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Keep Me

PHOENIX #2

From USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy comes an intoxicating romance set in the elite world of the Phoenix club, where one night of pleasure is never enough…

One night of pleasure, one night of sin, one night that changes everything.

For private investigator Elise Fanning, hacking into the ultra-exclusive sex club, Phoenix, is a piece of cake. A couple of clicks, and now her best friend can go behind its very locked, very private doors. But she quickly realizes she wasn’t as stealthy as she thought when she comes face to face with the club’s head of security, retired United States Army Special Forces Archer Westbrook. He’s pure sex in worn jeans and a leather jacket, and talking her way out of this–heck, talking at all–will be no easy task.

Archer Westbrook loves a smart, sexy woman. So when Elise hacks into a system he thought unhackable, he’s impressed—and intrigued. And when another security breach occurs, Archer knows he needs Elise’s help. As the two team up, their stubborn spats lead to steamy banter, and Archer knows he’s met his match. Each intoxicating look, each sizzling touch only makes him want her more, but Elise is guarded. He’ll have to show her that this raw desire between them is worth the risk.

When Archer invites Elise to Phoenix to do surveillance, she knows Archer isn’t playing fair. Seeing him in the erotic club makes it impossible to keep their relationship professional. She knows she should walk away, but she’s already in too deep. Ignoring the delicious pleasure Archer makes her feel is impossible. She’ll agree to one night then she’ll leave Archer’s seductive world…for good.

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“Elise and Archer...HOT!! An intriguing but highly erotic story that kept me glued to the pages wondering what would happen next.”
Goodreads Reviewer, Jennifer

Excerpt

“I’ll take an Old Forester on the rocks,” Archer said to the bartender of the classy New York City cigar lounge.

Fitz, a long-time employee of the cigar lounge, smiled. “Coming right up.” He looked plucked from a different era with his handlebar mustache curling up at the ends and his wise, amber-colored eyes.

The cigar lounge was full of customers tonight, sitting at the round tables, enjoying fine alcohol, ice clinking against their glasses. Smoke billowed from the table next to Archer as the customer lit his cigar, infusing the air with an aroma of burnt coffee and a hint of cinnamon. Soft jazz played from the speakers set high on the walls around the room. Three bartenders dressed in tuxes served up drinks while waiters tended to the customers at the tables. Back when the cigar lounge had been constructed in the 1920s, this spot was a gentleman’s club. Now the lounge was a local hotspot. But what was truly special about this building was beneath the shiny hardwood floors. Phoenix, the ultra-exclusive, upscale sex club, only accessible through tunnels once used to bootleg whiskey into the club. Each member was able to request one sex show per month—sex acts, participants, every little detail was of the member’s preference, something both Archer and Fitz were long-time participants in. All the members were put through a government-level vetting process before they gained access to Phoenix.

As Fitz fetched Archer’s drink, the cigar lounge’s door opened and Archer was immediately drawn to the woman in the tight jeans, high heels, and black blouse that showed an enticing hint of cleavage. He had fought in elite missions during his time in the United States Army Special Forces. He knew how to plan a dangerous mission and execute it with flawless precision. But the woman before him, with her long dark-brown hair—that just reached her heart-shaped ass—and sharp dark chocolate-colored brown eyes made his head spin. Elise Fanning, the sexiest, most irritating woman he’d ever met in his twenty-nine years.

When he’d first learned her name from Wayne after she hacked into Phoenix’s security, he took the breach personally. Until he found out the reason why she’d broken through his firewall. Elise’s best friend, Zoey Parker, had needed to gain membership to confront two members who had wronged her. If it had been Archer’s choice, Zoey would have been banned from Phoenix immediately. As it was, Rhys Harrington, Phoenix’s owner, felt a connection to Zoey. A connection that had led to their engagement last week.

In the weeks that followed the hacking, security had been stepped up to ensure no one slid past Phoenix’s defenses again. But since the security breach, Zoey had seamlessly blended her friends with Rhys’, and that meant Archer had gotten to know Elise on a personal level. First, she had gotten under his skin with her sass and snark and her ability to outsmart him at every turn, including finding a way past his security. Then she got into his head by being the most curious creature he’d ever met. He wanted to peel back all her layers until he had her naked, exposed—emotionally and physically—and begging for his mouth all over her lush body.

“Anything else for tonight?”

He snapped his eyes back to Fitz and shook his head. “No, thank you.” 

Fitz’s mouth curved at the corner, his gaze flicking to Elise. “A sweet little thing catch your eye?”

“Ha! Sweet?” Archer took a long sip of the bourbon in his glass, catching the spicy notes in the dark amber-colored liquor. “That woman is many things, but sweet is not among them.” Cutthroat, wicked smart, and in possession of bigger balls than some men Archer knew.

Fitz chuckled.

Archer’s eyes stayed locked on an approaching Elise. Two months ago, Archer would never have believed they were a good match. She couldn’t stand him, and he couldn’t stand that she’d somehow broken through security he thought unbreakable. But damn, she was fiery and smart and sexy, and his cock hardened in mere seconds of being around her. A reaction she apparently shared as a slight color rose to her cheeks under his watchful stare. “Good evening, Elise,” he said when she reached him.

She met him with dark eyes that had the power to freeze him where he stood. “Hello, Archer.”

A shudder ran through him at his name on her tongue. Being the center of this woman’s attention meant something, demanded a man take notice. “Thank you for coming to see me tonight,” he said.

“No problem,” she said, sliding onto the stool next to him, facing him. “I’ll take a Jim Beam, neat,” she said to Fitz. Soft voices drifted over from the table behind them while she watched him with those soul-penetrating eyes that leveled his defenses. Once Fitz delivered her drink and headed off to serve another customer, she added, “I’ve got to admit, I was surprised that you called me.”

“I’ve got a problem,” he told her.

Elise flashed a wicked grin. “A subscription to a women’s magazine problem?”

He restrained himself from rolling his eyes. A few days ago, Wayne had delivered a final report on Elise, including details he got off her personal computer. When she discovered her computer had been hacked and Archer was the one behind it, she reciprocated by signing him up for dozens of women’s magazine subscriptions. Getting out of those subscriptions had been nothing less than a giant pain in his ass. Four of them were still outstanding, and Archer, for his pride alone, had given in to paying them instead of fighting his way out of the subscriptions. And yet…and yet, while they might have come to a truce, and even if it irritated him, she’d impressed him. Not that he’d tell her that. “No, in fact, that problem has been handled,” he replied dryly.

She laughed easily, like she didn’t have a care in the world. Her long, spectacular legs crossed. “All right, I give. What’s the problem?”

“I’ve got a person I’d like investigated. I need your help.”

Her amused expression faltered a moment, surprise glinting in her powerful eyes. “Let me make sure I’ve got this right. You need my help?” 

He didn’t want to admit it, certainly not to her, but his investigation into her had left only one conclusion: Elise was the best private investigator in the state. Not only did he want to ally himself with her to further protect Phoenix and use her skills to do so, but hiring her gave him a means to get closer to her. “I do, and it requires confidentiality.”

Intrigue sparkled in her eyes. “I’m listening. Go on.” 

“The details are…”—he guested to all the people around them—“sensitive. Let’s take this to my office.”

She polished off her drink, then rose. “Lead the way.”

He downed the rest of his bourbon and then made his way to the door on the far side, and after he entered in the security code, she followed him inside. The noise from the lounge quieted as he entered his office, which used to be one of the private rooms in the gentleman’s club. Old leather-bound books lined the walls surrounding the grand cherrywood desk set near the thin, tall window. Archer skipped his desk and headed for the sitting area with the two brown wingback chairs. He waited for Elise to sit before he joined her and got right to the point. “I’ve grown suspicious about a member of the club.”

“Why? What’s happened?” she asked, stone-faced as always.

“The other night, this person brought her own mask into the club instead of using the ones provided,” he explained. Every Phoenix member wore a mask. Some, who required their identity hidden, wore full ones. Some demonic and some animalistic. The rest wore simple masquerade masks, being a little more revealing of their identities. “The incident went unnoticed for an hour before one of my security guards picked up on it and we brought her in for questioning.” 

Elise sat back against her chair, studying him, her expression a well-crafted poker face. “Uh-oh, someone get fired?”

“Suspended for two weeks,” he said. His team was composed of retired military who took their failures seriously. Mistakes happened, but they only happened once under Archer’s authority. And nothing from the outside was ever allowed inside. Phoenix provided expensive lingerie, masks, anything a member could want. The only exemption were the men’s dark slacks, and those were searched methodically for bugs, recording devices, anything that could comprise security. “She brought the mask in a purse that wasn’t searched, and that is inexcusable.”

Elise watched him for a long moment. “Tell me why this mask worries you.”

He rose and moved to his desk, taking out the gold-and-black object in the plastic bag from his locked filing cabinet. “Her behavior was off during questioning,” he said, returning to Elise and offering her the mask.

“Off, how?”

“Nervous, edgy.” He returned to his seat. “We scanned it for bugs, a camera, anything electronic. We found nothing. I’ve dug as far as I can go into this member’s life, and nothing is showing up that would raise alarms. She said she didn’t know the rules about not being able to bring in her own mask, and right now, there’s nothing to suggest that’s not the truth.”

“But your instincts tell you otherwise?”

He nodded, not surprised she’d caught on. Elise’s quick mind was what made her stand out. “Everything about this member has me on edge. Something’s not right here. I can feel it.” He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, leveling her with a measured look. “So, Rhys asked me to extend you an offer. That you investigate this member and that if this job goes well, the club would use your services exclusively going forward.” Only because Archer had suggested it to Rhys. Archer was only as good as his team, and Elise had proven herself as the best PI in the state. 

No wise businessperson would turn down the offer he presented. Phoenix was home to multi-millionaires who paid a pretty penny to stay out of the media. Anyone working in security for the club made a six-figure income, including Archer.

Elise studied him and then the mask. “Can I take this to examine it?”

He nodded. “Of course.”

She placed it in her purse before a deep breath spilled from her pouty lips. “All right, I’ll look into this for you. But I need you to do two things for me.”

He doubted he was going to like either of the things she wanted. “Name them.”

“Get me into the club,” she said without a flicker of emotion on her face. 

“As a member?” he asked to clarify.

She gave him a flat look. “No, not as a member. I have no interest in watching other people fuck.” 

Don’t knock it until you try it. “For investigatory reasons, then?”

“Exactly,” she said with a nod. “Don’t tell me the name of this woman or anything about her.”

“You don’t want to know the name of the woman you’re investigating?”

She shook her head. “Let me study the members in person to see if anyone stands out on odd behavior alone.” She paused to shrug. “I’m a people reader, and I’m good at it.”

He didn’t doubt her. She seemed to read straight through him all too easily and knew exactly how to irritate him as much as possible. She was always, in everything she did, one step ahead of him. At first, he’d hated that. He still hated that, but a new sensation burned alongside his annoyance—desire. Even now, behind those clever sparkling eyes, he knew she had a plan, a way to manipulate the whole world to her advantage. All he wanted was a single peek into her brilliant mind. “All right, done. And the second request?”

A slow smile filled her face. A hissing kitten would have looked friendlier. “Tell me.”

He frowned. “Tell you what?”

“Tell me why you’re asking me of all people to do this.”

Poking his tongue lightly into his cheek, he inhaled deeply. This woman would be the death of him. “Seriously, Elise, you’re going to make me say it?”

She gave a firm nod and a wicked grin. “Oh, hell yes, I’m going to make you say it.”

“Unbelievable,” he muttered, watching her closely. While he did need her help, he needed to level the playing field, so he rose and settled himself in front of her chair. Placing his hands on both armrests, he leaned down. She straightened at his nearness, and her breath hitched when he brought his face down to hers and said, “Elise, you’re the best PI out there, and I am desperately in need of your help.” He arched an eyebrow, feeling her rapid warm breaths brushing across his face, certain that was lust burning in the depths of her eyes. “Will that suffice?”

Not one to shy away from a game, she rose and slid up against him sensually. “Yes, Archer, that will do. Text me the details when you know what night I’ll be coming to the club.”

Hard and annoyed that she had the power to even control his damn cock, Archer didn’t dare step back. Neither did Elise. “You’ll start on this right away?” he asked.

“I’ve got a current case to wrap up tomorrow morning, but I can begin in the afternoon.”

Heat burned in the space between them, drawing him in. “Excellent.”

Her gaze swept over his lips before lifting to his eyes again. “We’ll talk soon, then.”

“We will.”

And like the vixen she was, her hand brushed against the front of his pants as she walked away. No doubt she’d felt every inch of his erection. An erection that didn’t seem to understand this woman was a complete pain in his ass.

THE PHOENIX SERIES...

Watch Me
Keep Me
Save Me