Book Cover: Brazen Player

We’re both playing the game. But who’s going to win?

 

Logan
I should get this promotion to the executive team. I have experience. Loyalty. Smarts.
But the one thing I don’t have is the one thing I’ve never been able to achieve: a family.
My personal life shouldn’t matter, but the executive team is filled with family men and women.
Me? I’ve had a revolving door of dates. It’s just the way I like things—casual, no-strings.
But it’s time to toss out the little black book and get serious.
I need a woman who’s feisty, someone who can handle me.
Someone strong and funny and intelligent.
Someone like that hot little brunette I see in the elevator who sets my libido on fire.
It’s lust at first sight.
Too bad she can’t stand me.

Olivia
Men—the bane of my existence!
Between my nuisance ex and people who think a woman doesn’t belong on a construction site…well, they can all kiss my curvy ass.
As a home renovation expert, I know my way around power tools.
I’m taking things to the next level, renovating and flipping a condo in a high-end building.
I’m out of my element here. I can tell by the way the unit owners look down their noses at my paint-stained clothing and work boots.
Especially the snob in the suit I meet in the elevator.
He thinks he’s better than me. I certainly don’t need a snooty jerk like him…
Until he makes me an offer I can’t refuse.

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Publisher: Cocky Hero Club, Inc.
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Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Logan

BANG, BANG, BANG!

I nearly choked on my glass of water. What the hell was that noise?

Putting down my water, I stalked to my front door and opened it to look into the hallway.

Nothing.

Closing the door, I went back to the kitchen and downed my morning vitamins and more water. My building was normally quiet, but maybe someone was having renovations done on their unit. I quickly checked my reflection in the mirror. My tie was a little off, so I straightened it and smoothed back an errant piece of hair. I left, locking the door behind me and walking briskly to the elevator.

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After pressing the elevator button, I glanced at my watch—enough time to pick up my coffee and a newspaper and still get to the office while it was quiet. Mornings were my favorite—I planned out my day, read my paper, and started work until others start filing into the office.

Even Marcy, my secretary, didn’t come in until eight-thirty. As soon as she came in, she delivers phone messages and paperwork, immediately sending my day into chaos.

I pressed the button again, wondering why the hell it’s taking so long. At seven in the morning, I rarely saw anyone in the elevator.

The door finally opened, and I stepped inside, pressing the button for the basement garage. As the doors start to close, a small hand appeared between the doors, and they slid open again.

“Ooh, just in time,” a woman’s voice says.

Looking to see which button I pressed, she leaned against the side of the elevator, holding the metal rail.

Her brown hair was pulled into a high ponytail. A form-fitting pink t-shirt hugged her breasts, and a pair of denim jean shorts showed off curvy hips. My gaze took in her strong, tanned legs, ending in pink socks and dirty work boots. I tried to speak but was distracted by her presence.

She scratched her neck, and I notice unpainted nails and no jewelry. Her heart-shaped face was stunningly pretty. She had brown eyes, and pink lips without a hint of lipstick. Small freckles danced over her nose and across her cheeks. Her whole face was bare of makeup, but that didn’t matter—she was a natural beauty.

I’d never seen her before, but I needed to know who she was.

“You new in the building?”

“Oh, no. I’d never live in a building like this.” She shook her head. “Not my style.”

I raised my brow. Interesting. There’s always a long wait list to get into this condo building. It was only a few years old, in a prime location, and the units had fantastic views and high-end finishes.

“Logan Forrester,” I said, holding out my right hand. “I live in 605.”

“I’m Olivia.” Her smile was gorgeous, with nice teeth and dimples on each side of her mouth. “Olivia Watts. I’ve seen you in the sixth-floor hallway. I’m renovating a unit down the hall from you, a one-bedroom, one bath.”

“I heard the banging just now. We have rules against construction noise at all hours.”

“Yes, I know. We’re allowed to start at seven. We’re just knocking down a short wall. It won’t take long.” She scanned me from head to toe. “Don’t worry, Mr. Forrester, I won’t interrupt your precious sleep.”

My jaw dropped at her tone. Not many people talked to me that way, especially someone I’d just met. The elevator dinged, and the doors opened

“Have a nice day,” she said and headed into the basement.

Irritated, I walked after her. She took a right and I followed, since that’s where my car was parked. My eyes focused on her denim-clad ass as it swayed before me. She headed to a red pickup truck, dingy with dirt and scratches.

My black sedan gleamed in the overhead lights. After I climbed in and started the engine, I turned the radio to my favorite classical music station. A quick look into my rearview mirror showed the bed of her red pickup truck stopped behind me.

Pressing the button to roll down my window, I stick my head out to say something. Olivia’s passenger window was open, and she leaned toward it.

“Nice car, rich boy!” she yelled, then her tires squealed on the garage floor as she took off.

I drove to work, fuming at my inability to speak around the woman. Normally I was a smooth talker, bantering with women, charming them into giving me their phone numbers.

“Never mind,” I said out loud, planning to scold her about squealing her tires in the garage the next time I see her.

My favorite coffee shop was packed with a long line, and when I finally got to the register, I had a new barista who didn’t know me. She took forever to make my usual drink.

The newspaper display was empty, so I looked around for one of the baristas I knew and flagged her down.

“April, why haven’t the papers been delivered yet?”

“Oh, I know. I’m sorry, Logan. The truck never showed up this morning. I’m not sure what happened.”

“It’s fine, I’ll live. Thank you, April.”

The morning wasn’t going my way at all. Back in my car, I took a small sip of the coffee. The barista had gotten my drink slightly wrong, just as I suspected. It wasn’t awful, but I liked my usual order.

When I got to the office, I pulled into my designated spot. I rode the elevator to my floor, determined to make the rest of the day go smoothly. A late start or anything out of the ordinary in the morning could set a bad tone for the day.

I almost choked on my coffee when I saw Marcy at her desk, turning on her computer. Her blonde hair was straight today, and her navy dress was impeccable as usual, but seeing her this early just seemed wrong.

“Marcy. It’s a bit early for you, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but I’m taking a long lunch for a dentist appointment.”

“You know you can take as much time as you need for appointments. You don’t need to make up every minute.”

“I know. I also want to do a little shopping since the dentist is near my favorite clothing store.”

“Alright.” I wasn’t a tyrant. “Marcy, please hold any calls or visits until eight-thirty. My morning has gotten off to an odd start, and I need some quiet time.”

“Yes, Mr. Forrester.”

“Marcy, please, you’ve worked here for four years. You can call me Logan. No one is even here yet.” I opened the door to my office, grinning. “Even the twenty-year-old barista at the coffee shop calls me Logan.”

She gave me a soft laugh, and I closed the door. Marcy insisted on using my last name because she thought it sounded more professional. She did that when it was just the two of us, just to be a smart-ass and to stay in practice so she didn’t use my first name in front of important colleagues or visitors.

Some of the men in the office raised their brows when they saw how pretty Marcy was, but she was my friend, and one of the few people who didn’t take my shit. Her work for me was impeccable. She was also happily married—a line I’d never cross.

Besides, I liked brunettes more.

I put down my coffee and started my computer, thinking about Olivia and her comment in the garage. Rich boy. Ha! My parents were wealthy, but they made me get a job to help pay for college. They wanted me to be a hard worker, just as they were.

I started in an entry-level job after college and worked my way up the ladder, changing companies and going after good raises. I saved money for a good down-payment on my condo, my retirement already held a healthy balance, and I was just thirty-three.

My car was a treat to myself for being promoted to upper-level management a few years ago. So what if I worked hard and treated myself occasionally? I took a sip of coffee. What was her last name again?

“Watts. Olivia Watts,” I said, trying her name out in my mouth.

What did she know about me?

Nothing.

Instead of reading my paper, I searched for her name online, and the screen filled with results. Olivia owned her own renovation company. Interesting. I skimmed several newspaper articles about her, which praised her for being a woman-owned business who hired mostly women. She also helped to build houses for a local charity called A Mother’s Heart that fixed up homes for single mothers.

“Very nice, Olivia, but you’re still rude as hell.”

Leaning back in my chair, I pictured her long ponytail. A few pieces of hair had escaped and framed her face. I bet they were soft.

And those hips—damn. She was really curvy in those shorts. The type of woman I usually gravitated to wore skirts and blouses, or tailored suits, nice jewelry, and shoes that cost a fortune. And I’d never seen a woman in dirty work boots.

Enough about that, it was time to get to work. After minimizing the screen with photos and articles about Olivia, I settled in to read my paper and start working. At eight-thirty sharp, Marcy knocked.

“Come in, Marcy.”

She came in with a small notebook.

“I just got a call to change your two o’clock meeting to three.”

We discussed my afternoon and the other projects I was working on. When she left, I brought up the screen with Olivia’s picture. Her smile was brilliant, and she had nice brown eyes.

Something stirred deep in my chest. I hadn’t had a serious relationship in years. The last one didn’t end well, and I’d been on a hiatus from dating.

Olivia had to be in a relationship. A woman like that had to have a boyfriend or husband.

I settle into reading a report, trying not to think about soft brown hair and dirty work boots.

***

The rest of the day passed with meetings, paperwork, and emails. At five-thirty, Marcy came in.

“All done for the day. Do you need anything before I leave?”

“No, Marcy. I’m good. Have a good night.”

I was reading a file, but I put it down and leaned back in my chair. Normally, I worked until seven or later, but tonight, I wasn’t feeling it. I was hungry and tired from my afternoon conference calls and meetings.

Turning in my chair, I looked out the enormous windows behind my desk. The view from the twelfth floor was impressive—city streets, tall buildings, cars and trucks zooming by. At night, I liked to look at the lights in the other buildings.

I straightened the folders on my desk and shut off my computer. If Marcy saw me leaving this early, she’d faint, but I reached a good stopping point, and I wanted to leave.

And I had to see if a certain brunette was still on my floor.

When I walked out of my office, I heard Toby and Jack’s voices in the hallway. Seeing Toby made my jaw clench.

“Forrester,” Toby said. He had a giant head and enormous teeth, but he thought he looked like a model. “Leaving so soon? Thought we’d run something by you.”

“Yes, I’m leaving. I’ll catch up with you tomorrow.”

Toby looked at his watch. “Pretty early to be checking out for the night, Forrester.”

“I put in plenty of work today.” I looked at his stupid goatee, which he dyed to match his hair, but it just called attention to his teeth. “Got here hours before you did.”

Toby laughed, a deep guffaw that made me cringe. He acted like everyone’s friend, but he’d stab you in the back for a nickel.

“Hot date tonight?” He wiggled his brows. Toby thought he was popular with the ladies, but our women colleagues turned and went the other way when they saw him approach.

“Oh, lay off him,” Jack said. “We’ll catch you tomorrow, Logan.”

Jack and Toby wore dark gray suits and blue ties today, as if they’d planned it. Jack was a decent guy if you got him alone, but he acted like an ass when Toby was around.

They left, and I walked to the elevator, anxious to leave before someone else stopped me.

By the time I reached the elevator, I was shaking my head. What the hell was I doing? Hoping to get a glance at a woman I didn’t know? A woman who called me rich boy?

The ride home was filled with more traffic since I was leaving at a normal hour, but I turned on my music and zoned out during the ride. When I stepped off the elevator on my floor, I stopped in my hallway and listened.

No construction noise, but I heard two women talking. Was one of them Olivia? I walked toward the voices, a few units down from my own. Their door was open, and I looked inside. Olivia and another woman were sitting on plastic crates and eating sandwiches.

“Uh, who are you?” the other woman asked.

Olivia smirked.

“This is the guy I told you about this morning,” Olivia said. “Kim, meet rich boy.”

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Wendy on Goodreads wrote:

"This is a new author to me, but I will certainly be looking out for her work in the future, and this story is a great addition to an awesome series... a well written story which is sweet, fun, light-hearted, and with humor, witty banter, emotions, and is an entertaining all-consuming page turner. I look forward to reading more from this talented author."

Stital on Goodreads wrote:

"I really like Robin's portrayal of Olivia as a self sufficient and fierce female lead. With a sweet and lighthearted atmosphere and a simple, flowing story, the undertone of equality and that girls can do anything they want to do is the cherry on top for this entertaining, feel-good, easy-to-read book."

Rhonda on Goodreads wrote:

"Being a fan of Robin Stone and her books, I was thrilled when I found out she was writing in this world. Brazen Player did not disappoint me. I loved watching Logan and Olivia at first, fight their desires and then slowly give in...Loved the whole story and is one I'll reread in the future!!"