as landing an engineering contract.”
Cal placed the empty flute on another passing waiter’s tray and turned his head to look at Ash who was still babbling.
What Cal and his company had done was the private sector equivalent to the moonshot on an accelerated schedule. He and his team had worked tirelessly under conditions of extreme privation, solving one thorny, impossible technical problem after another. They’d built a demo desalination plant in Yemen on time and under budget before the ceasefire, under mortar attack and with constant attempts at sabotage. Though Cal had arranged tight security, he’d lost two engineers to an IED.
But every engineer in the company insisted on seeing the project through to the end, and they’d landed the big contract to provide safe and clean drinking water throughout the Middle East.
They’d created a fucking miracle that was going to save hundreds of thousands of lives, maybe millions of lives, and it hadn’t been straightforward and it hadn’t been simple. Cal and his team had worked like dogs, in 120° heat, eating goat meat when they were lucky, dodging bullets when they weren’t.
And Ash probably sat the whole thing out in some air-conditioned office playing with his tiny dick.
Something in Cal’s face made Ash flinch. “Yeah. So.” He huffed out a breath, looked around casually over Cal’s shoulder. Great. Ash was one of those cocktail party people who looked over your shoulder for someone more interesting to talk to while talking to you.
Cal could solve that problem for him, easy.
“Well.” He plastered a smile on his face. “Great catching up with you, Ash. I think I’ll —”
His arm was caught in a weak grip. Cal looked at the hand and at Ash’s face. Ash dropped his hand but stepped closer, right into what Cal considered his personal space. He didn’t like it when the wrong people stepped into his personal space.
Ash definitely qualified.
It took a lot of self control not to deck the fuckhead. The fact that it would be all too easy to flatten him kept him still but, man, was he tempted.
“Anya.” Ash had been talking and Cal hadn’t been paying any attention to him, but that word made him stiffen. Had he heard right?
“What? What did you say?”
Ash sighed. “I said have you seen Anya Voronova anywhere?”
Cal’s neurons stopped firing. It was like hearing someone talking from far away. “What?”
“Anya. Voronova.” Ash’s voice was exasperated. “Anya. Come on, I know you know her. Didn’t you guys date, like, a billion years ago?”
Cal’s lips felt stiff, wooden. He formed words with difficulty. “Anya is here?”