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Shelley Munro
February 24th, 2008, 05:48 AM
PLAYING TO WIN
a romantic suspense by Shelley Munro


http://www.shelleymunro.com/blog/wp-content/playingtowinlge.jpg

Available now:
http://www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419912320 (http://www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419912320)

BLURB:

Professional rugby player, Lane Gerrard is used to women throwing themselves at him, but a scurrilous tabloid article naming him as father of a child sends his temper soaring. The woman he confronts doesn’t fit the blackmailer profile. Kate Alexander is attractive with an enchanting innocence, enticing. A total stranger. Her feistiness draws his unwilling admiration, but the child…he is the image of Lane.

Kate can’t deny her son’s similarity to the sexy man at her door but no way will she hand him over without a fight. Kate doesn’t possess money but she can shower her son with love. With public speculation rife, Kate reluctantly works with Lane to discover the truth. They grow closer as distrust slowly turns to mutual fascination, but the tabloid articles bring out a stalker. Mild pranks escalate into danger, and suddenly Lane realizes Kate is a woman he could love. With Kate and her son, he could have a family. Now, with his heart on the line, this is one game he’s playing to win…

EXCERPT:

Kate jerked the door open. "Jamie, what…?" Her words trailed off when
she came face to face with a stranger. Tall, he loomed over her, his
dark hair and tetchy expression reminding her of a thundercloud.
Admittedly, a very sexy one. She gaped at the enigmatic man trying to
read him, for some unknown reason fascinated with learning what had
ruffled his day. "Can I help you?"

The impassive mask slipped momentarily and she read the flush of
displeasure high on his cheekbones, in his glittering eyes. Tightly
leashed emotion radiated from him in waves and alarm seeped through
her. Kate shifted uneasily before common sense told her to stop being
stupid. Help was a call away. Still, as his broad shoulders angled
closer, she inched backward, pleased Adam was still here. Her slow
retreat didn't go unnoticed. The hard planes of the man's face
tightened and he observed her closely like a predator stalking prey.
Pewter-gray eyes fixed her with cool speculation then, just like a
light switching off, his face blanked.

Her skin tingled under the scrutiny, and to her chagrin, the
sensation wasn't entirely nerves. The sexy thundercloud thing. She
shuffled her feet again, barely resisting the urge to check the
buttons on her cream blouse were correctly fastened. Adam would make
an appearance soon. She hoped. Heck, if she reacted to a grumpy
stranger like this, celibacy was definitely doing something weird to
her hormones. Dark, rich chocolate had worked as a sexual substitute
in the past. She'd grab a chocolate bar from the pantry the minute
the man left.

Kate conducted a quick, edgy survey of her own. He appeared well-
groomed, wearing an expensive suit that probably cost more than she
earned in a month. She was positive she'd never seen him before. The
man would make a lasting impression with most people. He bore an
innate charisma, not traditionally handsome or striking like Adam,
but intensely masculine. His powerful build coupled with strong, dark
features demanded attention, but it was the mesmerizing gray eyes
surrounded by lush lashes that would make a woman take a second look.
And long to run her fingers through his silky hair. Her survey swept
his body from top to bottom and back again.

Oops. Her mouth dropped open when her gaze collided with a cool gray
one. Piercing eyes shot salvos of exasperation at her, as if he were
impatient to complete an unpleasant chore. Kate racked her brain
trying to work out why he was here demanding entrance, wrinkling her
brow in concentration. Maybe he had the wrong house?

"Katherine Alexander?" he drawled.

Kate's heart sank. Not the wrong house after all. And why would it
be? Every thing about him radiated self-assurance. For a brief
moment, she considered shutting the door in his arrogant face, but a
speculative glance at the muscled shoulders filling out his charcoal-
colored designer suit changed her mind. Not a viable option. Kate
sensed he didn't intend to leave until he'd gained exactly what he
wanted. Whatever that was.

"I'm Kate Alexander," she admitted with a touch of caution.

His brows rose and she could have sworn she'd surprised him, but of
course, he recovered quickly. "Can I come in?" he asked, moving
toward her as he made his request.

Kate planted her size six feet in the middle of her doorway and stood
her ground. She wanted information first, before she let him inside.
A name would make a good start. Men who used their superior strength
to pummel whatever they wanted from life didn't win points with her.
With Steve, her ex-fiancé, she had accepted it as normal, but no
longer. No one pushed her around.

"Will I be able to stop you?" she asked in pointed reference to his
muscular bulk bearing down on her. He pulled up short. A brief spurt
of puzzlement sprinted over his tanned face, his dark brows drawing
together in a frown. Kate watched with fascination when a faint wash
of embarrassment appeared high on his cheekbones. Not so uncivilized
after all.

"Sorry," he muttered, stepping back.

Kate exhaled in satisfaction, feeling she'd wrested back control of
sorts. "Your name?"

Discomfort faded from his face, his eyes narrowed into a withering
glare. "So that's how you're going to play it? Deny you know me and
protest your innocence?"

"But I don't know you."

His mouth opened as if he intended to fire a further volley, but the
shriek of car brakes at the end of Kate's driveway drew their
attention. A dark blue sedan fishtailed to a stop at the curb, the
stench of rubber heavy in the air.

The man standing beside her stiffened noticeably. He dragged a hand
through his short dark hair and spat out a pithy curse. "Hell, I
thought I'd beat the vultures."

Kate didn't need to pretend confusion. She darted a glance at the
stranger and decided from the ominous look on his face he knew
exactly what was happening. She wished he'd enlighten her. Like a
film extra caught in the wrong movie scene, she felt utterly
bewildered.

An electric window wound down with a distinctive whine. Goodness! Was
that a camera pointing at her? She blinked and looked again. It was.

"Inside," the man snapped. "Before they get a photo."

Kate blocked the doorway. Was he mad? She didn't intend to let him
inside. "No. Not until you tell me what's going on."

The photographer zoomed his lens in on them. Below the camera that
covered most of his face, a slick smile bloomed as he feverishly
clicked the shutter button.

Kate's gaze snapped to the grim-faced man at her side. "Who are they?
What are they doing?"

The stranger took two menacing steps toward the parked car. His sheer
size was enough to strike fear, but Kate decided his scowling face
set the seal on the photographer's decision to retreat. He pulled his
camera to safety and leaned forward to speak to the driver. His
panicked words were loud enough to reach Kate.

"Got the shot. Hit it, man!"

Wheels spun and gravel sprayed when the sedan shot off, but once the
vehicle was at a safe distance, the driver braked to a screeching
halt. He stuck his blond head out the window, an insolent sneer
distorting his mouth. "Thanks, Lane. Look for it tomorrow."

The photographer gave a jaunty wave, a leer on his weasel-like face,
and then the car sped away.

Kate stared after the departing vehicle, tongue-tied in astonishment.
Hands clamped on her shoulders and propelled her into the coolness of
the foyer. The door slammed behind them, making her realize they were
alone. A pregnant silence hummed between them, highlighting several
things, including the fact she hadn't been out on a date for ages.
Kate gulped, averted her gaze before peeking at him again. Oh, yeah.
She needed that chocolate. The mystery man's tanned face remained
expressionless apart from his eyes. They smoldered with suppressed
tension.

"We need to talk," he snapped. "Which way?"

Buy your copy now:
http://www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419912320 (http://www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419912320)

CharmedGirl
February 25th, 2008, 06:47 PM
Great excerpt.

Shelley Munro
February 25th, 2008, 08:18 PM
Thank you! Playing to Win was the first book I ever wrote many moons ago. Of course, it's undergone several edits and rewrites since the first version!!

Shelley