Monday, July 14, 2014

'Diamond Duplicity (Jewels of Desire Book 1)' by Erica Lucke Dean with Elise Delacroix


Passion hotter than stolen diamonds

Lucy Matthews can’t believe her crazy luck. While she’s on a date with Mr. Wrong, her evening tilts from merely unfortunate to downright surreal when his attempt to sneak them into a club lands them in the middle of a diamond heist.

When gorgeous Max Callaghan discovers a hot and disheveled Lucy clutching his bag of diamonds at the crime scene, he brands her with a fiery kiss. His gang wants her dead, so Max rescues her by claiming her as his girlfriend. Lucy soon realizes with sudden, pulse-pounding clarity that she needs Max for another reason entirely, but their passionate ruse might not survive the intense pressure of a high-stakes mob war.


Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

THE PREHISTORIC JEEP Wrangler sputtered, jerking a few times like a cat coughing up a fur ball, before coming to a complete standstill less than a foot from the curb. If we'd landed there a few hours earlier, the sidewalk would have been bustling with the patrons of Junk Girl, a secondhand designer clothes shop, and Sweet Treats, a high-end bakery--both of which sat deserted at a few minutes past nine.

"Umm. Did we just...?" I gaped at the row of flashy wedding cakes lining the plate-glass window display then toward the city lights a few blocks ahead of us.

"Uh, yeah." My date flashed me a sheepish smile then got out of the car to run around to my side.

I waited for Zack to open the door as guys do in the movies, but he just stood there, staring at me through the glass as if I were an exhibit at the zoo.

Chivalry may not be dead, but apparently, it skips a generation. I opened my own door and stepped out of the car. "So..."

"I swear I didn't plan that." He shoved his hands into his pockets, stretching the front of his jeans until I saw the bulge in his pants. "I guess I was so preoccupied with impressing you, I forgot the basics."

I pressed my glossy pink lips together to keep from giggling at his obvious excitement. "Aren't we supposed to 'run out of gas' at the end of the night?"

"Very funny." He leaned against the car and smirked. "At least we're only a few blocks away. Come on."

I alternated between gaping at him and his clunker. "What about your car?"

"It'll be fine. I'll text my buddy -- he has a spare key. He'll come gas it up, and it'll be ready for us at the end of the night. Let's go have some fun." He hit the remote, locking the doors, then licked his lips while stalking toward me. "You look so good, it would be a shame not to show you off." His wolfish grin gave me goosebumps.

I scooted a few steps ahead before spinning around to flash him a cheeky grin of my own. My borrowed hot-pink halter dress flared out around me like an umbrella. "Has anyone ever told you you look just like Heath Ledger?"

He scrunched up his face, and his blond head tilted, making him look absolutely delicious in his form-fitting white button-down and black jeans. "You mean the Joker?"

I threw back my head and laughed, imagining the gorgeous guy in front of me in creepy clown makeup. "No, not Joker Heath. Think A Knight's Tale Heath." I inched closer to him and bowed my head to curtsy -- taking care to not flash my panties under the flirty little skirt -- then gazed up at him from beneath my lashes. "He was so sexy in that movie."

"You're a strange girl." He chuckled and took my hand to press his lips against my knuckles. "But I think you're pretty sexy too, Lizzy."

"Lucy." My voice faltered, and I cleared my throat as heat spread from my neck to my face. First the door and now this? "My name is Lucy."

"Right. I knew that." He gave me a wide smile and laced his fingers with mine before tugging me forward. With dimples like that, how could I stay mad at him? "We won't get in if we don't hurry. The club fills up fast on Friday night."

I struggled to keep up in the strappy silver sandals my roommate had told me "made" the outfit. Zack led me down the sidewalk, our combined laughter ringing out like music in the night.

"Come on, slowpoke," he teased.

"It's these stupid shoes." I let him pull me under his arm, tucking my body against his as he practically carried me.

His lips brushed my ear. He smelled as if he'd bathed in Axe cologne. It wasn't bad -- exactly. Just a bit overpowering. And strangely like synthetic frosting. "They're sexy."


My cheeks ached from grinning. Thank you, Sasha. My crazy roommate had gotten one right for a change. Well, two, if I counted the uber-sexy dress my date seemed equally enamored with -- even though I'd passed on the push-up bra. Thankfully, the early May temperatures had held, or I'd be cursing her.

He kissed the top of my head, sending my stomach into a tailspin. "I'm glad you said yes."

"I'm glad I said yes, too," I whispered. And to think I'd almost turned him down when he's asked me out. Well, when he'd asked my best friend to ask my roommate to ask me out.

We walked arm in arm the remaining four blocks to Bogie's, the most popular nightclub south of the Mason-Dixon line, me cursing my heels the entire way.

I stared up at our destination -- the shiny steel facade of the Sky building, the newest skyscraper in Atlanta. It twisted like smoke rising from the ground into the clouds. "I love this building! I've always wanted to go inside."

"Have I told you how amazing you look in this dress?" Zack played with the knot behind my neck. "And I love your hair -- dark chocolate, like your eyes."

"I like your outfit, too."

He barked out a laugh. "Guys don't wear outfits."

"Still..." I ran a finger over the buttons on his shirt. "You look nice -- very masculine."

Zack glared down at me. "I'll show you masculine." He scooped me up and spun me around, planting a kiss on my cheek. "Later."

I sensed the roguish threat in his words as he pulled me tighter against him, and I bit my lip. It was all I could do to not turn around and bolt.

"But right now, we'd better hop in before it's too late," he said.

Even at a quarter past nine, the queue to get in wrapped around the Sky. After an hour wait, we finally reached the club's main entrance. A burly guy wearing  black pants, a matching polo, and an earpiece waited for us with tightly crossed arms -- like a secret service agent.

His lips curled up on one side as he gave me the once-over. "IDs?"

Zack pulled out his wallet and flashed his driver's license as I fished through my little shoulder bag for mine. I smiled as I handed my ID to the bouncer.

He glanced from my face to my license, then he repeated the circuit a second time. "You can't come in."

"What? Why?" I took my license, panicking as I gaped at him then my picture. "I had chunky blond highlights for a while. I knew I should have gotten a new picture. But it's really me."

The bouncer shook his dark head. "Doesn't matter if it's you or not. Neither you nor your cheap dye job is twenty-one."

"Wait, what?" Zack shot the guy a look then turned to me. "You're not twenty-one?"

I felt the heat from his stare all the way to my sparkly toenail polish. " But I will be. In two days."

Secret Service Dude waved his hands, shooing us away like flies at a picnic. "Come back in two days."

I managed to sidestep the impending stampede, but Zack held his ground until the crowd shoved him aside.

He glowered at me in the dim light. "How are you not twenty-one?" Zack checked over his shoulder as he whisper-shouted at me.

"Because I was born on May fourth, and until midnight, it's still only May second?" I crossed my arms, making my cleavage pop. My date's eyes zeroed in like a laser pointer. "Maybe I should be asking why you'd bring me to a club where you have to be twenty-one without asking me how old I am."

Zack pushed both hands into his hair and paced, mumbling before nodding. "Never mind. Follow me."

"Where are we going?" I stumbled then half-walked, half-jogged to keep up.

He clasped my hand and dragged me along, practically pulling my arm from the socket. "We're going in through the back door."

"What do you mean 'the back door'?"

He ignored my question as we weaved through the line in the opposite direction, heading toward the shadows between the two buildings.

"Zack, stop." I planted my feet, tugging my hand from his. "I'm not moving from this spot until you tell me where we're going."

He blew out a breath. "The club's in the basement. If we cut through the loading dock -- it's late, so it should be deserted --we can get in through the employee entrance. My buddy and I used to sneak in all the time when the place first opened."

My stomach dropped. "Sneak in?"

"Yeah, it's no big deal." He shrugged then flashed his signature "Heath Ledger" grin. "Think of it as an adventure."

"An adventure?" An illegal, unethical, and probably dangerous adventure. "Okay?"

I let Zack drag me around the building -- past the dumpsters, the pair of homeless guys passed out in their own vomit, and a pile of something I didn't want to scrutinize too closely -- to the loading bay. A huge silver padlock secured the closed corrugated door.

"How are we supposed to get in?" I jammed my hands onto my hips and stared at him.

"Trust me." Zack lifted me onto the raised cargo platform then climbed up behind me. "We're going in through here." He nodded toward a heavy plastic sheet covering what could only be described as a human-size cat door.

"Please tell me you're kidding."

"Nope." He popped the p, sweeping back the thick flap and crouching at the opening. "But don't worry. I'll go first so I can catch you at the bottom."

"Catch me?" I went to take a step back before realizing I was too close to the edge--in more ways than one."Why would you have to catch me?"

Zack smiled. "It'll be fun. Adventure, remember?"

Right. Adventure.

Zack dropped down and poked his legs through the cat door. "See you at the bottom." Before I could stop him, he disappeared into the black hole.

I scanned the dark alley around me, debating my options. With my date gone, I could easily slip off into the night. And be killed before I even reached the car. The same car I didn't have keys for -- that was probably still out of gas. I could call Sasha to pick me up and never hear the end of it for ditching my date. Or...I could suck it up, put on my big girl panties, and slide down the scary shaft to meet him at the bottom, like he said.

None of these options sounded good to me, but then I remembered something my grandma used to say about dancing "with the ones who brung you." I decided to take my chances on the guy at the bottom of the slide.

"Lizzy, are you coming?" Zack hissed up the opening, startling me.

No, Zack, Lizzy is not coming. I leaned over to squint into the darkness. "It's Lu-cy."

"Right. Lucy, come on, before you get caught up there."

"Gah!" My skin prickled with goosebumps again as I climbed in and sat, scooting forward and tugging the short skirt around me.

I careened down the cold steel slide, a gust of icy air blowing my skirt up around my waist as I went. Zack's warm hands wrapped around me, catching me before I hit the bottom. His fingers skimmed the bare skin at the tops of my thighs, and I wriggled free to yank down my skirt. Even in the darkness, I saw the lascivious glimmer in his eyes.

"What did I tell you? Fun, right?" One side of his mouth tipped up in a crooked grin.

"Yeah." I brushed the dust from my borrowed dress. "Fun."

"And the night's not over, yet. Let's go." He grabbed my hand.

The slab beneath my feet vibrated with a faint bass rhythm as we wandered deeper into the underground cavern, following the faint glow from Zack's cell phone and the overhead emergency lighting. We rounded a corner and a pungent mix of gasoline, tires, and the less obvious but more pleasant scents of garlic and oregano swirled in the air, making my nose tingle.

"How far is it to the club?" I asked.

Zack's hand tighened over mine. "Shhhh."

I froze, clinging to him and straining to hear muffled voices over my thundering heart. "Who's that?"

He shrugged before backing us up to the concrete wall and pressing tight against me. "Whoever they are, they're coming this way. We need to hide."

"Hide?" Where the heck were we supposed to go? It wasn't as if I could scamper back up the slide in my fancy shoes.

"Unless you wanna get arrested."  Zack dragged me farther into the shadows and pushed me down behind a forklift stacked with large wooden crates.

I sucked in a breath, preparing to protest, but Zack narrowed his eyes and put a hand over my mouth.

Boisterous laughter bounced off the walls, followed by heavy footfalls. I couldn't see them from my hiding place, but judging by the sound, there were several of them.

"Anyone hear from Joey?" one of the guys asked. "He was supposed to meet us here."

"Nah, but I wouldn't be surprised if he stopped by to see that new chick he's been boning."

More laughter echoed through the space.

"Well, if he's not here in ten, he'd better stay where he's at. I don't want him fucking this job to all hell."

I shoved Zack aside and peeked out as a blond giant slapped another guy on the back.

"You worry too much, Max," the giant said. "We got this. Piece of cake."

"I'm glad you're so confident, but you'll have to forgive me if I'd still like to maintain some level of organization."

Then the giant shook his head and let out a loud guffaw. He patted the guy he'd called Max on the shoulder. "Okay, college boy. Organize away."


Max turned around, and I almost swallowed my tongue. He was beautiful, like sparkly vampire beautiful -- tall and lean with a killer smile and tousled brown hair that was short on the sides and long enough on top to flop into his expressive eyes. Scratch that comparison. Max was sex on legs in a black leather jacket and faded jeans, and that vampire had nothing on him.

Zack yanked me back into the shadows and widened his eyes as if to ask, "Are you crazy?"

Maybe I was. I was on a date with a guy and swooning over another.

Buy links

About the authors:

Erica Lucke Dean: 

After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica Lucke Dean moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains, where she lives in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse with her workaholic husband, her 180 lb lap dog, and at least one ghost.

When she’s not writing or tending to her collection of crazy chickens and diabolical ducks, she’s either reading bad fan fiction or singing karaoke in the local pub. Much like the main character in her first book, To Katie With Love, Erica is a magnet for disaster and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces.

How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.

Elise Delacroix: 

Elise Delacroix married her high school sweetheart and moved to a remote hideaway far enough from civilization that she was forced to create her own entertainment. When playing charades got old, she came up with a plan to write erotic romance in order to keep life exciting. She may spend most of her days lounging in a pair of red flannel pajamas, but her characters wouldn’t be caught dead in anything less than satin and lace.

While Elise also writes in other genres using a pen name, it’s her collaborations with Erica Lucke Dean where she lets her naughty side come out to play. And oh, what a naughty side she has.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Due to the tremendous amount of spam I receive on my blogs, all comments are moderated and will be added throughout the day.