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[splashing sounds and the distinctive sound of a cork popping, then a fizzing-pour sound]
Jack: Champagne, my pet? We're celebrating your book release, are we not?
Laura: Yes--ooh, yes, heavy on the champagne, thank you--but I thought you just drank rum.
Jack: I am an onion. I have many layers.
Laura: I suspected as much, though I have to say this is the first book interview I've done from the confines of a bathtub. [zoom out to see the rascally Captain Jack Sparrow and the bubbly Laura Breck, author of Secret Vegas Lives in a large bathtub, bubbles nearly overflowing the tub and an alarming amount of candles lit on nearby tables] Do you do this often?
Jack: Bathe? Every three weeks whether I need it or not. I admit though this is the first time I've done this. Hellie calls this sort of thing multi-tasking. Only she does it for boring things like laundry and baking bread. I like to be more creative. [picks up a bon-bon and takes a bite out of it, makes face and puts the bitten bon-bon back] Bon-bon?
Laura: Ahem, no thanks. Well, I have to admit when you suggested a spa day, I jumped on you, I mean it...ahem. [takes bracing sip of champagne] Perhaps we should get to the interview?
Jack: Hmm? Oh, yes, I suppose so. Though I am finding the fact the bubbles are disappearing to be a lovely distraction. [Laura sinks slightly lower in the tub; Jack pouts] Ms. Breck, your new book, Secret Vegas Lives, would you care to tell us more about it?
Laura: I would love to! [popping up in the tub again in her excitement] Antonio Daniato is a best-selling novelist, but he has a secret addiction to a decadent night life. When he receives a letter demanding money in exchange for keeping his secret out of the tabloids, he sets a trap to catch the blackmailer, and is surprised when beautiful socialite Valerie Kane falls into his arms.
Valerie swears she's not the blackmailer, but Antonio threatens to expose her, publicly and humiliatingly, if she sends another note to him. What she can't tell him is that she was at the blackmail drop site as a stand-in for her cousin, a famous actress, who is also being blackmailed.
A week later, at a gala at Caesar's Palace, Valerie sees Antonio walking toward her across the crowded room, and he's holding...another blackmail note!
Jack: Blackmailing? Now that sounds downright piratey! I think I might have some things in common with this hero. I too enjoy the decadent lifestyle. The girls would want to know what the hero is like, but I'm far more curious about the heroine. I have always had a fascination for a girl willing to risk her reputation.
Laura: Mmmm, Valerie will risk everything for Antonio: her reputation, her family's approval, and even her career. Sweet Valerie has always been a nice girl, boarding schools, a Doctorate in Psychology, volunteer committees and social fundraisers. But when she meets Antonio, something changes, and she's filled with a need to shake loose from her parents' control, and a desire to tame this bad boy.
Antonio is gorgeous - of course, not as handsome as you, Jack. [Laura winks at him; Jack wags his brows at her.] Antonio is tall and muscular, a slight Italian accent, but he has a flashpoint anger that he uses to keep people away, to keep Valerie from finding out about his secret life. While outrageous sexual attraction draws Valerie and Antonio together, suspicion, anger, and hurt keep them emotionally distant.
Jack: The good girl gone bad. My favorite kind. This all sounds delightedly spicy. This is delightedly spicy, is it not? Hellie has been reading bonnet rippers lately and there isn't so much as a wild bit of handholding. A man needs a little something more, if you know what I mean.
Laura: Well, Jack, sometimes a lady needs something more, too. And Valerie has found herself addicted to Antonio's hot, demanding loving. But she wants to help him overcome whatever he's hiding from her. Here's a scene where Sweet Valerie turns into a naughty wench [Laura opens her waterproof laptop and reads]:
Valerie wanted him to open up to her, and this seemed like the opening she needed. "Please tell me, Antonio. What is it you came here to tell me?"
He stared at her for a long while then said, "I think I should leave."
His tone said, "leave you," and she felt a moment of panic. She shook her head. "No. I want you to stay..."
"No provisions. If you're not ready to tell me, that's fine." She put her hand on his. "When you walked in here today, you were going to tell me, weren't you?"
"I don't know. Maybe there's nothing to tell." He looked defeated.
The moment was lost. She wouldn't hear his secret tonight. Damn, he was the most frustrating man... She clenched her jaw. "Bullshit." She couldn't think of anything else to break the tension.
His eyebrow shot up. "What?"
"You heard me. I said bullshit." She made a fist and punched him in the chest.
"Ou. What the hell are you doing?" He rubbed his chest. He seemed more startled than angry.
"I'm going to beat the crap out of you until you tell me." She fought to keep from smiling.
"Really? My pretty-boy face?"
"No. But the rest of you is fair game." She made a fist with her middle knuckle sticking out, the way her brother did when they were kids. She hit him in the thigh. Hard. The aggression felt kind of good.
"Ouch, jeez, Valerie. You're not supposed to resort to violence to get people to do what you want."
"Because why?" She kicked him in the shin with her bare foot, probably hurting herself more than she hurt him.
He laughed. "Stop. Have you lost your mind?"
"Oh, right. Because I'm a professional therapist, I can't let out my frustrations."
He held his hand up, forestalling her next hit. "Yeah, damn it. Aren't you supposed to hit pillows or something?"
She grabbed one of the accent pillows and threw it at him. When he caught it above his head in both hands, she gut-punched him, loving the sound of his breath leaving his lungs.
He choked, "That's it, woman. Your ass is mine!" His eyes threatened, but he had a smile on his face.
"Not if I can help it," she whispered, baring her teeth and showing her claws.
"Hellcat." He grabbed her wrists as she lunged at him.
He picked her up and, in seconds, plopped her down on the thick rug in front of the fireplace. His hands held her arms. "Baby, I like this. You're bad today."
She liked it a lot, too, but she wasn't ready to let him know just how much. "See if you like this, baby." She jerked one of her knees up, coming close to his package. He twisted to the side just in time.
"Shit, now you're getting personal." He let go of her arms and rolled onto the floor, but she followed.
She landed on him and sat on his chest, knocking the wind out of him again. "You cry mercy, and I'll stop. Otherwise, you're in for a lot more."
He smiled the silliest grin she ever saw on his gorgeous face. "No way in hell I'm going to cry mercy. Hit me with your best shot."
She recalled an evil smile from a horror film and recreated it on her face. "Do you like this T-shirt?" she asked, touching the Harley logo.
"Yeah, I got this in Germany --"
She grabbed the neckline with both hands and, mastering superhuman strength, ripped it halfway down the front. "Oh, sorry. You said you did like it?"
"Whoa, baby!" His face showed total amazement.
She ripped the shirt the rest of the way down. "Now you can use it to wax your bike."
"Seriously, you're like sexbitch all the sudden." He laughed slowly.
"Get used to it. I'm going to be like this all night."
"Yes. Thank you, God."
Jack: Do you think you could read a little more? No? [pouts, holds out candy dish] Still no bon-bon? [Laura reluctantly takes a bon bon, her nose crinkling slightly] Hellie ripped a shirt of mine like that once. Good times. I don't want you to think I'm an uncultured man--though I'm really happy about the hot sex scenes--so my next question is: which comes first character or plot?
Laura: For me, it's definitely plot. I see a situation, or dream about a scene, and start outlining. Then I write the characters to complement the plot, and create a world. I know world building is a term most used in paranormal fiction, but I use it in my contemporary romances to set the tone of the book.
Jack: The action first! You’re definitely my kind of author! I know Hellie would love this book. I'm going to download it on her computer. This book is available right now in e-format, yes? Do you like e-publishing? How can we get your books?
Laura: [excitedly doing a bathtub dance] Secret Vegas Lives was released yesterday, October 22, from Red Rose Publishing. E-publishing is great! Red Rose is an international publisher, and my book will be read all over the world! Here's a handy link to my book: http://redrosepublishing.com/bookstore/product_info.php?products_id=499. And while you're there, you can check out the second book in the series, Scandalous L.A. Desires, which stars Antonio's brother, Dante.
Jack: Perfect. This crew loves brothers. They’re notoriously scandalous—it’s why I love them so. All right, last question, and then we can go back to the favorite pastime of find the washrag. What's your call story?
Laura: Oh, it's the standard tale. For two years I sent my manuscripts to agents and traditional publishing house editors. Then, on New Year's Day, I decided to try e-publishing. I e-mailed my book to Red Rose, and within a week I received a return e-mail offering to contract my book - and the contract was attached! It was an unforgettable day, and I'm forever grateful to acquiring editor Lea Schizas for her exceptionally kind words, and for buying two of my books.
Jack: We love call stories. They're rather this ship's version of Platinum Weddings. No detail is too small; and they all have happy endings. Actually it also sounds like a night with me, isn’t that fascinating? Thank you for being our guest today on the RWR. Did you have any questions for me or the crew?
Laura: Thank you, thank you, thank you for having me aboard, and for letting me soak a while with the famous Captain Sparrow! It's been a thrill, and an honor. And while my pruney fingers search for the...ahem...washcloth, I would love to give away a goodie bag of my promotional items to one lucky crewmember. Since my book is about secrets, and there are at least a hundred legalized sins in Las Vegas, here's my question: What would your secret be, if you were to lead a Secret Vegas Life? I'll anxiously await your responses!