Sneak Peek: A Notorious Prologue – #BeNotorious Blog Tour Day Five
Welcome to Day Five of the #BeNotorious Blog Tour! We are revving up to the release of the highly anticipated sequel of Katie Jennings’ family drama When Empires Fall, aptly named Rise of the Notorious!
Follow along on this notorious blog tour from April 2nd till release day on April 23rd, and be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win some AMAZING prizes!
Today’s stop is a sneak peek at the prologue of Rise of the Notorious. Set in the “City of Sin,” this enticing snippet is sure to whet your appetite! Enjoy!
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Las Vegas, Nevada
July 1, 2004
They say that only clever creatures can survive the desert heat. After all, the desert is nothing more than a sweltering wasteland that has claimed more victims than it has given life, which makes it more of a graveyard than a flourishing habitat. But, regardless of this fact, at some point in time man had either been foolish enough, or maybe greedy enough, to build a playground in the middle of Hell.
Then they’d had the audacity to call it a fertile plain. Las Vegas.
What a glorious contradiction.
Madison Vasser despised the desert with all of her being. She was a creature made for colder climates, for snow drifts and icy streets. Her ivory skin welcomed a cool winter chill, and scornfully burned under the red-hot desert sun. But, like many others, she had learned to adapt to her new home, for the reward for staying was much too great to relinquish.
She was nineteen, she was ambitious, and she was in love.
Her smile was instinctive and more than a little wicked as she sauntered through her family’s lavish casino, her golden dress fitted to her curves and cropped short above her knees. Men in the casino faltered and stared as she passed, stunned by her radiance, moved by the passion so clear in her expression. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and was taking it without reservation. There was no asking, no begging. No, there was only ambition and victory. And she was the master of both.
She’d come to Vegas a year before to serve her family’s empire. Now, as she walked through the casino, she had to marvel at her grandfather’s brilliance to build in the godforsaken desert in the first place. Despite appearances, it really was a powerful city. The money that traded hands there was layered thick with hopeful sweat and anxious tears, but, damnit, the people loved it. They flocked to it, never having fully sated themselves with the escapist thrill of bright lights and lost inhibitions.
The hotel itself thrived, rising like a glittering beacon of refuge out of the dusty sand and drier-than-hell rock. It towered over its neighbors, both larger and taller than anything else within several hundred miles. Cyrus had insisted upon it, had purposely designed it so the sapphire and gold “V” shone boldly and brilliantly from atop the glass walled building for all to see. No one entering Las Vegas would have any doubt who was the top dog in town or who ruled the landscape like a king rules an empire.
The Vasser name was as powerful as it was timeless. And, as her grandfather was apt to say, it was the tower of strength.
She made her way out of the bustling casino and passed by the hotel’s premiere French restaurant, Soleil, thinking she’d grab a bottle of wine for later. After all, it was somewhat of an anniversary. It had been exactly one year since she had arrived in Las Vegas.
Oh, and how things had changed since then.
She may have hated the desert, but there was no denying that it had given her an incredible gift, one she would have gone to Hell and back for had she known of its existence. Well, his existence, really.
Wyatt Bailey, the man who’d come from nowhere and shamelessly set fire to her heart.
He’d been virtually nothing when she had found him, just a blackjack dealer working for her uncle with a mysterious past, no car, and a crappy apartment. Despite his shortcomings, she had taken him under her wing and given him everything.
Within a couple of months, she’d gotten him promoted to Pit Boss, moved his meager belongings into her suite at the hotel, and bought him a brand new Mercedes SLR and new designer clothes. Most importantly, she had given him her heart, and in return, he had changed her entire world.
She had never loved any man the way she loved Wyatt, with a fiery passion and a crushing need that consumed her every waking moment until she couldn’t stand it unless she was at his side. He was intense and fiercely obsessed with her, emotions she knew only too well as she possessed them herself. They were such similar creatures, which was why it had been so easy to fall in love with him. It had taken barely more than a touch and they were mesmerized by each other, which was exactly how she had always hoped love would be.
Smiling again, she swept through the service entrance and into the restaurant’s kitchen, her amber eyes catching sight of Raoul, one of the cooks at the hotel. He was busy whipping up eggs in a large, stainless steel bowl at a furious speed, his dark hair falling into his eyes as he worked.
She and Raoul had become fast friends the moment she had begun working for her Uncle Duke because, like herself, she recognized in him an ambitious and restless spirit. He craved status, power, and the finer things in life as much as she did. Once she had her way, she would see to it that they both got what they wanted in this life. Success.
“Darling, I hope that quiche is not for Grant and Erin.” Madison smiled as she came up beside him, one hand sliding over his shoulder companionably. “You know she’s lactose intolerant.”
Raoul stopped whisking and glared down at her, his mouth set in a firm line. “Sí, but your brother likes it, no? I will make something else for his woman.”
She leaned in to kiss his cheek, coaxing a small smile out of him as she did so. “I can always count on you.”
“It’s nothing.” He brushed her off, reaching for the bowl again to pour the egg into a shallow glass dish layered with pastry dough. “You should go prepare for your brother, cariño.”
She glanced down at the slim gold watch on her left wrist, pursing her lips. “I have a few hours till they fly in. Enough time to have a glass of wine and take a hot bath.”
He chuckled and shook his head, sprinkling cheese over the quiche. “There is a nice Moscato in the fridge.”
“Fantastic idea.” Madison swept over to the kitchen’s large wine fridge, opening the glass door and reaching for the Moscato. She checked the date on it and smiled. “Excellent. Wyatt enjoys a good white.”
Raoul said nothing as she shut the door and wandered back to him, bottle in hand. “I’ll be down in a couple of hours to help you finish with dinner.”
“Hasta siempre,” he murmured without looking at her, his eyes focused instead on the quiche as he finished preparing it.
She paused, her eyes softening as she watched him. It was only when he was feeling emotional that he used that phrase of endearment with her. Just what was bothering him now, she didn’t know. But whatever the reason, she would be there for him when he needed her, just as he was always there for her. Loyalty was everything.
“Until forever, darling.” She squeezed his shoulder briefly before leaving the kitchen, her mind shifting focus from her friend and instead to her lover, who was waiting for her upstairs.
Since she had begun working at the hotel she had lived in one of the suites. Because the arrangement wasn’t meant to be permanent, she figured it was best to be close to the action of the hotel instead of living elsewhere in the city. Besides, it didn’t get any more luxurious than a suite at the Vasser Hotel.
Wine in hand, she made her way toward the hotel’s elevators, her head held high and a smooth confidence to her step. The world was hers for the taking. And boy, did she intend to take. Only what she deserved, of course, but she was going to make her grandfather proud. After all, he had entrusted her with his most lucrative secrets, trained her to be everything he needed her to be. If it wasn’t for him, she would be nothing.
She would never, ever let herself forget that.
The elevator she boarded rose slowly toward the upper floors and she gazed at herself in the mirrored gold doors as she waited. Her long, dark brown hair was meticulously straight, its length falling to nearly her mid-back. Eyes of vibrant amber beneath heavy lids stared back at her, sultry and intense. She was proud of the heritage evident in her appearance, proud that she so greatly resembled the man who she respected above all else. It was all a part of who she was, and who she was becoming.
She was a Vasser, and she would go to the grave defending her family and the empire that was her birthright.
When the elevator came to a stop and the doors slid smoothly open, Madison sauntered out and strolled down the long hallway, her heeled footsteps muffled by the ornate gold and sapphire carpet. She reached into the small handbag she carried and pulled out her key card just as she came up to the door of her suite.
She slid the card neatly into the slot and pushed the door open, her smile still in place as she entered the room.
“I brought some wine up, darling. I figured we could have some fun before Grant flies in.”
She paused, taken aback as she noticed the empty living area and the neatly cleaned bedroom beyond. Frowning, she stalked through the bedroom and into the adjoining bathroom, expecting him to be there.
When she found it empty, her heart began to race in her chest as frustration and anger surged through her. Where the hell was he?
She tore back into the bedroom, heading straight for the dresser and ripping out the drawers. When she noticed his clothes were missing, her breathing became shallow and forced, her chest constricting painfully.
No, it couldn’t be. He wouldn’t do this.
She stormed back into the living room, her hand clenching violently around the wine bottle, her vision hazing with red. That was when she spotted the note, written on the hotel’s white and gold stationary, sitting atop the coffee table. Beside it lay the key to the Mercedes she had given him.
Her handbag fell to the floor as she grabbed the note and hastily read the words, gripping it so tightly that she nearly tore it to shreds.
It read simply: I’m sorry, sweetheart.
“You godforsaken bastard,” she snarled, her hand shaking as she crumbled the note into her fist. In a fit of glorious rage, she hurled the wine bottle against the wall, her heart panging at the resounding crash as glass and wine spilled hideously onto the floor.
As the realization that he had left her exploded through her system, she did the only thing that would satisfy the blood lust coursing through her at that very moment. She tore the room to pieces, cursing his name over and over until her throat was dry and her eyes were bright with tears. The fury she unleashed ripped through the suite like a tsunami; its wake leaving chairs upturned, tables pushed over, vases shattered and draperies ripped from windows. Anything she could grab she did, and as she ruined her pretty possessions she vowed to hunt him down and make him pay.
“Stop it, cariño.”
Raoul’s voice shot out at her from the doorway, causing her to falter for the briefest of moments, her chest heaving. In her hands she held a priceless Baroque statue, the weapon she intended to use to shatter the equally priceless antique mirror over the desk to pieces.
She looked up to meet his dark eyes, and in that instant felt her knees crumble beneath her.
Within seconds he was with her, gathering her close, pressing her face into his chest.
“Don’t you dare waste tears on him,” he grunted, glaring around at the destruction she had made, an odd, prideful gleam in his eyes. He knew that, while she may be cool-headed most of the time, she was a vindictive devil capable of catastrophe when provoked. “He is not worth it.”
As hard as she tried, her fury could only carry her so far. Her emotions were boiling up to overtake her, cloaking her in misery and abject humiliation. Because that’s exactly what this was. Wyatt Bailey had used her, led her to believe he loved her, and then left. For as long as she lived, she’d damn him to the darkest depths of Hell for scorning her.
“How dare he leave me,” she spat, despising the crack in her voice as the words sank in and enveloped her in despair. When she spoke again, it was more of a whisper and she hated herself for feeling this awful weakness. “How dare he?”
Clutching at Raoul’s white dress shirt, she gave in to her emotions and let them drain her dry, her tears painful and horrific.
Never again. Never again would she trust a man with her heart only to have him trample on it this way. She thought of the night only three weeks earlier when she and Wyatt had impulsively gone to a chapel downtown and tied the knot, completely in secret. No one in her family had any idea. Now, it appeared, they never would.
Raoul simply held her, seeking to comfort even as a satisfied smile curved over his lips.
Finalmente. At last. Wyatt Bailey was gone.
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Rise of the Notorious
By International Bestselling Author
Coming April 23, 2013
Click HERE to Enter the Giveaway!
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Meet Katie Jennings…
International bestselling Author Katie Jennings is the author of six full length novels, including the popular fantasy series The Dryad Quartet as well as the bestselling family drama series The Vasser Legacy.
She lives in sunny Southern California with her husband and cat, who both think she’s the biggest nerd ever. She’s a firm believer in happy endings and loves nothing more than a great romance novel.
You can find out more about Katie on her official website, www.katieajennings.com.