Read All Bets Are On Online

Authors: Cynthia Cooke

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Demons & Devils, #Series

All Bets Are On

BOOK: All Bets Are On
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His wicked games...

The Prince of Hell needs to get laid. Well, according to his minions, anyway. Now Derek Wescott, ruler of the Eighth Level of Hell, has been set up on an
online date
. And worse still, his minions are placing bets that Derek won’t be able to entice the sweet yet plain Jaclyn Reynolds into bed before midnight. But Derek has no intention of losing the bet. Not now. Not ever.

Jaclyn, on the other hand, is in danger of losing everything. The charity she runs is in trouble, and she is desperate for cash. The moment she sees her absolutely gorgeous—and insanely wealthy—date, she knows she’s in way over her head. She also knows his type all too well, and it will be a cold day in Hell before she ever gets into his bed. Yet Derek offers her a friendly wager: he’ll give $10,000 to her charity if she can resist him.

The wagers have been set. The game has begun. And Derek will do just about anything to ensure that Jaclyn is completely—and infernally—
his
...

All Bets Are On

Cynthia Cooke

Table of Contents

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by Cynthia Cooke. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

Entangled Publishing, LLC

2614 South Timberline Road

Suite 109

tFort Collins, CO 80525

Visit our website at
www.entangledpublishing.com
.

Covet is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC.

Edited by Robin Haseltine and Candace Havens

Cover design by Curtis Svehlak

ISBN 978-1-63375-098-2

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition September 2014

Chapter One

“They are all too damn good looking.” Jaclyn Reynolds leaned back in her office chair and stared at the men flashing across her computer screen. “All chiseled jaws and washboard abs.” All trouble with a capital T.

“Yep, who wants all that yummy beefcake to keep your bed warm at night when you can have dog kisses instead?”

Jaclyn wheeled on Trish, her best friend since grade school. “Exactly!” They were both sitting at Jaclyn’s desk in her home office scrolling through screen after screen of hunky men from Miami’s Hot Singles online dating website. Each one, so obviously not right for her, made her feel worse and worse. Why did it seem the pool of nice, decent, sensitive yet strong men was dried up?

“Seriously, Jaxs. You need a man,” Trish reiterated. Jaclyn’s chocolate lab looked up at them and whined.

“That’s right, Rufus. You tell her.” Jaclyn scratched his cheeks and got a doggie kiss in return. “No woman ‘needs’ a man.”

Trish laughed. “Maybe not, but
you
do.”

Jaclyn huffed out a breath. “I believe I’m offended.”

“When was the last time you went out on a date? A real date,” Trish interrupted when Jaclyn was about to protest.

“Whatever.” She continued clicking through one handsome man after another, knowing they would all be the same superficial clods more interested in themselves than her. Been there, done that, too many times to count. “They all look like Mr. Hot Surfer God.”

Trish rolled her eyes. “Good looking is not bad. Besides, I don’t think we can filter a search on plain, homely men.”

Jaclyn sighed as she flipped through the screens. “Is it so bad to want to date an interesting man? A thinker? A doer? A shy quiet type?”

“You mean a boring type?”

“Think what you will, but these online dating sites are for desperate people and I’m not desperate. I’m just particular.”

“You may not be desperate, but you are lonely, and you refuse to go to the clubs to find someone to fill your empty nights.”

Jaclyn bristled. “Parading myself at the local meat markets, and submitting myself to the random copped-feel and rub, doesn’t sound like a good time. I’d rather stay home and watch the Hallmark Channel.”

“My point exactly.” Trish brushed her long blond hair back from her shoulders. She never had a hard time finding men, but then again, her expectations were much lower.

“And I’m not lonely,” Jaclyn added, seriously close to pouting. The last thing she wanted was some good-looking man to come into her life, sweep her off her feet, and then leave her high and dry. Her mother made that mistake and got pregnant. She managed to turn her life around, only to leave Jaclyn and her stepfather swinging in the wind. All for a pretty face. Nope, if that was what love got you, she’d rather live without it.

“Not lonely?” Trish asked, her voice rising with disbelief. “Ask Rufus!”

Jaclyn laughed. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Even if you did want to bring a man home, Rufus would never let him in your bed. He’s claimed that whole damn thing for himself. He’s the man in your life.”

Jaclyn’s lips twisted into a smirk. Perhaps she was right about that, not that it mattered much. “Labs take up a lot of room.”

“And energy.”

“At least he’s a real dog. Not like that shit puppy you have,” Jaclyn added.

“She’s a Shih Tzu and don’t be dissing Princess.”

“Then don’t be dissing Rufus.”

“Fine. Let’s bag this and go get a drink before we get mad at each other.”

“Wait,” Jaclyn said, her finger hesitating over the mouse. “I just might have found one.”

Trish looked back at the screen and burst into a fit of giggles. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“What? Does that look like a man who is overly concerned with the mirror?”

“Does that look like a man who owns a comb?” she countered.

Jaclyn stared at the close-up photo of the man who’d obviously just woken up, his hair strewn in every direction, thick stubble on his chin, and was that drool? “I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. I think I’d rather wake up next to Rufus in the morning.” She started to hit the exit button.

“Obviously he has a sense of humor or he never would have posted that picture. That’s important.” Trish tapped the screen with a long, perfectly manicured nail. “For God’s sake. Look at those eyes. Have you ever seen eyes so blue? Read his profile.”

Jaclyn lost herself for a moment in the swirls of blue. “He does have some incredible eyes.” She sighed as she read further down the screen. “6’2”. Brown hair. Blue eyes. Loves long walks on the beach. I’d give him a D- for originality.”

“He loves kids. Parks. And dogs,” Trish pointed out.

“Yeah, well, they all say that.”

“He wants a smart woman.”

“I should hope so.”

“And it says here he’s filthy rich.”

Jaclyn burst out laughing. “Again. Can we say baiting the trap? Is there anything about him that says I’m thoughtful? I’m original? I’m interesting? I’m worth wasting a whole night on?”

Trish arched her brow. “Really? One night of your life?” She tapped the screen again. “Look, he likes the smell of gardenias and loves river rafting. That sounds nice.”

“Kind of an odd combination if you ask me.”

“And if he doesn’t drool too much, maybe you can bring him along to the next charity fundraiser—we need all the help we can get canvassing for donations.”

Not like Jaclyn would ever take anyone along, especially since she hated going to those things herself. But some of the women would take one look at his blue eyes and—

“Email him,” Trish insisted.

“No. You do it.” What the hell? At least this would get her friend off her back.

“Fine.” Trish took hold of the keyboard and spoke out loud as she typed. “Sounds like you love the outdoors. So do I. How about a cup of coffee?” She pushed the send button.

Jaclyn sucked in a breath. “There, it’s done. Let’s go get that drink.”

They both stood, but before they’d made it two feet, the computer beeped. Jaclyn’s heartbeat stuttered as the reply to Trish’s email lit up the screen.

“Morning Joes. Tomorrow at ten?” Trish read.

A knot tightened in Jaclyn’s stomach. “Geez, what was he doing, sitting on his keyboard?”

“Do it. Say yes,” Trish urged.

“Can I bring Rufus? The dog park is right across the street from Morning Joes.”

“No! Just do it, Jaxs. If you like him, maybe you won’t mind going to a charity ball on occasion and bringing him along. Like an actual date.”

Jaclyn pushed out a long tortured sigh. “All right. I’ll do it. For the kids and our foundation and those stupid ass fundraisers, too, if I ever have to go to one.”

Trish brightened. “Whenever Robert comes with me we get more pledges. Helps to have extra people talking up our charity.”

“But seriously, we need to find a better way to get donations than going to these parties and pimping out how wonderful we are and how great what we’re doing for the kids and this community is.”

“We would have had to shut our doors by now if it wasn’t for these parties,” Trish reminded her. “Besides, you never know, this guy just might be your Mr. Wonderful.”

“Yeah,” Jaclyn grumbled. “Or he just might be Dexter.”


“I want to
do more.” Derek Wescott plopped down into the large plush chair in front of his mother’s massive mahogany desk. “I’m done with attending charity balls and doling out punishments to passive sinners and self-serving greedy bastards. I’m bored with tearing apart their companies, stealing their wives, and destroying their lives.”

His mother’s blue eyes, so much like his own, flashed in anger. She leaned forward, the diamond brooch on her silk jacket glinting by the light of her Tiffany lamp. “And it’s become more than apparent in your work, Derek. You’re not ready to rule the ninth level of Hell. In fact, I’m beginning to think you might need to take a sabbatical until you can get your game on. Perhaps it’s time you settled down and gave me a grandchild. Recharge your batteries.”

Derek stiffened. “Where did that come from?”

“Sabine is back from the alpha realm. Word is, she’d like to see you again.” She leaned forward. “You two were very serious, once upon a time.”

A sudden chill swept through the room. Or maybe it was just through Derek. “After the way Sabine took off and left me, there is no way in hell I’d have anything to do with her again. Or have you forgotten? She up and left to find herself and has spent the last three hundred years living it up and partying herself into the ground.”

“Perhaps you should talk to her again.”

Derek took a steadying breath. Jumping across the desk and throttling the woman would get him nowhere, and most likely it wouldn’t even muss her perfectly coiffed blond hair.

“Mother, let me make this perfectly clear. I’m not going to see Sabine. I’m not going to give you a grandchild now, or anytime in the next century. The last thing I want is to be tied down to some clingy woman who wants to foist a child on me. Late night feedings leading to Saturday morning soccer games is not the kind of excitement I’m looking for in my life. What I want to do is focus on my work. To move up to the ninth level.”

Her glittering eyes narrowed. “And like I’ve already said, you’re not ready.”

“And when, pray tell, do you believe I will be ready?”

“When you show some maturity. Some innovation. Right now, your work is efficient, even expedient, but—”

“And the problem with that?” he snapped.

“The problem is your lack of creativity. Frankly, your work is boring and a touch uninspiring. I expect more out of you.”

“Then I guess we’re at an impasse, aren’t we?” He knew better than to explode on his mother. She might look like a kitten, but she had a nasty bite.

“Don’t forget about the Rutherford Ball on Friday night. All the Tellon execs will be there. They’ve been using creative accounting methods to artificially inflate their revenue and profits, driving up their stock price and earning them millions. When the bottom falls out, it’s everyone else who will pay.”

“Sounds like standard corporate operating practices. Nothing ever changes.”

“That’s the problem. They don’t. Fredricks is a repeat offender who believes he is above the law. Make sure he learns his lesson this time.”

“Are you saying I’m not being hard enough?”

She grinned, that sly she-devil grin which meant that was exactly what she was saying. “You’ve been known to be a little lenient, Derek. Especially with the family men.”

“Sorry if I can’t stomach hearing the cries of the children in their beds at night when their fathers disappear for years on end. Maybe I can relate to how they feel.”

She stared at him, ignoring the real subject of who exactly his father was and what had happened to him. Her gaze became glacial.

“And what about the cries of their victims? Children mustn’t be spared for the sins of their fathers or they will grow up to repeat their mistakes. No mercy, Derek, or you will never achieve the success you seek.”

“Fine, Mother. If ruthlessness is what you want, ruthlessness is what you’ll get.” He stood. “Is that all?”

She smiled. “For now. Unless you’re ready to take my advice, settle down, call Sabine, and give me a grandchild?”

“Not anytime soon.” He crossed the room, ramming open the wide double doors and heading toward the elevator. He had no desire to see Sabine. Truth was, it was he who was relieved when she ran out on him.

He stood in the elevator, hands clasped tightly behind his back as lawyers and bankers and a multitude of other suits entered and left the elevator of the downtown Miami high rise. He hated dealing with the corporate types and white-collar criminals. Give him a serial killer or a child rapist; now those were sinners he would enjoy sinking his teeth into. Then he’d show
Mother
some creativity.

He’d known seeing her would be a waste of time.

The elevator opened on the bottom floor. He crossed the marble floor and exited out the glass front doors to his waiting Lamborghini. He drove toward his showroom across town, taking the highway bordering the ocean, trying to let the view soothe him. He couldn’t win with her. No matter how many years he’d ruled the eight levels of Hell, she was never happy.

Family businesses sucked.

He pushed down on the accelerator, making sure lights changed and he had free access to move as quickly as he wanted. He had no patience for mortals and their rules today. He arrived at his showroom featuring extraordinary vehicles for the uber rich, ranging from autos, to boats, to airplanes, and parked the Lamborghini on the showroom floor.

This business supplied him with an overabundance of humans needing his special expertise. They just walked through the front door and shook his hand, their simple touch giving him everything he required to read their sins.

Some of these people just dallied, sticking their toes beneath the surface of the moral line, while others submerged themselves, moving fully across the line, relishing their exploits. Liars, thieves, cheaters—they were growing in number every day as morality on a whole plummeted.

No wonder he was bored.

He heard his minions laughing in Cerberus’s office.

“I bet he will,” Cerberus said.

“I bet he won’t,” Minos countered.

“How much you wanna bet?” Phlegyas said.

“What the hell are you guys up to now,” Derek barked as he entered the office.

Cerberus slammed shut the lid of his laptop, his quick smile poorly covering the flash of guilt. “Nothing, Boss. What’s up?”

“Yeah, you got a job for us?” Minos pressed. He and Phlegyas weren’t covering much better than Cerberus.

“Nothing new,” Derek grumbled, wondering why they looked like fat cats with a bloody canary in their mouths. “Just the Rutherford Ball Friday night. Mother wants to make sure we stick it to Fredricks at the fundraiser. She wants a different kind of punishment this time. Something inventive.” The word tasted bitter on his tongue. She also wanted a grandbaby, but no reason to bring that up. Damn Sabine for coming back anyway.

Cerberus clasped his hands together. “This will be fun.”

BOOK: All Bets Are On
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