A Stand-Alone Novella
Imperfect Love Series
By, Stephanie St. Klaire
Release Date: October 17, 2017
GENRE: Romantic Comedy
Fake it until you make it. That was the mantra Cori Dash chanted as she chased a big city dream. The more you tell people you’re on top of the world, the more they believe it – just like they believed the embellished image she sold them with her knock off designer facade. It wasn’t lying if the truth stood somewhere in the middle – and she didn’t get caught.
Dominic Blackthorne owned half of that big city…and a reputation. Rather than dispel rumors or show the world the real Nick, he let his own fake image run free. Until Cori Dash – the only person who told him exactly how it was, even if it stung.
When Cori is faced with her ex-fiance, now engaged to her ex-best friend, it’s game on. In her boldest move yet, she concocts her biggest lie to date by introducing the first handsome stranger that walks by as her new fiancé. Happy to play the part, Nick is already planning the fake wedding of her dreams.
You know what they say about lying – the truth always comes out – and it hurts. Especially when Cori finds out she isn’t the biggest Liar in this game, and she’s been out played.
Excerpt 1 – Humor
The whispers caught her attention before the man, almost to her office, did. She scanned the group, following the he’s coming this way, I’ve never seen him before, and is that really him to the doorway, and her heart sunk. The man who stepped off the elevator was the man from the park. It was Nick.
So, her original instinct had been right. He was a stalker, the creepy kind, and now he was standing in her office with her and her team. How on earth he found her, she didn’t know. He only had her first name, though she did mention she worked for the event sponsor. Still, getting past security? This guy was good and probably dangerous.
“What in the hell are you doing here?” she asked with her hands on her hips and a threatening glare.
Leaning against the doorway with his hands in his pockets and a cocky grin, he nodded at the watchful crowd before saying, “I’m here to see you.”
“Uh, I can see that. You need to leave. I was very clear yesterday, not interested. Are you stalking me?” she asked, quick to scan the group of eyes fixed on her with shocked expressions to match.
The whispers were louder, and the team so invested in the back and forth, the only thing missing was popcorn. Something was off, and she didn’t know what, especially when she heard didn’t think he was real and it’s definitely him. Who, she wondered? How did some of her employees know who he was, but she didn’t? Then a terrifying thought crossed her mind; what if they had seen his picture somewhere, like on TV…could he be a wanted man? A true stalker?
Her fury escalated, and she felt the sudden urge to protect herself and those around her. “I asked you what you’re doing here?”
“I answered.” He winked at a couple of ladies sitting closest to him. “I’m here to see you – my fiancé.”
Loud gasps filled the room, putting Cori on even higher alert. She tossed her hands in the air. “You know that wasn’t real, right? Do you know the difference between reality and fiction? I don’t know what kind of game you are playing, but you need to leave, now. Or I’ll…call security.”
He shrugged, maintaining his megawatt smile, which might charm the pants off of some but not her. The chatter didn’t die down, and some of the women seemed to be entranced by his rugged good looks and that flashy smile. This was getting out of hand, and she needed to bring it to a close, and fast. For all she knew, he had a gun or knife under that expensive Armani.
“Figures, I had to pick a crazy one,” she said while picking up her phone and calling the security desk. She couldn’t help but wonder why members of her team continued to gasp in shock, every time she addressed him. “Tony, we have a trespasser…in my office.”
“Your nose wrinkles when you’re mad. It’s…cute.” His compliment clearly offended her, but he found that just as cute as the wrinkled nose.
“Cute?! Bring back-up, Tony. He appears to be unstable.” She hung up her phone, knowing Tony would be there in no time, given the concern she heard in his voice.
She looked to her staff, “I need to you all to leave quickly; this is not a drill. Please follow safety protocol, and exit the floor. Justin, you are the safety manager for this floor; you know what to do.”
As the people quickly filed out of the office and went straight for the stairwell, she couldn’t help but notice the snickers and more whispers. Even a few heads turned and laughed before rounding the last corner. What on earth?
“Protecting your people – that’s honorable,” he said.
“What do you want?”
“A date,” he said, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, given the circumstance.
“You really are crazy!” She reached into her nearby purse and pulled out her mace; you can never be too careful, she thought. “You come near me and I’ll unload this entire canister on you. Then, I’ll kick your ass…or…something.”
“Wow. New York has really rubbed off on you.” He chuckled.
“What does that mean?”
“Nothing.” He shook his head, never losing that smile that would most likely work on her if he wasn’t crazy. “About that date.”
“I’m not dating you. I have a strict policy not to date psychopaths.” After dropping the insult, she thought better of it. If he truly was unstable, it wouldn’t be wise to provoke any particular violent tendencies he may possess.
“We should get to know each other – so we don’t blow our cover.” That nonchalant shrug of his was getting on her nerves, and he knew it.
“Our cover? What the hell are you talking about?” Her hand darted out in front of her, aiming her mace when he started to move toward her.
He held his hands up in surrender, indicating that he wasn’t a threat, “The Hamptons – Winnie and Phillip? Have you already forgotten?”
“Are you mad? That’s not happening. Do you really think I’d leave town with a stranger…or date one for that matter? I really can’t believe this is happening. My lie, lies really, are catching up to me! This…this is karma, isn’t it?”
“Don’t all dating couples start as strangers?” he asked, matter-of-factly.
“Well…yes, but we aren’t a couple, we aren’t dating, and I’m filing a restraining order the minute security tossed you on your…ass.” It wasn’t in her nature to swear or be mean, but she thought perhaps a few choice words would intimidate him a bit and let him know she meant business.
She looked around him, through the glass wall, feeling a sense of relief when Tony finally exited the elevator with his sidekick, Carmine, and headed right for her office, his hand resting on the stun gun he wore on the right side of his utility belt. Tony’s angsty expression froze, and his eyes went wide when he entered the office and the stranger, Nick, turned to look at him. Surely Tony wasn’t intimidated. He must be surprised by the man’s tall stature and clean cut tailored suit that didn’t scream sociopath, just like she had been.
“Wh-what seems to be the problem?” Tony asked, looking between Nick and Cori.
Confused by his question, she thought it was rather obvious what the issue was but clarified by pointing at Nick. “Problem? Him – he’s the problem!”
“But, Cori. I mean…Miss. Dash…” Tony stammered.
“But nothing – I want him removed, trespassed from the property and a police report filed so my restraining order will stand. There is no telling what this…” she waved her hand up and down, indicating that she was talking about Nick, “…loon is capable of.”
Tony’s voice turned to one of reason. He clearly saw she was upset, flustered even, but he wasn’t sure she knew what she was really asking. “Uh, but, Miss Dash.”
“Tony,” she interrupted before he could say another word. “I want him gone. Remember I told you about a…gentleman I met this weekend? Well, this is him. He found me, he’s delusional, and needs to go – now. Don’t be fooled by the knock off designer suit – he’s a threat. Now remove him.”
“Oh? OH! Well, Miss…” Tony tried, once again, without any luck.
“Tony…” she tried to interrupt him once more, frustrated with his unwillingness to his job. Why was Tony, head of security Tony, so reluctant to do his job?
“I…I can’t, Cori. He’s…”
“Crazy! I know! Remove him,” she shouted, tired of the charade Nick clearly orchestrated.
“It’s okay, Tony. I got this,” Nick said, patting Tony on the shoulder.
“Uh, yes, Mr. Blackthorne,” Tony offered, with emphasis on Blackthorne in an attempt to toss Cori a bone before she dug herself any deeper.
Too late…she was already filling the hole she was laying in when Blackthorne registered loud and clear. “Blackthorne? You’re Nick…Dominic Blackthorne…Owner of Thorne Industries…my…boss.”
The charming smile returned. “Pleasure to meet you, Miss Dash.”
Excerpt 2 – Angst
While digging through her suitcase to find something to wear, she decided to unpack while she was at it. She was here for the better part of a month and didn’t feel it sensible to live out of a suitcase for so long. When she went into the large walk-in closet, however, she was shocked to find women’s clothing. A lot of it.
She looked to her left to see Nick’s things, then back to her right at all of the lovely, expensive, items. Clothes, shoes, accessories…a full wardrobe. Anger flared, coursing through her. She was being played. Did he think she wouldn’t notice – for an entire month – that another woman lived here? A wife? Girlfriend? Mistress? It didn’t matter; she wasn’t a homewrecker or the other woman in anyone’s relationship.
She tossed her things back in her bag in a heap, threw on the first thing she found that mostly matched, grabbed her purse, and pulled her suitcase behind her. She parked the suitcase at the end of the hall that lead from the living room to the foyer and stood with her hands on her hips, staring through the open living room, straight into the kitchen where Nick stood, making breakfast.
He looked up, sensing her presence. His smile quickly fell. “Where are you going? What’s wrong?”
“I won’t be the other woman, Nick. Err, fake other woman. It’s not right,” she said, flailing her arms in frustration. “Is this all just a joke to you? Is Phillip in on it? He is, isn’t he? So, you’re married? Live in girlfriend?”
She finally paused, giving him a chance to speak. “What are you talking about? There’s no one else, other than Bunny, but he’s new here.”
Cori didn’t find any humor in his half assed explanation. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because I genuinely like you – a lot. We talked about this, Cori.” He was genuinely confused, had no idea where she was coming from.
She froze; he liked her. He said he genuinely liked her, and her heart did the flip this time. Quick to remind herself that she didn’t care, she went right back to angry. “Don’t distract me with your…handsome looks and…charming ways! Fool me once…”
“Cori. I don’t know what’s going on or what you think you know, but I swear to you…I’m the only one who lives here. I take that back. I’m engaged…to you. So, tell me what has you so upset.”
“So, I suppose you like to wear dresses and high heels in your spare time? Clutch, or handbag, Nick?”
“Alright, you really need to help me on this one. Why would I wear dresses?” He moved from behind the kitchen counter and stood in front of her with his hands on her shoulders, genuinely concerned. She could see it and believed it.
Her voice dropped to a near whisper, anxious for answers but fearful of them too, which she found interesting. “Whose clothes are in the closet? Did you think I wouldn’t notice them or mind that someone else’s clothes were in there?”
“They’re yours.” He said, plainly.
“Mine? I don’t own anything like those, and…I never unpacked. Whose are they, Nick?”
“I bought them for you. Eve and Gwen actually picked most of them out – had a great time doing so actually – but they are yours. There are a few events coming up that we talked about attending, and I didn’t want you to worry about what to wear…so I…took care of it so you wouldn’t have to.”
“If you don’t like them, we can get rid of them…find something else. I should have just let you pick them to begin with – but I was afraid you would say no. I knew it. I just wanted to surprise you, and I guess I forgot last night.”
“I still don’t understand why you are doing…so much for me,” she said in a small voice.
“Because nobody else ever has…”
She stood still, unable to think beyond his words, stuck on the idea that he did the things he did for her simply because no one else had. Nobody had ever done anything close to this for her – he was right, nor had she expected them to. Here was a man who had everything he could possibly want in the world, and all he wanted, in that moment, was to give her something she didn’t have.
She had nothing to give in return, and he didn’t ask for anything. All she had to offer was her friendship, some kindness, and unrelenting loyalty – he knew that – and here he was, asking for nothing more. He was thoughtful and kind, warm and generous, smart and beautiful. He was nothing of what the world depicted him as. The tabloids and media were wrong. He was a good man, and he just wanted to see her happy.
“I’m sorry. I should’ve asked,” his hands were no longer on her shoulders but stroking her arms instead as his stare bore into her, his sincerity all she could see. “I just wanted you to feel comfortable in my world…I’m so sorry I upset you and probably even offended you.”
He cared about her. Why, she didn’t know, but he did. The feeling had to be mutual, or she wouldn’t have been so upset or moved by his words. Speechless, unable to find the words to apologize, put his mind at ease, or even say thank you, she let the tears that were threatening spill over.
He wiped the stream of emotion, cascading down her cheeks, and all she could do was offer a small smile, and say, “Your eggs are burning.”
Meet The Fabulous Author Who Came Up With This
Stephanie St. Klaire debuted in 2016, launching her writing career with Rescued, the first book in the widely popular, five book series known as McKenzie Ridge. Stephanie is a Pacific Northwest native currently living in Oregon with her husband, five children, and two ferocious lap dogs.
As a writer, Stephanie brings realistic circumstances to the pages, and fills them with real emotion, reactions, and outcomes. Her characters are passionate, have bold personalities, and full of life. She writes happily ever after’s, with plenty of twists, turns, drama, and of course, steamy romance.
Stephanie has always been a story teller, with the gift of “gab”, and a life-long goal to be a writer. Unfortunate circumstances with her health, finally afforded her the time to do so. Irony at its best, she began writing her first novel at an adverse time, to escape her circumstance and explore the stories in her imagination for relief. She is happy to share those stories with her readers, and bring a little fun, entertainment, and of course smexy characters to the pages.
Follow Stephanie St. Klaire on Social media to learn more about her, and to keep up with her work.
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2cUofva
BookBub Author Page: http://bit.ly/2kuPnV5
Private FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/Groups/SSKKrew
Check her out on those links I listed above, she is really nice and responds quickly. Also check out the book it is funny, I promise you!! Although I haven’t had the chance to read it yet… I have pt.2 of the release boost for you guys tomorrow and it has more funny and juicy excerpts that you’ll love. ❤
Thank you for reading my post on Liar.
Until next time!