Sunday, March 6, 2022

Read an Excerpt from State of Play: Passion Meets Politics (The Candidate Book 2) by Taylor Lee

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When her pedophile candidate crashes and burns Gia accepts that her life as a hotshot campaign manager is over. Given the profoundly corrupt candidate who is now a shoe-in to win, Logan challenges her to run for the office--something she swore she’d never do. When Logan refuses to take no for an answer, for better or worse, Gia concedes.


Shocked at Gia’s entry into what he’d assumed would be a walk in the park campaign, her hapless political opponent brazenly labels Logan her sugar daddy. He ups the ante claiming that Gia sold her body to get his financial support. Given Logan’s special operative background, it was an unwise move at best.


In his former Special Operative career, lying and lying well was often a matter of life and death. Logan admits it’s questionable if that excuses his lies of omission to Gia regarding his current operation. He has to hope what’s usually considered dishonorable isn’t when the life and well-being of the woman he’s deeply in love with is at stake.


Logan is an entrepreneurial genius, accustomed to ruling every arena he chooses to enter. No shrinking violet, Gia rules her life with an iron hand. It’s not surprising that occasionally in public and, particularly behind closed doors, their relationship is an explosion waiting to happen.

Gia admits the problem with Logan’s commanding arrogance, in addition to annoying the hell out of her, it also turns her on.

Excerpt:

 Logan planted her in the passenger seat of his snazzy FF convertible that he’d sequestered in the alleyway behind the HT&M. He wasn’t taking any chances. He knew if the media horde spotted them, they’d follow him to his upscale condo, and it would be game over. In the media onslaught that would be a fact of Gia’s and his life soon enough, he wanted to protect her as much as he could, at least until they could work through some of the troublesome issues looming before them. Glancing at her, Logan squelched his grin. Her arms smashed tight across her chest and the fearsome frown creasing her brow made it clear that Gia wasn’t up for press interviews or, for that matter, much of anything—including him.

“Where are we going, Logan?”

“To my place. Why do you ask?”

She snorted. “Maybe because it would be nice to know what is happening in my life, even if I don’t have a damn thing to say about it.”

“Now, now, princess. No need to be testy. But never fear, after I get you fed and watered, you’ll soon feel like your sweet and charming self. At that point, we can revel in the extraordinary feat you pulled off today.”

When she sniffed and pointedly didn’t answer, Logan started humming Rod Stewart’s provocative tune, “Do Ya think I’m sexy?” and then softly sang the words, “If you want my body . . . and ya think I’m sexy . . . Come on, sugar, let me know . . . ” Seeing the incipient smile Gia couldn’t hide, then quickly shuttered, Logan was grateful that given the drama of the day, she was able to smile at his antics—if only momentarily.

As if determined to take him on, Gia said sharply, “I . . . I don’t know if I have the right clothes at your place.”

At his raised brow confirming that she was aware of the clothes he had bought for her that were hanging in his closet, she snapped, “But then, I don’t have a clue what I will be doing tomorrow, so what the hell does it matter if I have clothes or not.”

Logan stifled a laugh as he pulled into his garage, acknowledging he had his work cut out for him. Rounding the automobile, he had her door open and was lifting her out of the plush seat before she could push him away. Holding her securely next to him, he activated the retinal scanner, then pulled her into the elevator with him. Keeping her tucked next to him, he was relieved when she leaned against him ever so slightly. Taking advantage of the moment, he leaned down and brushed his lips across the sensitive skin beneath her ear. He was gratified when she couldn’t control her tremor and soft moan. Pulling her harder against him, he murmured, “Oh yeah, princess, then there is that . . . ”

When the doors opened directly into his condominium, Logan stepped into the hallway, then steered her into the lavish bathroom. Still holding her next to him, he murmured softly, “How about you hop in the shower, sweetheart, and see if you can scrub off at least thirty layers of that hostility you’ve encased yourself in? What do you think, baby? Think after twenty minutes under the scalding water, there’s a chance my formidable lover will emerge?”

Seeing her lips tremble and a rush of tears flood her expressive eyes, he hugged her and then gave her a little push. “Into the shower, princess, and that’s an order.” He ignored her gasp and closed the door on what he was sure would be a litany of recriminations. Shaking his head, he headed for his well-stocked bar. He didn’t know when he’d needed the comfort of fine whiskey more. Just thinking about the month they’d had, it was no wonder Gia was as shell-shocked as she looked. Talk about a Kingda Ka rollercoaster ride complete with a four hundred and fifty foot drop or two! Hell, that described today alone. Tossing back his drink, Logan went to work preparing for what he knew was going to be a challenging conversation. He snorted. So what was new about that?

****

When she finally felt somewhat under control, Gia forced herself to leave the comfort of the steaming enclosure. Reaching for one of the sumptuous bath towels, she dried off her heated body, then did her best to wring the water out of her curly hair. One of the good things about having naturally curly hair, even if it wasn’t the most sophisticated hairstyle, was that the midnight-black mass dried into a style that seemed to work. At least Logan seemed to think so, as many times as he had buried his hands and mouth in it, teasingly declaring that she’d sworn him off stick-straight blonde-haired women for life. Remembering the parade of wealthy, beautiful women that had been a fixture in the tech genius’s life mere weeks ago was all it took for her insecurities to flare. Asking herself for what seemed like the hundredth time today ‘what the hell am I doing?’ she blew out a hard sigh that came close to a sob.

Forcing herself to leave the comforting confines of the bathroom, she walked into the bedroom, then stopped in the doorway and stared at the bed. She shouldn’t have been surprised to see what looked like a lounging outfit on the bed. Shaking her head, she marveled at the silky garment. Without trying it on, she knew it would fit her perfectly—not only the size but the lush colors that were sure to come alive on her curvy body. Beside the gorgeous outfit was a lacy bra and thong. Like the silky lounging confection, she knew the enticing duo would accentuate her curvaceous frame. As she slipped them on, she reminded herself that Logan had bought them for her. That was challenging enough. She didn’t need to see any price tags; the sexy elegance spoke to their designers. What was more challenging was convincing herself that somehow this dream world that she’d entered this last month, as well as being the most devastating time in her life, was also the most wonderful.

Across the teak-floored expanse, she saw him on the patio leaning against the iron railing. She wasn’t surprised that he was contemplating the remarkable scene from his fifty-five story perch. His open-roomed condominium was magnificent in every way. The living room, kitchen, and dining room wove unimpeded from one space to the next, separated by function and woven, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind area rugs. While all the rooms in the house opened to the extraordinary fifty-five-story view through floor to ceiling walls of glass, only the bedrooms and bathrooms were confined by walls. But what made the abode truly remarkable was the breathtaking view of the city and sky from the wraparound patio encasing the spectacular home.

Gia sucked in a much-needed breath of air, deciding that as glorious as the view was, it didn’t hold a candle to the tall, lean man leaning against the railing. His broad shoulders, muscular back, and sculpted butt were mouthwatering. Just the sight of him sent shockwaves of desire skittering across her thighs, taking up residence in her groin. Either he heard her slight moan of appreciation or, more likely, felt her presence as she felt his because he turned toward her. Swallowing hard, she marveled that his front view was as noteworthy as his impressive back. A Charlie Hunnam sweep of blond-streaked hair was as sophisticated as it was daring. His strong jaw, high cheekbones, and full lips contributed to his arresting looks. But now, it was his dark-brown, almost black eyes that lit with pleasure at the sight of her that caused Gia’s stomach to flip.

Forcing a smile to curve her lips, she pirouetted in a circle, showing off the flowing concoction she was wearing. She aimed for a nonchalance she was far from feeling and murmured, “You like?”

His smile widening, he nodded. “Ah yes, Gia. If you are asking me if I like what your astonishing body does to that lovely outfit, my response is a resounding hell yes!” Holding out his hands, he qualified, “But, princess, to truly test my reaction, I need you to come over here. I have to run my hands over that silky creation to confirm that all of those luscious curves are real and that you truly do have the most amazing body I’ve ever lusted over.”

Gia could only shake her head, blinking hard to keep the tears she felt filling her eyes from falling.

Logan’s voice was soft but commanding. “That wasn’t a request, princess.” His lips quirking up the corners, he pointed to a spot in front of him. “Here, princess. Now.”

When she hesitated, he narrowed his gaze and, nodding affirmatively, held out his hands. In seconds, she was in his arms, burying her face against his chest. Feeling his strong arms around her, she gave in to her upset. Her voice choked with tears, she pleaded with him. “What’s wrong with me, Logan? I should be thrilled with what happened today. If my candidate did what I did—spontaneously at that—I’d be ecstatic. I’d be congratulating her for an over-the-top performance. And I’d know that as her manager, I must be doing something right. That I was as hot damn a manager as I’d always known I was. Instead, I . . . I’m upset.”

Swiping at her tears, she appealed to him. “God, Logan, is this what it’s going to be like? I’m going to have to do everything outside of my comfort zone and turn over the things I’m expert at, the things I love to do, to Ben and the girls? Not to mention having to listen to your brain trust, Max, Jerry, Paul, and Elliott, butting in like the wise men of old? Thinking just because they agreed to fund the campaign they can tell me what to do?” Her voice took on an accusing edge. “And then there is you. I’ve always known you are Mr. Wonderful, but now I’m coming to find out that you are the master of the fucking universe! At least the universe that affects me.”

Startled at the rush of emotions and accusations that flowed unchecked from her lips, Gia stepped back, embarrassed. To her surprise and relief, Logan didn’t look angry. If anything, he looked as though he’d expected her outburst.

At least that’s how she felt when he held her more tightly and then said quietly, “I have a suggestion, sweetheart. As exhilarating as today was on so many levels, I’m not surprised that you feel overwhelmed.” When she tried to interrupt, tell him that it was more than that, he shook his head. “Uh-uh, Gia. You are raising important issues, issues that we need to deal with. And we will. But first, as usual, you haven’t had a damn thing to eat today since I forced you to eat breakfast this morning. Which was a minimum of twelve hours ago. Hell, honey, If I’m not mistaken, you were too energized to even drink at the HT&M.”

When he turned her toward the sofa, Gia realized that the platter of elegant seafood and an arrangement of fruit and vegetables, plus fresh bread on the table, was what she’d smelled from the bedroom. The beautiful food confirmed that, as usual, Logan was on-target. She hadn’t eaten since a hurried breakfast this morning and was ravenous. Allowing him to settle her on the sofa, she was grateful when he filled a plate with an array of delicacies and handed it to her.

Sinking down beside her, he reached for the bottle of wine in the ice bucket and poured each of them a glass of pinot grigio. Raising his glass to her, he said, “To you, Gia, the most courageous woman I know.”

Gia hesitated and nodded as she took a sip and then raised her glass to him. “To you, Logan, the man who is determined to take over my life.” She added with an aggrieved sigh, “And for some crazy reason, I’m letting you!”

He laughed. “Oh hell, baby, that’s what we masters of the universe are known for.”

For the next several moments, they ate and drank in silence. Little by little, Gia felt the bonds of anxiety that had become significantly tighter as the day progressed begin to loosen. When she decided she couldn’t eat another bite of the lavish food, she leaned against the back of the sofa with a contented sigh. Logan also put his plate down and then refilled both of their glasses. To her surprise, she saw that he looked somber. “What is it, Logan? You . . . you look serious.”

He smiled, then nodded. “I am serious, Gia. And I’m ready to begin the conversation that we need to have.”

Feeling a churning mass of anxiety creeping over her, Gia shook her head. “What . . . conversation? What more do we need to discuss?”

Holding her frowning gaze, he said with a shrug, “I’ll leave the sequence of the topics we discuss to you. To be specific, which of these three issues that have got your panties in a bunch would you like to hit me with first?” At her surprised frown, he put up his fingers and checked them off. “Shall we start with that troublesome elephant in the room? Specifically, what role your father will or will not play in the campaign. Or two, do you prefer tackling how I can convince you to back off and let Ben run the campaign, which will allow you to be the candidate? Or finally, shall we discuss how we are going to deal with our love affair? Specifically, when do we announce that I am more than your funder, and you are so much more than my client?”

 


 

 

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