Title: Art of War
Series: A Stern Family Saga #3
Author: Monique Orgeron
Genre: Contemporary Romance w/ Suspense
Release Date: March 23, 2018
Cover Designer: Erica Alexander at Serendipity Formatting
War is inevitable, but who will win?
The minute Murphy Larussa stepped foot in New Orleans, her life changed forever.
Murphy was meant to remain in the shadows, hidden from prying eyes, like any good bastard.
She finds herself hunted by a dangerous family for a debt she has no knowledge of.
Everyone wants her gone, but they underestimate her. She refuses to allow them to push her back into obscurity. From now on, everyone will know her name because she is here to stay and claim what is rightfully hers.
There will be a war, one Murphy is hell bent on winning!
Sent on a hunt for a person who owes his family, Zander will not stop until he has his man.
How was he to know who he would find?
Murphy Larussa is not what any of them saw coming.
So unexpected, she’s the only woman to ever bring the great Zander Stern to his knees.
Now he will do anything to protect her, even if that means protecting her from his own family.
Everyone wants a war.
He will give them one, but this is a war he plans on winning!
The car service pulls into a long driveway leading to a magnificent plantation-style mansion. It’s impressive, and I’m helped out of the car by a valet. Admiring the scenery for a second, I then enter the house through a wide-open foyer. I hand a masked man my invitation and begin walking to the center of the party.
I can’t help taking in all of the home for a minute; it’s incredible. A man comes around with a tray of champagne, and I accept one. As I look around the room, I notice all the masked people in their finest and I hear the sounds of a live band. It’s like something out of a movie with all the glamour.
Making my way around the room, I smile and gesture as people pass me by. I stop for a minute to again appreciate the beauty of it all. So far I am enjoying the night until I feel a presence close behind me. Fear takes hold of me, sending shivers throughout my body. Then I hear a whisper in my ear.
I turn slowly looking up to see piercing blue eyes through a black mask. My fear vanishes, but now the shivers are from the searing heat this man provokes in me. I find my voice and say,
He chuckles. “I guess I am a stranger, but I plan on changing that.”
While looking into my eyes and without another word, he removes my champagne glass from my hand and hands it over to a blonde woman who just happens to be standing on the side of him. I almost interject, but I want to see what he does next. He smiles down at me, then grabs my hand and walks me to the dance floor. Then in a very domineering way, he glides his arm around my waist and lays his hand flat on my lower back, right below where my spine starts to curve to my ass. For a second, I think of raising his hand because it’s so low that it’s inappropriate, but I decide I like his hand there. He raises my other hand and lays it on his hard chest with his hand still holding mine, then he begins to move. As he glides me around on the dance floor, I am speechless for probably the first time in my life. I’m so blown away by how good it feels to be in his arms. I stare at our hands interlocked on his chest, noticing how large his hand actually is, it swallows my hand whole. My eyes continue trailing up his wide chest taking him all in, this man is so large, I feel so tiny with his arms around me. He’s like a giant; he must be at least six-feet-five, maybe six. I feel safe, like nothing could touch me in his arms. My eyes finally trace his neck up to his strong face, and then I see his cocky smile with dimples in his cheeks. Oh hell, he’s smiling like he knows my thoughts.
“Do you like what you see, Red?”
Here we go, his cockiness is coming through. I hate cockiness, but for some reason it’s sexy on him. I just can’t stand for him to think he has the upper hand.
So, I retaliate, “Well, you obviously like my ass because I feel your friend in your pants. And you might want to raise your hand off my ass, before we’re thrown out for indecency.”
He laughs out loud then bends, whispering in my ear, “I never get kicked out of anywhere, no one dares to touch me.” He straightens then says, “And I think I’ll leave my hand on your ass until you ask me to remove it, but you’re not asking, are you? Now as far as my friend goes, he is so eager to be your friend, too.”
This man has some nerve. The music changes, and I pull away, but he pulls me back to his chest, looking down at me through his mask. I’m so drawn into his blue eyes and dimples that I am distracted by them until I hear him say, “I’m not through with you.”
I gasp and say, “You sure are cocky and sure of yourself.”
Well, two can play that game. The band switched the music to something a little more sensual, so I take advantage and show him how cocky I can be. I start to take over the lead and start swaying my hips to the beat. I remove my hands from his, then turn, raising my arms above my head swaying my ass into him. I start lowering myself down to the rhythm, on my way back up he takes his hands and runs them down my sides.
I feel his breath on my neck as he warns, “You’re playing with danger, Red.”
I smile at that, knowing I got him. He’s putty in my hands. There is nothing more powerful than the feeling of having a large, powerful man under my spell. I continue my plan to seduce him and leave him standing here, begging for more. But that’s not what happens.
I lose my balance as he quickly turns me back around and says, “I warned you, Red.”
Without any further notice, he grabs my hand and practically knocks people out of our way as he drags me off the dance floor. I look up apologetically at the people around us and notice a woman staring our way. She’s older, more mature, but probably one of the most beautiful women in the room. Shaking the feeling of her eyes on us, I return to the brute pulling me away.
“Hey, where are you taking me?”
He grunts out loud then stops suddenly, he turns and asks, “Are you here with someone? Are you married?”
He doesn’t say anything else as he goes back to aggressively pulling me down a wide hallway. He opens a door and pushes me through. Before I can yell at him, he grabs my face and kisses me hard. I start to melt into his arms; it’s like I forget myself, almost.
I pull away from him, slapping him hard across his face. Stunning him for only a second, he rubs his face and says,
Shit, what did I do? He grabs my face again but this time he kisses me gently. Once again, my mouth opens for him and he takes over, slipping his tongue into my mouth. Oh my God, it’s the most sensual kiss I think I’ve ever had. Again, I melt, but this time I totally forget myself. As he slides his hands down my body, I forget everything. I forget my father, the casino, I forget Judith and the Sterns. I even forget my name.
He finishes the kiss and looks deep into my eyes with his devilish smile and softly asks, “What’s your name?”
Because right now that’s all I want to be. I don’t want to be Murphy Larussa with all her problems and hang-ups. Normally I would never allow a man to have this much power over me, and I definitely have never had a one-night stand. But for right now, I just simply want to be his Red, and I desperately want him.
Written by Monique Orgeron’s eldest, most beautiful, and intelligent daughter. (My sister is going to hate this part.)
My mom happens to be the most caring, loving, and stubborn person I know, well anyone knows. She gives 100% percent of herself to everyone and has given up so much of herself for my sister and I. For twenty-one years she has poured her heart and soul into making sure we know that we are loved and that we can do anything we put our minds too, but it was about time she figured that out about herself.
Up until this year I hadn’t seen my mom do anything for only her, but this book has allowed her to travel the world through the pages of a book, make new friends, and feel the joy of doing something exciting.
There is a new light behind her eyes and it is just making me feel more joy than she can ever imagine. While she might be annoying most of the time, I am so thrilled that she is finally allowing herself to grow as a person and not spend all of her energy on her family.
It has been a long journey of self-discovery for my mom; she has gone from domestic supermom to domestic goddess throughout the process of writing.
We are so very excited and proud of you! I love you as big as the world.
-Bria and Tony