From USA Today bestselling author Naima Simone comes Heated, a sizzling novel about a breakup professional who embarks on a fake relationship with a client’s ex—the one person she wasn’t supposed to fall for.
I’m Denver’s unmatchmaker. Every city needs one.
Why? Because people break up—and sometimes they should. But when I learn that entertainment attorney Cyrus Hart is someone else’s mistake, I can’t believe it. He’s smart, successful, and sexy as hell.
When a chance encounter with Cyrus turns into something more, I can’t help but fall for him. Our chemistry is undeniable. But his ex used my company to send him that letter—and that’s a problem. Especially since he doesn’t know I own the company.
How can this possibly work? I know from experience that the riskiest ventures are the worthiest ones…but falling for Cyrus Hart may be my biggest gamble yet.
I’m a man with a plan—college, law school, a great career. So far, so good.
Until a stranger shows up on my doorstep and reads me a breakup letter from my girlfriend. My carefully laid plans unravel.
But then I meet someone new. It’s spontaneous. It’s electric. And it’s not according to plan.
Not bothering to check the small video camera mounted on the wall to my right, I twist the lock and yank the door open.
And stare down at a young Black woman I’ve never seen before.
I blink, my grip on the door and the doorframe still tight enough to have wood biting into my fingers. It’s on the tip of my tongue to tell her I have a No solicitors sign—I don’t, but now I plan on buying one first thing tomorrow—but the relief pouring through me is so damn thick, so powerful, my throat temporarily closes around the words.
“Mr. Hart?” she asks, and her voice is all wrong.
Even before entering the law field, I was a master at reading people. I had to be in order to navigate my childhood. Discerning moods and personalities determined the difference between remaining in a house a few weeks longer or being shipped off to another aunt. The difference between new school clothes or borrowing your older cousin’s shirt and hoping he only busted your lip when he found out instead of delivering a beatdown that made you “think twice about touching his shit.”
So yeah, I’m good at reading people. And looking at this woman in her perfectly tailored but conservative blue-and-gray pinstripe pantsuit with matching light-gray stilettoes, I find the smoky contralto, reminiscent of long-ago speakeasies with crooning blues singers, liberally flowing alcohol, and zero inhibitions, doesn’t fit.
My gaze drifts upward, scans over thick dark hair with its mass of tight curls that billow around her face and shoulders. It’s not unruly or untamed. It’s . . . free. Fuck, that hair.
Yeah, her voice matches that hair.
As do her earrings.
I cock my head to the side, studying the incongruity of those large swinging silver-and-red chandelier earrings with the reserve of her clothes.
“Mr. Hart?” she says again, and I jerk my attention from her earrings to meet the dark brown of her eyes.
Wait. The hell? I shake my head. How does she know my name? And what is she doing on my doorstep after six in the evening? Isn’t that too late to be out selling magazine subscriptions, vacuums, or whatever the hell people go door to door peddling these days?
Lowering my arms, I shift forward, sliding my hands into my suit pockets, the relief that had streamed through me shutting down, as if someone reached inside me and twisted it off.
“What can I do for you?”
I don’t ask her name or ask her to come inside. Something . . . ominous knocks inside my chest that warns me against doing either. That I don’t want any part of either. And as she reaches into a dark-red satchel slung over her shoulder, pulls out a sheet of paper, and begins reading, that knocking grows louder.
“Dear Cyrus, for six months you have meant the world to me. When we first met, I believed you were the man I hoped to marry one day. Handsome, smart, ambitious, driven, a fantastic lover. You’re everything I wanted in a man. But now things have changed.”
Ice creeps through my veins, and my muscles stiffen with the uttering of each word, each syllable, in that whiskey-and-blues voice.
What in the fuck is going on here?
“Over the course of the last couple of months, I’ve discovered that while I admire your work ethic, I cannot continue in a relationship where I am second to a man’s job. More and more I find myself alone when that’s not how relationships are supposed to work. I need to feel loved, admired, valued. I need attention and catering to. I deserve it.”
Is this shit really happening?
I blink slow. Blink again.
But no. The stranger with the gorgeous hair and boring pantsuit is still standing on my doorstep breaking up with me via a goddamn Dear John letter from my girlfriend.
Published since 2009, USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone loves writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark. Her books have been featured in The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly, and described as balancing “crackling, electric love scenes with exquisitely rendered characters caught in emotional turmoil.”
She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.