Sunday 11 January 2015

Blog Tour Excerpt - Heartnapped by Jessica N. Lane

by Jessica N. Lane
Genre: Contemporary / Interracial Romance
Date Published: July 9, 2014

Book Description:
Jayla Simmons never imagined herself working in a place like Vice, but what's a girl to do when she has a child to support all on her own? Her disdain for the place isn't limited to her occupation. Her boss, Carter Rossi, has had a strange fixation on her since she started dancing at Vice, and though she's reluctant to admit it, she's drawn to him as well. Carter Rossi is tired of the cat and mouse game he's been playing with Jayla's since the day she walked into his club. The son of Don Antonio Rossi has been denied few things in life, and Jayla Simmons will be no exception. He'll have her by any means necessary.

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I ignored them. After two years of doing this job, I'd become a pro at blocking out the cat calls and propositions of the vultures that always seemed to surround me here.

"You're doing this for Jorden," I reminded myself as I finished my "dance."

Working as a stripper wasn't so bad. I mean, I could forget my morals and put my self respect on the back burner for a few nights a week, right? What I hated so much was having to live in the small town where this place was located.

I'd come to Barton, Texas, pregnant and alone, almost four years ago. My mother kicked me out two days before my eighteenth birthday when I told her I was carrying Jorden. I stopped in Barton originally just to grab a bite to eat, and saw a flier advertising $600 rentals with utilities included. I dialed the number on the bottom of the neon sheet of paper, and the rest was history.

Not many of the citizens of Barton were outright hostile to me, but the leering glances from men and the death glares I received from their wives spoke volumes. My skin crawled knowing that most of the male population in town knew what I looked like beneath my clothes. I'd only been intimate with one person in my entire life, and that was Jorden's father. That didn't stop me from feeling dirty and violated every time I stepped offstage.

I hated this, but I didn't have many other options, so I swallowed my pride and went backstage to change for the next number.

The stench of hairspray mixed with booze and cigarette smoke permeated the cramped changing room as girls rushed in and out wearing sparkly, lacy next-to-nothings.

"There's the superstar," Joanne croaked, her voice mangled by age and years of smoking. "I was beginning to think I'd have to entertain your boyfriend tonight."

My dark complexion made me a hot commodity around here. That had its benefits. For starters, it meant that I usually made the best tips out of all the girls I worked with because I... stood out. It also meant that I never had to 'work the floor.' No lap dances and no private room quickies. The boss wanted to keep me as desirable as possible to the clientele, so I only ever did stage performances. "Everybody wants what they can't have. You'll be like a star; beautiful and distant." Those were his exact words to me, and how I'd chosen my stage name.

"Mr. Rossi is not my boyfriend. He's my boss!"

Carter Rossi had given me this job on sight. He'd tried to talk me into being a waitress, but I knew that I'd make more dancing. Almost immediately after I started working at Vice, Carter became oddly fixated on me, leaving the other girls to think that something was going on between us. Little did they know that I wouldn't dream of touching Carter Rossi with a 10-foot pole.

The man wasn't a gargoyle or anything, far from it. He was gorgeous beyond belief, and he knew it too. The cocky bastard would strut into Vice every night like he owned the place... okay, he technically did, but it still got on my nerves. His black hair always looked like he'd just rolled out of bed, but the nonchalant nature of it suited the handsome, rich boy who'd probably never had to work for anything in his life. His eyes were so green they had to have been contacts. I'd never seen eyes like that before in my life. He had a body worthy of his Adonis-esque face, and all 6-foot-infinity-inches of him towered over everyone in the room, making all stop and take notice.

In short, he was the type of man that was used to getting any woman he wanted, and unfortunately, he'd set his sights on me. If I was a different kind of woman, or even the me that I was four years ago, I might have enjoyed the attention Carter chose to lavish me with, but life had seen fit to make me wiser than my years about the ways of men. I knew Carter's kind -I'd lost everything to a guy just like him four years ago- and I wasn't about to be taken in by good looks and a few sly words. It wasn't just my heart at stake this time. I had Denny to think about. The last thing she needed was for me to provide her with a lackluster male role model when she'd already been asking me for the past year about her dad.

"Could've fooled me," Joanne continued. "The way he looks at you should be illegal."

"So, he's a perv. That doesn't make us soul-mates or anything like that."

"Oh, you can tell he wants you, Jayla, but it's not all lust." There were murmurs of agreement from a couple of other girls in the room.

She was right even though I was loathe to admit it. There was lust in his gaze, and plenty of it, but there was also possessiveness, longing, a little sadness and something else I didn't quite know how to describe. Instead of acknowledging Joanne's comment, I waved her and the others off, and dressed for my next number.

I quickly changed into the bedazzled white bra and boy-shorts before having Heather, another dancer, help me secure the huge angel wings to my shoulders. I''d barely finished shoving my feet into the thigh-high boots I'd been given before I heard T.J. announce my stage-name.

"Last but not least," he began as the drunken cheers of the blue-collar inhabitants of Vice drowned out the remainder of his announcement. "You're on, Star," he said with an encouraging smile as he passed me on his way backstage to flirt with Heather.

I took a deep breath, and confidently took the stage. The applause from the men in the crowd was thunderous, but I tuned them all out and focused on the pre-choreographed steps I'd rehearsed earlier in the week with Liz, the club supervisor.

I was always able to tune out everything and everyone around me except for Carter Rossi and tonight was no exception. He sat at a table, front and center, with a cigar clutched between two fingers. The minute I made eye contact, my brain turned to mush. Luckily, muscle memory carried me through the majority of the hip swaying and back arching required of the routine. Toward the end of the routine, a man came to stand with his arms folded across the edge of the stage. The big finish in my routine called for me to slide my back along the pole and bring my hands slowly to my knees before doing a peek-a-boo for the crowd, a move that required me to spread my knees apart while balancing on the balls of my feet. It was only after I'd done the move that I realized that the man who'd wandered to the stage earlier had aligned his eye level perfectly with the apex of my thighs.

I felt shocked and immensely violated. I knew that I was basically a faceless piece of meat to the men here, but never in the two years that I'd been working here had I ever felt quite so objectified and dirty. Before I'd even had time to rise from my seated position, I watched dumbfounded as Carter Rossi shoved the man roughly from behind, causing him to stumble into the stage and then jerk him around by the shoulder before punching him across the face. The man fell to the floor, but Carter evidently wasn't done with him. He grabbed him by the front of his shirt and punched the nearly unconscious man again before releasing him. I didn't see the rest of what happened because Heather and T.J., noticing how shocked I was by what was unfolding in front of me, joined me onstage. Heather took me by the hand and led me backstage, while T.J. tried to calm the crowd and get everyone to leave the club in an orderly fashion.

I took one last look at Carter as Fred, the bouncer, and a couple of other guys pulled him away from the other man who was now laying sprawled across the floor. His eyes met mine and I felt a combination of desire and fear make itself known in the pit of my stomach.

About the Author
I grew up in a tiny town with lots of room for my imagination to grow, and never outgrew my love for playing make believe. I developed my love for storytelling when I was very young, and used it as a way to escape and explain the world around me. That storytelling ability has grown and evolved a lot since then and taken me many different places. I'm having fun following where it leads me. I've been writing since I was a child; seriously, my mom has the crayon illustrated short stories to prove it. My writing has been mostly private since the end of my UIL creative writing days circa 1998. The writing bug bit me again when I was a freshman in high school, and I finally had the guts to publish my first e-book, Purple Hearts, in July of 2013! Now, I'm hooked, and determined to make a career out of this little passion of mine. My writing style is very direct with a little bit of humor. Alpha males are my guilty pleasure, but don't expect my female main characters to be passive damsels in distress. Every girl needs a little spark to her to keep the guys on their toes, right? I write mostly interracial/paranormal romance, but I've been toying with contemporary and historical romance plots as well. In short, I'm a dreamer by nature and an artist by trade. I endeavor to take my readers on a different journey with every new story I write.

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