Exclusive Excerpt: Chances Are by Erica Spindler
Today we have the pleasure of bringing you an exclusive excerpt from the first in Erica's Opposites Attract series.
Opposites Attract Book 1
Free spirit Veronique Delacroix has a reputation for being reckless and for thumbing her nose at society’s rules. But her wild ways mask the vulnerability she keeps hidden. After all, with an impenetrable wall around her heart, how could it be broken?
Brandon Rhodes is New Orleans’ version of royalty, his life steeped in the traditions of high society, Mardi Gras and privilege. His father’s sudden death leaves him in control of his family’s retail empire, but also with a vague restlessness. A sense that something is missing in his life.
Veronique and Brandon’s chance meeting leads to a seductive game of one-upmanship. Their flirtatious sparring seems harmless enough until it becomes a passionate winner-takes-all game in which their hearts are the ultimate prize.
This was the woman he'd heard so much about, Brandon realized. This was the legend, Veronique Delacroix. "You're Marie's daughter."
This time Veronique swung away from him. “Interesting," she murmured, picking up the cue ball, "that you should instantly know me by my filial status." But it was easy, she thought. She was the only bastard in the group—or rather, the only one everyone talked about. The ivory ball was smooth and cool against her palm. She rolled it across the table; it bounced off the cushion and rolled back to her.
“Do you play?" she asked suddenly.
He cocked his head. Something had changed—in her voice, her stance, her eyes. "Of course."
She stuck her hand in her pocket and pulled out a crumpled ten. She laid it on the rail and smiled wickedly.
"Straight pool. First player to one hundred wins." Without waiting for an answer, she crossed to the cue racks mounted on the wall behind her. She selected a cue, tested its weight, balance and length. She chalked the tip, then looked at him, arching her eyebrows in question. "Shall we flip a coin for the break?"
"Oh, ladies first." His lips twitched, and he gestured toward the table. "Please."
"Chivalrous but unwise," Veronique said, racking the balls. "However, if you insist."
Brandon watched as she readied for the break. She held the cue like a pro, loosely but with absolute control. Her eyes were narrowed as she lined up the shot; her arm movement was smooth. He grimaced as the cue ball hit the apex of racked balls with a crack. A perfect break. Four balls dropped into pockets.
"Six, off the side and into the corner."
With a combination of surprise and admiration, Brandon watched as one after another she called the shot and sank the ball. "You've played this game before."
"Once or twice." Her laughing eyes lifted from the table to meet his. She liked having caught him off guard and smiled as she lowered her gaze once again to the table. "Haven't you ever known a woman who could play pool? Eight in the corner pocket."
"Not like this." Brandon shoved his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. "A real hustler, aren't you?”
“She sank the last ball, then began to re-rack. "Let's just say I've spent a little time in pool halls." She picked up the square of blue chalk and expertly twisted it over the tip. "In fact, I used to sneak into Cooter Brown's before I was eighteen."
"No kidding," he murmured as she executed another flawless break.
"Mmm. Once—four off the side—I was busted for being underage. They dropped the charges because I hadn't had a drink. I didn't sneak in to drink. I went to play."
He cocked his head. "And make money."
Veronique just laughed and called another shot. She sank it neatly.
"So—" Brandon leaned against the table and folded his arms across his chest "—what else did you do before you were eighteen?"
Her eyes lifted to his. "That's a rather loaded question, Mr. Rhodes. Fifteen off the one and into the side." The shot missed its mark by an inch. "Blast," Veronique muttered. "I hate stupid mistakes."
"I wouldn't sneeze at thirty-six to nothing," Brandon said, picking up his cue.
"That doesn't justify stupidity. Besides—" she eyed him, noting the ease with which he held the cue "—I have the the feeling to underestimate you would be the biggest mistake of all.”
A New York Times and International bestselling author, Erica Spindler's skill for crafting engrossing plots and compelling characters has earned both critical praise and legions of fans. Published in 25 countries, her stories have been lauded as “thrill-packed page turners, white- knuckle rides and edge-of-your-seat whodunits.”
Raised in Rockford, Illinois, Erica had planned on being an artist, earning a BFA from Delta State University and an MFA from the University of New Orleans in the visual arts. In June of 1982, in bed with a cold, she picked up a romance novel for relief from daytime television. She was immediately hooked, and soon decided to try to write one herself. She leaped from romance to suspense in 1996 with her novel Forbidden Fruit, and found her true calling.
Her novel Bone Cold won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence. A Romance Writers of America Honor Roll member, she received a Kiss of Death Award for her novels Forbidden Fruit and Dead Run and was a three-time RITA® Award finalist. Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel Shocking Pink a Listen Up Award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998.
Erica lives just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband and two sons and is busy at work on her next thriller.