Authors: Erika Chase
Tags: #romance, #erotic romance, #adult romance
BLAZE: BOOK ONE
Blaze (Blaze #1)
Copyright © 2015 Chase
Published by Chase Books at
Table of Contents
All I can think is that I should have
stopped for dinner. The bubbles in my champagne are making my head
swim and a whole swarm of butterflies is doing crazy loops in the
pit of my stomach.
But maybe it's not the champagne. Maybe it's
the man across this table from me, the man who's making me swoon
with every word he says.
If he can do this with just his words, I
wonder what he can do with his…
the thought trails off in
another crazy storm of bubbles and butterflies, and I have to
stifle a giggle. A desperate heat is blooming through my body. I
take another hurried gulp of champagne and turn my face away before
a scarlet blush can rise up out of the neck of my one good dress
and into my cheeks.
Gabriel Call arches one eyebrow.
“Did I say something funny?” he asks, and
the way he stares into my eyes demands an answer.
“No, no,” I say quickly. Too quickly. I have
to try to suppress a sudden desperation to start gabbling. I don’t
want him to think I’m as dizzy and as star struck as a schoolgirl
around him. Or I should say, I don’t want him to
“I was just thinking of something else,” I
say, trying to rescue myself, and I wince as the words leave my
Yeah, nice going Kate,
I think bitterly.
Gabriel’s full lips turn down at the edges.
His mouth is hard, like his jaw, like his eyes.
“If I thought that something else was
another man, I’d almost be offended,” he says. His slate-gray eyes
deliberately drop to my mouth, then slowly scan back up to meet
“I’d have to take it out on you,” he says
softly, and I swear to God, I gulp like a cartoon character. My
hand’s shaking underneath the table and I have to fight to keep my
“Jesus,” I say, and breathe out. Despite my
best efforts, it's a shaky breath. “You’re the real deal, huh?”
He doesn’t say a thing to that. He just
smiles his secret, smirking smile, and drains his Scotch in one
All around us the hubbub of the bar swells
and softens and swells again. The noise is carried on a river of
free booze and networking. Anyone who’s anyone in California
publishing is here for the annual industry awards night. And the
serious-suited head honchos from New York, of course, the uptight
Chicago snobs, and the DC crowd who are always a little jealous of
And of course their editors, their agents,
their lawyers, all swapping stories of how they signed some new
talent who’s gonna be
when their first novel gets
released six months from now. And then there are the big-time
authors brought out to impress everyone and show them just how good
the good life can be: writers don’t get invited to something like
this unless their last royalty check had at least six zeroes on
And then there’s a whole army of
sub-editors, copy-editors, proofreaders, junior agents, assistants
and filing clerks, the lowest of the low.
And then there are people like me.
Secretaries who have to run and fetch and who – if they’re lucky –
are allowed to spend their lunch hour reading the slush pile.
Searching for something that
be passable enough to get
a quick read by a bored junior editor with a spare five
And then there’s Gabriel Call, the
undisputed heavyweight champ of romance writing in America
He reaches across the table and takes hold
of my hand. His grip is soft, but there’s so much strength behind
it. A spark shoots from where he touches my wrist and my breath
catches in my chest. He leans in, and for a moment I turn my face
to his, forgetting where I am, forgetting everyone else in this
room, all of them pretending not to care that he’s talking to
Kate Emily McDonald, an absolute nobody in
borrowed jewelry and shoes that cost me a month’s worth of pay.
But he doesn’t try to kiss me and a tiny
whisper of disappointment escapes my lips.
“Would you like another drink?” he asks, his
breath warm against my neck, and I’m almost purring. It’s all I can
do not to fall off my chair.
“Sure,” I say, and it comes out with a hint
of squeak at the end. I can’t see his face, but I can feel him
“Another champagne for the lady,” he says,
and draws away. I almost relax just a little when suddenly his
mouth is at my ear again, and he whispers, “I’m going to fuck you
tonight, Kate, and I’m counting the minutes until I do.”
Then just like that, he’s gone, leaving me
gasping for air, squeezing my thighs together and trying to keep my
face still. I grab my phone out of my bag and stare at it, sure
that everyone in here is staring at me. Knowing that I’m an inch
away from orgasming right here in my chair.
I steal a glance up to watch him walk to the
bar; somewhere over six foot, with black hair combed into a neat
cut just above the back of his neck, broad muscle padding out the
shoulders of his expensive suit. Some of the guys here are going
for a sense of hipster cool in cardigans and skinny jeans. But
Gabriel Call is in a midnight blue three-piece suit and tie with
creases like razors and cufflinks that look like solid gold.
Like he can feel me watching he turns and
looks over his shoulder, right at me, and I quickly look back down
at my phone, my cheeks burning.
Those cufflinks probably
And that tie pin. If anyone can afford it, he
And now he’s buying me a drink. And he says
he’s going to fuck me. And I’m definitely going to let him.
Before I’ve even got time to wonder where
we’re going after this, or even how much he’s going to tip the
bartender, my best friend Natasha is at the table. Her eyes are as
wide as bowling balls.
!” she says in a kind of
scream-whisper, her voice clearly audible even through the noise
and the cool music playing in the background, leaning in at me. Her
hands are opening and closing. “K, do you know who the fuck that
“Let me guess, John Grisham?” I hiss back.
“Of course I know who it is! It’s Gabriel freaking Call! The guy
who writes John Blaze! I’ve got every single one of his books on my
And paperback copies still packed away in
a suitcase underneath my bed
, I could add, but I don’t.
Natasha lets out a long, deep breath.
“And the way he was looking at you,” she
says, and her tone is almost worshipful, “I bet there is gonna be a
girl named Kate in the next John Blaze book.”
Natasha leans in.
“Jesus, do you know how much he’s
I quickly crunch the numbers in my head. I
may be a complete basket case when it comes to talking to a
handsome man, but at least I’ve always been OK at math.
His last book,
sixth in the John Blaze line, retailed for about $24.99 hardback. I
happen to know –
in the industry knows –the sales
were huge; the first printing alone was eight million copies.
So assuming he gets 15% royalties, on
just that printing he got fifteen percent of eight million times
twenty five bucks –
I quickly open up my calculator, because
I’m good with numbers, but no one’s
SHIT, thirty million fucking bucks.
“What do I say?” I ask Natasha desperately.
“Something about stocks or something? Or freaking polo? Nat, I
don’t know what to say to a millionaire!”
There’s a tiny little bit of champagne left
in my glass and I gulp it down quickly, praying it’ll quiet my
nerves before he gets back. But it’s wishful thinking. I see him
moving through the crowd back towards me, like a panther, easily
cutting his way through the tightly packed throng of people, and I
feel a not-unpleasant tightness catching me.
“Oh God,” says Natasha, breathlessly. “He’s
coming back over here, isn’t he?”
Trying to keep my movements minute, trying
to act like he hasn’t been the only thing we’ve been talking about,
I nod, not making eye contact with Natasha.
Then he’s back, easily slipping one arm
around my waist as he puts a fresh glass of champagne in front of
me. We could be lovers, or boyfriend and girlfriend, the way he’s
so familiar with my body.
“And who’s this?” he asks, nodding at
Natasha. A hot flash of jealousy screams through me, even though I
know I’m being ridiculous.
“This is my friend Natasha,” I say, and
mercifully, I manage not to stammer. “We both work at Snow
“You have some good authors there,” he says,
easing a strand of hair back over my ear. His hand gently runs down
the back of my neck and I shiver, despite the heat of the room.
“Do you like working there, Natasha?” he
asks, turning to face her, and Natasha goes deep red.
“Uh, yeah, it’s great,” she finally
stammers, and all my envy turns to sympathy. It’s impossible to
have a conversation with Gabriel Call when you’ve gotten off a
couple dozen (more than a couple, at least in my case, anyway)
times to his writing.
Because no one knows sex like Gabriel Call.
When his first book came out, at the peak of the sensation, Oprah
introduced him to her Book Club as ‘the man who taught women to
, I think.
He’s the guy
who taught women how to screw again. Every time a new John Blaze
book comes out, there’s an epidemic of boyfriends and husbands with
backs shredded from fingernail gouges.
“That’s important,” he says, not taking his
eyes off Nat. “I
what I do.”
Nat blushes even deeper, if that’s
“Anyway,” he says, suddenly, decisively. “I
hope you have a great evening, Natasha. Charge whatever you like to
my tab at the bar as my way of apologizing for being so rude. I’m
leaving, and I’m sorry, but I’m taking Kate away from you.”
I want this. I want this.
the words over and over to myself in the back seat of the cab.
Butterflies are exploding into fireworks in my stomach. I try to
relax, but it’s impossible. I sneak a look over at Gabriel, but
he’s not giving away the slightest hint of how he might be
“Oh, man, the Huntington?” the longhaired,
unshaven driver burbles from up front. “
Probably the nicest hotel in the city. You guys celebrating
something special tonight or what?”
Gabriel gives him a cold smile.
“No,” he says. The driver flushes red and
mumbles something about not meaning to give any offense. But
Gabriel waves it away easily and the driver relaxes back into
It’s the same with the doorman. He beams at
Gabriel when he sees him. When he sees me he sketches out this
smooth bow and straightens up like a soldier on parade.
“Good evening, Madame,” he says, and I have
to stifle a giggle. Gabriel says something to him in smooth,
flowing Spanish, and the doorman laughs. It doesn’t sound mean,
though. It sounds like they’re old friends catching up after twenty
years… and Gabriel passes him a twenty just for holding the door