North West Side Chicago. A man’s phone rings at 3am, and it’s every father’s worst nightmare – his little girl is in danger.
Fort Wayne, Indiana. Belinda ‘Billie’ Chapman is working the overnight shift at WVOX-TV when she’s called away to photograph a car that’s crashed into the second story of a house. But when a little girl is spotted in the house across the street, the aggressive behaviour of her guardian piques Billie’s curiosity.
Nolan Voss has come to Fort Wayne to check on WVOX-TV, the station he owns. Rich, uptight and deliciously hot, he can’t keep away from the fiery Billie, and that means being dragged into her plan to help the young girl.
Each step closer to finding the truth leads them to a dangerous plot that has come all the way from Chicago. Will the danger only fuel their irresistible attraction to one another? Or will one of them get burned?
An excerpt from Revenge for Hire
Billie sent an email to Elliott, letting him know she’d upload a creative piece about the Porsche later on. He’d assume she was going to do the work, although he wouldn’t care if Ryan edited, as long as he had material for his news block. But she couldn’t take the chance that he’d slip and tell Rob. Once management wasn’t so pissed at Ryan, and they were genuinely impressed with all the imaginative stories Billie brought them, she’d tell them the truth and make her case for rehiring Ryan. Hopefully, she wouldn’t manage to get herself fired for her dishonesty.
Once Ryan was bringing in a steady income again, Billie could work on her own life.
She’d naively thought she could do whatever she wanted once she was out of the house her father ruled. But, so unused to making her own decisions, she’d automatically followed Ryan and took a job at WVOX. She hadn’t needed a college degree and the money was decent.
Then, when Billie finally decided to enroll in the community university to pursue a degree in social work, Ryan got Trish pregnant. And when Trish couldn’t handle being a mother, Ryan needed Billie to take care of Savannah when he wasn’t home. If Ryan could get his job back and afford a sitter, Billie could get her life back. And do something with it.
Her brother knew she was trying to help him, but he didn’t want her kind of help. He wanted to be a freelance videographer. If he didn’t have a daughter to support, Billie would back him one hundred percent. But kids needed food, a warm house and medical insurance. Ryan just didn’t get that.
Worrying about Ryan and Savannah gave her a different kind of headache, so she pulled up her Photog Billie account on Facebook and posted a teaser about the car-in-the-house story, then moved onto Twitter to do the same.
Ryan was taking forever to get back from dropping Savannah off at school. He’d probably stopped at the Friendly Fox, his favorite coffee house, for some caffeine and a muffin.
Billie didn’t think she could stay awake much longer, so she wrote him a note explaining her ideas for a tongue-in-cheek story about a spaceship disguised as a car crashing into the house.
The missing driver was obviously an alien trying to find his way home. Satisfied that Ryan could work his magic, she emailed Elliott to let him know she’d have an eighty-second package for his show, and stumbled into bed.
As she drifted into the warm fuzziness of sleep, a round, pale face with big glasses and pigtails floated behind her eyelids. Is she his daughter? Why deny being that cute little girl’s dad? And why so defensive about putting her on the news?
Billie yawned and rolled over. There was a story there. There had to be.
She lifted her head to see the clock on her nightstand. Nine thirty. She’d sleep six hours, then go back to the scene of the crash before dark and nose around a little. Maybe she could find a neighbor outside who knew the little girl. More importantly, maybe she could uncover why the big guy kept changing his story, and why he didn’t want that girl’s face on television. If he wasn’t her dad, who was he?
An interview with Natalie S. Ellis
Who are your top five favorite authors or influences, and why?
Lisa Gardner and Harlan Coben are my favorite suspense authors. When I purchase one of their books, I don’t bother reading the blurb because I know I’ll love it, and it’s fun to read without knowing the plot. I also know I’ll finish the book. I’m an extremely picky reader, so finishing a book is huge! I love Jodi Picoult. My Sister’s Keeper and Keeping Faith are my favorites because they have a nice mix of romance sprinkled in with the thought provoking scenes. Jodi forces me to think about subjects I would normally shy away from. Jo Jo Moyes writes characters who are completely different from me, but I still relate to them. That’s good writing! I can’t wait until the Me Before You movie is released. I recently read After You, the sequel to the first book, then went back and read Me Before You again. Loved it just as much the second time around. Oh, and Stephen King, is just an amazing writer. I tend to like the books he writes that aren’t horror, but Salem’s Lot is still one of my favorite scary books.
What type of writing fuel do you prefer, and what – if anything – do you feel this contributes to your creative process?
Does coffee count as fuel? If so, my favorite fuel is a nonfat, one-pump pumpkin spice latte. What also fuels me is a book that is so good I wish I’d written it. That challenges me to hit the keyboard and turn out a one-of-a-kind page-turner.
What inspired you to write Revenge for Hire?
The romance in the book was inspired by something that happened years ago when I worked at a TV station and was part of the news crew. The owner of the station visited for the first time and most of us tiptoed around him. My friend, who was a field photographer, took him out on some of her assignments. She just acted like her regular, crazy self and said whatever popped into her head—like Billie does in Revenge for Hire. My friend even told him what was wrong with the way the station was operated and how she thought he should fix them. There was no romance between my friend and the owner, but I’ve always wondered how that dynamic would play out. What if you fell for the boss — the guy who could fire you with the snap of his fingers? Would you take advantage of your relationship and try to make your situation better? Would he use his power to promote you so that you’d continue the relationship?
Pirates or ninjas, and why?
Pirates, definitely! When I played with my Barbie dolls, I always had a swashbuckling pirate taking a beautiful woman captive. (Don’t tell anyone, but I played with my Barbies until I was in my late teens. I had to use my overly active imagination somehow!) Have you ever wondered why Ken dolls are so boring? Barbies are stunning. Ken is just ho-hum. Or maybe so perfectly handsome, he bores me. I did have a Ken once who I thought was a real hunk. I think it’s because I drew a beard on him with a permanent black marker. Luckily, I did a good job. Normally my art skills are lousy.
Give us one piece of sage advice on writing, relationships, or life in general.
My advice is to always respect your lover, even when you’re furious with him. Don’t call him names. Don’t belittle him. Don’t badmouth him in front of your friends or family. If you disrespect him in any of those ways, he’ll remember what you said and it’ll hurt him over and over. That’s no way to build a loving relationship. Instead, tell him when he has hurt you or made you angry and explain why. It’s more challenging because you have to use your words carefully, but as you calmly talk it out with him, you’ll grow closer. And you’ll also teach him with your actions how to speak to you respectfully at all times.
If you were a cocktail, what would you be called, and what’s the recipe?
My daughters would call me “The Percolator” because they think I’m too perky. I’d be made with a lot of rum (my favorite alcohol) a shot of espresso (not that I need any more caffeine) and almond syrup because I only like sweet drinks. Is there a drink like that out there already? Ohhhh, if I add some coconut milk to it, it would be like an Almond Joy!
Where can we find you on a typical Friday night, and what kind of trouble are you getting into there?
On Friday nights, I’m with my husband watching Grimm. Because I have a video background, I’m delighted with the way Wesen wogue. If you’re completely lost now, you’ve got to watch the show! Oh, and I may burn myself on those nights. We like to eat s’mores when we’re watching Grimm.
What are you currently working on, and why does it kick ass?
I’m working on a novel called Voices. It’s about a woman accused of murdering her husband and child. To escape the police, she hides on the streets of Philadelphia disguised as a bag lady. It’s easy to pull off the crazy homeless person act because she keeps hearing the voices of her dead family in her head, telling her to “run” and “hide.” One day, when she’s breaking into the hero’s car, he catches her and grabs her arm. The minute he touches her, the voices become silent. When he lets go, they come back. So, in order to think straight and figure out who really killed her family, the bag lady has to constantly touch this guy—who just happens to be a super gorgeous businessman. You gotta admit, all the touching that has to happen in this story makes it kick-ass even before you bring in the danger of living on the streets and searching for a murderer, right?
Do you have any talismans, charms, superstitions or music that inspires or helps you to write, and what’s the story behind them?
No, but I have a weird routine of typing a few words, then deleting a few words, then moving forward again when I’m stumped. It’s as if my fingers have to keep moving or I can’t think.
What’s your exercise or sport of choice when getting out from behind the desk?
I love playing tennis. I started playing in the street when I was about ten because we didn’t have courts nearby. I played in high school and college, singles back then. Now, I prefer to play doubles with friends 2 or 3 times a week in the summer. In the winter, I hop on the elliptical in my study and catch up on a TV show, or sometimes I download cooking classes and watch those. I love to cook!
About the Author
Natalie S. Ellis worked behind the scenes in TV news for sixteen years and will always miss the rush of a breaking story. But the seduction of writing a fiery romance with twisty suspense is even harder to resist, especially when she has a new curveball for the plot. Natalie enjoys living in her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and attributes her cheerful attitude to empty nesting, a supportive family, and way too many lattés.
Natalie will be awarding an eCopy of Revenge for Hire to 3 randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour. To enter, use the link below. Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour and comment. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning! The full list of tour stops can be found here.