Authors: Jodi Knight
© 2014 by Jodi Knight
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are all products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or passed, is purely coincidental. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews.
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This book is intended for adult readers due to some strong language and sexual content throughout.
COVER DESIGN by Jodi Knight.
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For Sladies everywhere.
You know who you are.
A special thanks to Sarah Elizabeth, my beta reader, editor, and crisis adviser—I couldn't have done this without you.
And a big thank you to all those who have patiently (and not so patiently) waited over the past months for
to be released.
Have you ever been sucker punched? How about on the receiving end of an uppercut to the jaw? Not just a slap—I’m talking about a full-on blow executed by somebody with considerably more upper-body strength.
Let me tell you straight up—it hurts. It
hurts. I’m not a weak guy. I’m athletic. I’m strong. But I was no match for that asshole.
Did I deserve a beating? Maybe, but I’ll let you decide for yourself. He may have won that battle, but he sure as hell won’t win the war, of that I’m certain.
Please excuse me. I’m being rude. Allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Alexander Slade.
I’m the Global Operations Director of Slade Group; my father’s boutique advertising agency based in New York City. Most call me Alex. Some call me God. The latter is both an acronym of my job title and a reference to my expertise in the bedroom.
Now that you know my name, it would only be fair to let you in on a little secret of mine.
I, Alexander Slade, am a fugitive.
Yeah, you heard that right. But before you let your mind conjure up all kinds of wacky scenarios, allow me to clarify my ongoing predicament. I’m not a dangerous felon. I’m not on the run from the FBI. I’m not even sheltering from the dipshit who gave me the shiner on my left cheek.
I’m actually hiding from my father.
You see, in the space of a few weeks, my perfectly sanguine existence has transformed into a clusterfuck of family saga that has not been seen in America since
To escape the drama, I’ve sequestered myself in a luxurious suite at the apex of a five star hotel. I’ve been holed up here since the weekend, and for the foreseeable future, the Pemberley Suite is my safe house.
How long I’ll wallow in my den of self-pity is anybody’s guess. Ten days? Ten weeks? Ten years? By my reckoning, I have at least five days before our accounts department cut my lifeline to luxury, so I’m going to damn well enjoy it while it lasts.
Take a look around. The suite oozes old-world charm and its north-east aspect affords excellent views over Central Park. I’ve even got a four-poster bed. Awesome.
If a guy’s going to hide out, then he should damn well do it in style, wouldn’t you agree?
Okay, so you’re probably wondering what I’ve done that’s so terrible that it would warrant holing myself up in a nine-hundred-dollar a night hotel suite.
Ladies and gentlemen; I’ve finally crossed the line.
As far as my parents are concerned, I’ve been skating close to the line for most of my adult life.
But this time? Oh boy, am I knee-deep in the shit. The fight was over a woman of course; a beautiful, smart, and sexy woman.
Who most probably hates my guts right now.
Yeah … and the punch up was kinda tied up with a business deal my father has been trying to lock down for years. The client in question is worth serious coin; I’m talking megabucks, here. Successful completion would have signaled our arrival among the industry’s elite.
And I’ve blown the whole damn thing.
I drag my ass out of my semi-permanent position on the chaise longue and head to the bathroom mirror. Ugh. Let’s examine the damage. What you’re seeing right now isn’t the real Alexander Slade. It’s a mirage. Stare long enough and you may catch a glimpse of my former self; that debonair gentleman who’s never short of female company.
That was before I went ten rounds with Mike Tyson’s apprentice. I press the purple bruise that’s garnishing my left cheek.
. That’s a good solid nine out of ten on the pain-o-meter. Nine is the upper threshold; I hold ten under strict reservation for penile-related afflictions.
Before the knockout, one look into my eyes was enough to render women catatonic with lust. Now they’re bloodshot, and the copious amounts of scotch I’ve imbibed over the past few days have done nothing to restore their malachite sparkle. My Ray-Bans are struggling to conceal the injury and it’s starting to scare housekeeping.
Look at that chin. My dedication to follicular grooming has reached an all-time low. If I don’t take a razor to my scruff in the next couple of days, I’ll be mistaken for Cousin Itt.
. As if this freak show isn’t enough, I’m still wearing my manjamas; the clothes I’ve both lived and slept in for the past several days.
In short; I look like a panda recovering from a meth addiction.
And now there’s a pounding at my door.
That’ll be Theo with my room service order. Theo is the only human contact I’ve had since I checked into heartbreak hotel. He’s cool. Yesterday evening we smoked a Cuban and I demonstrated the fine art of blowing vulva-shaped smoke rings. As a small token of gratitude, he served up a flute of champagne.
You’re not impressed? He performed this while balancing a bottle of champagne on his head. That kind of creativity deserves to be rewarded. If I manage to get out of this hotel in one piece, then maybe I’ll consider giving him a job.
To cement our newfound camaraderie, Theo and I devised a secret code to minimize the threat of a security breach. Can you guess what he was tapping when he rapped on my door a few moments ago?
That’s right. It’s Morse code for tits.
I open the door, allowing Theo to navigate the steel trolley inside my suite.
“Slade, may I suggest you diversify your meals? You need more nutrients. I heartily recommend the nachos.” He smoothes down the creases in his uniform. “Now, I got good news and I got bad news.”
“Hit me with the bad, Theo. I’m on a winning streak of bad news.”
“Mr. Slade, I’m sorry to say that we’re all out of Dijon.”
“Jesus, is that all? And the good news is? Does the room service menu now include a side order of Victoria’s Secret models?”
Theo chuckles. “Nuh-uh, Slade. I’m still working on that. But I do have the other fourteen condiments you ordered. Now, if you’ll be so kind, put your paw print on here.” He hands me the check with a smile. I half-heartedly scrawl my name and pour myself another scotch. It’s my twelfth of the day and it’s only three in the afternoon.
I tip Theo as he leaves and try to close the door, but it ricochets back into my face because there’s a tan-colored brogue wedged between the wall and the door.
Wait a second.
I recognize that shoe.
It’s Parker. What the hell is he doing here? I force the door shut and squint through the peephole. Parker leans forward, his eyes merging into one like Cyclops.
Parker Harrison heads up our creative department. He’s a good three inches taller than me, and pretty bulky to boot. My receptionist calls him a ‘housewives dream.’ In fact, he’s just the kind of guy my father would hire as a hit man.
“Quit messing around and open the goddamn door!”
Parker pummels both fists against the wooden door in unison. “Fine! Have it your way. If you won’t come out then you leave me with no choice. I’ll destroy it with fire!”
I don’t answer him. I lean against the adjacent wall and weigh up the possibilities. It takes me all of five seconds to reach the pitiful conclusion that I have no possibilities. I’m screwed. There’s no escape. Shy of tying my sheets together and abseiling Bond-style from the window, I’m cornered like a bunny in its burrow.
And all of a sudden the pounding stops. Maybe he went home? Feeling hopeful, I squint through the peephole again. Gah. No such luck. He’s still there and he’s holding up his iPad.
“I have in my possession a video of your fighting debut from Saturday night. Come out right now or it goes viral.”
That son of a bitch.
“Eighty per cent downloaded. It’ll be on YouTube in no time.”
God damn you, Parker Harrison.
“Alrighty, cool your jets!” I take a deep breath and pull the door back as far as the chain will allow. “You don’t fool me, Parker,” I hiss. “I know you’re here on my father’s bidding. Touch me, and I’m calling the cops.”
I unchain the door and brace myself. Parker barges inside the suite, before he stills to appraise me. “Jesus jumping Christ, look at that shiner. You look like one of those mole people that live underneath the subway. And when did you last shave? 1999?”
I eye Parker with suspicion as he swipes a sandwich from the trolley. “How did you know I was here?”
He rolls his eyes. “Easy. I had accounts trace your credit transactions.”
“No, no. How did you know I was in
Parker settles down on the couch and smirks. “I asked at the front desk, but no dice; privacy laws and all that bullshit. Figured you’d take a suite, so I hijacked an elevator ride with an elderly couple. I knew I’d hit the jackpot when I saw the room service trolley heading this way. You can’t even commit to a single condiment to go with a damn sandwich.”
Can you see why I hired him? Colombo’s got nothing on Parker Harrison.