The Phoenix Candidate
by Heidi Joy Tretheway
Congresswoman Grace Colton is the most famous woman in politics—and the loneliest—until a drawling, sexy stranger offers her one night, no strings and no regrets. Grace wakes to an empty hotel room and a phone call: the dark horse for the 2016 presidential election, Senator Shep Conover, is considering her as his vice presidential running mate. But first, Grace must be vetted and coached by Shep’s political consultant, Jared Rankin, who already knows too many intimate details about her.
He’s Mr. One-Night Stand. Grace is torn: Play nice with Jared to join the senator’s ticket, or play hardball and back the slick frontrunner? Grace must decide where her loyalties lie and if she can trust Jared with her future—and her heart.
The Phoenix Candidate is an erotic romance set in the world of presidential election politics. Recommended for mature readers due to sharp dialogue, wickedly hot sex, and a few delicious taboos. This full-length novel is first in a series and can be read as a standalone.
Setup: Senator Shep Conover has just asked Congresswoman Grace Colton to consider being his vice presidential running mate in the 2016 presidential election. But before he’ll choose her, she must be vetted and coached by his political consultant, Jared Rankin—the stranger she thought was a one-night stand. I hold the wingback chair for support and paste a smile on my face as I watch the senator leave the suite. That leaves me and Jared and a hell of a lot of silence. He picks up several thick manila files from a side table, perhaps the same ones I saw in his hotel room last night, and sits in the chair opposite me. His expression is unreadable. I remain standing. Fight or flight. That’s what I’m deciding as I lament there’s nothing in view that I could bludgeon Jared with. “Ms. Colton. Please, have a seat.” He gestures to the chair I’m supposed to occupy. “No.” I sound like a petulant child. “Grace—” “No! What the hell was that, Jared? What the fucking hell?” I bend to get in his face to really shout him into submission, but he grabs my wrist. I struggle but can’t break from his grasp. His deep brown eyes are smoldering with intensity, and I shoot as much hatred as I can from my eyes. I’m embarrassed. Mortified. This man who has seen me naked, who made me scream his name less than twelve hours ago, is now Ms. Colton-ing me like I’m his kid’s schoolteacher. That sends a shockwave to my gut. I know nothing about this man: not whether he’s married, or has a kid, or exactly what his business is here. Sensing that the fight’s left me, Jared drops my wrist and slowly stands. I hold my ground, standing toe to toe with him. His hair is combed neatly, but I remember the way my grasping fingers teased it into wild waves last night. His stubbled jaw remains. I fold my arms across my chest because my gray pantsuit and silk top aren’t doing the trick. My heels don’t boost me to an even height with Jared. His thumb brushes my lower lip and I gasp and take a step back. “Pouting doesn’t suit you. Tuck that lip back in.” “Don’t touch. I bite,” I snarl, angry that he’s mixed the familiarity from last night with the utter seriousness of this political opportunity. “So do I,” Jared says, taking another step toward me and forcing me to step back. “But you like it.” I bump into a wall covered in fancy wallpaper. Jared’s body cages me in. “You’re a bastard.” I’m even angrier he’s getting to me. I grab his shirt, ready to push him back, but he captures my wrists and slams them against the wall above my head. “I hear that a lot.” Jared’s body molds against me. I feel his erection hardening as he presses his hips into mine, and my traitorous body responds in turn, too eager to tip my hips at just the right angle. I can’t get the word bastard through my lips again when every cell in my body is screaming Encore! Encore! “How could you?” I hiss. “It’s what you wanted. No stories. No strings.” “But I’ve got a hell of a lot of regret.” I move to turn away from him, but Jared lowers his mouth toward mine. His lips land on my jaw and skim down my neck, his tongue explores the hollow of my throat then glides back up my neck to taste the soft skin behind my earlobe. I whimper and twist, but he just anchors me harder, both body and wrists. “You knew,” I hiss, trying to get my brain to focus on why I’m here, not the hardening length in his pants that has me rubbing against him like a freaking cat in heat. “You knew who I was and you let me … you let me humiliate myself.” I stifle a cry as his teeth come out, sinking into the flesh at the base of my neck. It stings, and the twinge heightens my need to retaliate, to touch him in all the ways he’s touching me. To drive us to release. His knee presses between mine and my legs part, my body in full meltdown. “You didn’t humiliate yourself. You just let go. Got out of your head for One. Fucking. Minute.” With each word his hips rock against mine until my core is aching to be filled again. My God, is he really going to make me come? With every stitch of clothing on? I struggle against his hold on me. “You knew who I am. You knew we could be working together!” “I didn’t go to the club expecting to pick you up, if that’s what you’re wondering.” His lips are inches from mine and his eyes narrow. The force in his expression nearly my undoing. “Bullshit. You were all about picking me up.” “And do you regret it?” Jared’s voice drops to a low, dangerous whisper. No! “Yes.” He drops my hands. Spins and strides to the opposite side of the room. I go cold. And fucking frustrated. He wound up my body so tight that I’m vibrating with tension, needing just a little more to take me over the edge. He gathers the folders and slides them inside a leather attaché case as if we’ve been sipping coffee for the last five minutes rather than slammed up against a wall. “Let’s go.” “Where?” “Your place.” I almost snap, imagining the relief he could offer to my wound-up state. But his face says all business. He looks at his watch. “We’ve got a long list on our agenda today. Your place is good enough to start.”
About Heidi Joy Tretheway: Heidi Joy is a sucker for campfires, craft cocktails, and steamy romance in books and real life. She sings along with musicals (badly), craves French carbs, and buys plane tickets the way some women buy shoes. Her first career as a journalist took Heidi behind the scenes with politicians, rock stars, chefs, and detectives, all of whom inspire her stories. Heidi Joy is currently working on her eighth book from her home in Portland, Oregon. She adores hearing from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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