Here’s an excerpt from my latest VK Sykes book, one of the sexy contemporary romances co-written with my husband. Hot Number is set in Las Vegas and it features Sadie Bligh, a geeky math professor from Chicago, and Nick Saxon, the assistant chief of security at a large casino. Sadie is having a really bad year–her work life has flat-lined and her social life…well, that’s pretty much non-existent. Desperate to shake things up, she heads to Sin City with a friend for a wild week of fun.
“Sadie, you do not look like a hooker,” Cassie said. “You look sexy.”
Professor Sadie Bligh cast a doubting glance at her friend before doing a pirouette in front of the mirror for one last look at the derrière she’d managed to squeeze into skintight designer jeans. “Come on, Cass, these jeans are insane. If I had a dime in my back pocket, you could tell the year it was minted. And this top…” She peered at her reflection, assessing the scooped neckline that plunged precariously close to her nipples. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”
Cassie gave an exasperated sigh. “Tight is good, Sade. Guys like tight things. A cute guy wouldn’t give you a second glance if you were wearing one of those schoolmarm pantsuits you always pick. You’d have figured that out by now if you’d ever looked past the top of your math books.”
Sadie ignored that low blow as she tried to calculate just how large her behind looked in her new and way-too-expensive jeans. “Please tell me my butt isn’t as wide as I think it is,” she pleaded.
This time, Cassie let out a snicker. “Just think J. Lo, and you’ll be fine.”
Sadie grabbed a throw pillow off the bed and took an uncoordinated swipe at her friend’s model-perfect rear end. “You are congenitally incapable of speaking the truth, but I love you anyway.”
Abandoning the perusal of her butt, Sadie shook out her unruly mass of auburn curls, then twisted open the pricey lip gloss Cassie had insisted she buy. “What if I run into some professor I know when I’m dressed like this? I’ll never be able to show my face in academia again.”
Cassie rolled her eyes but Sadie didn’t care. She had every intention of ragging her friend nonstop for talking her into this ill-conceived Las Vegas blowout, even though she knew Cassie had been right to make her flee Chicago and her deepening depression. Of all her friends—not that Sadie had that many close friends—only Cassie truly understood what a life-changing disappointment she’d just suffered.
Disappointment didn’t even begin to describe the blow to her spirit that threatened to pull her under. Getting passed over again for the prestigious Eagleton Mathematics Prize had made Sadie feel like a hopeless loser—nothing more than an imposter in a high-powered world where she’d never be more than Professor Anthony Bligh’s precocious but insufficiently talented daughter. Devastated, and feeling like her career and her life were slipping out of her hands, she’d been ripe for Cassie’s prescription: get the hell of out of Dodge. In Sadie’s case, Dodge was the math department of the University of Chicago, the same department where her father conducted his own research.
Cassie sauntered over to the king-sized bed in Sadie’s hotel room and flopped down, her long, tanned legs making a dramatic contrast to the white duvet. Sadie glanced at the whiter-than-white skin of her own chest and arms, liberally dusted with freckles. Crap. Maybe she should have made that visit to the tanning salon, after all.
“If you do see one of your colleagues here, chances are he’s doing even worse things than we are,” Cassie drawled. “You know what they say about what plays in Vegas.”
“Stays in Vegas. I get it.” Sadie reached for her champagne flute, but paused before taking a sip. For all her brave words, her stomach was tied in an anxious knot. “I do want to go for it. I want to try every damn thing I never thought I’d have the guts to do. The problem is I’m not sure I’ll be able go through with it.”
Cassie leapt back up and rushed over to give her an encouraging hug. “Hey, enough with the doubts, Professor. Damn straight you’ll go through with it, because I’m going to be right behind you, kicking your J. Lo ass if I have to.”
They stared at their reflections in the floor-length mirror for several long seconds. Sadie looked forlorn and uncertain—which she hated—and Cassie looked concerned.
“Don’t get so down on yourself, Sade,” Cassie finally said. “You took a big whack when those assholes on the prize committee stiffed you. No wonder you’re a little uptight and scared.”
Sadie nodded, trying to smile for Cassie’s sake. Her best friend knew her better than anyone, but even she couldn’t begin to understand what losing the Eagleton meant. Most mathematicians would have been over the moon just to be nominated for the most coveted award in the entire field. Not her. Winning was all that counted, something her father had drilled into her again and again. To Anthony Bligh, second place meant first loser, and he hadn’t bothered to hide his disappointment when the Eagleton results were announced. The memory of that unpleasant phone conversation—conducted in polite, stiff tones—still made her feel sick to her stomach.
“Nothing’s mattered except that prize, Cass. It’s all I’ve worked for since Dad won it.” Not just once, either. Her father had captured the Eagleton three times. She gave a hollow laugh at the thought that she could even compete. “How crazy am I to do that?”
Cassie jabbed her shoulder. “Like you’d be elected Mayor of Crazytown in a landslide.”
Sadie laughed again, but this time it felt a bit more genuine. “What we’re going to do here is plenty crazy, too. You know that, right?”
Cassie shook her straight, shoulder-length blond hair and threw her a haughty look. “Some people would call it crazy. I prefer to call it therapy.”
Sadie couldn’t repress the prickles of apprehension dancing up her spine. She wished she could convince herself that they were caused by the blast of cold air from the overhead vent. “Cutting loose in Vegas isn’t really going to change anything, at least not for me,” she said dubiously.
Cassie began to look impatient. “Well, to paraphrase John Lennon, all I’m saying is give crazy a chance.”
Sadie knew when to sound the retreat. After all, she had agreed to this adventure of her own free will, and it wouldn’t be fair to Cassie to chicken out now. “You’re a dangerously unbalanced woman, but all right. If we’re going to let loose, dressing up like bimbos is as good a place to start as any.”
Cassie grinned with relief and grabbed her champagne flute, raising it in a quick salute. “Amen to that. Now, pull on those wicked boots you got at Neiman Marcus and let’s get down to the casino. There’s a progressive slot machine, a margarita, and some hot guys on that floor, and they’re all calling my name.”
Hot Number is currently available on Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99. It’s also available at Barnes & Noble and at other e-tailers. And don’t forget to check out our other books, CaddyGirls, Fastball, and Hardball.
Have a great Sunday!