Playing His Game

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Maya will do anything for her fiancé, Bobby. Roarke is willing to do anything to have Maya, and he blackmails her into a game of seduction. She expects him to be selfish and demanding, so his tender wooing is a surprise. As Roarke breaks down her walls and opens her eyes to the flaws in her relationship with Bobby, she wonders if there will be a winner in their game, or if they’re both playing for keeps.

This is a complete standalone novel with no cliffhangers.

Excerpt

Bobby’s Big Break

“Whoo, baby, I got it.” Bobby swept Maya into a hug, and then circled her around the room.

Her hazel eyes shone with excitement when he finally set her down in the middle of their tiny apartment.

“Really?”

Bobby’s long, flaxen locks waved about his face when he nodded. “You’re looking at the co-star. No more two-bit shit for me.” He puffed out his chest, which was admirably displayed by the almost completely unbuttoned silk shirt.

Bobby still held her in a loose embrace and Maya pressed herself closer. She put her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. “This is it. Your big shot.” She started to kiss him, but he moved away.

He nodded. “I’m going all the way. This movie is shit, but some day there will be an Oscar waiting for me.” Bobby’s dreamy blue eyes went slightly out of focus. He stared into the cracked mirror in the hall.

Maya rolled her eyes because she knew he was either lost in his own reflection or in his dreams of the glory days that awaited him. She cast an eye around the hovel they had shared for eighteen months since their arrival in Los Angeles. Now they could finally afford something better—and more than that… “We can get married.”

He blinked and turned his deeply tanned face back in her direction. “Yeah. Soon.”

She threw herself against him and hugged him again. “I can’t believe it’s finally happening.” It had seemed like forever while they waited for his big break. He worked in whatever bit parts he could find, and she had worked fast food, childcare, and retail. Of the jobs she’d had, Maya preferred her current one as a salesgirl at Macy’s makeup counter. “We’re going to be rich.”

He frowned down at her. “This isn’t about being rich, Maya.”

Her eyes widened. “But you always say…”

A grin teased his lips. “This is about being fucking rich—and more famous than God.”

She laughed along with him.

His expression turned serious. “I’m going to make it. I swear to you now. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Maya framed his flawless face in her cupped hands. “We’ll do whatever it takes, baby.”

Introductions

“Please?” Maya stuck out her bottom lip. “You promised to let me come.”

Bobby’s mouth curled. “It’s going to be a heavy shooting day…”

“I won’t get in the way.” She batted her reddish eyelashes at him as she worked her fingers up the buttons of his shirt. “It’s my day off, and I don’t have anything to do.”

He waved a hand around their new, larger apartment. “You could finish unpacking.”

“Oh, Bobby. I’m sick of being stuck in this apartment.”

“We’ve only been here a week, Maya.”

She heaved a deep sigh. “I never get to go anywhere. You’re always working or meeting with people.”

She clasped her hands together and rested them against her chest. “Please? Let me watch your brilliant performance again?” Maya batted her eyes at Bobby rapidly. She hoped to persuade him.

He still looked pained, but his blue eyes gleamed. “I know you like watching me, but you didn’t have any fun the last two times you came with me.”

“I’m sure they were off days,” she said quickly.

Bobby shook his head. “You told me you wouldn’t want to go back after the last shoot you attended. Have you forgotten?”

She remembered having said that and squirmed—mostly because she remembered why she hadn’t enjoyed herself. When Bobby himself called cut, in the middle of a scene, to announce he looked awful in yellow, she had been embarrassed. When he tossed his bagel at an assistant during a break because it had onion cream cheese instead of plain, she had vowed never to return to the set.

That was before the unrelieved boredom of every day began to wear on her. The first time she was on set, he had been just fine. Surely last time had been an aberration? “Oh, please, Bobby? I can’t stand to stay here another day.” She trailed her fingers up his chest. “It’s so boring when you’re gone. I miss you so much.”

He rolled his eyes. “Fine, but you’ll have to stay out of the way.”

She nodded eagerly. “I will. I promise.”

***

To Maya’s relief, Bobby’s only colorful display had been minor. Earlier in the morning, he had flubbed a line and yelled at the script lady when she corrected him. Later—after prompting from Maya—he apologized to the woman. Since that incident, Bobby had focused strictly on his work.

The approach of a man with massive shoulders and the physique of a world champion bodybuilder drew Maya’s attention from Bobby’s scene. He wore a black shirt stretched across his bulging muscles. It said Security in gold letters.

“Ma’am?”

“Yes?”

“Mr. Thomas has asked to see you.”

She frowned. “Who?”

“The owner of the studio.”

Maya lifted the security pass on a string around her neck. “I checked in. “

“You aren’t in trouble.”

“Then why…?”

He shrugged, which sent the tops of his shoulders up to his ears. “I didn’t ask.”

She turned away from the scene to follow the security guy through the sound stage and carefully dodged equipment and people as they made their way to a set of split-level metal stairs that led to the top three floors of the studio.

Maya struggled to keep up as the man’s long legs took the stairs at a brisk jog. She was a little breathless when they stopped on the second level before a black door with a gold nameplate that read Roarke Thomas.

“Go on in, ma’am.” He knocked for her, and then stepped aside.

“Come in.” The voice was distinctly masculine, with a hint of velvet.

Maya shivered as she opened the door and stepped into the office. Her eyes widened as she scanned the recesses. Black carpet blended seamlessly into the silvery-white walls. Silver filing cabinets lined half of one wall, and the only other furniture was the massive glass-topped desk, a smaller leather seat across from it, and a presidential style leather chair. The chair was occupied, and she tried to discreetly study the man who had summoned her as she waited for him to speak.

His hair was wavy and brushed straight back. The rich sable shade gleamed in the sunlight that spilled through the glass wall opposite the one that looked down into the studio. A neatly trimmed mustache and goatee accented his rugged features. He wore a dark suit jacket and white turtleneck that hid most of his body from view, but she could see definition when he moved his arms. A blush swept across her face when she realized he studied her just as intently with rich brown eyes framed by thick, dark lashes.

“You’re here with Waller?”

She stood awkwardly before him as she nodded. Maya clasped her hands together. “You are…?”

“Roarke Thomas.” He waved to the only chair in front of his desk. “Have a seat, please.”

Maya struggled to hide her anxiety as she dropped into the chair with what she hoped was grace. “Have I done something wrong?”

He shook his head and leaned forward to prop his arms on the desk. “I’m not concerned with what you’ve done, but what you will do.”

“Huh?”

“What’s your name?”

“Maya Langelles. I’m with Bobby…” She lifted the security pass.

“Are you his sister?”

She unconsciously twisted the modest diamond on her finger. “Fiancée.” Maya shifted uncomfortably. “Are you sure I’m not in trouble?”

“Of course not.”

“Why did you send for me, Mr. Thomas?”

Roarke leaned back in his chair. There was a strange expression on his face. “Does Bobby want to be more than a one-hit wonder?”

Her concerns lifted and relief swept through her. He wanted to talk about Bobby. “He plans to make it big, sir. He’s been in four movies already, and…”

“Yes, I’m sure he’s dedicated.” Roarke steepled his fingers together. “What are you doing to help his career?”

She frowned. “I supported him when we first got here.”

“Where did you come from?”

“Serpent Springs in Washington.”

A corner of his mouth quirked. “Sounds charming.”

She shrugged and averted her eyes to hide her homesickness.

He waved a hand, mentally and physically dismissing her hometown. “Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?”

She nodded.

“I want to see Bobby have a long, successful career, and I can make that happen.”

Her hazel eyes widened. A wide smile spread across her face, displaying white teeth. “Really?”

“But I can make sure he doesn’t ever work in movies again.”

A frown chased away her grin. “What are you saying?”

“I want something from you, and you want to help your fiancé, don’t you?”

“What do you want?”

His smile bordered on feral. “You, specifically.”

Her eyes widened, and her mouth opened and closed several times before she laughed.

Roarke looked confused. “What’s so funny?”

Maya was busy scanning the office, searching for a camera. “Bobby arranged this, didn’t he? His practical jokes…”

Roarke scowled at her. “This isn’t a joke.”

“Right…” She trailed off when she realized it wasn’t a joke. “You can’t be serious.”

“I’m very serious.”

Maya jerked from the chair and strode to the door of his office. “You’re a sick man.”

“Poor Bobby,” he said as she grasped the handle. “He’s going to be crushed when I fire him from this movie. And he’ll have to reimburse us since he didn’t fulfill his contract.”

Her hand dropped from the doorknob while she mentally tallied how much of the money they had already spent. New clothes for his image, the expenses of the move to the new place, and a large down payment on the Cadillac SRX Bobby had wanted sprang to mind. It went well into the thousands. She felt sick when she turned back to him. “Why are you doing this?”

“I’m a powerful man, and I get what I want. I want you.”

“But why?” Maya waved a hand down her body. “I’m nothing. I love someone else. Why would you go to all this trouble?”

“It’s a game, darling. Some play it, and others get played.”

Her mouth fell open. “This is all about some game?”

He nodded.

“You can’t be serious.”

“I am. All I want is your lovely body in exchange for Bobby’s secure future.”

All the money they would have to repay—and Bobby’s aborted dreams—weighed heavily on her. She held his future—their future—in her hands. Could she do it, though? It was tantamount to prostitution. However, so much was at stake. She swallowed back tears and asked in a thick voice, “When?”

He opened a drawer on his desk and extracted a key ring. “Catch.”

As he tossed it to her, Maya held out her hand to intercept the key chain. It was one of the simple clear kind, tinted purple, with a handwritten label inside. “What is this?”

“Where we rendezvous. 1427 Flower de Boliva Avenue. The penthouse, of course.”

Sick, Maya shoved the key chain into the pocket of her jeans. “When?” she asked again.

“Every Tuesday and Thursday from one until—whenever we finish.”

She shook her head. “I have to work on Thursday afternoons.”

“How about Fridays?”

“I work in the mornings, until one.”

Roarke shrugged. “Fridays, we’ll meet at two-thirty instead.”

“What about Bobby?”

“I’m not going to tell him.” His mouth twisted. “I’ll make sure you’re home in plenty of time.”

“How long do I have to…” She lifted her chin as she paused, “…whore myself to you?”

He seemed to flinch, but his voice was still cool and level. “Until this movie’s in the can.”

Maya shook her head. “That could take weeks.”

“Months, probably,” he said, and sounded entirely too happy.

“I…”

“Having second thoughts?”

She glared at him. “No.” He didn’t speak again, so she turned on her heel and touched the handle for the second time. Once again, his voice stopped her.

“Are you clean?”

She turned back to him, puzzled. “Clean?”

“Disease-free?’

Her eyes widened, and anger surged through her. “Are you?”

“Fair question. Bring your test results with you to our first meeting, and I’ll do the same.”

“Test results?”

He nodded. “Go see a doctor. Have the usual tests, and we’ll compare notes.”

With a cry of outrage, Maya turned back to the door, threw it open, and stormed out. It wasn’t until she was in the ladies’ room on the first floor that she gave in to the tears. What had she agreed to? But what choice did she have? She loved Bobby too much to deny him his chance. They had promised to do whatever it took, and it was her time to live up to that vow.

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