I’m showcasing KNOCKOUT! by award winning author Emma Calin. Emma is graciously giving away a paperback copy of her book to one lucky reader, so please be sure to follow the instructions at the end of the post on how to enter.
Author Name: Emma Calin
Genre: Suspense/Passionate Romance
Release Date: May 2011 (Kindle)
March 2012 (Paperback)
Book Trailer Video - Click Here
A #1 Kindle Best Seller in Romantic Suspense, Romantic Adventure and Women Sleuths
Interpol cop, Anna Leyton, spirals down into a hopeless vortex of sexual and emotional passion as she fights to keep her professional cool. Who is deceiving who in this fast moving ride across continents?
What motivates her art loving prize-bull of a lover Freddie La Salle? The power of love and trust stands against greed and crime as conflicting forces grapple for that knockout punch.
Knockout! A romance novel with a twist of suspense that will take you on a roller coaster ride of passion, deception and love.
Anna Leyton pushed purposefully through the revolving doors. The swish of wheels on the wet London streets, the clack and shuffle of anonymous feet on Victoria Street hardly caught her attention. She looked across at St James’s Tube Station, past the constantly turning triangular sign that proclaimed “New Scotland Yard.”
Ten years ago the very sight of the tall office block behind her would have filled her with pride. This evening it seemed no more than any other building in London. Even the city itself had lost the charisma that had filled her heart and soul with excitement as a young police recruit at the age of twenty one. Now the great animal which was the city shrugged off its joys and sorrows and ploughed on through time without a care for any flea on its back.
The afternoon had been tough. As a mere Inspector she had been a junior in a room filled with older and more senior men. The days had long gone when they would have asked why she wasn’t at home with the babies. All the same, she was a woman in a macho world. Her career was back on track although too damaged to think of the very top. Her personal life – well – she was a cop ok. She had already lived out a decade of her youth at a broken bottle edge of society – where the sharpest cuts had been to herself.
The evening was cold and pitiless. She pulled up the collar of her raincoat, tightening the belt around her slim waist. Rain began to dampen her long dark hair. As an Interpol officer, she had the freedom to wear her hair as she wanted. She cursed not having brought her umbrella. At the same time her mind jangled with the responsibilities of her new assignment. When she had graduated with a degree in modern languages and had turned her back on her family’s famous luxury motor-yacht business, her mother had declared that she was about to waste her life. Like her mother was a wasted life expert.
At the entrance to the tube station there was a growing crowd. The lattice shutters were being closed while an harassed official explained that there was a wild-cat strike. She turned away. Ahead of her lay a nightmare journey by bus to her empty flat in Kilburn. Suddenly the cold politics of the meeting, the gray loneliness of the street, the crowds of uncaring strangers, filled her with a longing for warmth and intimacy. The break from her lover, police Commander Beaumont Locke had seemed clean but had left a jagged gap of loneliness – like an exit wound. A gap where another rainy evening briefly played over and over again in her mind.
She stood on the edge of the pavement. Perhaps she could get a taxi – but with a tube strike there was small chance of that! Several black cabs beetled along, already filled. She kept her hand raised and as if by magic she saw the amber “For Hire” light of a London taxi pulling in at her side. She felt a movement from behind and heard an accented male voice:
“Zee ‘eelton ‘otel, Park Lane.”
She turned to see a tall rock of a man, moving past her into the taxi. This guy was going to have to back off. She grabbed the door. Even as she did so she saw his deep brown eyes, the dark eyebrows, one of which only partly disguised a long scar. She could never explain – even to herself – why in that instant she wanted to touch it and know how it had been caused. Her heart raced with indignation and a sense of excitement she had never expected to feel again… not since… well, just not since everything.
“This cab stopped for me!” she snapped.
“Possiblement,” growled the stranger, but smiling with slow gentle eyes, a Gallic down-turn of the mouth and a shrug of his wide shoulders.
“We can be – ‘ow you say – in the same sheep?”
“I think you mean boat – unless you do mean sheep.” she replied, unable to stop herself returning his smile. The accent was pure Clouseau. This guy just had to be some kind of fake. So much fake that any cop would hitch up for a ride just to keep in practice.
The cabbie had already started his meter.
“Anyone gettin’ in – there’s plenty of takers?”
Anna watched the stranger’s face, the thick short cut hair, the tough broad bridge of his nose. His strong hand remained on the door. Gently he brought his other hand around to her back and eased her forward into the cab. She was breathless, as if she had become merely a note in a melody that had always been playing in her head. This could not be her life. OK girl – get real, this is just some arrogant man. Just one more. He regarded her with a look that reached deep into her and stroked a sweet spot in the base of her stomach. She didn’t want this… but he was still doing it.
He indicated with his powerful hand that she should sit opposite him. Against all instincts she found herself complying. The cab moved off, nosing out into the London traffic. The wipers tapped rhythmically, the lights from the department stores spilled out melting into the gray flowing river of road and pavement.
“So – yes – we are in the same sheep,” he smiled gently, “but I must say ‘boat’ yes?”
“If you’re into sheep it’s ok with me,” she returned, wondering why she was smiling and feeling a sensation of warmth. Sure – this was some kind of grease but for a few moments it was nice to slide along.
He smiled again, showing even white teeth behind the full wide lips that pouted forward as he spoke in such a way that just possibly he really was French.
Sitting opposite him, she could take in the full presence of this stranger. It was as if he transmitted a force – an aura of danger and a sardonic humorous innocence. She attempted to re-assert her normal senses – her ability to appraise a man, threat or situation in the blink of an eye – a skill she had honed on the streets of South London – in a world of gangs, drugs and murder. And yet – here she was, tripping over the bags that some stupid girl had left in the entrance to her brain.
“Luckily Park Lane is on the way to Kilburn,” she said with deliberate plainness.
He looked back at her, holding her eyes, then making a slow upward sweep of her whole body, like a lick of cool flame that swept through the centre line of her thighs, her belly, her breasts. He shrugged.
“It would not matter Madame – I would be your knight in sighing armor.”
Anna shook her head in disbelief at his clumsy deliberate mistake and glanced quickly at his smiling brown eyes. This guy was larger than two lives. This was pure panto.
“You laugh at a poor little French boy?”
“Not laugh – you just kinda trowel it on don’t you?”
“OK – you got me,” he drawled in relaxed Californian,“you’re a cop right. Outside Scotland Yard – you must think I’m pretty dumb.”
She scrambled for grip. This was a moment – a turning point. Why could she not, at least for a few delicious minutes, be Anna Leyton, service number – zero, rank – woman of this Earth, no police record, no medals, no blood?
“A cop – for God’s sake – do I look like a cop?” she spat at him – hoping he would accept the question as a denial. Any detective knew that a suspect answering a question with a question is beginning to struggle. He nodded seriously.
“Please forgive – I mustn’t tease! So, anyhow, what do you do?”
“I sell boats,” she stated plainly. Tie a truth to a lie – you can even believe it yourself.
“Ah yes – the London rain is very famous – did you sell a boat today?”
“Yeah – I sold two arks to a Jewish guy with four elephants.”
He threw back his head with a deep genuine laugh. She was on top now. She’d follow through the advantage.
“Have you heard of Leyton Marine Sports Yachts?”
“Of course – I saw your new models at the Cannes Boat Show last year – The Nereus 74.” Bingo! She knew this model inside out.
“That’s top of the range. Evidently you didn’t buy?”
“I just did – if you can close the deal.”
She smiled at his smoothness. He was deceiving her, she was sure of that. She was paying him back in kind. But just for a few minutes she had been free. She was out and away in a world without flashback – running in childhood meadows, not running from – just running free.
The cab pushed and swished on towards Buckingham Palace. She saw him studying the famous landmark, as if he were checking out the architecture. In profile his face looked even more male – handsome yet warm – the scar above his right eye constantly attracting her gaze. He was a brute of some kind but he could lie even with his eyes. Once again she found herself responding to him and wanting to touch that scar. In this new world of a few out of reality moments with a gorgeous stranger she could let go, becoming aware of the pulse of life in her breasts and a sense of warmth and longing deep in her stomach. She bit her lip as she consciously allowed these feelings to sweep over her. She took in his striped linen jacket, dark trousers and hand stitched leather shoes. His crisp white shirt accentuated the tanned olive tone of his skin. His shoulders were broad with hard muscular upper arms while his beautifully cut clothes proclaimed the body of an athlete or sportsman.
“So, you know what I do. Do you work in London?” she asked wondering if he would tell her the truth – since she had not!
“Oh not at all – I am here to sign some papers that’s all.”
“Papers?” she questioned too quickly, aware she could be exposing her cover.
“Just a contract – you know, boring business stuff.”
He looked at her with a caress in his brown eyes. The cab was at Hyde Park Corner, just a short way from the Hilton. Her heart hammered. Soon he would step out into the night and never see her again. It had to be that way. You could dream but your story was your story. Better just accept and live it out any way you could.
“You have to sell boats tonight?”
“So sell me one over a drink at my hotel!” he urged leaning forward, “Surely you want to close on a deal like this?”
“But I – I don’t have any brochures with me…”
“Then you can tell me… I’d rather look at you in any case!”
Anna gulped as the cab pulled up. This was pure snake oil and she had a juicy apple in her pocket. He looked at her with questioning eyes that ran between her and the opened door. She followed, feeling as if she had gone into free fall from a plane rather than stepping out of a taxi into the busy swirl of Park Lane. As he paid the cab driver, she composed herself. Okay, she was the daughter of Mike Leyton – owner of Leyton Marine – the makers of prestige motor yachts. Clients were always rich and often famous. The flagship Nereus 74 was renowned as fast, luxurious, beautifully sleek and exclusive. When she had last seen her father, the waiting list was at least 2 years. It was this glamorous world of racing car drivers, pop stars, sports icons, celebrity and privilege, on which she had turned her back – choosing instead the hard streets of Brixton and her own quest for respect and success.
The doorman stood aside and nodded respectfully. She caught a look of recognition in his eye as he watched them. Evidently he knew this guy. They walked to the bar. He was several inches taller than her and broad as a barn door. As she kept up with him she sensed his animal power but also his gracefulness. This was no business man – or if he was – he was completely wasted. Around him was an air of subtle expensive cologne – but beneath that a hint of male – a slight chemical whisper that had carried on the winds and tides across time and evolution. This was a lone bull with no ring in his nose.
She ordered vodka – not something she would normally drink – but so what? None of this was real! She had stepped out of her life and soon she would have to retreat like the tide. He sipped a small beer. The glass looked ridiculous in his large hand. He smiled and gave her a look that she caught and followed like a slow waltz. As he held her eyes she swallowed – realizing that warm and deep within, she couldn’t stop her physical and emotional response. She sat cross-legged, shifting slightly in her seat, pressing her legs together more firmly knowing that her awareness and focus was sharpening and despite herself she was experiencing a delicious teasing pleasure – God she was simply letting herself go! She had boarded the roller coaster and it was clicking up the slope towards some kind of ride.
“I’m Frederic – Freddie La Salle,” he told her, offering his hand to shake. She took it and felt her hand disappear into his warm palm.
“I’m Anna Leyton.”
He continued to hold her hand. She felt the strength and gentleness of his grip and did nothing to resist – could do nothing – wanted to do nothing.
“Could it be that you come from the family of Leyton Marine?”
“Well yes – you could say I’m the boss’s daughter.”
“So if I want a Nereus 74 I can go straight to the front of the line!” he joked – or maybe not joked. As he spoke she realized that his French accent had slipped again from Paris chic to a relaxed Californian. She’d already figured that one. She played along.
“I thought you were French!”
“My mother is American – I live in France and work often in the USA.”
“So all that ‘lost little French boy’ was a scam.”
“Of course,” he replied in a mocking French accent, “you cannot blame a man when suddenly from out of a clear blue sky in the pouring rain he meets such a woman who tries to muscle him out of his taxi…”
Anna laughed at the pantomime accent and coy expression that looked so out of place on his strong face and scarred brow that had to have a violent origin.
“What’s your line of work anyway Frederic – comedian – shepherd – conman?”
“Few people are what they seem – life is an acting job. Truth is a line like the Equator. To the South lies the tropic of exaggeration, to the North is the tropic of forgetfulness,” he teased with those smiling dark brown eyes.
Now – what the hell was this stuff? Philosophy – obviously well rehearsed. How could he know anything of her? Clearly he was aware of Leyton Marine and also of the waiting list for a Nereus 74. Did he know her father, or any details of her family?
“So you tested a Nereus 74?”
“Well, I went on board – she was beautiful – there was no time for a sea trial.”
“And are you still in the market?”
“Certainly – I have an important deal next month – but after that – it will be play time.”
“Who showed you round the boat in Cannes?” she asked, desperate to know what he might recall. With this type of serious client, almost certainly her father would have been involved.
“I think I met someone called Mike… yes it was Mike.”
Her thoughts raced through all the possibilities – he had probably spoken to her father and even if he had made small talk about his family, odds were that this confident self-aware stranger wouldn’t have taken it all in. Anyway, he wouldn’t have told a potential client that his daughter was a cop given that a good number of clients had no love of the law.
“If he could have sold me the boat I’d have bought it that day.”
“I’ll call my father.”
“And you will supervise my sea trial personally?”
Hang on Mister Smoothie… she couldn’t go down this route.
“There are good sales people at all our offices – I don’t have a demonstration boat in London.”
“Perhaps I should call Mike – um – your father…?”
Adrenalin was squeezing into her blood.
“I’ll fix it,” she said, slowly downing the last of her vodka and hoping she appeared calm.
Okay – she had lied about her job – she could cover it if her father would go along with the deception. None of this mattered. She was never going to see him again. Her father could call him and explain that she had had to sell a boat to the king of some place. Some place with a king!
“If you sell me a Nereus 74 you will be Daddy’s Best Girl,” he teased, adding a theatrical wink.
“I am already,” she fired back sharply, suddenly realizing that losing the chance to sell a cool £2.5 million cruiser would definitely not please Daddy. This guy was too pushy – as if she could be influenced by money!
“Give me your business card Miss Leyton – I’ll call you to fix all the details.”
Business cards – sure – every sales person always has a pocket full! She thought swiftly on her feet. She could hardly give him a police one.
“I was at a meeting this afternoon and handed them all out so I have none left just now… I was not expecting…”
“A rude stranger who hijacked your taxi!” he interjected.
“Not so rude,” she replied with a look at his masculine face, his tough looking jaw, his bull-like neck and those gentle brown eyes. Although his manner exuded confidence almost to a point of arrogance, those eyes shone out a deep kindness. Everything warned her off this guy. Everything she felt as a woman was sweeping her onwards – as if she had fallen into a raging river of warm seductive water where it was useless to struggle. He finished his beer. She declined his offer of second vodka… but boy did she need one.
“So, I’ll let you go and take your number?” he suggested.
She scribbled her personal cell phone number on a coaster. He took it and stood up, towering above her. His shoulders were twice the width of hers. She found herself staring at his lower stomach and waist. He had no stomach but was ridged and flat. A little lower was the bulge of his bull credentials. She forced herself to look up and then stood. As if it were the most natural thing in the world he moved beside her and placed his hand on her back.
“We must find you a taxi.”
She felt the sheer size and strength of him. Her composure wobbled on a knife-edge. However she dressed it up, she wanted him, not that he was gonna get that information. He had made no hard play for her. The most dangerous thing in a crook is patience – she knew that. It was screaming at her.
The doorman stepped out to hail a cab. Anna looked up and allowed herself to hold his eyes for a little longer than was quite polite and edged towards brazen, She felt a sweet tickle of excitement. A taxi pulled in.
“Well – thanks for the drink – and the entertainment.”
Without speaking he moved to face her and then lowered his chin to kiss one cheek and then the other. The brush of his lips jolted her, sending a current sparking and screaming down through her body, lighting up everything it touched.
“Forgive me…” he began, obviously aware of her response, “these things are normal in France.”
Bloody hell – did he think she didn’t know that? She watched his lips as he spoke, longing that he would bring them back to her cheeks, to her lips, to anywhere! God it had been so long…
“I’ll call tomorrow – it has been lovely to meet you Anna.”
“I’ll look forward to it Freddie,” she replied, hearing her own voice as if it belonged to someone else.
He turned back into the hotel and was gone. She leaned back in the taxi and let out a deep lungful of air. Dear Lord – had she gone nuts? How it had felt though – to be aware of a forgotten joy inside her. For a few moments she had pushed away from that blank plain where dark beasts could roar out of the long grass at any second. For an instant once again she was at the wheel of that car, controlling the drift into the corner. Ahead of her the bandit car spun out as a terrified kid lost control…
Freddie La Salle watched the cab pull away from behind the hotel window. He didn’t want her to see his interest. He checked the number she had given him and moved to the lobby payphone and dialed. As she answered he hung up. It was her – the correct number. He smiled and gave a little nod of satisfaction. Never had he seen such a girl. The beauty of her was a delicious ache. In her presence he had felt a surge of desire and a sense of protectiveness he couldn’t define. Something was there in her that he recognized. Some hint of his own regret. OK – he needed a girl on his arm, a girl was always part of the plan. Now she was gone there was so much more he could have said – maybe shared – maybe explained.
One day there would be a girl who could share the truth of things. Lucky she wasn’t a cop. If there were cops like that he’d have joined the force years ago. When he had seen her in the street he had had to act before she was swirled away into the gray London night.
How a split second in life could change everything. How well he knew the joy and sorrow that could flow from a chance moment. He took out his cell phone and called his driver. The poor guy was probably still waiting for him outside Scotland Yard.
Emma Calin was born in London in 1962. She currently lives in the UK but spends much of her time in France. She has been writing since childhood and has won numerous local, national and international prizes for poetry and short stories. After many years and many careers whilst bringing up her family, she has finally published her novels as e-books and also in paperback.
“Knockout! A Passionate Police Romance” is a love story set against a backdrop of international gambling corruption and deception. Interpol cop Anna Leyton finds herself torn between love and duty when her professional and private life intersects. A video teaser for this book is available in the right hand column of this author page, below the Twitter feed – it shows a scene from the trailer of a bedroom with the caption “desire consumes”. This book is now available in both digital (Kindle and Kindle Reader Apps) format and paperback.
“Sub-Prime” is a prize-winning hard hitting short story about courage, exploitation and love. It is a raw and brutal exposé of life at the bottom in the aftermath of recession. Available in Kindle format which includes a downloadable audiobook
“The Chosen” is a short story set in modern times where working people struggle to keep their dreams alive. A world where the promise of love motivates desperate measures. Available in Kindle format, which includes a downloadable audiobook.
For more interesting and personal details about Emma Calin – check out the interview from the 21st October on this blog.
I would like to offer a special draw for a paperback copy of Knockout! for readers of your blog, Janna - it will take place on 17th December – just in time for Christmas! Leave a holiday message here for Janna and register your email address at this link FREE BOOK DRAW . Good luck!